Saturday, July 10, 2010

Background: The Gates of Hell Part 2

Banias, the Cave of Pan, also known as "the gates of hell"

After I sent out my article, The Keys to the Kingdom & the Vast Gates of Hell Prison System, I got a call from a Messianic Jewish friend in Virginia who has a ministry to Russian Jewry. He was excited to tell me some background on the location where the exchange I wrote about took place and said it flowed perfectly into what I had written. Indeed it did.

The Gates of Hell at Caesarea Philippi

To quote myself, one of the things I said in that article was, “Now here is where many interpretations of the text go awry – because of not taking into account the original Hebrew context.”

Boy! I only knew the half of it! Yeshua did not snatch the term “gates of hell” out of thin air, but in true parabolic form gave His disciples an object lesson about the spirit realm in the very geographical location that demon spirits and false religions had claimed so many victims by sacrifice.

The time frame of this conversation was at the beginning of His preparation of the 11 for His death as the Passover Lamb that would take place in Jerusalem. He was preparing them to graduate from being His disciples to becoming His apostles. This conversation was critical to that transition, which they did not know yet would be profoundly distressing and troubling in the process of unfolding. They were on a mighty threshold of transition and didn’t even know it yet.

What exactly was Yeshua communicating to His disciples? We are not just looking at the words but at the context His disciples would have readily grasped from the location this conversation took place. When Yeshua used the term “the gates of hell” at that site notorious throughout Israel for idol worship and ritual sacrifics, it cannot be without significance.

Let’s refresh our memory of the scriptural passage from Matthew 16:13-23:

When Yeshua came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying,
"Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?"
So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."

Yeshua answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah,
for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My ekklesia,
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth
will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Yeshua the Messiah.
From that time Yeshua began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem,
and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes,
and be killed, and be raised the third day.

Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying,
"Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!"
But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me,
for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."

Who knew? Not me.
What else don’t we know about this?

As a Christian, there is no telling how many times I have read that passage without considering that the “gates of hell” might be an actual place with a long ignoble history. It was news to me that not only was there an actual place called the gates of hell in Israel where sacrifices to idols including human sacrifices were made , but it was also a shocker to discover this is the very location that Matthew 16:13-23 took place!

Yeshua chose to talk about the spiritual gates of hell while walking with His disciples past the location of the gates of hell on earth! Think that might be significant to what He told them in verse 19? “Whatsoever you bind on earth, will be bound in heaven and whatsoever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Gates keep people either imprisoned in a bad place or fortressed from intruders in a good place. We can assume that the gates of hell are those gates which imprison people. So when Yeshua tells them that He is giving them the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever they bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever they loose on earth will be loosed in heaven, He is telling them that the gates that imprison humans in hell on earth cannot prevail against their own delegated power to bind and loose as they operate in the keys of the kingdom. We cannot just bind and loose at will, living any old way, but when we are living in the keys of the kingdom, we will find the power of heaven backing us in those things we bind and loose.

Binding and loosing is not just a spiritual declaration, it is also about forgiving. Often times, in order to release a person who is bound by the gates of hell, we have to release forgiveness to them. If we will not release our forgiveness to them, Heaven also does not release them for their trespass against us. Notice the similarity with Yeshua’s statement to his disciples in John 20:23. After first breathing the Holy Spirit onto them, Yeshas says, “Whose soever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins you retain, they are retained.”

To loose those held captive by the strong bars of the gates of hell, we have to be able to forgive or we will not have the compassion to even seek their release from captivity. It is what Yeshua did for us, and commissioned us to do for others.

Caesarea Philippi & the Gates of Hell

How do we know this is where the conversation took place? In Mark 8:27 it says, "Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, "Who do men say that I am?"

How do we know that Yeshua and His disciples were aware they were in the region of the gates of hell?

This vista view is taken from the vantage point of the ruins of Caesarea Philippi. Looming large over the northern part of the city is the gaping mouth of the “gates of hell” cave. There is little chance that Yeshua and his disciples walked through this region without seeing the gates of hell at the rising base of Mt. Hermon.

They had left Magdala on the western coast of the sea of Galilee(Mt 15:39) and traveled 30 miles up the road to the region of Caesarea Philippi. A Roman military road map of the period shows that the road ran from Tiberius through Caesarea Philippi then on up to Damascus in Syria.

To give you a perspective of the lay of the land, this illustration from shows the Gates of Hell (here labeled as the Grotto of Pan) on a cliff ledge of Mt. Hermon . Nearby are the ruins of Agrippa’s Palace in ancient Ceasarea Philippi.

Caesarea Philippi, the Israeli seat of Caesar worship & the worldwide seat for the worship of Pan at the Gates of Hell

What is the most important thing we can know about this region? It is that it was the seat of false religions in Israel. There was demon worship going on in this place dating as far back as the time of the Judges of Israel when the Ba’al gods were worshipped at this very site. (Judges 3:3)

Only 4 miles away in the city of Dan, the first king of Israel’s northern divided kingdom set up a golden calf as an ‘alternate’ worship site (1 Kings 12:26). The reason King Jeroboam offered a false god and false religious site was to keep his tribes from obeying the command of God to go up to Jerusalem three times a year to “appear before the LORD in the appointed Feasts (Exodus 23:17). Jeroboam was afraid if he allowed his subjects to return to Jerusalem to worship the true God at the site God had commanded them to appear, that their hearts would be turned back to the kingdom of Judah.

This is the first time in their history that Israel turned from God completely to worship false gods. It was the beginning of the end for the 10 northern tribes of the divided kingdom. It was also not the last false god to be worshiped at this site. During the time of Yeshua’s ministry in Israel, this place was dedicated to the worship of the Caesar worship and to the Greek “god” Pan.

Caesar worship was the exaltation of a government leader to be worshiped as a god, and Pan was the god of fright. Pan is where we get the word “panic” and “pandemonium.” Half-man and half-goat, Pan was known as “the god of thresholds.” It was Pan’s job to panic you when you reached a threshold in life, and at the threshold of death. If when you died Pan was not able to panic you, then your soul would cross the threshold of the cave and Hermes would take you to Hades from there!

It must have been no coincidence that Yeshua brought His inner circle of 12 here as He was beginning to prepare them for His death and to speak with them about how they would be able to deal with the spiritual warfare after He was gone; or that He was preparing Himself for His coming death in this place. That makes it difficult to believe Yeshua was not making a definite point by having this conversation in this particular place. He must have been saying something with a definite primary meaning when He told Peter and the others that the gates of hell would not prevail against the called out congregation He was building.

Now I am not excluding the broader applications of “the gates of hell” to encompass all our spiritual enemies, but the primary meaning in the context of this geographical place is clear: false religion and false gods will not prevail against Body that the LORD is raising up, that “assembly/congregation/church” that Yeshua is building.

That is exceptionally good news to those of us watching with horror as the false religion of Islam is sweeping across the world at a frightening rate of takeover and dominance by intimidation. This one word of the Lord is a word every believer can use in warfare against creeping sharia and militant Islam encroaching in our world: The gates of hell shall not prevail against Yeshua’s ekklesia! Islam will not overpower the faithful of the LORD. Nor will any other false religion prevail against His ekklesia.
Preparation for Death

In the context of preparing His disciples for His death, by initiating that conversation in this place Yeshua was also drawing attention to the contrast of the sacrificial deaths that had been performed at the mouth of the cave known as the gates of hell and His own. False gods demanded the slaughter of innocents as sacrifice, but the One True God provided His own innocent sacrifice, and as the fulfillment of the sacrificial Passover Lamb, Yeshua was about to willingly lay down His life in Jerusalem. The detour past real estate that demons have inhabited for thousands of years was surely no coincidence.

Yeshua was not only preparing His disciples for His death, was assuredly also preparing Himself. Six days later on an unidentified mountain in the upper Galilee, Yeshua would take Peter, James and John with Him to pray apart from the others. There, on what has become known as the Mount of Transfiguration, or Transformation, the glory of the Lord would radiate from Yeshua. His three disciples would be a witness to it and witness to the appearance of Moses and Elijah coming to speak to Yeshua about His coming death in Jerusalem.

There is some debate whether the “transfiguration” occurred on Mt Tabor or Mt Hermon due to an early misunderstanding of Mt 17:1 because the verse was taken to mean that Jesus took the disciples up a mountain "by itself," rather than up the mountain "by themselves." Mt Tabor is a lone standing mountain, while Mt Hermon is part of a mountain range. The latter understanding is the accurate one.

From the next mention of their location in Mt 17:22, it is clear “they abode in Galilee” and from the Mt 17:24 mention of Capernaum, it is also clear they remained in the upper Galilee, not lower Galilee where Mt Tabor is located east of Nazareth in the Jezreel Valley.

Mt Hermon is located about 1 o’clock under the word Syria. Mt. Tabor is located about 7 o’clock to the right of the word Galilee. Caesaria Phillipi where the Gates of Hell are located is under the word Mt Hermon. Capernaum is at the top of the sea of Galilee.

Clearly on foot they would not have traveled up from Magdla about 3 miles north of Tiberias on the western shore of the Galilee up to Mt. Hermon, then down to Mt. Tabor in the lower Galilee and then back up to Capernaum in uppermost part of the sea of Galilee.

These are all details that may not be interesting, but if the transfiguration took place on Mt Hermon instead of the tradition based on mistaken translation, then there is also a contrast that it appears Yeshua was deliberately making to His disciples by taking them to the seat of false religion and idolatry. Not only was this place called the gates of hell, but also Mt. Hermon was named after the false god, Hermes who conducted the souls of the dead into Hades.

It is as if Yeshua purposely walked into the high places of demonic trafficking, to demonstrate that their power and authority was inferior in every way. In the place where Hermes and Pan escort terrified souls into Hell, this is the place where Yeshua speaks of the transfer of His power and authority to His disciples so the gates of hell cannot prevail against them.

Consider this also. On Mt Hermon, Luke 9:31-32 says that “And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”

If it is the case that the mount of transfiguration was Mt Hermon, then instead of the panic of Pan, Elijah and Moses appeared in glory to talk to Yeshua about His exit from this life which was soon to be fulfilled in Jerusalem. Where Pan was said to cause panic to those crossing the threshold of death, Elijah and Moses were sent to confirm Yeshua in the powerful act of sacrifice God had sent Him to accomplish.

What must they have had to say to Yeshua about that? Fear not? Both had supernatural death experiences to share with Yeshua. Elijah was carried away in a whirlwind by the chariots of God and Moses was buried by the LORD Himself in a valley that no man knows his grave (DT 34:6).

In the place where the false god Hermes was to have carried away the souls of the dead to Hades, this was the place Yeshua chose to confront His own emotions about impending death. Instead of Pan and Hermes, Yeshua heard from Moses and Elijah, and God Himself confirmed Him from heaven before Peter, James and John saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!"

What a contrast!

Many people had met their death as ritual sacrifices at the mouth of the Gates of Hell cave. They were thrown down from above into the natural abyss which in those days underground water flowed from inside the cave over the ledge and into the nearby springs. If the victim thrown from above disappeared in the water, it was a sign that the god had accepted the offering, but if blood appeared in the nearby springs, the sacrifice had been rejected.

What a contrast to the sacrifice Yeshua was about to make by laying down His own life to pay the price “once and for all” of humanity’s sins. It is also interesting to note that it was said that Pan was the only Greek god that ever died and that he died the moment after Yeshua was crucified. Satan is always trying to imitate God to steal His thunder but it falls flat.

Today the Grotto of Pan is empty of the idols that once sat in the niches carved in the stone of the mountain, and the waters in the Gates of Hell cave are stagnant, not flowing.

By contrast, Yeshua could not be held by death and the gates of hell shall also not prevail against us who are the called out ones to His assembly.
Upon the rock of revelation of the identity of the Lord, Yeshua the Messiah, He said He would build an assembly of those who had been called out and all the false religions in the world of men would not be able to prevail against that Body of Believers. Yeshua said, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona” – the name that means “Hearing with acceptance” – “for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but My Father which is in heaven.” Simon son of Jona is blessed because Father God revealed to him that Yeshua is the long awaited Messiah of Israel.

Now, Yeshua says, not only has the Father given you revelation, Simon, but now I am emphasizing to you how critical your revelation is by making a play on your name Shimon Kefa, Simon Peter, which Kefa/Peter means rock. That upon the rock of revelation from God concerning who I am, I will build my ekklesia and the gates of hell – false religions – will not prevail against it.

Yeshua did not give Peter a new name, he was called Simon Peter from the first time he fell down at Yeshua’s feet telling him to depart from him because he was a sinner (Luke 5:8). Peter was not the rock that Yeshua was going to build his ekklesia on, but revelation from God in heaven is that rock.

Shimon Kefa – hearing what God is revealing with acceptance is the rock.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"I feel sad today please LIKE me to make me happy"

I keep seeing this FACEBOOK group popping up on my news feed "I feel sad today please LIKE me to make me happy" and it has been puzzling to me. Just now I clicked on it to see the FB page, but got an error message that it was unavailable. Wow. Now there's a sermon.

Being happy with ourselves cannot come from whether other people like us or not. That satisfaction is simply unavailable. Because no matter how many people "like" us, if we are only cheered from our sadness by other people liking us, we are going to be a miserable lot.

We weren't designed to draw our self-worth from other people, but from God. We can draw some measure of comfort from the people who "like" us but if we belong to God, He is a jealous God and will not allow us to be satisfied with anything less than the knowledge of His love and acceptance of us.

Tell me. Do you have people in your life who are like family to you - long-term relationships - that every time you get to feeling a little good about yourself are there to remind you how you don't live up to their expectations? How you are a disappointment, lacking in their eyes?

No matter how many people press the "like" button on your Facebook page, they are still they to remind you their vaulted opinion of you is not so high.

Hey, God bless 'em, but their opinion is not the one that counts. I am reminded of a warfare scripture - and believe me - when you are trying to draw your self-worth from the esteem of others instead of from God, it is spiritual warfare being waged over your mind, heart and soul!

2 Corinthians 10:5 says we are to wage spiritual warfare by "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Messiah."

Let me break it down to you how this works when people close to us are the ever-present voice of discouragement about who we are as a person. It is human tendency to make the opinion of other people - our family, our friends, our associates in work or the circles we move in - more exalted than they should be. The reason is that we carry around the seed of fallen humanity that is completely insecure about ourselves as a person.

How many times have you heard an anointed minister of God admit that deep down inside they are always wondering when people in the pews are going to figure out they are not so wonderful? How many times have you heard a rock star or a movie star admit that they may get thousands of rave reviews for their performance but it is the bad reviews that stick with them and chew on their sense of worth?

That is because no matter who we are, God will not allow us to be fully satisfied with the love, appreciation, adoration or approval of fellow human beings. He is a jealous God and He will not allow us to become fully satisfied if we try to draw our sense of worth from them and not Him.

Now God did not create us to be islands, isolated from healthy human relationships. Nor did He create us as rocks, with no need for the exchange of human emotion and contact. He wants us to have all of that, but He wants us to have it in perspective so we will not be subject to the control of others in our lives, but under His control.

Here is the challenge in 2 Cor 10:5. The spiritual battle is over what we believe: Is it what God says about us, or is it what the people who are always communicating their disappointment in us? Whether they say it to our face, behind our back or just in ample disapproving looks, their opinion is not more true, important or valid than what God says. Listen right now and He will tell you: That is right!

I have been on a long journey with learning that no matter what anyone says, no matter what obstacles pop up along my life path, I can trust that what God says about me is true.

How do I know what God says about me? It is in His love letter to me beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation. He is the consistent Voice of love, expressing to me what He thinks about me - what value I have to Him no matter what water is under the bridge and no matter how high the mountain, He has faith that I can scale it listening to Him.

If I quiet the voices of what others have said about me in my head, then I can hear Him telling me anew what He thinks about me. Sometimes that includes correction, but it never leaves me hopeless, dejected or like I am doomed.

I just wanted to say to anyone who is struggling today with anyone that conveys disappointment and disapproval of you, their opinion is flawed. Flawed because it exalts itself against the knowledge of God and against His truth about you. Don't make the opinion of one human being or 1,000 human beings more important to you than God's opinion. You are the work of HIS hands, not those who stand back shaking their heads and muttering 'tsk,tsk' under their breaths with merciless eyes fixed on you.

"Casting down imaginations" - imaginations are what people may imagine you are, but they don't see the heart as God does. So our warfare becomes not to replay their unkind or unfair disapproving comments over and over in our minds. Instead we cast those thoughts down and take them captive to the obedience of Messiah.

When we take a thought captive that means we don't let it roam freely in our minds all day. We put a rope on that sucker and kick it out of the pen our thoughts are locked up in. We are the ones that allow or disallow the thoughts roaming around in our thought life. We must take thoughts captive, making our thought life obedient to Messiah.

Every time we hang our head (or our heart) in shame at the negative vibes certain people seem to always send our way, in essence we are bowing our knee to that estimation of us. We should only bow our knee the Lord's estimation of us. Only He has the right to tell us who we are.

But do you see it? We GIVE that right to whomever we choose to listen to. If it is the crowd that loves to shame us or negate us - we are giving them the right to be the ruling voice over us.

If we are ever going to be all that we can in the Lord, we have to stop bowing our knee to those who don't have our best interests in their hearts. I'm not saying we sever all those relationships like the world teaches (severing "toxic relationships"), but I am saying that we get a Heavenly perspective and priority about it.

"Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God." We begin to wage this warfare by casting down those disapproving comments and renewing our mind with the knowledge of God."

You can be everything that God says His children can be in Messiah Yeshua. You are no exception to this rule. It is not everyone EXCEPT you. YOU are EVERYthing He says you are.

Friday, May 28, 2010

SHALOM is not just a Hebrew word "...but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you."

When Yeshua sent out His 12 hand-picked disciples on their maiden voyage of ministry there were several things involved as we see from the Matthew 10 account.

He gave them the same power He had: to cast out unclean spirits and to heal all manner of sickness and disease. (Mt 10:1)

He gave them one message to preach: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Mt 10:7)

He gave them specific parameters for the ministry assignment: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Mt 10:6)

Jesus’ ministry on the earth in the flesh was only “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mt 15:24) The day would come – after His death and resurrection – when the good news of the kingdom of God would explode into the nations. For now, Yeshua limited the twelve spiritual sons He was discipling to the same parameters of His ministry which God had set upon Him: They were only to go the nation and people of Israel.

One of the things we can draw from this can only be seen from the perspective of looking back in time. Today the common disclaimer from the Jewish people is that Jesus is a “Christian god” and that any Jew who “converts” from Judaism to faith in Yeshua as Israel’s Messiah has broken the ancient covenant of Israel with YHWH. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that God set limits on Yeshua to minister only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and that Yeshua would also place those same limits upon His own disciples while He was still in His earthly ministry.

There could be no question that before His salvation was opened to the nations after resurrection, Yeshua presented Himself only Israel. To the Jew first, and so to the Greek. (Ro 1:16)

What would have happened if Yeshua had said within Himself, "This doesn't make any sense. I know I am going to be light to all the nations, so why should I be limited to the national boundaries of Israel? Maybe I ought to travel up to minister in Damascus or over to Antioch?"

Who knows what would have happened because instead of DIS-obeying His Father's direction, He did what He saw the Father doing, and He said what He heard the Father saying.

Now Jesus was very specific to his 12 disciples about where they were to go and where they were not to go. ‘Stay in Israel,’ He told them. ‘You are not being sent to the nations but to your countrymen. You are not even being sent to the Samaritans who are close by and cousins to Israel.’ They obeyed His instructions as Yeshua had first obeyed the Father's instruction to Him.

He tells them, 'I am sending you out to announce the good news that the kingdom of heaven is drawing near. You are bringing the kingdom of heaven to Israel because I am sending you out with My gifts of power to heal and to cast out demons from the people.'

Jesus is instructing His disciples how to step out in ministry for the first time on their own, going two by two. He is asking them to trust that He has transferred His power to heal and deliver to them. They have seen Him demonstrate the power of God time after time and now is asking them to trust that, 'What you have seen Me do, you will also be able to do.' This is a big step of faith.

Now Jesus narrows the parameters even more about where and how they are to minister.
Not only is He telling them they are going out in the same power they have seen in Him, but He is really putting their trust to the test by telling them not to even prepare provisions for their trip. They are to take no money bags for expenses, no extra sandals or cloaks - just go out in the faith that as you are freely giving, you will be provided for.

Now here is the thing. Jesus was not telling the twelve that forevermore these narrow parameters would apply to their ministries. This time, however, they needed to learn that they could trust God for provision when they had no provisions.

He already knew they quickly forgot the miraculous provision in the multiplying of fish and loaves. When we forget spiritual miracles like these, it is because it did not penetrate our hearts where trust forms. We can know something intellectually, but until it springs out of our heart where spiritual understanding initiates, we cannot act in faith. Faith comes from trust built in the heart.

Eventually some of the 12 would receive instruction from the Spirit to go into the nations – not only ministering to Jews or within the borders of Israel. Whether to the foreigners in Israel, Samaria or other nations, the 11 would take the good news to all men who would receive it.
For now, their proclamation and demonstration that the kingdom of heaven was near was only towards their countrymen.

Likewise, this time they were to go out to minister without any material provisions to fall back on. In the future though they would go out with financial provisions in their belt, or an extra coat or spare pair of shoes.

We cannot make a specific formula out of the instructions Yeshua gave to His first 12 disciples because the instructions were specific to the moment. But we can draw general spiritual principles from this entire chapter about how God prepares us to minister in the power of Yeshua with the good news of the kingdom of heaven.

The issue in Matthew 10 was not just a test of their obedience to Jesus’ instruction, but it was the development of trust within their hearts that what He said about them was true: They were anointed with gifts to set at liberty the captives just like they knew He was. And as they freely gave these gifts to the men, women and children who would receive the gifts, that they would not have to worry about what they were going to eat or where they were going to sleep.

The issue was trust. We have to trust for the anointing to work through us and we have to trust that as we go about the Father's business He is our Provider. We have to trust that even though sometimes the specific instructions we receive defy “common sense” – like going out with no money to cover expenses – that it doesn’t mean we will not be provided for.

We have to be able to hear the instruction of the Spirit for the moment. God doesn’t work in neat little formulas that we can memorize and apply like some instructions on a recipe card. We can’t put God in a neat little box that says every time something is going to happen in the same way and in the same ministry formula. We must be prepared: to hear from God for the moment.

The next issue Yeshua dealt with is discernment and once again, He gave the 12 precise directions in how to discern where to stay and how long to stay there.

Jesus told the 12 when they entered into a town, to ask around and find out who was a person of merit in that town and then go stay in their house. Remember, they are in Israel and Israel has a covenant with God. When Yeshua tells them to ask around to find out who is "worthy" in this town, He is telling them to find a godly man.

He said when you enter into that person's house, embrace the household joyfully, and "If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you."

We don't have to wonder what that means because Romans 14:17 tells us exactly what it means: "for the kingdom of God is … righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

Yeshua sent the 12 out with a specific message: Come and get it! The kingdom of heaven has drawn near to you on earth and we are passing out heavenly gifts to men who will but receive!"

They are not just carrying words with them, but the power of God to heal and deliver, the power to call the righteousness, peace and joy of heaven into the earthly realm.

This "shalom" they are to bring upon the homes of worthy town elders where they stay is not about just saying something in Hebrew to the homeowner. Those who carry the gospel of the kingdom of heaven also carry the environment of heaven with them. Righteousness, peace and joy accompany those who are bringing the good news of the kingdom of heaven.

Righteousness, peace and joy from the Spirit of the Lord within us is something we are carrying everywhere we go. When we walk into a room or a home or a job if the authority of that place receives us, our "shalom" will permeate that place. If the authority of that place rejects us, then the environment of "hell" will be the thing that prevails there.

In terms of the cities of Israel in those days, Yeshua was saying that if the “worthy” town elder is indeed godly, he will receive you. But if he rejects you then he is not godly, and you withdraw from that home – whatever peace you have brought into that home cannot flourish because it is not “authorized.”

Note that if the most "worthy" person in an Israeli town was rejecting the proclamation and demonstration of the kingdom of heaven that His disciples were bringing into their homes, Yeshua is saying this is a good barometer of how unfruitful their ministry in this town was going to be. The 12 were starting off in each community at the home of the most meritorious person. If they did not receive the disciples’ message, then the twelve were to move on to the home or township that welcomed them – and the gifts from God they were freely giving away.

It is possible, when we refuse to accept that the Father is not moving in a place or among a certain group of people, that that the environment of hell will batter us into a state where all our righteousness, peace and joy has shriveled up to nearly nothing. It is important to know when to move on to where the Spirit of God can move, and this is what Yeshua was teaching His disciples.

We need to recognize that moving on is not always giving up, but it can be the witness of the Spirit to leave those entrusted to God. Don’t believe it? See how many time Jesus “departed” to another place. Who carried the environment of heaven in Himself more than Yeshua, yet when the authorities in a place began to stir up the environment of hell, Yeshua did not dig His heels in. He removed to another more fruitful place of ministry and waited for a more open season of ministry in that place.

This is not to say we should only minister in places where there is absolutely no opposition to the gospel because reality is there is no place on earth like that! Matthew 10:17 makes it clear that opposition to the gospel is guaranteed to come against us. But even when this is the case, we can discern when it is time to depart from a place or to change our locations for maximum fruitfulness.

In Israel today, we know that the more fruitful season of His ministry is blossoming in our day and still this lesson holds: it is important to discern where Israelis are open to receive, and where only hell is churning.

Even though Yeshua withdrew Himself from Jerusalem when hell was churning violently against Him, He always found a way to return to be about the Father’s business. Maybe He sent his disciples on and arrived alone unexpectedly, but He did not just place Himself in harm’s way when hell was churning against Him. So it is with Israeli ministries in this day – in some places there is more freedom and openness than others. Even though there is great opposition to Yeshua and His followers in Israel, the gospel of the kingdom of heaven is still to the Jew first. It is a Light that God will not allow to be extinguished in Israel.

Yeshua told His 12 disciples that they could discern if they were to stay and bless the townspeople, or if they were to move on shaking the very dust of the town off their sandals as they left.

Now in this, He was speaking specifically of the generation of Israel at that time because Yeshua knew the plan of God was for Israel to be set aside for a season so that salvation could be extended to all the nations. (Read Romans 9-11). He knew that for a season only a remnant of Israel would respond to the good news, but in due season and according to the plan of God “all Israel shall be saved.”

All of us – Christian and Jewish disciples of Jesus – need to be able to discern between our sometimes stubborn desire to hang in there trying to make people respond to the good news or accepting when God have us move on. None of us wants to be a quitter, but in this passage Jesus is teaching us that fruitful fields are receptive. We need to be able to trust that. It may be that we are only to withdraw for a season, or it may be a field for someone else to harvest.

The important thing is that we have discernment from God not our own stubborn spirits, and that we do not get robbed of all righteousness, peace and joy by trying to minister in an environment where hell is churning.

That can be a hard one. I would imagine that many of us have experienced trying to minister in a place where we are not received - like maybe parts of our families.

Here is the thing about that. When the good news that the kingdom of heaven with gifts of healing and deliverance from bondage has drawn near, and the authority of the house rejects it - even when it may be people we love, family members - we must DISCERN that God is NOT presently working there and move to where we discern He is working. We have to trust that He has got this. We can't force it no matter how much we may want it for someone else.

Yeshua broke it down for us in John 8 as He was speaking to those who were rejecting Him, saying, "I do nothing of myself; but as My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things. And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father has not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him." (v.28-29) As we go out to minister, we can expect the same. We can expect that we are also not left alone, but He is with us.

Bottom line: We need to discern where the Father is moving and speaking. In that place the good news of the kingdom of heaven will be welcomed and embraced. If the message is not welcomed and embraced, don't keep banging your head against the brick wall - trust God and move on to where His Spirit is moving! It takes fully trusting God to let go and move on sometimes, especially when we have strong emotional draws to the people we are trying to minister to. It is good to remember that we could never love them more than God does.

As He wrapped up His instructions and guidance to the first twelve "sent ones" Yeshua said, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." (Mt 10:16) We need to discern when to depart from a place where hell is churned up to a more fruit place of ministry. We need to discern because Hell would like to rob us by convincing us that we can never move on because it would be "giving up."

Clearly there is a verse that applies to this lie: "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Messiah."

To get His results, we must do it His way.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cast in a Hook & Take the Fish that Comes Up First

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting on our screened back porch in the early morning reading Matthew 14 about when Yeshua came walking on the water towards His disciples' boat in the midst of a raging storm.

Suddenly, it popped into mind how I had found a job lead for my husband on Craigslist which was a most unlikely place to find business for contractors. My nephew had been searching for pick up type jobs, so that is the reason I was even looking there.

When I saw the ad for a cabinet maker wanted to contract out for a business, I was surprised but immediately copied the ad and emailed it to my husband in his office for following it up.

He did. This happened immediately after the business relationship he had been getting jobs from ended badly, through no fault of my husband.

Nevertheless this left us high and dry for a source of jobs. This economy has been rough on remodeling contractors as it has for lots of other business and trades. So this lead from Craigslist turned out to be a real God-send, a blessing of multiple ongoing contracting jobs for my husband - and for my nephew.

Back to my Back Porch

In that moment of reading Matthew 14, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly spoke within me saying, 'This was your fish with the golden coin in its mouth to meet your needs.'

That ad on Craigslist - it was like it was just there for me to find early one morning. When I returned to look at the ads in the afternoon, that ad had been removed. My husband contacted the business and it was the start of ongoing business - just in the nick of time to meet our pressing financial needs.

Many times over the years when I would read the passage in Matthew 17 of Yeshua telling Peter where to go to find the money needed to pay taxes, I have asked God, 'Where is my fish with the golden coin in its mouth?' I have mused over how that would work in my life and suddenly when I least expected an answer the Spirit was telling me, "This is that!"

How exciting to hear an answer to a question you have been asking God a long time.

Not only that, but then it dawned on me it was no coincidence that the answer came as I was reading the Matthew 14. This is the account of where Peter responded to the call of Yeshua to step out of the safety of the boat and to join Him in walking on the water in the midst of a storm on the sea of Galilee.

On the sea of Galilee in 2005 I received a similar word of the Lord, in that the Spirit spoke to me to step out of my safety 'boat' of a salaried job and to trust Him that He would keep me afloat.

There were no physical waves on the Galilee that day – instead peace was wafting off of the water like a powerful tranquilizer. I was so mellow out there on the "Jesus boat" crossing over the Galilee with the water calm as glass - but the storms and the boisterous waves were in my real life!

Just two weeks before leaving for my 2nd trip to Israel, and on Yom Kippur (the solemn "Day of Atonement" in Lev. 23), I had been laid off from a job that was a real trial for me to even stick with. I was being picked on because my superior was threatened by her superior being someone I went to Messianic synagogue with.

When the layoff came, I was devastated - by its bad timing and also by the feeling that I had been defeated by those who were determined to get rid of me there. I had tried to walk in a spirit of Messiah likeness even under withering almost daily fire. I felt I had failed to overcome evil with good.

The day after I was let go, the Lord told me to stop crying, that I was looking at it wrong: it was a promotion, not a defeat. It was His deliverance not the enemy's victory over me. So I had applied for unemployment and continued on my long planned (and un-refundable) trip to Israel.

On the Jesus boat that day crossing the Galilee I wasn't fretting about anything, just taking in the peace and tranquility that was palpable. I wasn't expecting the Lord to speak to me about my job but He did. What He said was that it was time for me leave behind the safety of a salaried job and step out on the water of following Him in my ministry for the Body in Israel.

I don't know why I am such a late bloomer in the things of God.

It was five years between that word to step out of the boat onto the water, and the word that just came about how to identify when the Lord is showing me the fish with the golden coin in its mouth to meet our needs.

We have gone through many financial struggles through the five years between my last job and today, but true to His word, He has kept us afloat. We have never gone under even though times have been tight and at times mightily uncomfortable. Financial lack can leave us feeling 'dead in the water' and abandoned. As Proverbs 14:20 notes, "The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich have many friends."

The reason I wanted to write about this is to encourage those who have been operating under similar circumstances with financial stress and strain.

Many times over the past five years I have questioned whether I just needed to go find some job and forget the spiritual experience I had on the Sea of Galilee. My husband always opposed my second guessing and doubts when they arose telling me, 'You have a job: write!' People who haven't had spiritual experiences like that would say, 'Heck yeah: do the practical thing! Get a job!'

It always comes down to which voices we are going to listen to in our lives - the human voices, the inner voices of doubt and unbelief, or the clear word of the Spirit of God we know that we know we heard.

It is our expectation - especially in western nations - that, 'If it's not quick, it's not God.' Hey, baloney to that idea! God operates under His own timetable. Shall I be full of self doubt and self hatred because the promises of God are rolling out to me slowly... but surely? Was Moses? Was Joseph? Was Paul?

Here is the conclusion of what I am saying: Hold on! The promises that the Spirit of God has spoken in your hearing and to your heart - no matter how long they take to come to pass and no matter what kind of smack downs life and people in your life may be dishing - there is a time coming that the promise spoken will begin to shoot forth in blossoming fruit in your life.

Do not give up! Do not lose heart and faint as you wait for God to arise on your behalf.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 1 Cor 4:16-17

Whatever the Spirit of the Lord has spoken to you in secret, no matter what anyone else thinks, He is faithful that promised. Hebrews 10:23

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Keys to the Kingdom & the vast Gates of Hell Prison system

by Donna Diorio May 15, 2010

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Mat 16:16-19

In Matthew and Mark the scripture says that Yeshua/Jesus went about "preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing." Then in Luke 9:2, Yeshua sent his 12 disciples out with power and authority over all devils and to heal all diseases and "He sent them to preach the gospel of the kingdom."

So what is it that Yeshua was preaching and teaching His disciples to teach?

Every verse and passage where Yeshua is teaching His disciples about "the kingdom," He is giving them in parables the "KEYS" to the kingdom. He did not reveal the meaning to everyone that came to listen to him, but Yeshua revealed the meaning to His disciples, those that were truly following Him.

Here is what He told them before sending them out to minister without Him by their side in the Luke 9:2 passage above:

And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And He said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Luke 8:9-10

So the mysteries of the kingdom are contained in the parables of the kingdom which Yeshua explained to His disciples. Today, we also understand the parables of the kingdom through revelation - hearing what the Spirit speaks to enlighten us. Some see or hear the parables of the kingdom but do not understand, but His DISCIPLES can hear what the Spirit is saying and come to understand the spiritual mysteries contained in His parables.

In Matthew 16:16-19 Yeshua asked, Who do men say I am? Was He Elijah? Jeremiah? John the Baptist? Some great prophet? Yeshua was making a distinction between what onlookers vs. disciples discerned about Him.

He followed up by asking His disciples, "But whom do you say I am? Simon Peter answered, You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

To this Yeshua responded: You are blessed Shimon Barjona, because you got that revelation not through your own intellect, but by My Father speaking it to you, revealing it to you.

Now here is where many interpretations of the text go awry because of not taking into account the original Hebrew context. When Jesus calls him "Shimon Barjona" which is Simeon son of Jona, He is emphasizing the name SIMEON which means "hearing with acceptance". Shimon (Simeon) was the son of Leah and Jacob and was named Shimon because Leah said "Because the Lord has heard and given me a son."

The emphasis Yeshua is giving by calling him by his Hebrew name (Shimon) is about Peter being able to hear spiritually - hearing what the Spirit of God says and accepting it.

To further emphasize this spiritual "hearing" Yeshua says, Not only has My Father spoken this revelation to you, but now "I say also to you...." Yeshua is emphasizing that as His disciple, Peter has been given the spiritual ability to hear what the Spirit reveals.

Yeshua then switches back to the Aramic version of Peter's name saying, Not only has My Father spoken this revelation to you, but now "I say also to you that you are Peter" .

We all know that that in the Aramic "Peter" (Petra) means "a rock, cliff or ledge" and generally we have interpreted Yeshua calling him "Petra" as a sign that Peter was a rock solid man. But that name cuts two ways because it shows both the strength and the weakness of Peter.

Not only can "Petra" indicate the strength and firmness of soul, but it also metaphorically indicates a hard and unyielding soul, which we all have until and unless the Spirit of God GIVES us the ability to spiritually see and hear.

Now this goes against the flow of what we have been taught about Yeshua calling Simon Peter "Petra" but consider that immediately afterward, verse 16:23, Yeshua has to rebuke Peter for trying to correct Him from informing them about the suffering He is about to enter into at Jerusalem.

Yeshua stops Peter's faith pep rally by telling him, "Get behind me, Satan: you are an offense to Me: for you are not like-minded (froniev/G5426) in the things that be of God, but in the like-mindedness of men. Yeshua was saying, that came from human mindset, not from the mindset of Heaven!

One minute Peter was uttering a revelation from the mind of the Spirit and the next from the mindset of fallen humanity, and do you know we are all like that? None of us have arrived to the point that we don't do the same thing from time to time, but the good news is that does not disqualify us.

Yeshua is drawing attention to the fact that He is taking men who were rock solid in the ways of men, and speaking into them the mysteries of the kingdom. By spiritual revelation we hear and break out of our rocky hearts, responding to what the Spirit is revealing to us.

So Yeshua says, Not only has My Father spoken this revelation to you, but now "I say also to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my ekklesia; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

There are several things to look with new eyes at in this. Sticking with the point of our being spiritually rock hard souls until God grants us an ability to hear spiritually and to receive spiritual understanding, or revelation of what He is saying to us, Yeshua says "upon this rock I will build My called out ones."

We are called out of the crowd of hardened human souls that cannot HEAR what the Spirit is speaking to humanity. It is not based on our intellect or greatness, but it is a gift of God when we can hear anything the Spirit is saying.

I believe Yeshua is telling Peter that He is taking common, unexceptional people, without great intellectual or natural reasoning gifts, revealing the mysteries of the kingdom to them by revelation, and upon that hardened rock He is building up an assembly, a great throng of those who heard the call out of darkness into His marvelous light.

When we say we finally understand something, we say we have gotten light on a subject, or "It dawned on me."

Yeshua is saying the ones who are called out - those that gather together because they have spiritually heard and responded to what they have heard - these are My building blocks, my living stones for a living Temple of God, or My Church, if you prefer.

We call it His "Church" because that's what we've been calling it for the past nearly 2,000, but in its original context, the People of God are always His "called out" ones.
Abram heard and responded to being called out.
Moses heard and responded to being called out.
Jesus' own mother, Miriam heard and responded to being called out.

If we do not hear and do not respond, we are not called out. Upon this rock - of hearing that we are being called out by what the Spirit is speaking - is the bedrock foundation which Yeshua identifies as how His "church" will be built.

To that Yeshua adds, and upon this rock I will build my called out assembly and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

We are a called out assembly. Whether you call it His Church or His Temple - we are all called out to be assembled TOGETHER as ONE in HIM. The living building blocks of a House of God on earth, a BODY of believers hearing and responding to the Spirit of Messiah Yeshua, who is the Head of the WHOLE Body. These are the called out ones that the gates of hell cannot prevail against.

What does that mean "the gates of hell will not prevail against" the called out ones that Yeshua is building into one living Temple?

Let's start with "the gates of hell".
What are they? In the Strong's definition it says that "the gates of hell" are likened to a vast prison. I like that understanding because that is exactly what the enemy does to mankind by locking us up in a vast prison system where we are bound by various sins and afflictions.

Likewise, the scriptures say that Yeshua came to set the captives free.
That is what this is all about, setting at liberty those who are being held captive in the vast prison system the devil binds humanity in.
And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but my Father which is in heaven.

And I say also unto you, That you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Temple; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you will bind on earth will be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you will loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Mat 16:16-19

Upon the rock of being able to hear spiritually, Yeshua is building an assembly of called out ones - a living Temple - called out of that the vast prison system of the enemy which has bound up human beings since the Fall of Man. No longer can the enemy keep those who are called out by the Spirit of Messiah who came to set at liberty those who were held captive.

Not only does Yeshua call us out of the Gates of Hell Prison, but He also gives us the keys of the kingdom of heaven! These keys are the spiritual parables which He taught to His disciples: "The kingdom of heaven is like...."

These parables are keys to unlocking every door in the vast prison system of the Gates of Hell Prison. Every place within our souls that the enemy has lock up in bondage the parables of the kingdom are the keys to unlocking every chain that binds us.

"And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you will bind on earth will be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you will loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

First, He gives us the keys of the kingdom, in parables - so those who hear and respond may be set at liberty: "And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."

Those who hear the parables and do not understand are not made free because hearing and seeing, yet we still do not understand. So, it is not based on intellect, but it is based on our hearing the revelation of the keys to the kingdom, and responding to them.

If we hear, and we follow the hearing with doing, then we will receive more. One by one, the keys to the kingdom unlock every barred gate of hell in our souls until we are free indeed.

As Romans 8:14 and 17 puts it, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God...."

And as James said (1:22) "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."

We not only must be able to hear spiritually, but we must respond and do. Only then "whatsoever you will bind (asar/forbid) on earth will be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you will loose (hitir/permit) on earth will be loosed in heaven."
It is not just about what is available to us in Heaven to speak into existence in earth, but there is a correlation between our spiritually hearing the keys of the kingdom and then doing them.

Matthew 18 is a perfect example of how hearing and doing, faith and works correspond in the parables of the kingdom.

In John 20, after Yeshua had been crucified and in His first appearance to His disciples who were assembled together in fear of what might become of them, Yeshua appeared to them saying (v.21-23) ,

"Peace be unto you: as My Father has sent Me, even so send I you. Then he breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins you retain, they are retained."
The words Yeshua used for remit and retain or the same words He used for binding and loosing in Matthew 16:19.

In Matthew 18 Yeshua teaches that forgiveness is a spiritual key to the kingdom - so when we do not forgive others their trespasses against us, we are retaining them in bondage in the vast prison system of the Gates of Hell prison. When we remit or forgive their trespasses against us, we are loosing them from the chains that hold them bound by the Gates of Hell.

We have been set at liberty, so we can set others at liberty.

When we violate the conditions of our being set free, the parable of Matthew 18 tells us that our own liberty can be revoked. Even though we have heard the revelation that Yeshua is the Messiah, and responded, if we want to STAY free from the chains of all manner of bondages, we must forgive. It is a major essential key to the kingdom so the Gates of Hell cannot prevail against us.

What could be more important than pressing into the teachings of Yeshua and hearing what the Spirit is saying about the mysteries of the kingdom of God in His parables of the kingdom? Only hearing and then doing.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Yeshua means God's Salvation

Yoseph & Miriam took their new Son to the Temple to be circumcised on the 8th day according to the command of God. They named Him Yeshua, which means God's Salvation.

In every language the Name of Jesus is powerful, but I wish our translations had not obscured what His people called Him to His face: Yeshua - yehôshûa, God's Salvation, the Messiah. Yeshua HaMaschiah. His name is made of of two Hebrew root words - yeh-ho-vaw' GOD and yâshaŹ½ salvation.

To not understand Jesus first as a Hebrew boy named Yeshua, born of God to be the prophesied Messiah of Israel, is a disconnect from reality.
We are also used to the term "Christ" but it is the term AND concept of "Messiah" that is the foundation laid by all the prophets - our faith is built on the foundation of the prophets (of the Old Covenant) and the apostles (of the New Covenant).
The prophets of today may be continuing to experience non-acceptance of their role in five-fold New Testament ministry because they have failed to hear and heed what God spoke through the foundations laid by the prophets of Old about Israel. Selah.

I am not quibbling over semantics here. The concept of Messiah is necessary for Jews of all times to understand their own connection to Him who is the Messiah of Israel. Otherwise, they can go on thinking this "Jesus Christ" is just some Christian god that has nothing to do with them.

Why don't we get it? Jews cannot relate to what a "Christ" is, but they all know well what the Messiah means.
They cannot relate the Christian Jesus Christ to the Messiah prophesied for Israel's salvation. The name "Yeshua" is, in fact,purposeful and He was pointedly named - Salvation. It is the same root of the name of Joshua (yehôshûa), who was a prophetic type of the Messiah to come who would lead "all Israel" into the promised Kingdom.

This article was not conceived in order wrestle over terminology or to debate who is right and who is wrong, but for the real issue at stake: the salvation of Israel that is in progress. In our Christian insistence of not recognizing God's purposes in the foundations of our faith that were laid in the prophets of Old FOR THE SAKE OF ISRAEL's SALVATION of how we refer to Him, we become a stumbling block to faith for the Jewish people.

We don't own "Christ" - the Messiah is the salvation of us all - Jew and Gentile.

Some may say, well, all these thousands of years the Jewish people have not recognized that Yeshua was the Messiah, so what difference does it make? The difference is timing. Specifically: God's timing.

The blindness of Israel to their own Messiah was according to the plan of God, this is explained by the apostle Paul - the apostle to the gentiles - in Romans 9-11. The purpose of Israel's blinding was in the plan of God to open the door of salvation to all the nations - not just to Israel.

"For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" Romans 11:32-33

Paul is exclaiming, the human mind has a difficult time laying hold of this "judgment" or plan of God, but in His wisdom, God spoke blindness upon Israel to the Messiah IN ORDER THAT He might open up salvation to all the nations beyond Israel and including Israel again in the end.

That word in verse 32, For God hath "concluded" them all in unbelief - concluded means "to shut together" or "enclose in a common subjection" to unbelief.

Israel's unbelief was a God-thing! It was according to the plan of God from the foundation of the world because "God so loved the world." The whole world - all mankind, Israel and every other nation was always in the heart of God's Salvation. That is why Paul breaks out in praise of the "riches of both the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out."
God's plan makes no sense to the human mind, but it is spiritually perceived - but God's plan was in His Mind from the beginning.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9

Israel did not stumble that they should fall, Paul stresses in Romans 11:11, "Certainly not! But through their fall...salvation has come to the Gentiles." Paul goes on in verse 15 to ask a rhetorical question, "For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?"
Clearly, the Apostle to the Gentiles taught there would be an acceptance of Israel into salvation in the timing and plan of God. There are hints throughout the Hebrew scriptures of this plan, just as there are plenty of hints about what would happen in the life of Yeshua when the Messiah would be born in Israel.

In Deuteronomy 29:4 Moses called all Israel and said to them that the LORD did mighty miracles before their eyes, "Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day."

What we understand from the Word of God is not due to our brilliance or faithfulness, it is a gift of God, lest any should boast. We cannot perceive His truth unless He gives us a "heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear."

The apostle Paul says in Romans 11:25-27 that he would not have us (Christians) ignorant of this great mystery:
"lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part has befallen Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

I firmly believe that self-pride is the legal cause of spiritual blindness, as Paul told the Christians in this Roman letter not to be "wise in your own self-estimation" so you would not miss the great mystery behind the partial blindness that befell Israel. Thousands in Israel DID believe that Yeshua was the Messiah and what they possessed was a humility instead of pride that allowed them to perceive the Truth.

But where does that leave us today as so much of what I call the "cutting edge Church," those that are operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Indeed,the very prophetic portion of the Church that are possessing and teaching of our inheritance in Him, are also GUILTY of having NO VISION for the plan of God that is being revealed in the current harvest underway of "all Israel" just as the apostle Paul predicted?

Are the Jews really more faithless people than all the non-Jewish nations? Is this really what we Christians think, that we are so much better than Israel in the natural that we can believe what they could not believe just because of spiritual superiority?

If so, we need to get over ourselves and just read what the Word has to say about all that. Otherwise, we show ourselves full of unbelief because the Word of God clearly spells out that God blinded the spiritual eyes and ears of Israel FOR HIS PURPOSES to widen the net of salvation beyond Israel to all the nations.

Isaiah 6: 9-10 is a prophetic proclamation spoken over Israel specifically regarding their coming spiritual blindness to the Messiah. "And He said, “Go, and tell this people:

‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
“Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed.”

Why would God put a blindness on the people of Israel "lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their eats, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed?" So that God could "conclude" them all in unbelief and widen His Salvation to all the nations of the world - including Israel.

God did not (and does not) hate and repudiate Israel, the spiritual blindness was for a season. He had (as has) every intention of removing the scales of blindness in His own timing and for His own stated purposes to turn away all ungodliness from Jacob.

At the end of the age, the spiritual scales of blindness like those that were upon the eyes of the apostle Paul, are being removed, and Israel will increasingly be able to see that the Messiah of Israel has come in the form of the Son of man, Yeshua, perfectly fulfilling the the prophecies of Israel's Messiah.

This is why we Christians need to lighten up and realize that Israel has paid a price too - FOR OUR SAKES - in the big picture of God's plan of salvation for man.

Is it such a big obstacle to us to embrace that a Jewish child was born of a Jewish virgin. She named Yeshua according to His destiny to be God's Salvation - the Messiah, not only of Israel but for all the nations?

Can we Christians put our feelings of insecurity aside about "the Chosen People" and look upon those fields and spiritually perceive the fields are white unto harvest?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Healing for the Holocaust

The healing for the pasts of every single one of us is only in Yeshua. I do not say this to minimize this day of remembrance of the devastation of the Holocaust, but to point us all to our sole hope of healing from the devastation and emotional wounds of our pasts.

I have never liked it how others have borrowed the term "holocaust" for their causes. It trivializes the true horrific attempted genocide that took place in the big middle of the European "Bible belt." Every cause that chooses the term "holocaust" to apply to their cause, diminishes what was done to the Jewish people - not in the backwoods of a third world nation, but in a modern Western "civilized" country. Not by personal choices made by individuals, but a collective, organized attempt to annihilate a people from the face of the earth. Comparisons to slavery and abortion are not on the same level as what took place in the Holocaust.

There must be a special memorial for Holocaust, but our memory of the attempted genocide of a whole people is not enough to keep it from happening again. The saying, "Never again!" is understandable, but keeping the memory alive is not enough to stop the powers of hell from inciting another run at the Jewish people. Israel is the center point of the fulfillment of God's plan in the salvation of mankind and that is the target that is on the back of the Jews.

Nor is there ever healing available in the memory of the Holocaust. We must never forget such evil but the healing of every devastation in each of our personal lives, as well as in the lives of the Jewish people, is only to be found in Yeshua.

Isaiah 53:3-5 says of Israel's Messiah,

He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Throughout the scriptures - from the Hebrew through the New Covenant - there is an idea expressed that not many of us like very much and that is the concept of "the fellowship of His suffering." This fellowship of His suffering is not only the role of those of us Christians or Messianic Jews who have taken up His cross, but the nation of Israel, too, has played a role in the fellowship of His sufferings.

The first example that comes to my mind is the scapegoat of Leviticus 16. There were actually two goats in that prophetic picture - one upon whom the sins of Israel were laid as a sacrifice to the LORD for sins, and the other goat, according to verse 10,

"But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD,TO MAKE AN ATONEMENT WITH HIM, and TO LET HIM GO FOR A SCAPEGOAT IN THE WILDERNESS."

Surely this is exactly as the prophetic picture painted, Yeshua was sacrificed as the Passover Lamb for the sins of the world, and the Israel - the Jewish people - were sent out into exile (the wilderness) as a scapegoat "to make an atonement with Him."

I know this may be controversial, but the picture holds perfectly true to the explanation in Romans 9-11 given by the apostle Paul for the part Israel was playing in opening salvation to the Gentiles.

11:7 and 11 "Israel has not obtained that which he seeks for; but the (Jewish) election has obtained it, and the rest (of Israel) were blinded ....I say then, Have they all (Israel) stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles..."

Paul explains that the setting aside of Israel was not a complete rejection and repudiation, but a setting aside for a season in order to accomplish God's purpose of widening salvation beyond Israel to the whole world.

It is the plan of God - explained repeatedly in prophetic pictures throughout the Hebrew scriptures and explained most fully by the apostle Paul where he also said that a time would come when Israel would no longer be locked up in unbelief and "all Israel shall be saved, as it is written" - Romans 11:26.

11:32-33 For God hath concluded ("to shut together") them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

11:15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

In the beginning of this note I spoke to the only healing that is able to truly heal a devastation as great as the Holocaust, and it is Yeshua. Until, as Isaiah 53:10 says, Israel "shall make His soul an offering for sin" there can be no true healing from the national trauma of the Holocaust. There can be memory and the repercussions of being a scapegoat in the wilderness, but only the full revelation of the Father's love through the embrace of Israel's Messiah can wholeness come for the wounds of the Holocaust..

Some of us have experienced considerable trauma and personal devastation in our lives. The only healing that is capable of restoring our wounds to the state of original purity and integrity is the healing that is available to us in the salvation of Yeshua. For salvation is not only a ticket to heaven or an occasional answer to our prayers but it is God's provision for our full restoration, for healing to the uttermost. It is not the light work of the Holy Spirit that many of us have been settling for, not merely being "patched up" but being fully restored "to original purity or integrity."

Who would not rather have complete wholeness rather than just being patched up? It is part of the price that was paid by Israel's Messiah, Yeshua. He who was pictured as a goat upon whom all the sins of the nation were laid. This inheritance of healing is not only for our individual personal salvation, but it is for the national salvation of Israel that has already begun.

Some people will not like that I have identified Israel as the scapegoat sent out into the wilderness, but what was exile from their nation for almost 2,000 years if not being scapegoated in the wilderness? Now we do not yet see "all Israel saved" but who among us that knows the faithfulness of God would believe that God has given the nation of Israel a re-birth - a one of a kind event among all the nations that ever lived and died - if He did not also intend to give Israel a spiritual re-birth?

Is the "fellowship of His sufferings" so difficult to see in the nation of Israel?

When Yeshua was carrying His cross to the place where He would be crucified, He had already borne great affliction, smiting, bruising, chastisement predicted in Isaiah 53. His tormentors "compelled" a bystander in the crowd, a man named Simon from Africa, to help Yeshua carry the cross to Golgotha.

While we human beings often bear the wounds and suffering from living in a fallen world - sometimes devastation to our emotional souls, the good news is that Yeshua is able to fully heal and restore each of those places in our hearts.

The catch is we have to give up those wounds. We can't keep our wounds alive for ourselves, nursing our damaged feelings about the hurt and pain we have just barely endured. To be healed, we have to be willing to give our wounds up. It sounds like a no-brainer, but we often define ourselves by the devastations of our lives. We have to forgive and we have to stop see ourselves through the prism of the pain and suffering.

The only way we can do this is in recognizing that full healing is included in our inheritance of Yeshua's salvation, and by giving Him our wound so He can do for us what no other power or intellect on earth can do: restore us to wholeness.

For Israel, there is a day on God's horizon where all Israel shall be saved. The tears of the Holocaust will be washed from every eye. The hundreds upon hundreds of years of rejection and wounding as the scapegoat wandering in the wilderness will be healed - fully restored to original purity and integrity of the nation before God. It is the promise God made to Abram come full circle.

When Abram first left Ur of the Chaldees, he went out with his father, Terah. Abram's brother Haran, had died before Terah took Abram, Sarai and Haran's son Lot to go to the land of Canaan. Some say that it was Terah that God first sent to the Promised Land instead of his son Abram. I don't know about that but for certain God chose a family line and spoke to Abram's father to leave Ur to the distant land of Canaan.

Terah started the journey but he did not finish it. He only got as far as the city of Haran - the city that had the same name as his beloved dead son. There Terah stayed where he eventually died.

It may be that the memories of his lost son overwhelmed Terah. Haran means "mountaineer" and in prophetic terms mountains are often the obstacles we must overcome to go on with God. Terah was not able to overcome the mountain of Haran, so he stopped on the journey God called him to take and could not go any further.

When we do not give every wound and devastation of our lives to the Lord to heal, we get stopped in our journey too. Abram went on with the calling of God. He did not stay camped out at the memory of the loss in his family, but left his father's house in Haran and continued on the unknown path of God's leading.

We have to do this too. We have to leave behind the place where other members of our family may be camped out mourning the losses of our family line. We have to be willing to go forth in the calling of God to the place of promise where everything God has spoken to us for the future of our families and blessing to be fulfilled.

I would never suggest that Messianic Jews should not remember the Holocaust. It is an important identification with Am Israel. But the future and blessing of Israel lies in the healing - the full restoration of original purity and integrity - that is only available through Yeshua. I would suggest to us all that we each personally lay hold of this part of our inheritance in Him, for the sake of all our families and for their future salvation. If they see us take hold of this measure of healing, we will indeed be a bright light set upon a hill.

The most important identification we can make in our lives is our identification in Him. In my family line there are many identifications I have made from the suffering, wounds, rejection and poverty I can clearly see that have come down to me from the generations before me. I would be the greatest fool of all not trade all of those identifications for my identification in the the Messiah of Israel, by whose stripes I am healed.