Thursday, May 31, 2018

Bringing Light to a Darkened World

By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
Moed Ministries International

The video version of this teaching is available at:

Scripture reading for this teaching:
Luke 13:1-33 (John 10)

Following the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot, Yeshua and His disciples returned to the Galilee.  But they didn’t find much respite from the near constant hounding by Herod Antipas who was bent on putting a stop to Yeshua’s exploits.  More and more, the people were speaking of Yeshua as the desired king of Israel, a title and office which Herod Antipas was determined to obtain.  We taught on this antagonism between Yeshua and Herod Antipas in our previous study titled, “A Tale of Two Kings” available in our video archives and on our blog.
It wasn’t long after arriving back in the Galilee, Yeshua once again set out for Jerusalem.  But it was not yet Passover; it was not yet time for Yeshua to face His execution and resurrection.  It was the time of the Feast of Dedication or better known to us as Hanukkah.  This was not a feast mentioned at all in the Hebrew scriptures.  It was not a pilgrimage feast requiring all males to attend.  The only place in scripture which makes mention of the feast of Hanukkah in in the gospel account of John.
John 10:22 NKJV 22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.
Knowing the hostility and enmity that He faced in Jerusalem just a few weeks prior, why would Yeshua risk another trip to Jerusalem, the very heart of His enemy’s territory, when it was not required of Him?  Why would He risk being arrested or even killed “before His time?”  There is much more to this journey than simply celebrating this minor and relatively new festival.
The Festival of Hanukkah was established less than two hundred years prior to Yeshua’s time.  It was established to commemorate the rededication of the Temple following the victory of Judah Maccabees and the Hasmonaeans over the Greek empire of Antiochus IV Epiphanies.
There is very little record of how Hanukkah was actually celebrated in Yeshua’s day.  The Jewish historian Josephus, who was alive at the time of the late Second Temple period and was an eye witness to its destruction in 70 CE does give us a brief description of Hanukkah:
“So on the five and twentieth day of the month of Kislev, which the Macedonians call Apellaios, (the Maccabees) lit the lamps that were on the menorah, and offered incense upon the (golden) altar, and had laid loaves out upon the table (of the bread of the Presence), and offered burnt offerings on the new altar (which they had constructed)… And Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the Temple for eight days… they made a law for their posterity that they should keep a festival on account of the restoration of their Temple worship, for eight days.  And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and it is called “Lights.”  I suppose the reason was, because this liberation exceeding our hopes shined on us, and that hence became the name given to that festival.”[1]
The gospel accounts do not elaborate on the possible reasons why Yeshua would decide to go up to Jerusalem for this minor festival.  I am sure that the pressure from both Herod Antipas and from the corrupt Jewish leadership in Jerusalem, who had given their allegiance to Rome, was mounting and becoming a major issue and potential hinderance to Yeshua’s mission and ministry.
Yeshua may have decided to return to Jerusalem after news of the attack and slaughter of many Galileans in Jerusalem by Pontius Pilate, who was a man of unusual and sadistically brutal character, even for Roman standards.
Luke 13:1-2 NKJV 1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?
Were these Galileans whom Pilate had slaughtered, believers and followers of Yeshua?  We do not know.  We can infer from the text of the gospels that the news of this quickly reach Yeshua in the Galilee. By the phrasing of Yeshua’s answer to them, those bearing this news were most likely a few of His detractors and not followers or disciples.  Yeshua never-the-less, took the opportunity to teach them about the nature of the kingdom of God.  Continuing with Yeshua’s answer in verses 3 through 5:
Luke 13:3-5 NKJV 3 "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 "Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
Based upon many texts, Judaism of Yeshua’s day equated sickness and death, suffering and mortality, with the punishment for sin.  There are numerous examples in the Torah of those struck with leprosy because of some committed sin.
Deuteronomy 24:8 NKJV 8 "Take heed in an outbreak of leprosy, that you carefully observe and do according to all that the priests, the Levites, shall teach you; just as I commanded them, so you shall be careful to do.
Many people in the Bible were struck with leprosy, even kings were not immune to the effects of sin.
2 Chronicles 26:19 NKJV 19 Then Uzziah became furious; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the incense altar.
Yeshua meets the news of the death of the Galileans at the hand of Pilate by posing a rhetorical question in verse four.  There is no record of a fallen tower and the death of eighteen people outside the Biblical account, yet it seems that this incident was recent and commonly known or perhaps happened while Yeshua and the disciple were last in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles.  Yeshua was using the death of the Galileans and those killed in the collapse of the tower to make a point and perhaps a prophetic statement about the near-future destruction that awaits the City of Jerusalem.  He appears to use these incidents to teach about guilt and repentance.
The apostle James later wrote of the equation of sin and death:
James 1:15 NKJV 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Paul, in his numerous epistles, writes often of the “wages of sin and death.” James, Paul and the Master Himself were all speaking in broader terms.  Natural disasters and accidents befall us all.  But does falling victim to such things mean that we are being punished for some hidden or open sin?  I don’t think that is what Yeshua or the apostles are saying.
We have probably all witnessed the death of a close friend or loved one by disease or accident through no fault of their own.  The saying that “bad things happen to good people” is true.  Yeshua had a bigger lesson in mind that we should take hold of when we experience death and disease around us.  Yeshua taught that the death of the Galileans who were slaughtered in the Temple, and those who died in the collapse of the tower suffered the fate that awaits an entire generation.  He treated both incidents as a harbinger to the future and a continuation of His central message to repent for the kingdom of God is near!
Yeshua then shares the parable of the Fig Tree with His followers:
Luke 13:6-9 NKJV 6 He also spoke this parable: "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 "Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, 'Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?' 8 "But he answered and said to him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. 9 'And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.'"
Yeshua uses this parable to further His message of repentance. If we observe the illustration in these terms, we get a clearer picture of the Master’s teaching: First, the fig tree in this parable is in the vineyard and is indicative of the messianic age! God is the owner of the vineyard. The vineyard itself is Israel. The Fig tree is the generation that Yeshua indicated would face judgment and Yeshua is the vinedresser.  The fruit of the tree is repentance.  The husbandry performed is the ministry of proclaiming the kingdom and calling for repentance.  The cutting down of the tree is judgement.
The overall message is that the time for repentance and returning to God is short. The fig tree was young, at only three years old.  Yeshua’s ministry here on earth was exactly three years old at this point and His time remaining with them was also short! He had to quickly get His message across and prepare His disciple to continue His mission.
Not long after this, Yeshua heads for Jerusalem and the Feast of Hanukkah.  On His way he stops off in many villages and teaches His disciple using many parables. Two of which are the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leaven.
Luke 13:18-22 NKJV 18 Then He said, "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 "It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches." 20 And again He said, "To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? 21 "It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened." 22 And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.
Yeshua was looking to guide and redirect the thinking of His followers.  They were continuing to question Him about His kingdom in terms of Him leading a rebellion, defeating the Roman occupation and re-establishing the Davidic kingdom as spoken of by the prophets.  Yeshua, on the other hand, wanted to bring them a message of a different kind of kingdom which would be established prior to the final redemption; prior to the physical defeat of their earthy enemies.  He wanted them to understand the establishment of the Messianic Age was here and now!  In these two, short parables He was illustrating this Messianic Age.
The sower is the Son of Man, Yeshua. The mustard seed is the message of the kingdom of heaven. The field is the world. The tree, when fully grown is the kingdom fully realized, and the birds of the air are the nations.  The lesson to be learned in this parable is that the kingdom starts out small but grows to dominate the surrounding land.
In the second parable Yeshua is like the woman folding in a small amount of leaven into a large batch of dough. The leaven represents the message of the kingdom of God rather than the more common representation of sin.  Leaven is used here in a positive sense rather than a negative.  Just as the small amount of leaven will be spread throughout the entire batch of dough, so, too will the message of the kingdom of God. Introduced in a small amount by Yeshua Himself, it will be spread out to the whole world by his disciples!
While still traveling and taking the time to stop and teach in the various villages along the way, Yeshua is approached by a man with an important and timely question.
Luke 13:23-24 NKJV 23 Then one said to Him, "Lord, are there few who are saved?" And He said to them, 24 "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
In other words, the man wanted to know if entrance to the kingdom of God and the World to Come was broad or narrow.  The popular view among first century Judaism is a broad view that all Israel will be saved.  At first glance, Paul seems to take the broad view position in Romans.
Romans 11:25-28 NKJV 25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins." 28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.
However, because Paul is rather thorough and long winded in his dissertations, we must look at Paul’s writings in a broader context.  In keeping with the teachings of Yeshua as well as those of John the Baptist, Paul teaches that one’s Jewishness is not the basis for salvation.
Romans 9:4-6 NKJV 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. 6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,
Yeshua also held the narrow view and warned His followers not to rely on their Jewish heritage to save them or guarantee their entrance into the kingdom of heaven. One must accept and walk in the covenant by faith!  Yeshua warned Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin to seek a spiritual transformation.
John 3:1-3 NKJV 1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." 3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Yeshua was teaching them that if they desired to enter into eternal life, they must first love God with all their heart, and love their neighbor as themselves.  This is the very foundation of the Law or Torah!  If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments! Yeshua addresses the man’s question directly
Luke 13:24-27 NKJV 24 "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 "When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from,' 26 "then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.' 27 "But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.'
Again, Yeshua answers by including a brief parable. In the parable of the closed door, the master of the house closes the door after all his invited guests arrived.  When more come knocking on the door, the master of the house does not recognize them.  He answers their knock by sending them away with the words “I do not know you, where you are from.” This is similar to the Rabbinic practice of “banning” a disciple or student from the presence of their master or Rabbi for various reasons.  In this parable we perhaps see an example of disciples becoming too comfortable or arrogant and complacent in their position with the master of this particular house.  They ate and drank in his presence while the master taught in their streets, but did they take his teaching seriously?
In this parable the owner of the house represents the Son of Man.  The house is the Messianic banquet in the kingdom.  The door on which they knock is salvation or entrance to the kingdom.  Those left outside are the unrepentant
The meaning of this parable is summed up nicely in its similar elements to those found in the Sermon on the Mount and the parable of the ten virgins.
Matthew 7:22-23 NKJV 22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
Matthew 25:10-12 NKJV 10 "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. 11 "Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' 12 "But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.'
According to Jewish belief about the Messianic Age, we will be present at a great banquet, and the Messiah will gather the exiles from the four corners of the earth.  This is reflected in Matthew’s gospel.
Matthew 8:11 NKJV 11 "And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
Those of us who are the resurrected disciples will have a seat at the table along with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!  But there will, unfortunately be those who knock at the door and will be turned away.
Yeshua continued on His journey up to Jerusalem for the Festival of Lights, teaching and admonishing His disciples and followers in the villages along the way.  Many believed Him and began to see the kingdom of God and the Messianic Age revealed before them.  It is appropriate that Yeshua would return to Jerusalem for Festival of Hanukkah.  In His journey to attend the Festival of Light, realizing that time is of the essence, Yeshua, the light of the world, travels once again to Jerusalem to light the pathway of salvation; to shine His light on the very gates of the kingdom of heaven.  Yeshua, the light of the world is bringing the great light to a spiritually darkened House of God for all to see.
Study Questions:
1. Josephus supposes that the Festival of Dedication was called “Lights” because the liberation exceeded their hopes.  How does this add meaning to Yeshua’s celebration and words at the festival? (John 10)
2. What other evidence is there for the idea of a “narrow gate” to enter the kingdom of heaven?  What about the idea of a wide gate?
3. What did Yeshua mean when He stated that those whom Pilate murdered in the Temple and those who died in the collapse of the tower were no different than anyone else? (Luke 13:1-5)
4. Yeshua uses many parables in His teaching while on the road up to Jerusalem.  How does His use of parables illustrate the kingdom of heaven?  What are other parables Yeshua used to communicate the same theme?
5. In this teaching, we mention the rabbinic practice of “banning” a student or disciple from the presence of the master rabbi.  This was usually done for a short time period.  The disciple could return once certain conditions were met.  How does this practice relate to Yeshua’s parable of the ten virgins?  How does it relate to his statement, “depart from me,” or “I do not know you, where you are from?” 

© 2018 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved

[1] Flavious Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 12:139, 323-325/vii. 6-7)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Shabbat Service 5-26-2018

Join us each Shabbat at 10:00 am Pacific time for our weekly service.  Watch our midweek video teaching on Wednesday nights, download the discussion questions from our midweek teaching and be ready to join in the discussion on Shabbat.  We live stream our service on and on our Moed Ministries International Facebook page.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Ask, Seek and Knock

By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
Moed Ministries International

The video version of this teaching is available at:

Scripture readings for this teaching:
Luke chapters 11 and 12

Yeshua prayed regularly. His disciples observed Him praying and desired to pray as He did. This was a typical practice among rabbis and their disciples. A rabbi would usually include his own short prayer or benediction with the regular daily prayer called the Amidah, or standing prayer. The use of this prayer by a disciple would identify who his rabbi was.
Luke 11:1 NKJV 1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples."
So, Yeshua taught them a prayer, then afterwards, He told a parable and concluded it with the instructions to ask, seek, and knock.
Luke 11:9 NKJV 9 "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Is this verse saying that God is obligated to give us whatever we ask for as if He was a vending machine in which we deposit our prayers and out pops our selection? Or are there guidelines for our asking, seeking, and knocking? What is the context of this verse and what does it reveal about the character of our God?
Yeshua’s instructions to His disciples to ask, seek and knock came in the context of the prayer that He taught them illustrated by a parable. Let’s examine the prayer that Yeshua taught and what the parable reveals about praying.
The prayer opens with an acknowledgment of God and a desire for His kingdom.
Luke 11:2 NKJV 2 So He said to them, "When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
Our God is unique, hallowed or set apart; His kingdom is glorious and those who enter into it are blessed! He is our God and there is no other. The Sh’ma, or daily recitation of the Torah from the book of Deuteronomy opens with these words similar to those Yeshua used in His prayer:
Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one; blessed be the name of His glorious Kingdom forever and ever.
Yeshua’s disciples are to come in submission to God. We are to seek God’s will, not our own will, and desire that it be implemented on earth as it already is in heaven. Yeshua demonstrated this for us by always seeking to do only the will of the Father.
John 4:34 NKJV 34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.
Yeshua said that doing the will of the Father nourished Him! We, also, need to seek that nourishment. That request is the next part of the prayer Yeshua taught His disciples.
Luke 11:3 NKJV 3 Give us day by day our daily bread.
When the children of Israel were in the wilderness, God provided manna or bread for them each day, but only enough for that day. God told Moses that the daily ration was to test them to see whether they would walk in His ways.
Exodus 16:4 NKJV 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.
Yeshua tells us that the manna God provided them was a shadow of the true bread from heaven. Yeshua is our daily bread and the true bread from heaven.
John 6:32-35 NKJV 32 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 34 Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always." 35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
The daily bread we ask for is for both our physical and spiritual needs. It is for our daily ration of life and the promise of eternal life.
After we ask for our daily bread, Yeshua reminds us of the need to forgive and to receive forgiveness.
Luke 11:4 NKJV 4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one."
Our sins are forgiven as we forgive others. We acknowledge that we are all dependent on God’s mercy! James, the brother of Yeshua in his epistle tells us that the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself is fulfilled in mercy over judgment.
James 2:8 NKJV 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well;
Then, skipping down to verses 12 and 13:
James 2:12-13 NKJV 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
The last phrase of the prayer Yeshua taught asks God not to lead us into temptation. This seems like a strange thing to ask. Why would God lead us into temptation? James explains that God does not entice us to sin, but rather the weakness of our flesh is what entices us.
James 1:13-14 NKJV 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
In other words, when we turn away from “your will be done” to “my will be done” we face temptations. Yeshua later clarifies His statement telling His disciples that the weakness of our flesh leads us into temptation.
Mark 14:38 NKJV 38 "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Yeshua, himself, was taken into the wilderness and, when His flesh was weak from hunger, Satan threw three specific temptations at Him. These temptations represent the temptations of the world. The apostle John summarizes in 1 John 2:15-16:
1 John 2:15-16 NKJV 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world.
The prayer Yeshua taught concludes with the request that God deliver us from evil. Evil is in this world and, to some extent, it touches or falls on us all. Paul declares God’s faithfulness in delivering him from all the evil that was intended against him.
2 Timothy 4:18 NKJV 18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
Yeshua’s prayer asks that we also be delivered from evil so that we may enter into God’s glorious kingdom.
After teaching His disciples this prayer, Yeshua tells a parable to better understand the importance of prayer and why they are to pray. The parable is about a persistent neighbor asking for three loaves of bread to set before a friend. Even though the man may already be in bed, he will rise to give his friend the bread he asks for because of his persistence. Yeshua states the moral or conclusion of the parable in Luke 11:9 about asking, seeking, and knocking. The NKJV Study Bible explains the meaning of the parable:
Jesus’ point is that in prayer the disciple is to be bold. The example in the parable (vv5-7) is a man who goes boldly to his neighbor to seek what he requires. Likewise, the disciple is to go boldly to God for that which is needed.[i]
We are to pray so that we might receive those things we need. We will receive those things we need only if we have the boldness to ask for what we need. But the requests need to be within the framework of the Lord’s Prayer! James chastises the recipients of his epistle, the twelve tribes, because they ask amiss!
James 4:1-4 NKJV 1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Yeshua explains that the Father desires to give good gifts to His children using the example of an earthly father giving good gifts to his children.
Luke 11:11-13 NKJV 11 "If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 "Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
Firstfruits of Zion explains this imagery of stones, serpents, and scorpions in their work Chronicles of the Messiah:
The Master used snakes and scorpions metaphorically to refer to evil spirits. In rabbinic folklore, malevolent spirits are responsible for misfortunes. Good comes from the Holy Spirit, i.e. God. From that perspective, Yeshua was not speaking only about spiritual gifts or the endowment of the Holy Spirit in this passage. Rather, He contrasted evil results to prayer against good results to prayer. If you pray for something good, God will not send evil.[ii]
So, how do we ask boldly of God while at the same time avoiding the pitfall described by James of asking amiss? Luke records that Yeshua was confronted by a man asking Him to judge a dispute between him and his brother.
Luke 12:13-15 NKJV 13 Then one from the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." 14 But He said to him, "Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?" 15 And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."
Yeshua proceeded to tell a parable about a rich man who gloried in the abundance of his riches, building bigger and bigger barns to store his abundance.
Luke 12:19-21 NKJV 19 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."' 20 "But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' 21 "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
Our hearts and deeds need to be rich towards God. When our hearts are rich towards God, we will not ask amiss. We can expect our Father to give us good gifts. This takes us back to the Sh’ma.
Deuteronomy 11:13-14 NKJV 13 'And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 'then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil.
Then, skipping down to verse 18:
Deuteronomy 11:18 NKJV 18 "Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
So, what are to ask, seek, and knock? We are to ask for our daily bread and the things that we need in accordance with God’s will.
1 John 5:14-15 NKJV 14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
Even Yeshua only asked according to God’s will. When confronted with death on the cross, Yeshua did not ask that He be spared that death; He asked only for the Father’s will.
John 12:27-28 NKJV 27 "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 "Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came from heaven, saying, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again."
Yeshua told us to ask in the same fashion. Whatever we ask for should ensure that God’s name be glorified.
John 14:13-14 NKJV 13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
We are to ask of those things that further the kingdom of God and enable us to bear fruit for God.
John 15:7-8 NKJV 7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
What are we to seek? Yeshua tells us that we don’t need to seek for our material needs; we are instead to seek the coming of the kingdom of God.
Luke 12:29-31 NKJV 29 "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 "For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 "But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.
The Torah tells us that we are to seek God with all our hearts.
Deuteronomy 4:29 NKJV 29 "But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
The Psalmist tells us to trust, delight, and commit to God and we will receive the desires of our hearts.
Psalms 37:3-5 NKJV 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.
We don’t need to seek the desires of our hearts; if we seek God’s kingdom, God’s righteousness and God’s will, He will give us the desires of our hearts. And don’t be surprised to find that the desires of your heart are to do the will of the Father!
On what door are we to knock and have it open to us? Chronicles of the Messiah quotes the Megillah 12b as saying:
He knocked at the gates of mercy, and they were opened to him.[iii]
When the gates of mercy are opened to us, we have access to the kingdom of God! So, when we pray we should say boldly and persistently:
Luke 11:2b-4 NKJV 2b … Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one."
God is not a vending machine that He would seek to do our will! Our will is not important unless and until it lines up with the will of the Father to further His kingdom, to bring about His will, and to bring glory to the Father.
Study Questions:
1. The prayer a rabbi taught his disciples became an identifying characteristic of the disciples of a particular rabbi. What does the prayer Yeshua taught reveal about Him? What will those hearing this prayer understand as an “identifying characteristic” of Yeshua’s disicples?

2. “Your will be done” can be seen as a prerequisite of the rest of the prayer. What does John 6:34-40 say about the ultimate will of the Father? How does that change the way you understand this prayer?

3. The parable of the persistent neighbor teaches us to be persistent and bold in requesting what we need. What does Hebrews 10:19-23 say is the source of our confidence and boldness? (How does this relate to question 2?)

4. How do Yeshua’s three temptations fit in the categories of lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life as described by 1 John 2:15-16? How do our temptations fit into those categories?

5. Read James 2:8-13 about the “royal law” of loving your neighbor as yourself. How does mercy demonstrate that love?

© 2018 Moed Ministries International

[i] The NKJV Study Bible. Earl D. Radmacher, Th.D. Thomas Nelson. ©2007. P1618.
[ii] The Chonicles of the Messiah. D. Thomas Lancaster. First Fruits of Zion. ©2014 D. T. Lancaster. P.980.
[iii] Ibid. p.979.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Shabbat Service 5-19-2018

Join us each Shabbat at 10:00 am Pacific time for our weekly service.  Watch our midweek video teaching on Wednesday nights, download the discussion questions from our midweek teaching and be ready to join in the discussion on Shabbat.  We live stream our service on and on our Moed Ministries International Facebook page.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Fountain of Living Water

By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
Moed Ministries International

The video version of this teaching is available at:

Scripture reading: John 8:1-11
At the end of last weeks teaching, we observed Yeshua in the Temple courts declaring that He was the living water following the highly anticipated and powerful Ceremony of Water Pouring during the Feast of Sukkot.  For Yeshua to make such a public pronouncement, when he vowed to attend this pilgrimage feast in secret, was a dangerous thing to do.  Many political and religious leaders in Judea sought to have him arrested or killed.  But even with the danger at the hands of His enemies, Yeshua returned to the temple the next day.
John 8:2 NKJV 2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.
In the Temple courts, Yeshua began to teach openly, and crowds of people gathered around him to once again hear the words of the Master.  This certainly drew the attention of the authorities.  Was this their chance to arrest Him?  Was this their chance to put an end to this up-start teacher who challenged the authority of the religious leaders?  What was their plan?  How would they trap Him into making a serious mistake?
Just the previous day, Yeshua had declared publicly the He was the Fountain of living water. Living water was celebrated and remembered at this Feast and spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 2:13 NKJV 13 "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns-broken cisterns that can hold no water.
As Yeshua was teaching in the Temple courts that morning, He was approached by a group of the Pharisees and Torah scholars, dragging a single young woman with them.
Most of us are familiar with the story of the woman caught in adultery in John chapter eight.  This account, although a powerful illustration of the grace extended to sinners by God, is disputed among Bible scholars as to it’s origins.  This account is not contained in the earliest manuscripts of the Gospel of John and its style and language is a departure from the rest of the Gospel of John, more fitting with that of the synoptic Gospels. Never the less it is included and provides a powerful lesson in righteous judgment based on Torah principles and law.
As Yeshua was teaching the crowds in the Temple courts, He was interrupted by the Pharisees and scribes, He was told by them of the “sins” of this woman.
John 8:3-5 NKJV 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 "Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?"
It is obvious that these Pharisees wanted to catch Yeshua in a no-win situation.  Regardless of His answer to their question, He could not escape their carefully considered trap.  Or so they thought.  How should Yeshua answer this challenge?  At the end of the story, we see that Yeshua sends her on her way without punishment for her sin of adultery.  Is that in keeping with the Torah that demands that such a person be stoned?
Leviticus 20:10 NKJV 10 'The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.
And in
Deuteronomy 22:21 NKJV 21 "then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father's house. So you shall put away the evil from among you.
Many in today’s Christian circles will argue that this incident perfectly illustrates that Yeshua came to replace the old law of wrath and punishment for a new law of love, mercy and forgiveness; That this “new law” absolves this woman caught in the act of adultery of the punishment required under the “old law.”  But is this interpretation consistent with the broader teachings of the Master?  Yeshua Himself told His disciples that He did not come to do away with the Torah of Moses.
Matthew 5:17-18 NKJV 17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
The manner in which the Pharisees phrased their challenge to Yeshua was calculated to trap Him.  No matter how He answered them, He would provide them grounds to accuse Him.  If Yeshua were to answer, “Put her to death as the Torah commands”, then they could accuse Him before the Roman authorities since the only Jewish authority authorized to enact capital punishment, the Sanhedrin, was forbidden under the current Roman rule from enacting such punishment.
If on the other hand, Yeshua said, “Show some love and let her go”, they could then accuse Him of advocating lawlessness, or in other words, ignoring or “doing away with” Torah law!  So how was Yeshua to answer them?
John 8:6 NKJV 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
I can just imaging those whom Yeshua was teaching and the gathered crowds around him rendered silent as Yeshua Himself engaged in a short stare-down of the accusing Pharisees before He then stoops down to write in the dust of the ground with His finger.  After this Yeshua stood to give a short answer and then, once again stooped to write in the dust.
John 8:7-8 NKJV 7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.
By asking the accusers of this woman, if they are without sin themselves, then they should be the ones to carry out the prescribed punishment for this woman; they should cast the first stone! Yeshua was in effect telling them that, “If you are a clear and righteous witness, then carry out your Torah duty!”.  According to the Torah, it was the eyewitnesses who were charged with carrying out the sentence in a capital crime.
Deuteronomy 17:7 NKJV 7 "The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you.
Was it Yeshua’s words to the accusers or His actions of writing in the dust of the ground which convicted them and caused them to leave the scene?  What could Yeshua have written in the dust that could have been more powerful than his mere words?
John 8:9-10 NKJV 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?"
Did Yeshua just get this young woman off the hook by a technicality?  It was a common practice by the Sanhedrin to avoid the death penalty if at all possible.  It is recorded in the Talmud that, “A Sanhedrin which executed a person once in seven years was called murderous.”[1]  In most cases avoiding the death penalty was accomplished by disqualifying the witnesses.  The court would automatically disqualify relatives of the accused, an enemy, and anyone with a shady reputation.  The Jewish sage and commentator Maimonides comments on what a qualified witness is:
“The wicked are unacceptable as witnesses according to scriptural Law, as written in Exodus 23:1 “Do not join hands with a wicked person to be a corrupt witness.” The Oral Tradition interprets this as meaning: “Do not allow a wicked person to serve as a witness.”[2]
Yeshua freed this woman from the punishment of the Torah, but He did so from within the provisions of the Torah itself!  Instead of Yeshua Himself openly disqualifying the witnesses against this woman, He allowed each of the accusers to disqualify himself by the very same Torah!
First Fruits of Zion in their work, The Chronicles of the Messiah summed it up this way:
“Contrary to the opinion that this story shows how our Master disregarded the Torah in favor of a new order of live and grace, the story actually shows how He used the commandments of the Torah to save the woman.  The commandments regarding the witnesses are part of the Torah too.”[3]
By this manner Yeshua was able not only to save this woman from a certain death, but also escape the seemingly clever trap set by the Pharisees against Him.  Unlike the accusing Pharisees, in their zeal and determination to destroy the work and ministry of the Master, Yeshua showed a genuine compassion for this woman. She answers Yeshua’s question about where her accusers were:
John 8:11 NKJV 11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."
Yeshua used the Torah to save her and set her on a pathway to a redeemed life!
But what about the accusers?  What was so powerful about Yeshua’s response to their accusations that would cause them to quietly walk away?  If these “witnesses” and accusers of this woman were quick to use the Torah against her and to trap Yeshua, then Yeshua was prepared to hold them to the letter of the very same Torah and to their own literal and narrow interpretation of it.  His answer to them has many facets and fascinating implications.
As we have seen through our recent studies, the political and societal situation in Judea and Jerusalem at this time was anything but peaceful and stable.  Corruption and greed were rampant, and the religious leadership was not immune to it.  The Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees and teachers of the Law reflected the worst manifestation of the evils condemned by the prophets. Isaiah writes of God’s response to this in
Isaiah 1:15-17 NKJV 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. 16 "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, 17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.
Even though they had a form of godliness going through all the rituals of Temple worship and daily living prescribed in the Torah, they were corrupt in all the ways that really mattered. We see that same pattern of corruption from the very beginning of Yeshua ministry when He first goes up to Jerusalem for the Passover and throws out all the moneychangers.
John 2:13-16 NKJV 13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!"
These Pharisees and teachers of the Law were in fact, in several ways, violating the very same Law they were trying to entrap and accuse Yeshua of violating!  In other words, they themselves were sinning and Yeshua was pointing out their sin and the mockery they were making of the Torah!
We have identified that this incident took place on the eighth, or final day of the Feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles.  This day was known as Shimeni Atzerat which is observed as a Sabbath.  The entire Feast is a time of celebration and rejoicing. The rejoicing on the eighth day takes the form of the Torah itself rejoicing in God’s salvation. It was a day for studying the scriptures, teaching one’s disciples, holding discussions among the Rabbis and dancing through the temple with the Torah scroll itself.
Besides the violation of civil law that these accusers were engaged in, they were also clearly violating the Torah in two specific ways.  First; they only brought the woman for judgment where the Torah says to bring both.
Leviticus 20:10 NKJV 10 'The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.
Second, they did not bring witnesses.
Deuteronomy 19:15 NKJV 15 "One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.
The woman’s accusers; these Pharisees and teachers of the Law; those who certainly should have known the Law, violated the intent of the rejoicing of the Torah by breaking the Sabbath. On this day on which the Torah itself is said to be rejoicing, they grieved both the written Torah by breaking its commandments and the Living Torah of Yeshua by subverting the Torah to their own ends.
Yeshua sees through their trap and answers them in the only way possible.  The first thing that Yeshua does is to stoop down and write in the dust with His finger.  He then stands and says to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." As we saw in John eight, verse seven, before He again stoops down to write in the dust.  What could Yeshua have written in the earth that would cause them to eventually acknowledge that they were sinning?
Let’s look back at the events of the previous day. The Ceremony of Water Pouring was an integral part of the daily celebrations during the seven-day Feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles, and just the day before Yeshua has openly declared that He was the Messiah, the fountain of Living Water!  These Pharisees would have been very familiar with a passage of scripture from the prophet Jeremiah
Jeremiah 17:13 NKJV 13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be ashamed. "Those who depart from Me Shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, The fountain of living waters."
The Hope of Israel is a name for the Messiah! Again in
Jeremiah 14:8 NKJV 8 O the Hope of Israel, his Savior in time of trouble, why should You be like a stranger in the land, and like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night?
The Feast of Tabernacles is the third feast celebrated within a three-week period. First is the Feast of Trumpets, celebrated on the first day of the month of Tishrei; the second is Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement on Tishrei ten. One of the themes for the feasts of Trumpets and Yom Kippur, is examining one’s life to ensure that one’s name is written in the Book of Life and not the Book of Death for coming year. The rejoicing at the Feast of Tabernacles is rejoicing and celebrating in God’s salvation; of being written in the Book of Life. 
On this day, following the seven days of the Water Pouring ceremony, the Jeremiah 17:13 passage would be fresh in their minds.  And just the day before, Yeshua declared that He was the Fountain of Living Water; the most powerful and direct public declaration yet that He was the Messiah!
We can only speculate what exactly Yeshua wrote in the dust of the ground that day when confronted by these Pharisees and teachers of the Law.  But with this incident on the day following Yeshua’s public declaration that He is the Messiah, the very Fountain Living Water, it is quite possible that the first thing He wrote was the Jeremiah 17:13 scripture followed by the names of the accusers!  Did Yeshua write their names in the earth? Were they forsaking the Fountain of Living Water as it says in Jeremiah?
Once again Yeshua proved Himself as the Messiah by executing righteous judgement! It is only after mercy and longsuffering are exhausted that judgment takes place.  Yeshua Himself said that He came to call sinners to repentance, but when he comes again it will be for the ultimate salvation of those who love Him and for the ultimate judgment of those who don’t.
Study questions:
1.      What new insight did you gain by watching this video? How do you respond to this new insight? How will you realign your life based on this new understanding?

2.      Jeremiah 2:13 contrasts the fountain of living water with broken, man-made cisterns.  How does this point out the contrast between Yeshua and the woman’s accusers in John 8:1-11?

3.      How is the passage in Isaiah 1:15-17 reflected in Jewish society during the time of Yeshua?

4.      The prophets frequently refer to Israel as an adulterous wife.  How does Yeshua’s handling of this whole incident illustrate the promise of redemption for Israel?

5.      Jeremiah 17:13 says that those who forsake the fountain of living waters will be written in the earth.  Discuss the similarities of this scripture to this incident with the woman caught in adultery in John 8, The words of God to Adam in Genesis 3:19, and the disposition of Korah in Numbers 16:30.  What other places in scripture present the same or similar theme?

© 2018 Moed Ministries International

[1] m.Makkot 1:10; b.Makkot 7a
[2] Hilkhot Edut 10:1
[3] FFOZ The Chronicles of the Messiah. D Thomas Lancaster. Vol. 3, P935