Light on the Rock Blogs

The blogs are short articles, almost like a “sermonette” compared to a sermon. They are on a variety of topics, please enjoy.


R. Herbert

Recent statistics suggest that as many as 40% to 50% of marriages in some developed countries end in divorce. The divorce statistics for second and third marriages are even higher (practice evidently does not improve performance), and these sad statistics underline the even more unfortunate truth that many of these divorces were undoubtedly preventable.

While some marriage splits are, of course, the result of adultery, drugs, alcohol, spousal abuse and other problems, the great majority of divorces claim “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for dissolution of the marriage bond.  This is where the aspect of preventability enters into the picture. “Irreconcilable differences” is really just an expensive way of saying “incompatibility,” and at the heart of many divorces – and of problem marriages which somehow stay together – it is incompatibility that is so often cited as the underlying problem.

Now in most all cases where incompatibility is cited as an issue, it was not present at the beginning of the relationship (we doubt many couples who always considered themselves incompatible get married) – it is something the marriage partners feel “happened” as time progressed.  But the truth is, incompatibility between a man and a woman usually never just “happens” – it is present, under the surface, all the time.  It is simply that marriages begin to falter when couples begin to focus on their incompatibility.  A century ago, in his bookWhat’s Wrong with the World, G.K. Chesterton put it this way:

“I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one. The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable. For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible.”

These may be among the wisest words ever written on marriage problems.  They are based on the undeniable fact that most marriages occur because “opposites attract.”  But when  marriage begins we are focusing on the “attract.” As marriages progress, if we are not careful, the focus switches to looking at, and dwelling on, the “opposites.”  Our point of view shifts and we begin to see our relationship differently – and as we do, the problems develop.

Simple as it may sound, the quality of every marriage, and every day within every marriage,  depends on how we look at our partner. We must remember it is not that beneath the attraction there are differences we must somehow try to suppress, but that the differences between us are so often the root and cause of the attraction itself –  and we mean not just the sexual aspect, but the full range of psychological, spiritual and physical attraction.

A happy marriage is, then, always one of managed incompatibility. We can certainly do what we can to make it easier for our mates to deal with our differences where they are problematic (Romans 14:19 – “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”), but each mate must concentrate on how he or she sees the other – we must continue to look at the attractive things about him or her.  There is perhaps no more helpful scripture on this fact than the words of the apostle Paul:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

We render this wonderful advice useless by consigning it to nice thoughts about pleasant ethereal things.  But this approach is a potent marriage problem solver.  If we apply these words  in the sphere of our relationship with our mate  – in constantly looking for, affirming, complimenting the good things we appreciate about each other on every level – the matter of incompatibility usually becomes increasingly a non-issue.  

Incompatibility is not the destroyer of marriage; it is the healthy tension that forms the basis of meaningful marriage relationships. The more we begin to see each other in a positive way and keep our focus there, the more we see attraction and the less we see opposites.  In fact, we become more and more able to celebrate our incompatibility – and good things happen when we do.  In the words of Genesis: “He created them male and female and blessed them….” (Genesis 5:2). We see God blessed the marriage relationships not generically as unisex, unithought, uniform pairs of mankind, but blessed us as male and female – blessed us in our differences.  

COMMENT from Philip  Shields, host of this website:

I couldn’t agree more. Please allow me to comment.  My wife and I couldn’t be two more different people. I married my exact opposite. And so have many of you. This caused for many opportunities of seeing incompatibility, but it took us a long time to realize, as R Herbert explains, that this could be healthy.  I also realize there truly are cases where couples are in a dangerous and toxic relationship – and I don’t refer to those – but even then, see what the Spirit can do before bolting from the marriage.  

I have the highest respect for R. Herbert and have known him for decades. I believe too many marriages “give up” too soon when they hit the turbulent waters caused by two rivers (lives) coming together.  Work through those incompatible turbulent times and smooth waters lie ahead when the 2 rivers value what each brings to the flow. 

If my wife and I, married almost 42 years now, left every time we had a huge disagreement (OK – a fight) – of which there have been many – we’d have divorced long ago. But instead, we pray over our marriage, and we realize each brings qualities to the marriage the other does not have. If my wife was exactly like me in all perspectives and thoughts, why would I need her?  And if I was exactly like her, why would she need me? It’s when we both grew up enough to VALUE the other’s viewpoint and request it, and when we learned to apologize more quickly and express our undying commitment to the marriage – that we grew in our marriage.  I have given my wife cause to leave, but she felt she could trust the Holy Spirit to convict me and change me and that is what she saw happening, so we worked things out. Praise our King and God in heaven.  Healthy incompatibility.  I like it. It’s all in how you look at what you have in front of you.  Thank you, R Herbert, for letting the Spirit of God speak through your pen. It’s worth a second reading, and a third. 

R. Herbert (a pen name) served as an ordained minister and church pastor for a number of years. He holds a Ph.D. in ancient Near Eastern and Biblical studies and writes for a number of Christian venues as well as for his websites at and  

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“…They have also divided up MY land” (Joel 3:2)

Though I originally posted this in 2013, it is even more timely today. I’ve added a few relevant sentences as well.

How does our heavenly Father – who gave a large swath of land to Israel – view efforts by world leaders, including those from the USA, who seem to be siding with those who want Israel to give up “the West Bank” and the Golan Heights?  Israel already has given up the Sinai Peninsula, which they conquered. They’ve already given up the Gaza strip as well.  But in those “land for peace” deals, did they receive peace? Terrorists from Gaza, in particular, have rained down thousands of missiles into Israel since that time. So there was no peace that resulted from giving up land. America certainly would not put up with that if our neighbors were raining down thousands of missiles into our land.

Be sure to watch this short video about some strange linkage of disastrous events here in the USA every time we tried to prod Israel to give up more land in exchange for peace.  

But how do you negotiate land with people who have vowed you have no right to exist?  Iran’s recent missile tests included one with a warhead with a written message painted on it that went something like “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth”. Hamas and Hezbollah certainly have no regard for Israel. And now recently the UN – with USA under Obama abstaining, NOT supporting Israel - - basically condemned Israel for their activity on the West Bank, including Jerusalem – all land that GOD gave to Israel millennia ago! And prior to the 1967 war, the West Bank was not Palestinian – but belonged to Jordan. People forget that.

What’s next?  Israel is a tiny country, smaller than New Hampshire!  Let that sink in! There’s not much land to “give up” and still have any buffer zones for security.  Their tiny country is surrounded by much, much larger and much more populous Islamic countries. When rockets are fired from Gaza or Lebanon, Israeli citizens have 15 seconds from the time they hear the alarms, to when the rockets explode around them.  By contrast, when Israel strikes a civilian hiding terrorist leaders, Israel gives that area 15 minutes of notice that a strike is coming. Of course their intended target gets the message as well and flee. 

I’m not a prophet, so with that caveat, let me suggest:

  • Watch for efforts to grow to declare Jerusalem an international city owned by no one but “belonging to the world”, as a compromise move to “create peace”. Jerusalem does NOT belong to the world but to God, as you shall see.  International “peace” soldiers from the UN or Europe could then surround the city, providing the security. But read Luke 21:20.  The surrounding armies MAY initially come as peacekeepers. Imagine that!
  • There will be strong efforts to force Israel to halt any further construction in lands anciently given by God to Ephraim and Manasseh, around the area of ancient Samaria, now called The West Bank.  This area includes the Palestinian hotspots of Ramallah and Nablus. 
  • Then strong coercion will be placed against Israel to give up the West Bank altogether. Please don’t forget that the Hamas, Hezbollah and PLO have also sworn to fight until every Jew has been driven out or killed. That’s who Israel is dealing with!  And those terrorist groups are supported, trained and financed by Persia (Iran) and others. Secretary Kerry of the USA has publicly stated recently that his government under Obama does not agree with Israel’s right to build on the West Bank.  Well, Mr. Kerry, you’re wrong. God gave Israel that land, and God says they have a right to build there, live there, and own that land.

What man says means nothing if it goes against the stated wishes of Almighty God. Read the rest of this blog for what Almighty GOD says about dividing up the land He gave Israel. 

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Are you a “son of Korah”?

Are you “a son of Korah”?   Some of you instinctively might recoil at that thought if you know who Korah was.  However there is a singing group who sing psalms and other spiritual music who call themselves the Sons of Korah. They don’t seem to mind the moniker. How about you?  If someone referred to you as a “son of Korah” (or “daughter of Korah”), how would you feel about that? 

Who was Korah?  He was a Levite of the Kohath clan (Exodus 6:16+) and was a younger cousin of Moses and Aaron. Korah’s notoriety was based on the story of Numbers 16 where he apparently led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron.  He – along with Dathan and Abiram of the tribe of Reuben and 250 princes and leaders from other tribes – apparently were discontented with Aaron and his sons taking the role of priest to themselves. They felt all the nation was holy and other leaders should have equal access to God in the tabernacle holy place. In Korah’s mind, Aaron and Sons had separated and elevated themselves above the other Levites.  Moses saw right through all this and even confronted Korah by asking, “… and do you want the priesthood also?” (Numbers 16:8-11).

It would be worth reading the account yourself in Numbers 16.  Korah and his followers ended up being swallowed up in a massive “sinkhole” – but this hole also closed over all those it had captured.  The 250 other leaders who had censers of incense, were executed by a fire from God for their insolence (Numbers 16:31-35).

Now to the point of this blog.  What happened to Korah’s family?

We’re told that the households of some of the other rebel leaders like Dathan and Abiram of the tribe of Reuben were all together – and that entire families were swallowed up by the earth opening up and swallowing them all up.  Yehovah actually told Moses to warn the congregants to “get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram”.  (Numbers 16:23-24).  So many of the neighboring families did obey and distance themselves but the immediate families of these men “stood at the door of their tents, with their wives, their sons, and their little children” (v. 27). 

Numbers 16:31-35  “Now it came to pass, as he (Moses) finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods.  So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.  Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, "Lest the earth swallow us up also!" And a fire came out from YHVH and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense.”

Before this story ends, 14,700 more rebels were killed by the plague sent by God (v. 49).

So who were the sons of Korah?  The awful story of Korah shows that descendants can choose a different path than their father or grandfathers. Click on ‘Continue reading’ to learn the inspiring story of how the sons of Korah ended up in the years after their father’s rebellion.

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UN Resolution 2334 and prophecy

In the last days, perilous times shall come – so wrote the inspired apostle Paul (2 Timothy 3:1).  That’s especially true if you live in Israel, and especially now after Obama’s administration shamefully abstained from the vicious UN Security Council Resolution 2334. 

There are 5 nations that have veto power in the UN’s Security Council.  Any one of them who vetoes a resolution kills it from going forward.  USA has traditionally protected their little brother Israel from the hateful attacks of the UN by casting the supremely important veto vote for the past many decades.

But not this time.  USA abstained. That’s like being your little brother’s protector from the many neighborhood bullies that want him to cease to exist – and then in this most recent of attacks, we walk away and give our tacit blessing to the attack.  Sorry little brother.  Israel, we know there is a living God in heaven who is your true Protector, but still America, still President Obama, this was shameful.  And it was equally shameful for other members of the Council including New Zealand, UK and France to cast their votes against Israel as well.

When the entire Middle East is in flames, when Syria has killed over 600,000 of its own citizens in their war, when Iran is poised to own nuclear weapons of mass destruction, when ISIS is out there crucifying and burning Christians alive and beheading children and anyone they wish, when atrocities are happening in dozens of countries – including those on the Security Council – they pick on Israel.  More resolutions have been cast against Israel than all the rest of the nations combined.  Indeed Jerusalem has become a stumbling stone to the nations.

WHY was this vote so critical?  How does this set us up for prophecy being fulfilled especially in Jerusalem, which will be “ground zero” for the most climactic and intense future events (coming soon) the universe has ever seen? What does it mean for the coming administration?

Will it bode for peace – or more war?  Can 2017 be a year of terrible war against Israel?

It’s looking like 2017 may be a pivotal year.  The Balfour Declaration – which opened the door for there to be an Israel in the Middle East – was signed in 1917, exactly 100 years from 2017.  The Six Day War – which gave East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount back to Israel – was exactly 50 years ago from 2017.  And we’re coming up soon to 70 years since the official start of the new nation of Israel in Israel! 

Click on Continue reading to get a glimpse of what could be coming as a result of this shameful Resolution 2334.  

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Seeking HIM so you’re LED by the Spirit

I recently recorded a sermon on “Being Led by the Holy Spirit”.  I want to add a couple points for more clarity. I hope you will hear and read that sermon of course, but as you do, keep these points in mind too. 

As I pondered my own sermon, several things came clearly to mind. Many of you probably already know and “see” these points, but it will be a good reminder and may be a clarifying few points for others.

Being “led by the spirit” clearly means, in the contexts given in Romans 8 and Galatians 5, that we are fighting the works of the flesh and are seeking to live as a child of God.  The family or kingdom of God’s way is so different than the way of the world and their god.  So when we receive the Holy Spirit – an extension of God Himself – we become a child of God.

To those who believe in the name of the Son of God – Jesus Christ, Yeshua the Messiah – and receive Him into their lives and hearts,  to them is given the right to become children of God (John 1:12).  Then as a child of God, we cry out to our God – “Abba, Daddy! Father!” as we lift holy hands in prayer to Him and seek HIM.  We don’t flee in terror, for we “were not given the spirit of bondage to fear” (Romans 8:15) but of sonship into this awesome family!  The very family – the kingdom – of God.  Amen, hallelujah. 

Now as we understand this, we will want His way more and more – and will hate sin more and more. And even as we do stumble into sin, at least we’re at the point where we can say with Paul, that sometimes “that which I HATE, I do” (Romans 7:14).  We surely come to hate the sin that still tries to capture us. And we love being in tune with our dear Abba in heaven, our daddy, who loves us beyond description, as the story of the Prodigal Son and the parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15 illustrate so well.

So we obey in love and adoration, not out of fear. But yes, we do obey. Yes, we now fight sin. 

What follows next in this important blog is what I wanted to add to make it even clearer, as we seek to be led by God’s Spirit. Click on Continue reading to get the important focus we need to have.

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In recent worship meetings I’ve been in, it has often struck me how different groups will practice this matter of raising your hands in prayer or worship – or NOT lifting hands in prayer and worship. I suspect in the groups that don’t practice it, if someone were to raise their hands in prayer and worship, it wouldn’t be long before someone in authority would be trying to discourage any repetition of this.  
In one recent group I attended, maybe 6-7 hands would go up out of 150 or so in attendance.  In another meeting, perhaps half the adult audience was raising their hands at one time or another.  I fear that it has become so ingrained in us to either raise our hands in prayer and worship --or not raise our hands-- that it will be hard for anyone to change, unless we are truly convicted to let Scripture guide and lead us.  Also, pray about it and ask God’s Spirit to lead you and me into all truth, as Yeshua promised.  So read on to learn what scripture says about this. 

Let’s start with the clear teaching and examples from YHVH’s word: 

1 Timothy 2:8
“I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath…”

King David says in Psalm 41:2:
“Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”

When the Jews returned to Jerusalem from Babylon, we read in Nehemiah 8:6, pertaining to ALL the people, including women and children present (v.2): 
6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God.
Then all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

We know the story of how Aaron and Hur lifted up Moses’ arms during the battle with Amalek in Exodus 17:8-13.  When Moses’ arms were raised in petition to Yahweh, the Israelites prevailed. When he dropped his arms in fatigue, Amalek had the “upper arm”.  Thank Yah that there were men ready to support Moses when he was tired.  May we also be there for one another, raising each other up in prayer to our heavenly throne of grace.

Here’s one way I understand it:  We are Abba’s children, no matter how old we are. Have you ever watched a three-year old or even a six-year old rushing to their beloved father whom they haven’t seen for a while?  They run towards him with arms raised, as Daddy is bending down to pick them up.  That’s my picture.  I think of praise and worship like this.  We are his children, He is our Abba, our dear father.  We’re thrilled with Him, and so we reach up to Him, even as He is reaching down to us.

Another one:  I remember my own daughters – and later my son – when they were little. If they became afraid of something or someone, they would run to me (or their Mom) with their arms raised, wanting us to pick them up and assure them that everything was alright.

So here are a few more, using NKJV throughout.  However, I use the original Hebrew “YHVH” where they say “the LORD”.
Psalm 28:1-2
To You I will cry, O YHVH my Rock: Do not be silent to me,
Lest, if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. 
2 Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You,
When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.

Psalm 134:1-2
Behold, bless YHVH, All you servants of YHVH, Who by night stand in the house of YHVH! 
2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, And bless YHVH.

Psalms 63:3-4
3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. 
4 Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.

When we worship with King David in the new kingdom coming, we WILL see him raising his hands in worship and prayer.  Will you and I follow his example at that time? If so, why not now?

Solomon must have often seen his dad doing this, so Solomon also raised HIS arms in prayer at the dedication of the temple: 
1 Kings 8:22
22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of YHVH in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven;

If you’re not used to this, it may take a while to feel comfortable. Do it in private, in your own room as you pray privately at first.  If you attend where others already are doing this in worship, it should be easy to try it at services. If this is not done where you worship, perhaps begin by lifting up your hands to your chest/shoulder level and see how that is perceived or if anyone says anything. Have the above scriptures ready, if you are questioned.  If it is forbidden, maybe it’s time to worship somewhere else.  Don’t cause offense; just move to a group that welcomes worshiping with raised arms.

I’m not saying everyone or anyone has to raise their hands in prayer. But I am saying neither should it be forbidden. This is a most personal choice, a personal decision -- and surely church authorities should let their brothers and sisters worship as each is led in his or her heart.  Try it. It adds a whole new dimension to your worship.  Remember, we are His Children.  Abba seems to enjoy seeing His children raise their arms up to Him as we come to Him in song, praise and worship.

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Trusting in Trump – or God?

I find it very interesting to see and read the various Facebook gloatings and woeings (if there’s such a word) since the Trump election.  Some are so glad that Trump is the next president. Others loathe him. Some are so glad Hillary didn’t make it – while others literally shed tears of despair for her.  And it’s not just people of the world doing this. Oh not at all.  We also see all this going on with believers, children of God-- the very citizens of heaven above! 

Children of God, what’s going on?  Have we forgotten what is most important about all of this?  What role does President-elect Trump play?  Should we trust in him?

Click on “Continue reading” to find some reminders from scripture of where our focus should be.

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Remember – we’re SOJOURNERS

I suspect too many of God’s children are getting too wrapped up in this world’s election.  Don’t forget: we’re sojourners on this planet.  This is not the world or country that is what our life is all about.  We await the perfect Leader, and a wonderful capital city in heavenly Jerusalem above.  All of creation groans as it waits for righteous leadership to rule the earth.  The hills and the trees of the earth will sing for joy and “clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12) when the children of God are revealed.  THIS is what we get excited about. 

Hebrews 11:13-17

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

The choices we have before us in the U.S. election are not good ones. One may appear to not be “as bad” as the other. One may appear to “be worse” than the other – at least in our minds. But this system has to come to an end, and great will be the fall thereof when it falls, before we can sing our hosannas  as we’re struck by the heavens unfurling above us and finally see our King of Kings, our Beloved Redeemer coming in the clouds.  Mighty angels will scatter out, collecting the saints and bringing us all to Him. 

THAT is the election we should be excited about. And WE must make our election SURE. 

This is what it’s all about.  The sooner the new world comes, the better. 

We’re pilgrims, strangers and sojourners (1 Peter 2:11; Psalm 39:12; Genesis 47:9). Our real citizenship is in heaven above. Let’s never forget it. 

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God’s children don’t do Halloween

If you put “Halloween” in the search bar of this website, you’ll find other articles or blogs on this same subject.  This coming Monday night will be Halloween – All Hallow’s night, or Hallowed Evening – but it’s anything but hallowed/holy. 

I hope you holy children of God will have nothing to do with this evil time.  We will not participate. We will not give out candy. We will probably stay home – with the lights out and won’t be answering the door. We never do on Halloween.

Just think about it:  it’s a day that features witches, demons, dead people, people who look like someone chopped their head with an ax, blood or appearances of blood.  You’ll see whole neighborhoods decorated in dark, scary and evil backdrops.  Children will dress up – and some won’t look so bad, but others will be dressed up in the most satanic, awful, ugly, ungodly costumes one could imagine.  And movies on TV for a day or two before this evil evening are all about demons, vampires, death, violence, murder and sin of all types. 

If you’re unclear about the origins of Halloween, just do your own research. It won’t take you long to discover the dark and demonic roots of this evening. Let’s not have anything to do with this. 

God says have no interaction with these ungodly days.  You may not agree with me when I also teach to keep God’s true holy days and not the pagan holidays of the world – but this one, Halloween, surely is plainly and obviously evil, isn’t it?  Please ask God to open your eyes to see this, if you’re struggling with this and want your children to have fun of dressing up and participating in this horrible night. 

I’ve found out that when we parents are strong for our God and His ways, our children “get it” real quickly.  Show them the real joy and fun that we can have in God and his ways. If you BE their parent and show them how Halloween goes so strongly against everything God stands for, they will follow your lead.  Don’t apologize for standing up for God. Be brave and strong. Pray about it first and God will lead and inspire you and put the right heart into your children.

Look at these:

Click on “Continue reading” to the right to see several scriptures that clearly tell us what our heavenly Father thinks of all this and what He wants us to do.

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Fasting – don’t just go without food

On this Day of Atonement, we fast. That’s what scripture says we must do.  But we must not just go without food on this day. Remember fasting has a purpose. 

On this day of fasting, read Isaiah 58 prayerfully and slowly.  Be sure you’re fasting in a way that draws you closer to God and results in real change.  Fast today – and repent deeply of any spiritual lethargy, sin that you or I are allowing in our lives, and for not living and applying the things we know from scripture.  And yes, I do preach first and foremost at myself.  I too, have been on my knees in deep repentance and asking God to change me by His spirit.

So don’t just go without food today.  Fast with purpose. Fast to change. Fast to repent.

Isaiah 58:3-14

3 'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?'

"In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exploit all your laborers. 4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness.  You will not fast as you do this day, to make your voice heard on high.

 5 Is it a fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul?  Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?  Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to YHVH?

            Note:  DON’T JUST GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS, God is saying to us.

            Now in the next verses he speaks of fasting that should bring results.

6 "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?

 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;  When you see the naked, that you cover him,  And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

            NOTE:  now watch what God will do in return as He sees us applying Godly ways to our life.

8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of YHVH shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and YHVH will answer; [Who wouldn’t want more answered prayer?]

You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.'

"IF you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

10 If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul,

Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday.

11 YHVH will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

12 Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall rise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.

13 "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,  From doing your pleasure on My holy day,  And call the Sabbath a delight,  The holy day of YHVH  honorable,  And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,  Nor finding your own pleasure,  Nor speaking your own words,

14 THEN you shall delight yourself in YHVH; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.  The mouth of YHVH has spoken."

SO yes –fast. But let’s fast with lots of prayer and asking God to help us become ever more like him moment to moment.  

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WHO is the One who takes away our sin?

Day of Atonement special


The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, is upon us (10th day of Tishri, Oct 12, 2016).  One of the prominent events of this day when sacrifices were offered before Christ came, was the story of the two kid goats.  Leviticus 16:5 actually says that the two goats together were to be seen as one sin offering.  They represented different aspects of the redemptive process.  One goat was offered and killed as a sin offering and its blood sprinkled in the Holy of holies and elsewhere. Everyone agrees on that one.

But also on the Day of Atonement, all the sins of the nation were declared and placed on to the head of the kid goat that was selected to be the azazel goat. Then a fit man led this little young goat – which had not really done anything wrong – out into an uninhabited part of the wilderness. You can read the whole story in Leviticus 16.   Really, how much wrong can a young kid goat do?  Many have tied this azazel goat (translated “scapegoat” in many Bibles) to Satan being bound, mentioned in Revelation 20:1-2.  And note that the kid goat was not bound but led out of the camp as it walked out, tied to a rope held by the man leading it out. 

But now the point of this blog.  For decades I believed what I was taught – that the azazel goat represented Satan! The story went like this:  that when it’s all said and done, Satan is bound (like Revelation 20:1-2 says) and that all our sins are put on Satan’s head where it belongs.  So Ellen G. White and the Seventh-Day Adventists began teaching that the day of Atonement with God actually features Satan in some of its aspects. Then leaders from Radio Church of God, later renamed Worldwide Church of God, also began to accept Ellen G. White’s original theory and to teach it. 

Many of you will wonder why this is even a question. But if you are part of, or have come out of, any of the Church of God groups that were associated in the past with Herbert Armstrong or even the Seventh Day Adventists, you probably have heard that one of the two goats represents Satan.  I do hope you’ll hear my full sermon on this topic.

But does Scripture say Satan has anything to do with this day? 

Click here on “Continue reading” to see what Scripture says. 

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Why Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets) is called a “memorial”

This divine appointment day (festival) is interesting in many fronts.  Most have forgotten the Biblical name of Yom Teruah – Day of Shouts and blasts – and have replaced it with the non-Biblical name Rosh Hashanah.  ON this website, we still use the Bible name for this day – Yom Teruah, the Day of Blasts. 

Here are a few things that make this day so unique:

--- It’s the only festival that starts on the new moon. That’s why I want to be sure I’m keeping it starting on the day of the first visible new moon and not on a day moved by rabbis who did not acknowledge the Messiah with their 4 Rules of Postponement.  Remember that a “new moon” in Bible days was readily acknowledged in much of their written histories as being the time when the moon once more was giving visible light after 1-3 days of darkness.  

--- It’s the holyday with no reason given for its observance.  We’re just told to keep it, to rest, and to make it a day (Yom) of blasts/noise, blowing (Teruah).   We’re plainly told the reasons for keeping Passover, Days of unleavened Bread, Shavuot – Pentecost, Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Booths for example – but nothing is said to explain the purpose of this festival. Mankind has come up with many conjectures and explanations, but I’m just saying, the Bible doesn’t anywhere say, “This is why I want you to keep Yom Teruah”.  We’re simply told to observe it with a holy meeting, keep it like a Sabbath rest and don’t work on it, and make it a memorial of blowing.  (Leviticus 23:23-25)

Leviticus 23:23-25

Then YHWH spoke to Moses, saying, 24 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest,a memorial of blowing of trumpetsa holy convocation. 25 You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to YHWH.'"

--- It’s also said to be a day of “a memorial of teruah (blasts)” – usually translated as “a memorial of blowing of trumpets”.  Keep in mind the word “trumpets” is nowhere in the original Hebrew about this day. We know 2 silver trumpets were blown on all the holydays but on this day they also blew the shofar, the ram’s horn, over and over. Today the Jews blow their shofar 100 times on this one day. 

But why is it called a memorial of blasts?  The scriptures don’t tell us.  The Hebrew work is Strong’s # 2146 – zikkaronor zichron– meaning memorial, remembrance, record, or reminder.  It was used to help people remember past significant events or to bring certain things to mind. Joshua’s stone monuments (Josh 4:7) were a zikkaron. Written records were a zikkaron (Ex 17:14; Esther 6:1).  Really it pointed to events that were pivotal points in God’s working with man.

Here are some points to consider.

(Click on “continue reading” to read the rest of the blog).

A shofar was the horn from a ram. The first time a ram’s horn was used for deliverance, and this is well known in Jewish circles, was when the Angel of YHWH stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac.  There was to be a sacrifice on Mt. Moriah, the future site of the temple, but God provided the offering, just as Abraham had said (Genesis 22:8).  They saw a ram struggling as its horns were stuck in a bush (Gen 22:13). 

The ram’s horn ever since has been seen in Hebrew circles as a symbol of how Yah keeps his promises and watches over His children. The ram’s horn is also a picture of the ultimate sacrifice of Yeshua on our behalf: HE was the Father’s sacrifice – and it went all the way until he died.

It’s significant that the ram was tangled up in a thicket of thorns (Genesis 22:13)….as was Yeshua (Jesus) (John 19:2; Matthew 27:29).  Thorns were a symbol of the curse on sinful man when they were about to be cast out of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:18). Yeshua took the cursed thorns upon his own head as he paid the price for the curses against humanity. All who accept Him are able to have the curses of sin removed and put upon his holy head.  Amen.

This is also a memorial – or reminder – of what is yet coming.It’s a “zikkaron of yom teruah” – to use part of the Hebrew – “a memorial of blasts and noise”.  It’s a reminder that amidst our joyful shouts of victory, we will be returning triumphantly with Christ to rid the world of terrorists and bullies and start the new way of governing under ben David – the Son of David, the Son of God. 

This is a day of shouts, of praising, of singing, of clapping, of blowing on shofars – of being JOYFUL in our Messiah – if you are a believer in Yeshua.  Remember the verb form of Teruah refers to clapping, shouting, making noise in praise.  All these verses and many more that are translated “shout” are from the verb form of Teruah.

Psalm 66:1 – Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth
Psalm 100:1 – Make a joyful shout to YHWH, all you lands.
Psalm 47:1 – Clap hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!” 

Those on the other side will also be making a lot of noise – of despair and panic as they meet their new ruler, whom they haven’t come to know yet. We’re told in Zechariah 14 that a coalition of world rulers will agree to send their armies to Jerusalem to FIGHT this outside invader, as they will see Him.  Besides that, remember Satan will be angry and this will be the last chance for a thousand years for him and his demonic spirit hosts to fight the mother of all wars.  Yes, right there, around Jerusalem. 

But go back and read Nehemiah 8.  There the exiles who had returned to Jerusalem were mourning as they heard the Torah read to them as they realized how little they had obeyed it. But still, on THIS holyday of Yom Teruah, they were told to REJOICE and celebrate it with joy. 

So this day looks back to God’s deliverance of his people – and is also a reminder, a memorial – of what is to come. 

Our God is great. SHOUT your joy to him. Clap your hands in joy. Blow on a trumpet and rejoice, for even though very dark days are coming first, we shall see the LIGHT of the coming of the King of Kings. 

Think of it, just as a Biblical “new moon” is the first visible light of the moon after a day or two of darkness in the sky – so after a time of darkness on earth as men’s evils get worse and worse, we shall see the LIGHT of our Savior coming to save the whole world from itself.

That’s one more reason why we must celebrate this day with the LIGHT of the moon, not the moved no-moon date given us by Yeshua-rejecting rabbis!  Amen.  

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Could you be “a little devil”?

The Fall holydays of God remind us the end of this world order as we know it is about to come about.  In the lifetimes of so many of you, we’re going to see Satan bound and a new ruler – Jesus the Christ, Yeshua the Messiah – will be on a throne in Jerusalem ruling the world. Yeshua will bring blessing and bring the best out of people.  Satan, the present ruler of this age, likes to fling dirt and dung and dig up the worst about each one. He’s the Accuser of the Brethren.

So why do I ask if you –or I – could at times be “a little devil”?  Sometimes we even use that term as a cute label for someone but when we understand it, we’ll want to be as far as possible from this label.

Why? Because “devil” comes from the Greek word “diabolos” meaning “slanderer, accuser” (Strong’s 1228).  So “devil” means “accuser”.  Now combine that with the name “Satan” – which means “Adversary, Enemy”.  Put it all together and we get: Satan the Devil = our Enemy the Accuser and Slanderer.

So “a little devil” is an accuser, just like Satan is.  So of course we want nothing to do with being “a little devil” or in any way identifying with that.

By our actions and words we are either working as a tool of Satan – or we’re blessing people and praying for people and working for God.  Which is it for you?  For whom do you work? Whose child are you and I? Are we a child of God, or a child of the Devil (John 8:44)?  

Or maybe we’re like James 3:9-10 mentions that sometimes we bless with our mouth and sometimes we curse and slander.  Which is it? Which heart do we have – a loving and blessing heart, or a cruel gossipy and slandering heart that ruins reputations? 

Remember that Satan is the accuser of our brethren (Revelation 12:10).   

Revelation 12:10 – “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come,’ for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”

Click on “Continue reading” to finish this pithy blog showing if you and I are “little devils” or do we bring blessing?

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Those annoying delays

How often we have delays and inconveniences that annoy us. It happens to us all  You have that dreaded flat tire – and you were already running late for that special engagement or appointment.  Or you forgot your cell phone and so you have to go back (how did we function in the old days without cell phones?!!).  Or your car won't start because someone left a car door open all night. Or why is that red light staying red so long; it appears to have been at least one whole minute now!  And of course you can’t keep going to your kids’ overnight party because one of your children just remembered he forgot that cuddly elephant he sleeps with every night and you just have to go back and get it.

Or maybe it’s more serious than any of these and you have to take several weeks off work due to a major operation you need.  Another delay. You need to work. You need to keep going – but you can’t.  Another delay. You fret.  Or do you?   

You know what I mean…you have an important meeting to make. Or this delay will make you late for church services or the family Thanksgiving dinner, etc. etc.  And so we put the fruit of the spirit called “longsuffering” or “patience” back into storage and we let ourselves fret and fume.

Or am I the only one?

And maybe a most stressful delay for all of us is “how long” it’s taking for our Messiah to return.  I mean even Peter, Paul, and John all thought it was imminent and spoke of it being “the last hour” – not just “the last days”.  But, Yeshua/Jesus still has not landed on the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem.   This is especially rough on people getting up there in age (and now I’m in those ranks, I guess) or who have painful health issues and would love to have that new spirit body that true believers will be granted upon his return. 

More on that later, or maybe…maybe I’ll put it off and delay saying more about that for now.

But what should we be thinking when the light stays red so long, when we have to waste time because of something we or our spouse forgot?  Do we fume and fret?  What could be better thoughts that would help in these situations?

Click on “Continue reading” for some helpful reminders of what might really be happening in times of delay like I’ve just described.

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Although many Christians have never heard of the biblical “War Priest,” a study of the concept is worthwhile as it can help us more fully understand the roles of the One who became the promised Messiah.  In the Bible, this role is only mentioned once specifically, and then only briefly, in Deuteronomy 20:1-3:

“When you go to war against your enemies … do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them.”

It is easy to assume, reading these verses, that “the priest” is the High Priest who officiated in the Tabernacle or Temple, but Jewish commentary and tradition as found recorded in the tractates of the Talmud unanimously state that this priest was, in fact, a “Second High Priest” who was called the “Priest Anointed for War”  (Tractate Sotah 8:1). Deuteronomy itself gives us little information, but it would appear that the priest was someone who would have been present with the army, as the text does not say the priest “shall come and address the army” but that he would “come forward” – the Hebrew signifying coming from among the army rather than to it.  This would perhaps indicate, as tradition affirms, that before battles the War Priest was responsible for preparing the warriors, making sure they were fit for battle and rejecting any he felt were unfit for the fight.

Bringing together what information we can from Jewish tradition, we find that this priest was apparently specially anointed for his position and role. According to the Talmud, the High Priest serving in the Temple was of the highest rank, but the role of the War Priest was of greater significance than that of the “Deputy High Priest” (Tractate Nazir 47b) – hence the naming of the War Priest as the “Second High Priest.”

The first War Priest mentioned in the Old Testament was apparently Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron (Exodus 6:25), who personally executed an Israelite man and a Midianite woman for their immorality and so ended a plague sent to punish the Israelites for their sin in regard to prohibited relations with Midian (Numbers 25:1-9).  Phinehas served as War Priest according to the Talmud (Tractate Sotah 43a), as we see in Numbers 31:6:  “Moses sent them into battle, a thousand from each tribe, along with Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, who took with him articles from the sanctuary and the trumpets for signaling.” His role as War Priest is made even more explicit in the later Jewish commentary Midrash Rabbah which states of Elisheba the wife of Aaron (Exodus 6:23) that  “… her husband was High Priest, her two sons were both Deputy High Priests, Phinehas her grandson was a Priest Anointed for War.”

As an anointed priest, the War Priest was a type of “messiah” (anointed), and elsewhere in Midrash Rabbah the War Priest is called the “War Messiah.” In fact, the Midrash contains an interesting tradition that the “four craftsmen” of Zechariah 1:20 were to be equated with Elijah, the Messiah, Melchizedek, and the War Messiah (Midrash Rabbah - Song of Songs 2:8-13).   This is interesting because in the New Testament, Elijah and Melchizedek are both clearly linked to the Messiah, and the inclusion of the War Messiah in the same group leads us to consider that individual in terms of one of the messianic roles of Christ. 

For the most part, the New Testament stresses the priestly role of Christ as an atoning one parallel to the work of the Temple High Priest – as in the detailed analogy given in the Book of Hebrews (Hebrews 5, 7-10), of course.  But although it does not draw the comparison directly, the New Testament also shows Christ fulfilling a separate priestly role – more like that of the War Priest – at his return.  Usually we think of the Messiah’s return as being that of a king, which it is, of course, yet the language of the Book of Revelation:  “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war” (Revelation 19:11) is largely reflective of scriptures such as Isaiah 59:17 where:  “He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance, and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak” – in which the comparison is often not primarily one of kingship, but of judgment and war.

Ultimately, the concept of the War Priest and the symbolic linking of his role to the Messiah are post-biblical and speculative.  Yet some of the traditions seem to be ancient ones.  Judas Maccabaeus, who led the Jewish Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire (167–160 BCE), is said to have done what the War Priest was to do (1 Maccabees 3:56), and it is interesting that of all the priests, only the High Priest and the War Priest are said to have been personally anointed – and thus could be said to be parallels of the Anointed One, the promised Messiah.  

While every King, High Priest and “Priest Anointed for War" was individually anointed, according to Exodus the sons of Aaron, representing the whole group of regular priests, only received a semi-anointing or sprinkling (nazah) after the service of consecration (Exodus 29:21). This “sprinkling” was apparently not repeated and is said to have been for the group for posterity (Exodus 40:15 – where the forms of the word mashaḥ mean only that the priests received oil and do not confirm the manner in which it was applied).  Interestingly, this kind of situation was found in other nations of the ancient Near East and is seen in the Amarna Letters (51:4–9), where an individual proclaims his authority based on his grandfather's anointing.

But whether tradition is correct in claiming a distinct office for the “War Priest” or not,  it is clear that while the  Messiah fulfilled the role of the Temple High Priest at His first coming, at His second coming His preeminent role will be not one of atonement, but of war. In that sense, the second coming of the Messiah will certainly be parallel to the role understood to have been that of the priest called the “War Messiah,” the “Priest Anointed for War.”

R. Herbert (a pen name) holds a Ph.D. in biblical and ancient Near Eastern languages, archaeology, and culture.  He writes for a number of Christian venues as well as for his websites at and where you can find many of his other articles and free eBooks.

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Serving: the best kind is so inconvenient

We all know our Savior came to serve and to give his life as a ransom. In actual fact, we have all been called to serve one another. But the irony is this: the best kind of service is so inconvenient. It comes at the times we are most busy, have deadlines to meet or commitments we’ve already made to others. 

Let’s ponder this for a minute.  Are we giving up the best opportunities to serve because those times are not convenient?  Are you even aware this could be going on? Jesus came to serve and has called us all to serve one another.

Mark 10:42-45 “But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.  45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Pretty clear, isn’t it? 

** Paul told the Corinthians he was their servant (1 Cor 9:19)

** We in turn, especially if we’re able to, or are “stronger” -- are to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2; Romans 15:1-2).  Can you point to any specific examples where you are bearing someone’s burden?  If not, let’s start looking for those opportunities.

**We are called to even “lay down our lives for one another” – 1 John 3:16-17—and to help someone who really has need of some of the kinds of help we could give them.

1 John 3:16-17   “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

So now it’s starting to get inconvenient. And this is the point of this “blog”:  do we dismiss times to serve others when it’s not comfortable or convenient? 

The worst attitude of all is just to walk away as we mutter “That’s not my problem. We all have problems. Deal with it.”

Click “Continue reading” to discover ways you and I can become more effective in serving others.

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“…I just can’t help but speak of Him”

Acts 4:20

Most of you probably know the story of Acts 3, how Yeshua (Jesus) healed the lame man – through Peter and John.  The man wasn’t even asking to be healed, but was apparently hoping for a handout.  When asked about this healing, here’s what Peter said, refusing to take any credit for the spectacular healing-- but instead it led him to praise the name of Jesus (Yeshua).

Acts 3:16  “And His (Yeshua/Jesus) name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”

When asked “by what power and by what name (by whose authority) have you done this?” – Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, then proceeded to make it very clear that the healing took place by and through the resurrected Jesus Christ (Acts 4:7-12).  The Jewish leaders then threatened the apostles and warned them to never speak in that name again. 

We’re in a time when the whole nation of believers are being threatened and intimidated from even speaking the name of Jesus.  We’re told we can’t have the 10 Commandments outside our court buildings.  We can’t pray in schools or in the military without fear of retribution.  There are groups out there that are fighting this, and worthy of our support (like Liberty Counsel and the ACLJ) – but it’s a steady, tiresome drumbeat that says “Keep God out of our lives, out of our country”.  Our currency still says “In God we trust”.  Our national pledge of allegiance still includes the words “one nation under God…”  But for how long? 

And then we wonder “where is God?” when bad things happen in our nation.  Too many have told him they don’t want Him around – and then wonder where He is when things go badly.

Don’t be one of those. You and I – believers in the Messiah – must be like Peter.  Listen to what said when he was threatened if he continue to speak about Yeshua, our King, our Redeemer and our Saviour. 

Acts 4:18-34   “So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." 21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. 22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:

'Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things?  The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.'  "For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus."

31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.”

Now the point of this blog:  what Peter said to the elders threatening him should be the same feeling and conviction that wells powerfully inside ALL of us – Acts 4:20For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. 

Question:  are you and I so filled with the joy of our Savior’s presence and how He has redeemed, reconciled us to the Father and saved us – that we can’t help but speak of him? 

Or do you ‘buy in” to the notion that your religion should be and should remain a private matter and that you never, as a rule, talk about religion, sex or politics -- as the saying goes? 

Click on “Continue reading” to help each of us become more like Peter and the early believers.

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Always watch the 9th of Av: Israel’s past and future

It can’t just be coincidence.

(I first posted this in July 2012, but since we’re coming up to the 9th of Ab again, I thought it was worth repeating.)

In Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”, the emperor is warned by an old soothsayer to “beware the ides of March.”  Soon after that, he’s assassinated by several senators including Brutus, his supposed friend. 

I’m actually not a big Shakespeare expert, but I’d like to say – be watching the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av this year but especially in the coming decade. Jews call it “Tisha B’Av” which means “9th of Av”. It’s a terrible date in Jewish history, and one we need to be aware of.  The 9th of Av usually falls in mid-to-late-summer. That’s the easy way to remember it.

This year the 9th of Av on the Hebrew calendar this year falls on this coming sabbath, August 13, 2016 of our Gregorian calendar. 

I am NOT saying anything will happen on this date this year, or next.  But I want my readers to know that it can’t be mere coincidence that so much has happened on the 9th of Av on the Hebrew Calendar. As I write this, we are in the period of time they call “the Dire Straits” – from the 17th of Tammuz to the 9th of Av.  Remember it as roughly our month of July most years. It was during this time that calamity after calamity has befallen Israel. 

For example, it was during this time that Moses dashed the two tablets of the 10 commandments to the ground during the gold calf incident.  It is a day of fasting among Orthodox Jews.  Maybe nothing will happen this year on the 9th of Ab but it wouldn’t surprise me if in a coming year something huge happens to Israel.

Could more calamities befall Israel around this period of time, on the 9th of Av in a soon coming future year?  See the history for yourself, then form your own conclusion if you think this date leaves a particularly loathsome aftertaste in our Creator’s mouth:

  • It was on the 9th of Av when ten of the 12 spies who returned from spying out the Promised Land caused Israel to lose faith, to lose heart, and to rebel. YHVH therefore announces all Israelites age 20 and over would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land. Only Joshua and Caleb were exempted.  You can read the full story in Numbers 14.  After everything YHVH had done for them – the 10 plagues on Egypt, the liberation from slavery, the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, the manna from heaven, the miraculous providence of water from the Rock, the giving of His covenant with them and the Law, after forgiving them of their terrible sin with the gold calf – after all that, they still lose faith and rebel once more. That was the last straw. The 9th of Av (mid-summer) has frequently since then been a terrible date for Israel and later, the Jews. (Yes, our God has deep seated feelings too.)
  • The first House of God, more commonly called “Solomon’s temple”, was destroyed on this date, the 9th of Av. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered, and most of the remainder were hauled off into captivity to Babylon (where modern day Iraq is) and the area of Persia (modern day Iran).  Have you heard anything about Iraq and Iran lately in the news?
  • The 2nd temple was also burned and torn down on this exact date as well - 9th of Av in 70 AD by the Romans under General Titus.  It was gruesome.  So many Jews were crucified, the Romans despaired for lack of wood on which to impale their tortured victims.  It was from the pain of crucifixion that we get the word “excruciating” – as in indescribable pain.  Over 2,500,000 Jews die from war, famine and disease. Another million are exiled. Over 100,000 are sold as slaves. Many are killed in Roman coliseums for entertainment, in gladiatorial “games” and pagan celebrations.  What a dark, dark time it was for the Jews. But it continued.

Click here – on Continue reading – to see at least SEVEN more examples of tragic events that happened to Jews on the 9th of Av since the time of Christ on earth.

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IS a “warning message” enough?

There are certain sabbath-keeping groups that preach they have as a primary commission to preach “The Ezekiel warning message” of what is about to befall the world and the USA.  It’s based on a passage about being a Watchman in Ezekiel 33:1-9.  If you’re unfamiliar with it, I recommend you pull out your Bible and read it.

In its most conservative explanation, some believe that is their primary – maybe even only – commission: to warn everyone that the seals of Revelation are about to be opened, and then the Trumpet plagues, and then the 7 Last Plagues – and hundreds of millions will die in all of this.  Part of that approach is also to warn the USA and Britain and the modern descendants of The Lost 10 Tribes of Israel that they are going down soon and will be sold as captives around the world.  

And in focusing on this warning message, some of the adherents of this approach become very isolationist and protective of their “chosen people” status – and distance themselves from the people of the world. Please hear and read my latest sermon titled “God’s Greatest Miracle”.  I address what scripture says our relationship to the people of the world should really be.  While not becoming a part of the ways, culture and lifestyle of the world we are to be like God, loving the people of the world.  Remember John 3:16?  We’re supposed to “come out of her, my people” (Revelation 18:4).  But hear the sermon and you’ll see what I mean.

There certainly are strong and frightening prophecies of the times of Great Tribulation – the worst times the world has ever seen.  Many of us feel we are certainly within a few years – and at most, less than a couple decades – of all this coming to pass.

So back to my question:  Is the “Ezekiel warning message” enough?  Or are those people and groups who subscribe to that message as being their primary goal and purpose – missing out on the much bigger and more important message we’re told to also preach? 

Click on “Continue Reading” to the right here to find out the answers.  It has everything to do with fulfilling our God-given true roles as Watchmen.

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Of Which Tree are we eating?

You might be surprised.

Two special trees in the Garden of Eden are mentioned in Genesis 2-3.  This is a very special blog that I hope will get you thinking about which tree is the one you and I are going to on a daily basis. This blog was inspired by some dialogue I’ve had recently by a dear brother in Oregon who is opening my mind to a deeper walk in the spirit than ever before. 

Adam could eat of all the trees of the garden except one – the Tree of Knowledge.  That tree was a tree that provided both good knowledge and bad knowledge, so it’s more commonly called “the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”  It wasn’t all bad. It also had some good knowledge.  People often miss that.  But it was forbidden fruit.  And make no mistake about it: it was the tree of knowledge. I must give a whole sermon on this sometime this year!  This tree was beautiful to behold (not like so many children’s books depictions of a gnarled up dried up monstrosity).  The fruit seemed attractive to Eve but what was most attractive about it was all this “wisdom” you would have after eating of its forbidden fruit (read Genesis 3:6). 

There was another tree in the center of the Garden of Delights (what “Eden” means). Man and woman could eat of this tree anytime they wished.   It was called the Tree of Life.  Yah himself said that if mankind would eat of it, shudder – as sinners – they could live forever (see Genesis 3:22-23 and Gen 2:8-9).  So the “Life” part of this tree was about living forever, eternal life. There is the false teaching that we can live forever being tortured by a God who calls himself the God of love.  No, we either die because of our sins or we live forever if we take of the Tree of Life. 

Which tree would you have eaten of – first? Which one is most fascinating and compelling to you?

But before we get into the exciting two trees, a few points sometimes missed by casual readers of Genesis 1-3:

** Animals and trees were created by God’s command, out of the ground, by His word (Genesis 1:24-25; 2:9).  But mankind was hand-created by God personally, from the dust of the ground and mankind was the only creation into which God blew His breath of life and man became a living soul or being (Genesis 2:7). 

**Adam was created outside the Garden and then invited into God’s presence.  That’s the way it is.  Yehovah wants us near to Him and HE brings us to that position.  (Genesis 2:15)

**The instructions about the two trees were given originally only to the man AdamEve had not been created yet!  A lot of people miss this point and may explain why Eve was deceived by the Serpent and Adam was not. Adam was to be the teacher and leader and so he told Eve what God had said. Read Genesis 2 and the timing becomes clear.
Genesis 2:15-19

“Then Yehovah Elohim (the LORD God) took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And Yehovah Elohim  commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

18 And YHVH Elohim said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."

**When the Serpent beguiled Eve, Adam was with her (Genesis 3:6). People think of Adam being elsewhere.  Not true.  But he said nothing, even though he had been put into the garden to tend and KEEP (guard) it.  That’s right, the word “keep” in Genesis 2:15 also means to guard and protect.  But when Adam saw and heard Satan questioning his Creator, Adam – who was not deceived – said and did nothing. Then they both ate of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge and came immediately under God’s death penalty.  (Genesis 3:6; 1 Timothy 2:13-14). 

** This in turn resulted in Adam and Eve being ejected from the Garden – lest they eat of the Tree of Life under sin, and live forever (Genesis 3:22).  It had been there all along for the taking, but they hadn’t availed themselves of it.  Hmm, do we?

Now back to you and me.  What tree fascinates us more:  The Tree of Knowledge or the Tree of Life?  And how are they different?  It’s life and death at stake.

Click on “continue reading” to understand the 2 trees – especially the Tree of Life a bit clearer than ever.

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