Hanukkah Lights at the Study Center

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Tonight was the lighting of the last, eighth, Hanukkah candle.  I always like seeing all of the candles lit on the Hanukkiah.  We had a good turnout at the study center tonight, where we looked at Luke 21:21-37.

We are planning to send out a newsletter on Monday, so if you are not on our email list, please go to LoveIsrael.org and sign up at the bottom of our homepage.

Hard to believe that 2016 has come to a close and 2017 is here.  I’m very excited to implement some new habits into my life and take this opportunity to do more to make a difference.  Let’s pray for each other to grow closer to the L-rd each day!

 

 

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Shabbat Shalom – Shabbat Hanukkah

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בס”ד

Parashat Mikeitz (From the End) Genesis 41:1-44:17

Maftir: Numbers 7:24-29

Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7

When one studies the life of Joseph, he sees many similarities between Joseph and our Messiah Yeshua. For example, both Yeshua and Joseph began their service at the age of thirty years of age (See Genesis 41:46 and Luke 3:23). Of course, there are also many differences between them. Yeshua is not said to have interpreted dreams like Joseph. In this week’s Torah portion, Pharaoh, after hearing Joseph’s interpretation of his two dreams, gives to Joseph a new name.

Pharaoh called the name of Joseph Tzahfnat Pah-neh-ach….” Genesis 41:45

This name is actually two Hebrew words, צפנת פענח which means, “The one that decodes that which is hidden“. HaShem revealed to Joseph, using the dreams of Pharaoh, what was going to take place throughout the world. HaShem did this, so that Joseph could save individuals from the famine. Usually famine in the Scriptures relate to G-d’s judgment. In a similar manner, Messiah Yeshua revealed G-d’s plan, i.e. the Gospel, to save all who would believe upon Him from G-d’s righteous judgment.

Even though we are celebrating Chanukah, it is interesting to note that there is also a connection between the name that Pharaoh gave Joseph and Passover. Most of you know that the main part of the Passover Seder is the Afikomen (actually a Greek word meaning “I have come”). In Hebrew, the word is usually rendered with the term צפון which means “hidden”.

Even though the truth concerning the identity of Israel’s Messiah (and the world’s) is hidden from many people, you can take on the role of Joseph, “The one that decodes that which is hidden” and share the Gospel with them. Chanukah is called by many, the Festival of Lights. The miracle of Chanukah was not that the oil lasted for eight days, this is a lesser miracle. The real miracle is the victory that HaShem provided Israel over her enemies. Today, Israel is without a friend among the other nations. That’s okay; Israel did not have any nation come to her assistance when the Greek Empire wanted to destroy the people of G-d. The Bible prophesies a future time when Iran will attack Israel.  Do I need to tell you how that will turn out for the Iranians?  Israel will be attacked, Israel will triumph, but in the end what counts is the revelation of Yeshua as the King of Kings. Until the Jewish people look up and see their Redeemer (See Luke 21:28), Chanukah will not be as bright as it should be.

Hanukkah This and That

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Dessert from the Hanukkah get-together we attended last night.  Yummy!

Last night, at our regularly scheduled Bible study in Beersheva, the people there arranged a nice Hanukkah dinner and then Baruch taught on Hanukkah.  There were several people there from various backgrounds, so he gave a nice overview of the holiday.

One thing which most people do not know is that the nes (miracle) which we commemorate on Hanukkah is not the miracle of the oil, but the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks.  We need to remember that during that time the Greeks were the major power in the world.  And yet G-d gave the Jewish people victory over them.

We are in a similar situation today.  The major powers of the world are against Israel.  The UN resolution is just the latest in a series of events.  We need to be aware of events going on in the world.  The times are changing quickly.

I meant to post the candle blessings for each night of Hanukkah and somehow I forgot. So, even though the holiday only has a few more days, here are the blessings:

First blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר חֲנֻכָּה

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech ha-olam a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner Cha-nu-kah.
Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.

Second blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִּים לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בִּזְּמַן הַזֶּה

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam she-a-sa ni-sim la-avo-te-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hem bi-zman ha-zeh.
Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.

It is important during this holiday to remember that we are to be a light to the world.  We must let our light shine.  The Hanukkah candles are lit as darkness is approaching.  They are not hidden somewhere in the middle of our homes, but rather they are placed in our windows, for the world to see.  Matthew 5:16 states,

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

 

Hanukkah – The Battle Still Rages

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A scene from our candle lighting last night.

Last night was special for us, as all of our children were with us to share in the latke-eating.  We hope that you are all having a great Hanukkah as well.

Of course, with the passing of UN Resolution 2334, the holiday is not quite as festive.  One of the main outcomes of this resolution is that Israel must adopt the PRE-1967 borders. This would mean that  Israel will not have control of the Kotel (Western Wall), the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, and many towns (called “settlements”) in Judea and Samaria.  This will also give strength to 1)those trying to haul Israeli officials before the International Criminal Court in The Hague; 2)the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement is urging consumers, artists, universities, corporations and others to cut ties with Israel; and 3)the EU which already requires member states to label products from beyond the Green Line distinctively.

We have a dear friend of many years who lives in one of the areas which is now “illegal” according to the resolution.  I am hoping she will be sharing her thoughts on this with you here on my blog.  I will keep you posted.

You know that anti-Israel is the new anti-Semitism, right?  But, there is also anti-Semitism.  Have you been reading about the situation in Whitefish, Montana?  There, a neo-nazi white supremacist group is calling for an armed march against the Jewish residents.  It is unbelievable to think of this happening in a beautiful town in the mountains of Montana.  But, it is.  They have also posted the names, email addresses and home addresses of many of the Jewish residents.

Shabbat Shalom!

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בס”ד
Parashat Vayeishev (And he dwelt) Genesis 37:1-40:23
Haftarah: Amos 2:6-3:8
In this week’s Torah portion one learns the definition of success. Not only this, but also the secret of how to be successful is also revealed. So often people define success by the wrong terms; they think that success is linked to wealth, fame, achievement and the like. In our parashah, it states that HaShem was with Joseph. This is where success begins, when you are with the living G-d. Why do I say this? The reason is found in how the text reads,
“And it came about that HaShem was with Joseph and he became a successful man…” Genesis 39:2
Perhaps many would respond that they too have a relationship with G-d by means of Messiah Yeshua, but they do not feel that they are successful. They may well be right in their assessment. There is indeed more than HaShem being with an individual for that person to be considered successful. This is why the next verse states,
“And His master saw that HaShem was with him and all which he does, HaShem made successful in His hand.” Genesis 39:4
The first point which I want to make about this verse is how important it is that the text states that Potiphar (his master) saw that HaShem was with Joseph. If others cannot see your commitment to Yeshua by how you behave, then you are not successful. The entire reason G-d does not immediately take a person to heaven after he accepts Yeshua is so that person can have an influence in the life of others. It is like Yeshua taught, no one lights a candle and then places it under a basket.
The second reason Joseph was considered a success was that he demonstrated to others that HaShem ruled his life. At the end of the verse one reads, “…and all which he does, HaShem made successful in His hand.” The second point is underscored by the use of the present tense. The present tense is somewhat rare in Biblical Hebrew. When it appears, it usually relates to a situation that is recurring. In other words, there was a consistency to Joseph’s life whereby others could see G-d moving in and through it.
Finally, it is important how one understands the pronoun which modifies the noun “hand”. By far most translations understand the pronoun “his” as referring to Joseph. However, I translated it as referring to HaShem. There are a few reasons why I did this. First, the proper noun which is nearest to the pronoun is HaShem. Second, the Hebrew phrase, ביד may denote a fuller meaning than one may think. In Hebrew the phrase, “in the hand” can relate to authority or power. Hence, the idea that is being expressed here is what Joseph did was made successful because he was under the authority of the L-rd and being empowered by Him.
Success is indeed when others see your actions and realize that it is not you who causes you to behave in the way that you do, but it is clearly manifested that you are acting under His power and submitting to His authority.
Are you a success?

A Hanukkah Message

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Hanukkah

When you hear the word “Hanukkah” what thoughts enter into your mind? One of the best answers in victory! And not just any type of victory, but one which is supernatural. When the Jewish people defeated the vast Greek army, it was indeed miraculous. All too often, individuals think of the battle as simply a conflict between two nations, much like all the other wars which have happened over the centuries. Yet there is something unique about this conflict. It was not based in some dispute about territory or simply one people’s desire to rule another. At the heart of this battle was worship!

Recently I returned from a speaking trip to Romania. While I was there I spoke to many people. In actuality it might be better to say I listened to many people share what life was like under the communist rule. People could go to religious services, but it was forbidden to share with others one’s faith. If someone was not part of a congregation and wanted to attend a worship service, the secret police would assume that some other person had influenced them to come. The police would frequently arrest one from the congregation whether or not this one had actually shared or not. There had to be someone held accountable. Those who were public about their faith would lose jobs, be rejected for higher education, be imprisoned, and even tortured.

The message of Chanukah, like so many of the Biblical holidays, does not only point back to an event in history, but it holds a great significance for the future. It is not by chance that that in Daniel chapter 8 that the he-goat which relates to the Anti-christ is called the kingdom of Greece. Daniel also connects the Anti-christ to the Greek tyrant Antiochus Epiphanes. There is a tendency for history to repeat.

The Bible is clear that in the end times a world leader will emerge who will persecute people who obey the word of G-d and who have the testimony of Yeshua. It will not matter where one lives, what is his ethnicity, or any other factor. If he follows Yeshua, he will be persecuted. Antiochus was a most cruel and barbaric tyrant who committed atrocities against the Jewish people who wanted to obey the Torah commandments.

Much of the believing community has been taught that they will not suffer in the end times. A very important term which relates to this idea is “great tribulation“. It is vital that one understand this term in the two ways that the Bible speaks of it. There are three places where this term appears: Matthew 24:21, Revelation 2:22 and 7:14. Although the words, “great tribulation” appear in these three places, there is an important distinction which must be made. In Matthew 24:21 and Revelation 2:22, the term does not have the definite article. Hence in both of these passages the text is only speaking that there will be great tribulation. Without the definite article, the text is simply speaking about great suffering that will be experienced. It is clear from the context that the Matthew passage is speaking of the tribulation period known as Jacob’s trial (See Jeremiah 30:7). However, it is impossible to be dogmatic concerning Revelation 2:22 as to what period of time John is referring. In regard to the text from Revelation 7:14, the definite article is included. This means that one cannot translate the verse, “…these are the ones coming out of great tribulation….“, but the verse must be translated, “…these are the ones coming out of the Great Tribulation….”

This means that the period of suffering which believers will go through near the end of this age (what is revealed in the fifth seal of Revelation 6:9-11) should properly be known as the Great Tribulation. This period should be distinguished from the time earlier mentioned with the phrase, Jacob’s Trial. The period of Jacob’s Trial will coincide with G-d’s judgment and wrath falling upon the nations. This tribulation period will be the worst time of suffering known to man. Obviously the Great Tribulation is prior to the Rapture and ends with the Rapture, while Jacob’s Trial and the time of HaShem’s judgment and wrath comes after the Rapture.

At the end of the book of Daniel, Daniel speaks about this latter period as a times, times and a half time, i.e. 3 1/2 years. In the book of Revelation, this same period is referred to as 42 months and 1,260 days (also 3 1/2 years). What is unique in Daniel chapter 12 is that Daniel speaks about those who endure to 1,335 days, an additional 75 days (1,335 – 1,260 = 75 days). In the Prophecy of Zechariah, there is an allusion to Yom Kippur in regard to Yeshua’s return. It is important to note that there is exactly 75 days between Yom Kippur and Hanukkah.

The term Hanukkah is derived from a Hebrew word which means “to dedicate”. In the same way that after the spiritual pollution of Antiochus Epiphanes the Temple was dedicated to be used again, this will also take place after the spiritual pollution of the Anti-christ in the last days. Those who reach the 1,335th day will witness Messiah Himself rededicating the Temple for the Millennial Kingdom.

So when you celebrate Hanukkah this year, and I hope you do, do not just think about the victory over the Greeks some 2,000 plus years ago, but the victory of Messiah over Satan which happened at the Cross, but whose results will be fully known at a Hanukkah in the future which will mark the inauguration of the Kingdom.

Happy Hanukkah!