Numerous modern critics of the Bible say the resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus) is simply a myth based on pagan stories of "resurrected gods" from around the world, and that the authors of the New Testament borrowed from these myths and incorporated them into the Bible. But the similarity of two stories proves nothing about their origin or truth content. The Jews of Yeshua's time were steeped in Old Testament monotheism which had a well developed tradition of resurrection believed and taught by the Pharisees. Polytheistic pagan ideas would have been abhorrent to men who understood and practiced the Judaism of the apostles and New Testament writers.
During the Biblical festival of Shavuot, the book of Ruth is read. It's a powerful story of faith, restoration and redemption. The book opens with a famine in all the land surrounding Bethlehem, forcing a difficult decision upon Naomi's husband, Elimelech. Now, Bethlehem (beth: "house", lechem: "bread") literally means “house of bread”, so the irony of Elimelech's departure from his home, "house of bread", during a famine, is lost on English speaking readers, but reveals that every detail in the word of God can be meaningful, especially the meanings of names.
As we spoke across the United States these past months, it seems we were continually met with a spirit of apathy and a lack of understanding about the times in which we live. Despite all the things going on in the world today, the sense of urgency about the hour seemed lost among many.
One of the paradoxes of our walk is that God’s gifts often require work on our part. After He delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians, the Lord led them to the Promised land and told them He was going to "give" it to them. It wasn't long before they realized, however, that they were going to have to fight battles and overcome fortified cities in order to inhabit the land. God did promise that they would not have to fight the battles on their own, but even with this divine advantage the Israelites themselves would be required to destroy their enemies – they would still need to fight.
The Lord is quoted in this scripture in Matthew and it contains an important principle which I think we sometimes tend to overlook. Many believe and even teach that if someone acquires much material prosperity, then God has surely given them favor, and that if someone is undergoing extreme trial, it must be because they have sinned or that they lack faith. But the Lord says that the sun rises and the rain falls on both the righteous and the unrighteous alike. A life of good circumstances does not necessarily mean that God is with us. And likewise, a life of trial and suffering does not mean that God is not with us!
One of my favorite "hidden" lessons in the Pesach (Passover) celebration "Seder" meal is the mystery of the “afikomen.” This specially prepared meal– during which the participants are reminded of Israel's supernatural deliverance from Egyptian slavery by the mighty hand of God– also includes 3 particular pieces of matzah, (unleavened bread). These three are placed in a "matzah tash" — a special pouch containing three compartments…
We often develop strategies, game-plans, life-plans – and then, at some obstacle or critical point, we say – "Just stick to the plan!" It's usually good advice.
An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. His contractor was sorry to see such a good employee go, and asked him if he would build just one last house as a personal favor. The carpenter agreed but his heart was not in it. He resorted to bad workmanship and using cheap materials.
Two hunters came across a bear so big that they dropped their rifles and ran for cover. One man climbed a tree while the other hid in a nearby cave. The bear was in no hurry to eat, so he sat down between the tree and the cave to reflect upon his good fortune. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, the hunter in the cave came rushing out, almost ran into the waiting bear, hesitated, and then dashed back in again. The same thing happened a second time. When he emerged for the third time, his companion in the tree frantically called out, "Woody, are you crazy? Stay in the cave till he leaves!" "Can't," panted Woody, "there's another bear in there!"
An official of a mission board, who knew it takes more than just desire to make a missionary, was appointed to examine a candidate for the mission field. He told the young man to be at his house at six o'clock in the morning. The young man complied and arrived a six o'clock sharp. The examiner kept him sitting alone in the room until ten…
A life without a goal is like the captain of a ship without a map and a compass. His ship will just drift aimlessly from day to day hoping to arrive somewhere. The apostle Paul set for himself a goal! He pressed forward in search for his goal — he pressed toward the mark of the high calling in Messiah! He had a clear direction of where he was going and he was focused on the Lord! How much more should we!
A reader asked a pointed question, "How do we claim the promises of God?" Sometimes the most difficult questions are best answered by men of faith, in this case, by a man who made a lifestyle of claiming the promises of God. I learned the answer to this question early in my walk when I read the autobiography of George Mueller.
One of the greatest stories of the Bible is David and Goliath. It's such a good story, in fact, that the world has come to make common use of it! A prime example of this is when the underdog faces an invincible champion in just about any sport on national television, commentators always seem to make mention of David and Goliath.
In a traditional Jewish marriage, a contract known as the 'ketubah',(which means 'that which is written', in Hebrew) is signed be both the bride and groom. Originally, it included the price of the bride, the promises that the groom must keep and the rights to which the bride is entitled.
The African Impala (an African antelope) are amazing creatures that can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance greater than 30 feet. Yet Impalas can be kept in a zoo inside an enclosure with a simple 3 foot wall. Why? Impalas will not jump if they can't see where their feet will land. Do we have something in common…
Solomon wrote, "a merry heart has a continual feast!" But why does it seem like so many of us are not feasting? How do we maintain a merry heart?
D.L. Moody spent many hours praying for faith. He once said, "If all the time I have spent praying for faith was put together, it would be months. I thought that someday faith was going to come down and strike me like lightening. But faith did not come. Then one day I read in the 10th chapter of Romans, "So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." I now opened my Bible and began to read God's Word and faith has been growing ever since."
An ancient Hebrew commentator wrote of this verse, "In the words of our teachers of blessed memory and in the Midrash [ancient Hebrew commentaries of the O.T.], it is taught that the 'breaker' is Elijah and 'their King' is the branch of the son of David."
The testing of Abraham's faith was repeated by YHVH throughout the patriarch's entire life. The tests grew greater as his life advanced, and through every one, whether Abraham passed or not, YHVH proved Himself to be his friend over and over again. Every test or "trial" involved a serious challenge or threat in which Abraham had to trust that the LORD knew what He was doing, asking, or requiring, and that His goodness and faithfulness were unquestionably reliable.
This passage in Isaiah contains a poetic play on words which is lost to any reader but one who understands Hebrew. A word for word translation runs something like this: “If not you will believe (lo ta-aminoo), surely not you will be established (lo te-amenoo).” The three letter Hebrew root – "aleph"- "mem"- "nun", is the same in both words, and the Holy Spirit through the prophet Isaiah is clearly playing on this root to emphasize His point. The same root letters are also used in the spelling for the familiar word "Amen" which literally means "truthfully".