There are many who are not aware of the very deep significance of Bethlehem,Yeshua's (Jesus') birthplace. Everyone knows that Bethlehem was a place where shepherds grazed their sheep, and where the Messiah was to be born, but do not realize that it was a town designated as the birthing place for lambs which were used for the Passover sacrifice. The Scriptures give significant details about this little town lying slightly south of Jerusalem.
A National Geographic article published a few years describing a real celestial event which took place at the time of the birth of Jesus reminded me of Risto Santala’s explanation in his book, "The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings". He wrote about a conjunction of major planets that took place which could have led the wise men from the east, to Israel.
Last week began the Biblical festival of Rosh Ha Shana. What's interesting about Rosh Ha Shana (the Jewish celebration of the New Year), is that it doesn't fall on the first day of the first month. It actually falls on the first day of the seventh month! It's difficult for outsiders to understand this concept, but if we study how the Jewish year begins and how God is outlining this age according to the Jewish feasts it all makes sense. The first month of the Jewish year begins with Passover. Two thousand years ago, the new age began with the crucifixion of Yeshua (Jesus) on the Cross on Passover! Next, Messiah rose from the dead precisely on day of the celebration of first fruits. Then, fifty days later, the Feast of Shavout (Pentecost) began the celebration of the harvest season. This day marked the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the beginnings of the first harvest right here in Jerusalem as three thousand souls came into the kingdom!
The LORD bared His holy arm, in a manner of speaking, God rolled up his sleeve(s) and revealed Yeshua, (Jesus) in the eyes of all the nations. A major sign of the end of this age will be the preaching of this gospel of salvation ("yeshua", in Hebrew) to the entire world for a witness to all nations. We are called to participate in this mandate.
While the mighty men of David were warriors and could fight with the best of them – they also took time to relax and feast with King David.
Among the mighty men of David were those of the tribe of Issachar whose special gift was their understanding of the times, a gift of prophetic insight; and this was such a precious gift because included in their discernment was the ability to know how to apply it. In our time prophecy is everywhere. Yeshua (Jesus) warned us that there would be false prophets in the last days, especially approaching His second coming, and He said the prophecy would be so subtle and the false signs so powerful that even the elect might be deceived if that were possible; [Mt. 24:24] While it's clear to many of us that we're living in prophetic days, there are also millions who have no clue of the current times and seasons.
In the 1883, Captain Sampson of the British navy witnessed one of the greatest volcanic eruptions in history which took place in Indonesia. The eruption was so powerful that its shock waves traveled around the world seven times. The volcano shot miles of debris into the atmosphere which fell to earth as far away as Madagascar – over 2000 miles distance.
The Hebrew expression in this verse from Isaiah is rich with meaning. The root "nus" (from the expression "raise up a standard") is related to or sounds like numerous words which mean "sign", "miracle", "to drive away", "to flee", "cause to disappear", "a waving flag". This abundance of meanings in Isaiah's poetic style reveals the multiple dimensions of God's revelation; in this case, the way he deals with evil. The assertion in this word is that the Spirit of YHVH will be powerfully activated when evil comes.
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.
The writer of Ecclesiastes was aware of cycles in nature, how they repeat themselves. Some have noticed another interesting historical cycle which awakens our awareness at this time of year. The dates April 19th-20th contain an interesting pattern. This is a time frame which has seen the birth of much havoc in the world.
Toward the end of 1941, as the second world war was raging in Europe, the Japanese ambassador was sent to Washington D.C. apparently seeking peace; however back in Japan, the emperor was planning the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese empire sent their ambassador to D.C. as a distraction, so the sudden attack on Pearl Harbor took the United States completely by surprise.
Yesterday Israel celebrated Yom Yerushalayim or Jerusalem Day. It marked the 45th year of the restoration of Jerusalem back into Israeli hands. Hundreds of thousands of tourists have come to participate in the various celebrations going on in this beautiful city today.
During the days of the Temple, the Levities were in charge of keeping the Temple holy. So throughout the night, the captain would make his rounds to make sure that those assigned were watching attentively, so that no one would defile the Temple during the night. If a watchman was found sleeping, he was beaten and his garments were set on fire so that he had to return home naked in his shame!
We've just returned to Israel and the region seems to be nothing but a boiling cauldron ready to erupt. In just a few days, we will celebrate the Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot, in Hebrew. Most Christians recognize this holiday as the Feast of Pentecost — the time when the Holy Spirit descended and empowered His saints to accomplish the mission of global witness to Yeshua (Jesus).