How you can be blessed in your daily routine

Updated 5/25/22 B”H

Do you want to be blessed in your daily routine? Here are some practical ways you can receive God’s blessing in your life:

1. Approach God directly through prayer

Some world religions teach that God is far-off, distant, and unconcerned with the daily activities of human beings.

Some people believe that they cannot personally talk with Him: that they need an intermediary or someone “holier-than-thou” to speak to the Almighty on their behalf.

Countless times have people asked me to pray for them, but it becomes clear they have no intention of doing so themselves.

Prayer on the behalf of another is never wasted, but it would be more effective if the requester would join in with true faith of their own.

You can pray any time! Start your day off right, by approaching the throne of the LORD with a humble prayer of thanksgiving and praise.

Why not listen to this song, “Awake, O Israel, put off thy slumber” and start giving Him praise right now!?

2. Reject American Christianity’s dangerous flirtation with yoga and kundalini in your exercise routine

If you have a morning exercise routine, keep at it! Incorporate praise and worship music when you’re on your elliptical or treadmill. Thank the LORD for the ability to move the body that He gave you. If you’ve ever had to recover from an injury or medical intervention, you know not to take exercise for granted.

Pray today for strength. That He would strengthen your every limb and muscle and tendon, that His strength would be made perfect in your weaknesses.

Do NOT follow the New Age movement’s suggestions to “look inward,” attempting to empty the mind in order to find enlightenment, self-actualization, or nirvana.

More and more Americans turn toward Eastern religion, incorporating yoga and kundalini worship practices into their lives and joining the pop culture fascination with anything decidedly nonChristian.

My advice to aspiring yogis: yes, stay healthy, eat some yogurt, but skip the yoga.

Let me explain why:

My friends (natives of northern India) who happen to be evangelical missionaries to that same region attest that yoga is indeed rooted in Hindu religion and they are saddened (appalled, really, but they are shy to show it) by the Western embrace of these dark influences. They risk their lives preaching the Good News of Messiah and rejoicing when bondages are broken as people reject idolatry and come back stateside only to be bombarded by American Christians who get all defensive about their exercise routines.

[Missionaries in India] risk their lives preaching the Good News of Messiah and rejoicing when bondages are broken as people reject idolatry and come back stateside only to be bombarded by American Christians who get all defensive about their exercise routines.

The Scriptures used by thousands of believers around the world instruct plainly what ought be done.

Rabbi She’ll (Paul, the Apostle) wrote to the Romans that believers should “renew their mind,” (Romans 12:2) and assured the Corinthian believers that by the power of the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh) and faith in His Name, they now had the “mind of Messiah”(1 Corinthians 2:16).

Followers of Jesus (Yeshua) are to set their minds on things above (Colossians 3:2). We must choose to live differently. Rather than empty our minds, we must fill our mind with the Truth of God’s Word.

There are plenty of ways to demonstrate our faith without compromise. After all, there are plenty of stretching exercises that we as believers can do that are not rooted in yoga’s practices. Let us honor our LORD and not invite Hindu spirits into our lives.

3. Meditate on the Psalms

“Meditation” isn’t anti-Biblical.

The Bible exhorts us to meditate! Meditate as a child of God, on the things of God. Do not meditate as the world does.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8, emphasis added

I always recommend that people meditate on the Word of God as a whole but also specifically on the Psalms. This is timely because I very recently reviewed an excellent devotional resource on the Psalms that uses some of the famous minister Charles Spurgeon’s writings called “Spurgeon and the Psalms.” You can read that review here.

It is a sad reality that so many people do not realize that their Maker, their Creator, will hear them (and answer them!) if they would call upon His Name. Too many think that spiritual meditation is reserved for Buddhists and Hindus. Too many people appear to feel ashamed by the knowledge that they are sinners that they are afraid to speak to the God of Heaven. Many choose not to overcome this barrier, embarrassed that their peers or family will judge them for choosing to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (Yeshua haMashiach).

Many echo David’s wonderings that we find in Psalm 24:

“Who may stand in His Holy Place? (Psalm 24:3b)

How can I receive a blessing from the Almighty One?

How can I know He will touch my life?

How can I know He will heal a loved one?

“Who may go up on the mountain of ADONAI?” (Psalm 24:3a)

It is easier than you may think.

David was inspired to give the answer:

“One with clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted his soul in vain, nor sworn deceitfully.” (Psalm 24:4)

The next verse assures us of this:

“He will receive a blessing from ADONAI, righteousness from God his salvation.” (Psalm 24:5)

who will receive blessing

If you sincerely come before Him, bearing no agenda, lifting your soul not to the idols of this world but to the Prince of Peace, He will bless you.

May it be said of you, like of Nathanael in John 1:47, “in him there is no deceit.”

But if you have failed and your hands are unclean due to dishonest dealings and impurities in your heart, let this be a message of hope for your life.

You can be clothed in righteousness if you choose to be wrapped in the garments of His salvation (Isaiah 61:10), the greatest blessing available to anyone on this earth. May nothing impede you from the blessing that is yours if you will receive it.

Here is a song by worship leader Robin Mark that may truly encourage you today called “Garments of Praise.” I love the lyrics:

“Put on the garments of praise, for the spirit of heaviness;
Let the oil of gladness flow down from your throne!
Put on the garments of praise, for the spirit of heaviness;
Your joy is my strength alone, my strength alone!

Make these broken weary bones rise to dance again,
Wet this dry and thirsty land with a river!
LORD our eyes are fixed on you and we are waiting,
For your garland of grace as we praise your Name!

Hallelujah, sing hallelujah!
We give all honor and praise to your Name!
Hallelujah, sing hallelujah!
We trade our sorrows for garments of praise!”

If you begin your day focusing on the LORD and His goodness, the rest of your day will be full of blessing, too. And when there are hard times, you will be spiritually prepared to endure the battle and win. Receive the blessing that He has for you – it is yours, just for the asking. He is willing to give you unmerited favor: what we call, “grace.” And His grace is more than sufficient for you, today.

Also, remember this: we may have our daily routines, but with God, life becomes much more than routine! It becomes full of meaning and joy!

4. Make the decision RIGHT NOW to follow the Savior of mankind and you will certainly receive the blessing and favor of God Most High.

And when you do, let me be the first to say, welcome to the family!!

If you have questions about Messiah Yeshua (Jesus the Christ), please send a message or leave a comment. We would be overjoyed to help you in your spiritual walk. Shalom!

I’ll leave you today with another song that will minister to your heart based on Psalm 24, “Who will Ascend to the Mountain of the LORD?”

Haman’s wife Zeresh was right about this 1 thing

Updated 2/27/22

The ongoing pandemic has meant Purim celebrations over these past few years have not been nearly as fun as they normally would have been . . . but our plight is nothing compared to the violent antiSemitism that Queen Hadassah (Esther) and the Jews had to confront with Haman and his wife Zeresh in ancient Persia.

Even if you had to stay home, hopefully you got to eat some hamantaschen and read or hear the whole Megillah (the scroll of Esther). Or, as was the case at our house, dress up with the children who absolutely love to get in their Purim costumes and “boo Haman” as the account is read.

If you are unfamiliar with Purim, one of the traditions is to read the entire book of Esther and “boo” and use noisemakers (“groggers”) (often homemade!) to “blot out” Haman’s name every time it is mentioned. It can get very loud!

One of the things that makes Scripture so fascinating is that even though you might have read it a zillion times, you will still discover something new every time if you are paying attention. The Book of Esther is no exception.

Book of Esther Bible Study
The Book of Esther is traditionally read during Purim

I was struck by Esther 6:13, which recounts an interaction between the evil Haman and his wife, Zeresh.

Haman goes home with his head hung low because he was just humiliated. The righteous Mordecai (Haman’s enemy) was honored in the streets under orders from the king, in the way evil Haman had wanted for himself.

Zeresh and some family friends hear what just happened and counsel Haman, saying:

“Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has begun, is Jewish, you will not prevail against him – for surely you will fall before him.” (Esther 6:13)

There’s a lot packed into that one verse!

Most significantly: “Since Mordecai is Jewish, you will not prevail.”

Haman has no chance against the God of Mordecai, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Israel.

Zeresh recognizes “your downfall has begun!”

Esther 6:13

For if indeed Mordecai is Jewish (yes, indeed he was) . . . “surely, you will fall before him.”

Zeresh was wise enough to know that going up against the chosen people and their God was a recipe for her husband’s demise. She recognized the power within the Jewish lineage, but she, too, had a history of evil ideas against the Jewish people. Madame Zeresh had previously inspired Haman to build a gallows with intent to hang Mordecai.

Haman didn’t have time to make a plan or discuss his next move further because he was whisked away by the king’s eunuchs to attend a dinner banquet with the king and queen.

The next day, Haman was hung on the very gallows (located at his own house!) that he had prepared for Mordecai.

Zeresh was right. Haman would not prevail, for his downfall had already begun and his end was swift.

Haman’s wife Zeresh was right about this one thing: her husband’s demise

She was right about this one thing: Haman’s plan would fail and Israel WILL prevail!

From Haman to Hamas, Israel is all too often surrounded and attacked by enemies, but fear not, the enemy will never prevail!

Baruch HaShem Adonai, the Guardian of Israel, who never slumbers nor sleeps.

Update on 2/27/2022 related to the current events of the invasion of Ukraine. According to the Jerusalem Channel, President Zelenskyy of Ukraine is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor. His grandfather’s three brothers were murdered by the Nazis. Please join us in praying for the safety of President Zelenskyy as he confronts the Haman of our day.

Psalm 56:4

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The increase of Israel’s border, little by little

Parashat Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1–24:18) 5781 B”H

The nation of Israel is truly flourishing. The land is prospering! Deserts are blossoming, becoming lush and full of greenery. Israel is an agricultural marvel and nations around the world are beginning to take note of their agri-tech. This really is no surprise to anyone familiar with the Scriptures:

The wilderness and dry land will be glad.
The desert will rejoice and blossom like a lily.

Isaiah/Yeshayahu 35:1, TLV

Israel has also become a major global contributor in the realm of medicine, developing treatments and conducting significant vaccine research during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The tiny nation of Israel has been able to accomplish all of this, through the blessing of the Most High, despite being

  • a tiny country only about the size of New Jersey.
  • surrounded on every side by nonJewish entities, most of whom are hostile
  • a relatively new country, only 73 years old.

Little by little, that special star on Israel‘s flag is shining brighter and brighter and it is becoming more difficult for the rest of the world to ignore.

Israel’s determination reminds me of one of my favorite childhood stories: The Little Engine that Could! No mountain is too high, no obstacle too complex. A way will be made where there seems to be no way and the nations will stand amazed.

With the odds stacked against them, Israel remains victorious and no one will ever extinguish the Light.

But it has taken time. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither were the skyscrapers in Tel Aviv. The successes at Golan Heights, too, took time, but serve as an illustration of the promises Adonai has kept that He made to Israel in Exodus/Shemot 23:29ff:

I will not drive them out from before you in a single year. Otherwise the land would become desolate, and the animals of the field will multiply against you. But little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you are fruitful. Then you will possess the land. I will set your border from the Sea of Reeds to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates River. For I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you are to drive them out before you. Make no covenant with them or with their gods. They must not dwell in your land and cause you to sin against Me, for if you worship their gods, they will be a snare to you.”

Exodus/Shemot 23:29-33, TLV, emphasis added

It’s safe to say that people who love Israel want the Jewish homeland to be safe and secure and Israel’s enemies to be scattered. Today. Now! But God’s wisdom is infinitely greater than our own, and all of the blessing and favor promised to Israel is being realized right before our eyes, little by little.

Sometimes the LORD chooses to do things little by little so we can pay attention and see His handiwork! If a change happens quickly, while it seems miraculous in the moment, we so quickly forget. Whereas if a change happens little by little, generations can live in the light of the ongoing victory.

Perhaps you feel like you’re facing an uphill battle.

Maybe you’ve set a goal that feels unattainable.

Remember, nothing is impossible for God! (Matt.19:26; Luke 1:37)

After the verses that promised the victorious conquest of Canaan, YHWH again spoke through his servant Moshe and the people were unanimous, in one accord, promising that all that Adonai says, they would do. They promised to obey. Sadly, we know humans fall short on their promises, and a Messiah would be needed to save them from their own undoing just as all of us fail to measure up even to promises we make to ourselves! We promise to change. We convince ourselves we will do better next time. But do we? Sometimes. But definitely not always. How great is our need for a Savior! Praise Adonai that He sent His Son, Messiah Yeshua, Jesus the Christ, to save us from so much sin.

The LORD had given so much instruction and law, rules for the people to abide by in order to ensure a positive and ongoing relationship with their Creator and also to establish and ensure a righteous community. There was so much to absorb, so the LORD made it succinct. The 10 Words, or Commandments, would be given to the people, encompassing the heart of Torah. They were written on tablets of stone. Aren’t you grateful His Word is now written on the tablets of our hearts? His Spirit lives inside of us, when we surrender to Him!

It is clear that you are a letter from Messiah delivered by us—written not with ink but with the Ruach [Spirit] of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

2 Corinthians 3:3

“Se alegrarán el desierto y la soledad; el yermo se gozará y florecerá como la rosa…” Isaías 35:1a

Isaiah 5:7a

Boundaries and Breakthroughs: Parashat Yitro

The boundary set at Mount Sinai

Shemot/Exodus 19 describes the awe-inspiring events at Mount Sinai leading up to the giving of the renowned Ten Words, or better known as the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20.

The holiness of Adonai, the Eternal One, is such that specific boundaries are given so that the people would not go up onto the mountain or even so much as touch its border. The consequence wasn’t minuscule: anyone who dared to touch the mountain in disobedience would be killed. Exodus 19:13, “Not a hand is to touch it, but he will surely be stoned or shot through. Whether it is an animal or a man, it will not live.”

This sounds harsh to our modern sensibilities, but this was not just any spectator event. The LORD God – YHWH Himself came down onto Mount Sinai, accompanied by thunderings, lightning, a thick cloud and smoke, fire, and an earthquake.

This was the real deal: real special effects far more emotive than any movie you’ve seen. The bottom line: The people could not handle this.

They needed an intermediary and Moshe (Moses) was the one chosen for the job.

The Almighty Creator came down onto Mount Sinai and called Moses up to meet with Him.

A forbidden breakthrough

Exodus 19:21, “Then ADONAI said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to see ADONAI, and many of them die.”

There is an interesting term: “break through.”  יֶהֶרְס֤וּ (transliteration: yehersu). The Hebrew root here is “haras” הָרַס, but what is interesting is that here in verse 21 and then again in verse 24, this verb appears as the intransitive verb (yehersu,) the only two occurrences in the Hebrew Scriptures. Perhaps it is a greater play on words in the English language than even in Hebrew, as what follows should surely grab the reader’s attention:

Exodus 19:24, “‘Then ADONAI said to him, ‘Go down. You are to come back up, you and Aaron with you. But do not let the kohanim and the people break through to come up to ADONAI, or He will break out against them.”

Many well-meaning devotional books and prayer leaders encourage believers to “pray for a breakthrough” or even “demand” that a spiritual door be opened unto them. These ideas are based off of Scripture, but can contribute to a proud, almost defiant attitude when not balanced with true rootedness in Scriptural teaching. Could this be the very attitude cautioned against in Exodus 19? A self-righteous posture can cause people to cross the line, risking quite the chastisement. The Lord God is Holy and His people must be made holy, brought near only by the blood of the Lamb.

Indeed, megachurch pastors and TV preachers have coined some phrases that have become extremely popular in Christian circles, but they are not all entirely Biblical:

  1. “The Prosperity Gospel.”

The “Prosperity Gospel” refers to the teaching and focus on the idea that if a person prays hard enough and gives enough of their money (tithe plus offerings) they will automatically be prospered with wealth. It is rooted in a very American mentality of material entitlement.

A righteous person will prosper by faith, but not in the materially-obsessed manner propagated by self-aggrandizing tv “evangelists” who egregiously spend millions of their victims’ dollars on private jets.

Might this be an example of how twisting truth breaks through what is right? How many famous people ultimately end up in shame?

2. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

Sometimes well-meaning people of faith will use this phrase to attempt to comfort someone in the face of tragedy. The Bible says you won’t be tempted by more than you can handle(1 Cor.10:13), but that is slightly different.

When I have served as a hospital and hospice chaplain, I have found it helpful at times to explain to fearful or grieving people that sometimes God actually does give you more than you can handle. You want to know why? Because then you have to depend on Him and “lean not upon your own understanding.”

The congregation at Mount Sinai didn’t lean upon their own understanding. They obeyed the word of God given through Moses and lived to tell about it.

3. “You need a spiritual breakthrough.”

This one truly seems harmless enough. In fact, it is partly true. Daniel prayed and fasted for 21 days and there was a “spiritual breakthrough:”

“Then [Gabriel] said to me, ‘Don’t be afraid, Daniel! For from the first day that you set your heart to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard. I have come because of your wordsHowever, the prince of the kingdom of Persia resisted me for 21 days, but behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me because I had been detained there with the kings of Persia.”

Daniel 10:12-13, TLV, emphasis added

But notice, Daniel’s prayer influenced an outcome in the heavenly realms. In other words, he prayed a breakthrough prayer that benefitted heaven, rather than himself. His was a selfless prayer. The problem is, people get all excited and look to “make a breakthrough,” usually for their own plans or dreams. False preachers profit off of this emotionalism and encourage people to pray for their breakthrough, using quasi-Biblical allusions such as the widow persisting with the unjust judge in Luke 18 or Jacob’s insistence in Genesis 32 that he would not stop wrestling until he received a blessing.

Kingdom of kohanim, Holy Nation

The people were instructed not to come near, but they still had a role. They needed to be clean and part of creating a consecrated boundary around the mountain.

Exodus 19:23 “Moses said to ADONAI, ‘The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for You are the One who warned us, saying ‘Set boundaries around the mountain, and consecrate it.'”

Earlier in the chapter, ADONAI reveals to Moses that He intends for the people to be His own treasure from among all people! He also reveals that He wants them to be a kingdom of priests (kohanim) and a holy nation.

The people responded positively when Moses shared this news.

“All the people answered together and said, ‘Everything that ADONAI has spoken, we will do.'” Ex.19:8

They were later given ten specific boundaries – those commands that would shape their identity, the first one recognizing first and foremost that this God, the God of this people, the God of Israel, ADONAI, YHWH, He alone is God.

Yeshua the High Priest

Moshe was a great leader. The Lord used him for so many mighty works, but there came someone even greater than Moses, the One who was and is and is to come, Yeshua ben Elohim:

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, partners in a heavenly calling, take notice of Yeshua—the Emissary and Kohen Gadol we affirm. He was faithful to the One who appointed Him in His house—as was Moses also. For He has been considered worthy of more glory than Moses, even as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses surely was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, for a witness of things to be spoken later. But Messiah, as Son, is over God’s house—and we are His house, if we hold firm to our boldness and what we are proud to hope.

Hebrews 3:1-3, TLV

Yeshua’s death exemplified the reality that holiness and sin can’t mix when He took upon Himself the sin of the world. He took it all upon Himself so that He Himself could consecrate us, and we could now approach the throne of God without fear.

Hebrews 4:16 “Therefore let us draw near to the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help in time of need.”

Never forget the majesty and awe that accompanies the holiness of our God. We must not approach Him casually! Yes, Yeshua is our Friend and our Brother, but He is also the Almighty God and King Forever, the Victorious One who conquered sin and death so that we might be saved from the wrath of God and come to His Holy Mountain.

May our response be like those awaiting Him at the base of the mountain: “Everything that ADONAI has spoken, we will do.”

Boundaries and Breakthroughs

Replacing replacement theology: is the church the “New” Israel?

The Church and Israel

Believers have commonly been taught that there is a stark contrast between “the Church” and “Israel.” Unfortunately, centuries of bad theology have led to unnecessary division in the body of Messiah.

“Israel” was seen as the “rebellious,” “law-bound,” “old,” “outdated,” “Jewish-other” while

the “Church” was seen as the “sanctified,” “free,” “mostly-Gentile,” “new,” “grace-based” non-religion (though “religion” it was and has been).

This dichotomy has created a needless split between most of Judaism and modern Christianity.

Leadership and Influence

When the Roman Empire became Catholicized, the Catholic religion became the institutional norm. For a time, religious persecution was paused. Catholicism grew in power due to its unity with the empire’s leadership. It was then not in the Catholic Church’s best interest to identify their religion with Israel because they would be forced to acquiesce, at least in part, to Jewish leadership. Working with the Sanhedrin would have presented challenges of its own, as obviously Israel’s leadership did not want to recognize Yeshua of Nazareth as the Messiah of Israel, but perhaps such a sharp breech from a Hebraic understanding of the Scriptures to a very Constantinian one wouldn’t have occurred so dramatically without the overarching influence of Catholicism.

Protestant congregations have likewise largely continued the distancing from the writings of the Hebrew Scriptures by claiming that there is a “new” group or, “elect,” who many erroneously preach have replaced Israel. This is known as “replacement theology.”

Defining “ekklesia”

It boils down to a lack of understanding of this Greek word: ekklesia.

This word is usually translated as “church.”

In fact, in many modern languages we can see a close relationship to the Greek term. Ekklesia becomes “iglesia” in Spanish, “igreja” in Portuguese, église in French, all contributing to the now-global confusion amongst “church” goers and followers of Jesus (Yeshua). Deficient, though well-intentioned, translations have left out the nuance offered by a broader term: “assembly.”

Should “ekklesia” be translated as “church” or “assembly?”

Strong’s Exhaustive concordance, a source relied upon by laity and scholars alike, describes the Greek noun “ἐκκλησία” (“ekklesia”) as meaning “an assembly” or a “congregation.” Strong’s is based on the King James Version of the Bible (KJV), so the English Christian culture influenced the usage of the term, despite Strong’s clear acknowledgement that the word can rightly be translated as “assembly” (notably inclusive of a Jewish assembly). According to Blue Letter Bible, the KJV translates “ekklesia” as “church” 115 times, and translates this same word “ekklesia” as “assembly” only 3 times!

Biblehub provides Strong’s succinct definition that ekklesia = assembly or church, with this more specific addendum:

From a compound of ek and a derivative of kaleo; a calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both) — assembly, church.

It must be acknowledged then, that the inherent biases in Westernized Christian translation, while perhaps well-meaning, have robbed the very “church” being defined of its truly Judaic heritage. Today, a vast number of Christian believers hold onto “replacement theology” (supersessionism) which actually deprives them of their own beautiful heritage as grafted-in members of the spiritual household of Israel.

Disjointedness in the presentation of Gospel Truth

A well-known verse is usually translated this way:

“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

Matthew 16:18, NKJV

The Catholic Church grasps onto this verse as a prooftext for their claims that Peter was to be pope and provides a basis for the manmade doctrine of papal succession. Peter was instrumental as a pioneer of the faith and preacher of the message of salvation, but no where in Scripture does the Messiah institute the papacy.

A shift in understanding

Renderings of “ekklesia” as “church” like this familiar one in Matthew have produced generations of disjointedness in the presentation of the Gospel truth. It might not seem like a drastic change, but if the word “assembly” were inserted for “church” a shift in understanding begins to take place.

“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My [assembly], and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

Matthew 16:18, emphasis mine

Assembly = Congregation

The continuity becomes more apparent if it is acknowledged that “assembly” is also translated as “congregation” throughout the “Old Testament” (Hebrew Scriptures). The assembly of the righteous would be preserved upon the firm foundation provided by the Chief Cornerstone, the Messiah and that same assembly would continue into the New Covenant. The Hebrew word “qahal” (קָהֵל) which means “congregation” or “assembly” becomes “ekklesia” in the Septuagint (the LXX or Greek translation of the Scriptures). That being the case, all instances and uses of “ekklesia” in Scripture should unite, rather than divide, the modern “church” with the Hebrew community we know today as Israel.

Furthermore, the Greek term, “oikodoméō,” translated as “built” can also be accurately translated as “rebuilt” or “strengthened,” suggesting the “congregation” of Israel could be renewed, revived, and strengthened through the ongoing revelation of the salvific truth found in Messiah.

Congregation > Community

As much as I generally like the Tree of Life Version’s Bible translation because of its aim to restore the Jewishness back to the Scriptures, I find the TLV’s translation a bit weak on this particular verse:

And I also tell you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My community; and the gates of Sheol will not overpower it.

Matthew 16:18, TLV

While a congregation certainly is a “community,” the divine connotation that is associated with a “congregation” disappears with such a neutral term like “community.” However, the term “community” may still be preferential in that it does not carry with it the baggage associated with most of today’s churches.

Messiah Yeshua or Westernized Jesus

It isn’t wrong to call Jesus, Jesus.

That is our given language.

But if we want to really understand this Jesus, we might want to start by thinking about His characteristics when He walked on this earth. He was a Middle Eastern Jew, not the blonde hair, blue-eyed image that still hangs on many European American church walls. His parents would have called Him by His Hebrew name, “Yeshua.” As the Messiah of Israel, Yeshua didn’t come to Israel to start a completely new “religion.” The point of waiting for a Messiah was that Israel was to be restored, right?

Believers are now part of Israel

Yeshua the King of Israel went above and beyond, of course, because not only did He restore Israel, He welcomed those outside of Israel to join, if they would only repent and come in.

Israel was not replaced, Israel was fortified!

If you are a believer, you are part of Israel!

At that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshua, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. For He is our shalom, the One who made the two into one and broke down the middle wall of separation. 

Ephesians 2:12-14a, TLV

Replacing “replacement” theology

What then, shall we do? Can replacement theology be “replaced?” Yes, but it will take a lot of effort, and probably on a grassroots-like level. As individuals, and then slowly, entire assemblies begin to re-awaken to the Hebrew roots of their faith, there will be healing between Jews and Gentiles, a prayer of so many including Messiah Yeshua – that we may all be One.

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Am Yisrael Chai!

Psalm 19:8-10

The Torah of ADONAI is perfect, restoring the soul.

The testimony of ADONAI is trustworthy, making the simple wise.

The precepts of ADONAI are right, giving joy to the heart.

The mitzvot of ADONAI are pure, giving light to the eyes.

The fear of ADONAI is clean, enduring forever.

The judgments of ADONAI are true and altogether righteous.