Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hidden in Plain Sight!

The Torah portion for this week is Genesis 44:18 - 47:27.

It would be hard to find in the Bible a more perfect type of Messiah than Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob. The similarities are amazing! One of these similarities is the 30 pieces of silver which paid for both men's betrayal by their "brothers." Another is that both men were hidden in plain sight. Let me explain.

Paul teaches us in Romans that the Jewish people are currently experiencing a blindness or sleep in regards to recognizing their Messiah.

Romans 11:8 (KJV)
8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. (from Deuteronomy 29:4)

Romans 11:25 (KJV)
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

Now the tendency for Gentile Christians is to say that the Jewish people are foolish not to recognize Jesus as their Messiah. However, we see from Romans that our attitude towards the Jews should not be one of superiority. Rather we should understand that God has allowed this to occur in order for Gentiles to enter into Messiah's Kingdom.

Also, if believers would seriously look at the Old Testament and examine Joseph as a type of Messiah, they would see that Joseph was not recognized by his brothers either. When Jacob's other sons came into Egypt they met the nation's second top man. He had an Egyptian name, He spoke in the Egyptian language. He was dressed as an Egyptian. He was revered by the Egyptians. He did not resemble their brother Joseph at all. It wasn't until after Judah offered to be held as a bondsman in place of Benjamin that Joseph revealed himself.

Genesis 45:4 (KJV)
4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.

In a way, Joseph was hidden in plain sight!

Now let's look at Yeshua. He has a Greek name (Jesus from Iesous). His Hebrew/Aramaic language comes down to us through not only the Greek language, but from a Greek understanding of Scripture. Often artwork portrays Him in Medieval European dress and very European features. Gentiles worship Him while ignoring the Torah and creating a new religion. Is is surprising that most Jewish people can't recognize their own Messiah? Yeshua also seems to be hidden in plain sight!

One day, though, as we  learn from the Old Testament, as well as Paul, that Messiah will reveal Himself to His brothers.

Romans 11:26-27 (KJV)
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (from Isaiah 59:20-21)

"Vayigashu......ani Yeshua akhikhem....."   "Please come near to me.....I am Yeshua your brother....."

Perhaps as Gentile and Jewish believers we need to help our brothers of all stripes learn to recognize our very Jewish Messiah by peeling back the Greek and Gentile traditions that have hidden our Messiah so well.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Originally posted 12/23/12

When I became convinced of the Messianic perspective I truly wanted to align my life with Torah. I began eating according to Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. I began observing a Saturday Sabbath and I kept all the feasts of the Lord as described in Leviticus 23. It was liberating and exhilarating! However, I also ran into some obstacles! There were family feelings and traditions that I couldn't just sweep away and rearrange to my liking. So, I have often found myself in a dilemma. How do you maneuver between what you perceive as right and the ways of others that you no longer adhere to?

As Christmas approached I was really not enjoying the season. If I had been on an island by myself I would have celebrated Yeshua's birth at the Feast of Tabernacles and I would have ignored December 25th. But most of my family would have thought me crazy or weird and would have been hurt by my wanting to alter Christmas, so I knew that I had to "go along" to a certain degree.

Christmas is in two days. My gifts are wrapped and are waiting in a corner of our living room. (We don't have a Christmas tree. This is my one refusal in light of the pagan origins of the holiday.) We will have our Christmas. I wish we could do it differently. Maybe we will next year!

Yet, through all the Christmas-ness of the season, the well wishes, the feelings of care and love, family, holiday movies, and the very real meaning of the birth of Yeshua, I still have felt that spark of gratitude to God for the reason for the season, as they say. If Yeshua had not been born where would we all be? We would be doomed for a Godless eternity in Hell. So in focusing on the meaning of Yeshua's birth rather than on the traditions and the specific day, I am feeling His love and I want and need to share!

To all my readers, family, and friends, have a very blessed Christmas! 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

God's Plan for Wealth

Last week's Torah Portion came from Genesis 41:1 - 44:17.

Joseph had asked the chief butler to remember him to Pharaoh when he was released from prison and returned to his court duties, but as we found out at the end of our last Torah portion, the chief butler had totally forgotten about Joseph. Chapter 41 begins with this:

Genesis 41:1 (KJV)
1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.

TWO YEARS of waiting! Joseph's discouragement must have been extreme, yet God had not forgotten Joseph. He had plans for His servant!

Pharaoh dreamed two dreams and none of the magicians could tell Pharaoh the dreams, nor interpret them. Finally, the chief butler remembered Joseph and recommended him to Pharaoh. Although Joseph was able to interpret the dreams for Pharaoh, he quickly credited God for the interpretation.

Genesis 41:16 (KJV)
16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.

Pharaoh took Joseph's suggestion to appoint a vizier, or a high government official, to oversee the collection and distribution of food for the people during the upcoming seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. Pharaoh chose Joseph for this role. With this decree, Joseph permanently left the prison and became second in command over Egypt.

God had certainly rewarded Joseph for his faithfulness, but as Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy food, we see that God was not yet finished. The brothers face Joseph, the brother that they had sold into slavery. They bow down to him without recognizing that he is their brother. They were now to be tested. Had they changed in any way or were they the same self-centered brothers that Joseph had known? More on this next time!

There are some who believe that it is God's will for His people to be wealthy. After all, even though Joseph spent many years as a slave or in prison, he was eventually raised to an almost unbelievable status. Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham all had great wealth, but is this the norm? When we examine the entire Bible we find that Yeshua, His parents, and His disciples were not wealthy. Consequently, there is no reason to automatically assume that wealth is a given for God's people. Some are wealthy and some are not. A person's bank account is only dependent on what God plans. Wealth may be God's will for some, but it is not for all. If wealth would bring glory to God through a believer's life, then wealth may be the result. However, wealth can also bring great sin, often in the form of idolatry.

Are you wealthy? Thank God and use it responsibly for God. Don't let it become a god. Are you poor or somewhere in between? Be thankful for what you do have and be thankful that wealth has not become an added difficulty. Don't yearn for wealth, for that is also idolatry.

God is trustworthy! Trust Him in all the things of your life!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Why, God?

Last week's Torah portion came from  Genesis 37:1 - 40:23.

I have several true born again believer friends who love to tell me about how this or that has happened so perfectly in their lives that they know that God has orchestrated these events. Yet, when terrible or unpleasant things occur, it is Satan that is attacking them. But I think we are too quick to attribute method and motive to both the Lord and our enemy.

Most of the Bible's characters are complex, in that they display both good and bad, but Joseph, who is introduced in this section of Scripture, seems truly to be a type of Messiah, where his sterling good character generally shines continuously. In chapter 37 Joseph is seventeen years old and the favored son of his father Jacob. Because of Jacob's favoritism, Joseph's brothers are jealous. Then through a series of events, a many colored coat, tattling on his brothers, and dreams of supremacy, his brothers decide that Joseph needs to be killed. As the account unfolds Joseph is finally not killed but sold to a caravan of Ishmaelites/Midianites on their way to Egypt. When they reach their destination Joseph is sold to Potipher as a slave.

At this point in Joseph's life, everything must have looked exceptionally bleak. What was God doing? Or were these events an attempt by Satan to "break" Joseph?

Joseph prospered in the house of Potipher. That is until Potipher's wife takes notice of Joseph's good looks. When Joseph refuses to commit adultery with Potipher's wife, she cries that Joseph tried to assault her. Potipher has Joseph thrown into prison. Again, what was God doing?

Next, as Joseph is in prison, he is again prospering. He even interprets the dreams of Pharaoh's butler and baker who had been thrown into prison with Joseph. As the dreams come to pass in reality, Joseph asks the butler to remember him when he is freed from prison and put back in place as Pharaoh's chief butler. Our account ends like this:

Genesis 40:23 (KJV)
23 Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.

From a human perspective, Joseph must have been discouraged. He could not see God's purpose and plan. He could credit God with his prosperity, and he could blame Satan for his difficulties, but would this have been correct? Does this tell the full story?

Too often we forget that God is in ultimate control of everything. This is not to say that God micromanages everything for us, that we have no decisions or choice in our lives. Nor, is it false to say that our enemy is at work here on our fallen world. But everything that we go through has been scrutinized by God and will only be permitted if it is His will. Sometimes, that means that good happens. Sometimes that means that bad happens. Sometimes our own choices are foolish. Sometimes our choices are smart. Sometimes God allows our foolishness. Sometimes He does not. Looking at our lives we have really no way of knowing the whys. We can not see God's ultimate plan and purpose. We can only trust!

Joseph's story continues in the next Torah portion. We will finally get a glimpse of what work God is doing. This will be the same for us. One day, in eternity, we will see how each piece of our lives connected, to mold us and make us into the people that God wants us to be.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Messengers of Peace

Last week's Torah portion comes from Genesis 32:3 - 36:43.

Genesis 32:3 (KJV)
3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.

When Jacob returned to the land of Canaan, he knew that his brother Esau was likely still angry with him over his deception of their father that resulted in Esau's loss of the blessing of the first born. In fact, Esau had threatened to kill him at one point! What better way to pave the way to peace by sending a gift to Esau!

Yet, what was Esau's response?

Genesis 32:6 (KJV)
6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.

It looked like Jacob had reason to be afraid! But when they actually met, it appeared that Esau's anger had been assuaged.

Genesis 33:8-9 (KJV)
8 And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.
9 And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.

But Jacob was still not sure of his brother. When Esau offered to lead Jacob to his destination, Jacob responded with this:

Genesis 33:13-14 (KJV)
13 And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.
14 Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.

Jacob then went in a different direction and not towards Seir.

Genesis 33:18 (KJV)
18 And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city.

This account of Jacob and Esau is the beginning of animosity between the children of Israel and the descendants of Esau. In the book of Obadiah (our week's reading from the prophets) that animosity is reviewed. However, God's response condemns the descendants of Esau.

Obadiah 1:10-13 (KJV)
10 For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.
11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.
12 But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.
13 Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity;

Today, this spirit of Esau continues! Much of the world, even parts of Christianity, are standing against Israel. But God has proclaimed the demise of those with the spirit of Esau.

Obadiah 1:17-18 (KJV)
17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.

Isaiah 63:1-4 (KJV)
1 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.
2 Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?
3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.

Revelation 19:11-16 (KJV)
11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

How often has Israel sent messengers of peace, only to be met by violence? For those nations, government leaders, and church denominations and leaders that promote the spirit of Esau, these passages are warnings! To be on God's side is to be on Israel's side!