As we continue to probe the lessons from the salt covenant, we now inquire into our part in the covenant.
For years, when I visited my father-in-law's home in Jerusalem on the Sabbath, we would break bread and bless the bread with the traditional blessing – "Baruch Ata Adonai Eleheynu Melech HaOlam Ha-Motzi Lechem Min Ha'aretz" – which translated means,"Blessed are You Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has given us bread from the earth". After the blessing, my father-in-law would take salt and sprinkle the challah bread as he broke and passed it to everyone at the table.
When Ruth pledged her alligence to Naomi and to the God of Israel, it wasn't based on, "What ifs?" or circumstances. It was a faith rooted in her devotion to Naomi and God even to the point of death!
When Peter and John had gone up to the Temple for prayer [Acts 3], they saw a man who was lame from birth, and were moved to heal him in the name of Yeshua (Jesus). Immediately the religious leaders laid hands on them [Acts 4:3] and kept them imprisoned for a day. The following day, with boldness, they declared this miracle was done in the name of Yeshua. I love what the "religious" leaders said next — "they perceived that they were unlearned men and they marveled at their boldness!" Why were they bold? They had been with Yeshua, and the leaders took note of that!
Between the years 1861-1865 the United States found itself in the midst of a bitter civil war over the issue of slavery, and several other serious disagreements. By the time the North won the war nearly 620,000 soldiers had perished. There were many in the North who were so embittered that the South had dragged them into such a deadly conflict that they wanted the South to pay dearly.
As the world celebrates the end of 2014 and enters into 2015, it looks toward the conclusion of yet another year. However, God has not been working his plan according to the Gregorian calendar — but rather according to His own calendar. For example, when Yeshua (Jesus) was crucified, and became the Lamb of God slain for the world, it was on the Biblical feast of Passover (Pesach in Hebrew).
It ought to be obvious to all of us believers that we are in a spiritual war that is taking place all over the earth — and that we are called to fight in this battle. In the world's armies, soldiers are not sent into battle before receiving many months of serious training. They need to get physically in shape first and then to learn how to handle different wartime situations and tactics of the enemy.
"Exhausted but still in pursuit…" Well, now we know why the angel of YHVH addressed Gideon the way he did. With his small three hundred man army he had just decimated the army of Midian — but the victory wasn’t complete, and so the Jewish general and his small, exhausted, hungry, band were determined to cross the Jordan and take care of 15,000 additional Midanite enemies and their leaders, Zebah and Zalmunna.
In Israel, couples are married beneath a "huppah", which is a beautiful canopy under which the ceremony takes place. The word "huppah" means "covering" but also, a "chamber" or "marriage room". So the canopy is a reminder that the marriage chamber is the most important room in the house for a husband and wife because it's the most intimate room. The huppah emphasizes marital intimacy and reminds us that even if we have the most luxurious mansion in the world, neglecting the place of intimacy spells deep trouble for our marriage.
When Paul wrote to the Philippian church he spoke of pressing forward for the prize of the high calling. Though he was physically content whether rich or poor, [Philippians 4:11] the apostle was not content with his spiritual condition, but constantly seeking a deeper, more intimate and fruitful walk with the Lord…
The world these days is full of bad news, with tensions growing in the Middle East, economies on the brink of collapse, and nature constantly adding to the chaos with one disaster after another. It's a time of trouble all right, and for us believers it may sometimes be hard to believe – but it never is as bad as it seems. Let me illustrate with a joke I like to share with my messages.
The God-ordained Feast of Tabernacles is a prophetic feast, and one which will be kept by all the people of the world in the coming age. In resurrected bodies, we will be celebrating this feast, year to year in Jerusalem during the millennial reign of Yeshua (Jesus)! Can you imagine it — celebrating with the King of Kings! If that's not something to anticipate, I'm not sure what is!
During the American Civil War in the 1860's, a fierce battle took place at Altoona Pass. It was a key supply point for the Union Army, so the Confederate Army led by General Hood sought to take Altoona Pass which held over a million and a half rations. When Union General Sherman realized Hood's plans, he dispatched General Corse along with 1,500 men to hold the city.
So the captain came to Jonah, and said to him, "What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish." At this point the captain (who probably worshiped Baal and Yamm, god of the sea) has more faith than Jonah.
It must have been a bad storm. These men were experienced, hardened sailors who had seen it all at sea. If they were scared, this could have been the first "perfect storm" since Noah's flood. So they started the first interfaith prayer meeting in the Bible, each man crying out to his own god. As the ship groaned and creaked in howling wind and massive waves, and the men threw cargo overboard in a desperate attempt to save it, where was Jonah? On deck helping them? Confidently praying to His own God? Shaking with fear and paralyzed with deep conviction? No, he’s taking a nap down below…
For the next week or so we'll be looking closely at the life of Jonah the prophet. Jonah was told to "preach against the city of Nineveh", that was in the ancient kingdom of Assyria. Nineveh was a major city on the banks of the Tigris River about 500 miles north and east of where Jonah was; located on a contemporary map in modern Iraq, about 300 miles north of Baghdad. Archaeologists have found the ruins of ancient Nineveh right outside the Iraqi city of Mosul. Yes, the same Mosul that was taken last week by jihadists!
Just over six years ago, our second, Obadiah was born and he's grown so much! It's amazing to me how fast these kids grow. He has long since outgrown his newborn clothes and is now fitting into kids clothes, sheesh! Weighing in originally at just over 8.1 lbs, he's already pushing 50! He likes to eat — the kid can't get enough!
The world loves the extraordinary, the spectacular. It relishes on the big, bright, grand and expensive. I remember when we traveled through Las Vegas years ago, to speak at a church in Carson City. Uyy! The lights, the size of everything — crazy! But all I could think as we rolled down Sunset Strip was how sad it is that this is what the world finds extraordinary. The bigger, the brighter, the more expensive — the more the world worships it.
I love fishing… but sadly, I haven't been able to fish for quite a while. There's the Mediterranean, but other than that, the few good fishing spots in Israel are not really available to the public. So sad. Nevertheless, fishing gives me a chance to get a break from the world and just relax and meditate — and on a good day, maybe catch a fish or two. But there are different kinds of fishermen, and different ways of fishing…
My wife has had an interesting life. Here, she shares a small portion of her past: I was born in Israel. My parents divorced when I was a toddler and my mother met and married a hippie American tourist who was searching his roots in Israel at the time. Later, we went back to the States with him. Little did we realize that he was heavily addicted to drugs and this among other things made for a very unhappy family and little on which to live.