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.
As we continue our study in Ruth during this Shavout season, the theme of redemption is prevalent. We read that Boaz became Naomi and Ruth's "kinsman redeemer", or "goel" – from the Hebrew, "lig'ol", to redeem, receive or buy back. In the Torah, a provision had been made for the poor person who was forced to sell part of his property or even himself (into slavery).
The apostle John quotes Isaiah 53:1, saying to whom has the z’roah [arm] of the Lord been revealed? It’s a question that God answers throughout the rest of Isaiah 53, describing in detail the life of Yeshua (Jesus) and the ultimate price He would pay for the sins of the world.
Patience is one of those attributes that you cannot learn by reading about it. It's a quality that can only be acquired by persistent, enduring, practice– and for me it's a drill that I go over, and over, and over again!
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.
I heard a story about a young woman named Linda who was traveling alone up the rugged highway from Alberta to the Yukon. The first evening she found a room at a small-town Inn in the mountains and figured she'd continue her journey bright and fresh, early the next morning. But strangley, when she called down to the front desk and asked for a wakeup call at 5 AM the clerk sounded puzzled by her request.
I'm not sure how much I enjoy the freezing weather here as we're traveling across the United States, but I certainly can't wait till Spring comes! On the Hebrew calendar Nisan is the month that transitions from winter to Spring.
When God called Gideon to lead Israel against their enemies, He wanted to show that a small army empowered by God was more effective than the largest armies. But notice how they fought – without weapons that an army would normally use. They fought with shofars and lamps! They fought with weapons that the world would consider ineffective, yet triumphed mightily over their enemies. They shouted as loud as they could, sounded the shofar, and broke the vessels that held the fire so that their lamps burst through with brightness.
When I was growing up in the 1980's we had a rotary dial phone. You put your finger in a numbered spot on a circular dialer which clicked as it returned to its place and registered the 7 or 10 numbers you selected. It took a full 10 to 20 seconds to complete a call and was really annoying if the number had a lot of 8s or 9s! Then came touch-tone phones…
Colonel G.W. Goethals, the man responsible for the completion of the Panama Canal, had major problems with the climate and the geography as it was being built. If that wasn't enough to deal with, he had an even bigger problem. It was the growing criticism back home from those who predicted he'd never finish the project and had opinions about how to do it better.
The book of Isaiah, often called the Old Testament Gospel, reveals that a child was to be born and his name called “The Mighty God, and the Everlasting Father”. We know that this Child was Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth, that He is the unique Son of God, the express image of the invisible God. The throne of David was to be given to Him and He now holds its "key", a symbol of the right and authority of His reign, which will be consummated when He returns to this world and restores the Kingdom to Israel [Acts 1:6-7].
One minister tells of a wife who came into his office full of hatred toward her husband. "I do not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even! Before I divorce him, I want to hurt him as much as he has hurt me!"
In Matthew, we read that Judas betrayed Yeshua (Jesus) to the Sanhedrin for thirty pieces of silver, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah. Zechariah foretold that the Messiah's price would be measured at a pittance; thirty pieces of silver. Can we imagine valuing a human life in terms of silver? Unthinkable enough…but then this is no ordinary life; it's the life of God's only Son.
During the Feast of Sukkot, the Jewish people took part in a water drawing ceremony on the last day of the feast. They would go down to the Pool of Siloam, draw water and bring it to the Temple Mount. Then they would pour out the water and recite Isaiah 12, "and with joy you shall draw water out of the wells (springs) of salvation." In Hebrew, the word salvation and Yeshua (Jesus, in Hebrew), are the same.
Last night began the feast of Rosh Ha Shannah, or Yom Teruah — the Feast of Trumpets. At the end of the summer the Hebrews are commanded to blow the shofar — the ram’s horn, all day long. The sound of the shofar was a sound of alarm — it told the people to get ready. It marked in the calendar that the summer harvest was over and the day of atonement was near and it was time to stand before God.
When the apostle Paul wrote this letter to his young student Timothy, he taught him some profound truths that I often apply in my life. I suppose when Timothy received these instructions, he was about my age – a young man still developing his skills at evangelism, teaching and instructing.
Race car driving champion Bill Vukovich won the infamous Indianapolis 500 race two times, a record of success few others have achieved. When asked about the secret of his success in the race, Vukovich simply replied, "There's no secret. You just press the accelerator to the floor and steer left."
"Break up your fallow ground." "Fallow" means "hard". A hard heart cannot love; and often cannot even receive it. A hard heart will block relationship with God and with others. Whatever the cause; anger, woundedness, bitterness, unforgiveness, the result will be a superficiality in relationship, an inability to empathize, and a corruption of your motivations.
Early in his life David was forced to flee from his king and father-in-law, Saul — to flee for his life. During this long season of exile and hiding David began to find himself surrounded by loyal friends who joined themselves to him. But these were friends of an unusual kind: they were men who had all been unhappy, distressed, helpless, or in debt — by and large, the outcasts of the world. But an amazing thing happened to these formerly hapless human beings when they joined with David; they were empowered and became his "mighty men." When David finally became King of Israel, these men were ennobled and raised to be princes and officers in his Kingdom.
When the Lord gave Jonah a second chance, He didn't change His mind about the prophet's destination. He didn't lighten the load or change the burden Jonah was destined to carry. There was no negotiation with Jonah where the Lord expressed understanding about his reluctance to go to Nineveh. God didn't concede to send him to Tarshish just because he'd been heading in that direction anyway. Jonah's disobedience and repentance produced a clear and simple result…