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.

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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“Thy kingdom come, our King….”

Reacting to recent horrible news


Five officers were shot dead in Dallas recently.  There were more wounded, at least one critically.  It’s getting to be a real mess out there, isn’t it?  We can have several reactions to what we see going on.  But before I get into that, I pray and hope you will take time to compassionately remember the wives of these brave men who were senselessly gunned down because someone claimed cops were out there trying to kill people of color.  Also remember the moms, children and grandchildren of these brave men.  These police had nothing to do with the admittedly horrifying killings of recent days.  In fact they were out there protecting the very people who were protesting against them. 

We are indeed in the beginning of the “perilous times” of “the last days” (1 Timothy 3:1-3).

It is going to get much worse, until it can be said that there have never been worse times than what we will be experiencing at the very end of the end times.

Now to reactions I’ve heard and felt from a few others:

**”I have no reaction. No feeling. You’re not the least bit upset. All this is what’s supposed to happen, you think.”

This would be a very disappointing response.  We should be people filled with the compassion of Christ and we should always have some feeling for things – especially when innocent people are gunned down.  But there will be some who will attend church who think nothing of all these recent events and aren’t the least bit interested or concerned.   

I believe that is a pathetic response.  Is that the way Yeshua would respond or want us to respond?  I assure you – no.  In fact the prophet Ezekiel tells us in Ezekiel 9 that Yah commands his angels or servants to put a special marking on those “who sigh and cry” for the abominations they see happening in the land.  You want to be among those who sigh and cry.

** I’m depressed.  Things are getting really bad and I can’t take it anymore.”

This is more understandable, but this fear can also be taken to God and ask Him for the strength and peace to get through the coming years before Yeshua returns as our King of kings.  It’s going to get a lot, lot worse than this. But in Christ, we can face and do all things even as we present Him with our concerns (Philippians 4:6-7, 13).  We learn to cast all our cares upon Him. He can carry our burdens and give us peace.

** Thrilled. “I can’t wait for more of this to happen, because then we know we’re right there, real close to Christ’s return.  Bring it on!” 

            I actually find this reaction alarming.  Very alarming.  And yet it’s not all that uncommon.  I find some people seem to find excitement and joy in seeing all the woes being sent upon the earth – and they justify their excitement by saying it’s based on feeling this shows we’re getting really close to Christ return. 

            Fair enough perhaps, but be careful with this reaction. 

“Woe to those who desire the Day of the Lord…” – Amos 5:18.  In context it does give that warning to those who are not seeking God, to be fair, but still, I don’t see that Yah wants us to be excited to see people suffer or die, as billions will, leading up to the return of Christ.  We want Him to come but are not at all happy about the suffering that will occur first. I know that’s obvious to most of you.   

I also take you back once more to Ezekiel 9:3-7 and marking those who “sigh and cry” for the abominations going on in the land. I realize in context it’s specifically for those in Jerusalem, but the concept surely applies beyond that.

Click on “Continue reading” to see the response we are supposed to have, according to Scripture, as we see events speeding up to the climax of the return of Christ – whether in 3-5 years or 15-20 years more, we know we are getting awfully close.

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“But WHY, O Lord… WHY?”

Have you ever prayed those words after a severe trial that ends “badly” as far as human vision goes?  We’ve been agonizing with dear friends lately who demonstrated stellar faith in God during a very problematic pregnancy that “didn’t end well” as most might say.  The baby, beautifully named Mercy, who had some severe issues, was born by C-section a few days and then was held dearly in her parents’ arms and lovingly by her sisters and brother, only to die 2-3 hours later. 

Hundreds of spiritual family around the world prayed for that family and their precious child. But in the end, though Mercy graced them with her presence for 2-3 hours, she’s fallen asleep awaiting the Master’s call in the resurrection to come.  We know she will be healed. She will be made whole and will be in a better and perfect place.  And tears of joy will replace tears of anguish and pain at that time.  

The story I’ve told you was shared around the world for a couple months by the very open parents.  It’s not a unique story in some ways, though each story is like our fingerprints – very unique to us. I say it’s not a unique story because there are millions and millions of parents around the world who have had their children taken from them. Some from brutal ISIS. Some from merciless cancers and other diseases.   It’s a world of pain.

In all of this, we know we have a living God who could have healed Mercy.  But he didn’t.  So we cry out “Why Lord, why?” 

Some of the answers to the question “Why?” -- are in my recent sermons about “The Testing of our Faith, parts 1-2” and in other sermons on this site about why God allows so much suffering.  So I won’t go through all those points now. 

Click on “Continue reading” to the right to read my response to “But why, O Lord… why?”

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BREXIT – prophecy on the march?

By now you’ve all read and heard that England has voted to exit the European Union (EU).  I say “England” because though the name “Brexit” is about the “British exiting”, reality it was the English people who voted to leave. The Scots and northern Irish – which also make up the United Kingdom or Britain – voted to stay in.  In fact, now the Scottish movement to leave the United Kingdom has taken on new life once more, as they would like to leave the UK and rejoin with the EU!

What does all this have to do with Prophecy?  Does this signal the end of the end times, as some speakers seem to be saying?  This blog will be a good quick catch-up review for you if you haven’t been following it- and then I will launch into my own thoughts on prophecy. 

First of all, the Brits have so far just voted to exit. It doesn’t mean they’re out of the EU right now today. As I understand it, it can take two more years to negotiate all the terms and fully exit in fact.  Stock markets around the globe tumbled in panic- - since stock markets hate uncertainty and the unknown, but several, including the London market, rebounded substantially within the same day. The British pound sterling dropped to its lowest level in 31 years. The US Dollar gained strength amidst all this volatility. Gold prices soared as well, as people hedged their bets and invested in the precious metal. A stronger dollar will make foreign trips more affordable for Americans, but will make American manufactured goods more expensive abroad.  That could hurt us. 

But I also was amazed that the dollar got stronger under all this.  Our dollar is based on a house of cards and a continuously running government printing press of dollar bills. And our national debt is sky high – around 18 TRILLION dollars, isn’t it? 

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Would you have prayed for Sodom?

Genesis 18


We all know what God says about sexual acts of any kind outside of male-female marriage. They’re all ungodly. That includes adultery between heterosexuals, bestiality, or sexual activity between same-sex partners, fornication – any sexual activity before marriage, and a host of other sexual sins. 

The marriage bed of a man and woman are undefiled before God (Hebrews 13:4) and HE will judge fornicators and adulterers.  He doesn’t need our help in “judging” sexual sinners. And I dare say that if we were all being 100% honest, an awful lot of us reading this would have to admit that at some point in our lives some of us have been fornicators and even adulterers in the past – and certainly so if you include the standards set by our King of what constitutes adultery.

So with that in mind, it’s amazing how many believing zealots go on a tirade against the sexual horrors we see going on today.  But again don’t forget – the adulterer is as sinful in God’s eyes as the other sexual sinners. 

In the light of all of this, here’s the question I have:  if you had lived in the time of Sodom and Gomorrah, and you learn that Almighty God is about to obliterate Sodom and four other cities nearby from the face of the earth for their many sins, would you have smiled and muttered “It’s about time!” – Or would you have fervently interceded for God to have mercy on them?  Be deeply honest to yourself about this.

Would you have ever prayed for Sodom? Do you know anyone who did pray for Sodom?

I think this could be a very timely topic in light of what’s happened in my adopted hometown of Orlando recently at the Pulse nightclub.

Click on “Continue reading” to ponder the possibility of interceding for Sodom – whether ancient Sodom or modern Sodom.  Why on earth would the people of God want to do that? Read on.  It might make you think.

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“But it’s in the Bible”….

(A lesson from Job’s friends)

If it’s in the Bible, is it necessarily a statement from God?  Or should we be extra careful to first find out WHO is speaking and where their inspiration is coming from? Could we be simply reading a quote from someone who may or may not be speaking under divine inspiration?

In other words, is everything we read in the Bible something God says is right?

I ask this question because so often people will quote this or that verse without context – and sometimes the source of the words is not a source we really want. Those words may be in the Bible to make certain points – but the words themselves may not be God speaking. God is writing it. God is giving it to us in his book, but not every sentence is God speaking.

A clear example of this is when the Serpent says to Eve “You will NOT surely die if you eat of the fruit of that tree” (Genesis 3:4-5).   But that is a direct contradiction of what Elohim the Almighty had said to Adam:  “for in the day you eat of it, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:15-17).  OK, we all know that statement from Satan the Serpent is not inspired of God and yet it is in the Bible.  Yahweh has it there to show us to be on guard against statements from Satan that come from seemingly harmless sources. 

OK, that example in Genesis is easy to discern.

Remember one time Yeshua even said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan, for you are an offense to me…” (Matthew 16:23).  Peter had just said that Yeshua would not have to die (verses 21-22). Yeshua understood that was a temptation from Satan and so addressed the source of that thought directly – and yet it had been voiced from a top disciple!  So we have to be on guard to realize who is speaking and what is being said.

Let’s step this up a notch now.   How many people quote all kinds of verses from the book of Job without giving much thought about who is the one speaking.  Remember what God himself said to Job’s friends:

Job 42:7-8 “And so it was, after YHVH had spoken these words to Job, that YHVH said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.  8 Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has."

So God directly dismisses the words of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.  Interestingly God does not disparage the words of the youngest friend Elihu. 

Click on “Continue reading” to see how a shadowy figure who appeared to Eliphaz was his inspiration!  And it wasn’t God.

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Can we pray to Yeshua (Jesus)?

Yeshua taught us to pray “Our FATHER in heaven…”.   Does that mean we should limit our prayers to just God the Father? Is it alright to pray to Yeshua (or Jesus) as well?  While we’re at it, let’s ask: how about praying to the spirits of the deceased?  So many pray to Mary, or the apostles, or to a dead pope.  Is that OK? 

Most of the sabbath-keeping COG (Church of God) groups I know pray almost exclusively to God the Father.  Ditto for many Hebraic Roots groups and Messianics – though more of them do also pray to Yeshua.  So the prayers almost always start with “Father in heaven” or “Dear God…”.  My impression is that many of these groups do not, or would not be comfortable addressing their prayers to Jesus or Yeshua. On the other hand, my impression is that most Protestants pray to Jesus most of the time, or so it seems to me – but they also pray to God the Father.  Most prayers in Protestant groups would begin with “Lord…” or “Lord Jesus” or they may say “God” or “Father” as well. Catholics seem to pray often to Mary, who died almost 2000 years ago—and of course they pray to “God” or “Lord” as well. 

So what is right and wrong in this picture? What is “allowed” by scripture, which should be our guiding light in all matters scriptural? 

Click on “Continue reading” to get the scriptural answers.

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Can God’s will for us change?

Understanding God’s will in our livesDoes God’s will for us ever change?  Can He definitely be showing it’s HIS will to be someplace, or do something, or live somewhere – and then change that on us some years later?  Some people say “no – God changes not.  He’s the same today, yesterday and forever” – another way of saying the “God who is, and was and is to come”.  I get that.

But does our great Creator ever change his will for each of us in our daily lives? 

Click on “Continue reading” for the answer.  It might give you a lot to think about.

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What makes the New Commandment “New”?

John 13:34-35


Yeshua gave his disciples – including all of us – a “new” commandment.  Many of you know it.  But what made it “new”? 

The answer has everything to do with the Passover season.

John 13:34-35

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

OK, so what’s so new about that?  A very similar commandment is given in Leviticus, and in fact part of that verse is what Yeshua summarized as the “second greatest commandment.”  (The first and greatest came from Deuteronomy 6:4 – to love Yahweh with all our heart, soul and strength”.  And here is where Yeshua got the 2nd greatest commandment, and on these 2 commands hang the entire Law and Prophets! See Mark 12:28-31

Here is the 2nd greatest command, worded similarly to John 13:34.

Leviticus 19:18

“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am YHVH”.

Later on, Yah tells Israel they are not to have any difference in justice and service between Gentiles and Israelites; all are to be treated the same.  Imagine if we would really practice this.

Leviticus 19:34

The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am YHVH your God”.

Then throughout the book of John’s gospel, and even in John’s epistle, the command to love one another is repeated over and over – sometimes with other points added to it. 

Back to my question:  since Lev 19:18 says we are to love one another as ourselves – what made Yeshua’s statement “a new commandment”? 

Click on “Continue reading” to find out what made our Savior’s statement new. 

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Would you wash Judas Iscariot’s feet?

Imagine going to your Passover service where there is a foot washing – and imagine with me for a second that you’ve all been paired up with the person you’ll be washing feet with.  And … imagine now… to your surprise, you’ve been paired up with the infamous Judas Iscariot, who sold and betrayed the son of God.  You have to wash his feet. 

How are you feeling right now? Will you lovingly and humbly wash Judas’ feet?  If not, why not? 

At his last Passover until the kingdom of God, Yeshua (Jesus) washed even Judas’ feet.  I’ve actually heard ministers deny this. But why? It’s so clear in Scripture that He did! And what does that mean to us today?  It’s definitely worth thinking about and learning from.

We get so focused on who’s “in” or who’s “out” of our particular fellowship and who we think has no business in there, that we forget this point.  Judas was the Greek form of his name. His Hebrew name was Yehudah or we would say Judah in English.  Judas represented how the Word came to His own tribe, Judah – “He came to His own, and His own did not receive him” (John 1:11).  They couldn’t have, because they didn’t recognize him or know who He was.  Several scriptures make that clear, so don’t be too hard on the Jews for rejecting him. You might be interested in my sermon (May 16, 2015) about why Jews find it so hard to accept Yeshua as the promised Messiah. There are reasons – and it will help you be more understanding of them.

Anyway, did you realize the Son of God washed his betrayer’s feet?  Let’s pick it up in the only gospel account that details the foot washing – John 13.  Surely the Son of God would have “picked up” the spirit of Satan working in Judas before the foot washing and afterwards.

John 13:2-4

“And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself”

– And then the details are given about the foot washing ordinance.

Right after washing all twelve disciples’ feet, the next thing Yeshua had on his mind was the presence of His betrayer (verses 18-19, 21-22).  He even quotes directly from Psalm 41:9 – stating that He was fulfilling the topic of Psalm 41.

Psalms 41:9

“Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted,

Who ate my bread,

Has lifted up his heel against me.”

Of course we know Yeshua handed a piece of Passover bread to Judas to identify him as the betrayer to a select few of the apostles.  Peter had asked John to ask Christ who would betray him.   

Note something else too:  the other disciples used the term “Lord” when asking Yeshua if they were going to be the betrayer (Matthew 26:22).  “Lord, is it I?”  But when Judas asked, he went with the lesser term “rabbi” (Teacher)—verse 25:  “Then Judas, who was betraying him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?”  He said to him, “You have said it.”  

Click on “Continue reading” to learn what happens next and how all this applies to us.

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A NEW HEART, coming alive – by DAY 18

Its significance to Passover, Wavesheaf and the resurrection


As you all know, I’m pro-life. So are our God and Father and our Savior.  Yeshua came that we might have LIFE.  There’s a culture of death in much of the world today, and that is not of God.  This sermon is designed for THOUGHT – whether you keep Passover in March as some are doing, or in April, as most will do this year (2016).  Your decision is between you and your Maker and the most important thing of all is that we know we have a Savior who died on Passover day – and then had an empty tomb by the “first of the weeks” as it should be, and it was also the first of the week (what society calls Sunday, unfortunately).

I’ve noticed billboards here in FL that are targeted at young pregnant moms-to-be by having a picture of a fetus and the billboard that kindly says: by day 18 I have a beating heart”.  SO this new life in the mom’s womb is a new life with its own heartbeat by day 18.

That got me thinking.  Could this day 18 have any significance to the Passover death and then the resurrection of our Savior?  As I drove along the interstate, I started counting the days when Christ died and was resurrected and it was astonishing. I think it’s worth repeating to you.

I’ve written a blog before about how the holydays seem to coincide with the development of a pregnancy, a new life, if you will.  As we come to Passover season, I hope this gives some pause for thought.  I admit I’m not sure if there is a strong correlation, but I couldn’t help but wonder when I saw the bill board.  Let me know what you think! Or am I all wet in this blog? 

Day 14 of the Hebrew first month Abib (or Aviv) is Passover day.  ON this day, at 3 pm, the Lamb of God -- Yeshua – shed his life blood for you and me.  He was buried at the end of that day. He was put into the tomb (or “heart of the earth”) at the very end of Passover day as the sun was setting.  Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were rushing to have the burial/entombment done before the sun set and before the holyday of Passover week would begin. The Preparation Day for the “HIGH day”, an “annual sabbath” or holyday (not the regular weekly sabbath) was about to start (John 19:31, 42). 

Remember Hebrew days begin at sundown.  

Yeshua himself said that the one proof or sign that he was whom he said he was: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”  (Matthew 12:40).

Click on “Continue Reading” to discover how the thought-provoking billboard in Florida has a connection or similarity with Christ’s resurrection! 

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