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!

What will be written on the gates in New Jerusalem?

What will New Jerusalem look like?

One day, the Holy City, a.k.a. the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven. Voilà! All things made new!

John, the author of Revelation, describes this:

Jerusalem will have the glory of God (Rev.21:11).

Jerusalem will be like a radiant precious stone like jasper (Rev.21:11).

Jerusalem will be sparkling like crystal (Rev.21:11).

Will it have the famed “streets of gold?” Of course! You can find that in Revelation 21:21.

Jerusalem will also have a great, high wall made of jasper around it (Rev.21:12, 14) with 12 gates and 12 angels above the gates. The Holy City will be laid out as a square shape (Rev.21:16) and is made of pure gold, “clear as glass” (Rev.21:18). Besides the gates, the city wall will have 12 foundations. On each of those will be written the names of the 12 apostles/emissaries of Yeshua (Jesus).

These believers made a huge evangelical impact on the world during their lifetimes and history shall never forgotten their contribution.

The foundations of the city wall will reflect the beauty of their devotion, for in order, the foundations will be made of jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, carnelian, yellow topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth, and amethyst (Rev.21:19-20).

But history has more-than-occasionally forgotten the contribution of some very important others. Which leads to this question:

What is so special about the gates?

The gates are 12 pearls, dare I say, of great price – each gate from a single pearl (Rev.21:21). There are 3 gates per cardinal direction: north, south, east, west (Rev.21:13).

Each gate will be inscribed with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel (Rev.21:12).

Wait? Doesn’t traditional Christianity say that the 12 tribes have been basically replaced by the 12 apostles?

Doesn’t mainstream theology teach that the “New” Testament is far more relevant to us today than the contents of the “Old”?

Isn’t it taught in most seminaries that the “Church” has replaced the Jews as the chosen people?

Sadly, the answer is, “yes” . . . despite the flawed theology.

Supersessionism is (lamentably) alive and well. Antisemitism flourishes due to these types of errant doctrines.

Will the gates be etched with the names of Israel’s tribes as though it were some type of politically correct memorial to days gone by?

Or is there a greater meaning here?

The God of the Bible is the God of ISRAEL

An honest hermeneutic (interpretation) must allow Scripture to speak, not impose an agenda on the Biblical text.

We must ask questions. What is Scripture saying to us? What is it that the Eternal One wants us to glean?

How have we injected our own biases into the text?

Are we reading from a posture of humility or from the lens of an entitlement culture?

Do we recognize that the God of the Bible is the God of Israel?

In regards to those 12 gates, we can ask a very simple question:

What is the function of a gate? Does it not “allow for”, or “inhibit” as the case may be, an entrance?

Would the church even have a prayer if it were not for God’s chosen people and the revelation of God entrusted to them?

Could the church even know a Savior if it were not for the prophetic words of the Hebrew Scriptures?

The gates allow for all to come in who have accepted and love our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus!).

The names of the 12 tribes of B’nei-Yisrael, the house of Israel, will be forever etched on the eternal gates.

No longer shall their names be diminished, forgotten, or tossed aside.

Their heads shall be lifted up in redemption.

We must pray for Israel, for those who do not yet know that Messiah has come!

Lift up your heads, O gates,
and be lifted up, you everlasting doors:
that the King of glory may come in.
“Who is this King of glory?”
ADONAI strong and mighty,
ADONAI mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates,
and lift them up, you everlasting doors:

that the King of glory may come in.
“Who is this King of glory?”
ADONAI-TZVA’OT—He is the King of glory! Selah

Psalm 24:7-10 TLV (emphasis added)

The foundations of the wall are bound by the apostolic witness of the first believers, who themselves kept the very Jewish (and of course, Biblical) practices of keeping the Sabbath day holy, participating in the moedim (Biblical feast days), and honoring the entirety of the Scriptures available to them which at that time included most prominently the Torah.

The first believers, Jew and Gentile alike, had joined themselves to a Jewish movement founded by a Jewish Rabbi who also happens to be the Messiah – the Promised One, Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus the Christ), who came to save all of Israel, both the native born Israeli and the grafted in.

We must re-evaluate our relationship to Israel

Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day. It coincided this year with Tu B’Shevat, a tree planting day in Israel.

For too much of history, the church as a whole has held a very poor witness toward the Jewish people.

Some orthodox Jewish rabbis have concluded that the Holocaust was a judgment of Christians – demonstrating that the Christian Gospel fails the Jew due to the church’s inaction and willingness to look the other way as Jewish lives were lost to Hitler’s evil monstrosities.

Even today, many Christians seem indifferent to the Jewish homeland despite the miracle that is modern day Israel.

We are living in a time when prophecies are constantly being fulfilled and the favor of Adonai continues to rest upon His people, Israel.

As believers, we must take up the task of a course correction!

We need to re-evaluate our frame of reference and pastors must commit to preaching accurately from the entirety of Scripture.

The enemy, ha-satan, has worked diligently to sow confusion among believers and has been successful.

Many believers today are incredibly distanced from the Truth, and don’t realize it. It is no coincidence that the Catholic Church changed the Sabbath Day observance to Sundays, that new liturgical seasons were invented, and the Biblical feast days were abandoned in favor of manmade celebrations that focus on egg-laying rabbits and decorated evergreen trees. All of these distractions have lured the church as a whole away from the very Gospel we want to share!

Even Bible Studies tend to focus on what the apostles achieved, and would likely highlight their place in the New Jerusalem, but so many gloss right over the fact that united within the design of the city wall will also be the heritage of the twelve tribes of Israel.

The New Jerusalem shows us the continuity from Old to New Testament.

All of the confusion that the devil has sown will be forever defeated. Continuity, unity, and justice will all be restored.

The gates of the enemy shall be forever torn down and the New Jerusalem gates will gleam in all their glorified splendor. Won’t it be amazing?!

Hope for Israel

Lift up your heads, O gates!

For the King of Glory shall come in, shall restore all things, and His people shall forever live together with the Lord Most High in the New Jerusalem!

The New Jerusalem will be a beautiful place! Whenever you feel discouraged, remember one day all things will be made new!

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New Jerusalem
What will be written on the gates of New Jerusalem?

6 stone jars, 120 gallons of wine, and an extraordinary wedding in Cana

The Wedding in Cana

If you are familiar with the Scriptures, you probably know about a now-famous wedding that took place in a place called Cana, in the Galilee.

*Spoiler alert* the LORD Yeshua (Jesus) turned water into wine that day!

Surely, you already knew that . . . but,

Have you ever thought about the mechanics of this miracle?

Let’s look to John’s account of the Wedding in Cana:

On the third day, there was a wedding at Cana in the Galilee. Yeshua’s mother was there, and Yeshua and His disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, Yeshua’s mother said to Him, “They don’t have any wine!”

Yeshua said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with you and Me? My hour hasn’t come yet.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”

Now there were six stone jars, used for the Jewish ritual of purification, each holding two to three measures. Yeshua said to them, “Fill the jars with water!” So they filled them up to the top. Then He said to them, “Take some water out, and give it to the headwaiter.” And they brought it.

Now the headwaiter did not know where it had come from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew. As the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, he calls the bridegroom and says to him, “Everyone brings out the good wine first, and whenever they are drunk, then the worse. But you’ve reserved the good wine until now!” Yeshua did this, the first of the signs, in Cana of the Galilee—He revealed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

John 2:1-11 TLV

Let’s focus specifically on John 2:6 for a moment. He writes of the wedding in Cana:

“Now there were 6 stone jars, used for the Jewish ritual of purification, each holding 2-3 measures.”

A measure is about 9 gallons according to the Tree of Life Version of the Bible.

So there would be 18-27 gallons to work with per container

roughly 120 gallons of water altogether

that would be transformed into the highest quality of wine ever tasted.

“Now there were 6 stone jars, used for the Jewish ritual of purification, each holding 2-3 measures.” John 2:6

Back to the jars. In the Bible, numbers generally have symbolic meanings. 7 indicates perfection, completeness, wholeness, holiness, salvation.

777=Messiah. Contrast that to three consecutive 6’s and you’ll get the idea.

6 indicates incompleteness, insufficiency, “almost-but-not-good-enough.”

So if there were 6 jars at the wedding in Cana, we know they were okay. They were good, but not great; useful, but not the perfect solution.

Likewise, the Jewish purification ritual was good. A pattern of that which would be to come, but not the end-all. There was nothing wrong with it, but it just wasn’t quite enough.

It isn’t enough to just go through religious motions.

Just like it isn’t enough to have your name highlighted as the top contributor to a ministry.

And it isn’t enough to walk down to an altar, confess your faith in the Savior of the world, and then go on living as though that never happened.

It also wouldn’t have been enough of a celebration at the wedding in Cana without a little wine!

Wedding in Cana
“[Yeshua’s] mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever He tells you.'” John 2:5

I know, I know, you might want to start throwing stones at me. Look, the Bible doesn’t always fit neatly into personal preferences or cultural attitudes. We must conform our personal preferences to what the Bible actually says.

Having a glass of wine was not considered a sin in Galilee.

Drunkenness = sin. A glass of wine = not a sin.[That said, a person who does not have self-control or has a history of addiction, that person should not consume alcohol. Also, certain fellowships choose to abstain from alcohol completely, so you should consult your pastor regarding this topic.]

Back to the wedding. Yeshua’s mother Miryam (Mary) didn’t want the soon-to-be-married couple to be embarrassed by a wine shortage. Though Yeshua said it was not His hour, Miryam told the servants to do whatever He said, and when He did, it was the first of His miracles on earth.

At the Wedding in Cana, Yeshua (Jesus) blessed the bridegroom and his family.

The LORD didn’t consternate them for not having enough wine nor lecture them about how washing their hands in a ceremonial fashion couldn’t give them the fullness of the salvation they longed for. He chose to perform the first miracle of his ministry in that place and allow the bridegroom to receive the accolades:

The headwaiter says to the bridegroom, ‘Everyone brings out the good wine first, and whenever they are drunk, then the worse. But you’ve reserved the good wine until now!'” John 2:10

Whenever you are in a ministry position, look for ways to credit others instead of focusing on yourself like our LORD did at this event.

“Yeshua did this, the first of the signs, in Cana of the Galilee – He revealed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” John 2:11

Those 6 jars were awaiting a touch from the Potter’s hand.

Made complete by the presence of the Vinedresser, the 6 jars contained within them the power to demonstrate the total other-ness of Rabbi Jesus. Eyes were being opened to the reality that the miracle-working, supernatural power of God was being poured out, right there, that day in little Cana.

The Hebrew Scriptures foretell of a day when the mountains will drip with new wine (Joel 3:18 NKJV; 4:18 TLV). At the feast of Shavu’ot (Pentecost), there was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh) which resulted in people mocking the disciples and suggesting they were drunk on “new wine.” (Acts 2:13). The wedding in Cana proved that something new was about to happen.

Remember, there will always be scoffers. There will always be somebody somewhere who makes fun of you, doesn’t like you, thinks you’re just crazy, or is too bound up in their own religious ideas to credit you as living rightly for God.

Listen, if you’ve got what He has for you, does the opinion of the crowd really matter?

When the LORD Most High decided to pour out His Holy Spirit and Presence upon the gathered believers, how many were present? Acts 1:15 says there were . . . 120.

It’s as though there was more than a gallon of new wine for each of them.

“In those days, Peter stood up among the brothers and sisters (the number of names altogether was about a hundred and twenty)…”
Acts 1:15

Hallelujah! (The Ruach/Spirit is given without measure. John 3:34 assures us there is no limit to His gift). When a person is filled with Ruach haKodesh, the Holy Spirit, they get more than a gallon. Don’t worry, this isn’t a gas station. You will get more than you came for.

The wedding in Cana foreshadows the glorious reality of Pentecost! The unlimited outpouring of His precious Holy Spirit!

These same believers in the time of the book of Acts had seen the miracles of their Messiah, followed Him, even witnessed Him being killed and resurrected. The wedding in Cana was now a foreshadowing of the return of the Bridegroom to celebrate with His own, holding no good thing back.

“The One whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Ruach without limit.” John 3:34

Knowing now what you have learned about the wedding in Cana and the fulfillment at Shavu’ot/Pentecost, ask yourself a few questions:

What is it that is incomplete in your life?

Is your relationship with your Creator as close as it could be?

Do you need a dose of something new and fresh and joyful?

Do you still listen to the critics?

Are you well-attuned to the voice of the Master, the One who came that you might have life, and life abundantly?

Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?

Whatever isn’t enough, may it become more than enough in Him.

May you be surprised by His generosity, overwhelmed by His thoughtfulness, and embraced by His unending love, the love He showed at the Wedding in Cana.

Be filled with the Holy Spirit

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“For the vineyard of Adonai-Tzva’ot is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah the planting of His delight.” Isaiah 5:7a
6 stone jars, 120 gallons of wine, and a wedding in Cana

Besorah: the Good News

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. The one who believes in Him is not condemned; but whoever does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not put his trust in the name of the one and only Ben-Elohim.”

John 3:16 TLV

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.