Category Archives: Wickedness / Evil

A Tale Of Two Responses To Christ

Passover and Unleavened Bread are important celebrations to Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus) and His disciples. Yeshua participated in these holy celebrations and so did his disciples. We see further, that is was important from the fact that Mark includes this explicitly in the timeline of events leading up to Yeshua’s death on the cross and subsequent resurrection. This event was an important part of the timeline for us to understand.

We also get insight in Mark14 into two very different responses to Yeshua. The chief priests, who present themselves to the people as if they are holy and set apart for YHWH’s purposes, are plotting to kill Yeshua… God Himself walking among them. Meanwhile, a humble woman, a “sinner”, comes to anoint him and honor him with very expensive perfume and her own personal time and effort.

This provides a stark contrast that reminds us to use careful discernment in clearly identifying who is following YHWH and honoring him with their lives and who is just playing a part to look holy before the people. To be sure, we should start by looking in the mirror and making sure we have the right attitude toward our Creator.

Mark 14:1-11

Death Plot and Anointing

      1Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him; 2for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people.”

      3While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. 4But some were indignantly remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted? 5“For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they were scolding her. 6But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. 7“For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. 8“She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. 9“Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

      10Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. 11They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.

Discern carefully who truly follows after Yeshua and learns from him, changing their lives to be more like him, and who uses Yeshua and the scriptures only to manipulate the message to their own gain and the appearance of holiness. In some cases, they genuinely fool even themselves. Do not be so foolish as to assume anyone in “church” leadership is holy and a true disciple of Yeshua, or that others who are not in those positions are not true disciples.

We all have a choice in how we will respond to Yeshua. Will we reject him entirely, will we pretend to serve him but let wickedness and selfishness reign in us, or will we humbly and faithfully serve him even when others will mock us for it?

How will you choose to respond to his offer of love and personal relationship in your life?

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Reflections On What Matters In Life… by Solomon

Ecclesiastes can certainly come across as depressing and discouraging. It helps to keep in mind the ultimate conclusion that the book is leading up to. The context is an old Solomon, wise and rich in splendor as king over his lifetime. He is reflecting back on the meaning of life. He ultimately concludes the following:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

    13The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

It is with this conclusion in mind that it helps to drive home the meaning of the whole book as we read it. Ultimately everything falls short of real significance except fearing God and keeping his commandments.

Ecclesiastes 4

The Evils of Oppression

     1Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. 2So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. 3But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.

      4I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind. 5The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. 6One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.

      7Then I looked again at vanity under the sun. 8There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity and it is a grievous task.

      9Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

      13A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction. 14For he has come out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15I have seen all the living under the sun throng to the side of the second lad who replaces him. 16There is no end to all the people, to all who were before them, and even the ones who will come later will not be happy with him, for this too is vanity and striving after wind.

There are a collection of gems of wisdom in this chapter, all of which are worthy of reflection and prayerful consideration for application in our own lives today. Some that strike me…

  • Oppression is very bad.
  • Empty rivalry is worthless.
  • Two working together are better than one.
  • A poor wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer receives instruction

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Do Not Re-Define YHWH In Your Own Image

Joshua 10 contains some dramatic historical records about Joshua’s conquest of the promised land. Many Christians today may struggle to understand or explain how or why YHWH instructed Joshua to wipe out all the inhabitants. What about grace? What about forgiveness? Why would God do wipe out whole people groups? 

First, let us be sure our mind is set on the right perspective. If this is what God said to do, then it was right. If we don’t understand or agree, that means we are wrong… and not God. Perhaps there is specific context which helps explain it or perhaps our view of God is wrong.

We must always take care not to redefine God in our image or the image of our modern culture. Instead, we should always be seeking to redefine ourselves in his image. While there is surely a place for grace and mercy, let us be clear that the Bible speaks volumes about YHWH also providing righteous judgment.

So if he said to wipe everyone out, then he is right to do so. If we struggle with that, then we should pray to ask him to show us more understanding and we should study more the scripture. We should not simply disregard it because it is confusing. It still tells us about YHWH even today. YHWH does not change.

We should not assume that everyone who breathes is in a relationship with YHWH. Clearly we see Biblical examples where he wipes out whole groups. This is different than when he disciplines his own people. These people did not know him. They lived ungodly lives, offensive to him in his holiness.

Joshua 10:29-43

Joshua’s Conquest of Southern Palestine

     29Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Makkedah to Libnah, and fought against Libnah. 30The LORD gave it also with its king into the hands of Israel, and he struck it and every person who was in it with the edge of the sword. He left no survivor in it. Thus he did to its king just as he had done to the king of Jericho.

      31And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Libnah to Lachish, and they camped by it and fought against it. 32The LORD gave Lachish into the hands of Israel; and he captured it on the second day, and struck it and every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, according to all that he had done to Libnah.

      33Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish, and Joshua defeated him and his people until he had left him no survivor.

      34And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Lachish to Eglon, and they camped by it and fought against it. 35They captured it on that day and struck it with the edge of the sword; and he utterly destroyed that day every person who was in it, according to all that he had done to Lachish.

      36Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron, and they fought against it. 37They captured it and struck it and its king and all its cities and all the persons who were in it with the edge of the sword. He left no survivor, according to all that he had done to Eglon. And he utterly destroyed it and every person who was in it.

      38Then Joshua and all Israel with him returned to Debir, and they fought against it. 39He captured it and its king and all its cities, and they struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed every person who was in it. He left no survivor. Just as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir and its king, as he had also done to Libnah and its king.

      40Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings. He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded. 41Joshua struck them from Kadesh-barnea even as far as Gaza, and all the country of Goshen even as far as Gibeon. 42Joshua captured all these kings and their lands at one time, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel. 43So Joshua and all Israel with him returned to the camp at Gilgal.

It is ok to question when we get to difficult scripture. But let us always start with the perspective that YHWH is right and it is our understanding that may need to change rather than starting with the assumption that YHWH was wrong and now he has changed somehow to fit our view of him.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Do Not Expect The World to Be Honest With You

Do not expect the world to be honest with you. Even if they fear you, they may still try to deceive and mislead you to pull you off the path that YHWH has established for you. Often they do so for their own interest. Sometimes, it may be simply to try to make you stumble and fall and be separated from the things YHWH wants for you. As YHWH’s people, we must be wise and pray for discernment.

Joshua 9

Guile of the Gibeonites

     1Now it came about when all the kings who were beyond the Jordan, in the hill country and in the lowland and on all the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, heard of it, 2that they gathered themselves together with one accord to fight with Joshua and with Israel.

      3When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4they also acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended, 5and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled. 6They went to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.” 7The men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you are living within our land; how then shall we make a covenant with you?” 8But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” Then Joshua said to them, “Who are you and where do you come from?” 9They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the LORD your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt, 10and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth. 11“So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; now then, make a covenant with us.”’ 12“This our bread was warm when we took it for our provisions out of our houses on the day that we left to come to you; but now behold, it is dry and has become crumbled. 13“These wineskins which we filled were new, and behold, they are torn; and these our clothes and our sandals are worn out because of the very long journey.” 14So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. 15Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.

      16It came about at the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were neighbors and that they were living within their land. 17Then the sons of Israel set out and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon and Chephirah and Beeroth and Kiriath-jearim. 18The sons of Israel did not strike them because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD the God of Israel. And the whole congregation grumbled against the leaders. 19But all the leaders said to the whole congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them. 20“This we will do to them, even let them live, so that wrath will not be upon us for the oath which we swore to them.” 21The leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became hewers of wood and drawers of water for the whole congregation, just as the leaders had spoken to them.

      22Then Joshua called for them and spoke to them, saying, “Why have you deceived us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you are living within our land? 23“Now therefore, you are cursed, and you shall never cease being slaves, both hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.” 24So they answered Joshua and said, “Because it was certainly told your servants that the LORD your God had commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land before you; therefore we feared greatly for our lives because of you, and have done this thing. 25“Now behold, we are in your hands; do as it seems good and right in your sight to do to us.” 26Thus he did to them, and delivered them from the hands of the sons of Israel, and they did not kill them. 27But Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, to this day, in the place which He would choose.

Just because you may be following the instructions YHWH has set out for you does not mean that you can just go blindly and assume everything will go well and easily. Many will come against you and deceive you for their own benefit or just to lead you away from what they know YHWH wants for you. Pray for wisdom and discernment and consider carefully your actions as you move ahead.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Be Humble, Inspired, and Thankful… Reflecting on the Life of Yeshua

I am humbled, thankful, and inspired each time I read the historical account of Yeshua as he faced trial and punishment, remembering that he went willingly and fully aware of the suffering he was to endure… and he did so for our sins. What he experienced, we deserve and he did not.

He did not make up excuses or try to convince Pilate to let him go. He did not lie. He calmly endured each step of the process. Surely it must have hurt to hear the people call for release of a robber and call for Yeshua to be crucified.

John 18:28-40

Jesus before Pilate

     28Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. 29Therefore Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?” 30They answered and said to him, “If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him to you.” 31So Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death,” 32to fulfill the word of Jesus which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die.

      33Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” 35Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” 37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”
And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him. 39“But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?” 40So they cried out again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.” Now Barabbas was a robber.

I am reminded how wicked our world can be. Pilate crucified Yeshua after finding no guilt in him. The crowd was incited to call for release of a robber rather than Yeshua. I know it had to happen this way and it was YHWH’s plan, but it still reveals the wickedness of the human heart.

Yeshua went willingly as our Passover lamb, sacrificed for us and for our sins. Take a few minutes and give thanks to the Father. Ask for forgiveness.  Let us seek to live according to the example of Yeshua in facing adversity as we live in obedience to YHWH.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Let Judas Remind Us That We Should Not Betray Christ

Judas betrayed our Lord, Yeshua, in a very bold and obvious way. He took money to lead the Romans to him. Perhaps one thing which may be difficult for us to grasp at a personal level, however, is that this was in keeping with the Father’s plan for Yeshua.

John 18:1-1-11

Judas Betrays Jesus

     1When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples. 2Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. 3Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7Therefore He again asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 8Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way,” 9to fulfill the word which He spoke, “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.” 10Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. 11So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”

None of us will face the same exact situation as Judas. Most of us may never face any situation even remotely like this one. However, we all have an opportunity to speak out for and defend our Lord, Yeshua or reject him throughout our daily lives. Sometimes it may be by deliberate action, giving into temptation or sin. Other times, we may simply reject his ways by remaining quiet or not taking action to help another or defend his name.

Let us not look upon Judas as the only one who betrays Yeshua. Instead, let us reflect on our own lives and seek to honor and glorify him through our actions and thoughts. Let us seek his help for us to be loyal and not betray him when situations we face may be uncomfortable or hard or when greed may tempt us to turn from his ways.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

There Are Consequences When A Nation Turns From YHWH

This is a message our nation and our world need to hear even today, as they continue to distance themselves from God, worship other gods, and live according to their own ways instead of those of YHWH. He gave us the law as instruction for us in how to live and relate to Him. He sent Yeshua to make a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled to Him. However, when we as a nation continue to reject His instruction in how we live we can be sure to expect the same response that YHWH had toward Israel. He will be angry. His blessing will be removed. We will get to live with the results of our own wickedness and He will bring punishment. Let those who have ears to hear, hear and apply our lives today. Let us humble ourselves and repent before Him, praying for our nation and for His grace to deliver our people back to following Him… not according to the teachings of the church, but according to His instruction in the Bible.

Deuteronomy 31:23-30

      23Then He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you.”

      24It came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were complete, 25that Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, 26“Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you. 27“For I know your rebellion and your stubbornness; behold, while I am still alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the LORD; how much more, then, after my death? 28“Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them. 29“For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands.”

      30Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were complete:

Deuteronomy 32

The Song of Moses

     1“Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak;
And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.

      2“Let my teaching drop as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
As the droplets on the fresh grass
And as the showers on the herb.

      3“For I proclaim the name of the LORD;
Ascribe greatness to our God!

      4“The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.

      5“They have acted corruptly toward Him,
They are not His children, because of their defect;
But are a perverse and crooked generation.

      6“Do you thus repay the LORD,
O foolish and unwise people?
Is not He your Father who has bought you?
He has made you and established you.

      7“Remember the days of old,
Consider the years of all generations.
Ask your father, and he will inform you,
Your elders, and they will tell you.

      8“When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
When He separated the sons of man,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
According to the number of the sons of Israel.

      9“For the LORD’S portion is His people;
Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.

      10“He found him in a desert land,
And in the howling waste of a wilderness;
He encircled him, He cared for him,
He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.

      11“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
That hovers over its young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions.

      12“The LORD alone guided him,
And there was no foreign god with him.

      13“He made him ride on the high places of the earth,
And he ate the produce of the field;
And He made him suck honey from the rock,
And oil from the flinty rock,

      14Curds of cows, and milk of the flock,
With fat of lambs,
And rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats,
With the finest of the wheat—
And of the blood of grapes you drank wine.

      15“But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked—
You are grown fat, thick, and sleek—
Then he forsook God who made him,
And scorned the Rock of his salvation.

      16“They made Him jealous with strange gods;
With abominations they provoked Him to anger.

      17“They sacrificed to demons who were not God,
To gods whom they have not known,
New gods who came lately,
Whom your fathers did not dread.

      18“You neglected the Rock who begot you,
And forgot the God who gave you birth.

      19“The LORD saw this, and spurned them
Because of the provocation of His sons and daughters.

      20“Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them,
I will see what their end shall be;
For they are a perverse generation,
Sons in whom is no faithfulness.

      21‘They have made Me jealous with what is not God;
They have provoked Me to anger with their idols.
So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people;
I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation,

      22For a fire is kindled in My anger,
And burns to the lowest part of Sheol,
And consumes the earth with its yield,
And sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

      23‘I will heap misfortunes on them;
I will use My arrows on them.

      24They will be wasted by famine, and consumed by plague
And bitter destruction;
And the teeth of beasts I will send upon them,
With the venom of crawling things of the dust.

      25‘Outside the sword will bereave,
And inside terror—
Both young man and virgin,
The nursling with the man of gray hair.

      26‘I would have said, “I will cut them to pieces,
I will remove the memory of them from men,”

      27Had I not feared the provocation by the enemy,
That their adversaries would misjudge,
That they would say, “Our hand is triumphant,
And the LORD has not done all this.”’

      28“For they are a nation lacking in counsel,
And there is no understanding in them.

      29“Would that they were wise, that they understood this,
That they would discern their future!

      30“How could one chase a thousand,
And two put ten thousand to flight,
Unless their Rock had sold them,
And the LORD had given them up?

      31“Indeed their rock is not like our Rock,
Even our enemies themselves judge this.

      32“For their vine is from the vine of Sodom,
And from the fields of Gomorrah;
Their grapes are grapes of poison,
Their clusters, bitter.

      33“Their wine is the venom of serpents,
And the deadly poison of cobras.

      34‘Is it not laid up in store with Me,
Sealed up in My treasuries?

      35‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution,
In due time their foot will slip;
For the day of their calamity is near,
And the impending things are hastening upon them.’

      36“For the LORD will vindicate His people,
And will have compassion on His servants,
When He sees that their strength is gone,
And there is none remaining, bond or free.

      37“And He will say, ‘Where are their gods,
The rock in which they sought refuge?

      38‘Who ate the fat of their sacrifices,
And drank the wine of their drink offering?
Let them rise up and help you,
Let them be your hiding place!

      39‘See now that I, I am He,
And there is no god besides Me;
It is I who put to death and give life.
I have wounded and it is I who heal,
And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.

      40‘Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven,
And say, as I live forever,

      41If I sharpen My flashing sword,
And My hand takes hold on justice,
I will render vengeance on My adversaries,
And I will repay those who hate Me.

      42‘I will make My arrows drunk with blood,
And My sword will devour flesh,
With the blood of the slain and the captives,
From the long-haired leaders of the enemy.’

      43“Rejoice, O nations, with His people;
For He will avenge the blood of His servants,
And will render vengeance on His adversaries,
And will atone for His land and His people.”

      44Then Moses came and spoke all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he, with Joshua the son of Nun. 45When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46he said to them, “Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. 47“For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you will prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”

      48The LORD spoke to Moses that very same day, saying, 49“Go up to this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab opposite Jericho, and look at the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the sons of Israel for a possession. 50“Then die on the mountain where you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, 51because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel.52“For you shall see the land at a distance, but you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving the sons of Israel.”

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

To Stand Boldly With and For Christ Means Others Will Come Against You

Today we are digging in a bit deeper into John 7. In a previous article, we highlighted that Yeshua was documented as participating in the appointed times of YHWH as laid out in Leviticus 23, in this case Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. Though this has largely been dropped from mainstream Christianity, those who seek truth by following Christ’s example should study more and consider participating in the appointed times as Yeshua did. My family has been doing so for years now and it is very rewarding, though a bit awkward as you get started.

There are a few main points I want to highlight as we dive a bit deeper into the beginning of John 7.

  • For those facing persecution for their faith in Christ, note that Christ in this chapter also chose the time and place for His teaching. He knew there were those who wanted to harm him. He was clearly actively proclaiming the truth of the gospel, but did so strategically and at times remained private or hidden. We should take care not to use this as an excuse to avoid standing for YHWH. Clearly Yeshua proclaimed His ways publicly.
  • For many of us who come to know Christ and then proclaim the truth of His message, the fullness of His instruction, our own families and friends may reject us. It is uncomfortable for many who claim to follow Christ, and perhaps genuinely do, to accept that much of what the church has taught them is wrong and they should change based on study of the whole word of YHWH, the whole Bible. The appointed times are a great example. You will face resistance and discouragement from some for pursuing the same celebrations of YHWH that Yeshua participated in just because they are not wanting to face the change themselves. Do not be discouraged. For Yeshua, even His own brothers were not believing in Him.
  • Do not fear rejection. Ask YHWH for the grace to accept and deal with it, as Christ did. The world will hate us, as it did Yeshua, if we testify that their deeds are evil. You can see it plainly today. If you share with someone the love of Christ for unborn children and the fact that abortion is offensive to YHWH and should be to us… you will be likely scorned by half the population not just as “disagreeing” but labeled all sorts of mean and nasty things. They will say you hate women and such. None the less, we must stand up for the ways of YHWH as Christ did.
  • If we teach the full word of YHWH it will be different from what most Christians are now accustomed to. Many ignore Sabbath. Those that don’t, celebrate on Sunday instead of Saturday (as Christ and His disciples did), gluttony is a significant problem in our culture but it is taboo to say anything, sexual relations outside of a husband and wife relationship are out of control in society, and coveting is practically a national pastime more than baseball. Our society does not accept rebuke or correction, each claiming offense if someone tries to point out where they may be in need of repentance.  People don’t like change and they like admitting they are wrong even less. Though some people will agree with you and say good things, so too will many disagree with you, grumble and say bad things about you… as they did Yeshua. Be prepared for this and ask YHWH to help you with it.

You can not preach the truth of the gospel without offending those who reject it or accept only parts of it. To stand boldly for Christ means others will come against you. If no one is coming against you, you may want to reflect if you are really living and speaking boldly for Christ in your daily life and if you are doing so to those that do not necessarily already agree with you.

John 7:1-13

Jesus Teaches at the Feast

     1After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. 2Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near. 3Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. 4“For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5For not even His brothers were believing in Him. 6So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. 7“The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. 8“Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.” 9Having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee.

      10But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret. 11So the Jews were seeking Him at the feast and were saying, “Where is He?” 12There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning Him; some were saying, “He is a good man”; others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He leads the people astray.” 13Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Seek The Light; Reject The Darkness

It is interesting that Nicodemus came to Yeshua by night, as if to avoid being seen, and yet claims he knows that Yeshua has come from God as a teacher. But none the less, I will give Nicodemus some credit for coming to Yeshua to learn more when his peers would likely have pressured him to reject Yeshua all together. We will sometimes have to make similar decisions if we are to learn more about and grow in relationship with Yeshua. Many of those around us will pressure us not to do so.

Though we may struggle, like Nicodemus, to fully understand being “reborn”, it is none the less a real experience and an important one. Yeshua clearly states that we must be born of water (natural birth) and of the spirit (spiritual birth or rebirth) if we are to see the kingdom of God. Being born of the Spirit has to do with our submitting to Christ as Lord and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us as helper for us to experience the kingdom of God, to see things the way God sees things rather than just from our own perspective focused on self.

We must look to Christ and believe He died for our sins and rose again. He came to create a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled to God… it is the only way and not one of many. We must love the Light (aka Christ) more than the darkness (aka sin and self).

John 3:1-21

The New Birth

      1Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

      4Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”5Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7“Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

      9Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? 11“Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. 12“If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13“No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. 14“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.

      16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

Do not be content to simply claim with words that you follow Christ. Test yourself against your life choices and attitudes. Ask YHWH to help you. Our actions will reflect truly whether or not we seek the Light of the darkness more than our words. Our behaviors and actions do not save us, but they certainly reflect our heart and whether or not we believe in Christ as savior and submit to Him.  Do not fool yourself into thinking you are submitted as it is your own salvation at risk. Test yourself against the truth of scripture… against your actions and attitudes.

Ask the Spirit to guide you and be willing to recognize you need to change to be more like Christ. It is not a journey we complete in this life, but rather one we continue on throughout our life. So if you have found yourself complacent and satisfied that you are as much like Christ as you “need to be”, then take that as a warning and check yourself. As with any journey, when you believe you have arrived, that is as far as you will ever go.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Don’t Completely Dismiss The Law Because It Seems Strange

Some of the details of the law as documented in Deuteronomy 25 seem strange and foreign, because they are from a long ago time and a very different culture. While we could debate some of the specifics and if/how they apply today, let us not miss the bigger picture. Don’t completely dismiss the law because it seems strange in our eyes. Seek to understand what YHWH intended and what may still apply.

YHWH established laws to govern the people. The law is established to direct behavior away from wickedness and to protect the weak. It is a way of showing love to YHWH and to one another.  Note, however, that even the guilty are protected in some cases from excessive punishment (e.g. beat him no more than 40 times). There are other times, however where there is no such protection for the wicked (e.g. blot out the memory of Amelek). It depends on the severity of the wrong behavior.

If there are some punishments that seem outrageous in our eyes (e.g. cut off woman’s hand if she grabs man’s genitals to defend her husband), then simply take that as strong guidance not to do those thing. I will clearly state that I do not claim to fully understand the context or why a law like that one was established, but it is clear that YHWH does not want that action to be normalized or accepted. I presume it made more sense in the context of the culture at the time, or perhaps would still make more sense if I studied and better understood the context. Maybe it is in regards to the struggle is not life threatening and thus to crush a man’s genitals is overkill as it stops his ability to procreate? Maybe YHWH just does not want a woman to touch another man there, but would be ok if she kicked him or hit him in self defense. Honestly, I don’t know, but the failing is in my ignorance and lack of understanding and not with YHWH who established the law.

Deuteronomy 25

Sundry Laws

     1“If there is a dispute between men and they go to court, and the judges decide their case, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked, 2then it shall be if the wicked man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall then make him lie down and be beaten in his presence with the number of stripes according to his guilt. 3“He may beat him forty times but no more, so that he does not beat him with many more stripes than these and your brother is not degraded in your eyes.

      4“You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.

      5“When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. 6“It shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel. 7“But if the man does not desire to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’ 8“Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And if he persists and says, ‘I do not desire to take her,’ 9then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall declare, ‘Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ 10“In Israel his name shall be called, ‘The house of him whose sandal is removed.’

      11“If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, 12then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity.

      13“You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. 14“You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. 15“You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. 16“For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the LORD your God.

      17“Remember what Amalek did to you along the way when you came out from Egypt, 18how he met you along the way and attacked among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear God. 19“Therefore it shall come about when the LORD your God has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies, in the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.