Seeking Victory Over An Oppressor

Samuel records an important event in the history of the Israelites in chapter 7, one which we can still learn from and apply to our lives today. The Israelites were subject to the wickedness of the Philistines, who did not serve YHWH. By my observation, in some ways this is not very different from our environment today. We may not be pressed upon by another nation in the USA, but we are surely corrupted and pressed upon within our nation by many in power and influence who are against YHWH, even when they claim to follow him. We witness as people claim what is bad to be good and the other way around. They practically worship the environment, but not the one who created it. They worship at the altar of self and convenience and sacrifice their children through abortion and demand that it must be free and unlimited. They demand everyone accept transgender and homosexual disorders rather than help people overcome it or even allow some to express openly a disagreement with it based on YHWH’s word.

How might we get free of this ongoing struggle? Well, we see in 1 Samuel 7 we should seek the LORD, reject idols and other things which we put in priority for our lives ahead of him (e.g. could be money, job, even spouse or kids, church, public opinion).   Come together with prayer and fasting. Admit our sins and ask forgiveness. Change our sinful ways and turn to YHWH’s ways. And yes, we have to rise up and take action when confronted by those who stand against YHWH. In our society that means continuing to teach and evangelize according to the Bible, not public opinion or what many churches teach. We must not let fear of rejection or animosity stop us. We must get involved in local, state and federal government and vote and influence others to vote based on righteousness of YHWH rather than what the news media or social media say.

1 Samuel 7:1-14

Deliverance from the Philistines

      1And the men of Kiriath-jearim came and took the ark of the LORD and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD. 2From the day that the ark remained at Kiriath-jearim, the time was long, for it was twenty years; and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.

      3Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” 4So the sons of Israel removed the Baals and the Ashtaroth and served the LORD alone.

      5Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah and I will pray to the LORD for you.” 6They gathered to Mizpah, and drew water and poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the LORD.” And Samuel judged the sons of Israel at Mizpah.

      7Now when the Philistines heard that the sons of Israel had gathered to Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the sons of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8Then the sons of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry to the LORD our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it for a whole burnt offering to the LORD; and Samuel cried to the LORD for Israel and the LORD answered him. 10Now Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, and the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines and confused them, so that they were routed before Israel. 11The men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and struck them down as far as below Beth-car.

      12Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” 13So the Philistines were subdued and they did not come anymore within the border of Israel. And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14The cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even to Gath; and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. So there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.

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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 There Be No Darkness In Us

John brings a strong message in his opening to 1 John. He does not sugar coat it. God is light. There is no darkness. If we walk in darkness, we are not with him… period… no clarifications or exceptions. If, on the other hand, we walk according to his ways, then we not only have fellowship with him, but with each other.

John drives home a second point as well. Let us not say or pretend we have no sin. We do. But let us thankfully acknowledge that he cleanses us from unrighteousness from that sin. However, this does not happen just because we claim Yeshua and keep on sinning, keep on doing things our own way instead of his. That is walking in darkness. It is important for us to admit our sin and ask forgiveness and turn from it and stop walking in darkness. There is also an indication here that makes the case that we don’t need to continue animal sacrifices for forgiveness of sin as Yeshua’s blood cleanses us of all sin. (However, let us not forget that sin offering was only one of several types of sacrifices laid out in the Torah for YHWH’s people. It is an interesting study to consider the others, but not for today.)

 1 John 1:5-10

God Is Light

      5This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

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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.

Pray for the USA to turn back to God and become again a true light to the nations

The United States of America was founded based on Christian ideals and beliefs, but over the past few hundred years has largely turned their back on God and now embrace worship of self, worship of money, and many other sins. The word of God is tossed aside in favor of the wicked desires of men. God’s word shows us that when the people turn from God, He releases His blessing from that country. That does not mean He gives up on His people there, but rather that the country will suffer. There are consequences. The USA has great potential to serve God across the world if even those who profess Jesus with their lips would genuinely  turn toward Him and change their behaviors to be a light to the nation and the world.

2 Chronicles 7:12-22

     12Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15“Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. 16“For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. 17“As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, even to do according to all that I have commanded you, and will keep My statutes and My ordinances, 18then I will establish your royal throne as I covenanted with your father David, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to be ruler in Israel.’

      19“But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 20then I will uproot you from My land which I have given you, and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 21“As for this house, which was exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’ 22“And they will say, ‘Because they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers who brought them from the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them; therefore He has brought all this adversity on them.’”

Please take some time to pray for repentance and mercy for the USA as leader of the free world but also for other nations globally in which there still remains a remnant of true disciples seeking to follow the Lord’s will.

Psalm 85

Prayer for God’s Mercy upon the Nation.

For the choir director. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

     1O LORD, You showed favor to Your land;
You restored the captivity of Jacob.

      2You forgave the iniquity of Your people;
You covered all their sin.

Selah.

      3You withdrew all Your fury;
You turned away from Your burning anger.

      4Restore us, O God of our salvation,
And cause Your indignation toward us to cease.

      5Will You be angry with us forever?
Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?

      6Will You not Yourself revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You?

      7Show us Your lovingkindness, O LORD,
And grant us Your salvation.

      8I will hear what God the LORD will say;
For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones;
But let them not turn back to folly.

      9Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.

      10Lovingkindness and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

      11Truth springs from the earth,
And righteousness looks down from heaven.

      12Indeed, the LORD will give what is good,
And our land will yield its produce.

      13Righteousness will go before Him
And will make His footsteps into a way.

Grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you.
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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.

Understanding The Law – What Does It Mean Today?

Today’s teaching is longer than most, but it is important. I encourage you to read it all the way through and truly reflect on it in prayer. It may challenge some of what you have accepted. Test it against the scripture. Ask YHWH to lead you.

There is much confusion about what the law means to Christians today. Many teachers of Christianity say that the law (and essentially all the instructions of the Old Testament) no longer apply now that Yeshua has come, died for us, and been resurrected. They proclaim that we are covered in grace and no longer in “bondage” to the law. In order to support this case, people point to passages from Acts and the letters of Paul, but ignore or disregard the Old Testament, the earthly ministry of Yeshua, and many other writings of Paul where he is clearly teaching that we should uphold the law. Further, they must ignore that Paul encourages others to follow his example, which is modeled after the example of Yeshua and includes adherence to the law. It can be confusing for sure and at times Paul seems on the surface to contradict himself.

If we do a quick check, we realize quickly that those teaching against the law are actually inconsistent. They are saying the law is null and void but still teaching that we should follow parts of the law and discard others. Do not murder? Do not covet? Do not have idols? Do not commit adultery? These are all part of the law of YHWH. So, too, is tithing… recognizing the law goes beyond the 10 commandments. We already pick and choose which elements to follow and which we will not. We should take greater care to challenge and understand what scripture says about which we should still be following vs. trusting the traditions of men taught widely in churches without testing against holy scripture.

People were similarly confused in in the early church. So much so that Peter even warned us about it .

[2 Peter 3:15-18]

15 And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— 16 speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.

17 You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.

We should not simply dismiss the seeming contradictions and pick the scripture that feel most comfortable to follow. Instead, each of us should evaluate and seek to understand this complex and foundational issue. But whom should we trust? The Christian majority? Scholars and teachers?  A particular respected or popular teacher? or the word of God in the Bible, which would include the example Yeshua set in His earthly ministry?

The answer, I hope is fairly straightforward… we should trust in the word of God, in Yeshua, rather than the doctrine of men. It is fine to listen to the teachings of scholars and pastors, but we must test everything ourselves against scripture. This can take time and be hard, but that is no excuse just to take someone else’s word for it. That demonstrates a lack of diligence or lack of recognition in the importance of following Yeshua and certainly does not show a love for God and that He is a priority in our lives. (Yes, you should test what I teach as well, comparing it to the scriptures. Do not take my word for it, but rather seek to understand the methodology and truth revealed from studying scripture.)

First, let’s deal with the belief that the majority can not be wrong. If you claim to be Christian, then you already accept that premise to be false. The majority of the world rejects Yeshua as God and savior. Well then… perhaps it is the majority of God’s people, backed by scholars and teachers, that can not be wrong? Again, that would be contradictory to the foundation of Christianity itself. The most respected teachers and scholars of the law, with centuries of tradition on their side, were the Pharisees and Sadducees at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. They persecuted and killed Yeshua, denying that He was God. Thus, as Christians we once again already believe that the religious majority of God’s people along with the  scholars and teachers (complete with centuries of tradition) were wrong. Perhaps then we believe that the Christian majority after the death of Christ can not be wrong? Once again, we can look to the Protestant Reformation as an example of true believers fighting against the wrong teaching and doctrine of the church. We have much to be thankful for that now we have God’s word available for all of us to read plainly in our own language instead of hidden away behind closed doors, written in Latin, and kept from the people. How can we possibly hope to know and follow God’s instruction fully if we are not allowed access to His word except a few minutes a week and that even only told to us through another person based on what they choose to share? In fact, God commanded us to study and know His word and to use it as test to identify false teachers. This is a command we can only do properly if we have access to His word.

[Deuteronomy 13:1-5] 13 [a]“Suppose there are prophets among you or those who dream dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, and the predicted signs or miracles occur. If they then say, ‘Come, let us worship other gods’—gods you have not known before— do not listen to them. The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul. Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him. The false prophets or visionaries who try to lead you astray must be put to death, for they encourage rebellion against the Lord your God, who redeemed you from slavery and brought you out of the land of Egypt. Since they try to lead you astray from the way the Lord your God commanded you to live, you must put them to death. In this way you will purge the evil from among you.

No teacher in all the history of God’s people is infallible with the notable exception of Yeshua. Yeshua, in fact, as recorded in the book of John was the very word of God made flesh.

[John 1:1-18] In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created,[aand his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.[b]

God sent a man, John the Baptist,[c] to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

14 So the Word became human[d] and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.[e] And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”

16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.[f] 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God,[g] is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

Yeshua is in fact eternal and is the word of God made flesh to dwell among us. So we should pay special attention to what He teaches about the law, and how he acts with regards to the law. In this we will find truth in regards to the law.  Let us then explore what God’s word says about the law. Is it bondage? Has it changed with the death and resurrection of Yeshua?

In fact, Yeshua is incredibly clear… He specifically warns us not to misunderstand why He came and to obey God’s law (not to ignore them) and teach them to others. He clearly indicates that some of the law has been accomplished or fulfilled in Him, and some has not. It is important for us to study and learn which is which and not just assume everything the mainstream Christian churches teach today is accurate and consistent with the Biblical text or the example of Yeshua.

[Matthew 5:17-19] 17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Yeshua further clarifies the subject of the law by clearly stating it is not bondage but rather God’s instructions on how to love God and love one another.

[Matthew 22:35-40] 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[e] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[f] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on loving God and loving one another. That does not sound like bondage at all! Why would God come as Jesus to die to set us free from the law… from loving God and loving others? This makes no sense. (You can read more about what God’s word says about the law throughout the Old Testament, such as Psalm 119.)

Yeshua went on to instruct his disciples in the great commission to teach others to observe ALL that He commanded them. This includes the teachings of the Old Testament including the law, which Yeshua taught and observed without fail.  Please note that this is after Yeshua died and was risen! Yeshua did not cancel the law, but rather confirmed its importance.

[Matthew 28:19-20]  19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Clearly, we must reconsider the misconception that Yeshua came to “set us free from the law”.

This is confirmed in several other scriptures in Old and New Testament. I have included but a few.

[Deuteronomy 11:26-28] 26 “Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! 27 You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. 28 But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the Lord your God and turn away from him and worship gods you have not known before.

[Psalm 19:7-13] The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. 10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. 11 They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.

12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.

[1 John 2:3-6] And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

[1John 5:2-3]  We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.

[James 1:25] 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

Paul encourages those in Corinth to follow His example, which was modeled after Yeshua. Both Yeshua and Paul followed the law. Would it then make sense that Paul teaches to disregard the law? In fact, Paul teaches explicitly the importance of following the law! Keep in mind that when he writes 2 Timothy 3:16-17 there is not yet a New Testament. He must, therefore, be referring to the Old Testament.  Is he contradicting himself with regards to how he teaches about God’s law? A detailed study of context in Paul’s letter is necessary to understand properly what Paul is teaching.

[1 Corinthians 11:1And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.

[Romans 3:31] 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.

[Romans 7:7] Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.”[c]

[Romans 7:12] 12 But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.

[2 Timothy 3:16-17] 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

One of the most referenced scriptures by those who say we are no longer under the Mosaic law is Romans 6:14. However, careful study of context shows that Paul is not referring to Mosaic law, but rather what he refers to as the law of sin and death, as clarified in Romans 8:1-2.

[Romans 6:14] 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

[Romans 8:1-2] Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life [a]in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

To study more deeply about what Paul really taught about the law, we encourage you to visit 119Ministries.com and watch their video series on the “Pauline Paradox”.

Yeshua did not come to set us free from the law. The law is perfect. The laws sets us free. The law is God’s instruction on how to love Him and one another. Why would He want to set us free from this?

Yeshua came to set us free from the curse we receive when we fail to live up to God’s law perfectly. All of us fall short of perfectly executing God’s law. Jesus came to take our punishment so that we could be redeemed… be forgiven.

[John 3:16-21] 16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[g] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.[h]

So we know that we do not need to follow the law to be saved… to find salvation. Salvation comes through Yeshua alone by grace, through faith and not by works. So Yeshua now holds in our place the judgment and condemnation for our failures to properly follow the law. He has paid the price on our behalf.

To learn more  about why Yeshua came to live among us, died, was buried and rose again… please read our teaching about The Message of The Cross.

So why then should we still follow the law?

We follow the law not to achieve salvation, but because we are saved! We follow the law because God commanded it and because it was His instruction for how to love God and love one another. We follow the law to show God we love Him. The law is not then cancelled or no longer valid, but rather it serves us still as God’s guide and instruction for our lives. We do well to study carefully and ask God’s help to guide us in understanding what elements of the law have been fulfilled in Yeshua’s death and resurrection and which have not. The entire Bible is relevant and applicable to our lives today as we seek to know, love, and serve God.

To learn more:

The Word Come To Life

1 John contains an interesting introduction which is easy to skip over if we are not careful. John starts with eternity in mind. What they learned and experienced through their relationship with Messiah was entirely consistent and unchanged since the beginning. YHWH does not change (Malachi 3:6). Consistent with the opening in the gospel of John, he also here refers to Messiah as the Word, in this case the Word of Life. This reminds us that the Messiah is the Word become flesh to walk among us. When we have questions about how we should live, we can not only study what Yeshua taught, but also how he and his disciples lived. We can be assured that the Word has not changed since the beginning, and as such we are called to study and learn the Torah and the writings of the prophets, not just the “New Testament”. They do not contradict when understood properly. None is obsolete or irrelevant. In fact the New Testament builds upon the Old Testament like a house on a foundation. Without the foundation, it is not complete and will not function properly (will be misunderstood in this case).

I find it encouraging but also challenging that he states that this message is proclaimed and shared so that they may have fellowship together and with the Father. The disciples were not content to let others continue in wrong understanding and wrong teaching but reached out to teach and instruct others. Where people are living according to an incorrect or incomplete understanding of the Word, the fellowship with fellow man and with YHWH is not complete.  Perhaps the most challenging is that these things are written to their joy may be complete. I pray the LORD sustains me in this way that I would find joy in bringing the word at all times and not get distracted and weighed down with the daily toils of life.

One more point to focus on here is that we are to have fellowship with the Father, not with Yeshua alone. Some Christians put all the focus on Yeshua and neglect our relationship with the Father. In fact, Yeshua always pointed to and lived the example and taught his disciples to look to the Father rather than himself. He was there to help us connect with the Father.

1 John 1:1-4

Introduction, The Incarnate Word

      1What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

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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.

The LORD Is In Control; Trust Him And Do Things His Way

Never doubt the LORD is ultimately in control, even when facing difficult circumstances. We are not promised an easy path with no trouble. Quite the contrary. We are warned that we should build our lives on the solid rock of Christ and his teachings so that when the storms come, we can stand firm. (Matthew 7:24-29)

The people of Israel lost the ark and it was out of their power to confront the Philistines and get it back. The LORD brought it back in his own timing after showing his power and glory to the Philistines.

We can also be reminded that, even when we celebrate and want to give glory to YHWH, be sure to do it his way, rather than our own. He smote over 50,000 Israelites who looked inside the ark. Only the Levites were supposed to handle the ark. In their excitement, the people disobeyed, and suffered greatly for it. The ark indeed represented the presence of YHWH. He is holy and the people were to approach him only in the ways he had prescribed, not in whatever way they wanted. There could clearly be a lot of study on this point alone.

1 Samuel 6

The Ark Returned to Israel

      1Now the ark of the LORD had been in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, “What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us how we shall send it to its place.” 3They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but you shall surely return to Him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.” 4Then they said, “What shall be the guilt offering which we shall return to Him?” And they said, “Five golden tumors and five golden mice according to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for one plague was on all of you and on your lords. 5“So you shall make likenesses of your tumors and likenesses of your mice that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will ease His hand from you, your gods, and your land. 6“Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He had severely dealt with them, did they not allow the people to go, and they departed? 7“Now therefore, take and prepare a new cart and two milch cows on which there has never been a yoke; and hitch the cows to the cart and take their calves home, away from them. 8“Take the ark of the LORD and place it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you return to Him as a guilt offering in a box by its side. Then send it away that it may go. 9“Watch, if it goes up by the way of its own territory to Beth-shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we will know that it was not His hand that struck us; it happened to us by chance.”

      10Then the men did so, and took two milch cows and hitched them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. 11They put the ark of the LORD on the cart, and the box with the golden mice and the likenesses of their tumors. 12And the cows took the straight way in the direction of Beth-shemesh; they went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right or to the left. And the lords of the Philistines followed them to the border of Beth-shemesh.

      13Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley, and they raised their eyes and saw the ark and were glad to see it. 14The cart came into the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite and stood there where there was a large stone; and they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. 15The Levites took down the ark of the LORD and the box that was with it, in which were the articles of gold, and put them on the large stone; and the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices that day to the LORD. 16When the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned to Ekron that day.

      17These are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned for a guilt offering to the LORD: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron; 18and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fortified cities and of country villages. The large stone on which they set the ark of the LORD is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite.

      19He struck down some of the men of Beth-shemesh because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck down of all the people, 50,070 men, and the people mourned because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter. 20The men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God? And to whom shall He go up from us?” 21So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have brought back the ark of the LORD; come down and take it up to you.”

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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.

Hearing From Jesus – Resources

Resources

We all need help sometimes. Turn to God and those who serve Him rather than the world. Whether we are trying to find help for someone facing a crisis like abortion, searching for ways to strengthen our marriage, or just to find quality Christian entertainment… there are a lot of resources out there that call out for our attention, but many do not honor God. At Hearing From Jesus we try to help by sorting through some of that for you and providing recommendations that honor Jesus.

If you have identified Christian resources you recommend for inclusion on our website, please submit via our Contact Us page.

Remember The Words Of the Prophets and Of Our Savior

The commandments of our LORD and Savior are consistent with the words spoken by the holy prophets. They are not different. Peter calls us in his second letter to remember both as he then goes on to remind us of what they both said. Yeshua fulfilled the message of the Torah and the prophets. He did not change the message or end it. Let us remember as Peter encourages us to do.

We are also reminded to look forward to the coming day of the LORD. For those who gladly follow him now, this is a great hope and expectation. For those who reject and rebel against him, it will stand as a day of judgment. Let us keep this coming day in mind as we choose to live our lives daily.

2 Peter 3

Purpose of This Letter

1This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.

The Coming Day of the Lord

            3Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

      8But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

A New Heaven and Earth

     10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

      11Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

      14Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Do not miss the warning Peter gives regarding Paul in verses 16-18. Paul is still misunderstood and has been since he started teaching. If he was misunderstood then by people who shared his culture and language and customs, then it is easy to imaging how so many Christians today misunderstand him and what he was teaching. As an example, many  say he taught against the Torah and the law, but this is wrong. He taught against the law for salvation. He did not teach against obeying the law. This is one simple example. He is perhaps the most misquoted and misunderstood of any Biblical figure and often his letters are used as an excuse to behave differently than how Yeshua (and his disciples) actually demonstrated for us. (For more on this: Understanding the Law – What Does It Mean For Us Today, Is God’s Law A Burden?, Remember the Sabbath)

I truly encourage you to test everything you are taught against what the word actually says and pray for wisdom and discernment.

I include some helpful links on my website at Focused Ministries – Understanding Hebrew Roots.

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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.

Appreciating Those Who Serve As We Approach Veteran’s Day

Though we should always first look to the LORD with thanksgiving for our freedom and protection, we can also take time to give thanks to those who serve or have served in the military which protects our nation from foreign threats. Not every person who serves in the military should be stereotyped as some kind of automatic hero, but by and large they provide a valuable service and do so with honor and at personal risk. Most recognize that they serve for something higher than themselves, their country, freedom for themselves and others, a constitutional republic (we are actually not a democracy and there are good reasons for it), and a way of life provided by our Creator.

Thank you to all who serve actively or have served. I pray you would draw near to our Father and be blessed.

This is also a good time to remember that we should also seek to serve in the LORD’s army. We submit to him. We face difficulty and persecution for him when we live his way. We face rejection. We go where others do not wish to go or do what others do not wish to do… for a higher purpose that is beyond ourselves. We celebrate joyfully even when we have difficulty that we can bring glory to his name.

Thank you to all who serve in the LORD’s army, submitting yourself to him and trusting in him! May you also be blessed and draw near to 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.

The LORD Is In Control

The LORD is in control, even when we face defeat. Sometimes the defeat is more about us and our relationship with our Father than it is about the physical enemy before us. The LORD can grant victory or defeat. He wants his people to obey him and be in proper relationship with him.

Even when the ark was taken in defeat before the Philistines, YHWH seems to have a plan for how to use the situation to rebuke the Philistines and bring the ark back home. He was not surprised by the capture of the ark. As a matter of consideration, he may have even led to its capture in battle as part of disciplining Eli’s sons and possibly Israel more broadly. He also used it to show his power to the Philistines and in quite a unique way to show how powerless Dagon, whom they worshiped, remained.

1 Samuel 5

Capture of the Ark Provokes God

      1Now the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it to the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon. 3When the Ashdodites arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set him in his place again. 4But when they arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. And the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off on the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. 5Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor all who enter Dagon’s house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.

      6Now the hand of the LORD was heavy on the Ashdodites, and He ravaged them and smote them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territories. 7When the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is severe on us and on Dagon our god.” 8So they sent and gathered all the lords of the Philistines to them and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” And they said, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be brought around to Gath.” And they brought the ark of the God of Israel around. 9After they had brought it around, the hand of the LORD was against the city with very great confusion; and He smote the men of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out on them. 10So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And as the ark of God came to Ekron the Ekronites cried out, saying, “They have brought the ark of the God of Israel around to us, to kill us and our people.” 11They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, so that it will not kill us and our people.” For there was a deadly confusion throughout the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. 12And the men who did not die were smitten with tumors and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

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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.

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