Monthly Archives: November 2014

Spiritual Maturity: Dying for Justice

Blessed are they

In Isaiah 1:17, YHVH tells us “Learn to do good. Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, defend orphans and plead for the widow.” If Yeshua were to return today, would He find justice in the world? Let us examine some statistics on each of the three categories mentioned in Isaiah, both worldwide and in the United States.

Oppressed people are often homeless, jobless or underemployed, and usually lack basic necessities. They are among the most vulnerable and abused of people, but are the least able to defend themselves or to make their voices heard. They are the “Lazarus” of Yeshua’s parable found in Luke 16:19-31.

  •  The United Nations Commission on Human Rights reports that as of 2005, over 100 million people were homeless worldwide.
  •  In a 2004 study on homelessness in 50 United States cities, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty reported that each city’s official estimate of homeless people greatly exceeded the number of emergency shelter and transitional housing spaces available. As of 2008, an average of 26 percent of homeless people were considered mentally ill, 13 percent were physically disabled, 19 percent were victims of domestic violence, and 13 percent were veterans (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2008).
  • According to UNICEF, 22 million children worldwide die from poverty each day.
  • Almost 1 in 4 (16 million) children in the United States live in families with income below the federal poverty level (National Center for Children in Poverty, 2014).
  •  According to the Christian Alliance for Orphans, there are 153 million orphans worldwide.
  • Approximately 245 million women around the world have been widowed and more than 115 million of them live in devastating poverty (“Invisible Forgotten Sufferers: The Plight of Widows around the World”, 2010).
  • In the United States over 48% of the elderly poor are widows, even though widowed women are only 26% of the over-65 population (“Invisible Forgotten Sufferers: The Plight of Widows around the World”, 2010).

Multitudes in the world are dying from a lack of justice.  For individuals these figures are overwhelming.  What can one person or a small group of people do to make any significant impact? However, as of 2010 there were over 2 billion Christians worldwide.   (“Global Christianity—A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population,” Dec. 19 2011).  It is time to die to ourselves, set aside our differences, and unite with our brothers and sisters in Yeshua.  As a united Body of Messiah Yeshua what could we do to address these and many other injustices in the world?  As an individual, what is YHVH calling you to do?

Messiah’s First Coming Foretold in the Stars

Messiah's 1st coming foretold (Isa 11 1)“A virgin shall conceive and bear a Son called the Branch, the gloriously beautiful, who shall come down and have dominion. He shall be desired and longed for, but also He shall be despised and be a sin offering. He shall be pierced, but will also pierce. He is the heretofore and the hereafter. He will come suddenly to rule, subdue, govern and tread under foot” (paraphrased from a combination of passages in Isa 4:2, 7:14, 9:6-7, 11:1, 53:3,5; Hag 2:7; Zech 3:8, 6:12; Rev 1:8)

Although this quote is not taken directly from the scriptures, it can be pieced together from the above list of scriptures, and agrees in every detail with the ancient constellation and star names. The word “Zodiac” comes from the Hebrew word zodi, meaning “the way” or “path”.  The Greeks use the term ‘Zodiakos’, meaning ‘circle’ to designate the twelve signs and ecliptic circle of the path they follow through the twelve months of the year. We understand Yeshua’s statement that He is “the Way, the truth and the life”, and remember that Yeshua represents the “Strong Man” moving through the circle of the Mazzerot throughout the year (Ps 19:5-6). So based on these two concepts, we recognize that we are meant to follow Yeshua as the Way, and that He is figuratively leading us around the circle of the Zodiac, the signs that tell the Gospel story of Yeshua’s birth, ministry, death, resurrection and final judgment as King of kings.

The first sign of the Mazzerot (Zodiac) is named Virgo (Latin) or Betulah (Hebrew). The reason we know Virgo (Betulah) is the first sign of the Zodiac is because of the great sky painting found in the Temple of Esneh in Egypt, which shows the whole image of the zodiac with all of its constellations. Between Virgo and Leo, there is carved the figure of the sphinx with the head of a woman and the body of a lion. The woman’s face is looking at the Virgin and the lion’s tail is pointing at the Lion, telling us where the Zodiac Gospel story begins and ends. Although I don’t recommend the Latin Vulgate as the most accurate Bible translation source, in this case it helps us understand the meaning of this sign relating to the prophetic passages about the Messiah. Two of the names for this sign are connected – Virgo (Latin) which means a virgin (Isa 7:14); and Virga (Arabic), which means a branch (Isa 11:1).

To confirm the reference to the Branch, the brightest star in Virgo is Tzemach (Hebrew). Although there are 20 different Hebrew words that are translated as “branch”, Tzemach is the only word for branch used to represent the Messiah (example Isa 4:2 – “In that day shall the Branch of Yehovah be beautiful and glorious.”) Virgo’s left hand is shown holding ears of corn – in her left hand is a bright star named Spica, which in Latin means “an ear or seed of corn”.  The Hebrews called this star Zerah, which means “the seed” and is the same exact word used in Genesis 3:14-15. Remember how Yeshua used the figure “grain of wheat” or “seed of corn” (depending on the translation): unless the seed [of corn] falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” He was indicating here how He had to die in order to bring salvation and eternal life to His people.

The other constellations within the sign of Betulah [Virgo] confirm the prophesied roles and attributes of the Messiah. The first constellation is name Coma in Hebrew, which means the “desired” or “longed for” One, as in Haggai 2:7 – “The Desire of all nations shall come”. Ancient Zodiac depictions show a woman with a child in her arms, with the star representing the child designated by an ancient Persian name meaning the “anointed one”. In some ancient teachings thought to have originated from Daniel the prophet, a new star appeared within Coma which represented the newborn Messiah they were seeking.

The second constellation within Virgo is Centaurus (Latin), which is a well-known mythological character purported to be half-man and half-horse. The ancient Hebrew name of this constellation, though, was Bezeh, meaning “despised” as in Isa 53:3 – “He was despised and rejected of men”. Incredibly, the other name for this constellation is Asmeat, which means “a sin offering”, as in Isa 53:10 – “When You make His soul an offering for sin,..”. So, we have a creature here who is the Son of God, both man and sacrificial animal (probably a goat and not an unclean animal such as a horse), who is despised by people but still willing to sacrifice Himself for us. This is a clear picture of Yeshua our Messiah!

The final Virgo constellation is called Bootes (Hebrew), which means “The Coming One”. He is generally shown as a shepherd, with a shepherd’s crook in one hand and a sickle in his other hand. This could represent many things, but most clearly it shows a picture of the Messiah, coming the first time as our shepherd, and at the end of the age as the judge who comes to reap His harvest of souls and cut off those who will still not turn to Him and His Father after their final call to repent. Even in the stars we see Abba Father and Yeshua beckoning to us to repent – how will we respond?

Spiritual Maturity: Dying to Serve

GrowingUp2

We speak and think of living in YHVH’s kingdom with blissful images of peace, light and joy. It is true that YHVH’s kingdom will be all these things (1 Cor 6:9-10, Rev. 22:5, Rom 14:17). We imagine what the kingdom will be like, but do we imagine what we will be like? How does YHVH’s kingdom run? What are the King’s subjects like? What is their mindset and attitude? What is expected of them?

Life in YHVH’s kingdom is very different from living in a democracy or republic. We seek YHVH’s desires and approval, not our own (Mark 9:35). We live to do His work, not to work for ourselves. We must die to our own desires and seek YHVH’s pleasure. The gospel story of the centurion gives us a clear example of living obediently.

 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When [Yeshua] heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith (Matt 8:9-10).

 We are not self-reliant, but are dependent on our King (Ezek 34:26-29). We do not elect a king or express our opinions of the king’s actions. Our King is the source of all wisdom, love, justice and mercy (Ps 19:9-12). His ways are above our ways and His wisdom far surpasses ours (Is 59:8-9).

We are to keep His commands, His laws (John 15:10, 1 John 2:4). YHVH’s laws are designed to justly and mercifully meet everyone’s needs. That cannot always be said of human governments. Yeshua often warned the Pharisees and Scribes about their man-made laws or interpretations of the Torah. Sometimes the man-made laws were in direct violation of the written Torah. That was not acceptable to YHVH 2,000 years ago and it is still not acceptable to YHVH today.

 We are to become like little children in order to live in YHVH’s kingdom (Matt 18:3). Little children depend totally on their parents and are expected to follow the rules of the household. When we are born, we are focused entirely on ourselves, but as we mature we should become less self-centered and more other centered. Are we spiritual adults as well as physical adults? Are we prepared for life in the kingdom?

There is Power in The Name

YHVH my Miracle

In my first posting on this topic (What’s in a Name?), I established through a chain of scriptural references that God wants His Name to be known and spoken, although it has been hidden from the majority of Jews and Christians for 2,000+ years. The true pronunciation of YHVH’s Name was hidden before Yeshua came to earth the first time, as the Jewish leaders had decided it was too holy for the common people to speak. Yeshua (Jesus) revealed the true name of YHVH to His disciples while He was on the earth (John 17:6).

Since there were no vowels in Hebrew scrolls at that time, there was no way to know the pronunciation of God’s Name from reading the scrolls. However, Jewish scribes painstakingly transcribed the scriptures in the 10th and 11th centuries into what are now known as the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex. These books are unique because vowel points were added so that unfamiliar words, such as God’s Name, could be pronounced properly. The image at the top of this posting contains the Hebrew letters for God’s Name, including the vowel points as found in the two Codexes mentioned above. According to 100+ instances in these two Codexes, the Name is clearly pronounced as Yehovah or Y’hovah.

What is even more crucial, though, is how we use His Name. In Zechariah 13:9, YHVH says to His people that they will call upon His Name and He will answer them. In the Aaronic blessing, Yehovah spoke to Aaron through Moses and told him what words he was to speak to the people of Israel to bless them (Num 6:23-26). Very few people know that what YHVH said in the next verse is the most important part of the blessing. He was explaining the significance of the blessing when He said: “So shall they [the priests] put My name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them” (Num 6:27). Each verse of the blessing contains God’s holy Name, and YHVH was saying that if they would place (speak) God’s Name over the people, He would promise to bless them.

God loves to hear His Name spoken and there are so many different ways to speak His Name: in praise and worship (Ps 8:1, 66:4, 148, etc.), in blessings (as in Num 6), in prayers (Isa 1:4, Ps 105:1) and in the joys and sorrows of everyday life. There is power in God’s Name; the greatest power in all the universe. In Isa 45:22, Yehovah is telling everyone to look to Him and be saved; He is saying that He Alone is God and there is no other god. Then in the next verse (Isa 45:23) He says “That to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess.” Finally in Verse 24 He says that all Israel will glorify Yehovah as the true Creator and Redeemer God of the universe.

The power of YHVH’s Name is best seen through His attributes that are contained in His compound names in scripture. One of the most powerful is in the graphic at the beginning of this posting: “Yehovah my Miracle [YHVH Nissi]” – this illustrates that we can call on the Name of Yehovah and trust Him to work miracles in our lives, and then give glory to His Name once again when they happen. Another descriptive name for God is Yehovah Yireh (sometimes written as Jevohah Jireh). This is usually translated as “The LORD my Provider”; however, a more accurate translation is “Yehovah who sees”, meaning in essence that He not only sees and knows our needs but that He satisfies our needs.

The many other names for God in the scriptures powerfully illustrate YHVH’s mercy, forgiveness, and unconditional love for His people. To know God’s Name is important, but it is more relevant to experience the power and beauty of using His Name when we pray. Such prayers are like are like sweet fragrant incense rising up to our Father in heaven (Rev 5:8).

For instance, when we are interceding for another who is suffering from illness, we can speak His Name along with the attribute of His character that relates to healing: “Yehovah Rapha (The LORD our Healer)”. When we do this, we can sense the Holy Spirit going into action, bringing healing. In the same way, when we cry out to God that He is our Rock (Yehovah Tsuri) we feel comforted in our soul that we can lean on him as our solid Rock and He will never leave us or forsake us. Many people have experienced peace and comfort when they recite the 23rd Psalm, but when you realize that “The LORD our shepherd” is actually “Yehovah Ro’i” in Hebrew and we can call our Shepherd by His Name, then it makes Yeshua’s words in John 10 so much more personal. Yeshua said in John 10:27: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (Isn’t it easier to hear His voice and discern it from all other (false) shepherds wh*en we know His Name as well as His voice? Finally, He says: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) How comforting to know that our Creator and Lord is willing to lay down His life for us (and did just that when He died on the cross)?

I will leave you with the words that Yeshua spoke to His disciples near the end of His first mission to the earth: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) If you want to see more about the Hebrew Names for God, see this Web site (remember that “Y” is usually written as “J” in English translations): Names of God – Blue Letter Bible