Why Did Bondslaves Have Their Ear Pierced?

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Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 4.02.42 PMThere was a song we used to sing about God piercing our ears as a mark of willingly becoming a bondslave, according to the process laid out in Deuteronomy 15. At the time, I was going through a heated debate with my parents, who felt I was not old enough for pierced ears, so I really liked that song, and sang it defiantly. I did not understand it then, but that particular part of the Torah was not about jewellry. The meaning of this ear-piercing ritual that God outlines in the law is much more profound than I could possibly have imagined.

The instructions for making a regular slave into a bondslave are laid out twice in the Torah: Exodus 21, and Deuteronomy 15. As a rabbi once pointed out to me, it is highly interesting that right after the Ten Commandments, when God launches into his law, this the very first thing he says:

Did Yeshua Lose His Temper?

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Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 11.38.12 AMIt sure seems like Yeshua was having a bad day when he marched down to cause mayhem in Jerusalem by turning tables in the temple, blasting a fig tree along the way. Was he just in a foul mood? Did he get up on the wrong side of the bed? What was going on there?

It’s easy to miss it, but I think we are given a clue in one particular verse as to what was Yeshua’s intentions were, and what led up to those events. We can discover that far from being random or impulsive, every word and deed of Yeshua was delivered with precision and intent.

Effecting Change When You’re Effectively in Babylon

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Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 4.49.12 PMDo you feel more and more that you can empathise with how Daniel and his friends must have felt in Babylon? Under an ungodly regime, fighting a constant push to compromise on matters of faith, with our young ones being taught things contrary to God’s word, and the realisation that we’re very much in the minority?

We are not the first ones to experience this situation, and the Bible gives us a great deal of wisdom about how to cope and behave from saints who have walked through it before us, under much worse conditions, and survived. In fact, not only did they survive, but they were able to affect powerful change on the whole regime.

Pray for Paris and Take God's Antidote for Fear

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The rise of ISIS and their ominous black flag creeping up around the world is unnerving people everywhere. Is all hell breaking loose? How concerned should we be? The Bible tells us not to be afraid over a hundred times. So how do we look these unspeakable horrors of death in the eye without buckling to fear?

God wants us to be fearless. And we could be. It is not necessarily easy to dispose of fear in our lives, but it is possible with God. The Bible commands us not to be afraid and if God can command it, we can obey. In the current climate of terrorism and disaster, it is very easy to get drawn in by alarmist articles and reports that whip us up into an outraged frenzy, subversively motivated by fear. This is absolutely not what God wants for us, and it is no way to be the light to the world that we should be. The Yeshua way is a higher way, and the only way up onto that path and into that rarified air is by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What Does The Word "Hebrew" Mean?

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Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 7.33.54 PMAbram was called “Abraham the Hebrew” in Genesis 14:13, which is the first time that the word is used in the Bible. Where did this term come from, and what does it mean?

The word "Hebrew" in the Hebrew language is עברי (Ivrie). The root letters are used to mean cross over, or pass through. Today in Israel, we can use the word to talk about moving houses, transgressing laws, going through some difficulties, crossing the road, crossing over a river, and so on. Traversing, passing, or crossing over, essentially. In the Bible, it seems to have primarily referred to those who traversed rivers. The symbolic meaning of this should not be lost on us who love the Word of God!

Faith must be biblical

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studying-menashe-wannabejewIn the period following the destruction of the temple, the Jewish religious leadership faced a serious problem. Unlike the first Diaspora, which would last for seventy years, according to God’s revelation through Jeremiah, there was now no prophecy with a specific time limit and Jeremiah 31 was ignored! So how do you maintain Judaism while admitting that God is rejecting your sacrificial system, without a temple and without the Messiah?

Stories of Hope Amidst the Chaos

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Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 1.51.09 PMFor those who have been praying for Marike (pictured), the Dutch believer who was stabbed on a bus last week, we are happy to report that she is smiling again and on the road to recovery. Not only that, but hundreds of Jewish and Arab believers met together on Saturday to worship the Messiah together in unity, and yet more Israeli new believers were baptised at the weekend, publicly declaring their faith in Yeshua!

These are very dark and difficult days for Jews and Palestinians alike, but, as the Psalmist said, “If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you”. (Ps 139:11-12) The light is still shining in the darkness, and the darkness will never be able to overcome it.

Christian Survives Stabbing Attack in Jerusalem

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Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 11.40.37 AMOne of the victims of a terrorist attack on a bus yesterday was an elderly lady who loves the Lord. This tall, kind, Dutch woman moved to Israel many decades ago, rented a house in Jerusalem, and took care of lots of Palestinian orphans and children from difficult backgrounds. Marike had raised many of these precious children and was just quietly going about her life, but yesterday she took bus in Jerusalem, only to be stabbed repeatedly in the chest.

The Former & Latter Rains in Israel

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Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 2.18.18 PMThe former rains started to fall last week here in Israel, right on time. From Passover to Sukkot, the blessing of dew is recited, but from the end of Sukkot, it’s time to get praying for rain. The phrase "Mashiv Ha’Ruach u’morid Hagashem" is a praise included in the daily prayers, praising God who causes the win to blow and the rain to fall, starting on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. And now rain is falling on the parched land. Rain is so important here in Israel that there are several different words for it in the Biblical Hebrew, the four main ones being; yoreh, matar, geshem and melkosh. What do these Hebrew words mean? And what can we learn from all this?

Terror Attacks in Israel

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Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 6.32.53 PMOver the last couple of weeks, an unusual amount of violence has broken out across Israel - in particular, random stabbing attacks. There have also been rocks thrown at cars, through car windows and directly at people, there have been firebombs thrown and more missiles have been fired from Gaza at Israeli towns. Israel has responded with considerable force, raiding Palestinian homes to root out weapons and make arrests, but in the process, inevitably upending the lives of Palestinian families who have nothing to do with the violence. The suffering for everyone is considerable, and the answers as to how it can be resolved seem as elusive as ever. Apart from asking God for his help and protection, how can we pray in this urgent hour?

Yeshua and the Sukkot Water Drawing Festival

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Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 10.36.21 AMWe are coming to the last and greatest day of the feast - the epitome of the Festival of Sukkot. Saturday night ushers in “Hoshana Rabba” until sundown on Sunday, and then we will have another joyful feast to mark the end of the eight-day holiday. It is also called Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, which means the eighth day of the assembly and joy of the Torah. Yeshua went to celebrate the feast of Sukkot in Jerusalem, and John chapter 7 describes what Yeshua said and did at this climactic time, two millennia ago...

Celebrating Sukkot

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Screen_Shot_2013-09-23_at_6.13.08_PMWe are now in the middle of this eight-day Sukkot holiday, the Feast of Tabernacles. Previously, we looked at the thanksgiving aspect related to the ingathering of the harvest, and the importance of rejoicing during Sukkot. Now we will consider some of the other important aspects of the feast; the waving of the four species, and the welcoming of Ushpizin (guests), and how Gentiles are very much included in this feast!

The Meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles

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Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.41.22 PMThe Feast of Sukkot is one of my favourites. All of God’s feasts are full of creativity and wonder; treasures and promises. But in Jewish literature, Sukkot is often simply called “THE feast”. The biggie - no other clarification needed. Three times a year, all of Israel were supposed to make the trek to Jerusalem for Passover and Shavuot in the Spring, and then Sukkot in the fall. Sukkot means “shelters”, "booths", or "tabernacles". This is a feast in which God instructs his people to set about making a temporary shelter or booth to camp out in for a week. As a kid I loved making dens, and Sukkot is a bit like that. But why in the world did God want us to make dens?

Yom Kippur - A Day Of Prayer And Fasting

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fastingThere will be quiet and empty roads across the land of Israel from Tuesday evening until darkness falls on Wednesday 23rd for the holiest day of the Jewish calendar: Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. In the same way that many non-believers celebrate Christmas, most Jewish will people go without food and drink for 24 hours and attend special Yom Kippur services at synagogues. They might not believe in God at all, but the habit of fasting and quiet contemplation on this day is a well-ingrained part of Jewish culture. And while they reflect in the synagogue on what it all means, sometimes God meets them there...

Yeshua in Yom Kippur

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Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 2.15.57 PMThere are many ways in which the Biblical ordinance of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, foreshadows the greatest atonement of all: the sacrifice of the Messiah himself. God’s lists of seemingly strange and even barbaric commands about blood sacrifice in the Law can be bewildering to us in the twenty-first century sometimes. But when we look carefully at the detailed instructions and what is behind them, it can be overwhelming we start to see the beauty and depth of God’s wisdom and prophetic plans. It just takes a little bit of digging to find the treasure.

Was there Significance to the Dust Cloud that Covered Israel?

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Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 3.08.32 PMJust before Rosh haShana, Israel and the surrounding countries experienced an unusually severe sandstorm, which even resulted in two fatalities. We are now finally back to blue skies and we can see clearly once again without trying to peer through the dense, yellow fog that hung in the air for days.

In Hebrew, the word for sand, חול (‘chol’, with the ch being as Loch Ness), is the same as the word for “secular” or “ordinary”  - that which is not set aside or holy. We see God separating that which is holy apart, and setting it aside for himself in many places in Scripture. In these Ten Days of Awe as we approach the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, here are some reflections on the sandstorm in relation to our own lives.

The Feast of Trumpets

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trumpetsOn Sunday night, the Feast of Trumpets blasts its way into the new Jewish year. Today it is known as Rosh HaShana, the “Head of the Year”, even though it’s not really the start of the Biblical year at all, according to Exodus 12:2. The calendar year was supposed to start in the month of Passover in the spring, and the Feast of Trumpets comes at the beginning of the seventh month. Like all the other "Feasts of the Lord", it is full of significance and meaning for us today, as well as prophetic meaning about what is to come.

How to Pray for Syria and the Refugee Crisis

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Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 5.07.10 PMThe world has suddenly woken up to the refugee crisis in Syria, and the whole scenario is beginning to sound eerily familiar… One person recently found a newspaper clipping from 1938, which declared, “German Jews Pouring Into This Country!” The journalist went on to object that, “The way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port of this country is becoming an outrage”.[1]

Perhaps it’s time to pay more attention to the problems that are causing people to flee in the first place. At this critical time as we come up to the High Holy Days, is there anything we can really do about the troubles in Syria? By God’s amazing grace, yes there certainly is!




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