Earlier in the week, I needed to go to Ashkelon and decided to walk around a bit while I was there. The modern city of Ashkelon is located about 50 kilometers south of Tel Aviv. The current population is approximately 118,000 people. It is notable for a couple of things: it has the largest reverse osmosis desalianation plant in the world, it is the center for lacrosse in Israel, and it has some beautiful beaches.
Ashkelon is approximately 12 miles north of Gaza, and therefore does receive rockets now and then. There is a hospital there which is a frequent target of the “Palestinians” and they are working to build areas which will withstand rocket attacks.
In the Bible, we learn that Ashkelon was one of the five Philistine cities. The other four were: Ashdod, Gaza, Gat and Ekron. We read in Judges 14 that after Samson’s wife told the answer to Samson’s riddle to 30 companions, Samson went down to Ashkelon and slew 30 men and took their spoil.
I think it is important to note that with Samson’s first wife and with Delilah, being married to women who were not spiritually fit for him was his downfall. As women, we must seek to bless our husbands and as parents we must pray that our children will marry believers, and thus be equally yoked.
We also read in Joshua 13:3 that Ashkelon was given to the Jewish people as an inheritance. We now see the Jewish people inhabiting this land again and we must pray for Israel’s borders to expand all the way to that which G-d promised.
This week I need to go to Ashkelon on Sunday and Monday. My plan is to do a little photography while I’m there and give you a little oveview of the city. I also plan to write a post about another aspect of Biblical Living. Thank you for being patient with me. Our son just went in to the Israeli army and there has been some things to deal with in regard to that.
Here is this week’s Torah portion.
There are things which are a personal danger to you. I am speaking about things that lead people away from the intimacy and power of G-d. These things one must remove from his life so that they do not influence him. This is what HaShem wanted to teach the people of Israel. For G-d promised to drive the inhabitants of the Land from before the Children of Israel so that they should not be a מוקש.
“They shall not dwell in your land, lest they will cause you to sin against Me, that you will worship their gods, for it will be a trap for you.” Exodus 23:33
The most common way that English translations render this word is “snare” or “trap”. In Modern Hebrew, this word can mean a land mine. The idea here is that one cannot see the land mine and the danger that it poses, but once a person comes into contact with it, then it is too late.
The danger in this passage is those individuals who were not believers in the G-d of Israel. HaShem emphatically said that it was forbidden to make a covenant with them and they could not dwell in the Land of Israel. What is the principle for us today? Our associations with non-believers should be for the purpose of leading them to a redemptive relationship with Messiah Yeshua. Obviously there are numbers of people that we need to deal with each day at work, school, etc.; however those that we choose to spend time with should be fellow believers or those with who we are purposely building a relationship for the specific desire to share our faith.
Recently I spoke with a Jewish man who wanted to share his faith in Yeshua with some relatives, but he was concerned that this may end his relationship with them. It was hard for him to tell them about his salvation experience, because of the fear that those individuals that he had come to love and enjoy would not want him around them anymore. This is of course a difficult situation. What is the solution? Love–this man needed to remember that although he values these relationships, the risk of losing them is far outweighed by the reality that failure for them to receive the Gospel is certain eternal separation with them and them from G-d.
Usually it is easier for us to make the right decisions when we think of them from an eternal perspective.
Tu B’Shevat, the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat, is a holiday also known as the New Year for Trees. “Tu” is not a word, but rather the numerical equivalent for 15 in Hebrew.
Tu B’Shevat is not mentioned in the Bible, but it does highlight a Biblical principle. In Leviticus 19:23-25, G-d instructed the Children of Israel saying, “And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of. But in the fourth year, all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the L-rd. And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the L-rd your G-d.”
It is common in Israel during this holiday to plant trees and also to eat from the seven Species (shivat haminim) described in the Bible as being abundant in the land of Israel. These species are: wheat, barley, grapes (vines) figs, pomegranates, olives and dates (honey). See Deut. 8:8).
We can also take from this a spiritual implication. First the new (uncircumcised) trees have fruit which is considered unworthy to present to HaShem. In the fourth year, it is holy to praise the L-rd. Let us confess our sins and put behind us our evili inclinations, so that we may offer up pure Praise until G-d.
Shavuah Tov! (Have a good week!)
I’m sorry that I did not post when I said I would. I’ve been sick. I plan to resume posting on Sunday. Shabbat Shalom!
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” I Corinthians 9:24
Ariel Sharon passed away this past Shabbat and his funeral is today. I was listening and reading about recollections people had of him over the years. He was, by many, regarded as the greatest general in modern Israel’s history. Years ago he asked the Jewish people to settle the land in Gaza. But this was in the past. What many will remember about him is how he (supposedly) made a deal to sweep his son’s illegal political dealings under the rug and in return boot the settlers out of Gaza. What a shameful end to a war hero’s life!
I have been confronted over the past couple of years with a couple of older people who claim to be strong believers, but yet have done some very unseemly things. It makes me wonder, do they not care how then end the race? Would you not want to “be in your best form” when you find yourself standing before G-d? Yes, I know that we, as believers, are covered with the blood and are redeemed. But do we not care about our works? Read James chapter 2.
Once we are saved, that is not the end, but rather the beginning. Let us live our life for Yeshua and end the race well!
Note: Tomorrow I will post about the holiday we just celebrated, Tu b’Shevat.