The End Times and the War in Israel

9 Cheshvan 5784 B”H

Most people who know the Bible agree that we are living in the end times. With Israel at war, what does living in the end times mean for us now?

The Word of God is a perfectly designed “guide to the end times”

In this world of uncertainty and turmoil, I am grateful that we have the unchanging Word of God.

The Bible is the perfect blueprint for how to construct our personal lives in relationship to God and it informs us about what will happen in the end times. If we follow God’s instructions properly we will build our lives upon the Rock with our Messiah as the Chief Cornerstone and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. The Apostle Paul expressed this more eloquently than I ever could in his letter to the church in Ephesus:

“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,  in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22

God’s Word is also a perfectly designed “guide to the End times.”

The “perilous times” in which we live: a sign of the end times

If you are feeling overwhelmed lately, you are not alone.

It is one thing after another. Innumerable school shootings, a worldwide pandemic, widespread drug and substance abuse, global human trafficking, nations rising against nation (like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine),

and now the horrific war in Israel.

We are certainly living in eventful times. Paul called these “perilous times” when he taught Timothy about the end times to come:

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5, emphasis added

“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:13-15, emphasis added

Did you ever notice that it is in that very same chapter in 2 Timothy, we find the famous verse that declares the absolute infallibility and perfection of the original autographs of the Word of God:

“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, emphasis added

When we are faced with the worst that the world has to offer, it is exactly at that time when we need to know we can rely on God’s Perfect Word. When we see the evil all around us, we can stand firm knowing that God has the Final Word. Our Aleph-Tav (our Alpha-Omega), the One who is the Beginning and the End has declared that He will help us to be “thoroughly equipped.”

It is safe to say we are indeed living in the last days and need to be thoroughly equipped in faith. In Scripture, particularly in Matthew, Jesus (Yeshua) talked quite a bit about the “end of the age.” Even in the Great Commission He assures us that He will be with us always – even to “the end of the age”(Matthew 28:19-20). With all that is going on, we certainly need to rely on Him being with us through it all!

Any serious Christian will acknowledge that no one knows the day or hour of our Savior’s return (Matthew 24:36), but we live in the end times tension knowing that we must be ready for the blessed hope – the rapture of the church. He will come for us at the end of the age and His return is truly imminent!

The current events we are living and witnessing are indeed end times signs of the soon coming of the end of the age. Be righteously vigilant!

“Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…” Titus 2:13

The end times prophesied by Daniel

If you are interested in eschatology (the study of the end times), you should definitely study the book of Daniel. As you do, you will see that there is no doubt we are living in the last days.

“At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.

“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end;

many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Daniel 12:1-4, emphases added

Daniel’s description of many running to and fro may well refer to the increase in easy and global air travel. Certainly we are aware that knowledge has greatly increased, even just within the past 100 years. Think of all the scientific and technological breakthroughs that have occurred. From medicine to iPads, the world has changed drastically and time seems accelerated.

Though there will be times of great change and trouble, the Bible tells us everyone who is found in the Book of Life will be delivered, those who are wise shall shine bright, and those who have reached people for the Gospel will shine like the stars forever! What awesome hope we have!

Did you know that modern Israel was born in just one day?

The very establishment and existence of the nation of Israel fulfills an end times word spoken through the Prophet Ezekiel:

“Then say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD God: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land.” Ezekiel 37:21


When Israel became a nation in 1948, it was truly a miracle. In our lifetimes, we have witnessed the growth and prosperity of the beautiful nation of Israel. So many families have made aliyah (immigration to Israel) and it is easy to see how God has blessed the nation of Israel.

The modern country of Israel came to be in one single day.

I find this U.S. National Archives and Records Administration press release absolutely remarkable. This is what the historical record states:

“At midnight on May 14, 1948, the Provisional Government of Israel proclaimed a new State of Israel. On that same date, the United States, in the person of President Truman, recognized the provisional Jewish government as de facto authority of the Jewish state (de jure recognition was extended on January 31, 1949).” 

Isaiah had prophesied about this very event:

“Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day?
Or shall a nation be born at once?
For as soon as Zion was in labor,
She gave birth to her children.” Isaiah 66:8
, emphases added

Yes, indeed who has heard such a thing?

A nation just born all at once?

The relationship between Israel and the United States is so special because our nation was truly a part of that miraculous birthing of a nation.

Iran’s irrational hatred

The irrational hatred toward Israel exhibited by countries like Iran seems to grow with each passing day.

Israel has been an example of stability, resilience, and democracy in the Middle East region.

Israel’s patience in not yet beginning the ground campaign in Gaza has been merciful and demonstrates commendable restraint.

IDF soldiers continually demonstrate kindness to Palestinian children and civilians.

Israel’s culture and military leadership operate in sharp contrast to many of the surrounding nations who seeth with anger, oppress their citizens, and encourage terrorism of civilians.

Sadly, it appears things are going to get worse for Israel before they get better.

Iran’s unrelenting threats against Israel and ongoing support of Hezbollah and Hamas demonstrate that the Iranian government is indeed poised to fulfill its role as instigator of war against Israel. Those who study the Bible closely are not surprised by this because Ezekiel 38 mentions Persia (modern day Iran) as a key player in the ultimate war of Gog and Magog that will lead to the end of the age.

“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. 

 I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops—many people are with you.” Ezekiel 38:1-6, emphases added.

Simchat Torah War: The day Hamas attacked Israel

The attack against Israel took place on the last day of the Biblical Feast of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) which is known as Simchat Torah (the Joy of the Torah). A day meant for celebration turned into the deadliest day for Israel since the Holocaust.

“‘Thus says the LORD God: “On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan:  You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’— to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land.” Ezekiel 38:10-12, emphases added

Notice the ways this prophecy of Ezekiel, prophesied 2,500 years ago just came to pass on October 7, 2023.

The Islamic militants from Gaza came up with an evil and brutal plan and attacked the peaceful Jewish villages in Southern Israel.

The Antichrist will promise peace to Israel

Israel has already suffered so much loss of life. Entire families have been ruthlessly murdered by Hamas and so many soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces have been killed protecting their families and country.

At some point in a now perhaps not-so-distant future, Israel will be looking to make a peace agreement. Daniel’s prophecy about the Antimessiah indicates that the Antichrist will confirm a covenant with Israel, but he will betray them:

“Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate.” Daniel 9:27

Many are debating whether or not the antimessiah has already been born and is alive today. Time will tell, but in any event, we must use discernment and approach all things with fervent prayer so that we are never deceived by a counterfeit Christ.

End times prophetic fulfillment in progress: the Gospel will be proclaimed to the ends of the earth

With so many Bible translation efforts and global access to internet and smartphones increasing daily, the Gospel has truly made it to the ends of the earth. Yes, there are still unreached people groups, but at some point those people will encounter the Gospel message and our commission to go forth into all the world will be completed.

The LORD will return, and soon.

Be ready! Share the saving message of the Good News of Jesus Christ (Yeshua haMashiach) with everyone you meet before it is too late and make sure you set your sight on your Coming King.


We are living in unprecedented times. How are you being led to pray in these times? Please leave your comments below. I enjoy hearing from you!

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!

Rehoboam and Jeroboam: a nation divided

5783 B”H

I have been recently studying in depth on Rehoboam and Jeroboam because these two fellows were barely covered in my formal theological education and I must say they don’t come up very often even in church Bible studies.

These kings are glossed over, not because they are uninteresting, but because keeping their stories straight can get confusing!

In order to understand them, we must go back to the days of King Solomon.

King Solomon’s downfall: lust for seductive women and idolatry

By this point in time, King Solomon’s heart had truly deviated from seeking the LORD. The Bible tells us in detail the number of wives and concubines he had:

“And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David.” 1 Kings 11:3

Lust ran in the family. King Solomon’s father, King David had struggled with that. Just look at his relationship with Bathsheba ( 2 Samuel 11).

But King Solomon took this to another level.

Unlike King David, King Solomon did not remain faithful to God alone. King Solomon not only kept company with seductive women, he allowed those women to influence his spirituality. He confessed it in his writings:

“And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are fetters.
He who pleases God shall escape from her, but the sinner shall be trapped by her.” Ecclesiastes 7:26

King Solomon recognized that his obsession with women was a path to death:

“Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths;
For she has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men.
Her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death.” Proverbs 7:25-27

The Consequence for his sin: King Solomon’s kingdom would be torn away and given to one of his servants

King Solomon had overseen the construction of the beautiful Temple (1 Kings 5-7) and God had appeared to him twice. It is hard to imagine how he could let his heart turn from the One, True LORD.

But when sin seeps into our lives and we no longer recognize it, it launches us straight into destruction.

Justifiably, the LORD God of Israel became angry with Solomon. Scripture records the consequence: King Solomon’s kingdom would be torn away . . . and given to one of his servants.

I’m certain that would have been considered very embarrassing!

Here is what the Bible says:

“So the LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the LORD God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the Lord had commanded. 

Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.” 1 Kings 11:9-13, emphases added

King Solomon’s heart had not been loyal to the LORD and now one of his own servants would be unloyal to him.

Jeroboam, a servant who becomes a king

Jeroboam was a servant of King Solomon. The Scriptures inform us that King Solomon considered him “industrious” (1 Kings 11:28).

The Bible says this hard worker was still a young man. King Solomon appointed Jeroboam to be the officer over the labor force of the house of Joseph 1 Kings 11:28).

Little did King Solomon know, but God would use Jeroboam against him!

The Prophet Ahijah prophesies to Jeroboam

“Now it happened at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met him on the way; and he had clothed himself with a new garment, and the two were alone in the field.  Then Ahijah took hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam,

“Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to you (but he shall have one tribe for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel), because they have forsaken Me, and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the people of Ammon, and have not walked in My ways to do what is right in My eyes and keep My statutes and My judgments, as did his father David. 

However I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, because I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of My servant David, whom I chose because he kept My commandments and My statutes. But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand and give it to you—ten tribes. 

And to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may always have a lamp before Me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen for Myself, to put My name there. So I will take you, and you shall reign over all your heart desires, and you shall be king over Israel. 

Then it shall be, if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you. And I will afflict the descendants of David because of this, but not forever.’ ” 1 Kings 11:29-39, emphases added

The LORD spoke through Ahijah to tell Jeroboam that He would tear the kingdom from King Solomon and give Jeroboam 10 of the tribes. Whoa! This was a major turning point in Israel’s history, one that would shape the future very dramatically.

The prophecy was so significant that King Solomon wanted to kill Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:40).

Jeroboam had to flee to Egypt until King Solomon died! (1 Kings 11:40).

Rehoboam, a wicked king

Names ending with “oboam” must’ve been very popular in those days.

King Solomon died and his son, Rehoboam, took over. (1 Kings 11:43).

Rehoboam was a terrible guy. Jeroboam and the others in Israel reasonably asked the newly crowned king of Israel to please lighten the work burden as it had been quite heavy under King Solomon’s reign. (1 Kings 12:3-4).

King Rehoboam consulted his elders, who wisely counseled that if he were to lighten their load, the people would happily serve him forever. But this wicked king rejected the sage advice of the elders.

Then King Rehoboam consulted his friends from his youth – and if they were friends with him, we can assume they were just as depraved as he was. Indeed, King Rehoboam’s friends advised him to flaunt his wealth by becoming fat and inform the people that he would harshly come after them with scourges (a literal translation is: “scorpions.”). (1 Kings 12:14)

The LORD hardened King Rehoboam’s heart in order for His plan as spoken through Prophet Ahijah to be fulfilled (1 Kings 12:15).

The Kingdom Splits in Two

The people of Israel were distressed when they realized King Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was going to be an unreasonable leader.

“So Israel departed to their tents. But Rehoboam reigned over the children of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah.” 1 Kings 12:17

They knew this king would not listen to them, so 10 of the tribes chose Jeroboam to be their king.

“Now it came to pass when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had come back, they sent for him and called him to the congregation, and made him king over all Israel. There was none who followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.” 1 Kings 12:20, emphasis added

Jeroboam became the first king of the Northern Kingdom.

King Rehoboam, therefore, by default, was the first king of Judah as the Southern Kingdom.

Israel and the House of David

Did you notice the connection between 1 Kings 11:39 and 1 Kings 12:19?

The Word of God says, “And I will afflict the descendants of David because of this, but not forever.’ ” 1 Kings 11:39

“So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.” 1 Kings 12:19

God promised that for the sake of his servant David and the sake of Jerusalem, their affliction would not last forever. Israel (the Northern Kingdom) rebelled against Judah (the Southern Kingdom) and this continues even today. But we know there must be a future restoration because our Savior taught:

“Knowing their thoughts, Yeshua [Jesus] said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is destroyed, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” Matthew 12:25

Israel must be united in faith once again!

Our LORD Yeshua (Jesus) is of the lineage of King David and the Gospels testify of this fact. Mark 10:48 “Have mercy on me, Son of David!”

Also, our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah! (Revelation 5:5)

He will bring restoration and redemption. So much of native Israel continues to reject Yeshua (Jesus) as their promised Messiah, but this rebellion will one day cease. We see many previously unbelievers coming to faith in Him, so continue to pray!

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11.

God has kept His Word and all of His promises. As history continues to unfold, we see that each and every prophecy is being accomplished in His perfect timing.

I hope that this study has helped clarify for you some of the dynamics of what was going on as Israel and Judah divided. We pray for His return and the millennial reign of our LORD who will bring peace and unity!

The 7 species of the land of Israel

Parashat Eiqev/Eikev/Ekev (D’varim/Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25) 5782 B”H

7 species promised to the land of Israel

Today, let’s look at the 7 kinds or “species” promised to the land and people of Israel in Deuteronomy.

Moshe (Moses) continues to speak to the Israelites

Deuteronomy/D’varim 7:12-11:25 continues Moshe’s (Moses’) speech to the Israelites, reminding them of all the wonders of the LORD’s deliverance and encouraging them toward blessing as they continue toward the Promised Land. Contained within these verses are the revelation of the 7 species that would be part of the land of Israel.

This passage reiterates that Israel will see increase “little by little (Deuteronomy/D’varim 7:22) and that the duty of the people was to remain faithful to the God of Israel and His commands so that they would continually experience abundant provision and blessing.

People of the Promise

We know that the Israelites struggled to maintain a positive outlook. Many of them failed to look with the eyes of faith toward a better future. Many of them grumbled and complained. They had heard of a Promised Land, but would they grasp onto its promise? Would they themselves live to see that Promised Land? Would they walk as people of the Promise or would they continue to walk around in circles?

How many of us today know intellectually of God’s promises but fail to continually walk in His path, choosing instead to try our own routes only to wind up back where we started with feelings of unaccomplishment and frustration?

The life of faith can be challenging. But while we may break our own promises or have others do so to us, God is faithful and He will never break His promises to you.

For those who would trust in the God of Israel as people of the promise, 7 species or special “kinds” of provision awaited them in the Promised Land.

7 Promised Species in Israel

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word, “species,” I tend to think of animals.

We’re planning a zoo trip for the kiddos in the coming weeks, so I have lions, tigers, and bears on my mind. I have one child who says he has never seen a live penguin (not true, but he was very young last time we were at the zoo) and another who claims kangaroos don’t exist because he has never seen one (so I really hope this zoo has an Australia exhibit . . . a lesson on doubting Thomas might be better for him than the zoo, but I guess we will start with the zoo!)

Back to Israel’s 7 species.

In Deuteronomy/D’varim 8:8, Scripture is talking about agricultural species. God promises that the land of Israel will be a land of

  1. wheat
  2. barley
  3. vines
  4. figs
  5. pomegranates
  6. olive oil
  7. honey
7 species of the land of Israel
The Seven Species of the Land of Israel

The LORD promises that “you will eat and be full, and you will bless ADONAI your God for the good land He has given you.” (Deuteronomy/D’varim 8:10).

7 species Deuteronomy 8 8 10
“You will eat and be full, and you will bless ADONAI your God for the good land He has given you.” D’varim/Deuteronomy 8:10

The 7 species are still found in Israel today as the LORD continues to bless that Holy Land.

And notice, of course, that there are precisely 7 listed! That perfect number reminds us of the perfection of His provision.

Grains & Fruits

If we analyze the seven species, we see that they can be described as either grains or fruits. Grains are so essential for basic sustenance, providing the main ingredients for bread, etc. Fruits give us sweetness and joy! It has become traditional to eat these 7 species of food on celebratory holidays such as the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) and the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost/Shavu’ot).

So give thanks today for all of God’s gifts, especially the provision of life-sustaining food. As the autumn/fall Biblical feasts draw near, perhaps you want to incorporate some of these delicious items on your family’s table! Rejoice today, because Messiah Yeshua (Jesus the Christ) is Perfect in all of His ways and He died and rose again so that we may join Him in the heavenly banquet.

Thanks for reading this short teaching about the 7 species of the land of Israel. If this blessed you, please share or leave a comment below! Shalom!

Ukraine in Ezekiel’s prophecy

Ezekiel 38 & 39 describe an invasion from the north

The invasion of Ukraine under orders from the President of Russia has raised many questions as to whether or not these current events relate to Ezekiel‘s prophecies.

“You will come from your place out of the extreme north—you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and mighty army. You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud covering the land. It will happen in the last days. I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me—when I am sanctified through you, Gog, before their eyes.’” Ezekiel 38:15-16 (emphasis added)

Who is Gog? And Magog?

“The word of ADONAI came to me saying: ‘Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.'” Ezekiel 38:1-2a

Scripture does not give many details about Gog, but it is clear that Gog is allied with Magog. The Bible does not specifically state that Gog is the leader of Russia. However, most scholars reasonably interpret Gog as Russian due to Ezekiel’s prophetic declaration that Gog would come from the “extreme north.”

Gog is the ancient name for an historical king who was a foe of Israel. According to Tyndale’s Old Testament Commentary on Ezekiel by John B. Taylor, it is most probable that Gog was Gyges of Lydia (a portion of modern day Turkey). However, scholars do not have consensus as to his exact historic identity. Everyone can agree, though, that Gog makes unholy alliances serving hasatan‘s (satan’s) evil purposes.

Josephus wrote about Magog

The reputable Josephus wrote about Magog and the Scythians: “Magog founded those that from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians” (Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, 1.6.1; emphasis added).

You may recall from history class that the Scythians were nomadic Iranians. Their tribes spread as far as Mongolia, Siberia and Ukraine. If you take out a map and look at the amount of terrain they covered, you will be astounded.

Ezekiel 38:5-6 “With them will be Persia, Cush, and Put, all of them with shield and helmet, Gomer and all his troops, the house of Togarmah from the extreme north and all his troops – many peoples with you.”

Gog’s alliances with Persia (modern day Iran), Cush and Put (Northern Africa), and Togarmah (Armenia) are already formed. The Scythians (Magogites) and Gomer inhabited lands north of the Black Sea. In order for Gog to increase his alliances with Magog, the entire region north of the Black Sea will ultimately serve Gog.

Notice, present day Ukraine is directly north of the Black Sea.

If Ukraine is part of this future alliance, it would seem to suggest that sooner or later, Ukraine will indeed fall to Russia and will eventually adopt the spirit of Gog’s hostile attitude toward Israel.

The invasion of Crimea was a precursor to all of this, as that region is now also under Russian rule.

The spirit of gog at work

Indeed, the spirit of Gog continues to be at work in our modern world.

Remember, Gog is prophesied by Ezekiel to “come up against” the LORD’s “people Israel” like a “cloud covering the land.”

The Russian President has chosen to invade Ukraine. Are you aware that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish? According to the Jerusalem Channel, President Zelenskyy is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor. Ukraine has a long history of being home to many Jewish families.

Russia – Gog – is coming against the LORD’s people Israel. Gog has come in with tanks and missiles like a cloud covering the land. In the future, Gog will attack the nation of Israel.

End-time battle against the nation of Israel

“When the thousand years has ended, satan shall be released from his prison, and he shall come out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for the battle. Their number is like the sand of the sea. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the kedoshim (the saints) and the beloved city – but fire fell from heaven and consumed them.” Revelation 20:7-9

As you can see, Gog will remain an integral part of satan’s team even until armageddon. The Good News is, when Jerusalem is besieged for the last time, Gog will be no more.

Ezekiel has prophesied these events and we are seeing them come to pass.

Look straight at the enemy and do not fear

Did you notice in Ezekiel 38:2 the LORD tells Ezekiel to set his face toward Gog?

Ezekiel is to stand firm and look at the reality of Gog’s ambitions. Gog devises evil in his heart to invade the unwalled villages and the quiet people living securely. The prophet is told to prophesy against him that God the Most High will “put hooks into [their] jaws.”

Yikes. It is a lot of violence. But the LORD’s people are to confront evil and remain strong in their faith. We are not to look away. We are to look forward and look toward the enemy, recognizing that victory will come.

The LORD says the purpose of all of this is “I will make Myself known in the eyes of many nations, and they will know that I am ADONAI.” (Ezekiel 38:23).

Meanwhile, while the war in Ukraine is so hard to watch, we must pray for all of the innocent families and especially the children. We must remain confident in the LORD.

The LORD’s people are to confront evil and be strong in their faith.

Though an army camp besieges me, my heart will not fear.
Though war breaks out against me, even then will I be confident.” Psalm 27:3

Psalm 27:3

We pray for a Purim victory. That Haman’s plan would fail and God’s people would prevail!

Please pray for the people of Ukraine. I hope that through Biblical prophecy, you can find hope that even when it doesn’t seem like it, the LORD is in control and there is hope. Please leave a comment so we know you are praying with us and we can pray for you, too!

The Shema

Sh’ma Y’israel

“Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love ADONAI your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These words, which I am commanding you today, are to be on your heart. You are to teach them diligently to your children, and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.  Bind them as a sign on your hand, they are to be as frontlets between your eyes, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Devarim/Deuteronomy 6:4-9

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

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!