Saturday, November 12, 2011

The 2nd Greatest Commandment

This is a study I prepared for myself after being convicted by a sermon given at the Feast of Tabernacles this year. This is not an attempt to re-create that Feast sermon but a study I did to deal with my own shortcomings and judgmental attitudes. I thought I’d share it with you today in case you too might find it helpful.

As we make our way through this world each day, we encounter others who do not know God’s truth and their words and their actions give testimony to that fact. They’re just trying to make their way in this world too but do it without the benefit of God’s Spirit and His truth to guide their way.

Either they haven’t been given the instruction manual to life or they haven’t been given the key to unlocking its contents. In other words, they don’t know any better. But how do we react to others we meet along the way?

Do we ever shake our heads or roll our eyes in disdain because of what someone says or the way they act? Maybe they let their children dress up as demons to celebrate Halloween or they’re decorating their house for the Christmas holidays?

Just shaking our heads or rolling our eyes without engaging with them doesn’t enlighten them to change their behavior and bashing them over the head with a few choice verses certainly doesn’t help either.

“You know, in Jeremiah 10 it says we shouldn’t put up Christmas trees!”

We have been given the truth and the ability to understand the deep things of God but to them it has not been given. (1Cor 2:10) So how can we hold that against them? And who are we to treat them like heathens? (1Cor 1:26-31) Sometimes we can forget from whence we came, once we have come into His marvelous light. (1Pet2:9)

There have probably been many times in the past when we have felt like we have had to defend our faith against the attacks of non-believers, be they family or friends, and against false Christianity in general, such that we’re in an ever ready state to go on the offensive. Maybe we even have a chip on our shoulder, a “Christian chip”, daring anyone to just try and knock it off! Standing at the ready with our sword, so at the slightest appearance of a provocation we can cut asunder their false beliefs and pagan practices, (Heb 4:12) but to what end? Does it further the cause of Christ? Or is it only an attempt to justify our own beliefs, to prove that we are right and to exalt ourselves over them.

Let’s turn to Luke 18:9 and let’s see where this can lead in the extreme. We can get to the point where we have forgotten that it is only by God’s grace that have been called, not by anything we’ve done, but it is the gift of God.

Luke 18:9-14 New King James Version (NKJV)
9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

[Who did they trust in? What was their attitude toward the others?]

10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. [or this Catholic, or that Methodist]

12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 

[I keep the Sabbath, I keep the Holy Days, I don’t eat pork or shrimp, I don’t do Christmas.]

13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Pharisee was diligent to follow the letter of the law and thought of himself as one in right standing with God, one of His true disciples, but he thought of those who were not as beneath him and ignorant and unworthy.

Is this how the guardians of God’s truth are to act? Is the look on our face one of a loving brother who understands why they err and tries to gently reveal to them the Father (Matt 11:27) or is it one of superiority and self-righteousness. Sometimes our pride in our own knowledge can get in the way.

Keep in mind this was a study for me dealing with my own issues. Ever have to give yourself a good talking to?

We have been given so much by God - truth, knowledge, and understanding and yet sometimes we hold it against those to whom it has not been given. When someone gives you a special gift, do you act like you’re maybe a little better than others who didn’t receive one? We know intellectually that we shouldn’t do that but deep down do our actions demonstrate otherwise? Do we act like we’re better than others because we have received such a marvelous gift?

Or are you quick to give credit to the giver and tell them from whom you got the gift and how much it means to you? Maybe even tell them of the special relationship you have with that person and how special they are to you and you to them.

When we see those who have not been called, do the things they do, let’s not be judgmental or hold them in contempt. Jesus Himself told us that second only to loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang ALL the Law and the prophets. (Matt 22:37-40)  Both are important! Let’s look at Mark 12:28 –

Getting our relationship right with God is a full-time job, at least for me it is. And we sometimes have a tendency to put our entire focus on that and that alone.

Mark 12:28-34 New King James Version (NKJV)

28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”
29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.
30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.
31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

THIS is the 2nd Greatest Commandment!

32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He.
33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” [And isn’t that what we all are seeking?]

So we must love both God and our neighbor. For who can say, “I love God,” and hate his brother… for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? (1John 4:20) The parable of the good Samaritan helping the stranger in Luke chapter 10 teaches us that our neighbor is not just the guy next door, or the people who live in our community, it’s everyone we meet! This parable also teaches us that we can’t sit idly by either, we have to get involved!

We are called to be fishers of men. (Matt 4:19) But you have to do something to attract the fish. You have to engage. As we know, only God the Father can draw them (John 6:44), but we bait the hook. 

When someone says to you, "Jesus is the reason for the season!”, instead of keeping quiet, or saying, "No, he's not! Christmas goes all the way back to Babylon and Mithraism, sun worship and the Saturnalia! Say instead something like, "What makes you say that"? drawing them into conversation. You may just get an opening to give them a tidbit of truth to chew on.

Let’s not hold people in contempt for not knowing the truth. Let’s instead show compassion for them, knowing how they must be suffering inside going through the same struggles we face in this life but having to do so without the precious gift we’ve been given. And it’s only going to get worse.

Let’s not give them a reason to dismiss the good news of the kingdom of God because of our attitude. (Mark 1:14-15) Instead, let’s give them every reason to ask us about the light that shines within us. (1Pet 3:15-16; Matt 5:16) Let’s be good ambassadors for Christ. (2Cor 5:20)

We might have all knowledge, and understand all the mysteries of God but if we turn people away by our Christian pride or condescending attitude, what good is it? 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter puts it all in perspective. Let’s turn there.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 New King James Version (NKJV)

 1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

We are to love others despite how they act. It is not up to us to judge them. (Matt7:1-2) That Day of Judgment rapidly approaches. Though others trample on the truth of God or even mistreat us without cause, let’s remember our Lord’s response to worse treatment than we have ever experienced.

Luke chapter 23, verse 34
This was after Jesus was rejected and scourged beyond recognition. After all they had done to him, what was His response

Luke 23:34 King James Version (KJV)

34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

Video  -


Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Harbinger of Isaiah 9:10

 Is America defying God? Read this scripture from the prophet Isaiah and watch this video. You may be amazed to find that we are indeed defiant and our fall may be imminent.

The scale of the attack of the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001 was massive. Technology insured the continued visibility and recollection of insistent images.  Was this event in New York unique in history?  On the surface it would appear that it was not: catastrophic and unimaginable yes, but unique?

Rabbi Cahn describes the “Eight Harbingers of Judgment” experienced by Israel and their uncanny parallels to the events of September 11, 2001: his insights are prodigious, overwhelming and foreboding.  The consequences that would befall the nation that would not hear the Watchman after experiencing the prior warning which would be a shadow of the cataclysm to come.



The bricks have fallen down,But we will rebuild with hewn stones;The sycamores are cut down, But we will replace them with cedars. (Isa 9:10)
"Today, we, the heirs of that revolutionary spirit of defiance, lay this cornerstone and unmistakingly signal to the world the unwavering strength of this nation, and our resolve to fight for freedom." ~ Gov. George Pataki, Laying the Cornerstone for Freedom Tower, July 4th, 2004

The scale of the attack of the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001 was massive. Technology insured the continued visibility and recollection of insistent images.  Was this event in New York unique in history?  On the surface it would appear that it was not: catastrophic and unimaginable yes, but unique?

Rabbi Cahn describes the “Eight Harbingers of Judgment” experienced by Israel and their uncanny parallels to the events of September 11, 2001: his insights are prodigious, overwhelming and foreboding.  The consequences that would befall the nation that would not hear the Watchman after experiencing the prior warning which would be a shadow of the cataclysm to come.

1. The Fallen Bricks

The ashes of bricks

The newspapaers rolled: “Acts of War,” “A Day of Infamy,” “Who did this?” “Terror’s Toll,” “Nightmare,” “Freedom Under Siege,” “Under Attack,” “Second Pearl Harbor,” “A Nation in Sorrow,” “Attacks Paralyze US,” “Devastation,” “Terror Hits Home,” “Evil Acts,” “Unthinkable,” “Our Worst Day,” “War at Home,” “Darkest Hour,” “Our Nation Saw Evil,” “Oh my God!,” “Our Purpose as a Nation is Firm,” “From the Ashes,” “The Day That Changed The World.”

There has been no event that has touched the United States and the world more indomitably than the attacks of September 11th, 2001.  As the images of the smoke, dust and death gorged the airwaves, the descriptions of devastation penetrated every media source.  Fire, smoke, dust, ashes.

Only sources with archives of the devastation of World War II had comparable images.  Berlin,
London, Nagasaki, Kassel, Hiroshima, Dresden, Rouen, Naples.  Images of earlier holocausts. These cities today, a generation later, reveal little of their broken past, their fallen bricks.  But the bricks of Ground Zero in Manhattan were reduced to ash, with little more than dust and metal to recover.  Is there a different message in these fallen bricks?


2. We will Rebuild

The woe of the wills

Empowering the rulers

On Wednesday, September 12, 2001, as a transfixed nation and world waited and wondered. Expectation was high for answers and outrage: it came in through the airwaves in the Joint Response of the Nation on the Senate floor in Washington, DC.  Representing the Congress and the nation and by authority as majority leader, Senator
Tom Daschle addressed the world.

Recorded in the Federal Register, the words of Senator Daschle for the Joint Resolution of Condemnation for the attacks the morning of September 12th, 2001 can be read as they had been spoken:

“Mr. President, it is with pain, sorrow, anger, and resolve that I stand before this Senate, a symbol for 212 years of the strength of our democracy, and say that America will emerge from this tragedy, as we have emerged from all adversity, united and strong…

….The world should know that the Members of both parties in both Houses stand united. The full resources of our Government will be brought to bear in aiding the search and rescue and in hunting down those responsible and those who may have aided or harbored them.

Nothing, nothing can replace the losses that have been suffered. I know there is only the smallest measure of inspiration that can be taken from this devastation. But there is a passage in the Bible, from Isaiah, that I think speaks to all of us at times such as this:

The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.
That is what we will do. We will rebuild and we will recover. The people of America will stand strong together because the people of America have always stood together. And those of us privileged to serve this great Nation will stand with you.” 

If there are any acceptable uses for a misapplication of Scripture, it is clear from the text that Isaiah 9 is not one.  The heart of the message speaks specifically to the consequences of an improper response to a first judicial incursion.  The illustration is a rebuke for lace of contrition and pompousness of will.  It will be demonstrated by examination of the 8th Harbinger that this very action is the most offensive of all.

Of over 31,000 verses in Scripture, the Isaiah 9:10 verse would become, for those in governmental authority, the flagship verse of the Nation and be specifically spoken by four other prominent politicians [that are in public record and related to this event].  

The more esoterically inclined might find the use of five “We Will’s” as an echo and progression of the five, “I Will’s” of Isaiah 14…but this context is at the fall of Lucifer, before the creation of Adam, and before the enmity of the seeds of Genesis 3:14.  

In the years following the 2001 event, each of the five leaders in the line of Presidential Succession for the former and current administrations would follow the resolve of the majority leader’s precedent with a pledge to rebuild from this event, apparently unaware of Isaiah 5.

A haunting undertone is found in the 1851 English Translation of the Greek Septuagint by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton translates Isaiah 9:10:

The bricks are fallen down, but come, let us hew stones,
and cut down sycamores and cedars,
and let us build for ourselves a tower. 
To date, at the sites of the totally destroyed buildings, one new tower has been completed, World Trade Center Tower 7.


3. Bigger and Better

The arrogance of defiance

On the day of the 911 tragedy, Rudy Guiliani, the mayor of New York City punctuated the resolve of the city. "We will rebuild: We're going to come out of this stronger than before, politically stronger, economically stronger. The skyline will be made whole again."

 Seton Hall University Professor A.D. Amar described the devastation as, “A scene that no movie has captured,” correctly determining that, “America will rise out of it. We will build new Towers, larger than the ones we lost to these cowards.”


 The Freedom Tower

In a 2005 interview with MSNBC, real estate developer, Donald Trump weighs in: 

“What I want to see built is the World Trade Centers stronger and maybe a story taller. And that's what everybody wants. ‘The New York Post’ came out today strongly.  ‘The Wall Street Journal’ yesterday in their editorial came out strongly for that.” 

Lower Manhattan Info reveals details of the construction project, initially scheduled for completion in 2011:
Rising from its square base -- which will be constructed of impermeable concrete and steel -- the redesigned Freedom Tower will taper into eight tall isosceles triangles, forming a perfect octagon at its center. An observation deck will be located 1,362 feet above ground and there will be a square glass parapet at 1,368 feet, the heights of the original Twin Towers. From these, an illuminated spire containing a television antenna will rise to a final height of 1,776 feet.


4. The Hewn Stone

Quarried, not brick
The Freedom Stone

The first stone to be used in the construction of the 1,176 ft. Freedom Tower was hewn from New York granite and lowered by crane in a ceremony on July 4, 2004.  Governor George Pataki of New York presided:
"Today is indeed, a momentous day. Today we take 20 tons of Adirondack granite - the bedrock of our State - and place it as the foundation, the bedrock of a new symbol of American strength and confidence. Today, we lay the cornerstone for a new symbol of this city and this country and of our resolve in the face of terror.  Today we build the Freedom Tower.”

The polished and inscribed garnet flecked stone was lowered by a crane into a 5 story, 70 foot deep cavity to rest above the earlier foundation.  Rich in historic and ceremonial significance, cornerstones are often associated with unspoken dualistic motives, but reminiscent of a similar event at Babel, “The Freedom Stone” was removed on June 23, 2006, purportedly for design conflicts. A more specific explanation was given in July, 2008.  Detailing the circumstances, Michael Daly of NY Daily News wrote:

“…What ensued was senseless squabbling, near-criminal incompetence and bald-faced lies, all of which constituted a betrayal of the murdered innocents the stone purported to honor…We arrive at this Fourth of July with that 20 tons of disgrace sitting in the Long Island lot.”
The unity and selflessness so abundant two years earlier, was once again deteriorating.  Things were back on track on Wall Street, the good times began to roll again.

5. A Spirit of Defiance

Poking a finger in the eye of God

Repeatedly Scripture and commentaries record defiance as the highest insult against the Most High God.  Senator John Kerry, in his statement before the United States Senate on Wednesday, September 12, 2001 remarked: 

“…And I believe one of the first things we should commit to - with federal help that underscores our nation's purpose – is to rebuild the towers of the World Trade Center and show the world we are not afraid - we are defiant.” 

On the day the cornerstone was laid, then New York Governor, George Pataki again insisted: “Today, we the heirs of that revolutionary spirit of defiance, lay this cornerstone.” 


6. The Sycamore

Rooted and grounded, Ground Zero in bronze
1 Timothy 6

Rabbi Jonathan Cahn reveals the significance of the harbinger of the sycamore: 

The Bible records the sycamore tree as being a sign of judgment. It even says in Egypt the sycamore tree was struck down as a sign of judgment.  On September 11th, a freak event happened in the devastation:  a steel beam from the North Tower was hurled from the sky.  As the Tower fell, it went through the air and struck down an object: it was a tree.  


 The uprooted sycamore at St. Paul's Chapel

The next day [when] the people returned to ground zero, they found a tree lying on the ground, pierced by the beam of a falling Tower.  There, at Ground Zero was a sycamore tree – struck town…after the tree of Isaiah 9…a harbinger of judgment…’the sycamore has fallen’… 

…and strange, eerily, the people made a display of it, not realizing what it was in the Bible… and put it on display, its roots exposed…not realizing, as if to draw more attention to the sign. And a sculptor was commissioned to make a cast of it.  He poured metal into the cast: he cast it into bronze, the Biblical metal of judgment…an image of the fallen sycamore to be displayed on Wall Street. 

The significance of the bronze sycamore root sculpture is chilling.  In May, 1792, twenty-four stock brokers met underneath a buttonwood tree, along Wall Street in New York City.  The Buttonwood Agreement would be birthed as the golden calf of commerce, the bull of the New York Stock Exchange, but would be delivered, uprooted and cast in bronze. 

The buttonwood tree is more familiar as the American sycamore. This memorial on Wall Street would come to represent the riches of a nation uprooted, overturned, judged and displayed in bronze: and yet another idol.

Bronze scuplture of the Sycamore, Steve Tobin 

7. The Cedar

The Tree of Hope

Rabbi Cahn continues:

On the same Ground Zero, you had three [physical SIGNS] of the harbingers.  But there’s one more, there is the cedar tree, the seventh harbinger is the cedar tree, the arez tree….’the sycamores are fallen but we will put cedars in their place...’ 

…Two years after September 11th …a strange site was seen on Ground Zero, a crane, a different crane, was lowering a different object… the object was being lowered to a place where there had been a hole in the ground, it was being laid over the place where the fallen sycamore tree had been struck down...It would have been natural to replace the sycamore tree with a sycamore tree, but the Scripture says ‘we will replace it with an arez [cedar] tree…The object lowered was an arez tree, a conifer tree, the same as the cedar of Lebanon…


Cedar, St. Paul's Chapel, crane 

He pauses at this point: …

Now that would be enough, but there’s actually more:

…In Hebrew parallelism…a verse is often matched with a verse that rhymes in thought and so it matches the fallen bricks and the fallen sycamore together and they were both found the day after 911 in the ruins.
And then there are the two others, which are the cedar tree and the hewn stone. They are together because they both are lowered by cranes, they both had a ceremony surrounding them… they both labeled these icons: one was called the “Tree of Freedom,” the other was “The Tree of Hope.”

[At] the ceremony, as the tree was coming down to where the sycamore was, there was a clergyman there….he said: 

We are gathered here today on holy ground. Ground hallowed by its witness to the dust, and death and destruction of September 11th.   The ground is sanctified by our presence here as we dedicate this Tree of Hope in witness the divine within each of us.   

It replaces a sycamore tree destroyed on September 11th 2001 by the collapsing Towers. Our prayer is that this Ground Zero Tree of Hope will be a sign: a sign of the indomitable nature of human hope. As we walk this hallowed ground, may this Tree be an icon of hope, a symbol.”

The ceremonial planting of the cedar Tree of Hope took place on November 22, 2003.  The inaugural lighting ceremony was held the following week.


Ground Zero's Tree of Hope
St. Paul's Chapel 

8. The Vow of Arrogance

The ultimate harbinger is the vow

The words of the rulers in the wake of destruction.

Rabbi Cahn continues: 

At the end of November of 2003, the tree came down to replace the sycamore.  Seven months later, the quarried stone came down on the ruins of Ground Zero…..two months after that was complete, there was a Presidential election and the Democratic candidate for Vice President was John Edwards.

He was speaking in Washington DC at a gathering, it was September 11th, the third anniversary of the devastation.  And since it was a prayer breakfast he chose a Scripture which he linked to the events of September 11th. These now are his words on September 11th [of 2004]. Listen:  Washington DC. 

“Good morning. Today on this day of remembrance and mourning, we have the Lord’s Word:  [Listen] 

• ‘The bricks have fallen, but we will build - with dressed stones: the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place….’  Of all the thousands of Scriptures he could have chosen, he chose this one obscure verse from Isaiah, which even most Believers don’t know, not realizing what he was saying: it was a Scripture of judgment – marking it, he linked it to September 11th and said that it was the Lord’s Word to us…. not knowing this, [he] then he based the whole speech on this scripture. He goes on to say: 

“Let me show you how we are building and putting cedars in those three hallowed places, the Towers, the Pentagon and the Field. Walk with me through this day and you will see that while those bricks fell and the sycamores cut down, our people are making those cedars rise.” 

And he closed with, 

“Each time that bell tolls it calls us to a greater purpose. To never forget: it calls us to always remember that when we walk together this day that the cedars will rise and the stones will go up.”


Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Hebrew Roots of The Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah)

The Hebrew Roots of Yom Teruah
The Feast of Trumpets

As we approach the Fall Festivals, we begin to get excited as we anticipate each one and what it means to us. We all have our favorite and once we get past the anxiety of making travel arrangements and for time off from work, we begin to relax into the comfort of knowing that we are practicing that which is pleasing in God’s sight. There’s a sense of peace that comes as we rehearse the return of our Savior and a time when this world will be transformed into His Kingdom.  

Each feast is deeply rooted in the Hebrew culture of ancient times, however, that seems to get lost in translation to our modern day and age. Each one has its nuances and subtleties that when we understand them adds a richness to the word of God and to the overall meaning of the feast. I won’t take time today to cover them all but I will give you a taste of the richness of the first of the fall festivals – the Feast of Trumpets.
Let’s turn to Numbers chapter 29. We typically go to Leviticus 23 when discussing the feasts but Numbers 29 has a fascinating phrasing that brings out the richness of the Hebrew.
(Num 29:1)
And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. 
The Hebrew word for "day" in this passage is Strongs -
H3117 יום yôm yome – meaning “day” 

The Hebrew word translated as "blowing the trumpets" is Strongs -
H8643 תּרוּעה terû‛âh  ter-oo-aw' 
From H7321; clamor, that is, acclamation of joy or a battle cry; especially clangor of trumpets, blow an alarm, rejoicing, shout(-ing)

It is a day of blowing the trumpets or as it’s called in Hebrew – Yom Teruah!

We see that the day of the Lord is a day of the blowing of trumpets.
(Joel 2:1) 
Blow ye the trumpet [shofar] in Zion, and sound an alarm [rua] in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; 
 One more place just to be sure -
The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day [yom] of the trumpet [shofar]  and alarm [teruah] against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. 

Now let’s go back to Numbers 29:1 take a quick look at the word, “convocation”. The Hebrew word is –

H4744 מקרא miqrâ' mik-raw'
From H7121; something called out, that is, a public meeting (the act, the persons, or the place); also a rehearsal: - assembly, calling, convocation, reading. 

So this convocation is a ‘migra’ or dress rehearsal of the day of blowing the trumpets!  

Isn’t that what we do each year? Rehearse the return of Christ and the setting up of the Kingdom of God? 

In fact, every one of the feasts is a dress rehearsal. The spring feasts were a dress rehearsal of His first coming and the establishment of His Church through the giving of the Holy Spirit. 

The fall feasts are a dress rehearsal of His second coming!

The Last Trump
During the day on Yom Teruah, they would blast the shofar all day long! A shofar is trumpet of sorts made from a ram’s horn.

There are four primary types of shofar blasts:

  1. Tekiah (תְּקִיעָה) - A long single blast (the sound of the King's coronation)
  2. Shevarim (שְׁבָרִים) - Three short wail-like blasts (signifying repentance)
  3. Teru'ah (תְּרוּעָה) - Nine quick staccato blasts of alarm (to awaken the soul)
  4. Tekiah ha-Gadol (תְּקִיעָה הַגָּדוֹל) - A great long blast (for as long as you can blow!)
Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound [teruah]: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.
Have a listen to this joyful sound! - [sound the shofar] 

On the Feast of Trumpets this series is blown throughout the day. 

The final blast is known as “The Last Trump” !

(1Cor 15:51-53) Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 

So when does this event occur? Yom Teruah!


No Man Knows the Day or the Hour

When does the Feast of Trumpets occur? The Feast of Trumpets always occurs on the 1st of Tishri on the Biblical calendar which typically corresponds to September/October on the Roman calendar.

(Psa 81:1-3)
Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob. Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery. Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.

The Feast of Trumpets is the only feast day that occurs on a New Moon. All the rest are on a full moon. A new moon occurs when the sky is dark and basically there is no moon.

So, how do you determine when there is a new moon? Without the aid of modern astronomical calculations, the only way to determine a new moon was to watch for the first appearance of just a sliver of the moon. Well, at the mouth of two or three witnesses shall a matter be established, right? Two men were chosen to stand out on a hill and watch for the beginning of a crescent to appear. They know about when it would occur but not exactly so they had to watch for it.

During the Diaspora (the scattering of the Jews from Jerusalem) it’s especially difficult to know when Yom Teruah begins. By the time the crescent moon is spotted and the word gets out to the rest of the people, half the festival could be over. So to compensate for this, they started celebrating it for two days but regarded it as “One Long Day”.

Because it’s the first day of the month, was 2 days long, and was based on the sighting of the New Moon by two witnesses it’s known as the Feast where no one knows “The Day or the Hour”!  Sound familiar?

(Mat 25:13)
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

It was to be a day symbolically hidden even from Satan so he would not be 100% aware of its arrival.

A Thief in the Night
To set this next one up we’re going to spend a little time in the book of Revelation. Turn to Revelation chapter 3 where it talks about the seven churches. We’ll take a look at the warnings given to two of them.

(Rev 3:1-3) 
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. 
(Rev 3:17-18) 
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

One more reference to watching and keeping our garments –
(Rev 16:15)
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

We know that garments are symbolic of innocence and righteousness. We are warned here to take care to keep our garments lest we lose them. Similar to losing one’s crown, we would not want to lose our garments either.

Before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, 24 guards were stationed around the Temple on three different shifts or watches to guard the Temple grounds.

(Luke 12:37-41) 
Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?
A direct reference to the second and third watch at the Temple. Especially if He comes later than expected (in the 2nd or 3rd watch) … and finds them so, refers back to watching.
(Luke 12:42-46) 
And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

So who gets caught unawares and loses his garment? The dead church, the rich church, the unfaithful servant – all who are NOT watching and ready for His return!

Each night, the captain of the Temple, (Acts 4:1; 5:24) would patrol the Temple Mount, inspecting each and every station. Burning torches are borne before him in order for the guards to recognize that it is he and if perchance he encounters a watchman who does not rise up before him, the captain cries out to him, "Peace be unto you!". But if the captain receives no reply, it is obvious that the guard has been caught asleep. He could then, at his option, as a punishment for not carrying out his duty properly, either rap the sleeping Levite with his stick or could even set his robe on fire sending him running away naked without his garments. 

The guards were never quite sure when the captain of the Temple would come so he came to be known as “a thief in the night”.

(1Th 5:1-6)
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 

We may not know what year He is coming but we will not be overtaken as a thief in the night because we have been rehearsing the Hebrew roots of the times and the seasons and are listening for the sound of the trumpet and watching for His imminent return!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dire Straits - 17th of Tammuz to the 9th of Av

We live in what many would describe as desperate times or a time of extreme distress. The term, "dire straits" has been used to describe just such a time of trouble. If one is in dire straits, they are going through some tough times, maybe financial or emotional stress or pressures mounting on all sides. There is a specific time period each year that serves as a reminder of troublous times past.

For those unfamiliar with the period called the "dire straits", it is a 3 week time period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av on the biblical calendar. This year, 2011, it falls between July 19th and August 9th. The first day and the last day are two of the fast days as mentioned in Zechariah 8:19. This is a time period set aside to repent and ask for forgiveness for the sins of our forefathers as Daniel did in Daniel 9:3-19.

These three weeks have always been troublous times for the nation of Israel. The 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av are linked together historically as days on which Israel has been punished for sin. The Lebanon war that broke out a few years ago started on the 17th of Tammuz. In Zech 8:19 it is prophesied that some year that day will turn to a day of rejoicing.

Tzom Tammuz - The Seventeenth of Tammuz

Five great catastrophes occurred in biblical history on the 17th of Tammuz:

1. Moses broke the tablets at Mount Sinai -- in response to the sin of the Golden Calf. (Exo 32:19)

2. The daily offerings in the First Temple were suspended during the siege of Jerusalem, after the Kohanim could no longer obtain animals.

3. Jerusalem's walls were breached, prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD.

4. Prior to the Great Revolt, the Roman general Apostamos burned a Torah scroll – setting a precedent for the horrifying burning of Jewish books throughout the centuries.

5. An idolatrous image was placed in the Sanctuary of the Holy Temple – a brazen act of blasphemy and desecration.

Notice that two of these events have a second fulfillment yet to come -

The daily sacrifices will be stopped and an idolatrous image will be set up (Dan 11:31; Eze 8:3-5; Rev 13:14-15).

As we come to understand God's holy calendar we see how events that are hidden when viewed on the Roman calendar tend to occur on the same dates when viewed on the biblical calendar. It is very likely that the coming fulfillment of these events will occur on this same date.

Upcoming Dates:
  • Jewish Year 5771: sunset July 18, 2011 - sunset July 19, 2011
  • Jewish Year 5772: sunset July 7, 2012 - sunset July 8, 2012
  • Jewish Year 5773: sunset June 24, 2013 - sunset June 25, 2013
  • Jewish Year 5774: sunset July 14, 2014 - sunset July 15, 2014
  • Jewish Year 5775: sunset July 3, 2015 - sunset July 4, 2015
  • Jewish Year 5776: sunset July 22, 2016 - sunset July 23, 2016
  • Jewish Year 5777: sunset July 10, 2017 - sunset July 11, 2017

Tisha B'Av – The Ninth of Av

The Israelites were in the desert, recently having experienced the miraculous Exodus, and were poised to enter the Promised Land. But first they sent out a reconnaissance mission, to assist in formulating a prudent battle strategy. The spies returned on the eighth day of Av and reported that the land was unconquerable. That night, the 9th of Av, the people cried. They insisted that they’d rather go back to Egypt than be slaughtered by the Canaanites. God  is highly displeased by this public demonstration of distrust in His power, and consequently, with only two exceptions, that generation of Israelites never entered the Holy Land. Only their children had that privilege, after wandering in the desert for 40 years.

Many calamities have occurred on this date in history -
Hadrian inscription
  1. The spies returned from their scouting mission into the Promised Land and 10 of the 12 gave an evil report filled with fear. Standing in doubt, they were slanderous of God's Word and promise because He said He would go before them, fight their battles and deliver them into the land. Only Joshua and Caleb gave a report filled with faith. The Israelites were sentenced on Tisha B'Av to wander in the wilderness for 40 years until that generation had died out. Only Joshua, of the tribe of Ephraim and Caleb, of the tribe of Judah were permitted to enter the Promised Land. (Num. 13-14)
  2. The 1st Temple, Solomon's Temple, was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin were carried captive to Babylon. The actual fire was set on the 9th of Av. (2King 25:8-9; Jer. 52:12-13)
  3. The 2nd Temple, Herod's Temple, was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD on the 9th of Av led by Titus. Some two million Jews died, and another one million were exiled. The Roman army laid siege to Jerusalem and on the 17th of Tammuz the Daily Sacrifice was again stopped. Roman centurions on the 9th of Av burned the Second Temple. The extreme heat of the fire caused gold of the Temple to melt and run into the cracks and crevices between the stones. When the fire cooled the Roman soldiers used wedges and crowbars to overturn every stone in their search for the gold.  Luke 19:44 fulfilled. One year later on the 9th of Av the Romans plowed the Temple Mount and the city of Jerusalem to prepare the area to be turned into a Roman colony. Micah 3: 12 fulfilled.
  4. The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar -- the Jews' last stand against the Romans was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered. (135 AD) The Temple area and its surroundings were plowed under. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city -- renamed Aelia Capitolina -- and access was forbidden to Jews.
  5. In 1290 King Edward I (Longshanks) ordered the expulsion of all Jews from England on the 9th of Av. (And they did not settle there again until Oliver Cromwell gave them that right in 1657.)
  6. During the Spanish Inquisition, Ferdinand and Isabella issued the Alhambra Decree, on March 31, 1492, ordering all Jews to leave Spain by the end of July 1492. July 31, 1492 was Tisha B'Av. It was during this time that Christopher Columbus, who may himself have been of Jewish descent, left to 'discover' America. [Note that if you use a Jewish calendar converter to check this, it may show July 31 as the 27th of Tammuz. If so, the converter has failed to take into account the Gregorian Reformation, which skipped 11 days on the calendar. If you add the 11 missing days and convert August 11 instead of July 31, you will see that "August 11" 1492 is the 9th of Av.]
  7. World War One broke out on the eve of Tisha B'Av in 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.
  8. On the eve of Tisha B'Av 1942, the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.
  9. On Tisha B'Av, August 14, 2005, 8,000 Jewish settlers were forcefully expelled from their homes in Gush Katif, the Southern Gaza strip.

Typically the book of Lamentations is read on the 9th of Av.

Upcoming Dates:
  • Jewish Year 5771: sunset August 8, 2011 - sunset August 9, 2011
  • Jewish Year 5772: sunset July 27, 2012 - sunset July 28, 2012
  • Jewish Year 5773: sunset July 15, 2013 - sunset July 16, 2013
  • Jewish Year 5774: sunset August 4, 2014 - sunset August 5, 2014
  • Jewish Year 5775: sunset July 25, 2015 - sunset July 26, 2015
  • Jewish Year 5776: sunset August 13, 2016 - sunset August 14, 2016
  • Jewish Year 5777: sunset July 31, 2017 - sunset August 1, 2017
Jewish sages have long agonized about the reasons God would allow such events to befall their people. What was the cause of such a harsh punishment? Their sages have taught (Talmud, Yoma 9b) that the First Temple was destroyed because of following three things:
  1. Sexual immorality
  2. Widespread murder
  3. Idolatry
The Second Temple, however, the sages taught, was destroyed because of one singular reason: baseless hatred (sinat chinam). 

Gemora teaches that such a severe judgment was meted out despite the fact that Jews at the time occupied themselves with Torah, observed mitzvot and practiced charity. People would hate one another without a cause, slander their fellow Jews for having differing beliefs, hypocritically accuse each other of violating halachic standards, and be uncharitable to those from other Jewish sects who may not have been living up to their specific customs:
"In the times of the second Bais HaMikdosh, the “murderers” of the time did not feel that what they were doing was wrong. They did not consider their murderous actions as transgressions. Rather, they viewed them as appropriate, and even a “mitzvah!” And why was that the case? When these people saw their brethren committing various transgressions, they said to themselves “These people are Sadducees; these people are apostates who deny the validity of the Torah and the supremacy of G-d. These people are rebellious and must die, as they legally deserve such!” Were these “righteous” murderers correct? No." (Rabbi Yehudah Prero, A Hate Worse Than Death)

It has been said that the Messiah would come “in a generation that is totally innocent or totally guilty”. Jesus called the generation of his day a “wicked and adulterous generation” (Matthew 12:39). It was said of him that he was sent to save his people from their sins. We are also told that he too became a target of that same baseless hatred that the sages taught was prevalent at the time:
If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. (John 15:24-25)

It is precisely in that environment of baseless hatred by a sinful generation that Messiah was rejected by the corrupt Rome-appointed Jerusalem leadership who were in charge of the Temple at that time. Jesus foresaw what would happen to Jerusalem and to his beloved temple within its walls:
And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. (Luke 19:41-44)

Today, we are the spiritual temple of God. Though this temple be besieged from without, we are to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered and avoid the baseless hatred that destroys from within.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (1Cor 3:16-17)
Our Lord taught us to love one another. As end time events unfold, let's remember that our Lord warned us that we would be betrayed by those who are of our own house (Matt 10:17-36) and that those who persecute us will think that they are serving God (John 16:2). But He also told us that we should love one another even to the point of laying down our lives for our brother.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35)
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1John 3:15-16)
 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)




Who Am I

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I strive to be as the Bereans spoken of in Acts 17:10-11 receiving the word with all readiness of mind, and searching the scriptures daily, whether those things are so. Check up on me in your own bible. Should you find me in error please let me know immediately. We must prove all things (1Thes 5:21) and rightly divide the word of truth (2Tim 2:15) together lest we be deceived. (Matt 24:24)

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Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

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