Monthly Archives: June 2010

JBOM: As A Driven Leaf – Part 1

JBOM stands for Jewish Book of the Month Club. This is a book club that was started in March by Messianic Rabbi Derek Leman www.derek4messiah.wordpress.com. The motivation behind starting this book club was to get a group together within the greater Body of Messiah reading, getting educated and sharing our thoughts on Jewish works with those who might not normally come in contact with such (like myself :-)). Currently there are over a dozen bloggers participating along with a few congregations and a few more individuals on board as well. The JBOM selection for June is As A Driven Leaf by Milton Steinberg. I am also still enthralled in the May JBOM selection The Lost. I had hoped to have The Lost completed by the end of June but yet again I’m behind, so I’m hoping for completion in July. I am also behind in this month’s selection but I should be about half-way through pretty soon. I plan to start the July book The Promise by Chaim Potok as soon as I finish either The Lost or As A Driven Leaf (both of these books have been right at or more than 500 pages! I’m glad to see The Promise clocks in at under 400). So far, I have really enjoyed all of the JBOM selections immensely, but will probably have to take a month off in August to get caught up and then maybe go to a bi-monthly selection…….we shall see.

As A Driven Leaf is a historical fiction novel written in 1939 by Milton Steinberg. Rabbi Milton Steinberg was somewhat controversial to the Jewish Orthodoxy for his association with Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism which emphasises Jewish observance but denies the chosen-ness of Israel, the divine authorship of Torah and the existence of a personal God. Steinberg was well read in Greek and English literature, knew Latin and had a thorough knowledge of modern philosophy and theology. Steinberg drew praise for his historical work The Making of the Modern Jew, which was published in the early 1930’s, for how candid he was of Jewish history “sparing neither the Jews for their foibles nor the Christians for their cruelties”.

Job 13:24-25 Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy? Will you frighten a driven leaf and pursue dry chaff?

As A Driven Leaf is a story about the age-old conflict between religious and pagan ideas, between faith and reason, and between creed and science, as it pertains to the life of the early Talmudic sage Elisha ben Abuyah. This story is one as it seems that Milton Steinberg could resonate with and relate to on a very personal level. The story takes it’s title from a verse in Job, a book that is also very relatable to this story and at the same time very relevant to each of our lives and the struggles and questions we battle with against the adversary. There isn’t much information about the historical Elisha ben Abuyah. He is infamous for being one of the few rabbis excommunicated during the entire eight hundred years of the Rabbinic period. He is accused of being an apostate, a dualist, a Sadducee, a lover of harlots, and a betrayer of the Jews to the Romans after the Bar Kochba revolt of 132-135 CE and still other’s claim that he became a Messianic Jew (Christian).

“There is no Truth without Faith. There is no Truth unless first there be a Faith on which it may be based”  As A Driven Leaf p13.

This story’s historical setting is at the end of the 1st and the beginning of the 2nd century Israel after the Second Temple has been destroyed. I had personally not read a fictional story in many years and was somewhat hesitant at first, but I found myself quickly immersed in the attention to detail “the air danced with angry dust” and nuances that Stienberg set up for each backdrop. Steinberg takes you on an amazingly detailed journey in time, back almost two thousand years ago, though it wasn’t hard for my mind to feel transported to place as foreign as I could imagine and yet at the same time to a  familiarness with each turning season and biblical holiday that marked the passing of time in this drama. Early on, the stage is set up for Elisha’s “struggle to live in two worlds, that destroyed his chance to live in either”. While on his death-bed Abuya, Elisha’s father uttered a prophetic statement over young Elisha that would set the course for his life as told in this story “I am concerned only over one thing. I hope you will be wholehearted, not torn in two……..” After his father’s death, Elisha’s uncle Amram seizes the opportunity to terminate Elisha’s Greek studies that his father was so adamant about and that Elisah had a fondness for and replaced them with the Tradition of the Father’s and Torah study. Soon Amram would have Elisha take up residence with the “old and ugly” sage Rabbi Joshua. After his discipleship to Rabbi Joshua, Elisha it seems, is set on a firm foundation in the faith of his forefather’s and the God of Israel, but over many years of hardship after hardship and relational breakdowns, plus the painful untimely death’s of those close to him, Elisha’s faith begin’s to waiver and crack and eventually he becomes unsure and unconfident as doubt sets in and engulfs his mind “Are miracles possible?” “Is Scripture the Word of God?” or ultimately “Is there a God?”. As this journey continues I am anxious to see what Steinberg has in store for Elisha as he travels down this road of perdition. 

May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you!

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Well Versed: June 20-26

Well Versed is a weekly blog series I created to review my Scripture readings for the week and log some of the thoughts and ideas that stuck out to me the most during my studies. I follow a yearly Scripture reading plan that is built off of the weekly Torah and Haftarah portions and includes the Wisdom and Apostolic Scriptures as well.

This week’s Well Versed is shorter than normal due to a couple of things: 1. I followed David Stern’s recommended Torah Parashah (included in the Complete Jewish Bible) a couple of weeks ago and doubled Parashah 39 – Hukkat and Parashah 40 – Balak (posted in last week’s Well Versed) and read through Parashah 41 – Pinchas this past week. Apparently most Messianic reading cycles (including FFOZ and The Galilee Experience) split Parashah 39 and 40 into one week apiece. So to realign myself with the majority who are on this reading plan, I will post Parashah 41 – Pinchas next week. For those who are unfamiliar with what I’m talking about see www.torahportions.org for some info about the weekly Torah portion’s. 2. The second reason this week’s Well Versed is shorter than normal is that I had some unexpected things come up on the day I was set to read Acts 6-10 which got me behind schedule. I will include that section of Scripture with next week’s post as well. As always, Lord willing.

Mishlei (Proverbs) 20-26

20:9 Who can say “I have made my heart clean, I am cleansed from my sin?” – No one since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and it is only by God’s grace and our trusting in the shed blood of Yeshua that we are cleansed from sin. We can say He has made us clean, but not ourselves.

21:3,27 To do what is right and just is more pleasing to YHVH than sacrifice…the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination – Contrary to what many may say, the God of the universe does delight in sacrifice when brought from a pure and sincere heart. It is though at the same time of primary importance to understand that God is interested in your heart and inner motives that lead to outward expressions of faith or religious observance.

22:6,15 Train a child in the way he [should] go; and when he is old he will not depart from it….doing wrong is firmly tied to the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away from him – I have a 3yr old girl who in the fullest sense is the princess of the house but tends to behave like the quintessential self-interested and domineering queen (and we are her subjects) and I have a 1yr old boy who makes it an art to show how frowned his face can become and how screeching his cries can rise to when he doesn’t get what he wants to eat, something to play with or has to get out of the bathtub too early. I firmly believe in utilizing the full counsel of God’s word in teaching principles for child-rearing.

23:13-14 Don’t withhold discipline from a child, if you beat him with a stick, he won’t die! If you beat him with a stick, you will save him from Sh’ol – I definitely got my share of beatings (in the normal sense if there is one, if that makes sense) growing up but there are a handful that I remember distinctly from my parents and grandparents that were definitely behavioral modifying. Of course texts like these must be handled responsibly and within measure and age appropriateness for the child and disobedient act.

24:17 Don’t rejoice when your enemy falls; don’t let your heart be glad when he stumbles – This is a very heavy heart issue and a challenge for most individuals. Self-admitedly I struggle with this and must keep a prayerful and repentant heart for the wickedness that is exposed in this area of my life.

25:21 If someone who hates you is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink – This is a relatable Proverb to the previous one and show’s the high level of standard that God has called us to live up to as believer’s.

26:20 If there’s no wood, the fire goes out; if nobody gossips, contention stops – Our culture and generation has definitely taken gossip and idle chatter to a global level never before seen in history. At  the very core we must guard ourselves from engaging in gossip and worthless conversation with family, friends and co-workers or participating along with tv shows or radio programs that tear down other’s and shed a bad light. Instead we should fight for forgiveness, understanding and prayer for those whose circumstances have come to our attention.

Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 51-55

In this section of Isaiah we have what many have called “The Gospel according to Isaiah” climaxing in Chapter 53 with the ultimate Suffering Servant passages. We see again in this section of Isaiah the common theme of YHVH – The God of Israel as Redeemer and that His salvation is certain for Israel and those of the nations who trust in Him. In 51:4-5 God says “The coastlands are putting their hope in me, trusting in my arm” and in 51:7-8 He commands those who know “justice” and have “His Torah in their heart’s” to listen to Him…..”for His justice will be forever and His salvation for all generations“. In 52:7-8 the messenger bringing the Gospel of Shalom and announcing salvation to Zion says “Your God is King”. “For they will see, before their own eyes YHVH returning to Zion”. In 52:13-53:12 we have one of the most explicit Messianic prophecies in all of the TaNaK (Old Testament) concerning the work of our Messiah Yeshua. In 54:8 God say’s of Israel “I was angry for a moment and hid my face from you, but with everlasting grace I will have compassion on you”. 54:11-17 suggest this is talking about either the Millenium Temple or the New Jerusalem that comes down afterwards. Also, part of these verses are inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. In 55:6-9 we have a call for repentance and a return to the God of mercy and forgiveness and that He will freely give such. For His thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways, in fact they are worlds apart. This is a truth that we as believer’s should bear in mind when we come across a commandment or judgment of God that doesn’t seem to fit with our own view of God, our culture or even our theology. To put it simply, God is smarter than we are!

May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you!


Three Streams

Here are my notes and reflection from last weekends sermon at The Village Church by Lead Pastor Matt Chandler. Pastor Matt has been taking us through Colossians verse by verse since the beginning of this year. Listen at www.thevillagechurch.net

Colossians Part 14

Primary Text: Colossians 3:12-17

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In this sermon Pastor Matt discusses 3 primary streams (God’s Love, Gospel-centered Community and repentance) that lead to a vivacious pursuit of Godliness and Righteousness in the lives of believer’s. These 3 streams can be seen inter-mingled in the primary text of Colossians 3:12-17. In this pursuit of growth and maturity we shouldn’t be a people who are focused and keen just to point out the “wrongs” in others, but to be those who are able to sharpen each other and to be able to lead one another to what is “right” by helping to provide real Gospel-centered community solutions with love. As Matt has said a few times in this series “The fast lane of sanctification is still only a dirt path”. We should be mindful of such, as we are called to be patient with all.

Stream 1 – God loves us

Romans 8:31-39 – Matt built this message with this section of Scripture which proves that God loves us and there is no condemnation in Christ.

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so” – Reformed Theologian B.B. Warfield on his deathbed

Hebrews 12:1 – What is the Joy set before Christ in enduring the suffering of the cross? “That He was purchasing son’s and daughter’s for the Father by His wrath absorbing sacrifice upon the cross.”

“The Whole point of the cross is that your going to fail and stumble and feel dirty and yet there would be this mighty picture of His love for you, despite you”

Stream 2 – Gospel-centered Community

Acts 2:42-47 – This community had a singleness of purpose in spreading the Good News, fellowshipping with joy and continuing in the prayers.

Titus 2:2-8  – Paul gives an exhortation for older and younger generations of men and women of the faith to cross-train each other and to be respectful and submissive to one another’s gifts for the edification of the community.

Stream 3 – Repentance

Matthew 3:8“Repentence is not a one time act that ushers you into the Kingdom, rather it is an ongoing action in the life of a believer.”

Romans 2:4 – God’s kindness and love towards you is meant to lead you into repentance.

There was at one point in this sermon where Matt was describing in great detail the suffering endured by Jesus during His final hours when it seemed to me that the weight of the blame for His death was directed towards the Jewish people of His day and that we should be rather sympathetic towards Pilate’s involvement. While I do believe The Village Church teaches very clearly that at the very core that we are ALL (Jew and Gentile) responsible for His death and His death was according to God’s pre-determined plan, this type of language and insinuations can be confusing and misleading. There has been much said in relation to this type of rhetoric over the centuries that has caused an unfortunate wound in Jewish-Christian relations that is in desperate need of repair ASAP. At some point I will probably give this subject the full attention that it deserves, but for the sake of time I have included in brevity some comments from David Stern’s NT Commentary about this subject and the passages alluded to in this sermon:

Matthew 27:25  His blood be on us and on our children. This verse has been used to justify persecution of Jews through the centuries by Christians who presumed that the Jewish people had invoked a curse on themselves or prophesied of their millenia of persecutions on their posterity, and willingly accepted responsibility for “deicide”. But a mob cannot speak in an official capacity for anyone, let alone a people or nation. Nor, in light of Ezekiel 18, can anyone invoke a curse on unborn generations. Moreover, even were the curse effectual, Jesus prayed “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”. If the Jews were the only ones who killed him, then he didn’t die for anyone else. But he died for all, not just for Jews: the righteous Messiah died for everyone who is unrighteous, which is to say, for everyone. As for Pilate, two prominent contemporary historians albeit Jews (Philo and Josephus) characterize Pilate as a vile and cruel leader who had a weak character and lack of concern for truth and justice (See Luke 13:1 for an example of his brutality). It’s very probable that the reason Pilate favored releasing Jesus over Barabbas was not out of compassion but the fact that Barabbas would be a much more dangerous criminal to have on the loose for his government to deal with. Acts 4:27-28 makes it clear that Pilate (even with his hand washing) still shared in responsiblity for Jesus’ death.

May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you!


Well Versed: June 12-19

Well Versed is a weekly blog series I created to review my Scripture readings for the week and log some of the thoughts and ideas that stuck out to me the most during my studies. I follow a yearly Scripture reading plan that is built off of the weekly Torah and Haftarah portions and includes the Wisdom and Apostolic Scriptures as well.

B’midbar (Numbers) 19:1-25:9

This week for many following the weekly Torah Parashah (I’m using David Stern’s Complete Jewish Bible translation) we have a double portion of Hukkat, which means regulation and Balak, who was the king of Mo’av (Moab). Hukkat starts with the somewhat perplexing regulation of the Red Heifer sacrifice. For us believer’s in Yeshua as the Messiah, we know that He is found all through-out the TaNaK. We also know that Yeshua was not a literal Red Heifer sacrifice but His sacrificial death can be likened to the Red Heifer sacrifice in a very literate way (See Hebrews 9:13-14 and 10:22), much like that of the Passover Lamb. Again we see in 19:10 that this regulation is to be for Israel and the foreigner who has joined them which in another literate way invokes the Messiah’s sacrifice for purification for Israel and the nations as a permanent regulation. In 20:6 we see a reoccurring theme of Moshe and Aharon interceding to God on behalf of the people. See Sermon Sessions Archive – Moshe’s Mistake for comments on Moshe striking the Rock instead of speaking to it. In 21:1-9 God sends poisonous snakes in response to the peoples constant complaining and only after Moshe’s prayer to YHVH and His answer for Moshe to make a pole with a poisonous snake on it and lift it up for the people to see the snake and be saved by it (another shadow portending the type of death of Yeshua the Messiah, see John 3:14-15), is death overcome. In the portion of Balak, we have Bil’am (Balaam) who emerges as the central figure. Bil’am is an interesting person in that he is obviously not an Israelite and yet he knows the God of Israel as YHVH and knows His ways and when to seek Him and YHVH meets and speaks to Bil’am. Bil’am is also known as it seems from the text as a prophet for profit and one who pronounces curses on people, which are both abominations in the sight of YHVH thus probably leads to his downfall. Of course this portion contains what might be one of the most famous of all bible stories when YHVH enables Bil’am’s donkey to speak (I can’t help but think of donkey from Shrek when I read this and imagine Eddie Murphy’s voice in the story). Another interesting note that I’ve heard pointed out about this event is that Bil’am doesn’t seem to be phased by this talking donkey and without hesitation (though it seems) begins to carry on conversation with this talking donkey. After meeting up with Balak, the king of Mo’av who has hired Bil’am to curse Israel, time and time again Bi’lam who is over-come by the Spirit of God pronounces some of the most profound blessings over Israel that has ever been spoken, including Messianic prophecies. This portion ends with Israel in a lowly state of idolatry and sexual perversion when Picnchas, the son of Elazar, thrust a spear through a man of Israel and a Midianite women who were participating in this idolatry and sexual perversion, which in turn stopped the plague sent by YHVH that had killed 24,000 in Israel up to that point.

Shof’tim (Judges) 11:1-33

This portion of Scripture links the Torah Parashah Hukkat. It contains the story of Yiftach (Jephet) who was an outcast in Israel due to his mother being a prostitute and his controversial? vow he made to YHVH to make him victorious over the people of Mo’av and Amon.

Mikhah (Micah) 5:6-6:8

This portion of Scripture links the Torah Parashah Balak. In 6:8 Covenant faithfulness is condensed down to three things: Act Justly, Love Grace and Walk in Purity with your God.

Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 46-50

46:3-5 shows a constant theme through-out Isaiah of God’s enduring covenant faithfulness to Israel. In 46:13 God declares He will place His yeshu’ah – salvation in Zion for Israel His glory (through Yeshua – salvation He has been faithful). In 49:6 God declares that it isn’t enough just to bring salvation to Israel but that He would make Messiah as a light to the gentiles and spread His salvation to the ends of the earth (us gentiles by birth who have been called-out from among the nations sing praise and Halleluyah for this!). In 46:14-16 God says of Zion “Even if these were to forget, I would not forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of my hands, your walls are always before me.”

Mishlei (Proverbs) 12-19

12:19  Truthful words will stand forever – Thanks be to God for His Word of Truth that He has persevered for us and our children!

13:7-8  When I was in high school Biggy Smalls and Puff Daddy had a song about this proverb “Mo Money, Mo Problems”, though they might not have known it:-).

14:12  Our ways are futile and incomplete and tend to get us off the straight and narrow quite frequently.

15:1  A gentle response deflects fury, but a harsh word makes tempers rise – This proverb has become one of my wife and I’s main mantra’s to each other, our kids and in our workplaces, though we are definitely still growing in this discipline.

16:6 Grace and truth atone for sin – How true this is through Yeshua HaMashiach who is full of grace and truth and through His sacrificial death has atoned for our sin.

17:9 He who conceals an offense promotes love – Live and let live and forget and forgive.

18:1-2,13  Great advice and principles for Biblical community and accountability in a congregational or home setting.

19:14 A sensible wife is from YHVH – today is Father’s Day and without my amazing wife Elizabeth I wouldn’t be a father, it takes two you know.

Acts 1-5

The book of Acts has been referred to by some as the Fifth Gospel or Luke Part II. In Acts 1:8 Yeshua basically lay’s out the table of contents that this book will follow, which parallels the Gospel message spreading in Jerusalem (Acts 1-6), Judea (Acts 6-8), Samaria (Acts 8-9), the ends of the earth (Acts 10-28). This is a book about evangelism and missions, a book about doing, going and saying, and living “as witnesses to His Resurrection”. In Chapter 2 the Holy Spirit was poured out and freely given on the festival of Shavuot (Pentecost). This is by no means a mere coincidence. Shavuot had long been held in Jewish tradition as the day that God gave the Torah including the Ten Commandments to Israel on Mt. Sinai with great Thunders (voices), lightening, fire and smoke. So with this particular Shavuot (the first since the Resurrection) the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) was given to those first believers (3,000 Jews) accompanied by whirlwind and fire and multiple tongue’s (voices). There is another major parallel between Spirit and Law in that it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are led into and able to walk in truth. Peter has a simple Gospel message “Repent (turn from your sin and return back to God) and have your sins forgiven by Yeshua HaMashiach.” Through this message the Gospel was indeed going to the Jew first and the Lord was adding to them daily. In 4:4 there are 5,000 Jewish men alone and within another 15-20 years that number would still be increasing amongst Jew’s in Jerusalem to “tens of thousands” by Acts 21:20. This early believing Gospel centered community still participated in Temple life and in fact had a socialistic type of approach to community that you don’t see in Scripture outside of Jerusalem.

2 Kefa (Peter) 2:1-22

This section of Scripture links the Torah portion Balak and say’s about Bil’am “who loved the wages of doing harm”.

Revelation 2:14-15

Yeshua say’s that Bil’am was responsible for setting Israel up to eat food sacrificed to idols and commit sexual sin.

May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you!


Hospitality

Shabbat Shalom!

Here are my notes and reflection from the service today at Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue. Our family knows a few families who are members at BHS and we have been visiting off and on for the past couple of years (when I have Shabbat off from work :-)). For our family, BHS is a good theological balance and a different cultural perspective on our faith than our primary congregation at The Village Church. Rabbi Marty Waldman has been in a series entitled End Time Attributes for the last few weeks. Listen at www.baruchhashem.com

Primary Text: 1 Kefa (Peter) 4:7-9

7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

“The Lord invites us into His presence and delights in us when we come”  Rabbi Marty speaking on God’s attribute of hospitality.

In the Greek philoxenos translates as hospitality. Philoxenos is combined of two Greek words philos – which means dear friend or a fondness and xenos – which means something foreign or a stranger. Peter could very well be alluding to the passage below from Leviticus in which YHVH commands Israel to show hospitality to the stranger or foreigner who has drawn near to them:

Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:33-34   “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 34 You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

In the Greek xenophobia is a fear of strangers and is the exact opposite of philoxenos or hospitality. Fear can lead to the dangers of isolationism from fellow believers and one’s own extended community. Peter addresses and remedies this in the next chapter:

1 Kefa 5:7-9   cast all your fear on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

In the Torah we find what Scripture considers to be one of the highest examples of hospitality in Abraham and his example is alluded to in Hebrews 13:1-2:

B’resheet (Genesis) 18:2-5   He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth 3 and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. 4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 5 while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—

Hebrews 13:1-2  Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

As noted in the passage from Hebrews above, the first order of hospitality is to show it to fellow believer’s, then expand out from there.

3 John 1:5-6   Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, 6 who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.

“Hosting people while grumbling or complaining nullifies the welcome or joy experienced with hospitality”

In the Greek, goggozu translates as grumbling or complaining. Rabbi Marty had a funny joke about saying goggozu three times when something is not going our way and it sounds just like someone complaining or grumbling.

In speaking to His talmidim in Matthew 24-25, Yeshua indicates that the nations of the world will be judged in the end based on their hospitality towards believer’s and probably more specifically Israel or the Jewish people.

“Hospitality exercised with wisdom and discernment will reflect the active heart of God”

Here is an example of the End Time hospitality shown by God:

Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 25:6  On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.

May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you!


When Violence is Ok

Here are my notes and reflection from last weekends sermon at The Village Church by Lead Pastor Matt Chandler. Pastor Matt has been taking us through Colossians verse by verse since the beginning of this year. Listen at www.thevillagechurch.net

Colossians Part 13

Primary Text: Colossians 3:5-11

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.  7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

“Without a new heart regenerated by Jesus Christ, all your best efforts are for not”

Pastor Matt does a great job at getting to the “heart” (pun intended) of the issue at hand in this portion of Colossians. He starts with the fact that Paul is addressing believer’s who have put their trust and hope in the Resurrection of Jesus and the reality of the change in heart and mind that should be reflected in increasing measure as time goes on in the lives of believers. Paul has exhorted us to “put to death” or “murder” our old nature which is contrary to God and to be renewed in ever-increasing knowledge of God. Matt discusses what some would call “varsity sins” which are those sins that are apparent and made manifest externally against the so-called “respectable sins” which are more internal and probably less known to those we are in contact with. The fact of the matter is that sin is sin and there’s a Biblical principle that like kind begets like kind. We would only be fooling ourselves and walking down the path of certain disappointment and failure if we allow one “lesser” sin to do battle against another “greater” sin in hopes that we could self-sanctify ourselves, when in fact “sin” regardless of the perception of “lesser” or “greater” wins the battle and we lose. As for Matt’s comments about the Law and it’s relation to the new hearts in the lives of believer’s I feel more could be said or some broader Scriptural references made to the context of a new heart and it’s relation to the Law.

You don’t get a new heart by obeying the Law, rather, you get a new heart that enables you to obey the Law.

Deuteronomy 30:6-8  And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. 7 And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. 8 And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today.

Ezekiel 36:26-27   And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you!


Well Versed: Week of 06/06/10 – 06/12/10

Well Versed is a weekly blog series I created to review my Scripture readings for the week and log some of the thoughts and ideas that stuck out to me the most during my studies. I follow a yearly Scripture reading plan that is built off of the weekly Torah and Haftarah portions and includes the Wisdom and Apostolic Scriptures as well.

B’Midbar (Numbers) 16:1-18:32

This weeks parashah begins with the rebellion of Korach. Korach was a fellow Levi who felt that Moshe and Aharon’s leadership of Israel was pridefully deficient and that the whole tribe was set-apart as holy and adequately equiped for leadership. This led to the well-known duel between Moshe and Aharon and Korach’s followers that ended up with some of Korach’s neighbors being swallowed up alive by the ground and 250 others who had joined the rebellion being incinerated by the fire of YHVH. In 17:9-10 (16:44-45) God wants to destroy the assembly after this rebellion but we see Moshe and Aharon falling on their faces as intercessor again (foreshadowing Messiah Yeshua) on behalf of the people. After the plague that killed 14,700, God told the leaders of each tribe to bring 12 staff’s and the one that He would choose to be High Priest would be the one whose bud sprouted and brought forth flowers and almonds (another foreshadowing of Messiah Yeshua who God chose in righteousness and sprouted forth from the earth with ever-increasing fruit) – the owner of this staff was Aharon. In 18:19 God says that He has made an eternal covenant of salt with the Sons of Aharon in regards to the gifts and offerings made at His sanctuary. 18:22 says that it is to be a permanent regulation through all generations that the Sons of Aharon are to be responsible to service in the earthly sanctuary (see Hebrews in regards to service in the Heavenly sanctuary).

Shmu’el Alef (1 Samuel) 11:14-12:22

This is the Haftarah portion that relates to this weeks Torah portion. In this brief portion of Scripture, Samuel has clear and direct words for Israel and their new King, Saul. Samuel tell’s Israel that they should fear and serve YHVH and obey him and don’t rebel as their father’s had done so many times before and if they would walk in obedience then things would go well for them and their king. Samuel also informs the people, who in the eyes of YHVH, their True King, that it is wickedness that they have asked for a king to be placed over them (many sages have some interesting commentary and think that their asking was premature and would have been right in asking for a king if they had waited on God’s timing a la David).

Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 41-45

In 41:4 God says that He is the first and that He is consistent with those who are last in the same manner as the generations He has called since the beginning. In 41:8-16 is one of two portions in this section of Isaiah that deal with God’s fidelity, covenant faithfulness and ultimate redemption towards Israel. In 42:1-8 we see a prophecy about Mashiach (Yeshua) bringing justice according to truth to the Goyim (nations) and that the nations wait for His Torah. 42:21 YHVH was pleased, for his righteousness’ sake, to make the Torah great and glorious. In 43:1-7 we have the second portion within this section of Isaiah that deals with God’s fidelity, covenant faithfulness and ultimate redemption towards Israel. In 43:22-25 God states that instead of honoring Him with gifts and sacrifices (which He does take delight in from a pure heart), Israel has burdened and wearied Him with their sin. 45:8 Heavens above, rain down justice; let the clouds pour it down(Yeshua who is full of justice in the fullest measure came down from Heaven). Let the earth open, so that salvation (yeshu’ah in Hebrew) springs up, and justice sprouts with it (Yeshua who is salvation, descended into the earth, sprung forth in justice on the 3rd day). I, YHVH, have created it. In 45:17 Israel is described as being saved by God with an everlasting salvation that will never be ashamed or disgraced.

Mishlei (Proverbs) 7-13

7:1-3  Keep and store up His words and commands within you by writing them on the tablet of your heart.

8:13-14  An aspect of fearing YHVH is hatred of evil: pride, arrogance, crooked ways and duplicitous speech.

9:1  The sages suggested in a midrash on this verse that the “seven pillars” that Wisdom has carved out relates to seven Books of the Law? – see reference b.Shabbat 115b-116a

10:12  There is no greater love than His.

11:30  Let your good deeds shine before men so they may see and glorify your Father in Heaven.

12:19  Yeshua said “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will remain forever”

13:7-8  Good advice for prosperity and very counter-cultural for our society.

Yochanan (John) 16-21

This portion of John picks up during the Passover meal and expounds greatly about Yeshua’s teaching on that night and gives some different perspective than the synoptic Gospels leading up to his execution. In 16:33 In this world you will experience trouble, but keep up your courage. He has overcome the world. 17:3 This is eternal life: that they may know You, the one true God, and Yeshua the Anointed One, whom You have sent. 17:17 Make them holy in the truth. Your teaching is truth. In Chapter 18 when Yehudah and the Roman officers came to arrest Yeshua in the garden, the power of His “I Am” statement knocks them to the ground. In Chapter 19 Pilate most likely wrote “King of the Jews” not because he believed it but rather as a mockery towards the Jewish people. In 20:28 Toma who had doubted the story of the Resurrection answers to Yeshua and we affirm “My Lord and my God!”. In Chapter 21 Yeshua asks Peter three times “do you really love me?” These three questions parallel the three denials by Peter during Yeshua’s so-called trial and could be viewed in light of the rabbinic principle measure for measure which shows Yeshua’s grace and redeeming attributes in restoring Peter back to wholeness.

2 Timothy 2:8-21

What is Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel in 2 Timothy? That Yeshua was raised from the dead and that He is a descendant of David.

Y’hudah (Jude) 1:1-25

Speaks of cheap grace in 1:4 when he says “ungodly people who pervert God’s grace into a license for debauchery and disown our only Master and Lord, Yeshua the Messiah.

May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you!