Monday, May 30, 2011

Transformations: The Commissioning, Part 7

By Brenda Cathcart

After this, the disciples went down to the Sea of Gallilee. The Feast of Unleavened Bread has ended and all the pilgrims who came up for the Feast have returned to their homes. They will come up to Jerusalem again at the conclusion of the counting of the Omer for the Feast of Weeks. Like the Feast of Unleavened Bread, all male Israelites were to appear before God at His temple on the Feast of Weeks.

Deuteronomy 16:16 NKJV 16 "Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed.

So John chapter 21 tells us the disciples return to Galilee. This is after all where many of them are from and the place where Jesus called home. Most of His teaching for the past three and a half years took place there by the Sea of Galilee.

I think the disciples may have been getting a little antsy. What is going to happen next? Just sitting around waiting is the hardest thing to do. Peter, who was known for being impetuous couldn’t stand it anymore. He declares, “I’m going fishing!” I can just hear the next sentence, “All this sitting around waiting is driving me crazy!” The other disciples jumped at the chance to do something, too. They reply, “We’ll go with you.”

Now, the fishing described takes place at night. They were probably using trammel nets which basically form a wall as they drag it along the sea floor. They fish at night so the fish don’t see the net coming. The net gets filled with silt and other debris along with the fish as it is dragged along the sea floor. As morning comes Jesus calls out to them.

John 21:4-6 NKJV 4 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?" They answered Him, "No." 6 And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

There is no reason they should have followed this man’s instructions who is standing there on the shore. Number one, they didn’t have any success at night when the fish couldn’t see the net, it is now daylight and the fish will see the net coming and swim away! Why would they have success now? Number two, they have to clean the net first! But for some reason they decide to go ahead and try again. Maybe they didn’t like the thought of waiting around for one more day as they counted up to the Feast of Weeks. But they clean their nets and throw them down on the right side. When they begin to haul in the catch of fish, John recognizes Jesus and impetuous Peter jumps in the lake!

John 21:7-11 NKJV 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. 9 Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught." 11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.

Not only does Peter bring some of the fish, he counts them! Why would the Bible tell us that they caught exactly 153 fish? It doesn’t tell us there were about 150 fish or just a lot of fish; John records that there were 153 fish. Now the Bible doesn’t contain irrelevant details so what is the significance of 153?

What clues do we have for the meaning of this number? First, notice that their efforts were unsuccessful before Jesus came on the scene. Remember Jacob and his struggles to attain the blessing? He was not very successful on his own either. It was only after he recognized that the blessing could only come from God that he prevailed and received his new name Israel; he struggled with God and man and prevailed. The disciples faced the same situation. They were unsuccessful in catching fish even in the best conditions without God’s help. With God’s help, they were hugely successful even in the worst of conditions.

In Luke, we see another incident when Peter, John and James were fishing and they didn’t catch any fish until Jesus came along. This incident ended in Jesus calling them to be fishers of men.

Luke 5:5-6 NKJV 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net." 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.

Luke 5:9-10 NKJV 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men."

These are the disciples along with two others who are present this day on the Sea of Galilee. The fish that they caught then represent the men they are to reach with the testimony of Christ. But why 153? In Hebrew, each letter not only represents a letter and a picture, it represents a number.

Now John tells us that as many as believe become the sons of God.

John 1:12 KJV 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Again, we have the testimony of His name; that Jesus is the Christ the son of the Living God! Isn’t it amazing how that theme keeps coming into the story?

Job refers to the sons of God presenting themselves before God.

Job 2:1 KJV 1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.

During this encounter, Satan accuses Job of only worshipping God because God has blessed him. The name Satan means accuser (#7853). Zechariah reports on another occasion when a son of God stands before God with Satan as his accuser.

Zechariah 3:1 NKJV 1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose (satan) him.

When Jesus comes again, Satan, the accuser of the brethren will be cast down.

Revelation 12:10 NKJV 10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

It just so happens that the phrase “sons of God” has the number 153!

From right to left: mem, yood, hey, lamed, aleph, hey, yood, nun, beit.

Jesus is telling them that in their own power, they will not be able to catch any men but with the power of God they will catch all the sons of God and will not lose any! Jesus, in His last recorded prayer to God, states that He has not lost any that God gave Him and He prays that God will keep all that come to Him now that He is no longer in the world.

John 17:11-12 NKJV 11 "Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12 "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

Paul writes with confidence: Romans 8:38-39 NKJV 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus is setting the stage. On the Feast of Weeks, the Holy Spirit would come on them with the power needed to reach the world with the gospel message.

Sometime after this, the disciples return to Jerusalem. Apparently Jesus continues to appear before them at times. He tells them not to leave Jerusalem again until the gift of the Father comes.

Acts 1:4-5 NKJV 4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; 5 "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

Somehow, I think they know that this will happen on the Feast of Weeks.

We have one last appearance of Jesus before the Feast of Weeks. Part of the story is told in Luke and part in Acts. Jesus takes the disciples out to the Mt. of Olives the scene of so many earlier events.

Luke 24:50-53 NKJV 50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.

The phrase “he lifted up His hands and blessed them” is a Hebrew idiom referring to the blessing that the priests recite at the conclusion of every service. This blessing is very specific;

Numbers 6:22-23 NKJV 22 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 23 "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, 'This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:

Only priests were to say this blessing but by using this phrase, Luke is telling us that Jesus said this blessing called the Aaronic blessing over His disciples. Jesus came as a prophet calling people to repentance, He died as our sacrifice for sin, He is resurrected as the Firstfruits, and now He ascends to heaven to begin His role as priest in the heavenly temple. His first act as priest was to speak the blessing over them.

Here are the words Jesus spoke:

Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV 24 "The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace."'

God concluded His instructions to Moses with these words.

Numbers 6:27 NKJV 27 "So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them."

Jesus spoke the blessing over the disciples and by doing so, He placed God’s name on them. Imagine the disciples hearing those words from Jesus for the very first time!  The disciple then returned to Jerusalem where Luke tells us they were in the temple continually praising God. As the temple services ended that day, they would join in the counting of the Omer. “Today is the fortieth day of the counting of the Omer.”

We spoke Friday night about those who overcome receiving a new name. Not only do we receive a new name, but God puts His name on us.

Revelation 3:12 NKJV 12 "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

Let me close then by saying the Aaronic blessing over you. The word “you” in this verse is in the singular so the blessing is to each person individually. As I speak the blessing, envision hearing it with the disciples and knowing that God is placing His name on you.

"The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace."'

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Transformations: The Commissioning, Part 6

By Brenda Cathcart

In this blog we begin by looking at the name Peter since Peter plays a key role when Jesus’ appears to him and the disciples with him at the Sea of Gallilee. Peter’s given name was Simon and Jesus changed his name to Peter.

Matthew 16:15-18 NKJV 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

In addressing Peter, Jesus uses Peter’s whole name, Simon Bar-Jonah. Simon comes from the Hebrew name Shimown which we know as Simeon. Shimown means hearing (#8085). Bar is not part of Peter’s name; it means son. The name Jonah is from the Hebrew for dove (3123). The dove is a symbol of the Spirit of God. At Jesus’ baptism the Holy Spirit falls on Jesus as a dove.

Matthew 3:16-17 NKJV 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Again, at Jesus’ transfiguration, God’s voice testifies that Jesus is the Son of God giving further instructions to hear him.

Matthew 17:5 NKJV 5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!"

Simon’s original name means “Hearing is the ‘son’ of the Spirit of God,” that is hearing comes from the Spirit of God. Simon heard the testimony of the Spirit; Jesus said that the Father Himself revealed it to Simon. And Simon’s testimony is that Jesus is the “Christ, the Son of the Living God.” As a result of this testimony, Jesus changes his name to Peter. Many of you probably already know Peter means rock. It comes from the Greek word petros (#4074) meaning a piece of rock. The word translated rock for the rock Jesus will build his assembley on is a different Greek word petra (#4073) meaning a mass of rock. Matthew 16:18 can be read “you are a piece of rock, and on this mass of rock I will build My church.” Peter is not the mass of rock, he is merely a piece, an important piece but merely a piece. What is the mass of rock? Peter’s testimony is the foundation, “You are the Christ, the son of the Living God.”  Jesus is the rock. David calls Him the Rock of my salvation.

2 Samuel 22:47 KJV 47 The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.

He is the Rock the builders rejected becoming the foundation stone.

Psalms 118:22 NKJV 22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.

Finally, Paul calls him the Rock that provided the water for the Israelites in the wilderness.

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 NKJV 1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.

Simon Bar-Jonah, the one who hears from the Spirit of God becomes Peter, a piece of rock that builds the Assembly of Christ on the foundation of Christ Himself. We also hear the Spirit of God and are pieces of rock being built into the Temple of God.

Ephesians 2:19-21 NKJV 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,

Peter’s testimony here sets the stage for Jesus’ next appearance to the disciples after His resurrection. It is one week after His resurrection and the disciples are again together in the house where they were staying. This time Thomas is with them.

John 20:24-29 NKJV 24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." 26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" 27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Blessed are those like Peter who believe and testify that Jesus is the Son of the Living God.  This happened on the eights day of the counting of the Omer.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Visit our web site at

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Transformations: After the Resurrection Part 5

By Brenda Cathcart

In Part four, the disciples despair had turned to gladness when Jesus appeared in their midst on the evening of His resurrection. Leviticus chapter 23 goes on to instruct the Jewish people to count the days from the Feast of Firstfruits to the Feast of Pentecost

Leviticus 23:15-16 NKJV 15 'And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. 16 'Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.

The Feast is called the Feast of Weeks in Deuteronomy. The seventh Sabbath would be day 49 and the next day, the fiftieth day is the Feast Day.

Deuteronomy 16:9-10 NKJV 9 "You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. 10 "Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the LORD your God blesses you.

In the New Testament, the Greek word Pentecost meaning fiftieth is used to describe the Feast. The countdown is actually a count up. The days from the Feast of Firstfruits are counted starting with one on the Feast of Firstfruits. The Jewish people call it the Counting of the Omer. The Hebrew word Omer means sheaf. Literally, we are talking about sheaves of grain. Metaphorically, we are talking about the harvest of people. In Genesis 37 Joseph has a dream in which the sheaves of his brothers bow down to his sheaf making the precedent of sheaves representing people. How many of you remember the old hymn “Bringing in the Sheaves” about winning souls for Christ?

Each day at the Temple during this fifty day period, the morning and evening prayers begin with the words, “This is the (blank) day of the counting of the Omer,” with the proper number of the count of that day recited. When I was growing up, the space program was at its heyday. We would watch the each of the launches on TV. When the launch count was down to 10 seconds, we would join in counting down those last seconds… 3, 2, 1. We have liftoff! Of course, we kids would just shout “Blast off!” Imagine the anticipation of the disciples as they counted each day. Jesus died on the LORD’s Passover; He rose from the dead on the LORD’s Feast of Firstfruits. They are now counting the days to the next feast. What would God do on this coming Feast of Weeks?

But first, we have the fifty days. What does scripture record that Jesus is doing during this time of counting the Omer? Luke gives us a summary of these events.

Acts 1:1-3 NIV 1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

Luke records that He had three purposes:
            1. To prove His resurrection.
            2. To give instructions to His apostles.
            3. To speak about the kingdom of God.

We know much of the resurrection story. The day of Firstfruits, resurrection morning, was a confusion of events. Each of the gospels tells a slightly different story, each from a different point of view. How many of you have gotten together with family or friends and told a story of an event that happened days, weeks, months or even years ago? Have you ever been interrupted with the words, “No, this happened first,” or “No that wasn’t me that was my sister,” or similar words?  A probable sequence of events is that Mary Magdalene with the other women went to anoint Jesus’ body with the burial spices. When they discover the open tomb, Mary runs back and tells the disciples that His body is gone. Meanwhile, the other women go into the tomb and encounter the angels there. Then Peter and John go to the tomb with Mary Magdalene following. They find the empty tomb and leave, but Mary stays and has the encounter with Jesus that we read about earlier. After Mary’s encounter with Jesus, He ascends to Heaven to present Himself as the Firstfruits of the resurrection. Afterward, He appears to the other women and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Luke 24:13-17 NKJV 13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. 17 And He said to them, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?"

The disciples explained the events of the previous days to this “man.” Then Jesus started to speak.

Luke 24:25-27 NKJV 25 Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

What scriptures was Jesus using? The gospels wouldn’t be written yet for decades to come. The letters of the disciples are years away. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians also states that all these events happened according to the scriptures.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NKJV 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

My husband and I teach a Bible study twice a month. In those studies, we examine the Old Testament scriptures, the Torah, for those scriptures that speak of His first and second coming. We saw some of them last night in the names of the generations from Adam to Noah and in the creation of Eve. We have three volumes of studies out now with a fourth one in the editing stage. We haven’t run out of scripture that talks about Him yet!

Jesus and his disciples arrive at Emmaus and the disciples still don’t recognize Jesus. Jesus finagles an invitation to stay with them in Emmaus. When they sit down to eat, Jesus is given the honor of blessing the bread.

Luke 24:30-31 NKJV 30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

Now, this is unleavened bread just like the Passover Bread. The Feast of Unleavened Bread begins as the evening of Passover ends and lasts for seven days. Picture the scene; Jesus stands and lifts the bread. He recites this blessing, “Blessed are you LORD our God, creator and king of the universe who brings forth bread from the earth.” Then he breaks the bread, gives it to them and their eyes are opened. That very day God had just brought forth Jesus, their bread of life, from the earth!

The two disciples hurried back to Jerusalem. They couldn’t wait to share their news. I wonder how long it took them to travel the seven miles! They rush into the room where the 11 apostles and followers are gathered.

Luke 24:35-39 NKJV 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread. 36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you." 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."

Time for another name! Jesus’ crucifixion is in the very name of God. At the creation of man, we read in our Bibles that the LORD God created man. The word translated LORD with all capitals in our Bibles is the Hebrew word we frequently pronounce as Jehovah. It’s first use in the creation of man and denotes the merciful character of God. The Hebrew letters are the yood, hay, vav and hay.  Hebrew letters are pictures with meaning of their own.  The yood is a hand, the hey means to reveal, the vav is a nail. In God’s name, we have the hand revealed, the nail revealed. In that room 4000 years after God revealed His name of Yahweh, Jesus reveals His nail scarred hands.  (See “The Name "Yahovah" in the Ancient Hebrew” in this blog site)

This happened on the first day of the counting of the Omer.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed,
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

Visit us at our website at

Friday, May 13, 2011

Transformations: After the Resurrection Part 4

By Brenda Cathcart

In keeping with our theme of names, Jesus’ name was given to Him before He was born. When the angel spoke to Joseph about the child Mary was carrying, the angel told Joseph what to name the child.

Matthew 1:21-23 NKJV 21 "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."

Did you catch it? Matthew said Jesus was to be given two names, Jesus and Immanuel. The divine nature of Jesus is revealed in these verses. In Hebrew, the name Jesus is Yeshua meaning He will save. Yeshua is a shortened form of the name Joshua, Yehoshua, which means God will save. He is also to be called Immanuel, God with us.  It is interesting that Jesus’ name was Yeshua not Yehoshua. He, Jesus, as Immanuel God with us, would be the one to bring salvation to all who believe.

God says through the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 44:6 NKJV 6 "Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.

How did Jesus bring salvation to all who believed? He died for our sins on the cross at Passover and rose from the dead on the third day. The third day just happens to be a Feast day called the Feast of Firstfruits. After His resurrection, He appeared to the disciples and finally on the fortieth day, He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the father and pour out the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

Acts 2:32-33 NKJV 32 "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

This morning and this afternoon, we will follow Jesus from His resurrection on the Feast of Firstfruits to His ascension forty days later. This evening, we will examine the events of the Day of Pentecost which is also a feast day called the Feast of Weeks.

Luke tells about the morning of His resurrection.

Luke 24:1-2 NKJV 1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.

His resurrection is on the first day of the week, the day after the Sabbath. Leviticus tells us that this day is the Feast of Firstfruits that occurs in the midst of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Leviticus 23:4-11 NKJV 4 'These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. 5 'On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD'S Passover. 6 'And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 7 'On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. 8 'But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.'" 9 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 'He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.

There are a few points I want to highlight in this passage:
1. Passover is on the 14th day of the first month called Nisan. This is the day Jesus was crucified.
2. The next day, the 15th day of the first month is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It is to be observed as a Sabbath even if it doesn’t fall on a Sabbath! It is called a High Sabbath.
3. The Feast of Firstfruits is to be observed on the first day of the week; that is the day after the weekly Sabbath.

In Jesus’ day, the priests would begin preparing for the Feast of Firstfruits early on the 14th day of the first month. The priests would go to a barley field near Jerusalem and tie up a bundle of barley that would be harvested as soon as the High Sabbath of the 15th was over at sundown. Or if the weekly Sabbath followed the High Sabbath, they would harvest it as soon as the Sabbath ended at sundown. That very night, they would thresh, roast and grind the grain into fine flour. They added frankincense and oil to make the bread to wave before the LORD in the ceremony of Firstfruits. As the first day of the week dawned, the ceremonies began. The people of Israel who had come to Jerusalem for this week of Feasts would bring their newly harvested sheaves of barley and their firstfruit offerings to the Temple. The priests would go out to meet them, take some of the sheaves, lift them into the air and wave them in all directions. They proceeded to the Temple with music, praise psalms, and dancing. The priests would offer up the bread made with the new barley along with a single lamb.

Now, correlate this with Jesus’ death and resurrection. On the day of His death, the priests tie the sheaf of barley and get it ready for harvest. On the days before His crucifixion, Jesus compared Himself to a kernel of grain.

John 12:23-24 NKJV 23 But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.

Then further in the chapter, Jesus says:

John 12:32 NKJV 32 "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself."

Jesus died and rose again being lifted up like the sheaf of barley. Grain planted in the earth grows and produces more grain. Jesus being planted in the earth produced a bountiful harvest. This also applies to us; we need to die with Jesus and be resurrected to new life.

Romans 6:4 NKJV 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

After the priests lift up the sheaf, they offer the newly made grain on the altar. It symbolically rises to God in the smoke from the altar. It is an offering of Firstfruits. Jesus also went and presented Himself to God as the Firstfruits. Early in the morning of His resurrection, He appeared to Mary Magdalene but told her not to touch Him.

John 20:17 NKJV 17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'"

Her message to the disciples was that Jesus was ascending to the Father! Paul calls Jesus the Firstfruits of the resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:20 NKJV 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

 Jesus then returns and appears before the disciples encouraging them to touch Him and verify that He is Jesus returned in His glorified body.

John 20:19-20 NKJV 19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Their discouragement and despair turns to gladness. No longer were they hiding and cowering in fear. And so begins the countdown to the Feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would fall on the disciples.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

Please visit our web site at

Friday, May 6, 2011

Transformations: What’s in a Name? (Part 3)

By Brenda Cathcart

Last year, I had the privilege of teaching at a women's retreat during the period of the counting of the omer. The theme was transformations and the topic was a combination of meanings of names in Hebrew and what Yeshua taught after His resurrection during the counting of the omer. Since this is once again the time of the counting of the omer, I’ve broken the teaching into sections and will post them throughout the counting of the omer as we count up to the Feast of Weeks.

While in Padan Aran, Jacob was tricked in the same manner in which he tricked his father. Jacob thought that he was marrying Laban’s daughter Rachael. Rachael’s older sister Leah, with the help of her father, takes Rachael’s place in the marriage bed and Jacob ends up married to the wrong woman.

After seven more years of service to his father-in-law, Jacob marries Rachael too. Instead of taking A wife as Isaac instructed, he ends up with four! The scriptures go on to describe one of the most dysfunctional marriages imaginable. The two sisters compete for Jacob’s favor and for the birth of sons. They even bring their two maids into the marriage. Aren’t you glad that God can even use our mistakes?

Romans 8:28 NKJV 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Jacob was called to God’s purpose. But so far, he has struggled to attain that purpose by his own efforts.

Eventually God tells Jacob to go back to the land of Canaan, to the land God has promised will be his inheritance. In Jacob’s return to the Promised Land, we see a change of Jacob’s heart. He recognizes that deceiving his brother to get the blessing was wrong. Jacob tries to make things right with Esau by sending gifts to him. Jacob’s actual thoughts are recorded in the Torah for us to read. Jacob hopes that Esau will receive him.

Genesis 32:20 MKJV 20 And also you shall say, Behold, your servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goes before me, and afterward I will see his face. Perhaps he will accept me.

The phrase “he will accept me,” is literally “he will lift up my face.” This is the same phrase in the blessing Aaron was to speak over the children of Israel.

Numbers 6:24-26 MKJV 24 The LORD bless you and keep you. 25 The LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. 26 The LORD lift up His face to you and give you peace.

To lift up one’s face is to look with approval. Jacob is seeking Esau’s forgiveness for stealing the blessing. He compares Esau accepting his present with seeing the face of God.

Genesis 33:10-11 MKJV 10 And Jacob said, No, please, if now I have found grace in your sight, then receive my present at my hand. For therefore have I seen your face, as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me. 11 Please take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he accepted.

The word for present in this verse is berakah, or blessing. This is the same word for the blessing Isaac gave to Jacob in Esau’s place.

Genesis 27:35 MKJV 35 And he said, Your brother came with deceit, and has taken away your blessing.

Jacob is returning the blessing to Esau from the blessings he received from God. He recognizes that the blessing he sought by his own actions is really the gift of God.

After Jacob sent the gifts off to Esau, he had to wait a night to see what results they would bring. During the night, Jacob wrestled with God. In this wrestling we see confirmation that Jacob came to realize that God is the source of blessing.

Genesis 32:24-31 MKJV 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a Man wrestled there with him until the breaking of the day. 25 And when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the hollow of his thigh. And the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with Him. 26 And He said, Let Me go, for the day breaks. And he said, I will not let You go except You bless me. 27 And He said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob. 28 And He said, Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for like a prince you have power with God and with men, and have prevailed. 29 And Jacob asked and said, I pray You, reveal Your name. And He said, Why do you ask after My name? And He blessed him there. 30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel; for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. 31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he limped upon his thigh.

Jacob, who had struggled all his life to receive the promise by his own actions now clung to God in the person of the pre-incarnate Jesus. Jesus gave him a new name, Israel. The name Israel comes from two Hebrew words saw-rah’ (#8280) meaning to prevail and El a shortened form of God. No longer was he heel-grabber, one who struggled in his own strength, he was Israel, one who struggled with God and prevailed.

Jesus in His message to the church of Pergamos tells them he knows of their struggles and how they cling to Jesus’ name just like Jacob clung to Jesus.

Revelation 2:13 NKJV 13 "I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

He goes on to urge them to repent of their wrong doctrines and promises a new name to the one who struggles and overcomes.

Revelation 2:17 NKJV 17 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it."'

We are the ones Jesus is talking to in Revelation. We are overcomers and we, like Jacob, will receive a new name.

Paul tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities in the spiritual realm.

Ephesians 6:12 NKJV 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Jesus tells us the source of our power is the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:8 NKJV 8 "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

The Holy Spirit fell on the disciples on the first Feast of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection. Tomorrow, we will look at Jesus’ teachings on the days between His resurrection and His ascension, and the events on the Feast of Pentecost.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Please visit our web site at

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Transformations: What’s in a Name: Part 2

By Brenda Cathcart

Last year, I had the privilege to teach at a women's retreat during the period of the counting of the omer. The theme was transformations and the topic was a combination of meanings of names in Hebrew and what Yeshua taught after His resurrection during the counting of the omer. Since this is once again the time of the counting of the omer, I’ve broken the teaching into sections and will post them throughout the counting of the omer as we count up to the Feast of Weeks

We’ve looked at Adam and Eve’s names. What about the names of their sons? The names of Adam and Eve’s sons that are mentioned in the Bible are Cain, Abel and Seth. Eve says she names Cain as she does because she has gotten him from the LORD. In this verse, there is a play on sound alike words. In Hebrew, Cain is pronounced Kah’-yin and “gotten” is the Hebrew word pronounced Kaw’nah. The actual name Cain means a spear. Eve was promised a son who would crush the serpent. Thinking that Cain would be the one, she gives him a name that, with the word play involved, means I have gotten a spear from God. Sounds like Cain should be the one to crush the serpent doesn’t it? Instead Cain is the spear that kills his brother Abel committing the first murder.

Abel is the second son. His name means emptiness, transitory or unsatisfactory. It is as if Eve thinks that one son is enough. All she needs is Cain to crush the serpent. Instead, Abel’s name is prophetic. His life is transitory; it is cut short and he has no children of his own to carry on his name.

Then she has Seth. Seth as we learned means “is appointed to.” According to Eve, Seth is appointed to take Abel’s place. But more importantly, he is appointed to take the place of Cain in the promise of a seed to crush the head of the serpent. In Cain’s line, the Bible records the first instance of polygamy and the first instance of vengeance and escalating violence. Cain’s descendant Lamech (not the one in the line of Seth) vows to kill anyone who hurts him. In Seth’s line, the righteous Noah and his family would survive the flood to give birth to Abraham, David and finally Jesus, the promised seed.

The days after the resurrection leading up to the Feast of Pentecost are days of incredible change and new revelation. Jesus, the last Adam, had indeed, in the words of Paul, become a life giving spirit. Transformations and empowerment are coming on the Feast of Pentecost, so I want to focus on a change in name. Jacob experienced a life-changing moment that was so important in his life, he received a new name.

The story of Jacob begins while he and his brother Esau are still in the womb.

Genesis 25:22-26 KJV 22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. 24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. 26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.

Jacob and Esau struggled with each other even in the womb. Jacob continued the struggle as he was born grasping Esau’s heel. It seems as if they were each struggling to be the firstborn. This is confirmed when we see Jacob purchase the birthright from Esau. Jacob valued the birthright and struggled to attain it.

Genesis 25:29-34 NKJV 29 Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, "Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary." Therefore his name was called Edom. 31 But Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright as of this day." 32 And Esau said, "Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?" 33 Then Jacob said, "Swear to me as of this day." So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Esau willingly and knowingly sold the birthright. Even after his hunger was satisfied, we read that Esau arose and went his way. He completely dismissed it from his mind.

What else can we deduce about the characters of these two brothers? Esau is described as a skillful hunter. A skillful hunter could be a good thing but the only other person described in the Bible as a hunter was Nimrod, the founder of Babylon. The name Babylon comes from the word Babel where Nimrod built the tower of Babel. Nimrod strove to reach into heaven becoming like God. He wanted, by his actions, to make a name for himself.

In contrast, when Jesus was on this earth, He didn’t seek to elevate His own name. He sought to glorify the name of God. In Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples to do good works in order to bring glory to God.

Matthew 5:16 NKJV 16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Our purpose is not to bring glory to ourselves or to make a name for ourselves; we are to bring glory to God.

We have further evidence that Esau’s character is unsteady. Abraham went to great lengths to make sure Isaac did not marry a Canaanite.

Genesis 24:2-4 NKJV 2 So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, "Please, put your hand under my thigh, 3 "and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; 4 "but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac."

God had promised Abraham that He would drive out the Canaanites and give their land to Abraham. At least part of the reason He would do so was because of the sins of the Canaanites. He told Abraham in Genesis 15:16 NKJV 16 "But in the fourth generation they (Abraham’s descendants) shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete." God warns the Israelites not to adopt the practices of the Canaanites or the land would vomit them out as it vomited out the Canaanites. So, what did Esau do? He married two Canaanite women!

Genesis 26:34-35 NKJV 34 When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah.

Esau once again reveals that he despises the birthright and the possibility of being the father of the promised seed.

What about the character of Jacob? The same verse that describes Esau as a skillful hunter, describes Jacob as a “mild” man. Sounds kind of weak and rather nondescript, doesn’t it? The Hebrew word is tam and although it can mean plain or mild, it is usually translated complete, pious, morally upright (#8535). It comes from the same root word as tamiym, the word translated as without blemish in reference to the sacrifices that are brought before the LORD. So Esau is out hunting for a name for himself while Jacob is living a life of righteousness to the best of his ability.

But Jacob blows it. When Rebecca thinks that Isaac is dying, she convinces Jacob to masquerade as his brother Esau and, thus, attain the blessing. (Gen. 27:1-14) Rebecca did not want the blessing to go to Esau whose Canaanite wives were giving her grief! Besides, hadn’t God told her that the older would serve the younger? Jacob didn’t need much convincing. He had already purchased the birthright and desperately wanted the blessing. I can imagine his thoughts. Surely God doesn’t want the blessing to go to this selfish man who even married Canaanite women! I am a much better man and always try to do right. Surely God means for me to obtain the blessing along with the birthright. He just needs a little help. Instead of waiting for God to work it out, Jacob indeed tricked Isaac. This is where he gets his reputation of a trickster. Esau twists the meaning of Jacob’s name. The name Jacob or Ya’kov in Hebrew comes from the word aw-qav’ which means to seize by the heel but can also mean to circumvent, restrain or supplant.

Genesis 27:36 NKJV 36 And Esau said, "Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing!" And he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?"

Notice how all of a sudden Esau says that Jacob “took” his birthright when he had actually sold it? 

Nevertheless, in his struggle to attain the promise, the blessing, Jacob ends up exiled from the very land he hoped to inherit. Ironically, as he leaves the land of Canaan, Jacob receives the blessing of Abraham from Isaac.

Genesis 28:1-4 NKJV 1 Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, and said to him: "You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. 2 "Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother's father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother's brother. 3 "May God Almighty bless you, And make you fruitful and multiply you, That you may be an assembly of peoples; 4 And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you, That you may inherit the land In which you are a stranger, Which God gave to Abraham."

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

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