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Parashat Ki Tisa (When You Lift Up)
harehemot (Exodus) 30:11-34:35

In our Scripture portion this week, we can see that whatever God asks or requires of us, He will also give us the tools through which to do it. When we read the amazing description of what God required of Moses and the Children of Israel in the construction of His sanctuary in which He would dwell, it’s easy to think that meeting all of the requirements would be impossible! But that is not how God works…He always provides a way:

“ Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. “And I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship. “And behold, I Myself have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, and the ark of testimony, and the mercy seat upon it, and all the furniture of the tent, the table also and its utensils, and the pure gold lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering also with all its utensils, and the laver and its stand, the woven garments as well, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, with which to carry on their priesthood; the anointing oil also, and the fragrant incense for the holy place, they are to make them according to all that I have commanded you.” Exodus 31:1-11

From the verses above we can see that God chose a man named Bezalel to accomplish the task, and that God Himself equipped Bezalel with all that he needed. He filled him with His Spirit, which brought wisdom, insight, knowledge, and the talent needed to fulfill all that God required. Not only that, but God also provided helpers for Bezalel, Oholiab and other skilled workers, so that he would not “burn out” from the responsibility.

When I reflect upon the great call that God had for Moses and the Children of Israel, I can’t help but think about the great call that God has given us, His followers, in building His Kingdom. It is no doubt a call which is greater than us; however, we can be encouraged that in the same way God provided His Spirit of wisdom, insight, knowledge, and talent in the past, He also provides for us today.

But we also need one another to fulfill the call! Bezalel could not accomplish the task on his own, but needed the help and support of others. We are foolish to think we can accomplish what God asks of us by ourselves, in our own strength. This is what it means to operate as a body! We each have gifts and talents that the Lord has bestowed on us, with which we use to encourage and edify one another, for the building of His Kingdom.

With what talent did God bless you? Are you using it for the glory of His Kingdom?

Shabbat Shalom,

Parashat Terumah (Offering)

Parashat Terumah (Offering)

Shemot (Exodus) 25:1-27:19

What are you holding onto in this world that is more important than God? Genesis 1:1 opens with the words, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” God is the Creator of this world, and everything in it belongs to Him.

In this week’s Scripture portion, the concept of tithe is introduced when God instructs Moses to tell the children of Israel to take up an offering for Him, which He calls, “My donation (offering).”

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Tell the sons of Israel to take a donation (offering) for Me; from every person whose heart moves him you shall take My donation.”

Exodus 25:1-2

In other words, God was telling the Children of Israel to give Him a portion of what was already His from the beginning of time!

But there is an important spiritual principle established in this verse. From this scripture, one ought to understand that everything within this world is from God and for God. Oftentimes, we treat that which we have as ours; however, we need to remember that whatever we have has been entrusted to us for a very specific purpose: to glorify Him!

In addition to this, we can also understand something about God’s concern for the condition of our hearts. As His children, we have the honor to know Him, love Him, honor Him, and partake in His plan. This should bring us great joy! When the Lord said that each person should give as “his heart moves him,” He was acknowledging that each of us can choose how to bless Him! There is no “set limit” for how much we give back to Him. We are not doing God any favors! Instead, we give back to Him a small portion of what He has given us from a joyful, grateful heart.

Let us search our hearts for what motivates us in our walk with the Lord. Are we motivated by fear? By an expectation to receive back from Him? By love and gratitude?

He deserves our best heart’s attitude!

Shabbat Shalom,

Parashat Yitro (Jethro)

Parashat Yitro (Jethro)

Shemot (Exodus) 18:1-20:23

Do you know that your testimony of what God has done in your life can change others’ lives? In this week’s Scripture portion, we see a very interesting occurrence:

“Now Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel His people, how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt.”

Exodus 18:1

The word was out, so to speak! News of the many signs and wonders that God did for the people of Israel was traveling! Jethro heard about it, which indicates that people were speaking about it, and he brought Zippora (Moses’ wife) and their two sons to Moses to hear his account first-hand. I wonder if Jethro wanted to confirm with Moses that the rumors of all of the great things that God did were true? Was it possible that they were so incredible, almost too incredible to be true?

“And Moses told his father-in-law all that the LORD had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians on behalf of Israel, all the hardship that had befallen them on the way, and how the LORD had saved (Delivered) them. ” Exodus 18:8

What we have here is Moses sharing his testimony with his father in law; he confirmed that everything Jethro heard was true, and possibly even filled in details that were missing from the rumors! Jethro’s response is very significant in that it shows how powerful the telling of one’s testimony (God’s story) can be in changing someone’s life:

“And Jethro rejoiced over all the goodness which the LORD had done to Israel, in delivering them from the hand of the Egyptians. So Jethro said, “Blessed be the LORD who delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of Pharaoh, and who delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. “Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods; indeed, it was proven when they dealt proudly against the people.” Exodus 18:9-11

As Jethro heard Moses’ personal testimony, it was no longer that he just heard about God’s mighty power, but he now knew that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Israel and of his son in law, Moses, was (and is) indeed the Almighty, the ruler of the Universe, and that He indeed is greater that any other!

A few years ago, as I entered a restaurant, I saw a group from Australia sitting at a nearby table. A few of them stopped me and told me that they knew me from somewhere, but I did not really pay much attention, thinking they were joking. Then one man said to me, “I’m sure I know you. Where do I know you from? “ I responded that he probably saw me share God’s story of my life (my testimony) somewhere. His response to me was, “Yes, I saw your testimony, but I didn’t think you were real.” As strange as it sounds, that man had to personally meet me in order to know that I was real.

But isn’t that how we are with God? For many years, I heard about God, but it was only when I said to God, “I want to know you, not just about you”, that I encountered the Living God through Messiah Yeshua. I experienced a personal deliverance knowing the same God who delivered my people from Egypt thousands of years before, had also done the same for me.

We’ve all heard about Him…but do you know Him?

Shabbat Shalom,

Parashat Ve’eira (And I Appeared)

Parashat Ve’eira (And I Appeared)

Shemot (Exodus) 6:2-9:35

In my most recent blog entry, I wrote that our faithful God heard the cry of the Children of Israel, and He remembered His covenant that He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He saw their terrible situation, and in His perfect time, He began the process of redeeming His people and delivering them from slavery.

Our weekly portion this week starts with a wonderful reminder of what was written above: “God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them. “And I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. “And furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage; and I have remembered My covenant. “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. ‘Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. ‘And I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the LORD.’”” Exodus 6:2-8

In this Scripture portion, God speaks to Moses. The first thing He tells him is, “I am the Lord”, which is a reminder that He indeed is the One and Only Almighty God, the One who was, who is, and who is to come. It is also very significant that He reveals to Moses His sacred name, יהוה (Yod Hai Vav Hai), which He did not reveal when He appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Why did God only now decide to introduce Himself by this sacred name?

This marks a shift in the way God deals with the Children of Israel; by revealing to Moses His name, then reminding Moses of the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob, and then repeating all that HE would do (“I will bring you”, “I will deliver you”, “I will also redeem you”, “I will take you”, “I will be your God”), He brings Israel into a deeper understanding of Him as their Lord. He makes sure that they understand that He will do so in love and also for His own namesake.

The second important point that we can see is that God intended to glorify His name not only among the Hebrew slaves, but also among the Egyptians. Pharaoh, the people of Egypt, and all the people throughout the world would know that יהוה is the one true living God!

In last week’s parasha, Pharaoh makes a very revealing and tragic statement, “But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5: 2

Historically, it is known that Pharaoh considered himself god; the Egyptian people worshiped him as such, and considered him highest above all beings on earth. What Pharaoh said in Exodus 5 shows this to be true, while also revealing a prideful, stubborn heart.

Elohim, the creator of the world, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the one an only true God; He will not share His glory with anyone! He is greater than anyone or anything and is more powerful than any earthly power or ruler. In Exodus 7:4-5 He says,

“When Pharaoh will not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt, and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments. “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”

And then in 8:22-23 (8:18-19 in the Hebrew Bible) He says, “ ‘But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of insects will be there, in order that you may know that I, the LORD, am in the midst of the land. ” And I will put a division between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall occur.’”

Again, in both examples above, God makes it clear that He does what He does in order that everyone would know that He is God Almighty. He also says that He will put a “division” or “redemption” [which is a more accurate translation of the Hebrew word used here (פדות -pedut)], in order to show the difference between the Children of Israel (God’s people) and the people of Egypt (Pharaoh’s people).

What can you and I take from this? First, we can be sure that God is the protector of His people. What a great hope and assurance we can have today knowing that we believe in the same God who performed such wonderful, mighty miracles for the Children of Israel! Second, we can rest in His wonderful redemption for all eternity!

But each person must choose for him/herself…to which group do you want to belong: God’s or the world’s?

Shabbat Shalom,

Parashat Shemot (Names)

Parashat Shemot (Names)

Shemot (Exodus) 1:1-6:1

This week, we begin studying a new book in the weekly parasha called Shemot (Exodus). The literal translation of the Hebrew is “Names”, which comes from Exodus 1:1: “These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household…” There are many various pearls of wisdom in this week’s portion, which are relevant to our lives today.

Chapter 2:23-25 describes the harsh, difficult reality of the Children of Israel during those times (this is my translation from the Hebrew text):

“ During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the sons (children) of Israel groaned because of their work (labor) and cried out (wailed). Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the children of Israel—and God knew.” Exodus 2:23-25

We have all been in tough, perhaps even desperate, situations. Like the Children of Israel, perhaps you cried out to God, hoping that He would change the situation, only to find that it got worse. Or perhaps you thought, “If only things were different…” Have you ever lost your hope? Have you ever taken your eyes off God?

When the king of Egypt died, perhaps the Children of Israel (who had been enslaved) hoped that their situation would improve or change. However, as the scripture indicates, nothing changed, and the children of Israel cried out for help, desperate to change their situation.

Our faithful God heard their cry, and He remembered His covenant that He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He saw their terrible situation, and in His perfect time, He began the process of redeeming His people and delivering them from slavery.

The first point I would like to make is that, regardless of the circumstances you are facing, God is with you. He is faithful, He sees everything, He knows everything, and you can find great comfort in this truth. In His time, He will deliver you from the situation, and during the challenge you face, He will give you the strength to stand firm.

The fact that God remembered His covenant is proof of His faithfulness! Regardless of where we are, whether or not we deserve it, our God is a trustworthy God and we can find great assurance in this truth! We can see this demonstrated in Exodus 3:6-10 when He calls Moses to deliver His people from Egypt:

“And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.””

This brings me to my second point: God called Moses to do something great, even though it was terrifying to Moses. In essence, God gave Moses the amazing honor to partake in His miraculous plan of redemption! There was no way that Moses could foresee just how miraculous it would be…he had to follow the Lord regardless of not being able to see the end result.

But we can understand Moses’ fear! He was, after all, a human just like you and me. How many times have we become paralyzed by fear because we focused on the huge mountain before us rather than on the One who can move the mountain?

“But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?””

My brothers and sisters, just like Moses, we have been called to something that is much bigger and greater than us. We are called to confront the “Pharaohs” of this world…we are called to partake in God’s miraculous plan of redemption, not only for Israel, but also to the entire world. But we can do nothing in our own strength. The giants are too big for us to conquer alone. We must look to Him and rely on His ability to move the mountain!

Are you looking to God, trusting Him to give you all that you need to fulfill the task He has given you? Or are you like Moses when God first called him, giving God all the reasons why you aren’t able to answer His call?

Just remember that you can indeed do all things through Him who gives you strength (Phil. 4:13)!

Shabbat Shalom,

Parashat Mikeitz (From the End)

Parashat Mikeitz (From the End)

Beresheet (Genesis) 41:1-44:17

Joseph was a man of incredible godly character. In my previous blog entry [Parashat Vayeishev (And He Dwelt)] we learned of Joseph’s remarkable faithfulness to his God in spite of his circumstances and the extreme injustice that he suffered by his brothers and Potiphar’s wife. Joseph’s faith and obedience to God was tested through this temptation to sin with his master’s wife. However, it’s Joseph’s response to her in verse 9 that we see why he was the man who he was: “How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?” Joseph knew that if he dared to touch his master’s wife, it would cause him to sin against his beloved God, and that grieved him more than anything.

His faith was not in the words that he spoke, but rather in the way he lived; he chose to live righteously before the Lord, even at the cost of the false accusations that followed. Joseph’s refusal to compromise initially cost him greatly, but eventually brought great reward. Living righteously before the Lord can be difficult, and can cause us to lose those things that the world considers important…but in God’s economy, it will bring us blessing and reward!

Our Parasha this week starts with an amazing description of the way it all began to turn around for Joseph…

“Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream, and behold, he was standing by the Nile. And lo, from the Nile there came up seven cows, sleek and fat; and they grazed in the marsh grass. Then behold, seven other cows came up after them from the Nile, ugly and gaunt, and they stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. And the ugly and gaunt cows ate up the seven sleek and fat cows. Then Pharaoh awoke. And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time; and behold, seven ears of grain came up on a single stalk, plump and good. Then behold, seven ears, thin and scorched by the east wind, sprouted up after them. And the thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears. Then Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. Now it came about in the morning that his spirit was troubled, so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh.

Then the chief cupbearer spoke to Pharaoh, saying, “I would make mention today of my own offenses. “Pharaoh was furious with his servants, and he put me in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, both me and the chief baker. “And we had a dream on the same night, he and I; each of us dreamed according to the interpretation of his own dream. “Now a Hebrew youth was with us there, a servant of the captain of the bodyguard, and we related them to him, and he interpreted our dreams for us. To each one he interpreted according to his own dream. “And it came about that just as he interpreted for us, so it happened; he restored me in my office, but he hanged him.”

Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon; and when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh.” Genesis 41:1-14 (NASB)

It is important to note that all this took place two years after Joseph was first put in jail. Joseph was always faithful to God in each and every trial that he endured, and we see that his faithfulness was paid off in a great way. In chapter 40, we see how God’s wisdom in Joseph brought him great favor. Joseph was able to interpret difficult dreams, which eventually was his ticket out of jail and caused him to become the second most powerful man in Egypt.

Yet, Joseph never became arrogant. Even here we see that Joseph knew where his wisdom came from and was always faithful to give his God all of the glory:

“And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it; and I have heard it said about you, that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” Genesis 41:15-16 (NSAB)

A more accurate way to translate verse 15 from the Hebrew is, “And Joseph replied to Pharaoh to say, ‘Without me, God will answer the peace of Pharaoh.’” Joseph told Pharaoh that it had nothing to do with him, but that rather God Himself is the only one who can give the answer, which would bring peace back to Pharaoh.

There is so much we can learn from Joseph – and God’s character – in this account! But my dear brothers and sisters, I want to encourage you that regardless of your current circumstances, your faithfulness and service to the Lord will bring great reward in the end; keep your eyes on Him and persevere no matter how grim it seems. God does work in ways that we don’t always understand, but we can be encouraged to know that He IS at work!

I am reminded by the wonderful words of exhortation from Colossians 3:

Col. 3:12   And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of the Messiah richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Yeshua, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart. Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Yeshua whom you serve.” Colossians 3:12-24

It is He whom we serve! Let us not grow weary in doing good and keep our eyes fixed on Him.

Shabbat Shalom,

Parashat Vayishlach (And He Sent)

Parashat Vayishlach (And He Sent)

Beresheet (Genesis 32: 3 (4 in the Hebrew Bible)-36:43)

Has the Lord ever asked you to do something that terrified you, or that seemed bigger than you? In our parasha this week, God commands Jacob to go back to the Land that He promised to Abraham and Isaac. Jacob had fled the land in fear of his life over 14 years prior, after he tricked his brother, Esau, out of his birthright.

“And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who didst say to me, ‘Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will do well with you,’ I am unworthy of all the grace and of all the faithfulness which Thou hast shown to Thy servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies. “Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me, the mothers with the children. “For Thou didst say, ‘I will surely make it well for you, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’” Genesis 32:10-12

Jacob knew that God was calling him to return to the Land. He also knew of the possible danger that he would face from Esau. Yet, Jacob knew God! He knew of God’s promises and faithfulness; he knew that God was his protector and defender and therefore he was willing to trust the Lord in this matter.

I am currently leading a group of 74 people from the USA, Mexico, Guatemala, and India on a life-changing tour in Israel. The other day as we were leaving the Galilee, I asked the people to imagine that they are in a boat in the middle of the sea, and that Yeshua is beckoning them to “come.” Would they be willing to leave the boat to do what seems impossible and walk on the water?

The boat here represents our security and comfort. It’s the obvious vessel that we trust to carry us on the sea. Yet, just like it was with Peter who took the step of faith and walked on the water, so it is with us! Are we willing to leave our “boat” – our place of comfort and security – and walk by faith?

We can do all things in Messiah Yeshua who gives us strength. But if we take our eyes off of Him, we are guaranteed to slowly sink… but we can find great comfort that, just like Peter who cried, “Lord save me!” so it will be for us.

In closing, let us be encouraged by Jacob’s example to remember God’s faithfulness, to step out of our comfort zone, and to trust in His endless grace.

Shabbat Shalom,

Parashat Vayeizei (And He Went Forth)

Parashat Vayeizei (And He Went Forth)

Beresheet (Genesis) 28:10-32:3

This week’s reading portion begins with the amazing account of Jacob’s dream, where God Himself reaffirms the unconditional covenant that He made with Abraham, Isaac, and now to Jacob:

“Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. And he had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. 14 “Your descendants shall also be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. “And behold, I am with you, and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:10-15

As I wrote in my most recent blog entry, Parashat Toldot (Offspring), we can see the Lord’s undying faithfulness to fulfill His word. He has a very specific plan, and although it seems impossible from man’s perspective, He will do the “impossible” to accomplish it!

Verses 16 and 17 are two key verses, which I believe carry prophetic elements. In verse 16, it is written, “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”

My dear brothers and sisters, the truth of the matter (which is a fact that cannot be denied) is that there is a God, He is real, He is the Creator of the world, and He is sovereign over everything within it.

Jacob’s sleep is actually a metaphor for his unawareness of the God of his father, Isaac, and grandfather, Abraham. However, as we read in this account, Jacob “woke up” to the reality that God is real, and that God was there in that place.

In many ways, it reminds me of my own personal story before my eyes were opened to God’s existence; it was a personal encounter with the Lord that made me aware of His presence. It did not matter how much one would try to prove Him to me because I was blind to the truth. However, at the moment that I said “yes” to Yeshua, I could see that God was indeed real, and not only that, but I could see that He had been with me through my entire life.

Verse 17 says “And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

It is amazing to see here the connection between the terms “the house of God” and “the gate of heaven”. The only way one can enter into the house of God (heaven) is through the gate. At the gate sits the King, our Messiah, and He will either give you access to enter into His house, or not…no one comes to the Father but through Him! There is no other way to enter the house of God, no shortcuts.

My dear brothers and sisters, it is the same for us today. The only way to enter into His house is through the gate, and the only way to be granted permission to enter through this gate is through the revelation and acceptance of the sacrifice that God has given to each of us. In short, there is no other way to enter the house of God but through Messiah Yeshua.

Are you awake to the existence of God? Do you know that He is here, and that Messiah Yeshua alone can give you access to the House of the Lord?

Shabbat Shalom,

Parashat Chayei Sarah (The Life of Sarah)

Parashat Chayei Sarah (The Life of Sarah)

Beresheet (Genesis) 23:1 – 25:8

In my most recent blog entry, Parashat Vayeira (And He Appeared), I wrote that I love the account from the book of Genesis 18:9-15 for many reasons; it reveals to us something about God’s character, His faithfulness to fulfill His promises, His unlimited favor, grace, and power, and the greatness of His ability to do what man thinks is impossible.

In this week’s parasha, we can be encouraged to trust and take hold of the Lord’s faithfulness to fulfill His promises, and take comfort in His unlimited favor, grace, and power; He alone can do what man thinks is impossible, and nothing will thwart His plan. Armed with this understanding, we can walk with Him without compromising and trust Him in all of our ways.

In Genesis 24, we read an amazing account that took place as Abraham sends his servant to bring a wife for his son, Isaac, in order to witness the fulfillment of God’s promise to bless him and his descendants, and to multiply them in numbers so that through him all the people of the earth would be blessed:

“Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in every way. And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, “Please place your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but you shall go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” And the servant said to him, “Suppose the woman will not be willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?” Then Abraham said to him, “Beware lest you take my son back there! “The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me, and who swore to me, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give this land,’ He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there. “But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this my oath; only do not take my son back there.” So the servant placed his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter.” Genesis 24:1-9

Once again, Abraham’s faith was translated into action! Here, we see that he sends his servant to bring a wife for Isaac. He clearly understands that the line must be through his relatives, and not through the pagan Canaanites.

From here, the servant himself begins an amazing journey as he commences his search for that wife of promise, but even more than that, the servant is also tested in a way to trust that God will be faithful, and if he (the servant) would have the amazing privilege to partake in that miracle himself. We see this in verse 12 as he says, “O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, would it happen before me today, and you did (or showed) and act grace to my master Abraham.”

I can only imagine the excitement of Abraham’s servant as he stood patiently, waiting to see if God would make good on His promise: “Meanwhile, the man was gazing at her in silence, to know whether the LORD had made his journey successful or not.”

As we know, the Lord was indeed faithful and He provided Rivka (Rebecca) as Isaac’s future wife of blessing, and that Abraham’s servant had great “success” in his mission.

As I stated earlier on, this parasha demonstrates how we can be encouraged to trust in the Lord to do all that He has promised, to take comfort in His unlimited favor, grace, and power, and to know that nothing will thwart His plan! Even a humble, lowly servant demonstrated an awesome faith in Almighty God; verses 48-51 speak to this:

“And I bowed low and worshiped the LORD, and blessed the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had guided me in the right way to take the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. “So now if you are going to deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, let me know, that I may turn to the right hand or the left.”

Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, “The matter comes from the LORD; so we cannot speak to you bad or good. “Behold, Rebekah is before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has spoken.”

My dear friends, what is it that the Lord has called you to? Has He asked you to believe that He can do what seems impossible? Do you trust that He has already provided everything that you need to accomplish that call?

Do not lose heart or be discouraged…He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until Messiah Yeshua returns! (Phil 1:6)

Shabbat Shalom

Parashat Vayeira (And He Appeared)

Parashat Vayeira (And He Appeared)

Beresheet (Genesis) 18:1 – 22:24

“Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “Behold, in the tent.” And he said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. And Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” Sarah denied it however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”” Genesis 18:9-15

I love this account from the book of Genesis for many reasons; it reveals to us something about God’s character, His faithfulness to fulfill His promises, His unlimited favor, grace, and power, and the greatness of His ability to do what man thinks is impossible.

In our Parasha this week, we read of God’s faithfulness to Abraham to fulfill a promise that He made in Genesis 12 (see Go Forth! (Parashat Lekh Lekha)); not only did God call Abraham, but He also made a great promise of blessing for Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 12:7).

In Genesis 18, God once again reaffirms the promise while revealing the specific way in which He will do it. Although fulfilling this promise would require a great miracle, He would demonstrate His unlimited power and ability as the Creator of the world to do all things, especially those that are beyond man’s ability.

Remember, Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old (Genesis 17:17). It’s understandable that Abraham and Sara both doubted the possibility that this great miracle would happen. Sarah was way beyond childbearing age (in man’s eyes), and yet that is the reason God chose to perform this great and amazing miracle through her! He operates in the supernatural realm, which reflects His awesome nature. This miracle that He did in Sarah also foreshadowed an even greater miracle which would occur in another woman, as prophesied by Isaiah:

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a young women (virgin) will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

A key phrase in Genesis 18 is found in verse 14 when God said to Abraham, ““Is anything too difficult for the LORD?” The Hebrew word which is used here can be translated as “wonder, miracle, something which is drastically amazing”, and this helps us to better understand that there is nothing on this earth which is too big for God, nothing that He can’t do. What a great assurance and confidence we have as His followers!

Not only was Isaac’s birth miraculous, but so was something that happened later in his life. God once again displayed His character through this event, also as it foreshadowed an even greater miracle, which would take place thousands of years later. Our parasha also speaks of it in the sacrifice of Isaac:

“Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” And He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship and return to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.

Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there, and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” And he said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.” Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. “And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham lived at Beersheba.” Genesis 22:1-19

The above account describes a loving father who demonstrated his faith in God by being willing to give his only son, whom he loved dearly, even at the cost of sacrificing him on the altar. Through Abraham and Isaac, God clearly foreshadows what He Himself would do in giving His only Son, Yeshua, as a sacrifice for us. And just like Yeshua, Isaac was a loving son who trusted His father to the very end, not speaking or complaining.

The parallel between Isaac and Yeshua is striking; part of why I love this story so much is that it shows how deeply the Father loves us – even from time immemorial – and how much Yeshua was a willing Son who trusted the Father to the point of death, and took on Himself the punishment that was meant for each one of us.

What an amazing God that we believe in!

Shabbat Shalom,

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