The Resurrection: Where is Jesus?!

The Empty Tomb: Jesus rose from the dead!

John’s Resurrection Account:

“Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.” John 20:1-10

We’ve been talking a bit about Lazarus. Lazarus needed someone to pray for him and he ended up being resurrected, but Jesus – He could resurrect Himself!

Now today, we see that the Bible says (John 20:9) that the disciples “as yet did not know the Scripture that He must rise again…” The lesson in that for us is, let’s make sure we know the Scriptures so we are never caught off guard and we can attest to the reality that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead!

Conquering Fear

The resurrection is as much about new life as it is about conquering fear.

It is because of the resurrection that Paul could say:

“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?” 1 Cor.15:55

When I served as a chaplain, I saw death every day.

Some people were ready to confront that reality while others were definitely not.

Those who had lived for Jesus and had professed a consistent faith in Christ were ready. Even when pain would come, believers have a peace and a preparedness, knowing that death is no longer final and that

Psalm 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.”

But fear grips that heart of so many.

One night at the hospital, there was a man there who essentially refused to repent. From what I could tell, he didn’t believe in Jesus, heaven, or hell and he was experiencing genuine agony. Excruciating pain coupled with absolute fear.

When a person has never experienced a life-changing encounter with Jesus, they will fear death in an often terrifying way.

The disciples would have been terrified, too.

They were targets after the crucifixion. Peter denied Jesus for a reason. These people were scared out of their minds!

Their hopes that somehow Jesus would miraculously escape being put to death had been crushed.

They didn’t know that death could be defeated with finality. Yes, Lazarus had been raised up, but a lasting, victorious eternal resurrection . . . they didn’t know that was possible.

The disciples were in hiding. It was probably actually safer for the women to go to the tomb!

But Mary went to the tomb while it was still dark. She was eager and probably couldn’t sleep, but she, like Nicodemus going to visit Jesus under cover of darkness, took advantage of the darkness to go out.

Mary Magdalene’s discovery at the tomb

John 20:2 “Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

They have taken away the Lord!

At first glance, it seems Mary immediately blames Rome.

Could it be? The empire has done this.

Those wicked soldiers have taken away her dearest Jesus.

After all, it is easy to cast blame when we are upset.

But Luke’s Gospel fills in more details about the Resurrection. Let’s turn to Luke 24.

Luke’s Resurrection Account

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 

And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”

And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.” (Luke 24:1-10).

Mary was with Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women. They had brought prepared spices for the body of Jesus.

They’ve taken the body?


The angels?

Mary and her friends were “greatly perplexed” (verse 4) about where the body could be.

And then the 2 angels appear and ask the perfect question:

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? And they reminded the women of Jesus’ words.

But the women still don’t grasp this fully because John says they came back saying that they didn’t know where the body was lain.

Between the shock of it all and having just received an angelic visitation, the women’s story when they came back sounded like gibberish to the men. They have all been traumatized.

Jesus was killed in the most excruciating way possible, crucified on that cross, then He was buried, and now nobody knows where He is.

He’s wanted dead or alive.

Where is Jesus?

Where is the body?


But Peter, he had been through enough in the past few hours, he knew he should go to that tomb. See what is going on.

He sees the folded handkerchief (John 20:7).

John 20:9 Peter and the women and the other disciples did not yet know the meaning of the Scriptures.

Luke 24:12 Peter marveled to himself about what happened.

Jesus appears to Mary

Overtaken by the emotion of the moment, Mary was weeping. She is just so worried about where this body is at.

Do you ever get so focused on something and people around you or the Holy Spirit is telling you – the answer is before you, but you are so distracted that you don’t see it?

God sent angels to Mary and even Jesus Himself and she was still struggling!

John 20:11-18

11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

When Mary thought she was talking to a gardener, she still asked Him, “where did you lay the body?” She is willing to take Jesus’ body anywhere else if they would just tell her where it is.

So Jesus meets her where she is at and calls her by name.

And she recognized His voice.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27

Later that day . . .

The disciples gathered together behind closed and locked doors, “for fear of the Jews.” John 20:19

See, this confirms that they were very fearful.

But Jesus appears.

When you find yourself facing a fear or very anxious, turn to Jesus.

The Resurrected Risen Jesus appeared and said, Shalom. “Peace be with you.”

He showed them his wounds because He knew they were incapable of having peace until they had seen some physical evidence.

Jesus repeats His blessing – trying to reassure these panicked, fearful disciples.

And then He immediately commissions them.

He didn’t give them a day to reflect on what had happened. He immediately sends them out to make more disciples. There is no time to waste. Souls need to be saved.

John 20:21 “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you . . . “

And Jesus doesn’t leave them comfortless.

He doesn’t send them out with just a simple Gospel message.

He breathed His very Spirit upon them: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22)

He sends them out with power.

You need the Holy Spirit. The same power that raised up Jesus from the grave.

John 20:23 has been taken out of context at times because it seems a little confusing. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them, if you retain the sins of any, they are retained. This has to do with the responsibility that Jesus’ disciples have to preach the Gospel to the world. A person who has never heard the Gospel cannot receive life-saving forgiveness. Only God has the power to forgive.

John 2:24-25 “Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

When Jesus was in the room, and showed them His hands and His side, Thomas wasn’t there.

Don’t miss God.

Why wasn’t Thomas around?

Sometimes people stop going to church, they are no longer accountable, or for various reasons whether it’s past hurts or fears or judgmentalism, they just stop attending. They don’t gather with believers, even though Hebrews 10:25 tells us to never neglect the assembling together because we are encouraged when we are together.

Was Thomas too afraid to be there?

Did Thomas already lose his faith, just completely devastated that Jesus was dead?

That was fast. Some people don’t have unshakable faith. You gotta get to a place where you have unshakable faith.

Doubting Thomas wants to see a sign – and ironically he requests to see the print of the nails and feel the wounds of his hand and side. But Jesus already showed that. Thomas missed the mark.

Thomas wasn’t there to receive the Holy Spirit. His missed out.

Don’t be the one who misses out.

The Resurrection changed everything

Had Jesus never risen from the dead, we would be without hope.

The resurrection changed everything!

Let the reality of the resurrection breathe new life into you today. Meditate on the awesomeness that Jesus has power over the grave, and you, too, will one day rise to be with the Lord!

We know something that not everyone knows.

Like the disciples who encounter the Risen Jesus, we have a testimony that people need to hear.

It’s that age-old question. Where is Jesus? Who is Jesus?

Maybe you are someone who has heard the Gospel many times, but you need to regroup and regain the sense of awe and power that the Gospel should have over your life.

1 Corinthians 1:18: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Before Lazarus was raised from the dead, Martha was unsure that Jesus could do anything.


John 11:25-26: “Jesus said to [Martha], ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ 

Martha believed in a resurrection, on the last day. But Jesus said, we don’t need to wait for the last day.  If you know me and if you believe my Words, lives can be resurrected right here right now. 

So today, let it be our prayer: Lord, increase our faith!

Lord, make your Gospel real to me!

Lord, let me know the power of the Good News! That I would be motivated by the Gospel to share with others this glorious news!

Lord, make known to me – in a tangible way – who You are.

So that when the question is asked, Who is Jesus and where is He? He is here and His Spirit dwells within you and me and

Jesus is very much alive! He is risen, He is risen indeed!


Palm Sunday: the Hour has Come

Zechariah’s Shabbat HaGadol/Palm Sunday Prophecy

Every year, I enjoy reading Zechariah’s prophecy in Zechariah 9:9-10 that was fulfilled on Shabbat haGadol, Palm Sunday:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
And the horse from Jerusalem;
The battle bow shall be cut off.
He shall speak peace to the nations;
His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.’’ Zechariah 9:9-10

“From the River to the Sea . . . to the ends of the earth”

You may have heard the Palestinian chant back when Hamas’ Gaza still stood strong, “From the River to the sea, Palestine shall be free.”

The problem with the chant is that it (either inadvertently or purposefully) calls for the annihilation of Israel. Palestine wanted to claim the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

So when I read this portion of Zechariah’s prophecy in preparation for today’s message, I was struck by the ending of verse 10:

His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.’’ Zechariah 9:9-10

Jesus’ dominion shall be from the River to the sea to the ends of the earth. Glory Hallelujah!

And so much was set in motion on Palm Sunday.

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Let’s read John 12:12-22:

12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:

‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
The King of Israel!”

14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written:

15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
Behold, your King is coming,
Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.

17 Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. 18 For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!”

20 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. 21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. (emphasis added)

The disciples and crowd rejoice

Last week we talked about Philip. He was the eager one. We’ve found Him! We have identified who the Messiah is and He is alive in our time today! On that first Palm Sunday, Philip would have been among those who were crying out “Hoshia-na!” Lord, save us!

That same excitement and enthusiasm is what we need. We know who the Savior is. He is alive in our time and He is coming back. We need to share with others that He is indeed the only One who can save us!

John 1:45 “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

Philip and Andrew were long-time friends. People were coming far and wide to celebrate the Passover feast. It is very interesting that the Scriptures tell us that some Greek travelers were in town and wanted to see Jesus. The message of Jesus was reaching beyond the Jewish enclave. The message was for Jew and Greek, Jew and Gentile.

Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

Philip, Andrew, Mary, Martha, the Risen Lazarus, and a whole multitude were waving palm branches and doing their best to get as close to Jesus as they could.

Enough had transpired that they loved Him. They waved the Palm Sunday branches just like they would have done with the lulav during the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Tabernacles was like a divine dress rehearsal for the receiving of the Word who dwelt among us:

“And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.” Leviticus 23:40, (emphasis added)

Notice, the people were commanded to rejoice. Now, the crowds in Jerusalem freely rejoiced and they heard testimony of witnessing Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead!

John 12:17-18 “Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign.”

His fame was spreading and eyewitnesses to Lazarus’ resurrection were now willing to speak up and testify.

The Bible tells us the disciples didn’t understand at first (John 12:16). It took many of them until after the ascension to reflect back and see that Jesus had fulfilled the prophetic Scriptures.

The Hour has come

At the wedding in Cana, Jesus told his mother His hour had not yet come (John 2:4).

In John 7:6, same thing: “Then Jesus said to them, My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.”

John 7:30 “Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.”

John 8:20 “These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come.”

But now in John 12:23, “[And] Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.” (emphasis added)

The Greek word, δὲ, should be translated “and” in John 12:23. The “but” used in the NKJV should be “and.” KJV, ESV, and NIV got this right here.

Victory Proven

Jesus is fully triumphant. He is the One the Scriptures have foretold, He is revealing Himself to His disciples on that Palm Sunday and even the crowds around Him, and has announced that the hour has come for Him to be glorified.

He didn’t say, the hour of terror has come. It will be an excruciating hour, but Jesus is focused on the victory.

Meanwhile the Pharisees are wallowing in their ineffectual campaign against the Lord.

John 12:19 “The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!”

They are pointing fingers at each other. You’ve done nothing to stop this! The whole world is following this donkey-riding “king.” Their strategy to bring Him down is imploding because of their own disunity.

Unity is so very important. If we want to see a genuine move of God in this city, we need to be of united purpose. Division and finger-pointing are the enemy’s tactics to destroy such a movement.

“We wish to see Jesus”

On the first Palm Sunday, the Greek men expressed that they wanted to see Jesus. They didn’t care about the Pharisee’s religious constructs. Judaism was fairly foreign to them. They wanted to meet the miracle-working, salvation-bringing Son of God.

Similarly, there’s a hunger in hearts today.

Our culture here in North Central Wisconsin is also longing to see Jesus. They see a glimpse,

“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

But lost souls here need to see Jesus in you. They need to know more than religion.

The Father glorified

John 12:27-36 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.”

29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.”

30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.

34 The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”

35 Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.

Here Jesus expresses His emotions. His soul was troubled. He expresses the sentiment found in Psalm 6:

Psalm 6:2-5

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak;
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled;
But You, O Lord—how long?

Return, O Lord, deliver me!
Oh, save me for Your mercies’ sake!
For in death there is no remembrance of You;
In the grave who will give You thanks?

The human part of Jesus would really feel strongly about verse 5, don’t you think?

The divine part of Him knows He can’t ask the Father to detain this. He came to earth for this very moment.

And the Father’s voice was heard audibly. This gets glossed over a lot. A voice thundered. It’s unclear whether or not the people heard what was said to Jesus, but they knew a voice from above had spoken.

If any around had doubts, there could be no doubt now.

Who is the Son of Man?

The Palm Sunday crowd asked the essential question: who is this Son of Man? The Messiah we know about will live forever, but you talk of your death. Where do you fit into the story, Jesus? We don’t understand who is a “Son of Man.”

He spoke cryptically: be sons of light.

And then He left from that place and was hidden to them (v.36).

“Behold, our King is coming to you”

“Behold, our King is coming. He is just and having salvation.” Zechariah’s words that were fulfilled on Palm Sunday are still true to this day and they have a two-part meaning. The LORD rode in on a colt, but His dominion will extend to the ends of the earth. Maranatha!

Hanukkah in the New Testament – and why this might be the best year to join in the celebration!

20 Kislev 5784 B”H

With Israel in the news and the ongoing war against Hamas, the celebration of Hanukkah will be especially meaningful this year. If you and your family have never celebrated Hanukkah, may this be the year! Pray and stand in solidarity with the nation of Israel and celebrate the victory God has given us through His Son, Messiah Jesus!

Hanukkah is mentioned in the New Testament

Many Christians do not realize that Hanukkah is actually mentioned in the New Testament.

Yes, the New Testament!

The reference to Hanukkah (the Feast of Dedication) is found just after Jesus (Yeshua) tells us that He is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for His sheep in John chapter 10.

Our Good Shepherd Jesus (Yeshua) was being criticized by some of the Jewish leaders about His amazing claim and His revelation that He would lay down His life for His sheep.

Jesus (Yeshua) knew how to deal with the spirits of criticism, contention, and unbelief: He focused simply on declaring Truth and revealing who He is.

John records ” . . . many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?” John 10:20 NKJV

Christians should not be uncomfortable with Hanukkah

Similarly with Hanukkah, you will find that some Christians get very uncomfortable with the topic of Hanukkah. I’ve heard it all:

“Hanukkah is a holiday only for Jews.”

“We live in the time of grace.”

“We aren’t bound to the Old Testament.”

“Hanukkah has nothing to do with us.”

It makes me terribly sad that Christians have sat under teachings that ultimately reflect a supercessionist viewpoint.

Like the pharisaical accusers of John 10, some Christians accuse other Christians of being “out of their mind” for sharing in the celebrations of Hanukkah and even Passover. Let us learn from our Master Teacher, Rabbi Jesus, who shows us by His example how not only to respond to questioning but also how to live.

Supercessionist teachings have unwittingly caused Christian antisemitism

“Supercessionism” (also known as “replacement theology”) is the teaching that Christianity has completely “replaced” Judaism and so the “religion” of Christianity is therefore superior. “Replacement theology” leads to antisemitism because Christians distance themselves from their Hebraic beginnings and unwittingly lose sight of the fact that it was the Jews who were waiting for their Messiah. And Jesus came and lived as a Jew among Jews.

On the contrary, Christians really ought in some ways to feel indebted (!) to Israel for being welcomed by the grace of the God of Israel and grafted in to the chosen nation!

While we know that our Savior Jesus (Yeshua) fulfilled the entirety of the Law’s requirements, Biblical Judaism provides the framework for our faith and we need to understand our Hebraic roots. The Scriptures come alive when we immerse ourselves in the culture that is ours both to the native and to the grafted in.

We also need to collectively repent for the antisemitism that does lurk in the church.

The antisemitic attack against Israel by Hamas on October 7, 2023 was an attack against all of us – Jew and Gentile believer alike. We must show our support and love for Israel during such a time as this.

Jesus (Yeshua) is the King of Israel

Do you ever feel like you don’t belong?

In America, sometimes people feel like they don’t belong neither here nor there because they don’t know much about their family history or the countries from which their ancestors emigrated. I think these genealogy sites are helping like because people can start to piece back a bit of their story!

But what is so neat about the Gospel, if you really think about it, is that we see how united we really are. We might be from Europe or from Asia or Africa or Australia, but ultimately, heaven is our homeland:

“But our homeland is in heaven, and we are waiting for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come from heaven. By His power to rule all things, He will change our humble bodies and make them like His own glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21 NCV, emphasis added

And while we are here on earth, our identity is found in Christ (our Messiah) – the King of Israel.

This time of year many churches celebrate the coming of our Emmanuel. O Come, O Come Emmanuel . . . . born is the King of Israel.

You absolutely belong and you are not without country. We have a King! Our Jesus is the King of Israel and the King of all.

By the way, you absolutely have the freedom and invitation to celebrate the miracles that God has done, right along with Israel. Some unbelieving orthodox Jews consider the participation of Christians in Jewish holidays as religious appropriation, but that is because they do not (yet!) understand the full picture of salvation. We pray for and with them. This really is not religious appropriation because the story of Israel is truly the story of God’s plan for the salvation of the entire world: Jew and Gentile alike.

As to those who are concerned that perhaps we are “binding” ourselves back to Old Testament Law. By no means! Instead, we see our place in history, celebrate all that God has done throughout history, and await the future reality when our King will return for us. We respect and value the entirety of Scripture and embrace the Biblical celebrations of our faith.

The King of Israel celebrated Hanukkah

Our LORD Jesus (Yeshua) revealed Himself as the Good Shepherd who would give His life, even for those who would oppose Him or act incredulously toward Him.

And since He was not always met by cheerful recipients of His message, He sometimes went away.

In this case though, Jesus (Yeshua) did not retreat to the wilderness or the mountains.

He decided to head over to the celebration of the Feast of Dedication!

“Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.” John 10:22-23

In Hebrew, “the Feast of Dedication” is “Hanukkah.”

So if we realize this, it is plain to see that Jesus (Yeshua) went up to the temple for Hanukkah.

Simply, He went for a winter walk.

He got away from his critics and chose to attempt to focus on the beauty of the holiday feast.

Sometimes we need to follow this exact example.

When you find yourself as an outsider or feeling attacked or burdened, step away for a while. Do something you enjoy and surround yourself with those who love you.

The enemy is always on the prowl

Despite His efforts to have some time to enjoy the Hanukkah celebration, Jesus (Yeshua) quickly had to deal with His critics all over again.

Have you ever tried to step away from something only to immediately be bombarded in another way? Maybe you went home to try to get some rest but the phone keeps ringing as your coworkers try to find you? Maybe you took a day off, but issues managed to arise and your hope for a quiet day turned into anything but? Maybe you even retired from a job only to find yourself back in the workforce?

Or maybe you cooked the entire Thanksgiving dinner and wanted to enjoy it, but by the time you finally got to sit down, your portion of food was ice cold. You still loved the company, but you didn’t get to enjoy it quite as much as perhaps you wanted! And then after you are tired and worn out, one of your distant relatives has the nerve to insult you. Surely that has never happened!

Messiah Jesus (Yeshua) was present for the yearly celebration of the rededication of Solomon’s temple and there He was on Solomon’s porch, but He couldn’t just relax and enjoy.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

He found Himself surrounded by a mob of questioners. The Judean leaders insisted that He reveal whether or not He is the Promised Messiah.

“Then the Judean leaders surrounded Him, saying, “How long will You hold us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us outright!” John 10:24, TLV

Our Savior would not have been surprised by any of this. The Feast of Dedication was about having overcome adversity. Solomon’s Temple had been attacked and desecrated, so Hanukkah was all about rededicating the sanctuary to the LORD and a miracle which occurred when a small amount of oil for the menorah (enough for one day) lasted for 8 days.

The Significance of the Temple

On the particular Hanukkah when Jesus was at Solomon’s porch, the mob took up stones as they accused Him of blasphemy. They attempted to stone Him, but His time had not yet come. The Temple would be destroyed and raised in three days – the Temple of His body. This Holy Temple, too, was attacked, but the enemy (again!) could not prevail.

“Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”

But He was speaking of the temple of His body.” John 2:19-22

There – together – Jesus and the Jewish leaders were at Solomon’s Temple to celebrate the purification of the temple from defilement, and yet the leaders were completely missing the point.

Jesus (Yeshua) is ultimately our Hanukkah miracle – our oil of gladness. He is the Anointed One and He pours out His Holy Spirit upon and into us so that we can shine bright for Him, just like the menorah that didn’t go out.

Hanukkah and the Light of the World

The Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah, celebrates the victory of the Maccabees but also foreshadows the coming Light of the World who would give us everlasting victory.

When it seems that our victories are not long-lasting, we do not need to become discouraged. The Second Temple was ultimately destroyed by the Romans, but we do not cease celebrating the prior victory of the Jewish nation. Likewise in our world today, we have trouble, but we know that our Messiah and Savior has overcome the world.

Jesus (Yeshua) again had to slip away from his enemies. They were intent on stoning Him that Hanukkah, but He escaped and went beyond the Jordan:

“Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.” John 10:39

Hanukkah during a time of war

Hanukkah commemorates the reality of war and the reality of victory if we trust in our LORD.

The Jewish people have dealt with diaspora and antisemitism and terrorism throughout their history. But they have not given up. God allowed Israel to become a modern nation in 1948 and it is not time to just give up on the dream of a sustained, safe Jewish homeland.

Israel is at war right now. Yet even so, menorahs have been erected in Gaza and all around the world menorahs will be lit outdoors and placed in prominent windows inside because the Jewish people refuse to cower to fear. Even the dreidels used on Hanukkah represent the toy tops that children would use when they were hiding in the caves during the Maccabean war. Israel is no stranger to war, but Israel will not be destroyed.

The battle is fierce, but history teaches an important lesson: if we trust in God, the flame ignited in our hearts by the Author of our Salvation can never be extinguished.

So if you have never celebrated Hanukkah before, this may be the best year to begin. Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Celebrate that God has delivered His people on more than one occasion, and He will not abandon us now. Share online that you are celebrating so that people even in Israel can see how many believers support them and are praying for them. Pray for the salvation of the nation of Israel!

There is a saying among the Jewish people who say:

“The story of Hanukkah is they wanted to kill us, we didn’t let them, we won, and now, we eat!”

So grab yourself some filled donuts (sufganiyot!), make some potato pancakes (latkes), and decorate Hanukkah cookies with your children!

Am Y’israel Chai! Long live Israel! . . . and Have a very Happy Hanukkah!

If you are interested in learning more about origin and the purpose of the Feast of Dedication, you may well enjoy my post on “Hanukkah, Zerubbabel, and the Second Temple” found at this link.

Sweetness amid the sounding shofar: the prophetic significance of Rosh HaShanah

Elul 5783, B”H

Rosh HaShanah/Yom Teruah

Rosh HaShanah will begin at sundown on Friday, September 15 this year. This Biblical holiday lasts through sundown on Sunday, September 17. Rosh HaShanah is also known as “Yom Teruah,” literally the “Day of the Shout.” Yom Teruah is a more correct name, Biblically, for this feast. Many refer to it in English as the Day of Trumpets, or the Day of the Shofar.

Scriptural precedence for the Biblical feast can be found in Numbers as well as in the Psalms which we will look at in a moment.

 “And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work. For you it is a day of blowing the trumpets.” Numbers 29:1, emphasis added

Have you ever heard the sounding of the shofar?

The tone is so profound. To celebrate this holiday, the shofar is sounded:

“Sing aloud to God our strength;
Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.
Raise a song and strike the timbrel,
The pleasant harp with the lute.

Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon,
At the full moon, on our solemn feast day.
For this is a statute for Israel,
A law of the God of Jacob.” Psalm 81:1-4
, emphases added

There is a solemnity, calling all hearers to humble themselves before the King of all kings. There is also joy, for we know that one day the shofar will sound and the dead in Messiah will rise and those who are still alive will meet the LORD in the air:

“For the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the blast of God’s shofar,and the dead in Messiah shall rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left behind, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air—and so we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, TLV

Inherent and Inerrant Cohesiveness of the Biblical Narrative

Our Savior and Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled the prophetic meaning of each Biblical feast found within the pages of Scripture.

I view so much of this as a “lost history” because so many believers have not been taught about our collective history as the people of God: native and grafted in members of the house of Israel.

The Biblical holidays (particularly the Fall Feasts) are eschatologically significant, pointing us to the end of days and affirming the inherent and inerrant cohesiveness of the Biblical narrative.

The Hebrew Scriptures form the foundation for the New Testament and all of the Scriptures are without error. The entirety of the Word of God is valuable and we must treat it as such!

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The Prophetic and Eschatological Significance of Rosh HaShanah/Yom Teruah

The Bible exhorts us to “Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!” Psalm 66:1

Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShanah provides occasion for such shouting, though we should not limit our praise to just one time of year. If we look to the Scriptures, we will see that every aspect of the Feast days points to Jesus (Yeshua).

During the Hebrew month of Elul, spiritual preparation is made because it is known that soon the Bridegroom will come. You may be interested in my recent post explaining a bit about the month of Elul and preparations for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur (the High Holidays).

When the shofar is sounded on Rosh HaShanah, we are reminded of the coronation of our King. He has sought us in the field, we are beloved and betrothed, and we await the Marriage supper of the Lamb.

“‘Then he said to me, ‘Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”'” Revelation 19:9

Each Rosh Hashanah is sort of like a divine dress rehearsal. Some believe that the final shofar will indeed sound on Rosh Hashanah, but I am cognizant of the Word of God which says no one knows the day nor hour.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36

That said, Yeshua (Jesus) may have been alluding to Rosh HaShanah when He said this because “no one knows the day nor hour” had connotations as a wedding idiom at that time. “No one knows the day or hour, but we know those two are getting married!” Also, the Jewish community did not know the exact date or time for Yom Teruah, and it had become commonplace to describe Rosh HaShanah as the feast of which “no one knows the day nor hour!”

Word to the wise: always be ready.

The King is coming.

The Sweetness of a New Year

In Hebrew, Rosh HaShanah means “Head of the year.” It is the start of the Biblical new year and is a time of repentance as well as rejoicing.

I love how Rosh HaShanah occurs always just after the start of the school year. My children are homeschooled and we enjoy incorporating aspects of the Biblical Feasts into our studies of history and Biblical studies. It is customary on Rosh HaShanah to eat apples and honey and to pray for a sweet new year.

In our household, this means praying we will each demonstrate sweetness of character and be kind to one another.

Sweet and Sour: Sweetness amid the Sound of the Shofar

For those of us who are counted among the saved, sanctified, and sealed in the Book of Life, the New Year is very sweet.

But we must also be cognizant of the dichotomy between that which is sweet and that which is not-so-sweet.

If we are honest, Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShanah) reminds us of the sour reality that not everyone will be saved.

Not everyone will heed the warning blast.

Not everyone will repent.

We will find perfect relief of our burden to preach at the end of days, but until then, we must continue to introduce our loving and merciful Savior to a lost and dying world.

To me, it is a bittersweet reality.

We truly must do more to reach the unreached.

So great is ADONAI’s mercy, so sweet and so generous.

We have been commissioned to share that Good News, and we must. Before it is too late.

Wake up sleeper, open your eyes!

Have you heard the song by Austin French, “Wake up Sleeper, Open your eyes”?

“Wake up sleeper
Open your eyes
Oh sinner, arise
Leave your past at the door
Wake up sleeper
Come to the light
Christ is alive
Death don’t live here anymore
Death don’t live here anymore”

These lyrics are so appropriate for Rosh HaShanah/Yom Teruah because the sounding of the shofar is intended to wake up sinners out of their slumber so there will be repentance before it is too late!

As followers of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ), we, too, need to be awakened once again. There is so much apathy in the church today and we must repent of our complacency. We must awake from our slumber! Like the Prophet Joel said, we must sound the alarm on God’s holy mountain!

Looking forward to things yet to come

This Rosh HaShanah/Yom Teruah, let us look forward to all that the LORD has in store for those who love Him:

“But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Here is a wonderful worship song that contains that verse:

God’s plans for your life are so great! Keep your eyes on Jesus (Yeshua) and always be ready!

“And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17

Sweetness at the mercy seat

Brooke Fraser’s recent song, “Honey in the Rock” also has such beautiful lyrics and it brought me some inspiration today.

Sweetness at the mercy seat
Now I’ve tasted, it’s not hard to see
Only You can satisfy

This Rosh HaShanah, may you experience the sweetness of salvation at the mercy seat of the LORD Most High. Once you have tasted and seen, you will know that our God is so very good and His love endures forever.

Shana tova! Happy New Year!

Elul: repent and rejoice! the King is in the field

Elul 3, B”H 5783

The Hebrew month of Elul

You may recall my post from July about Tisha b’Av. In that post, I introduced the Hebrew months of the year to help ubicate us in understanding the significance of certain dates on the Biblical calendar.

One of those months is called “Elul.”

Elul (Heb. אלול) comes from the root word “to search.”

This is the time of year when we are reminded that the LORD searches our hearts and knows us and we repent for those things which we continue to struggle with in our ongoing journey in holiness.

We are to search inside of ourselves and turn away from that which harms our relationship with the LORD Most High as we enter a new Biblical year.

Psalm 139:23-24

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24

Medieval Jewish sages realized that each letter of the word “Elul” in Hebrew can serve as an acronym for the well-known phrase from Song of Solomon 6:3 “Ani l’dodi, v’dodi li” (Hebrew for “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine”).

Song of Solomon 6:3

When we reflect on this time of preparation, we see that Elul is a time of preparation for the Bride, for truly the Bridegroom is coming. This is a time of self-examination as we prepare to meet our Coming King. He accepts us with the deepest of love when we come before Him with a pure and contrite heart, made beautiful by our relationship with Him.

Elul, the High Holy Days, and the Coming of the Bridegroom

The month of Elul precedes what are known as the High Holy Days. These days include Yom Teruah (also known as Rosh Hashanah) and Yom Kippur. Yom Teruah occurs on the first day of the next month which is known as Tishrei. The High Holy Days are customarily a time of introspection as Yom Kippur serves as the yearly day of atonement. Israel pleads to be written in the Book of Life, and sealed for another year.

Now that our Messiah and Almighty Savior Yeshua (Jesus Christ) has come, those who have confessed Him as LORD and King have the assurance that the names of the saved are written in the Book of Life, never to be blotted out.

Elul is like the month before the wedding. Preparation is made because soon the Bridegroom will come. The Bride may prepare for the Coming Bridegroom with grace, dignity, and confidence because she has been set apart, consecrated, made ready for the moment when her King comes.

Repentance and Holiness

As saved and sanctified children of God, we continue to pursue holiness and the path of righteousness.

Hebrews 12:14 exhorts us to “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”

Though we may not experience all that which tremendously occurred at Mount Sinai, we now spiritually experience the glory of Mount Zion.

The writer of Hebrews continues: For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore.  (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” 

And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven . . . ” Hebrew 12:18-25, emphases added.

We are to live our lives with quiet and holy fear (reverence).

To do this fully, a true believer and follower of the LORD will very obviously seek to live in humility, all too aware of our faults and failings, but awesomely and intimately aware that He is perfecting us each and every day. We live with an attitude of repentance, thankful that His mercy blots out a multitude of sins. We do the work of ministry, always seeking to share the Word with those who do not yet know Him – not to gain a place in heaven, but to demonstrate our heavenly citizenship! The world glorifies sin. We glorify only Jesus (Yeshua), the One who died to take away our sins and the One who will return for us!

James 5:20

“. . . let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:20

On the Day of Shavu’ot (Pentecost), Peter urged his listeners to repent:

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.  

For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’

Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.  You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” Acts 3:19-26.

Teshuvah: Biblical Repentance

The Jewish understanding of the concept of “teshuvah” is slightly different than the traditional Christian interpretation of repentance.

Standard Christian repentance is about simply turning away from sin. There is nothing wrong with that. But teshuvah, true Biblical repentance, goes deeper than that.

Teshuvah is a “return.” More specifically, a return to our first love after being astray.

Inherent in teshuvah is the acknowledgement that we have sinned, but this is more about returning to the Way of the LORD than about guilt: it requires an action on our part to strive to right the wrong.

“Teshuvah” is seen as an action. It is often said one is “doing teshuvah.”

Teshuvah means the individual identifies the wrongs they have committed and actively works toward a behavioral change “to right the wrong.” The sinner confesses to God, but also goes back to the one he or she has wronged to ask for forgiveness and attempt to right the wrong.

Christians know that we cannot earn our salvation, so the concept of “teshuvah” gets a bit difficult for many Christians to understand. I have even found that some Christians simply do not want to understand because they would rather remain complacent. Some use texts about grace to shirk any semblance of responsibility, which is a truly irresponsible way to view YHVH’s immense and perfect grace. I believe in grace. I also believe in doing what is right.

Teshuvah is something the Christian can do in gratitude for salvation. Any decent person of faith ought strive to right their wrongs, right? The difference is, we know that we will never be able to erase the evil we have done to another so we cannot completely right our wrongs and we know that. We trust in our Merciful LORD, the Righter of Wrongs to bring healing, restoration, and ultimately wholeness.

Elul is the time of year when teshuvah is emphasized. Hosea uses the term “teshuvah” in admonishing the people of Israel to return to the LORD.

Hosea 14:2

“Take words with you,
And return to the LORD.
Say to Him,
“Take away all iniquity;
Receive us graciously,
For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.” Hosea 14:2
, emphasis added

Biblical repentance is about returning to the LORD with nothing hindering our relationship. We are cleansed and made new by the blood of the Lamb and we are victorious by the word of our testimony.

We are ready to meet our Beloved.

“Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all sins.” Proverbs 10:12

Proverbs 10:12

40 Days of Repentance: Elul or Lent?

The time of repentance observed in the month of Elul is set by Biblical precedent.

It sounds very much like a Hebrew “Lent” for those familiar with Lenten practices.

I will be controversial here, but I’m not one to shy from that . . .

Lent is a manmade invention championed by the liturgical world. It is not Biblical.

Historically, significant efforts were made to distance the “church” from its Jewish (and Biblical, mind you) history. It is no secret that Catholic and Lutheran churches alike were plagued with antiSemitism for many many years.

Those who invented Lent took the concept of Elul (a 40 day time of prayer and fasting lasting from 1 Elul to 10 Tishrei) and “Christianized” it, citing a time to prepare to honor the death and resurrection of Christ. Sadly, the Western inventions of things like Advent and Lent have served to confuse the body of Christ and isolate us from the true Biblical feast days and their significance.

Elul is about returning. Let us return to the basic (Hebraic!) tenets of our faith – to seek to walk on the path of righteousness, guided by the LORD Himself as written in His Holy Word.

From Genesis to Revelation, the Word of God is available to us and if we are not spending time in the Word, that is another reason for repentance.

Collectively, we should repent that the church has strayed so far and has actually contributed to the unbelief of the Jewish people as they observe the glaring discrepancies of many unBiblical “Christian” practices.

May we return to the essence of Elul.

Cheshbon haNefesh: The accounting for the soul

Cheshbon haNefesh is a Hebrew term used frequently throughout the month of Elul. “Cheshbon” is used in modern Hebrew to describe an invoice or bill, such as at a café. Cheshbon: what is owed, what must be paid, the account. Nefesh refers to the soul or what makes you you – it is a word that is also translated as “life” or “being.” Nefesh is the life force within you.

During Elul, we are reminded of His gracious gift. We fall on our knees in the humblest of gratitude, thankful that Yeshua (Jesus) shed His precious blood in payment to redeem our souls.

We owe everything to our Savior yet we know our account has been paid in full.

Elul is a time to reflect on how we are using our nefesh – how are we using the life that is within us to advance the Kingdom of God? It is a time to take ourselves to account.

This is a time to realize where we truly fall short in our relationship with our Creator. In what ways do we fail to love? Do we truly love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind?

HaMelech ba’sadeh: The King is in the field

It is often said during Elul that “the King is in the field.”

The King of all kings, who may seem unapproachable, who is far in His heavenly palace seated on His throne is the same King who reaches out His scepter even when we are unworthy of His mercy. The King of all kings is the same King who comes to our level – He humbled Himself and walked in those fields ripe for harvest.

The Chassidic interpretation is that the King comes when the laborers are in the field – meeting His workers where they are. Surprising them with His presence. Demonstrating kindness.

The King is coming.

The King is in the field.

The King of all kings is approachable and He loves you.

You can go to Him and He will receive you with open arms.

And you will be raptured away in love together.

Personal Prayer and Devotional Time during the month of Elul

It is traditional to read Psalm 27 daily during the month of Elul.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.

One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the 

Psalm 27:8

Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the LORD will take care of me.

Teach me Your way, O LORD,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.

Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Perhaps you would like to reflect on this passage during this time, as well. This Psalm truly speaks to the relationship aspect of our faith: that we call upon Him and He answers and we are to seek His face.

The King is in the field and the harvest is ready but the workers are few.

Will you meet Him in the field?

Will you share the Good News that the King is coming back again!?

Repent and Rejoice!

Our King is coming for us!

Please comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts about the month of Elul and the coming of our Almighty King!

Tisha b’Av in the Bible

Tisha b’Av 5783 B”H

Today marks a traditional Jewish commemorative day of fasting known as “Tisha b’Av.”

Because it is “customary,” the question becomes:

Is Tisha b’Av “Biblical?”

Let’s get straight to the Scriptures to find out.

No matter what you are studying, always ask this question: is it Biblical?

Does this line up with God’s Word?

No matter what you are studying, always ask Does this line up with God's Word?  Is this Biblical?
Does this line up with God’s Word?

This will prevent you from falling into errors.

Tisha b’Av is not one of the moedim, meaning it is not one of the “appointed times” or Biblical feasts, but the Scriptures definitely make reference to the fasting of Tisha b’Av that became and remains a part of the life and culture of Israel during the month of Av.

Hebrew Civil Calendar

“Av” is one of the months of the Hebrew calendar. The Hebrew months do not line up perfectly with our months, but this list can give you a sense of how the civil calendar works:

Shevat (January-February)

Adar (February-March)

Nisan (March-April)

Iyyar (April-May)

Sivan (May-June)

Tammuz (June-July)

Av (July-August)

Elul (August-September)

Tishrei (September-October)

Cheshvan (October-November)

Kislev (November-December)

Tevet (December-January)

Notice, Av is in the summertime. It was in July or August when both Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed.

Hebrew Religious Calendar

On the civil calendar, Av would be considered the 7th month, but the religious year is calculated differently.

The Hebrew “Biblical” or “Religious” Calendar begins with Nisan making Av the 5th month of the Biblical or “Religious” year.

This is very helpful to understand because when you read various Scriptures about the month of Av, it can be confusing if you don’t know the order of the months according to the Biblical calendar.

In this verse from Zechariah 7, for example, it would make sense for the fifth or seventh to refer to Av considering the reference to mourning; however, using the Biblical calendar here the Bible references both the fasting day of Tisha b’Av as well as the seventh month during which occurs the Day of Atonement (and day of fasting) known as Yom Kippur:

“Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me?” Zechariah 7:5

Did you really fast for Me asked the LORD? Tisha B'Av
Did you really fast for God?

What is Tisha b’Av?

“Tisha B’Av” means the “Ninth of Av”

“Tisha b’Av” means the “Ninth of Av.”

You’ve heard to beware of the Ides of March?

In Jewish history, beware of Tisha b’Av.

Some have likened Tisha b’Av to the events of September 11, 2001. Tisha b’Av is like a Jewish 9/11. Yet somehow worse than 9/11; it is as if 9/11 happened nearly every year. Tisha B’Av is a day that has, on multiple occasions, historically been a day of terror.

What has happened on Tisha b’Av?

As I mentioned briefly above, during the month of Av, both Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, the Jews were exiled, and later in history, many other terrible events including the First Crusade also occurred on the 9th of Av.

2 Kings 25:8-12 records:

“Now on the seventh day of the fifth month—which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the imperial guard, officer of the Babylonian king, came to Jerusalem. He burned down the House of ADONAI, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem—every notable building he burned with fire.  

Then the whole Chaldean army that was with the captain of the guard demolished the walls of Jerusalem on every side. Then the remnant of the people who were left in the city—the deserters who had defected to the Babylonian king and the rest of the populace—Nebuzaradan captain of the guard exiled them. But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and field hands.”

Nebuzaradan burned Jerusalem

According to 2 Kings 25:8, Nebuzaradan came to Jerusalem just two days before Tisha b’Av and set fire to Jerusalem. There would have been desperate mourning taking place on Tisha b’Av that year. Jeremiah 52:15 places these events as occurring on the 10th of the month, just one day after Tisha b’Av, confirming that on or around Tisha b’Av many calamities have befallen the Jewish people.

Rabbi Mordechai Beher of Ohr Somayach has compiled a list of the History of Events that have occurred on Tisha b’Av that I found very interesting and you may well want to check out.

Tisha B’Av is a National Day of Mourning in Israel.

Tisha b'Av National Day of Mourning in Israel

Thousands of faithful Jews pilgrimage to the Western Wall or “Kotel” in Jerusalem in order to pray for the nation on Tisha B’Av.

Being able to physically pray in that place is quite miraculous because this would have been impossible prior to 1967 when Israel was able to regain hold of East Jerusalem.

The Western Wall (or “Wailing Wall”) is all that remains of the 2nd Temple.

The Second Temple was constructed after the Jews returned from the Babylonian Exile, but it was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD; much like the First Temple (build by Solomon) was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586BC.

The Temple was an enormous part of Jewish religious and cultural life.

For this reason, Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) came when He did: He predicted the coming fall of the Temple and also prepared those who would believe for the Resurrection:

“‘So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?’

Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’

Then the Jews said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’

But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 

Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.” John 2:18-21

John 2:18-21

Those who do not yet know Jesus as Messiah continue to mourn the loss of the Temple and we must pray for them to come to a fuller understanding of all that the Bible reveals about this subject. Faithful Jews pray three times every day for the Third Temple to be built, and that it would come speedily.

This reminds me of the Aramaic phrase used by Christians all around the word: Maranatha. מרנאתא‎ Come, Messiah Yeshua, Come quickly please! (1 Corinthians 16:22; Revelation 22:20)

The rebuilding of the 3rd Temple is actually very important to Biblical prophecy, and we see the fulfillment happening in our time. This is an exciting time to be a follower of Jesus! Soon He will return for us!

Preparations are being made for the Third Temple, but there is a significant problem.

The land where the Third Temple is to be rebuilt has been claimed by the Islamists. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is built on the very site where the First and Second Temples so prominently stood. This is why there is so much lament and mourning as well as conflict surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Fasting and Mourning shall become Joy, Gladness, and Feasting

If you have a heart for Israel, Tisha b’Av is a perfect opportunity to pray in solidarity with God’s people for the salvation of national Israel.

Look at this amazing promise from Zechariah 8:19. The days of fasting will one day end and there will be joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts!

“Thus says the LORD of hosts:

‘The fast of the fourth month,
The fast of the fifth,
The fast of the seventh,
And the fast of the tenth,
Shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts
For the house of Judah.
Therefore love truth and peace.’” Zechariah 8:19

Zechariah 8:19

There is reason to rejoice because despite all of the trials of life, one day there will be restoration and peace.

Av and Abba

Av is a name for Father in Hebrew related to the term many of us know for God which is “Abba.”

Surely it is no coincidence that Tisha b’Av is a day to turn to our Abba Father!

Av is a term related to Abba

Whenever we feel trouble brewing, whenever we feel threatened, surrounded, uneasy, stressed out, fearful, or even attacked;

Whenever all we have known suddenly gets ripped out from under our feet;

Whenever we feel lost, shaken, and so overwhelmed that we don’t know if we can continue on,

we MUST turn to our Abba Father!

In this world, we will face trouble and calamity, but our Savior and Messiah has overcome the world:

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

John 16:33

Our body the Temple

The Temple made with human hands was destroyed. More than once! But this actually is not reason to lament, even though it certainly is sad. Jesus the Messiah revealed that God does not dwell in manmade temples.

“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.” Acts 17:24

Acts 17:24

Our Redeemer paid the price for us and now He dwells within us! We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, a temple not made with human hands:

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

As such, we are to glorify God with our bodies “as instruments of righteousness to holiness.” (Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible, 1 Cor.6).

Let us turn to our Abba Father, beseeching the Holy Spirit who dwells within us to make us continually holy so that we may be prepared for the Day of our Messiah’s return!

What does it truly mean to be “Pentecostal”?

(Acts 2) 5783 B”H

Infilling. Indwelling. Whatever you’d like to call it, you need it! We all do.

The infilling of the Holy Spirit.

Often called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the infilling, indwelling presence of the Third Person of the Trinity is the Promise from the Father, a gift that all believers may receive!

“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:49

Pentecostal Christianity

Despite the fact that the largest organized evangelical Christian fellowship in the world (the Assemblies of God) just so happens to be Pentecostal in belief and practice, most Americans do not know very much about Pentecostal Christianity.

Globally, here are the number of adherents in some of the largest and most well-known classical Pentecostal movements or denominations:

Assemblies of God: 85 million

Pentecostal Holiness: 4 million

Church of God (Cleveland): 7 million

Church of God in Christ: 3 million

These particular denominations are Trinitarian with sound doctrine. Pentecostal fellowships in general, but particularly the Assemblies of God, have always emphasized global missions.

The fruit of that determined investment are these combined 99 million+ members around the world. This is proof that Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered evangelism is effective!

“Send it on down, LORD, let the Holy Ghost come on down.” Hosanna Music

The Erroneous Jesus-only doctrine

The United Pentecostal (UPCI) Oneness denomination is growing, currently with 5 million members, but this group denies the Triune nature of God. In most cities, UPCI churches are known as “The Pentecostals of . . . ” leading many to believe all Pentecostals share this type of erroneous doctrine. The UPCI teaches what is termed, “apostolic doctrine.” This is a doctrinal problem that new leaders need to be able to confront and correct with love because it is more than just a semantic issue. These churches are often known as “Jesus-only” churches because they do not baptize in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but rather in the Name of Jesus, only.

The UPCI teaches that women must have uncut hair, may not wear makeup, and that men should not wear shorts. I applaud their efforts to emphasize modesty, but I do believe they have gone a bit too far.

Because of outward appearance (particularly of UPCI women), many people in the United States have equated all Pentecostals with this type of legalism.

But the reality is, being Pentecostal is about what the Holy Spirit has done on the inside, and yes, our outward appearance should reflect holiness, but in a balanced way, not infringing on personal freedom. I personally choose to wear skirts and dresses, but I am not required to do so by the organization with which I am affiliated.

What makes a person “Pentecostal?”

We need to reclaim the term “Pentecostal” for all who are genuinely filled with the Holy Spirit.

Clothing or hairstyle does not make a person “Pentecostal.”

Nor does emotionalism. Sometimes Pentecostals have a reputation for being expressive or “too” emotional. God has given us emotions and there are appropriate moments even in the context of a worship service when emotion can and should be expressed and even encouraged! But emotion for the sake of a show or drawing attention to oneself…. that is not what makes a person a “Pentecostal.” A true Pentecostal person has a healthy understanding of how God ministers to our emotions.

The Spirit of the LORD makes a person “Pentecostal.”

Power from on high makes a person “Pentecostal.”

Being filled with the Holy Spirit (with evidence) (more on that later), makes a person truly “Pentecostal.”

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

The Full Gospel

Notice that Acts 2:1 says “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come . . . “ (emphasis added)

The Day of Pentecost was actually the Feast of Shavu’ot, that had been celebrated for years. It’s just that this time, in Acts, God was going to do something so much greater. If you are interested in learning about the Feast of Shavu’ot and the Biblical Spring Feasts, click here for my post that goes more in-depth on that particular subject.

When I usually read this, I focus on the fact that the Jewish Feast day had come, but let’s look at the important adverb there: fully.

The Feast day had fully come. It was the precise day . . . but also: this was a day of fulfillment. The Day prophesied by the Prophet Joel had fully come – the LORD was going to even more fully work in the lives of His people.

“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

Joel 2:28-30, NKJV

There is a fullness to the Gospel. Never again shall you hunger or thirst for Living Water because that Living Water will come to you and indwell you.

The Full Gospel is that which the Pentecostal communities proclaim: that the Gospel didn’t end at the Resurrection! There was more yet to come! The LORD would unite His people through the power of the Holy Spirit and dwell inside of them.

Prior to the Pentecostal outpouring of Acts 2, the Spirit of the LORD came upon God’s servants, but only for a certain moment or occasion, for a certain purpose. After Acts 2, the Spirit of the LORD would dwell within those who are called by His Name. Hallelujah!

Pentecostalism is about receiving all that the LORD has for you

I love how God does things holistically.

We find this to be true throughout the Bible. For example, a Biblical term, “shalom,” meaning “peace,” is more than a simple “peace” that we understand in our English language today. The Hebrew “shalom” that the Bible talks about is holistic – an all-encompassing wholeness that only the Prince of Shalom could bring.

So God doesn’t just deal with one part of us – its not just “accept Jesus in your heart” and that’s it. Our heart is vitally important and so is our soul and spirit, but also this physical body we are living in right now.

The LORD of All wants you to have a relationship with Him that includes aspects that are very experiential. Being baptized in water is a physical symbol of your dying to your sin and rising with Him to new life. Being baptized in the Holy Spirit is also physical! Your physical body will feel the glorious spiritual effects – you will be filled with a uncontainable joy and your tongue will speak praises to God with amazing fluidity.

Yes, God can use people who have not (yet!) received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But He can use you for so much more greatness if you receive the awesome gift He has for you. He wants so much for you – don’t limit your experience with the LORD because of your preconceived notions of what it might mean to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Don’t fear! The LORD designed all of this so beautifully. Receive what He offers you!

What is the Biblical Evidence of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit?

The Biblical Evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is often called the “Initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.”

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4, NKJV, emphasis added

The people were ALL filled with the Holy Spirit (all of them – there were no exceptions or exemptions. No one was left out. The LORD blessed those who had gathered in the Upper Room to wait for the Promise of the Father by pouring out His Spirit upon

The Biblical pattern is this: when people are filled with the Holy Spirit then they begin to speak with other tongues as given by the Holy Spirit.

Speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

But some churches don’t “believe” in speaking in tongues.

Some even preach against the practice, saying that this occurred only on that particular Pentecost Day.

But read your Bible carefully!

No where does the Word of God suggest that people stopped receiving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so certainly He continues to fill His people!

Most people who claim not to believe in the Holy Spirit baptism are people who have actually prayed and asked God for it, but did not (yet!) receive it. They conclude that because they have not received it, then it must not exist. A very poor conclusion indeed.

Some people are quite nervous or frightened about the whole idea of speaking in tongues. I know I wasn’t raised around that and I didn’t quite understand what it was all about until I received the blessed outpouring. The Bible tells us to not be afraid! Seek Him with your whole heart and He will fill you!

Speaking in tongues will give you a holy boldness to share the Good News with others and will help your prayer life tremendously! If you want to be able to pray effectively and with power, you need the baptism of the Holy Ghost!

“Pentecostal” or “Spirit-filled?”

Being “Pentecostal” is fairly synonymous with being “Spirit-filled.”

It has become more widely accepted and more popular to be “Spirit-filled,” perhaps because this term carries less baggage as I explained with the Trinitarian vs. Oneness doctrinal controversies.

“Spirit-filled” carries its own set of issues at times because some of the new age movements (I may be harsh, but I call it “charismatic witchcraft”) are also comfortable calling themselves Spirit-filled and this causes confusion and division within the Pentecostal movement.

Both terms are appropriate. It is just important to know to what exactly you are referring!

Pentecostal and Spirit-filled worship services are vibrant and full of life! If you’ve never visited a Pentecostal church, I encourage you to find one to visit in your area! Expect to see people raising their hands in praise and worship and plenty of music and prayer!

Pentecost Sunday (The Feast of Weeks/The Feast of Shavu’ot)

This Sunday, followers of our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) from around the world will celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday (Shavu’ot). I encourage you to go beyond a once-a-year celebration.

Know this: the Holy Spirit can endue you with Pentecostal power, a gift you may enjoy every single day of the year. If you don’t receive the initial physical evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit right away, do not get discouraged. It will happen in God’s perfect timing.

Pray today that the Holy Spirit will baptize you in His Holy Fire!

Are you seeking the Holy Spirit baptism? I’d love to pray for you. Leave a comment below!

The 1st Passover in Canaan: Reproach was “rolled away” at Gilgal

(Yehoshua/Joshua 5) B”H 5783

Celebrating Passover in Gilgal

The first Passover celebrated in the Promised Land of Canaan was very significant.

Joshua had successfully led the Israelites across the Jordan, on dry ground (Joshua 3:17). The children of Israel, under Joshua’s direction and the order of the LORD, had taken twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan for each of the 12 tribes of Israel (Joshua 4:8) to carry with them.

Now they had arrived in a place that would be known as “Gilgal” from that time forward.

Why “Gilgal?”

“Gilgal” was a word that expressed “rolling away.”

Some have suggested that Gilgal was an Israelite version of Stonehenge. Perhaps they did set up 12 stones in a formation, but the Scripture does not allude to the Israelites conducting at this point a massive engineering feat – not to mention, Joshua was doing his best to obey the LORD, and most set-ups like Stonehenge are much more pagan in nature than what we would anticipate God doing here.

The Israelites were heading toward confrontation with Jericho, so again, they were probably spending their time in training exercises more so than setting up monoliths. Nevertheless, there IS what is known as a “Gilgal”, concentric circles similar to a labyrinth located at that site in modern day Golan Heights that archaeologists date as being much older than Joshua’s time. It would make sense that God would use that place to reveal a far deeper truth about rolling stones away.

The Reproach of Egypt has been rolled away

Then the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day.” Joshua 5:9, emphasis added

There they were . . . camped in the Promised Land, and the LORD announces that the reproach, the shame, the mistreatment, the oppression, the horrors of bondage were now




Passover Observed

And then the children of Israel observed Passover.

“And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day. Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.” Joshua 5:11-12

The manna ceased and the people had their first taste of what life would be like in the Promised Land.

They had been set free and delivered, and brought into blessing!

The Commander of the LORD’s Army, the Resurrection, and the Seven Shofars

After this, the Commander of the LORD’s army appeared before Joshua with a sword in his hand (Joshua 5:13).

The LORD assures Joshua that Jericho will be defeated. Remember that Jericho was defeated by the shouts of the people and the priests sounding seven shofars seven times on the seventh day of their marching (Joshua 6).

You may know Joshua (Yehoshua) is a type for the future Yehoshua (Yeshua) — Jesus.

This chapter is full of awesome allusion!

First, we see that our reproach is rolled away. Egypt is left behind.

When our Messiah and Savior Yeshua (Jesus) defeated sin and death (the ways of Egypt and Jericho), He brought us into victory with Him!

All reproach was rolled away along with the stone on the day of our LORD’s Resurrection!

Revelation 8ff describes the seven seals and the seven shofars and the seven angels who will announce the coming of the LORD and His army and the final destruction of Babylon.

Again, all reproach will be rolled away!


Resurrection Power

Are you living in the Promised Land of God’s love and affection for you?

Do you have the full assurance that you will one day be raised to new life – eternal life – because of your trust in Yeshua haMashiach, the LORD Jesus Christ?

Have you tasted of the fruits of the Spirit?

Are you wearing the full armor of God and walking in victory as the enemy is defeated all around you?

Are you waiting with joyful expectation for the return of our King of kings in glory and victory and awesome power?

Do you need your sin and past rolled away? There is forgiveness available to you. The LORD is willing to forgive you if you will just come to Him with a sincere and repentant heart.

Let me invite you today to come with us – all truly saved believers – to this heavenly banquet. If you celebrate the Passover meal, it will give you a glimpse into this wonderful Truth. As we all celebrate the Victory of our Risen LORD, you, too, can receive Him into your life and know with absolute hope and confidence that He will raise you to new life, too. When this life is over, we will be joined together with our LORD and we will sit at the banquet table of His love. May today bring you great shalom and joy because Yeshua (Jesus) is our Living Hope!

Behold, your King is coming to you: Zechariah’s Palm Sunday prophecy

(Zechariah 9; Luke 19:28-48) 5783 B”H

It is already nearly Palm Sunday and Passover! We still have snow on the ground here in the northwoods, but the joy of our Savior’s Resurrection warms our hearts and helps us remember that the spring flowers are just about to burst forth.

Zekharyah: God remembers

Have you ever read the full prophecy found in Zechariah 9?

Zechariah (זְכַרְיָה (Zekharyah) was a priest and prophet by heritage and lineage and God used him to reveal one of the most important Messianic prophecies!

The Hebrew name “Zekharyah” means “God remembers.”

God remembers His people, He remembers His promises, and prophecy is fulfilled precisely because the LORD has spoken and His Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11).

The chapter begins with judgment on Israel’s enemies – highly appropriate given the promise of Zion’s Coming King who would defeat evil. God remembered all that Israel had endured and reassured them that He would send the Righteous One.

Zechariah 9:9-17 contains the prophecies that were fulfilled on Palm Sunday. Additionally, this passage prophesies that the coming King would speak shalom and salvation to the nations:

Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion!
        Shout, daughter of Jerusalem!
    Behold, your King is coming to you,
        a righteous one bringing salvation.
        He is lowly, riding on a donkey—
        on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

I will banish chariots from Ephraim
        and horses from Jerusalem,
        and the war bow will be broken.
    He will speak shalom to the nations.
    His rule will extend from sea to sea,
    from the River to the ends of the earth.
As for you also, by the blood of your covenant,
        I will release your prisoners from the waterless Pit.
Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope!
    Today I declare that I will restore twice as much to you.
I will bend Judah as my bow
        and fill it with Ephraim.
  I will rouse your sons, O Zion
        against your sons, O Greece.
    I will wield you like a warrior’s sword.

Then ADONAI will be seen over them
    as His arrow flashes like lightning.
ADONAI Elohim will blow the shofar
    and march in whirlwinds of the south.

ADONAI TZVA’OT will defend them.
    They will consume and conquer with sling stones.
    They will drink and roar as with wine
        and be filled like a bowl,
        like the corners of the altar.
ADONAI their God will save them on that day
        as the flock of His people.
    They will be like gems of a crown
        sparkling over His land.
How good and beautiful it will be!
    Grain will make the young men thrive
        and new wine the virgin women.”
Zechariah 9:9-17, emphases added

Isn’t this beautiful to picture?

“They will be like gems of a crown sparkling over His land.” Zechariah 9:16b

He loves you so much you sparkle like a regal gem!

As you can see, this Bible passage describes the overwhelming and awesome power of the LORD Most High. His arrows flash like lightning and shofars will sound and the LORD of the Armies will defend us. It is really impactful to dwell on this passage for a time. Meditate on God’s Word! You will always be blessed.

Our Humble King, Owner of all things

Do you notice that the Zechariah passage ends with all such fanfare and victorious imagery, but it sure didn’t start out that way. It tells about a lowly Man, riding on a donkey. But, despite the humbleness of the passage, it does make a bold announcement:

“Behold, your King is coming to you.” Zechariah 9:9

What a statement!

The King was coming! And not just any King – your King. The One who will hold out His scepter of righteous forgiveness and allow you into His Presence with all-consuming love, mercy, and passion.

Do you need to hear that today?

Do you need to know that there is One who holds all Authority, the Majestic King of all kings, and He is coming once again? No one knows the day or the hour of Yeshua’s (Jesus’) Second Coming, but I can assure you this: He is coming back for His own.

As Zechariah records, Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ our Lord) is the Righteous One and He is bringing salvation. He will save you, deliver you, and set you free of your burdens and your sins and even the curse and sting of death. He will give you new life, if you will trust in Him today with all your heart.

Luke documented the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy that the Messiah would ride on a colt. (Luke 19:30ff).

I love how the owners of the colt ask the two disciples in Luke 19, “Why are you untying the colt?” Luke 19:33

That was a reasonable question. The disciples didn’t own the colt, but the Master, the LORD Himself can given them permission to take it! They were instructed to simply say,

“The LORD has need of him.” (Luke 19:34, NKJV).

“The Master needs it.” (Luke 19:34, TLV).

God owns everything, so He owned that young donkey, too.

The LORD needed the donkey because He was absolutely fulfilling in every minute detail the words of Zechariah‘s triumphal prophecy.

Luke describes the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Even though our LORD chose to use a lowly donkey as His transportation into Jerusalem, the events of that first Palm Sunday were far from lowly.

During what is commonly described as “the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem,” there was now a full multitude of people who would consider themselves Yeshua’s (Jesus’) disciples. They were celebrating because they knew He was the Anointed One, the Promised King!

Scripture says that they praised God with a loud voice!

Do you, too, praise Him with a loud voice?

Do you let it be known that you and your household serve this King?

“When Yeshua came near the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began to rejoice. They praised God with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen, saying,

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of ADONAI!”
Shalom in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples!”

But answering, Yeshua said, “I tell you that if these keep silent, the stones will shout out!”

As He drew near and saw Jerusalem, He wept over her, saying, “If only you had recognized this day the things that lead to shalom! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will surround you with barricades and hem you in on all sides. And they will smash you to the ground—you and your children within you. And they won’t leave within you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:37-45).

Blessed is the King!

What has often become a repetitive custom to say, “Baruch haba b’Shem Adonai” was in that moment the most powerful declaration of allegiance and praise!

Shalom in Heaven and Glory in the Highest!

Shalom in heaven!

Glory in the Highest!

Doesn’t that reach the depths of your heart?

The joy of knowing the King of kings has come!

I imagine the overwhelming experiential joy that the disciples must have been feeling at that moment!

The Pharisees missed the mark and wanted to hear a public rebuke.

But Yeshua (Jesus) knew the condition of their hearts.

He wept over the Holy City, knowing that despite their daily greetings to one another saying, “Shalom,” they truly didn’t understand shalom.

More than a greeting and more than a temporary condition, true shalom comes only from being in right relationship with the Holy One, learning to love and seeking His mercy. Keeping every jot and tittle of the law could not save the people. They needed to know the Lord of Shalom.

Rejoice Greatly and Shout

Zechariah 9:9 proclaims we are to rejoice greatly and shout because of the announcement of the Coming King!

As we enter this Holy time of Passover and celebrating the FirstFruits of the Resurrection, I pray you will rejoice greatly. That you will not be ashamed to shout praises unto God Most High!

The tomb is empty. Our King will return!

Celebrate! And may we pray for those who do not yet know Him. That they, too, would shout “Hoshiana!” (Hosanna!): Please, save!

Hanukkah, Zerubbabel, and the Second Temple

Some who have studied history have heard of Hanukkah’s hero, Judah (Judas) Maccabee, but are you familiar with how Zerubbabel fits into the story? Today we will take a look at the history and meaning of Hanukkah and discover how the LORD used Zerubbabel during the construction of the Second Temple.

The Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication

Hanukkah is known today as the Festival of Lights, and rightly so given that we celebrate the Light of the World – our Savior, Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ)!

But the more correct translation of the Hebrew term “Hanukkah” is “Dedication.” Hanukkah is the Feast of Dedication.

Most Christians do not realize that the Feast of Dedication = Hanukkah. It is the same thing.

Did you know that Hanukkah is mentioned in the New Testament?

Hanukkah is mentioned in John 10:22.

Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.” John 10:22, NKJV

“Then came Hanukkah; it was winter in Jerusalem.” John 10:22, TLV

In order to understand the New Testament in its correct context, it is imperative for believers to learn about the Feast of Dedication!

Our Savior was in the Second Temple during Hanukkah

Hanukkah winter Jerusalem Chanukah

“Then came Hanukkah; it was winter in Jerusalem. Yeshua was walking in the Temple around Solomon’s Colonnade.  Then the Judean leaders surrounded Him, saying, “How long will You hold us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us outright!” Yeshua answered them, “I told you, but you don’t believe! The works I do in My Father’s name testify concerning Me.” John 10:22-25

Yeshua (Jesus) used the opportunity on Hanukkah to reveal that His sheep hear His voice and He gives them eternal life. (John 10:27-28).

Hanukkah is about Victory over Oppression and Insult

By being present during Hanukkah, Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) confirms to us the validity of the historical record. He shared in the joy of the Hanukkah miracle.

Hanukkah commemorates the victory of God’s people. Today, we know that through our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) we have eternal victory, but we also celebrate the victories throughout history that have demonstrated the faithfulness of God to sustain His people.

A very evil tyrant named Antiochus Epiphanes (Antiochus IV) had been severely oppressing the people of God.

He wanted to force assimilation to Hellenize the Jews so they would adopt the Greek culture and abandon YHVH.

He was such an obnoxious person that he took over the Temple and sacrificed a pig on God’s altar, an act considered highly offensive since the Jews do not eat pork.

To top it off, Antiochus Epiphanes had the audacity to set up a Zeus statue – right in the Temple.

Can you even imagine this?

Let’s modernize it a bit for the sake of understanding:

Imagine if your faith was illegal and the government took over the church you attend.

Imagine if the pulpit was replaced by a giant statue of a Hindu god like Krishna.

Do you have a communion table at church?

What if satanists came in and replaced the bread and wine or grape juice with the elements of witchcraft?

You would be outraged! Horrified! Something would have to be done, right?!

Well, the LORD used a man named Judah Maccabee to lead an uprising against Antiochus known as the Maccabean Revolt. As is so often the case, the Jewish army was hugely outnumbered, but when God is on your side good things happen.

Judah and his men won.


The Rededication of the Second Temple and the miracle of the oil

Though victory had been secured, the Temple of our LORD had been defiled.

It needed to be re-dedicated.

The process for consecrating the Temple required pure oil to burn in the Temple menorah, but there was only enough oil to last for one night.

But God is a God of miracles.

The oil that should have lasted only one night lasted for 8 whole nights.

The Temple was appropriately rededicated and the people were filled with joy.

Today, we use a special menorah for Hanukkah called a hanukkiah to remember the miracle.

Zerubbabel and the Second Temple Prophecies

This was the Second Temple, rebuilt under the leadership of Zerubbabel. It was of lesser magnitude and grandeur as the Temple of Solomon, but the Prophet Haggai records the LORD blessing Zerubbabel for his efforts:

 “On that day’”—it is a declaration of ADONAI-TZVA’OT—‘I will take you, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, my servant’—it is a declaration of ADONAI—“‘and I will set you like a signet ring. For I have chosen you.’” It is a declaration of ADONAI-TZVA’OT.” Haggai 2:23, emphases added

The LORD also spoke to the Prophet Zechariah about this:

“Again the word of ADONAI came to me saying: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this House. His hands will also finish it. Then you will know that ADONAI-TZVA’OT has sent me to you.” Zechariah 4:8-9

Haggai’s prophecy acknowledges that the people viewed the Second Temple as “nothing” compared to the first Temple. But the LORD encourages Zerubbabel to be strong and to persist in faith:

“In the seventh month, on the twenty-first of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying:  Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying: ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing? 

Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the LORD; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’

For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:1-9, emphases added

Have you ever worked so hard on a project, but those around you viewed you with contempt? Maybe they thought your idea wouldn’t work or that you were putting too much effort into something that might not be worth it in the end?

The LORD promised that His Spirit would remain among the faithful and that He would fill the Temple with His Glory.

Yeshua (Jesus) later taught in that very Temple – fulfilling Haggai’s prophecy that the glory of this latter temple would be greater than the former!

Lastly, it was in the context of encouraging Zerubbabel that the LORD said the work would be done, not by might, nor by power, but by the power of the Spirit:

“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the LORD of hosts.”
Zechariah 4:6

The dedicating of our lives

This Hanukkah, remember all that the LORD has done!

He is the God of miracles and He can use that which we might consider small or insignificant for His Glory.

If you belong to Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ), your body is the Temple of His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).

Do you need a rededication? Sanctification (living and walking in holiness) is a process, and sometimes we need to get out the scrub brush and ask the LORD to cleanse us anew. Dedicate your life to Him! That is something I do over and over again because I love Him and I want to consistently be dedicated to Him and His mission.

Here’s a prayerful Hanukkah song about dedicating ourselves to the LORD:

He will use you for His Glory and He will work innumerable miracles in your life if you will trust Him and let your light shine!

Have a very Happy Hanukkah! Chag Chanukah Sameach!

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