Grace and Truth

…all the words of this life…


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The God Who Watches Over Israel

Interesting times we live in.  As I was watching the news this afternoon the absurdity of the following scenario struck me….

Victoria boat in ashdod port  16-3-11As a large weapons cache is discovered on board a ship headed for Gaza, in the Red Sea, allegedly sent by Iran in order to arm Gaza militants, Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief and former vice-chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), as well as other leaders, shake hands and smile with Iranian leaders in Tehran.  She was there to hold talks with President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about their nuclear program.iran ashton

The international community has so far been rather quiet on the subject of this weapons cache….Food for thought.

Indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121:4

Read more here….

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26516704


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The Moon Turned to Blood…

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,

I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:……
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”

(Acts 2:17-20)

Could we be on the brink of seeing this verse of scripture fulfilled?

Next year on 15th of April the first in a series of four full lunar eclipses will occur.  A full lunar eclipse creates a “Blood Moon” as the earth’s shadow passes over the surface of the moon, rendering the moon a deep blood-red colour.  This is a rare occurrence.

blood moon photo: Blood moon Blood_Moon.jpg

What’s more interesting is that it falls on Passover next year.  The 15th of April 2014 is Passover.

Yet more rare is the fact that the lunar eclipse on Passover will be followed by another three full lunar eclipses, in the beginning of what’s known as a “tetrad” – a sequence of four consecutive full lunar eclipses.

And guess what else?   The following three lunar eclipses, or Blood Moons, will also fall right on Biblical feasts!

Here are their dates:

15 April 2014 – first Blood Moon on first day of Passover

8 October 2014 – second Blood Moon on the eve of Tabernacles

(20 March 2015 – Total Solar Eclipse on Nisan 1, the Religious New Year)

4 April 2015 – third Blood Moon on first day of Passover

28 September 2015 – fourth Blood Moon on the first day of Tabernacles

Could it be that God is trying to get our attention??

After all He did say in Genesis 1:14:

“..Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens…for signs and for seasons…”

The rabbis say that signs in the moon are for Israel.  In May 2018 Israel will celebrate her 70th birthday anniversary – could this be connected?  We know that 70 years seems to have significance attached to it in relation to Israel – ie, the 70 years captivity in Babylon; also it was 70 years after Jesus Christ was born that Israel’s temple was destroyed.

The rabbis also say that signs in the sun are for the nations, or Gentiles.  On 20th March 2015 there will be a total solar eclipse.  This is when the sun goes dark …”the sun shall be turned into darkness…”

Over the last 500 years there have been three lunar tetrads falling exactly on Biblical Feast days.  These signs in the moon were all preceded or followed by major events for the Jews or Israel.

Derek Prince says in “Appointment in Jerusalem”:        “On May 14, 1948, the modern State of Israel was born.  Of the countless prophecies in Scripture that refer to the close of the present age, all without exception assume one thing: the presence of Israel as a nation in their own land.  Until Israel was thus restored as a nation, none of these prophecies could be fulfilled.  Now the way is open for the fulfillment of them all.”

We are living in very interesting times.

“Therefore…what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,  looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!  But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:11, 12


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The Beauty (and Significance) of Jewish Marriage Customs

jewish-wedding-gift

In my last post (Marriage, yep marriage) I wrote briefly how marriage was specifically designed by God for a purpose.  The purpose of marriage between a man and a woman is that it is to be a testimony and a prophetic signpost in order to point the way to Christ and His Bride – the Church.

In this post we will look at Jewish marriage customs.  Why?  Because I believe that as followers of Jesus Christ in this post-modern age it is easy to miss the beauty and significance of the eternal truths displayed in Jewish marriage.  Jesus Christ’s words and actions take on greater meaning when we understand the culture of Christ’s day.  I believe it will be beneficial to us, as His  Bride, to understand the nature of our covenant relationship with Him, the importance of His promises made to us and to understand the true beauty of marriage.. It is my hope that through this we will get a glimpse of the eternal significance of marriage and the hope that we have in Christ, as His Church….

jewish girlSo, I will start by asking you to picture a young woman living at home with her father, mother, brothers and sisters.

One day a young man comes to her home.  He has travelled all the way from his father’s house in order to ask for her hand in marriage.  The young man brings three important things with him:

  •  a large amount of money,
  • a skin of wine and
  • a betrothal contract, called a Shitre Erusin.

The young woman’s father goes with the young man into a private room and they discuss the price that must be paid by the young man in order to purchase his prospective bride (the mohar).  Once the bride-price is agreed upon, the young man must pay the price in full to the father for the marriage covenant to be established.

A glass of wine is poured.

It is at this point that the young woman is invited into the room.  She sees the young man who has come all this way for her.  Perhaps it may be the first time she has met him, perhaps they have known each other for a long time.  In any case, the terms of the marriage covenant are explained to her and her father asks for her consent to the marriage.  If she approves and consents to the marriage she drinks from the glass of wine that has been poured.  As a symbol of the covenant relationship that has been instituted, the young man also drinks from the same cup of wine, over which a betrothal benediction has been spoken.

cup

The young couple are now considered husband and wife, although their status is betrothed, rather than that of fully married.  By her partaking of the wine, the young lady is now wholly set apart, sanctified or consecrated, for her husband and exclusively committed to this young man.  She has willingly entered into a legal contract with him and now it’s only a divorce that can dissolve the union.

The young man now prepares to depart from her home.  He is going away, back to his father’s house, to prepare a place for her, his bride.  As he gets ready to leave he notices the sadness of his young bride at his departure and he thus makes her this promise:

In my father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

Comforted by the promise of her betrothed, she watches him depart, knowing that he will return for her, just as he said he would.  She keeps herself busy preparing for his return, even though she does not know exactly when that will be.  The fact that she has been bought with a price and that she is now no longer her own, brings her great comfort for it gives her the assurance, along with his promise, that he will return for her.

And so, day by day she watches for his return.  She knows that she must be ready to go at any given moment.  As she waits for her wedding day, it brings her great joy to learn how to live as a wife and mother in Israel and to put together her wedding clothes and linens.

Her betrothed, meanwhile, has not forgotten his bride and is busy preparing for her a place.  He wants his bride to be happy and so sets about building and organizing her living arrangements in his home.  He also does not know when the day of the wedding will take place.  In fact, no one knows the day except his father.  His father will only give permission for him to go and collect his bride when he is fully satisfied with the living arrangements made by his son.

When the time comes, the father gives permission to his son, and the betrothed takes three days to prepare before he begins his journey to go and collect his bride.  He brings with him two of his closest friends and other male escorts.  This would usually take place at night and a torch light procession is made to the young lady’s home.

shofarThe groom’s arrival is preceded by a loud shout and the blowing of a trumpet (shofar) in order to alert his bride that he is on his way.  Her heart leaps for joy at the sound.  She knows that her faithful waiting and watching for him has not been in vain.  He is returning for her as he had promised.

She is taken, along with her female attendants, back with him to his father’s house.  There the wedding guests are already assembled in expectation of the wedding ceremony.  At the ceremony another contract, the Ketubah, which contains the promises made to the bride by the groom, is witnessed by the two friends of the bridegroom and then given to her parents.  During this whole process she remains veiled.

jewish bride

Next, the bride and groom are escorted to the bridal chamber, (huppah), where her groom gives her some gifts.   The following seven days are spent together in the huppah as the friend of the groom stands outside the door.  He waits for the groom to relate to him the news of the consummation of the marriage.  At the announcement of the consummation to the wedding guests, there takes place feasting and joy for seven days. At the completion of the “seven days of the huppah”, the groom brings out his bride, finally with veil removed.  Now all can see his bride as they join in the wedding feast.

“This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32)

Next time, the explanation of this analogy in Marriage and the Church


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A Fresh Start – Rosh HaShanah

One year ago I saw with my own eyes that God still moves by His prophetic calendar.  I will relate that experience to you in just a moment.

First I would like to briefly explain that tonight at sundown begins the Feast of Rosh HaShanah, also known as the Feast of Trumpets.  This feast continues until sundown on Friday.

The Feast of Trumpets is believed in Jewish tradition to be the time when God created the heavens and the earth.  It is for this reason that the Jewish Civil year begins on this day.

As Christians I believe it is important to know the Jewish roots of our faith, because they bring life, depth and meaning to our faith.  It is also important to know that God has not finished with national Israel.  Bible prophecy apart from national Israel is meaningless.  The fulfillment of His Feasts affect Israel as well as the Church and God certainly has not done away with His prophetic calendar.

A brief outline of the feasts show that the ministry of Jesus Christ (Yeshua) has fulfilled some  of these at His first coming and will fulfill the remainder at His second coming.

1.  The Feast of Passover – fulfilled

By the death of the Messiah

2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread – fulfilled

By the perfect, sinless life of Yeshua and His blood-offering at His death.

3. The Feast of the First- fruits – fulfilled

By the Resurrection of the Messiah

4. The Feast of Weeks (or Pentecost)  – fulfilled

By the birth of the Church at Pentecost

Following the spring cycle of feasts above, there was a four month period separating the spring from the Autumn feasts.  This interval is the Church Age, which is right now.  This temporarily interrupts God’s program for Israel, as revealed in the Feasts.

5.  The Feast of Trumpets

Yet to be fulfilled by the rapture of the Church.  (1 Corinthians 15:52)

6. The Day of Atonement

Yet to be fulfilled by the Great Tribulation with Israel’s national salvation at the culmination of that period. (Romans 11:26)

7.  The Feast of Tabernacles

Yet to be fulfilled by the setting up of the millennial Messianic Kingdom. (Revelation 21:3)

Now I would like to share a brief testimony of how God still moves by His prophetic calendar.  One year ago exactly, on the first day of the Feast of Trumpets, the first day of the Jewish civil New Year, we had Sunday lunch at our house.  A young man to whom we had been ministering for some years came in that morning.  To my amazement and joy as he approached the table the very first thing he said to us was “I am ready to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.”  After we had spent some time talking, he ended up on his knees, repented of his sins and gave His life to Christ.

God is good and His mercy endures forever.  It’s the beginning of a New Year.  Take this opportunity to turn to Christ, the Passover lamb slain from the foundation of the world and have your sins washed away by His spotless blood.  He will give you new life in Him.

If you know Christ already, take this opportunity to re-consecrate your life to Him in total obedience and trust.  He will never let you down.

God bless you this Feast of Trumpets season.


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Pentecost (and a Hard Question for You)

Image

I would like to share something of urgency, which God has put on my heart today.  Firstly though I need to do a little background on the Feast of Pentecost, which, so happens, is today.

Today (from sundown May 14-15) is the national observance of the Feast of Pentecost, or Shavuot, in Israel. Shavuot is considered to be the time when God gave Moses the Torah on Mount Sinai after the exodus from Egypt.  The giving of the Torah to Moses was by God Himself coming down to meet with him on the Mount in a cloud, accompanied by smoke and fire and a blast of God’s trumpet. This was to establish His covenant with His people and so Shavuot is celebrated as the biblical birth date of the nation of Israel.

The basic theme of Shavuot is “the harvest” and of giving thanks to God.  Passover marked the beginning of the Spring harvest and on the Feast of First fruits the first fruits of a sheaf of barley was required to be presented before the Lord, as a wave offering in thanksgiving for the harvest.  From the next day, seven weeks were counted until wheat harvest.  This is why Pentecost is also called the “Feast of Weeks”.

Why is this relevant to us?  Because God works by His prophetic calendar. In the year AD 30, on the day of Pentecost, something else of great importance was birthed.  At Passover Christ had died as the Lamb of God, at Feast of First Fruits He rose again, then 50 days after His resurrection, on the Day of Pentecost, the Church was born.

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  Acts 2:1-4

God once again used fire, wind and other demonstrations of the Holy Ghost to establish a covenant with His people.  This was also a time of great harvest, with many thousands of people being saved and brought into the Church at once.

So this leads to what the Holy Spirit has impressed on my heart this afternoon.  Over the centuries since the Church was born at Pentecost there have been other times of great harvest and the ingathering of souls.  As Peter said, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:17, 18) Times of the outpouring of God’s Spirit have been recorded through history.  There was the Great Awakening traced to the Moravians in 1727, there was Whitefield in 1742, John Wesley in the 18th century, Finney in the 1830’s, DL Moody in the late 19th century, the Welsh revival in 1904, Asuza Street in 1906 – just to name a few.

But will God do it again? Will there be another time of a great outpouring of His Spirt, of revival, before the end of the age?  It is my wholehearted belief that it will be so.

(It is not my intention here to prove that God will once again bring revival.  I can recommend the following books if you would like to pursue this question further.  One is Leonard Ravenhill’s “Why Revival Tarries”, the other is “In the Day of Thy Power” by Arthur Wallis.)

The scripture that God impressed upon me today was this:

“And he said, ‘Thus says the Lord, make this valley full of ditches.  For thus says the Lord, you shall not see wind, neither shall you see rain, yet that valley shall be filled with water…” 2 Kings 3:16, 17

God required Judah and Israel to prepare for the coming outpouring of the water which He was to send by making the valley full of ditches.  This was so when the water came it would fall into these catchment areas and not simply run-off and be lost and wasted.  This is what God is speaking to His Church even in this day.   It is no secret that water can be a symbol of the Holy Spirit in the Bible.  He is saying to prepare for the coming outpouring of the Spirit – by making ditches in the valley to catch the water as it flows through.

I guess the Israelites must have dug into the desert floor with some sort of spade instruments.  It can’t have been an easy task to make a valley “full of ditches”.  But while it was probably hard, it wasn’t impossible, and they did do it.

How do we make ditches today?  We need to dig into the hardness of human hearts with the instrument of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The hardness will be confronted with the power of the gospel and pride will be broken down when met with the Word of God.

Jesus said in Matthew 9:38 “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few, Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”

God needs labourers to go out into the harvest once again and gather in the lost.   God needs us to warn them that without Him, they will die.  I am not being melodramatic.  One thing God impressed upon me today is His urgency to have sinners turn to Him.  He says :

“Say unto them, ‘As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” Ezekial 33:11

This is serious.  If we truly believe that we are in the last days and if we truly believe that Jesus is coming back as the Lion of the tribe of Judah to judge the world in a Day of wrath, then we need to warn people.  It is God’s heart that none should perish.   But He has entrusted to us the precious task of preaching the gospel, of warning, of being watchmen.  And He actually, really expects us to do it.

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for[a] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.”  Ezekiel 33:7-9

This is not a call for an elite set of evangelists, or for someone with a special anointing, this is a call for every Christian.  Jesus Himself said “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15

I am sorry if this makes you uncomfortable or if it bursts your happy bubble, but God’s heart breaks for the lost every single day.  And ours should too.

Of course, the very first thing that occurs when we are confronted by a hard truth, me included, is our sense of inadequacy.  That I am unfit for the task, that I am too weak, too female, or too imperfect hits me most of the time.  But God says we are not inadequate, we are not incapable.  He has called us for this very reason and He will put His words in our mouths.

Listen to this:  Ninevah turned from their sin when Jonah got over himself and warned them of their impending judgment.

They turned.

And they lived.

God is calling for someone to “make this valley full of ditches” in these last days.

Will it be you?

“The fact is, Christians are more to blame for not being revived, than sinners are for not being converted.  And if Christians are not awakened, they may know assuredly that God will visit them with His judgments.  How often God visited the Jewish church with judgments because they would not repent and be revived at the call of His prophets.”  Charles Finney