Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Jewish People Will Always Prevail!

The Jewish people have endured an unbelievable amount of persecution over the centuries. But because of the promise to Abraham, they will always prevail. As with the wilderness experience, many will die on the journey to the promised land. The birth of the modern nation of Israel is only the begininng of the return of the Jewish people to the land deeded to them by God. A repentance and return to Torah is the next step just as it happened after the Babylonian exile. Only this time ALL the Jews will return to the land! The Tenakh is replete with prophesies concerning this latter day exodus.

Here are a few pictures of a restored Synagoge in Berlin Germany. Hitler is gone! The people of God remain!

Shalom and Be Blessed

PS: I believe that the pictures are from the Associated Press. They were emailed to me with no photo credit.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Secret Customs: How the Jewish People Prevailed during the Spanish Inquisition.

The Jewish population of Spain during the period of Muslim rule was quite large. The Jews became prominent and successful citizens. Many even atained high positions in the spanish government. Real persecution began with the “Reconquista”, the armed “reconquering” of Spain by the Iberian Christians. The pogroms in Cordoba (1011) and Granada (1066) put in motion the foundation of what became the Spanish Inquisition. Persecution took full force in the 14th century when the Iberian Christians retook all of Spain forcing the Muslims out.

Many of the Jews, not wanting to loose their high social status began to openly convert to Catholicism. These Jews were called “Conversos”. Many were publicly Catholic but pivately maintained their Jewish identity and religious practices. Inevitably, this success resulted in jealousy among the Catholic Spaniards who reported many of the Conversos to the authorities. The practice of any Jewish customs by the Conversos were signs to the Catholic Spaniards that they were still tied spititually to Judism. They began to call the Conversos “Marranos”, which means pig! By the 14th and 15th Century, they were then the main focus of the Inquisition.

Many of the customs practiced by the Conversos were food related. Various dishes made from eggplant and a desert called marzipan. Just keeping Kosher could land them before the Inqusition. Inquisition documents (which are still available today) contain testimony from maids and other house servants about the typs of food they were asked to prepare for their employers.

Many of these secret Jewish families had hidden rooms in their homes, where the servants could not go or didn’t even know about, where the “Jewish” items were kept. These rooms were used to celebrate the Jewish holidays and festivals, to study the Torah and to conduct weddings and Bar Mitzvah’s all in secret. All the while keeping a public Catholic apperance. The celebration of Purim became especially important for the Conversos of Spain because Queen Ester was perhaps the quintessential hidden Jew.

These secret customs became the main focus for the Spanish Inquisition, which began in 1480 to spy on these “hidden Jews”. In the course of 12 years, thousands were tortured and burned at the stake. In the year 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, decided that as long as there were Jews remaining in Spain, there would be “Conversos” trying to keep Judaism in secret. The Alhambra Decree (also known as the Edict of Expulsion) was issued on March 31, 1492 ordering the expulsion of Jews from the Kingdom of Spain and its territories by July 31, 1492. The punishment for any Jew who did not leave or completely convert to catholicism by the deadline was death.

One prominate Jew, Don Isaac Abarbanel, a leading Torah sage and the Finance Minister of Spain was deemed too valuable to the kingdom to expell. Abarbanel used his position and clout to try to convince the monarchs to revoke the edict. Torquemada the Inquisitor general of Spain convinced the monarchs otherwise. Abarbanel only managed to get the deadline extended for two more days. Hence, the date of expulsion fell on August 2, 1492, the ninth of Av, 1492, the most horrific date in the history of the Jewish people.

Figures vary between 130,000 to 800,000 Jews left spain in one day! A primary source for this information is the Me'am Lo'ez (written in Ladino, the language of the Jews of Spain) in the section on Tisha B'av it mentions that a third of the Spanish Jewish population died for their faith, a third converted and a third went into exile. Those exiled were allowed to take their belongings except gold, silver and money. The Spanish crown and the inquisitors confiscated all their properties.

Historians estimate that between 100,000 to 200,000 Jews converted during the course of the Inquisition. But conversion was not guaranteed protection. Many families tried very hard to keep living as Catholics while keeping many Jewish customs in the privacy of their homes living as Conversos, but the percecution continued. Over the next 400 years many Secret Jews left Spain for the New World, but the Inquisition followed them to the Americas. It was not until the year 1834 that the Spanish Inquisition was finally abolished. By this time many of the customs practiced in secret were lost to obscurity and the Secret Jews of Spain ultimately embraced the religion which oppressed them.

Today many of the decendants of the Conversos and other exiled Jews are rediscovering their Jewish heritage, converting to Judaism and coming to faith in the Jewish Messiah Yeshua. The spirit of the LORD is moving in Latin America where many of the Spanish Jews fled. The LORD is calling his people home. For it says in Revelation:

Rev 18:1 And after these things I saw another angel come down from Heaven, having great authority. And the earth was lighted up from his glory. 2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great has fallen, has fallen! And it has become the dwelling-place of demons, and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a cage of every unclean bird which has been hated, 3 because of the wine of the anger of her fornication which all the nations have drunk. And the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her. And the merchants of the earth became rich from the power of her luxury. 4 And I heard another voice from Heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that you may not be partakers of her sins, and that you may not receive of her plagues. (MKJV)

Shalom and Be Blessed

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Plan-it" for the Apes

What is man’s place in the universe? The world would have you believe that we humans are but just a member of a greater family of sentient beings. That humans are the top of an “evolutionary chain” that includes other non-human hominoids. The Great Ape Project, founded in 1993 has argued that chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos (pigmy chimps) should be afforded the same rights as humans, that is life, liberty and the right to not be tortured. See http://www.greatapeproject.org/ . According to the Project, zoos fall short on the freedom criterion and thus sanctuaries are being setup around the world for these primates. The Project along with the sanctuaries advocate for the rights of the listed primates including the freedom from being displayed.

In June of 2008, the Spanish Parliament passed a resolution calling for human rights to be extended to these non-human primates calling for the Spanish government to conform to the guidelines put forth by the Great Ape Project. There is an umbrella organization called GRASP. It stands for Great Ape Survival Partnership. This is a part of the United Nations Environmental Programme. See http://www.unep.org/GRASP .

Science has been steadily chipping away at the idea that man is uniquely created by God for a specific purpose. Perhaps this really took root in 1926 in the famous court case of Scopes vs. the State of Tennessee, the famous Monkey Trial. You can read about it at many web sites, just google it. Essentially it was an American legal case that tested the Butler Act, which made it unlawful, in any state-funded educational establishment in Tennessee, “to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.” The results of this trial put evolution on equal footing in the law with the biblical account of creation. A later finding by the US Supreme Court established the concept of “separation of church and state” leading to the eventual exclusion of the Bible account of creation in our public classrooms.

The concept of evolution is so ingrained in our society that it has infiltrated the church. Many mainstream, well meaning Christians openly endorse the idea that life “evolved” on earth from a distant beginning by “intelligent Design”. The Intelligent Design concept does not outright reject some of the principles of evolution. We must be careful and guard ourselves from this type of infiltration and assimilation of humanist philosophy creeping into the body of believers. We have a special place in God’s creation.

The Biblical account of creation states that the animal kingdom was created on the sixth day. There are two main points to take a close look at, but first look at Genesis 1:24-28

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (NKJV)

Point number one: the phrase “the living creature” in verse 24 is translated from the Hebrew “nephesh chay”, or perhaps better translated as “living soul”

Strong's Dictionary #5315 Nephesh from #5314; properly, a breathing creature, i.e. animal of vitality, appetite, beast, body, breath, creature, desire, fish, life, lust, man, me, mind, mortally, one, own, person, pleasure, (her-, him-, my-, thy-)self, them (your)-selves, soul, they, thing.

#2416 Chay from #2421; alive; hence; fresh, strong, life (or living thing), alive, (wild) beast, living (creature, thing).

The implication is that animals possess something that was placed in them by God. Had God not done this, animals would not have “life” in the Biblical sense. “Life” is not a bio-chemical process as science demands, but is a gift from the creator. God spoke the animals into existence as it says in Genesis 1:24 “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind”. The Biblical account of creation clearly states that the living creatures were created each according to its own kind. A dog is a dog and an ape is an ape! As much as evolution has tried to show similarities between animal species, there is no tangible evidence that similarities, or even close DNA code means a direct relationship. Evolution is all based on assumptions and conjecture. It assumes that similar means related.

The second point is that God created man for the purpose of exercising “Dominion” over the earth. Dominion is the Biblical term for government or regulation. Man was appointed by God to regulate the economy of the earth. It is clear in the following scripture from Genesis 2:4-7 that man was not created with the apes or any other creature. Man was created above the apes and there are different terms used in the Bible to describe the creation of man.

This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (NKJV)

The term “breath of life” is from the Hebrew phrase “neshamah chay”.

Neshamah from #5395; a puff, i.e. wind or vital breath, divine inspiration, intellect, a blast, breath(-eth), inspiration, soul, spirit.

You can clearly see that neshamah is a higher soul than that given animals. Man’s soul contains a spirit and is divinely inspired. Also it is clear from this scripture, that God did not just “speak” man into existence, he got down and formed man from the dust of the ground and “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life”. Man’s superiority is not by an evolutionary process, but by a grand design. Animals possess a “nephesh” or “soul”. But in the case of man, the term “neshamah” designates a higher level of perception and behavior.

Evolution makes no distinction between higher and lower levels of life. Life is all one big bio-chemical process. Perhaps life began in some ancient ocean billions of years ago with a bolt of lightning. (it kind of reminds me of the Frankenstein movies). Evolution erases all distinction of man from the equation of life and puts him on the same level with all other animals. This is clearly a direct challenge to the authority and sovereignty of God. Perhaps those who label evolution, “Evil-ution” are right. The enemy (Satan) has always tried to drive a wedge between man and God and has challenged the authority and sovereignty of God at every opportunity.

Creation as described in the Bible not only makes the distinction, but explains it. Man was designed by God to govern, propagate and conserve the entire creation as originally designed by God. This authority given us by God does not mean we can exercise cruelty over the lower beings that God placed upon the earth. We are to be stewards of His creation. We should not have any objection to the humane treatment of all living things, even the great apes. Our stewardship is regulated in and by the love of the LORD. If we yield to His divine design, then we will prosper over the earth. If we don’t, then there are consequences.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

God Has a Sense of Humor!

My pastor shared this with us today during his message.

During the time of the judges, Israel sinned by serving other gods, (playing the harlot with other gods) so he gave them over to the Ammonites. Of course, they then realized their sin, repented and cried out to God. But this time He answered differently. He told them to go ask one or their other “gods” to deliver them. The Israelites responded by asking God to do what He thought best but to please rescue them. Here is where we see a neat play on words in the Hebrew.

Jg 10:11 The LORD replied, "When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines,
12 the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not save you from their hands? 13 But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. 14 Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!" 15 But the Israelites said to the LORD, "We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now." (NIV)

The word “save” in Hebrew is Yashah meaning to open wide or free, to cause to be open wide or free.

The word “rescue” in Hebrew is Natsal meaning to snatch away.

The word “best” in Hebrew is Tob meaning good or best.

So, after Israel destroyed their other gods and started to serve the true God, He sent them to Japheth, the son of a harlot (Judges 11:1-5). Japheth was rejected by his father’s family and lived in the land of Tob! Seeing a pattern yet? The best, though, is the meaning of Jepthah’s name. Jepthah means “he will open wide.” God refused to deliver them again so He sent “He will open wide, the son of a harlot, from the land of good".

Shalom and Be Blessed

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Gospel in the Names of the 12 Tribes

It says in Proverbs:

Pr 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. (NKJV)

A name in the Hebrew language is more than just a name, it has a meaning. The names of each of the sons of Jacob (Israel) all have a meaning. There is a message to be found in their names. In Revelation chapter 7, where the “number of those who were sealed” is listed, a specific order of the names is presented. This is not the order in which they were born. They are listed in this order for a reason. Lets look at the passage in Revelation 7:

Re 7:2-8 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed: 5 of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed; 6 of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed; 7 of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed; 8 of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed. (NKJV)

Now lets look at the names in this order.

Judah (Praise the LORD) Gen 29:35

And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing. (KJV)

Strongs #3063 Y’huwdah, yeh-hoo-daw' from 3034; celebrated; Jehudah (or Judah), the name of five Israelites; also of the tribe descended from the first, and of its territory:--Judah.

Ruben (Look a Son) Gen 29:32

And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me. (KJV)

#7205. Re'uwben, reh-oo-bane' from the imperative of 7200 and 1121; see ye a son; Reuben, a son of Jacob:--Reuben.

Gad (Good Fortune) Gen 30:11

Ge 30:11 And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad. (KJV)

#1409. gad, gawd from 1464 (in the sense of distributing); fortune:--troop.

Asher (Happiness/Blessed) Gen 30:13

And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher. (KJV)

# 836 'ashar, aw-shar' or rasher {aw-share'}; a primitive root; to be straight (used in the widest sense, especially to be level, right, happy); figuratively, to go forward, be honest, proper:--(call, be) bless(-ed, happy), go, guide, lead, relieve.

Naphtali (My Wrestlings) Gen 30:8

And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali. (KJV)

#5320 Naphtaliy, naf-taw-lee' from 6617; my wrestling; Naphtali, a son of Jacob, with the tribe descended from him, and its territory:--Naphtali.

Manasseh (To Forget) Gen 41:51

And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. (KJV)

#4519. Menashsheh, men-ash-sheh' from 5382; causing to forget; Menashsheh, a grandson of Jacob, also the tribe descended from him, and its territory:--Manasseh.

Simeon (To Hear and Obey) Gen 29:33

And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon. (KJV)

#8095. Shim`own, shim-one' from 8085; hearing; Shimon, one of Jacob's sons, also the tribe descended from him:--Simeon.

Levi (Joined) Gen 29:34

And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi. (KJV)

#3878. Leviy, lay-vee' from 3867; attached; Levi, a son of Jacob:--Levi. See also 3879, 3881.

Issachar (Reward) Gen 30:18

And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar. (KJV)

#3485. Yissaskar, yis-saw-kawr' (strictly yis-saws-kawr'); from 5375 and 7939; he will bring a reward; Jissaskar, a son of Jacob:--Issachar.

Zebulun (Dwell) Gen 30:20

And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun. (KJV)

#2074. Z@buwluwn, zeb-oo-loon' or Zbuluwn {zeb-oo-loon'}; or Zbuwlun {zeb-oo-loon'}; from 2082; habitation; Zebulon, a son of Jacob; also his territory and tribe:--Zebulun.

Joseph (Add) Gen 30:24

And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son. (KJV)

#3130. Yowceph, yo-safe' future of 3254; let him add (or perhaps simply active participle adding); Joseph, the name of seven Israelites:--Joseph. Compare 3084.

Benoni / Benjamin (Son of my Sorrow / Son at the Right Hand) Gen 35:18

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. (KJV)

#1126. Ben-'Owniy, ben-o-nee' from 1121 and 205; son of my sorrow; Ben-Oni, the original name of Benjamin:--Ben-oni.

#1144. Binyamiyn, bin-yaw-mene' from 1121 and 3225; son of (the) right hand; Binjamin, youngest son of Jacob; also the tribe descended from him, and its territory:--Benjamin.

When the meaning of these names as stated in the Genesis scriptures are connected together in the order of the listing in Revelation 7, something amazing happens:

Now will I praise the LORD, Look a SON, Good fortune and happiness comes! With great wrestlings have I wrestled, For God, said he, hath made me to forget all my toil! Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me a son. At this time will my husband be joined unto me. God hath given me my hire, now will my husband dwell with me. The LORD has added to me another son, the son of my sorrow, the son at the Right Hand of the Father!

Shalom and Be Blessed