Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Star of David as a Symbol of Judaism

Recently I had a friend ask me about the Star of David as a symbol of Judaism. The concern was that this symbol had been taken from or used as a symbol in pagan worship. If that was the case, what action if any should we take in regard to the Star of David? Does having a Star of David mean we are inadvertently endorsing a pagan religion, or even worse, participating in the worship of an idol? Those of us who have embraced our Hebrew Roots and seek to live sanctified lives are examining every aspect of our lives. We search the scriptures allowing the Word to wash us so we may be presented to Him as holy and without blemish. We read over and over again in the Scriptures that Israel turned from the worship of God to worship the idols and gods of other nations. We know that we are not to make carved images to bow down to them, nor even to make an image of God and worship it as if it were God. This was the sin of the Israelites in making and worshiping the golden calf. We seek to avoid this pitfall, but what exactly is the worship of idols and what constitutes endorsing or participating in worship of another god?

God actually gave detailed instructions as the children of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land. He describes the worship of the pagans and tells us not to worship that way.

Deuteronomy 12:30-31 NKJV 30 "take heed to yourself …that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.' 31 "You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.

What are the abominations that the Canaanites did to their gods that the LORD hates? One is the sacrifice of their sons and daughters. Other abominations are described in Leviticus 18; these include various sexual sins. After listing these sexual taboos, Moses concludes with these words from God:

Leviticus 18:24-25 NKJV 24 'Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. 25 'For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants.

We read another description of the abominations of their “worship” when the women of Moab enticed the Israelites to sin.

Numbers 25:1-3 NKJV 1 Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. 2 They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel.

The worship included sexual immorality as well as joining in the sacrifices to their gods, eating and bowing down to their gods. During the days of Paul, the believers in Corinth lived in a city saturated with temples to various gods, chief of which was Aphrodite whose worship incorporated temple prostitution. The phrase “to live like a Corinthian” was synonymous with sexual immorality. Paul addresses this issue bluntly; he instructs them not to have fellowship with those brothers who engage in sexual immorality. He includes a few other activities as well.

1 Corinthians 5:11 NKJV 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner--not even to eat with such a person.

But the Corinthians believers had another problem, what could they eat or not eat to avoid participating in worship of other gods. We saw in Numbers 15 that the worship of Baal of Peor included eating. Paul basically says it is all in how the believer views the meat or food. If he views it as a thing offered to an idol and, thus, in his mind he participates in the worship to the idol, then He is defiled.

1 Corinthians 8:4 NKJV 4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one… 7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.

Paul readdresses this problem in chapter 10. He begins by once again exhorting them to flee from idolatry but then goes on to tell them that eating meat sacrificed to an idol is not idolatry.

1 Corinthians 10:25-26 NKJV 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience' sake; 26 for "the earth is the LORD'S, and all its fullness."

He does make an exception to this. When a non-believer invites a believer to eat with him and states that the meat has been sacrificed to idols, the believer should reject that food. But, the reason to reject it is not because of the believer but for the good of the non-believer! He reiterates that all things belong to the LORD.

1 Corinthians 10:27-28 NKJV 27 If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience' sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, "This was offered to idols," do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience' sake; for "the earth is the LORD'S, and all its fullness."

We have traveled far afield from our original question. Is the Star of David, or indeed any other symbol, inherently an instrument of idol worship? If we take the example of food sacrificed to idols, we can see that it was not merely the act of eating but the act of bowing down to the gods, of eating it as a thing offered to an idol. By doing so, one participates in the idolatry. So, whether or not the shape of the six-pointed star was ever used in a pagan ritual is not important. What is important is whether, when you observe it, you see it as an object of paganism. Paul concludes his discussion on eating food sacrificed to idols with these words:

1 Corinthians 10:31-33 NKJV 31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

But what about these symbols? Lots of groups try to take over symbols for their own purposes. One of the most prominent symbols that have been taken over in today’s world is the rainbow, the sign of God’s covenant with man. The gay and lesbian community has adopted it as their symbol. The symbol we now associate with the Nazis used to be the sign of the thunderbird in Native American history. It is also prominent in ancient Chinese and Japanese cultures. Even the idea of the trinity was “stolen” by the ancient Babylonians with the mother Ishtar, the son Marduk (who marries the mother) and has an offspring, Tammuz. Some give the names as Nimrod and his mother Semiramus giving birth to Tammuz. Satan would love for us to reject the Father, Son and Spirit on the basis of this forgery. Satan has set it up so that the similarities would cause us to reject the trinity. But, similarity does not mean relationship. Satan is always trying to steal what belongs to God. He is a thief, a liar, and a murderer from the beginning. Everything he says and does has an element of truth in it; just twisted to make it all false. Just examine what he says to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Everything he says is ALMOST true.

The fish, long a symbol used for one Christian to recognize another in the dangerous world of Roman persecution, has been stolen by the Darwinists by adding feet to symbolize evolution over creation; atheism over Christianity; chance over God’s design. Should we then reject the fish because Darwinists have decided to take it over? Should we reject the rainbow since the gays and lesbians have taken it over? Satan has also stolen the signs in the heavens and re-packaged them as astrology. God has written His word in the skies. One of the most prominent of which is the star over Bethlehem that marked Yeshua’s birth.  But man has chosen to disregard God’s signs and allow Satan to replace them with personal horoscopes.

God is the creator of the universe including Geometry and geometric symbols. In fact, that is the message of Psalm 24 that Paul quotes when he said that, “the earth is the LORD’s and all its fullness.” Psalm 24 concludes with the words:

Psalms 24:10 NKJV 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah

A word search for the LORD of hosts reveals that this name reveals the total authority of God over all of creation. He is the LORD of might and absolute authority. The signs in the heavens belong to Him; mathematics, physics and all the sciences belong to Him.

So what does the symbol of the Star of David represent?  The Star of David is two complete triangles, the simplest closed figure which represents the number three. Three is the number of spiritual completion. Two entwined triangles is an emphasis of the number 3. We have a double portion of divine completion in the Star of David. Our King Messiah is the Son of David. Zechariah actually calls the Messiah David when he writes about the time when David will sit on the throne forever. Is there anything inherently “good” or “bad” about the Star of David? It has no power or virtue in itself so there is no “good” inherent in having a Star of David. Unless one begins to attribute the power of God to the star itself, there is nothing “bad” about the star either. Some say that the Star of David is a mark of shame because of its use by the Nazis to identify and humiliate the Jewish people. It became a mark of shame because it was treated as a mark of shame, just like the Nazi symbol is now a mark of shame to the German people. But, the Dutch rejected the Star of David as a mark of shame, proudly wearing it with the Jews. The Jewish people today reject it as a mark of shame; instead it is a mark of triumph over evil and those who would kill them.

So the Star of David is nothing in itself. If you wear it, do so to the glory of God.  This is true of any other symbols associated with our faith when they are used to remind us of God, our relationship with Him, and as a public statement of our faith.

In our journey to seek to live a life pleasing to God, we need to ask ourselves, “What is pleasing to God?” Micah brings God’s complaints to the children of Israel about their continual idolatry, and then reminds the people of what the LORD requires.

Micah 6:8 NKJV 8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

Shalom and be blessed,
Dan and Brenda Cathcart
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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Comfort You, My People

We are currently in the period of time on the Biblical calendar known as the “dire straits.” This three week period from Tammuz 17 to Av 9 is in remembrance of the fall of Jerusalem. On Tammuz 17, Nebuchadnezzar broke through the walls of Jerusalem taking the city. On Av 9, he destroyed the temple. Jeremiah laments about the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of her enemies.

Lamentations 1:1-3 KJV 1 How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! 2 She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. 3 Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.

The lovers that Jerusalem had taken were the idols she worshipped in the place of God.

Jeremiah 2:20 KJV 20 For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.

None of her idols could deliver her from the Babylonians and God refused to hear their cries.

Jeremiah 11:11-12 KJV 11 Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them. 12 Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.

They were taken “between the straits.” The word translated as “straits” is the Hebrew word #4712.  rum  may-tsar' meaning something tight, i.e. (figuratively) trouble:--distress, pain, strait. The enemies of Jerusalem overtook her in a time of trouble and distress.

But God promises through Isaiah that Jerusalem’s punishment would come to an end; that He would comfort His people!

Isaiah 40:1-2 KJV 1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins.

That Sabbath after the 9th of Av begins a six week period known as the Sabbaths of Comfort. On each Sabbath during these six weeks which lead up to the Feast of Trumpets, readings are chosen from the book of Isaiah emphasizing God’s comfort of His people. Isaiah 40 is read on the first Sabbath after the 9th of Av.

These words of comfort recorded in Isaiah 40 come through a chorus of three messages, perhaps delivered by three heavenly messengers. Three is the number of divine completion. We also know that by two or three witnesses, a matter is decided. So, the message here is certain.

The first messenger brings the word in verses 1 and 2 that Jerusalem’s punishment will come to an end. The second message calls for preparing a highway for God to come to His people.

Isaiah 40:3-5 KJV 3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

The image is of an important visitor coming to a land in desperate need. The call is to repair the roads and to clear away all the obstacles to his coming. Luke records that John the Baptist’s message of repentance is the way to repair the roads and clear the obstacles.

Luke 3:3-6 KJV 3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; 6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Notice the slight difference between Isaiah and Luke in what all flesh would see. Isaiah says that all flesh would see the glory of the LORD and Luke says that all flesh will see the salvation of God. On the eve of His crucifixion, Yeshua connects the concepts of salvation and the glory of God.

John 17:1-5 KJV 1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

The third message in Isaiah 40 guarantees the vision.

Isaiah 40:6-8 KJV 6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: 7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. 8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

The word “goodliness” in verse 6 is the Hebrew word dox  chesed which implies God’s covenant devotion. In contrast, our chesed is transitory, but God’s word stands forever.

Psalms 103:15-18 KJV 15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16 For the wind (spirit) passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more 17 But the mercy(chesed) of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; 18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

Isaiah goes on to promise good news; a Messiah is coming!

Isaiah 40:9-11 KJV 9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! 10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. 11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Yeshua’s words to John in the book of Revelation, tell us that He is that coming Messiah; that He comes with His reward and that He is one with God who is the first and the last.

Revelation 22:12-13 KJV 12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Isaiah 44:6-7 KJV 6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. 7 And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them.

Isaiah concludes with words of encouragement to those who are waiting for the Messiah. For all those who are weary, God gives strength.

Isaiah 40:28-31 KJV 28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Yeshua also gave words of encouragement to His followers on the eve of His crucifixion. He promised a Comforter who would strengthen us and lead us into truth.

John 14:16-17 KJV 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 16:12-15 KJV 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

John 14:18 KJV 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Yeshua is coming! The promise is established and sure. As we wait for His coming; we rest in His strength given to us through the Holy Spirit, the Comforter who enables us to carry out our mission to spread the good news.

Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

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“The Sign of Jonah” is now available.  See our web site for details.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Sign of Jonah to be released July 1, 2013

Brenda and I are proud to announce our new book titled "The Sign of Jonah" is to be released soon!

What is the sign of Jonah? The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Yeshua (Jesus) asking for a sign that proved He was the Messiah. He chided them that, although they could read the signs in the sky about upcoming weather, they could not understand the signs heralding the coming of the Messiah. Disgusted with them, He told them the sign that they were missing. This sign was the sign of Jonah.

Matthew 16:4 NKJV 4 "A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." And He left them and departed.

Yeshua’s words indicate that this sign should have been one they were familiar with. Although earlier in His ministry, Yeshua explained what this sign is, in this interchange, He references the sign of Jonah without telling them what He is talking about. In other words, Yeshua is giving them a big hint if they have the motivation to refer to their own scriptures, the sign should be obvious. In this book, we take Yeshua’s hint and search the scriptures for the sign of Jonah, and find it everywhere! Join us as we unravel the mystery of the sign of Jonah!

Click HERE to pre-order your copy today! 

The expected release date is July 1, 2013. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Yeshua in the Counting of the Omer part 9: The Feast of Weeks (Shavuot)

The period of time on the Biblical Calendar known as the Counting of the Omer is the 50 day period from the day after the regular weekly Sabbath which falls during the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot.  In Christian circles this holiday is known as Pentecost but is little known beyond recognition as the day the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples and they spoke in tongues.  But this Feast has great significance in the life and ministry of Jesus (Yeshua) and in the lives of his disciples including those of us who follow Him today.  Yeshua was very active during this time teaching and preparing His disciple to go out into the world and preach the Gospel.

The fifty day count up to the Feast of Weeks is now complete. The forty-ninth day was a Sabbath, a day of rest and additional offerings and songs in the temple. The day ends at 3:00 p.m. with the Sabbath offering of two lambs on the altar. The altar is closed although the fire is kept burning throughout the night. The altar will be ready to receive new offerings at 9:00 a.m. the next morning when the priests will begin the Feast day with the daily offering of the lamb and the special offerings of the Feast. What did this day look like in Yeshua’s time? What events did they commemorate on this day?

Like all the feasts, the Feast of Weeks is a remembrance of the exodus from Egypt. The Passover is when the Hebrews killed the lamb and put the blood on the doorposts and lintels of their houses as a sign of their allegiance to God. The firstborn of all the Egyptians died on this night. The Feast of Unleavened Bread remembers their flight from Egypt up through their ultimate deliverance through the Red Sea and the death of Pharaoh’s army in the sea. The Feast of Firstfruits is their exodus from Egypt itself taking with them the bones of Joseph leaving behind an empty tomb. The Feast of Weeks is the day the Israelites received the covenant at Mt. Sinai. God made His presence both known and obvious as a cloud and fire over the mountain. He declared the whole mountain holy or set apart to Him. Moses was the mediator between God the children of Israel. He runs up and down the mountain relaying words back and forth. God outlined His plan for them.

Exodus 19:5-6 NKJV 5 'Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."

The children of Israel agreed to do all that God commanded them to do. Finally, the word comes down from God; He will appear before all the people.

Exodus 19:10-11 NKJV 10 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. 11 "And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.

On the morning of the third day, God came down on Mt. Sinai.

Exodus 19:16-17 NKJV 16 Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.

After making sure that none of the people would approach too closely to the mountain, God spoke the words we call the Ten Commandments. The people trembled at the awesome display of God’s power. The Midrash, which is a commentary on the Torah, gives further details of the events at Mt. Sinai. The Midrash says that tongues of fire circled and touched all the people gathered at Mt. Sinai. It says that there were thunderings and lightnings plural because God’s voice came in all 70 languages of the nations but only Israel answered and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.”

Yeshua’s disciples knew all of this. They remembered Yeshua’s words that His blood is the covenant sacrifice that brings in the New Covenant spoken of by Jeremiah.

Luke 22:19-20 NKJV 19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
Yeshua said that the New Covenant was ratified with His death. Jeremiah writes God’s terms for the new covenant. The terms are the same; but instead of having the Torah written on tablets of stones which can be forgotten, they are now written on each heart and in every mind of those who agree to the covenant.

Jeremiah 31:31-33 NKJV 31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah- 32 "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law (Torah) in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

The Feast of Weeks is also the Feast of Firstfruits of the wheat harvest as well as other early fruits. It is connected to the Feast of Firstfruits of the barley harvest celebrated during the Feast of Unleavened Bread by the fifty days of the omer. Omer means a measure of grain. Each day during the Omer, one omer of new grain is offered on the altar. At the conclusion of the Omer, on the fiftieth day, pilgrims from all across Israel brought their firstfruit offerings. As the day dawned, a priest would walk out of Jerusalem and meet the pilgrims as they arrived calling out, “Rise and let us go up to Zion, to the house of the Lord our God.” They would proceed to sound of the flute, singing and dancing to the temple where, at 9:00 a.m., the service would begin. The high priest offers up two loaves of bread baked with the new grain waving them in every direction. By doing this, they acknowledged God’s provision and sovereignty over all the earth. Each pilgrim would bring his firstfruits offering with the required words as recorded in Deuteronomy. They were to testify that God redeemed them from Egypt, brought them into the Promised Land and is the source of all their blessings (Deut. 26:1-11).  The streets of Jerusalem would be thronged with Pilgrims; according to the historian Josephus, two and half million Jewish pilgrims from all over the Roman world came up to Jerusalem for the Feasts as required by the commandment in the Torah (Exodus 34:23).  All would be eager to get to the temple to watch the offerings.

The disciples who had spent every possible moment over the last ten days in the temple praising God would have been early arrivers. The anticipation is keen. They are ready to testify that Yeshua was crucified and rose again. At precisely 9:00, as the pilgrims enter the temple with their offerings and the high priest lifts the wave offering, the Holy Spirit falls on the disciples as tongues of fire matching precisely the description of God coming down on Mt. Sinai and speaking the word of the Torah.

Acts 2:1-4 NKJV 1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Luke tells us that, like the Israelites at Mt. Sinai, they were in one accord, in unity of purpose. The “sound” from heaven is not a mere sound but a roar like the thunderings at Mt. Sinai. They were in a “house.” The Greek word translated as house is “oykos”, the same word Yeshua uses when talking about the house of God in Matthew 12:4 and 21:13. Tongues of fire, like the lightnings at Mt. Sinai, fall on each disciple who is present. Luke goes on to tell us a multitude of devout Jews from every nation heard the roaring sound and the disciples praising God in their own language.

Acts 2:5-8 NKJV 5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 "And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?

Where would devout Jews, who have traveled a long distance to be in Jerusalem for this feast, be when the feast began? Where would one hundred twenty disciples be so that a multitude of people could hear them praising God? The word multitude means thousands! There is only one place where this could have taken place and this is at the temple!

Peter and the other eleven apostles stand up and address the multitude. The Holy Spirit literally came with fire upon each and every one of them. With the power and strength from the Holy Spirit, they testify that Yeshua is the Messiah! All of the Jews there are experiencing a reenactment of the time at Mt. Sinai! Peter concludes his discourse with the testimony of Yeshua’s resurrection.

Acts 2:32-36 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. 34 "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."' 36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ (Messiah)."

The people cry out in anguish, “What shall we do?” Why do they believe so readily? Because they have just experienced a reenactment of the events at Mt. Sinai when they had promised God that they would do all He commanded them. They were bringing their first fruits where they once again swear their allegiance to God acknowledging Him as sovereign just like they did at Mt. Sinai.

Peter tells them to repent. The Hebraic concept of repent is to turn back to God. Peter’s answer is to us as well as them.

Acts 2:38-39 NKJV 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."

Yeshua is still calling and continues to call until the time of the fall Feasts and His return. He returns at the end of another count of fifty; the Year of Jubilee. The proclamation of the Year of Jubilee on Yom Kippur is a proclamation of liberty to the captives and a proclamation of the day of vengeance of God. Until then, we have a mission to complete—to go into all nations and make disciples teaching them all of Yeshua’s words from Genesis to Revelation.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Yeshua in the Counting of the Omer part 8: The last Ten Days

The period of time on the Biblical Calendar known as the Counting of the Omer is the 50 day period from the day after the regular weekly Sabbath which falls during the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot.  In Christian circles this holiday is known as Pentecost but is little known beyond recognition as the day the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples and they spoke in tongues.  But this Feast has great significance in the life and ministry of Jesus (Yeshua) and in the lives of his disciples including those of us who follow Him today.  Yeshua was very active during this time teaching and preparing His disciple to go out into the world and preach the Gospel.

The last ten days of the Omer begin with Yeshua’s ascension into heaven. Yeshua had taken His disciples out to the Mt. of Olives for the purpose of witnessing His ascension. Thoughts of Yeshua re-establishing Israel as an independent nation were uppermost in the disciples’ minds. But at Yeshua’s ascension, their thoughts were diverted.

Before examining Yeshua’s actions there on the Mt. of Olives, let’s review the offices of Messiah. First, the Messiah was to be a prophet like Moses.

Deuteronomy 18:18-19 NKJV 18 'I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19 'And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.

Yeshua fulfilled this role as the prophet like Moses. What did Moses do? What were His actions as God’s prophet? His chief role is to speak all the words God puts in his mouth. Sometimes they are words of rebuke or even praise, sometimes they are words of things to come, sometimes they are reminders of who God is and what He has done. This is the role of all the prophets. But Moses was a special prophet—God spoke to him mouth to mouth.

Numbers 12:7-8 KJV 7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. 8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

The voice of God confirmed that Yeshua was this prophet like Moses at the transfiguration when God’s voice spoke, “This is my beloved son, hear him.”

The second role of the messiah was to be the lamb that God provided for the atonement for the people. Abraham said that God would provide the lamb for the sacrifice. (Gen. 22:7-8) Isaiah says He will suffer for our iniquities and be resurrected to new life. (Is. 53) The third role of the messiah is that of the atoning high priest. Once a year on Yom Kippur, the high priest enters the Holy of Holies and makes atonement for the children of Israel.

Leviticus 16:32-34 NKJV 32 "And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father's place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments; 33 "then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 "This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year." And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.

Not only did the high priest make atonement for the sins of the children of Israel, he made atonement for the tabernacle and the altar itself. The spiritual miasma of sin permeated even into the physical material of the tabernacle and the altar. In the days of the second temple, as the Day of Atonement began, a scarlet thread was tied to the doors of the Temple and the horns of the live goat which symbolically took their sins away.

Leviticus 16:21-22 NKJV 21 "Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. 22 "The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.

In the time of the second temple, the live goat would not be merely released into the wilderness. The population was great enough that the goat would always find its way back among people. Instead the priest releasing the goat would push it over a cliff. If God forgave the sins of Israel, then the scarlet thread on the goat and the doors of the temple would turn white. Not only would the temple and the altar be cleansed, but so would the entire nation of Israel.

Zechariah wrote of a specific atonement of the high priest. In his vision, Zechariah saw Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD with Satan accusing him. Joshua was wearing filthy garments.

Zechariah 3:3-5 NKJV 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. 4 Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, "Take away the filthy garments from him." And to him He said, "See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes." 5 And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the LORD stood by.

God later explains the meaning of the vision to Zechariah. Joshua was a sign of the cleansing of all Israel in one day and the coming of the LORD’s servant the Branch.

Zechariah 3:8-9 NKJV 8 'Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, You and your companions who sit before you, For they are a wondrous sign; For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH. 9 For behold, the stone That I have laid before Joshua: Upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription,' Says the LORD of hosts, 'And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.

It is this third role of the atoning high priest that Yeshua entered into as He ascended into heaven on the fortieth day of the Omer.

Luke 24:50-51 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. We see its first use when Moses invested Aaron as the high priest over Israel.

Leviticus 9:22-23 NKJV 22 Then Aaron lifted his hand toward the people, blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and peace offerings. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people,

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:

When a priest raises his hands to begin the blessing, the people automatically bow their heads to receive the blessing, gazing at the feet of the priest pronouncing the blessing. Only priests were to say this blessing but by using this phrase, Luke is telling us that Yeshua said this blessing called the Aaronic blessing over His disciples.
Yeshua’s first act as the high priest was to speak the blessing over them. Here are the words Yeshua 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."'

Imagine the scene. There on the Mt. of Olives, the place where He began His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Yeshua lifts His nail-scarred hands over them. The disciples recognize the gesture and automatically gaze down at Yeshua’s feet where they gaze on His nail-scarred feet. Yeshua begins to speak the blessing and as He does, the disciples see His feet lift from the ground. Their eyes follow His feet upward as He completes the blessing and disappears. Luke records this meeting in both Acts and his gospel.

Acts 1:9-11 NKJV 9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

Luke 24:52-53 NKJV 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.

These final ten days of the Omer begin with Yeshua saying this blessing over them as He ascends to heaven. The disciples worshipped and rejoiced! They returned to Jerusalem and spent as much time as they possibly could in God’s temple worshipping and praising God! They spent time together in prayer and petition. Luke clearly states where they spent those final days of the Omer. The count is still continuing; the anticipation continues to grow. What would God do next? What will happen when the Holy Spirit comes on them? Yeshua said that the Holy Spirit would come in just a few days!

Acts 1:5 NKJV 5 "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

I’m sure they must have discussed the implications of Yeshua declaring that He was the heavenly high priest. The land of Israel and her people surely needed their sins removed. Rome controlled the earthly high priesthood awarding it to the highest bidder! With the land and people being atoned for by such a high priest as Yeshua, surely the nation would be re-established. Zechariah goes on to show that the Branch would be both priest and king.

Zechariah 6:12-13 NKJV 12 "Then speak to him, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: "Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the LORD; 13 Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both."'

The Feast of Weeks which is the anniversary of the day God gave them the Covenant on Mt. Sinai was just ten days away. Yeshua said His blood ushered in the New Covenant. Something will happen on this Feast day just like the events which happened on the previous three feasts! Yeshua died on Passover, descended to the grave as the Feast of Unleavened Bread began and rose on the Feast of Firstfruits. They must be ready for anything! Peter and the disciples gather together and discuss what preparations they must make. They remember the words Yeshua spoke to them at His last Passover Seder and throughout the preceding forty days of the Omer that they would be witnesses of Him.

John 15:26-27 NKJV 26 "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27 "And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

The first thing they did to get ready was to appoint a new apostle to take Judas Iscariot’s place as one of the twelve. Peter speaks of Judas Iscariot’s fall and the need to replace him in front of about one hundred twenty of the disciples.

Acts 1:20-22 NKJV 20 "For it is written in the book of Psalms: 'Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it'; and, 'Let another take his office.' 21 "Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 "beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection."

The disciples continue to rejoice and worship God. Each day they went to the temple. As the day ended, they returned to the place they were staying and continued in prayer and petition. Until, finally, it is the day before the Feast of Weeks. They are ready to testify to Yeshua’s death and resurrection!

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed,
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Visit our web site at