Sunday, March 1, 2015

He Will Give You Rest

We are all familiar with the passage in Matthew where Yeshua tells us that he will give rest to those who are weary and weighed down. This is a promise and a comfort to us when we are faced with the burdens and responsibilities of this hectic, fast-paced lifestyle of the twenty-first century. But, there is a deeper meaning in this passage and an incredible promise. Let’s dig in a little deeper.

Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV 28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Yeshua’s words in this passage are actually in a Hebrew poetic form called a chiasm. The individual thoughts lead to an inward central theme and then back out again to end where it began. This passage begins and ends with a burden and breaks down as shown:

A: Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden
            B: I will give you rest
                        C: Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me
                        C: for I am gentle and lowly in heart
            B: you will find rest for your souls
A: For My yoke is easy and My burden is light

Before we get to the central theme, we need to look at the outer layer and work our way in. Those who labor and are heavy laden are to come to Yeshua. The word for labor is the Greek word #2872 kopias which means to feel fatigue, to work hard, to labor with wearisome effort. The phrase “heavy laden” is the Greek word #5412 phortizo meaning to be loaded up. The noun “burden” in the second part of the outer layer is phortion which is the noun form of the same Greek word phortizo. The heavy load in verse 28 becomes the light load in verse 30. But what is this heavy load that wearies us? Let’s go back to the Bible to answer this! The first heavy load that wearied man was the burden placed on Adam when he was expelled from the Garden of Eden!

Genesis 3:17 NKJV 17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.

The word toil is the Hebrew word #6093 “itstsabon” meaning pain, labor, hardship, sorrow and toil. Instead of eating from the trees of the Garden of Eden, especially the tree of life, which freely gave their fruit for food, Adam had to labor to coax the ground to grow plants to provide physical nourishment. But even that provided only temporary nourishment; without the fruit from the tree of life, Adam was sentenced to death. Our heaviest burden is the one we inherited from Adam; we labor to live from day to day and there is no respite from our labor. Eventually, we will all face death.

The promise of respite is the next layer in; He will give us rest! When God brought the children of Israel into the Promised Land, He said that He was giving them rest.

Joshua 1:13 NKJV 13 "Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, 'The LORD your God is giving you rest and is giving you this land.'

Joshua 21:43-44 NKJV 43 So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. 44 The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.

Notice that the promised rest is tied to the land! David wrote that there remains the promise of rest as long as we don’t fall into the same rebellion as the children of Israel who all died in the wilderness without receiving the promise.

Psalms 95:7-8 NKJV 7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: 8 "Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
Psalms 95:11 NKJV 11 So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.'"

The writer of the book of Hebrews confirms that rest is tied to more than the Promised Land referring to this same Psalm of David.

Hebrews 4:8-9 NKJV 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.

What is this rest spoken of by David and the write of Hebrews? The word used for rest in Hebrews verse 9 is a word that is used only here in scripture.  In fact, it is #4520 “Sabbatismos,” a Greek transliteration for  “Sabbath rest.” In Judaic writing, the Sabbath foreshadows the world to come; it is a day “which shall be all Sabbath.”

The passage in Hebrews continues to compare our rest with God’s Sabbath rest.

Hebrews 4:10 NKJV 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

The rest we receive from Yeshua is like that of God after He completed creation. We rest in the garden God planted for us. We rest in the completed work of Yeshua our Messiah. The book of Hebrews describes Yeshua’s qualifications and work concluding in chapter 11 that His work in regards to sin is finished, but there remains His return to bring us to safety.

Hebrews 9:28 NKJV 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Hebrews 10:14 NKJV 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

At that time, we will experience a day that is all Sabbath! All Rest! We who believe have assurance that we enter that rest!

Hebrews 4:3 NKJV 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,'" although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

This, now, takes us to the center of the passage in Matthew, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.”

When we take on a yoke, we are putting ourselves under the authority of the one who places the yoke. When the children of Israel went into captivity in Babylon, God told them they are under the yoke of Babylon.

Jeremiah 27:8 NKJV 8 'And it shall be, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and which will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation I will punish,' says the LORD, 'with the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand.
So, we are under the authority of Yeshua and we are to learn from Him! Jeremiah tells us what we are to learn!

Jeremiah 6:16 NKJV 16 Thus says the LORD: "Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'

We are to learn to walk in the old ways and, thus, find rest for our souls.  Jeremiah goes on to tell us what God meant when He said they wouldn’t walk in His ways.

Jeremiah 6:19 NKJV 19 Hear, O earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people-The fruit of their thoughts, Because they have not heeded My words, Nor My law, but rejected it.

They wouldn’t walk according to God’s Torah! The old ways are the ways of Torah. The Torah is the set of instructions for those who put themselves under the authority of Yeshua on how to love God and each other! David tells us that walking in Torah brings peace.

Psalms 119:165 NKJV 165 Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble.

Now that we are saved, yoked to Yeshua, the Torah tells us how to live a victorious spirit-filled life! The apostle John tells us that loving God is not burdensome.

1 John 5:3 NKJV 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

Our pride gets in the way, though, of submitting to authority. We ask, why we should submit to Yeshua’s authority. He tells us why; because He himself is humble. He is gentle and lowly in heart! We are to submit because He submits

John tells us that those who are in Him, who are yoked together with Him, walk the way He walked.

1 John 2:6 NKJV 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

When we submit to Yeshua’s authority, and learn from Him because He is humble, we find rest for our souls. This is the central theme of this passage in Matthew. Yeshua, our humble messiah, teaches us to walk in humility and submission by His own example. And through His submission to the Father, submission even to death on the cross, we have rest for our souls! And Yeshua’s yoke, His authority is easy to bear.  His burden is not heavy, it is light! Yeshua gives us rest both in this life and in the eternal life to come!

Shalom and be Blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

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Video blog: He Will Give You Rest

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Time of the Olive Harvest

The olive harvest begins towards the end of October and continues about six weeks until the first week in December. On the biblical calendar, this falls after the Feast of Tabernacles. This is interesting because the Feast of Tabernacles is the feast at the end of the harvest. It, like the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Weeks, is a pilgrimage feast.

Exodus 23:15-16 NKJV 15 "You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); 16 "and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread begins the harvest season with the barley crop, the feast of weeks continues it with the wheat crop and it culminates with the fruit of the vines and tress at the Feast of Tabernacles. So what is the deal with the olive harvest? Why is it after the Feast of Tabernacles?

Let’s look at the symbolic meaning of the olive tree and its crop. To start with, the word olive is the Hebrew word tiz Zay-yith. It is related to the word fz, ze’ev #2099 with means brightness. This makes sense since one of the primary uses of olive oil is fuel for oil lamps particularly the temple menorah. The word picture for the olive is “the weapon in the hand of the covenant.”

The olive tree is the symbol of Israel.

Jeremiah 11:16 NKJV 16 The LORD called your name, Green Olive Tree, Lovely and of Good Fruit. With the noise of a great tumult He has kindled fire on it, And its branches are broken.

 A green olive tree is a righteous Israel. Yeshua called himself a green olive tree at his crucifixion referring to his own death.

Luke 23:28-31 NKJV 28 But Jesus, turning to them, said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 "For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!' 30 "Then they will begin 'to say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!"' 31 "For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?"

We said one of the main uses of the olive crop is for oil for lamps. The oil used for the menorah in the tabernacle had to be prepared in a specific way. It was to be beaten into a fine consistency.

Exodus 27:20 YLT 20 `And thou--thou dost command the sons of Israel, and they bring unto thee pure beaten olive oil for the light, to cause the lamp to go up continually;

Yeshua is, of course the light of the world! When He comes to reign, there will be no need for light from the sun. The light of the lamb will fill the earth.

But, let’s get back to the timing of the olive harvest and the connection with the feasts of the LORD. We saw that each of the pilgrimage feasts is connected to a harvest. The first two are connected with the harvest of grain, the last with the harvest of grapes. What do all three of these harvests, the grain, the grape, and the olive, have in common? They are all “messianic” crops. The presence of the blessing of these three crops describes the richness of the messianic age. Jeremiah writes that when Israel is once again in the land and walking with God, they would receive the blessing of the grain, wine, and the oil.

Jeremiah 31:12 BBE 12 So they will come with songs on the high places, flowing together to the good things of the Lord, to the grain and the wine and the oil, to the young ones of the flock and of the herd: their souls will be like a watered garden, and they will have no more sorrow.

Grain is used to produce bread. It speaks of life. During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Yeshua taught that a kernel of grain must fall to the earth and die to bring forth new grain.

John 12:24 BBE 24 Truly I say to you, If a seed of grain does not go into the earth and come to an end, it is still a seed and no more; but through its death it gives much fruit.

The grape harvest is a harvest of judgment. This judgment can be good or bad. The grape harvest is the time of God’s wrath, but it is also a time of celebration.

Revelation 19:15 BBE 15 And out of his mouth comes a sharp sword, with which he overcomes the nations: and he has rule over them with a rod of iron: and he is crushing with his feet the grapes of the strong wrath of God the Ruler of all.

Proverbs 3:9-10 NKJV 9 Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.

So, we see a progression: New life is given at the spring feasts with Yeshua’s death and resurrection. Judgment comes at His return at the Feast of Tabernacles. This is a time of joy for all who believe! What follows? The olive harvest! To understand the significance, let’s look at three signs Yeshua displayed as a testimony to His identity.

The first sign is turning water into wine at a wedding celebration.

John 2:3-9 NKJV 3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine." 4 Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come." 5 His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it." 6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it. 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.

John 2:11 NKJV 11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.

The next sign was to heal the son of a nobleman.

John 4:47-54 NKJV 47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Then Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe." 49 The nobleman said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies!" 50 Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your son lives." So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, "Your son lives!" 52 Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." 53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son lives." And he himself believed, and his whole household. 54 This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.

The third sign is not labeled as such, but when we see the reaction of the people, we recognize it as the third sign. Yeshua multiplied the bread and the fish feeding the five thousand.

John 6:11-15 NKJV 11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost." 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world." 15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

Their response was to try to make him king! He turned water into wine which involves the grape. He multiplied the bread which involves the grain. But where is the olive? Oil is used to anoint a person for a specific task. In particular, it is used to transfer or confer authority. Aaron and his sons were anointed as priests; kings were anointed at their coronation. Joshua was anointed at the transfer of authority from Moses to him. The title “messiah” is the Hebrew meshiach #4899  meaning “the anointed one.” When Yeshua healed the nobleman’s son, He spoke words of healing with authority and the nobleman believed. When see this same word of authority when Yeshua healed the centurion’s son.

Matthew 8:8-10 NKJV 8 The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. 9 "For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." 10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!

The centurion recognized Yeshua’s authority to heal!

Oil is not only associated with authority to act is also associated specifically with the act of healing. James tells us that when we are sick, we are to call for the elders and be anointed with oil.

James 5:14-15 NKJV 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

So what is this time of the olive harvest? It is the time of Messiah! Yeshua is the weapon in the hand of the covenant. The first appearance of a word is often important in the Bible. What is the first appearance of the olive? It is after the flood when Noah sent out the dove to see if the waters had receded from the earth after God’s judgment.

Genesis 8:10-12 NKJV 10 And he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. 11 Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth. 12 So he waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove, which did not return again to him anymore.

This was before God told the Israelites to renumber the months, so with Tishrei  as the first month, the dove returned with the olive on the 17th day of Elul right before the fall feasts begin. On the 24th, Noah again sent out the dove and it did not return. Seven days later, on the first of Tishrei, Noah removes the cover from the ark!

Genesis 8:13 NKJV 13 And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry.

 Tishrei 1 is also the Feast of Trumpets  which kicks off the feasts of Yeshua’s return. It is the time of Messiah!

During the time of Messiah, there is healing for the land and people. Ezekiel writes of the water that flows from beneath the threshold of the temple.

Ezekiel 47:8-9 NKJV 8 Then he said to me: "This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. 9 "And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.

There is light to the world.

Isaiah 9:2-4 NKJV 2 The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined. 3 You have multiplied the nation And increased its joy; They rejoice before You According to the joy of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4 For You have broken the yoke of his burden And the staff of his shoulder, The rod of his oppressor, As in the day of Midian.

Isaiah 60:3 NKJV 3 The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.

Isaiah 2:3 KJV 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

What festival follows the Feast of Tabernacles? The Feast of Hanukkah! It is a reprise of Tabernacles, celebrating the rededication of the temple and observing the Feast of Tabernacles because they were unable to do so at the time commanded by God. The dedication requires oil—oil for the lights of the temple menorah. The lighted menorah has become the symbol of Hanukkah! The light of the world has come!

Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

© 2014 Moed Ministries

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Marching Orders

The Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt and their journeys in the wilderness as they prepare for the Promised Land mirrors the individual journeys of our own lives. The children of Israel began their journey as slaves in Egypt; we begin our journey as slaves to sin. God delivered the children of Israel from their slavery, protecting them from the angel of death by the blood of the Passover lamb which they placed on the doorposts and lintels of their homes. God delivers us from slavery and protects us from the angel of death by the blood of Yeshua which we place on the doorposts and lintels of our hearts. By faith, the children of Israel left Egypt and followed God into the wilderness where He met with them at Mt. Sinai. God made a covenant with them and gave them the Torah telling them how to live a holy life. By faith, we leave our old lives behind and follow God into the wilderness where He speaks with us. He gives us the Holy Spirit teaching us through God’s word how to live a holy life.

But, neither they nor we are to stay in the wilderness at Mt. Sinai. At Mt. Sinai, we are equipped for the journey to the Promised Land which represents God’s “rest.” When we have defeated all our enemies and dwell in the land that God has provided for us, God provides rest!

As the children of Israel left Mt. Sinai for what should have been a short journey to the Promised, they left as an organized host. God told them the order in which they should march and which tribes should lead the way. The shekinah glory of God is visible as the cloud of the LORD went before them.

Numbers 10:35-36 NKJV 35 So it was, whenever the ark set out, that Moses said: "Rise up, O LORD! Let Your enemies be scattered, And let those who hate You flee before You." 36 And when it rested, he said: "Return, O LORD, To the many thousands of Israel."

The order of the march of the tribes was Judah, Issachar and Zebulun in front. Behind them came the Sons of Gershon and Merari carrying the Tabernacle. After them came Reuben, Simeon and Gad. Then the Kohathites followed with the holy things of the Tabernacle. The tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin followed them. Finally, the tribes of Dan, Asher and Naphtali completed the company as the rear guard. 

What does the order of this march tell us? As we look at what was said about why each son was given his name, we see a promise of the rest that awaits each of us who love the LORD. References to these names are found in Genesis 29:31 through Genesis 30:24, Genesis 35:18-19, and Genesis 40:50-52. In the case of Benjamin, no specific words were spoken other than his name which, as spoken by Rachel, meant “son of my sorrow” and, as spoken by Jacob, meant “son of my right hand.”

These are the words:

I will praise the LORD
I have received my reward
My husband will dwell with me
The LORD has looked down on my afliction
The LORD has heard that I am unloved
Good fortune comes
God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction
God has caused me to forget all my toil
The son of my sorrow is the son of my right hand
God has judged my case
I am happy
I have wrestled and prevailed

As the apostle Paul approached the end of his life. He reflects on his life’s journey in his final letter to Timothy.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 NKJV 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

May our journeys end as Paul’s ended—being confident of the reward waiting for us as we enter into His presence.

James 1:12 NKJV 12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

© 2014 Moed Ministries