"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.
The king of the birds was looking in the mirror one day and was disappointed to see that his feathers were not as bright as they were once. "I am getting old," he said, "I think it will soon be time to choose a new king". He decided to announce that on a certain day, all the birds will gather and present themselves before him so that he would be able choose from among them the most beautiful of all to be their next king. The crow got wind of the king's plans and began to fret. "There are so many beautiful birds in the kingdom and I am only a colorless crow. I don't have a chance at becoming king." Suddenly, he had a terrific idea. He began to search through the woods and fields for colorful feathers fallen from the wings of his companions, and stuck them in amongst his own.
Here's another interesting Hebrew word parallel. The Hebrew word for "love" or "affection", "chiba", is formed by the same root letters as the word, "chova", "obligation", "debt", or "duty". In Hebrew, the only difference between these two words is a few vowel points. But you say, "Isn't love the very opposite of obligation !?" Well, yes and no. The Hebrew language has a wonderful way of relating concepts which seem incompatible.
There’s nothing we can do to earn God’s love, however if we want to experience His blessings we need to observe the qualifications that He’s given us in His Word. Psalm 112 details a whole list of blessings, but the key to receiving them is verse 1.
Here in Israel we have an interesting geographical phenomenon – there are two landlocked seas. One is alive and one is dead. The sea full of life is the Kinneret, better known as the Sea of Galilee. The dead sea is…….you guessed it, the Dead Sea. Now the Kinneret is constantly emptying as it flows through the Jordan River valley…. into the Dead Sea. But the Dead Sea does not empty its water at all. Instead, the Dead Sea is continually shrinking, because the intense heat at this lowest place on Earth actually evaporates more water than is flowing in. Do you see a parable here?
Biblical Hebrew uses a grammatical form called "s'michut". This form joins two words together to form a single word form. We have this in English: for example, a door and a knob are two nouns, which are used to form the word "doorknob", a compound noun. This form of joining nouns is found in Judges 6:12. The expression, "Angel of the Lord" is rendered, "angel-YHVH"; (Yud-Hay-Vav-Hay); in modern English — "angel-Yehovah". Then, suddenly, the narrative changes from "angel-Yehovah" to simply, "Yehovah". Here we see another appearance of YHVH in human form in the Old Testament. The God-Man, Yeshua in a "pre-incarnate" appearance.
One of the most fascinating sites to visit in Washington D.C. is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. For 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, a platoon of 30 honor guards protects the tomb through rain, snow and even hurricanes! It's been guarded every minute of every day since 1937.
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!