Thursday, December 20, 2012

You the Gardener

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works” (Colossians 1:21).  

What are these wicked works that come from the mind of man, and from where do they originate?  Yeshua said that they come from the heart of a man: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:21-23). 

As we know, when Adam was created the evil nature was not part of his inner being. Furthermore, Man was created in the image and likeness of the Creator and along with the rest of creation, was pronounced to be “very good”(Genesis 1:31)  All this occurred before Elohim planted the garden in which He placed the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (as well as the Tree of Life). Had that not been the case, we would have had to ask: How could He have declared anything that was evil to be “very good”?

YHVH ordered Adam not to eat of the deadly fruit of that tree.  Adam and Eve, of course, disobeyed the Almighty’s first commandment and suffered the consequences, as did all of their progeny.  The deception that led to their rebellion was in the form of a very simple question: “Did Elohim say…?”  Satan planted a seed called “doubt,” followed by a punch line: “For Elohim knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like Elohim, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5 emphasis added).  The great deception was countering the fact that Adam and Eve were already in the image and likeness of Elohim; they did not have to become “like” Him.  Satan’s small lie mushroomed into gigantic results, and Man began to take on the image and likeness of another spiritual entity.  Man’s heart/spirit became joined to the spirit realm of darkness and came under the dominion of Satan’s rule and authority. The human mind now kowtowed to Satan’s thoughts. Thus, we all were “once alienated and enemies in our mind by wicked works.”  I’m sure that by now you are saying “I already know this and that is why our minds have to be renewed, “and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of  your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of Elohim” (Romans 12:2).  But how do we do that?

 Recently I watched a DVD on the anatomy of the brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf.  That DVD is more than just a teaching on the physiology of the brain, it is also about the way that thoughts and emotions influence the brain and build memory.  Within the largest part of our brain, called the cerebrum, are millions of little dendrite trees.  These trees grow through a process of protein synthesis, and basically are develop and fed by every thought, every emotion, and every experience throughout life.  It is, in fact, a “garden” filled with trees.  In unregenerate man, whose nature is still tied to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil from which he is fed, the cerebrum is thus made up of trees whose roots are connected to the original tree that YHVH said not to eat of.  Hence there are trees that look “good” having grown up from positive thoughts, feelings and experiences. But there are also trees that have been cultivated by bad or evil thoughts, feelings and experiences and they too come to ‘fruition’ in situations and relationships.

We, who have been redeemed by the life/blood of Yeshua, and through His death died to sin and have been reconciled to Elohim, have a new life in our innermost being (heart or spirit).  Now through this new creation life we are able to raise up trees of righteousness from the root of the Tree of Life.   The more we experience the Word of Elohim in thought, word and deed, the more we stop feeding the old trees of “good and evil” which then begin to wither and die. We, like Adam in the beginning, are assigned to tend the garden and are given another opportunity, under the guidance of the Spirit of Holiness, to grow and nurture new protein trees in the garden of our natural mind and brain.

In an exhortation to Egypt YHVH asks this question:  “To which of the trees in Eden will you then be likened in glory and greatness?” (Ezekiel 31:18).  Perhaps we can apply this query to ourselves: Which tree will we be likened to in glory and greatness, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil or the Tree of Life? Let us not be deceived by the temptation to doubt YHVH’s Word, and lust after the lushness that may be produced by the “forbidden tree.”

Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before YHVH. For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with His truth” (Psalm 96:12-13).


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Zalman's Dilemma

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

Last Friday we presented you with a description of a condition endemic to Judah, and also pointed out a biblical pattern that could be relevant to our day and age, by which Judah is ‘led’ to his place in YHVH’s redemption plan. This week, we would like to share something from Judah’s point of view, revealing a certain awakening that is taking place here in the land. Very often in the Israeli “scene,” certain popular lyricists and musicians become the voice of the nation, or of the “nation’s soul”, reflecting not only a “mood”, but also deeper realities of soul, spirit and longing. Such was, for example, Naomi Shemer, the writer and composer of Jerusalem of Gold (and many more very meaningful songs), as were several others who have passed away in recent years.

Last month we attended the opening event of a “Jewish festival” in the neighboring town of Kfar Sabah. The festival touched on Jewish themes, but was not centered necessarily on religion, which is what made it interesting and diverse. The opening was in a form of a musical performance by three musicians. One of those was popular songwriter and performer Kobi Oz. 
Kobi Oz often presents daily issues (dilemmas, social conditions and more) that mark our lives, and does so in his unique style. In spite of the serious subject matters, his songs are usually humorous, bordering on satire, the music is rhythmic and energetic while his stage personality is quite ‘mischievous’. He likes to perform in ‘clown fashion’ reminiscent, for example, of the clowns in the Shakespearean plays whose jesting is the means by which the truth is exposed in contrast to the other more serious but frequently blinded characters. Kobi is perhaps also the proverbial child who cries out, “the king is naked.” In the said event, among several other very powerful songs that he brought to the stage, there was one which was quite revealing as to a certain awakening that is happening at the moment among the people of “Judah”, an awakening that is mostly free of “rabbinicism” and in which there is a yearning for a purer truth. Whereas most are not necessarily alert and conscious of this undercurrent, those who are sensitive, like Kobi Oz, pick it up and bring it to the fore.

The song addresses a character by the name of Zalman (a derivative or version of Shlomo – Solomon – in several languages), a name that is associated with “nerd-ism,” if you will, but here the character is the ultimate “Everyman.” Kobi, in his typical way, had to weave in some humor and does so by the usage of this name. The lyrics are in every day speech, making use of some slang. While the translation is far from perfect, it is an attempt to “clue you in” to your brother’s heart.

Zalman That Ain’t You

Wondering in the world, not free of confusion,
Zalman asked himself, “who am I and what’s the conclusion?”
 “I am a farmer; I own lots of land,
I manage it all, without a lending hand.
I grow fruits and veggies and am in charge over all -
I cultivate, I water and am in full control.
Then a voice spoke to Zalman and said:
“That ain’t you Zalman. The “shemita” year is here
Without your work the fields are a-blooming, have no fear.”  
 You are not your land,
You are simply Zalman, and that’s where it’s at.

Zalman called around, here and there
Saying to himself: “Time is at my command,
All I have to do is pick up the phone
And every thing lines up, without a bone.
Reputation, career, shares and stocks
All’s ticking for me around the clock
Nothing will take me by surprise,
I am good and ready for any event 
But, oops… a voice suddenly was heard:
“It is not you Zalman
Behold Shabbat is coming to the world!
Time for you to take your rest,
As one of those who recite their prayers.”
You are not your status
Neither are you your land,
You are simply Zalman and that’s where it’s at!

Zalman took a good look at his virtuous wife
As if to protect her, together they had a very good life.
“I’ve been her husband for many years,
And we are still two peas in a pod
Our family is indeed something to behold!
Yes, she is a trooper, true and fair     
And who am I? I am her husband, sir!”  
A voice was then heard which said:
“Zalman that ain’t you!
You are greatly mistaken
If you think that she is by you taken
Your wife, she keeps nida
You are not her owner now
You are not her master
Nor are you your status or your land,
You are simply Zalman and that’s where it’s at!

Zalman lay in his lazyboy
Looking outside the window
He was filled with joy:
“My home is my castle
Where I am free of hassle”
Again that voice spoke quite loud:
Zalman that ain’t you, and don’t you be so proud!
Go outside and at the succah take a look
Don’t let your riches grab you with a hook.
The twinkling stars gazing from the sky
 Into the succah, should remind you Who reigns on high.
You are not your home,
Your wife you do not own
Neither are you your status, or your land,
You are simply Zalman, and that’s where it’s at! 

At his father’s bedside Zalman did ask,
“How can I define myself and my task?”
The wise sage answered him and said:
“You are my son,” and then farewell he bade.

The father in the ground was buried.
His grandson his name then carried
But Zalman was still in sore confusion
Desiring an answer or some resolution
And again the voice spoke out:
“Zalman you are constantly in doubt
You can’t tell the difference between ‘things’
And the very life that resides within
You must be able to distinguish
Between your work and the essence of your being
You are not possessions,
You are not success,
Neither are you your environment,
You are simply Zalman, and that’s where it’s at!

We can see that the lyricist was able to tell Zalman who and what he is not.
He is also able to place before him Torah truths, which point to YHVH’s reality as the One who is in control of land, time, the environment, family members, home, possessions etc. (through shmita, Shabbat, succah, nida).  However, it is clear that he cannot place before Zalman the “mirror” reflecting the “new creation man”; the only image that would ultimately clear away all of Zalman’s doubts and confusion and set him free.

Ephraim and Rimona

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Woman of the Hour

Woman of the Hour
The Redemptive Value of Obeying the Call

In recent weeks, an existing phenomenon that has plagued the Jewish People for a long, long time has once again come to our attention, and that is defeatism, self-hatred, or brotherly-hatred. Whether we look back to the time of the destruction of the Second Temple, which is purported to have occurred because of “causeless hatred” within the Jewish Nation, or to the Jews in the Diaspora, where too often the victims identified with their victimizers, and all the way to the Return to the Land in the course of the past century and to the sometimes appalling treatment of new immigrants, not to mention the denial of the Jewish identity by assimilation in the past and present, this observable fact remains a brutal reminder that something is sorely missing.  Even now, there are individuals or groups of Jews within the Land, or outside of it that are acting in ways that are harmful and potentially dangerous to themselves and their compatriots. We could fill up a whole book outlining and detailing the various historical incidents that prove this sad reality in the house of Judah.

In view of the call of the Jewish Nation – Judah – as it is defined and expressed in the Bible, the above-described condition is very sad, or worse… tragic! Yet as we search the book of Genesis, we find that some of what has taken place in the life of Judah, who returned from his self-imposed exile to the land of his ancestors, is parallel to the return to the Land of the Jewish people. This leads us to draw hope from the rest of Judah’s life and expect a similar fulfillment, on a large scale, over the entire body of the Nation of Judah.  

Judah, as we know, not only took part in the scheme to harm Joseph, the hated and envied sibling, but also led his brothers in finding a ‘solution to the brother problem.’ “Why just get rid of the guy, when we can also pocket some shekels in the process?” Judah also agreed to the diabolical idea of deceiving their father as to Joseph’s whereabouts, knowing full well the degree of pain and grief that they were inflicting on the Patriarch.

Shortly thereafter we hear that Judah “departs,” or literally “goes down,” leaving his home and family for the purpose of “visiting” his friend Hirah. Apparently, guilt-ridden Judah could no longer face his father and found a way out; it is called denial. By leaving his family, inheritance, people, and calling, he thought he would be free from the heavy burden (possibly coupled with self hatred) that was wearing him down. Assimilating among the people of the land, he married a Canaanite woman who bore him three sons. The fruit of this marriage was not sweet… YHVH found the firstborn to be evil, so He killed him. The second son was not any better than his sibling, as when he had an opportunity to raise seed for his deceased brother he refused to do it (knowing that should a son be born to him, the former would obtain all the rights of the firstborn, denying him of those privileges). Therefore, he too was evil in YHVH’s sight, and soon after died. Judah himself did not keep his word to his daughter in law, Tamar, to give her as a wife to his youngest son. In fact, after Judah’s wife died, he had no compunction about going to a harlot, and leaving with her as a guarantee his seal, cord and staff, items that signified his position and identity. Oh, how similar are his descendants, who so often were willing, and still are in many situations, to hand over their most precious inherited treasures to today’s harlot of the world system - Babylon!

On the other hand, the “harlot,” the disguised daughter in law, was willing to go to no end, even to the point of degrading herself and beyond that, risking her very life for the sake of fulfilling the Order of Redemption. Tamar’s noble action ended up inspiring her father in law to take on, for the first time in his life, the role and calling for which he had been destined!  Thereafter (following the birth of the twin boys that Tamar bore him) he returned home and the next time that we meet him, he is seen acting in a manner worthy of a firstborn redeemer. The convicted Judah was willing to take his younger sibling, Benjamin, under his wing when he and his brothers had to go to Egypt to procure supplies, taking full responsibility for him to the point of willing to give up his life, if need be. The test was not late in coming, when Joseph’s cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.  Judah became his brothers’ spokesperson, advocating the case as a genuine firstborn (though fourth in line of birth), and taking full responsibility for Benjamin (ref. Genesis 44:32-34). It was this stand that Judah took that eventually allowed Joseph to reveal himself to his family members.

Through the years, many among the Israel/Judah-loving believers have identified with Ruth. However, history points to a Tamar-company of people, especially to those who were known as the ‘Restorationalists’ in Britain and in other parts of Europe. For hundreds of years different ones, mostly in the British Isles, were set ablaze by the knowledge that the Jews were supposed to return to their ancient homeland. So motivated were they to bring this about, that more often than not they found themselves having to convince the Jews as to the importance of this venture. They continued acting on behalf of Judah, preparing him for his return home. Even Theodore Hertzel had an enthusiastic Christian counterpart, Rev. Hechler.

But the story does not come to an end there. In our day and age, we are looking for Tamar to rise up and to be willing to ‘groom’ Judah, at any cost, for their call, because to do so is her call. Among us there are those who already appear to be functioning in this way, whether they are fully aware of it or not. Yet many more are to become part of the “Tamar company” or the Tamar calling, until Judah’s eyes begin to open to his full identity which is bound up in his mission and destiny, and to the path that he is to take in order to get there. When Judah becomes cognizant of his destiny, he will see the need for his brother Ephraim and for their joint operations and oneness in the future.

Should Ephraim at this time, while still unrecognized by Judah and seen as a “gentile Christian harlot,” follow up in the footsteps of Tamar, the “woman of the hour”?

Further insight into Tamar’s identity is found in Chapter 32 – Judah’s Lesson - of our book Firstborn Factor in the Plan of Redemption


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Our forefather's example

When writing to the Believers in Corinth, the apostle Paul turned back the pages of history and asked those who accepted the New Covenant if they had learned anything from the Torah of Moses: “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).  In the above instructions, what is Paul referring to when pointing back to the forefathers and their testimony? What kind of witness were they, and why is it so important for us too to take note of their experiences and mistakes?

The apostle did not want his addressees (and us by inference) to be ignorant or unaware of possible parallels or similar situations in their/our lives, as iniquity can be passed on from generation to generation.  He explains the connection between his contemporaries and the old biblical events, but first makes mention of the presence of Messiah in those situations that the ancient Israelites faced in the wilderness: “They were all under the cloud and passed through the sea.  They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink, as they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them and that Rock was Messiah” (ref. 1Cor 10:1-4). 

Yes, in spite of the (above described) spiritual realities, which met our ancestors in their circumstances, they failed to respond in accordance with faith. Thus YHVH was not pleased with them. Let us glean more details about their waywardness from Paul’s instructions to the Hebrews: “Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those, who came out of Egypt with Moses, who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?  And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?  So we see that they could not enter in because of disobedience” (Hebrews 3:17-19 emphases added).  They turned a deaf ear to the Word of Elohim and to the instructions that were first uttered at Mount Sinai, and later imparted to them through Moses.  It seems that there was a major obstacle that hindered their hearing, seeing, and understanding and that was the ‘heart issue’ which was the core of the matter. Paul warns us as well: “Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years.  Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways’” (Hebrews 3:8-10). 

As the above scripture tell us, our fathers saw YHVH’s “works” in the course of those forty years in the wilderness. Similarly, what are the works that YHVH accomplished through the “New Covenant” that we, by the obedience of faith, are to embrace and walk in? These works have been recorded by the apostles by means of the Spirit’s inspiration.  These messengers of YHVH warn us by comparing us with our ancestors.  It is not a ‘given’ that we will succeed in our attempt at obedience, because we face the same temptations by our own lusts, as well as from the kingdom of darkness as did they.  Hence we are addressed by the following warning: “Lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness, of sin” (Hebrews 3:12).  Yeshua pointed out to His disciples the source of the problem: "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, "thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:21-23).  Paul is referring to the same issue when describing our forefathers in the wilderness. Even in the presence of YHVH the latter were still overcome by their lusts, which is why they did not enter His rest. “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them.   As it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’  Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;  nor let us tempt Elohim as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; [as we see in this Shabbat’s Parasha reading]  nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer” (1 Cor. 10: 6-10). 

As for us, even though we have the Spirit of Messiah and have died to sin, nevertheless “lust” is still resident and operative in our hearts and minds.  Paul warns us that we are still able to serve sin.  If you noticed in Romans 6:12, it says: Do not let sin reign, [rule or have dominion] in your mortal bodies” (emphasis added). It is therefore our choice, even though “the power of sin still works in me, it is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells in me,” as Paul confessed in Romans 7:20.  We, who now possess “the light of the knowledge of Elohim in the face of Messiah” (2 Corinthians 4:6), which is the power of the Spirit of Holiness, have no excuse for not coming to rest by the obedience of faith.

“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it” (Hebrews 4:1).

Monday, October 29, 2012

righteousness through faith

Is our faith being stolen or redirected today by the schemes of the devil?  The “faith movement” puts forth a ‘faith’ that is supposed to produce power, prestige, and prosperity etc. On the other side of the coin, within Messianic circles, one is often led to dependence on so much head knowledge and a reliance on performance, that the ‘simple faith’ seems no longer necessary.   

Hence, what or who are we to have faith in, and why?
In Philippians 3:9 Paul makes the following observation “…not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Messiah, the righteousness which is from Elohim by faith”… (emphasis added), and then again in Romans 3:21-22: “But now the righteousness of Elohim apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of Elohim, through faith in Yeshua the Messiah, to all and in all who believe” (emphasis added). Many will argue that faith has many applications, but let us start with this one ‘ingredient’ - “YHVH’s righteousness.”

As far as I understand, one of the purposes of “faith in Messiah Yeshua” is to bring us to, and transform us into the righteousness of Elohim.  As mentioned in previous letters, righteousness is made visible as the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).  This is the new nature that we received when we were immersed into Yeshua’s death, and raised with Him to newness of life.  This spiritual reality is ours in the inner man, but now we must present the components of our soul, especially our mind, as instruments/tools/agents or even, literally, weapons of this righteousness. The knowledge of the fact that we have died and now have a new type of existence can only come by faith in the Son of Elohim, Who died for us and rose again on our behalf. Additionally, Yeshua’s death abolished sin once and for all, being the ultimate sacrifice and atonement.  This fact enables us to consider ourselves also dead to sin but alive to Elohim in Messiah Yeshua, although we can only do so by and through faith (ref. Roman 6:8-11).

In the Torah and the Prophets YHVH demonstrated His righteousness and showed His faithfulness by fulfilling the requirements of the laws that govern redemption, thus proving that He is just and the justifier of everyone who has faith in Yeshua (ref. Rom. 3:26).  Justification does not mean much if we do not understand that it stems from the Father’s righteousness and ends, or culminates, with that same righteousness in us through the indwelling presence of His Son.  If we do not appropriate “righteousness” by faith in what He accomplished by Yeshua’s death, we are neither justified nor sanctified.  This is why we must be watchful, making sure that we are living in a “faith” that not only believes, but that also knows that “Yeshua the Messiah is in us” (ref 2 Cor. 13:5), and that He is the righteousness of Elohim.  Having received Messiah Yeshua is not sufficient; He must also be revealed in our relationships with one another.

Peter delivers a dire warning to those who have come into this righteousness through faith, but have been led astray by the lust of the flesh, that is, by the cares and riches of this world, or by religious philosophies that teach righteousness through self effort:   “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Master and Savior Yeshua the Messiah, they are again entangled in them [the lusts]  and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.  For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:20-21).  “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,  and have tasted the good word of Elohim and the powers of the age to come,  if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of Elohim, and put Him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6).  Anything that is not of faith is “sin,” thus we must come to “rest” in Elohim’s righteousness.  The stories of our Hebrew ancestors are used as an example of failing to enter the “rest” because of unbelief, which is tantamount to disobedience (ref. Hebrews 4:11-12).

However, I do not want to end this letter with a ‘harsh’ exhortation, but with hope in a Father “who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Messiah (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Messiah Yeshua that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Messiah” (Ephesians 2:4-7). At the same time we cannot neglect to “fight the good fight of faith, [and] lay hold on eternal life, to which we/you were also called” (1 Timothy 6:12); “for we/you are all sons of Elohim through faith in Messiah Yeshua” (Galatians 3:26).

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

vote or no vote

I want to thank all of you who responded to the previous letter.  It really showed me how many are longing to hear some “good news,” even though what I am about to write this week does not fall under the same category, as it is just some information, so that we are not unaware of present situation here in the Middle East.  Last year when some were predicting war by the end of the year, I wrote apropos that notion, and reasoned why it was not yet in the interest of the surrounding nations to go to war against Israel.  Well, here goes again – another idea, another possibility, this time for the UN vote in September about a Palestinian homeland. Once again, simple logic tells us as to why there will be no such vote in the UN in September 2011.  I could be wrong, but after reading this past weekend what Fatah’s Mahmud Abbas, the Palestinian “president,” said, as well as hearing other sources, I became very doubtful about the likelihood of this vote.

First of all, Abbas said that he would rather negotiate a peace treaty with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, than go for a UN vote. Why the sudden change of mind?   It turns out that some of the Latin American countries, several of which agreed sometime ago vehemently for the expedient creation of a sovereign Palestinian state, realized that should there be a vote under the present situation, with no agreed borders, it would create a precedent that would backfire on their own border disputes with their neighbors, and thus they too would be subject to a possible unilateral UN vote regarding their respective situations.  

It does not take too much analysis to explain why the PA wants to negotiate a settlement with Israel, rather than depend on a UN vote.  They just might not have enough votes to determine country boundaries, and that would mean that their present status in the UN could be jeopardized.  In case some of you don’t know about their unique status/membership within the United Nations, here is some information from the “Jewish Virtual Library”: 
  On July 7, 1998, the United Nations General Assembly voted to upgrade the status of the Palestinians, giving them a unique status as a non-voting member of the 185 member Assembly. The Arab states originally submitted a resolution to upgrade the Palestinians' status in December, but it did not come to a vote for more than six months. The vote in favor was overwhelming, 124 in favor and 4 against with 10 abstentions. The countries opposing the resolution were Israel, the United States, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.
This is the latest step in the Palestinians' advancement at the U.N. In 1974, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was granted observer status, enabling it to maintain an office in New York but without all of the privileges that come with being a member. In 1988, the PLO's status was upgraded when the General Assembly designated the PLO as “Palestine.”
With the new designation, Palestinian representatives can raise the issue of the peace process in the General Assembly, cosponsor draft resolutions on Middle East peace and have the right of reply. They still will not have voting power or be allowed to put forward candidates for U.N. committees such as the Security Council.
Hence the Palestinians are in essence recognized as a state, albeit without defined borders. So will there be a vote or not in September, especially as the Americans and now also some of the European states are against such a move? Alternately, will Israel continue along the path of its generosity in face of the “plight” of the Palestinians and their “right to self determination”?  If the answer is “yes,” how can a true blooded Islamic nationalist who hates the very thought of there even being an Israel, accept gratuity from the hand of the enemy, especially after the latter’s leader has just declared to the world that the said land is the ancient homeland (of the ‘enemy’) which, in the words of this leader (Netanyahu), “we would be willing to give up, as painful as it may be, in order for it to become part of a Palestinian state”?
Many ask if war is unavoidable in our region. I tend to agree, but at the same time I suggest that it will not break out until the rest of the dictators in the surrounding nations are removed, and Turkey regains its control over its former empire (the Ottoman Empire), which was an Islamic Caliphate before the western nations divided it up after World War I.  Just as an imminent example, even as I am writing this, the Turks are poised to invade a section of Syria in order to secure a buffer zone for the Syrian nationals who are fleeing the brutal massacres by their own army in response to their protest against Bashar Assad’s regime.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Any good news lately?

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

You will have noticed that in the last few weeks I have been bringing up scriptures that take us back to our New Covenant foundations.  It seems that we have somehow lost, or have forgotten, the very message upon which our present spiritual understanding is based, and that is the “Gospel” - “Euaggelion” (yoo-ang-ghel'-ee-on) in Greek, meaning:  1) a reward for good tidings 2) good tidings.

One of the first things that Yeshua did after He embarked upon His high-priestly calling and position was to “preach the gospel of the kingdom, heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease… and deliver those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics” (Matthew 4:23-24).  Yeshua was not only preaching this gospel (good news) of the kingdom, but was Himself the full expression, or embodiment of it. 

In today’s communication with and among Messianics we hear more bad news, sad news, ominous news, critical news, judgmental news, sensational news, deceptive news than good news, glad news, great news, and hopeful news.  We are almost in a race as to how much doom and gloom we can proclaim.  But yet Yeshua called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (that is good news); the Father has reconciled us back to Himself (that is good news);  He has removed sin once and for all, and has given us the victory so that we can overcome the power of sin (that is good news).  In Yeshua we have been justified (legally accepted in the beloved) - that is good news.  Through faith we can walk in the light as He is in the light (that is good news).  Through faith and obedience in His Word, we can enter His rest (that is good news).  Having received, in our hearts, the love of the Father by the Messiah, we can love ourselves and one another (that is great news). 

All of this does not mean that we ‘stick’ our heads in the sand without being aware, from a scriptural point of view, of what is going on around us. Yet, we must keep these matters proportional and balanced.  We hear a lot about “Jacob’s troubles”, but forget the last part of that scripture: “but he will be saved out of it” (Jeremiah 30:7), which is also another piece of good news.     

The nation of Israel celebrated Shavuot a couple of months ago.  This is one of YHVH’s feast and it is good news to be able to arrive and make it for this appointed time. It was this very gospel of the kingdom that was imparted to the hearts of a remnant of Yeshua’s followers on this day two thousand years ago, in the city of Jerusalem and then taken out to the nations.  But what has happened to the “good news” in our generation?   

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hidden Wisdom

Addressing the believers in Corinth, Paul stated: “We (apostles and prophets) speak the wisdom of Elohim in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which Elohim ordained before the ages for our glory,  which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8).  What didn’t the rulers of this age, or principalities and powers, know that caused them to regret having put Yeshua to death?  It is called a mystery and Elohim’s wisdom that has been hidden “before the ages,” but what is it?

There are a number of mysteries mentioned in the books of the New Covenant, such as “the mystery of the blindness of Israel” (Romans 11: 25); “the mystery of the kingdom” (Mark 4: 11); “the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19), etc.  But the mystery that I would like to focus on is the one that the rulers of this age lamented over.  As we observed, this mystery is also synonymous with the “hidden wisdom of Elohim,” and has to do with the execution stake, and Yeshua’s sacrificial death on it.  This occasion dealt the principalities and powers a “judicial” blow, resulting in their utter defeat: “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He (Elohim) made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (the cross) (Colossians 2:15).  

At Yeshua’s death YHVH ‘arranged’ for a semblance, if you will, of a courtroom. He ‘invited’ all the spiritual powers of this evil age to come to the ‘Passover’.  Because they could not tempt Yeshua to participate with their nature of rebellion, disobedience, pride and self-righteousness, they wanted Him dead. He was a great threat to them, as He represented His Father’s kingdom in the midst of their sphere of influence. 

A further glimpse into this issue is found in another of Paul’s letters:   “And you… He (the Father) has reconciled in the body of His (Yeshua’s) flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Colossians 1:21emphasis added).  Here the apostle explains that Man was reconciled to Elohim through the flesh body of Yeshua (see also Hebrews chapters 8-9; 12). What made this reconciliation possible? Again, the answer lies in the mystery of YHVH’s hidden wisdom.

Let us follow the succession of events: The spirit of Man became corrupted when Adam partook of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and as a result sin and the power of sin became one with his spirit. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).  Hence all humanity was locked into the kingdom of darkness, becoming slaves to the laws of sin and death.  Satan had now total dominion over mankind, and there was no escape. However, unnoticed by him, this “hidden wisdom” was advancing YHVH’s ultimate plan. 

After committing sin, Adam was sentenced to death in accordance with Elohim’s word/law.  But how, when, and where would this death occur?  It would seem that the Creator should have completely wiped out any trace of humanity right there and then. But because of His nature of grace and His declared purpose for Man, He preserved the line of the firstborn who held the rights of dominion that had been given originally to Adam. 
Paul resolves the ‘death penalty’ by establishing a judicial fact: “For the love of Messiah compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).  This, believe it or not, is the mystery of Elohim’s wisdom that was hidden in Elohim even before the Fall, but was made manifest in the body of Yeshua on the cross. 

Satan’s demise and defeat took place when YHVH seized the corrupted spirit of all humanity and placed it into the flesh of His Son, as was evident when Yeshua cried out to His Father: “Elohi, Elohi, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).  It was at this point in time that the defiled spirit of Adam was placed into Yeshua’s body.  Up until then, there was never a time in Yeshua’s life when the presence of His Father was not with and in Him. But things were different during those moments of His dying, bringing about a change in the course of history.  Adam’s sentence was carried out and he died when Yeshua died.  The good news, on the other hand, is that the Father has reconciled Man back into relationship with Himself by the legal requirements of a perfect, holy, sinless sacrifice.  “For He [the Father] made Him [Yeshua] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of Elohim in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Halleluiah!!!!

“The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His holy ones.  To them Elohim willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations: which is Messiah in you, the hope of glory.  Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Messiah Yeshua” (Colossians 1:26-28 emphases added).   “And to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in Elohim who created all things through Yeshua the Messiah;  to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of Elohim might be made known by the holy ones,  to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Messiah Yeshua our Lord,  in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him” (Ephesians 3:9-12 emphases added).

Ephraim                     03/06/2011

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

If you continue

Looking back over more than 25 years of being involved with the restoration of our ancestral identity, I am convinced that it is truly founded upon the moving of the Father’s Holy Spirit, for the purpose of turning the hearts of the seed of the Patriarchs back to their roots.  YHVH’s intention in doing so is in order to demonstrate His faithfulness to the promises, one of which is the multiplicity that He swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and has carried out over 4,000 years of history.

In Romans 4 Paul writes: “What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh?” (v. 1). He then goes on to quote Genesis 15:6:  "Abraham believed Elohim, and it was accounted to him for righteousness" (v. 3). What did Abraham believe that Elohim accounted to him for righteousness? 

”…Contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your seed/descendants be.’  And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb.  He did not waver at the promise of Elohim through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to Elohim and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.  And therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Romans 4:18-22). 

Did YHVH keep His promise to our forefathers?  Paul reveals YHVH’s faithfulness to execute His word to Abraham in one verse: “Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise (of multiplicity) might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all”  (v. 16).  The question before us today is: “Does YHVH recon us righteous if we believe the same thing that Abraham believed?”   “He [Abraham] did not waver at the promise of Elohim through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to Elohim,  and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform” (Romans 4:20-21).  When it comes to this present day restoration of the seed of Abraham (after the flesh) and that includes “all those who are of the faith,” do we waver in unbelief at the faithfulness of YHVH to perform what He promised?  What else does it say about Abraham “he obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws" (Genesis 26:5).     

When we talk about returning to our Hebraic roots, in response to the Spirit turning the hearts of the children to the patriarchs we are to "remember the Torah of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments” (Malachi 4:4).  However, this alone will not produce the fruit of righteousness, and this was the major concern that the apostles had with the believers they were addressing: “Now it was not written for his (Abraham’s) sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Yeshua our Lord from the dead,  who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:23-25). We, who came out of the “flesh of Abraham” through the deadness of a womb that produced Isaac, are now recognized as having the same faith as our father, which enables us to believe that Yeshua was delivered up to death for our sin and was raised for our justification.  Here is the key that opens the door to the fruit of righteousness.  It is found in the promise of the new covenant “I will put My Torah in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:33).

“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled  in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight -- if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard” (Colossians 1:21-23, emphasis added). This little two-letter word that cannot be overlooked makes all the difference…  

In these days and within this ‘move’ too many are forsaking the “hope of the gospel of His kingdom” and are seeking to produce a fruit of righteousness by the “works of legalism.” The kingdom of Elohim [however], is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Some have become disenchanted because they have not witnessed or experienced the fruit of the Spirit in the “church,” and later on, in the Messianic groups with whom they affiliated themselves. Most likely they have not been taught how to overcome and walk in YHVH’s righteousness, bearing the fruit of their salvation through faith and obedience to His Word.  Yeshua warned about the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (see Mark 8:15), and Paul concerning the wisdom of men (1 Corinthians 2:5).

The “if” in the above quote, as stated, is very important: If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel.”  We have been reconciled to the Father, in the flesh body of Yeshua. Yeshua is our righteousness, and thus also the epitome of the fruit of the Spirit.

Additionally, our Messiah is the Word, and the Bread that has come down from Heaven.  Let us “sink our teeth”* into Him, chew well, mix with a little “heavenly wine,” take time to taste, smell and then swallow - so that at least ‘morsels’ of His Word assimilate into our very being; the Word becoming flesh…

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Father's judicial ways

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

“A dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet” (ref. 2 Peter 2:16).  This verse may be very applicable in the attempt to tackle the following subject.

The judicial aspect of Yeshua’s role in YHVH’s Redemption, is not clearly understood by many who come out of mainline Christianity and into their “Hebrew roots.”  While affiliated with the Church, there were dogmas that they (we) followed blindly, but now after studying the Torah many start to question these doctrines and find them confusing.

A case in point is the doctrine which appears to be the main stumbling block for those who are stepping out of Church religion, and that is the doctrine of the Trinity: “God the Father,” “God the Son,” and “God the Holy Spirit.”  I know that writing on the ‘anatomy’ of God/Elohim is equivalent to madness, so please forgive me for falling back on my biology education, in the course of which, in our great ‘wisdom,’ we thought that when dissecting frogs and rats we were gaining more information about the theory of evolution. And so, even though bringing up this subject is stepping on to thin ice, yet such matters must be investigated as best we can in order to stand on solid ground.

Let us start with one of the scriptures that most have to face squarely when returning to their roots, and to the whole counsel of Elohim: " Hear, O Israel: YHVH our God/Elohim, YHVH is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
The apostles, in their commentaries in the books of the New Covenant, all held to the belief that there is only One God/Elohim and Father and that this Elohim is One Spirit, albeit with a variety of manifestations.  In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, for example, after mentioning each gift of the One Spirit he reiterates: “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (12:11). Similarly, all nine fruits of the Spirit come from the One Spirit (ref. Galatians 5:22-23), as well as the anointing upon the ministries raised for the Body of Messiah (ref. Ephesians 4:11). By this One Spirit YHVH, the Father, works to mature those who have been born of His Spirit, as is seen in Ephesians 4:4-6:  “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;   one Lord, one faith, one immersion; one Elohim and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all.”  There is only one way that the Father can be “above all, through all and in all” and that is by His Holy Spirit. 

When Yeshua was talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, He described His Elohim and Father very clearly: "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father… But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  Elohim [the Father] is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:21-24). 

It was the Holy Spirit that fathered, conceived, or impregnated the seed of woman, (Miriam) (see Luke 1:35) who gave birth to His only begotten Son (see John 3:16; John 1:18) and called Him “Yeshua” (see Luke 1:31).  Yeshua’s conception was not by an ‘anointing’. He ‘originated’ from the very core Life of His Father. In other words, He came from the Father as an only begotten Son and later was anointed, that is “christed,” in order to carry out the role of the High Priest and Firstborn Kinsman Redeemer of the Melkizedek office (see Hebrews Chapters 7-8). “Mashiach” in Hebrew and “Christos” in Greek are both related to the action of anointing, or to being anointed. These words indicate or imply that the Father, that is the Spirit of Holiness, is influencing, manifesting, in, through, upon, and around those who are being used by Him for His purposes.  However, in the case of Messiah Yeshua, although “anointed” at His immersion, (Matthew 3:16-17), much more was involved.

The Father’s life and nature was in the blood of His Son, otherwise He (obviously) could not have been His only begotten Son.  Yeshua did not carry the same sin-defiled life that was in the blood of Adam.  This is very important to understand from a judicial point of view, as the Father’s requirements to redeem man are/were very high (see Psalm 49:7-8).  He could only accept His own nature of righteousness as propitiation for sin.  “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct inherited from your fathers,  but with the precious blood of the Messiah, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

The reason, therefore, that Yeshua’s blood was sinless and acceptable was because the life of His Father was reconciling Adam back to Himself through Him (the Son).  “Now all things are of Elohim, who has reconciled us to Himself through Messiah Yeshua, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;  And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:19-20).

In conclusion let us read Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:16-23.

Have a wonderful and blessed Shabbat as you bask in the Spirit of our Heavenly Father’s love in, through, and by Yeshua His Son.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My People

It is quite significant that it was at Passover time that YHVH declared Israel to be His “Am” (Ami - My people); the only people that would ever have this status before Him.  Israel’s birth as a liberated people came as a result of the death of a lamb, and its blood having been smeared on the doorposts of the homes.  I hope this year we will consider the importance of our unity as YHVH’s redeemed firstborn, and what it means to be called “AMI (My People).  Paul said that the feasts are but a shadow of things to come: May Abba grant us the ability to see beyond the shadows into the light of His redemptive work through the sacrifice of His lamb (Yeshua).  The redemption of the firstborn (the people of Abraham) means that the creation will be set free by these sons of YHVH, the "saviors" who will come out of Zion and establish His kingdom, as it is written: "Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom shall be YHVH's" (Obadiah 1:21; and ref. Hosea 1:10).

It was over 3,800 years ago, when the Elohim of Jacob sent His family down to Egypt to preserve them.  Speaking to His servant Jacob, He said: “I am YHVH, the Elohim of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation [goy] there’” (Genesis 46:3). One of the Hebrew words for “nation” is “goy”.  It is first used in the Tanach, in the Covenant that YHVH made with our forefather Abraham, “I will make you a great nation [goy]; I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2).   One man, one Elohim, one Covenant, one people, one national identity; this was at the heart of YHVH’s plan for the redemption of the creation.  The Elohim of Abraham set apart a man, and swore by His own name that his seed/sperm/life would become a great and holy (set-apart) people/nation.

When Jacob and his band of seventy souls arrived in Egypt, he found another family-member already down there. Joseph and his progeny had lost their identity and connection with their family of origin. Thus, Joseph's children were most likely uncircumcised when their grandfather adopted them, and in a sense formed a prophetic type of the lost tribes of Israel, the vast company of people that YHVH had promised to the forefathers. Paul discloses that this hidden company (treasure), in the nations, are those who have (even though uncircumcised) the "faith" of their forefather Abraham (ref Romans chapter 4). Moreover, in Egypt the Children of Jacob also multiplied profusely. This too was a prophetic picture of a time in which their numerical increase would encompass the entire earth. 

Jacob’s family, living in Egypt, eventually became slaves to the lords of the land. While in that state they lost their vision of being a nation, a family and a people with a purpose, and a Divine call.  This is portrayed quite vividly in the scene of the two Hebrew slaves who were fighting one another to their own demise (ref Exodus 2:13). The embittered seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was now characterized by survival instincts.  This was only natural, since they were living under extreme conditions, where their captors debased them into mere sub-human slaves.  So where was this great people/nation that was promised to Abraham?  His seed, now turned slaves, were cursing the day of their birth.  They had become nothing more than dead dry bones in the desert sands of Egypt. So helpless were they that they could not even respond to Moses when he came to them preaching the good news of their deliverance! (ref. Exodus 6:9).

The Passover story is replete with pestilence, famine and one disaster following another.  But when gross darkness covered the land there was still light in the tents of the Hebrews (ref. Ex.10:23), as the anointing of YHVH’s covenant word (which “is a light,” ref. Ps. 119:105) was still upon them to become a great people. How was this going to be made possible?  It certainly was not going to happen by their own strength. It was going to take a miracle, a Divine intervention. YHVH, therefore, dispatched a man with a message:  “Let My people go.”  Moses was faithful to bring that word to the ruler of the slaves, but YHVH hardened the heart of Pharaoh, just to make sure that His people would know that their deliverance was not going to come by the way or authority of man. Had Pharaoh given his permission, these Hebrews would have been forever indebted to their master. They would perpetually be looking to him as their deliverer, and thus would not be able to take up their divinely ordained position as the head of all the nations. In this manner, they would have been bound to Egypt.

YHVH had His plan of restoring these slaves to freedom and to their national identity. The moment the elders applied the blood to the lintels and the doorposts of the Hebrews’ homes, the latter were sealed into deliverance, freedom and their destiny. But even beyond that - their dependency on man has just come to an end.  They were now united behind the one sacrifice, totally dependent upon the powerful right arm of the Almighty to bring them out. “Let My people go!” YHVH had already announced to Egypt's rulers to whom these people belonged. This was a people that did not belong to itself. They were and still are today My people, [“ami” -singular] says YHVH.”  But now, through the blood of the lamb, they were set apart to enter into the next phase of His plan.  “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel" (Exodus 19:6 emphasis added).    

Whereas harsh conditions and bondage reduce human beings to mere existence, effacing their individual uniqueness, affluence can also keep one in bondage to extreme individualism.  Therefore, as we, Israelites (Ephraim and Judah), YHVH’s two families of His one People Israel, gather together to honor Him during this year’s Passover, let us leave our individualism (and may I add “   sectarianism” and all types of exclusivity) and lift up the cup of unity. Remember that we all were once slaves to sin and death and bound to the principalities and powers of this world’s (kosmos) dominion. It behooves us to, “purge out therefore the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Messiah our Passover is sacrificed for us.  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; (nor with strife, contention, bitterness and unforgiveness) but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:7-8).  May we walk together through the Door that is splattered with the blood of the Lamb, out of the houses of our bondage and into the liberty of the new corporate life of the “One New Man.” The wall of partition in the House of Jacob has been broken down, so let us serve one another in the nature of the new creation person (Yeshua) who is the embodiment of the Royal Priesthood and Holy Nation Israel, Elohim’s firstborn! 

May the eyes of our hearts be opened anew to the fact that we are “My people Israel” in this generation.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!   (Ps. 133).  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Dying of Yeshua

As I continue from last week’s letter, I want to reiterate the importance of knowing the judicial aspects of justification and redemption.  Satan’s utter defeat at the death of Yeshua and our identity with that death is the key to victory and to spiritual maturity. 

Paul, using himself as an example of the conflict which rages with Satan and the powers of darkness, writes:   “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.   Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me (Romans 7:19-20 emphasis added).  How could the apostle state so categorically, that “it is no longer I”?  Was this some kind of an excuse, so as to avoid taking responsibility for dealing with his problems?  Certainly not! Paul believed beyond a shadow of doubt in what happened to his “old self” just as he taught in the following:  "I have been crucified with Messiah; it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20), and “For I/you died, and my/your life is hidden with Messiah in Elohim…” (Colossians 3:3).  How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?  Or do you not know that as many of us as were immersed into Messiah Yeshua were immersed into His death? (Romans 6:2-3). “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to Elohim in Messiah Yeshua our Lord (Romans 6:11).

Many believers find themselves in a quandary, or worse, about the “sin that dwells within.”  The key to understanding “sin” is hidden in the word “dwells.” Inanimate objects do not inhabit a room, a house, or for that matter a person. Thus sin must be a living entity. If that is the case, then we can only approach sin according to YHVH’s definition.  Paul’s revelation insight and approach to dealing with sin was based upon his understanding of the Torah of Moses. Although he had stated that we are no longer “under law” (ref. Galatians 5:18) he did not say that we were lawless either. In view of all the above quoted scriptures, one must read the following carefully:  “I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.  For I delight in the law of Elohim according to the inward man.  But I see another law in my members [flesh], warring against the law [law of Elohim in my mind] of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members [flesh].  O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank Elohim -- through Messiah Yeshua our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of Elohim, but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:21-25 emphases added).  This demonstrates the fact that in every believer at least two laws are at work:  The law of Elohim in the mind of the inner man, and the law of sin in the flesh.

Let us view the above scriptural references in a judicial light, as a permanent reality for all those who believe, that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all…  Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 16), especially ourselves.  Only by the obedience of faith can we enter into such certainty of total victory.  But let’s see how this is accomplished on a day to day basis.  Paul declared: “I thank Elohim -- through Yeshua our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of Elohim…” (Romans 7:25).  What is this law of Elohim that works through Yeshua?

We hear it expressed that we are to “die daily,” but we are unable to accomplish that without an understanding of these judicial principles of redemption.  Paul coined that little phrase (“die daily”) which is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:31, but did not explain it fully until he wrote the second letter to the believers of Corinth.  He starts off by explaining to the redeemed that they have a “treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power is not from them” (2 Corinthians 4:7) (i.e. the message of the cross/dying of Yeshua…which is the power of Elohim; ref. last week’s letter).  The “dying of Yeshua” must be kept at the forefront of our faith, or the life of Yeshua will have no effect in our inner being and outward reality.  Paul further explains:  “…always carrying about in the body the dying of Yeshua, that the life of Yeshua also may be manifested in our body.  For we who live are always delivered to death for Yeshua’s sake, that the life of Yeshua also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:10-11 emphasis added).  

The above quote is a very radical statement. What the apostle is actually saying is that the dying of Yeshua is a present tense reality for the believer.  As we embrace this truth/law we are in essence “dying daily” to the flesh and at the same time rendering the power of Satan of no effect.  The demonic spirits know what the dying and death of the Messiah means judicially.  Remember, the principalities and powers represent the spirits of darkness and its nature.  However, when we believe and apply the truth of the gospel, the life and light of Yeshua will be made manifest in and through our “mortal bodies.”  So what happens to the darkness when the lights are turned on?  “For it is Elohim who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of Elohim  in the face of Yeshua the Messiah” (2 Corinthians 4:6).  

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer (being the manifested nature of the Word), he is like a man observing his  face in a mirror;  for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was” (James 1:23-24 emphasis added).   Since we have died and are now looking into the mirror, who should we actually see?  We should be seeing a new creation being, a “son of Elohim” who looks just like his heavenly Father. We should be looking into the face of Yeshua, but the problem arises when we walk away from His image and do not remember what we look like.  Yeshua is our righteousness (the fruit of the Spirit), thus we too have the same image.   But in order to be the manifestation of Elohim’s righteousness in Yeshua, we have to adhere to and practice obedience to the law of Elohim called “the dying of Yeshua.”  Only in this way, that is - by recognizing and taking hold of this reality and living it out, will the life and nature of Messiah mature in us unto victory over the forces of darkness, the flesh and the “law of sin and death.”  “So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty” (James 2:12).