The Sabbath – His Day of Delight

A brand new BEKY Book by Jane Diffenderfer!

In today’s frenetic world, Shabbat is the sacred time where mankind has the opportunity to commune with the Creator and listen to His instruction. Observing the Sabbath and keeping it holy are positive commands; one’s attitude should reflect delight in the day. It is a command all mankind is invited to keep.  Believers keep Shabbat not because they have to, but because of Messiah Yeshua, believers want to.

The motivation for honoring the Sabbath should be that of love, for the Father in heaven, His Messiah, and His children. There are bright promises for those who choose to honor the Sabbath as recorded by the prophet Isaiah:

How blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who takes hold of it; who keeps from profaning the Sabbath, and keeps his hand from doing any evil. (Is. 56:2 NASB)

Also the foreigners, who join themselves to the LORD, To minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD, To be His servants, everyone, who keeps from profaning the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant; Even those I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. (Is. 56:6-7 NASB)

If because of the Sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and shall honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure, And speaking your own word, then you will take delight in the LORD, And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Is. 58:13-14 NASB)

Notice the above Scriptures say, “the” Sabbath. Sabbath is not about picking a day and choosing “a” Sabbath, but aligning ourselves with God’s calendar and His weekly day of rest. The Sabbath was made for all mankind, Jew and non-Jew, male and female, to find the joy that only the LORD, Yahweh, can provide. The blessing and vision one receives in following His Divine instruction is life changing. The individual who takes the opportunity to observe the Sabbath enters into a slice of heaven on earth and finds the Sabbath rest in Messiah Yeshua.

To order your copy of the book go to: http://www.bekybooks.com/books.html

 

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Yeshua, the Passover Lamb of God

Pesach

Jesus [Yeshua] is the reason for the Passover season. He is the Passover Lamb and the Firstfruits of the resurrection. Those who follow Messiah are unleavened by the sincere teaching of the Master. As we count three days and nights from Yeshua’s burial before the annual Sabbath of Unleavened Bread, we can anticipate the joy of the resurrection at the end of the weekly Sabbath. As the first day of the week began, Yeshua was raised from the tomb. At the same hour that the wave sheaf of the firstfruits of the barley harvest was raised by the temple priests, Yeshua was lifted out of the grave. The women who went to the tomb, “when it was yet dark” (John 20:1) discovered the greatest news of history, and they preached the Good News. He is risen!

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. (1 Cor. 5:17)

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.  But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that will be abolished is death.  (1 Cor. 15:20-26).

Happy First Fruits of the Resurrection!

The Covenant of Mercy

Ancient Hebrew is based on letters that form word pictures. Hebrew words are created by joining pictures to illustrate the meaning of the word. The Hebrew word for covenant, berit, is a wonderful example of this.

Berit is formed by the Hebrew letters – betreyshyood, and tav. Reading right to left it looks like this:
covenant

 

בּ  bet

House is the word picture for bet, It can also mean the temple or house of God.

ר  reysh

Head is the word picture for reysh. It can also mean a person or the highest.

י  y00d

Hand is the word picture for yood. It also means work or deed.

ת  tav

Sign is the word picture for tav. It can also mean seal or cross.

In the four letters that make up the Hebrew word picture for covenant, we see that those in the the house should have on their head and hand a sign. In Messiah, we are called to be the temple or house of the living God, and there should be a sign on our head and hand that we are in Covenant with the Holy One of Israel. What is one of the signs of the Covenant? It is the annual celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

This [eating matzah] is done because of that which the LORD [Yahweh] did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be for a sign unto you and upon your hand, and for a memorial between your eyes [head] that the LORD’S law [Torah] may be in your mouth: for with a strong hand has the LORD brought you out of Egypt . (Exodus 13:8-10)

The Scriptures teach, that as His covenant people, His Word is to be within us, in our mouths and in our hearts.

…And you shall teach them diligently unto your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes [head].(Deuteronomy 6:6-8)

Take time to meditate on the meaning of berit and the eternal truths that are embedded in the beauty of the Hebrew language. Encourage your children to memorize the Word, to hide it in their hearts. Being in covenant with the Holy One has incredible promises for those who believe. Here are just a few delicious samples for you, and all your household of faith, to taste and see that His Covenant of Mercy is good:

Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is Godthe faithful God, which keeps covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations… (Deuteronomy 7:9)

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But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children. To such as keep His covenant and to those that remember His commandments to do them. (Psalm 103:17-19)

When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him…As for Me, this is my covenant with them, says the LORD; My spirit that is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of you seed’s seed, says the LORD, from henceforth and forever.(Isaiah 59:19-21)

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people. And has raised up a horn of Salvation for us in the house of His servant David. As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began. That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us. To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant; (Luke 1:68-72)

Teaching our children and our children’s children the commandments of God, connects us with the Covenant Community of Israel. Doing so out of love for Messiah Yeshua, unites us in His Kingdom, and causes us to bear good fruit. A household of faith, set apart, dedicated, and in covenant with the true and living God of Israel brings heavens mercy down upon us.

O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like Thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keeps covenant and shows mercy unto Thy servants, that walk before Thee with all their hearts. (2 Chronicles 6:14)

The Holy One of Israel, Yahweh, keeps His covenant and mercy to those that love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9 and Daniel 9:4). Imagine the benefit this has toward us, and our children’s children! Selah.

#Mercy #Covenant #Yeshua #Chesed #Rachamim

STAND FIRM

Have you ever felt a struggle that is going on, one that human reason or strength will not prevail over, a battle that feels as though it is a fight for life and death? Are you weary in the waiting for the answer to come from Adonai? Here is a message, given to me a couple of weeks ago, from a humble prophet of Messiah Yeshua:

“God has hear your cry. You have been praying specifically about something for a long time, and He has heard your prayers. You are to STAND FIRM. Don’t move to the left or the right. Watch Him work. Reach out and touch His Right Hand by faith. It is all going to be well. It is all well, in Jesus’ Name.”Stand firm.jpg

One of my all-time favorite strategic encounters with the Holy One of Israel is the battle that King Jehoshaphat fought when the Moabites and Ammonites came against the Kingdom of Judah. It looked like the assignment set against the Jewish people was one that would annihilate them. Therefore, Jehoshaphat called a fast, and the people assembled at the Temple courts to pray.

“Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem…He said, ‘Yahweh, the God of our ancestors, are You not the God who is in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your Hand, and no one can stand against You…We will cry out to You because of our distress, and You will hear and deliver…For we are powerless before this vast number that comes to fight against us. We do not know what to do, but we look to You.'”(2 Chron. 20:5-10 CSB)

Yahweh’s answer to the King’s prayer was given by the Holy Spirit through a man, Yahaziel, whose name means God sees:

“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast number, for the battle is not yours, but God’s…You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the Salvation [Yeshuah] of the LORD. He is with you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Tomorrow, go out to face them for Yahweh is with you.

Then Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD to worship Him.” (2 Chron. 20:17,18 CSB)

The lesson to learn is that God Sees your struggle, and He Knows the battle of the assignment set against you and your family. He will fight for you, by the Power of His Right Hand. He will bring the deliverance, His SALVATION, in His time. The best way you and I can fight is to stand in faith, and fall face down in worship.

God did not abandon His people in ancient times, and He will not abandon us today. Just as He did for His people in the days of King Jehoshaphat, He will do for again for us. His strategies never fail.

“Believe in Yahweh your God, and you will be established, believe in His prophets, and you will succeed. Then he consulted with the people and appointed some to sing for the LORD and some to praise the splendor of His holiness. When they went out in front of the armed forces, they kept singing:  ‘Give thanks to the LORD, for His faithful love endures forever.’

The moment they began their shouts and praises, the LORD set an ambush against the Ammonites, Moabites, and the inhabitants of Mount Seir who came to fight against Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites turned against the inhabitants of Mount Seir and completely annihilated them. When they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, the helped destroy each other.” (2 Chron. 20:20-23 CSB)

Let us continue to fight the good fight of faith, believing that Adonai sees and knows and that He will fight the battle for us. He can cause our enemies to turn on themselves. Those destroyers, who come to wreak havoc, will submit to their own devices. They will reap the destruction that they have sown. God is faithful to save His own.

If you are struggling to keep the faith during the great trials and testings of life, The New Covenant Scriptures are full of encouragement for the battle at hand:

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men [be courageous], be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13 NASB)

Put on the Full Armor..”Stand firm then, with the belt of truth fastened around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness arrayed…” (Eph. 6:14 BSB)

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (I Cor. 15:58 NIV)

Fight the good fight of faith, because precious souls are in the balance.  Our Savior, Messiah Yeshua, the Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls, will fight for us. It is His Battle and He has already overcome all the works of the enemy. Therefore, if you are called to the front lines, Praise Him!

#TheBattleBelongsToTheLORD #StandFirm #Overcome #AdonaiWillFightForYou

The Planting of Adonai

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Are you feeling down and out? Do you feel scattered, smothered, and covered in the trials of this life? Are you mourning because you have suffered a great loss? Are you captive and ensnared by the affairs of this world?

Sometimes it can seem that all we do is go deeper and deeper into a pit, as though life’s storms rain down on us, and there is no escape. We may feel that we are so broken that it seems too hard to carry on. Maybe all your dreams have come crashing down, and they have died in an ash heap of despair.

While all these situations are extremely painful and devastating, only those who have been in our place and walked a mile in our shoes, can really taste of the affliction. While it seems we are in a dark place, there is still hope. Perhaps we are just seeds, planted in the rich soil of God’s Kingdom, for His future purposes. Perhaps we are just little acorns going through the death of our tough exterior kernels. Perhaps the brokenness is just the sprouting of something much bigger than we could have ever imagined. Perhaps God has a plan, one that we do not understand.

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)

 

 

 

May the Lioness of Judah Arise!

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The Lion of Judah will soon return to rule and reign on the earth, with His Lioness Bride by His side. There is a battle raging – the war between truth and lies, between light and darkness, between the children of God and those opposed to His dominion. The war is real, it is intense, and we need to fight with every weapon of His warfare available to us.

We are to wage war by standing strong in the LORD and in the Power of His Might by wearing His armor, that He, Himself, wears. “And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His arm brought salvation unto Him; and His righteousness, it sustained Him.   For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. (Is. 59:16-21).

We must always be equipped with the knowledge that we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, rulers of the dark world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. “Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore…” (Eph. 6:13-14). STAND your ground where faith can be found, STAND your ground where hope can be found. STANDING is a military term for not giving ground to the enemy. Fight with all you got, then STAND. A warrior is more than a soldier. A warrior fights with passion for a cause one believes in. A soldier is drafted, perhaps against his will, and is paid for his efforts. A warrior will fight for family, friends, and country, no matter what the cost. A warrior fights to the death, without any compensation. The passion of the cause, forces the necessity of war. As Kingdom warriors, we also fight by “praying always with…supplication in the Spirit, and watching…with all perseverance…” (Eph. 6:18).

There is no weapon formed against the Believer that shall prosper. The weapons may form, but they do not accomplish the destruction the enemy designs. Instead, that which was designed for our harm, is turned around for our good. There is no undeserved curse that can be placed on an obedient servant of the Most High. The Lioness, who has joined forces with the Lion of Judah, will demonstrate the power of God. The world will watch and wonder: “What hath God wrought!  Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain” (Num. 23:23-24).

“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.  As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever” (Is. 59:19-21). His Word in our mouth is a powerful weapon of warfare. Speak the truth about the situation, the trial before you, and watch Adonai fight for you.

Fighting is an action. We must all advance when commanded, and stand still when the Mighty Warrior gives the instruction. Each day we should “Arise as a lion each morning to do the will of our Creator” (Shulchan Aruch – the Jewish code of law). This includes the heartfelt conviction that there are things worth fighting for. Whatever we place value on or cherish will be under the attack of the Enemy. Arising to defend our marriages, families, grandchildren, and ministries will cause scars, lots of scars, in our lives. Trusting in Adonai’s Right Hand victory as we fight, gives us the confidence in knowing that we have fought His battles with Him. Every victory is His.

“Through God we shall do valiantly: for He it is that shall tread down our enemies” (Ps. 60:12 & Ps. 108:13).

“The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the Right Hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.  The Right Hand of the LORD is exalted: the Right Hand of the LORD doeth valiantly. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD” (Ps. 118:15-17).

Because of His victory in our lives, we have a great and awesome God to praise.

Through our God we shall do valiantly.
It is He who will tread down our enemies
We'll sing and shout His victory.
Christ is King,

For God has won the victory
And set His people free.
His word has slain the enemy.
The earth shall stand and see that...

Through our God we shall do valiantly.
It is He who will tread down our enemies
We'll sing and shout His victory.

Christ is King! Christ is King!

 

 

 

 

 

The X Factor – The Voice of Ruchamah

bride and groom X Y

 

Why, oh Y, do we still persist in thinking that all godliness resides primarily in the Y chromosome? Why do we still read Pauline letters, regarding women in ministry, through the eyes of Greco-Roman thinking, instead of the Hebraic understanding of the faith? Why do we continue to think that God made only the male in His image and likeness? Do we think the crown of creation, the woman, was an afterthought? Why do we continue to teach female suppression and male dominance to the detriment of our sisters in Messiah? Why are we following the teachings of Islam, instead of the instructions of Torah, when it comes to gender equality in the Body of Messiah? When will the Two become One/Echad?

For in union with the Messiah, you are all children of God through this trusting faithfulness;  because as many of you as were immersed into the Messiah have clothed yourselves with the Messiah, in whom there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor freeman, neither male nor female; for in union with the Messiah Yeshua, you are all one.  Also, if you belong to the Messiah, you are seed of Avraham and heirs according to the promise. (Gal. 3:26-29)

In Jewish understanding, mankind – both the male and female – were created at the same time, out of the dust of the earth. They were joined together as one unit, as the image of Adonai. Only when Adam could not find a helpmeet suitable, an ezer kenegdo – helper opposite him, did Adonai cause him to sleep and create a bride from his side.

Yahweh split the side of the man open, to reveal the womb man, or woman, from within.  Genesis 2:22-24 state, “And the man said: ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’   Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.

We mistranslate the word as “rib” in English when we denote the place where woman came out of the man. In actuality, the Hebrew word tsela is more accurately translated as a “side chamber”, as related to the temple chambers, rather than a piece of cartilage. More than just a “rib” bone came from the side of the man, flesh also. Because Adonai produced the woman, out of the man, from a revered place, as a chamber in the temple, should we not give honor to the more precious vessel, rather than degrade her to a place of subservience to the patriarchal manupulation order of things?

The Bride of Messiah was also created from the splitting of Yeshuah’s side. She is the Queen of Proverbs 31, whom the King shall seek. She is the one who will rule and reign alongside her Bridegroom in the Kingdom to Come. One day the Y chromosome beings in the Kingdom of God will know their identity as the X factor.

Can we not see the significance of the female image of God? It is the X Factor in the days to come. The days of Ruchamah are at hand. The days of the tender mercy of God, coming forth from the seat of compassion, the God imaged womb of His being.  This Good News message will be proclaimed and it will transform this earth, and bring about the return of Messiah. One day soon, He will return to Zion in compassion (racham). Let us taste of this sweetness by letting the Voice of Ruchamah be heard in the midst of the congregation.

Let the Lion of Judah arise, with His Bride by His side to rule and reign over the Kingdoms of the earth. 

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Psalm 102:13   Thou shalt arise, and have mercy [racham] upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.

Psalm 119:77   Let thy tender mercies [racham] come unto me, that I may live: for thy Torah is my delight.

Zechariah 1:16   Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies [rachimim]: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.

 

Miriam [Mary], Did You Know?

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The Hanukkah [and Christmas] season is upon us, and it is a good time to reflect about the significance of the season in the life of Messiah Yeshua [Jesus]. Based on the evidence of Scripture, we can calculate that the timing of the Messiah’s birth was probably during the fall feast of Sukkot (pronounced Sue-coat), also known as the Feast of Tabernacles. The determination of this date is the subject of another article, but the evidence is based on the priestly course of Abijah, the birth of John the Baptist, and the fact that Yeshua began His earthly ministry in His thirtieth year (Luke 3:23). Since theologians have long known that Messiah’s earthly ministry was for three and a half years, and concluded  with His death at Passover, it is easy to determine that He was born in the fall, most likely the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Indications alluding to this are found in Torah, where “Jacob journeyed to Succoth and built booths/sukkot” for his animals (Gen. 33:17). Since Yeshua was born in a stable or sukkah, we can concur there is a connection to the fall feasts of the LORD and the birth of Messiah. Also, traveling pilgrims, going to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, would have filled up the inns along the way, which explains why Mary [Miriam] and Joseph [Yosef] took shelter in a stable/sukkah.

Considering the timing of the birth of Messiah, we can also count back nine months to His conception during the Hanukkah season. There are many parallels in Scripture that connect Yeshua to the themes of light and the temple menorah (candlestick, lampstand). These are the symbols of the Feast of Dedication, also known as Hanukkah.  Here are just a few examples:

“In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. And the light shines in the darkness…There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came…to bear witness of the Light…That was the true Light, which lights every man…” (John 1:4-9).

“Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:15-16).

“…I am Alpha [in Hebrew: Alef] and Omega [Tav], the first and the last…And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man…” (Rev.1:11-13).

In the Bible, the candlestick or lampstand is a symbol for a congregation of the righteous, who belong to Yeshua.  Messiah standing in the midst of the seven lamps or candlesticks is a picture of Yeshua being the center of the menorah.  Just as Yeshua is the focus of the menorah, He can also be found in the center of the all the Biblical holidays, Hanukkah included. The Feast of Dedication is connected to the fall Feast of Tabernacles, because it was a delayed eight day celebration of Sukkot, a time of rededication of the Temple, after it was purified in the time of the Maccabees.

During the Hanukkah season, Miriam, the mother of Yeshua, received the news that would save the world. She was to bear the child, foretold by the prophet Isaiah, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Is. 7:14). Immanuel means God is with us. For Miriam, God would actually be with her in a very intimate way, in her womb. Astounding to imagine! Miriam not only carried Yeshua, she nursed and caressed Him as any loving mother would. Miriam, did you know that when you kissed your little baby, you kissed the face of God?*

Miriam’s child was also the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6-7: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon His kingdom….” Did Miriam know, at the inception of receiving her Hanukkah gift, planted in her womb, just what a treasure she carried under her heart? Miriam, did you know that your baby boy was Lord of all creation?*

This infant, that was to be born, was far and above any other child.  He was spoken of before His conception by the prophet Micah. “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” How did one young woman from Galilee become entrusted to carry the everlasting ruler of Israel?  Miriam, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?*

This child was from ancient times, from eternity. When He grew into a man, Yeshua said this about his origin, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). He not only existed before Abraham, He was also the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). This is all way beyond human comprehension. Miriam must have been overcome with wonder, during the Hanukkah that she conceived the Light of the world within her.  No wonder she treasured things in her heart!  Miriam, did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb, the sleeping child your holding is the great I AM?*

Luke chapter one is a great passage to read for Hanukkah. Miriam is an example of a woman dedicated to the purposes of God, no matter what the personal cost was to her own life, her own body, her own reputation.  She would submit, and fulfill the will of God.  She would learn of a great miracle in Galilee. That with God, all things are possible.

“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.  And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.  And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.  And, behold, thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS [YESHUA].  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:26-33).

What a miraculous promise for a handmaid of the Lord! Miriam lived in the land of Israel, surrounded by the same type of barbaric, pagan culture of foreign conquerors that the Maccabees endured.  Hanukkah is the celebration of the victory of the faithful Jewish remnant over the kingdom of this world. The Maccabees fought for their convictions, to live according to the Torah, and worship the one true God. Hellenism and assimilation were the tools of seduction in their time.  Many Jews succumbed to the Syrian Greek way of life, and forsook the commandments of God, and chose to worship idols.  If the Maccabees had not revolted against Antiochus IV, a type of anti-Christ, all of the Jews would have been wiped off the earth, and the birth of Messiah could never have taken place. If there had never been a Jewish victory in 164 B.C., there would never have been a Nativity to celebrate. If the Jewish people hadn’t been determined to keep the Covenant of their God, in the days of Antiochus IV, today’s Christians would never have had a “Reason for the Season”.

Only eternity will disclose the full value of one act of submission by one humble woman. Miriam’s faith and trust in the Word, delivered unto her, was pure. Miriam believed God, and she was entrusted to carry the Word within her. For those who think God can not use a woman to bring forth the Word of God, think again.

“Then said Mary [Miriam] unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?  And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.  And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.  For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:34-38)

Miriam, did you know your one humble act of obedience, would change the world? Did you know that out of your womb the LIGHT of the World would overthrow the kingdom of darkness? Did you know that your baby boy, born the King of the Jews, would one day rule the nations?

“Miriam, did you know that your baby boy will some day walk on water?

Miriam, did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?

Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?

This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.”*

*Lyrics from the song, “Mary Did You Know? By Mark Lowry,

The Hebrew “Miriam” is inserted for the English “Mary.”

Thanksgiving and Sukkot – The Harvest Celebration

photo (5)

By Jane Diffenderfer

The Pilgrims who came to America for religious freedom identified themselves with ancient Israel. They felt they had left the bondage of Egypt, escaped across the Sea, and found refuge in the Promised Land of Liberty. They were a people very focused on the Hebrew Scriptures and the fulfillment of the blessings of being obedient by being in covenant with God. In many ways the first Pilgrims were more Hebraic in their worship than most history books record. An interesting conclusion can be drawn, based on the timing of the first Thanksgiving. According to the Plimoth Plantation website, the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving was held in “Late September/early October 1621″ (http://www.plimoth.org/media/pdf/historical_timeline.pdf). Calculating the dates for Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles) from Rosettacalendar.com, one can determine that the beginning of Sukkot that year was September 30th. Therefore, the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving in America was a three day harvest celebration, during the eight day Biblical celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles!

Another example of the Hebraic understanding being applied in the lives of the Pilgrims can be witnessed in the food that was eaten during their first Thanksgiving celebration. According to William Bradford, “They began now to gather in the small harvest they had… For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store…and now began to come in store of fowl…besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck of meal…Indian corn to that proportion.” Notice that all the foods the Pilgrims ate were clean foods, according to the dietary laws laid out in the Hebrew Scriptures. Today, most people from New England eat lobster and clams. There is no mention of these on the menu of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving feast.

One more amazing Hebraic thread, in the Thanksgiving theme, is the turkey as the official food of the feast. It stands out as so predominant that we call the holiday “Turkey Day”. Considering all the other meats mentioned in the original Thanksgiving: cod, bass, fowl, waterfowl, and venison, only turkey is the standout in today’s celebration.

The Hebrew word for turkey is hodu. An interesting connection, in Hebrew the word hodu is also the imperative form of  the verb “yadah”, which means to give thanks. It is the word used in Psalms 118:1, “O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: because His mercy endures forever.”

Therefore, every fall we remember the faith of the Pilgrims who came to seek religious liberty in America, and we give thanks – hodu to Adonai and enjoy eating a turkey – hodu, as a memorial to a past event of God’s providence for our country.

There is a strong Jewish/Hebraic connection to the giving of thanks to God for His goodness ‘and the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving. We can honor the day by remembering that His mercy endures forever. Hodu La’Adonai Ki Tov!

Happy Hodu Day!

The Sabbath – A Day of Delight

Foreigners Shabbat

by Jane Diffenderfer

(This article was originally published in the Jan./Feb. 1996 edition of First Fruit of Zion magazine. Edits have been made for this 2014 update.)

Our Father created the Sabbath for man to be a day of delight. It is a special time, set apart at the end of each week, to enjoy fellowship with Him. On Sabbath, we are free from our work routine to slow down and rest. This time allows us to concentrate on our family, to pray, worship, and play together. It is the one day of the week when we finally get the chance to dig deep into His Word, and receive new insight, knowledge, and understanding. Our Father has taught us so much about His ways as we have learned to keep the Sabbath, and we have been so very blessed. We do not keep it legalistically, as though we have to.  Instead, we keep Sabbath we get to, because we want to.

Our motivation is the love we have for our gracious and loving Father in heaven. He offers a promise to those who observe the Sabbath, recorded in Isaiah 58: “If you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, then you will find your joy in the LORD.”  We encourage everyone, Jew and non-Jew, to consider the Sabbath, and to find this joy that only the LORD [Yahweh] can provide. The blessings and refreshment you will receive will amaze you.

The Sabbath Existed Before the Giving of Law [Torah]

The Sabbath is introduced in Genesis where it states that in six days God created the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested. The definition of the Sabbath, according to Strong’s Concordance (#7676), is “intermission, repose, cease, celebrate, rest”. According to Scripture, God blessed the seventh day and made it holy (Genesis 2:2-3). What God has called holy, cannot be altered by the traditions of man. The entire creation revolves around the established order of the Creator’s Sabbath day. The earth’s twenty-four hour rotation determines the day and night. The cycles of the moon determine the month. The earth’s revolution around the sun, determines the length of the year.  Only the seven day week has no sign in the heavens that determine its length of time. It is defined by the Word of God, at the creation of the world, and all the world acknowledges the seven day cycle.

The Sabbath is revealed again in Exodus 16:4-30, when the Hebrews traveled from the Red Sea to Mount Sinai. The LORD caused manna to rain down from heaven each morning, to provide the daily bread for the wandering Israelites. On the sixth day, the LORD told them to gather twice as much because the next day was the Sabbath, and He would not send any manna from heaven that day. This occurrence happened throughout the wilderness experience. This was before the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. It is clear, therefore, that the Sabbath was instituted before the giving of the Torah, the Law of Moses.

Exodus 20:8-11 states, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the stranger that is within your gates; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day, Therefore, the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” The work week of six days, with a seventh day rest, is a weekly reminder that the LORD is the Creator of all life. We remember the Sabbath to keep our focus on who we belong to, for it is He who made us and not we, ourselves.

The Sign of the Covenant Between Yahweh and His People

The passage in Exodus 31:12-17 instructs, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Yahweh who makes you holy…” This sign is to be kept throughout all our generations. His Spirit calls us to be a holy, separated people that we may distinguish between that which pleases our Father, and that which does not. “…Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.  It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed.”

Forever means just that, forever. The Sabbath is a perpetual covenant reminder of the relationship God has with His children. He chose to rest, and gave us the opportunity to join Him in that rest.

In Leviticus 23, Yahweh told Moses that His holy feasts are His appointments with His people. The Sabbath is the first feast listed. It is a day of sacred assembly. The Hebrew word for this assembly is mikrah, which means “rehearsal”. The feasts of the LORD are rehearsals of things to come. We celebrate Sabbath in anticipation of our coming King, who is the Lord of the Sabbath. We earnestly desire His rule on the earth, so we set apart the day to honor Yeshua as Lord.

The Sabbath Belongs to Yahweh, It is His Day

In Nehemiah 9:1-15 the Jews separated themselves for a time of fasting and prayer, to confess their sins and the wickedness of their fathers. They praised God for His glorious name, and for creating the heavens and the earth. They remembered His faithfulness to Abraham and their forefathers. They praised God for the giving of the Torah. They were grateful for His laws that are just and right, and His commands that are good. They praised Him for making known to them His holy Sabbath saying, “You came down also upon Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them right ordinances and true laws, good statues and commandments, and made known to them Your holy Sabbath…” We, as Believers in Messiah Yeshua, are also delighted that He made His holy Sabbath day known to us.

In Isaiah 56:1-7, we see that Sabbath is not only for the Jewish people, but for the nations. “This is what the LORD says: Maintain justice and do what is right, for My salvation [Yeshua] is close at hand and My righteousness will soon be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil…Let no foreigner who has bound himself to Yahweh say, ‘The LORD will surely exclude me from His people.’ For this is what the Lord says: Foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve Him, to love the name of Yahweh and to worship Him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to My covenant, these I will bring to My holy mountain and give them joy in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples [nations].” We keep the Sabbath, as a sign that we are, in covenant with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In Messiah, are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:29).

A Day of Delight

In Isaiah 58:13-14, there is another promise regarding the Sabbath. “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath, and from doing as you please on My holy day. If you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way, and not doing as you please, or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land, and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” We love this promise; and desire both for our children and grandchildren to receive its blessing. Therefore, we are learning to delight in the Sabbath.

What Do the Ten Commandments Say?

We recognize the texts above are from what is called the “Old Testament”, and some suggest the Laws of Moses have been done away with for Believers in Messiah. We disagree with this notion. We believe ALL Scripture is given for instruction in righteousness, Torah included (2 Tim. 3:16). We believe all the Ten Commandments apply today to all Believers in Messiah Yeshua. No one who trusts Yeshua as Savior would suggest we are free from laws like, “You shall not murder”, “You shall not commit adultery”, or “You shall not steal”. So why does the modern church to say we are free from the fourth commandment, to “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy? If the six, seventh, and eight commandments are still valid, is not the fourth one also?

He is the Same Yestereday, Today, and Forever

Many church leaders teach we are not under the laws of the Old Covenant; we are now under grace. The theory is that under the Old Covenant, God dealt harshly with His people. Many churches teach we are now in the “dispensation of grace”, under the New Covenant, and the LORD is now merciful to His people. This theory is contrary to Scripture. “I am the LORD, I change not,” (Malachi 3:6). God has always been merciful to His children. He has always been willing to forgive the repentant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:18). Psalm 119 says grace and the law are not opposing concepts, but two compatible expressions of faith.  One does not exist without the other. “Keep me from deceitful ways: be gracious to me through your law [Torah]…I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free” (verses 29-32).

Too many churches teach, “We are under grace”, as an excuse to be disobedient.  Should we, as Believers in Messiah, continue to sin, now that our hearts have been set free? God forbid. “Now you have been set free from sin, and have become slaves to God. The benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life” (Romans 6:22). In the past we were in bondage to sin. Through His grace we have been set free to be slaves to righteousness. Through repentance, we now have a new master. “You are slaves to the one you obey…Thanks be to our God that, though you used to be slaves to sin…You have been set free from sin, and have become slaves to righteousness” (Romans 6:15-18).

Remember the Torah of My Servant Moses

We believe there is a stirring of the Holy Spirit among His people to prepare the Way of the LORD. Just as in the time of Yeshua’s first coming, when John the Baptist came to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, the Spirit of Elijah is at work today, to prepare for Messiah’s return. Malachi 4 tells of the Day of the LORD that is coming. Destruction awaits the evil doer, but a promise awaits those who are found in Messiah. “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings…” This passage continues with a reminder to, “Remember the Torah of my servant Moses, the laws I gave him at Horeb [Mount Sinai] for all Israel” (Malachi 4:4). We believe Abba wants us to remember His Torah in the last days. Perhaps He chose the word “remember”, because He could look into the future, and see how His children would forget His Sabbath, and need to remember it again.

Believers in Messiah Are Free to Keep the Sabbath

It was Yeshua’s custom to be in the synagogue on the Sabbath, to hear the Torah and the Prophets (Luke 4:16). Let us follow His example and walk as He did. There is no sin in keeping the Sabbath. Yeshua objected to some rabbinical interpretations on the observance of the Sabbath day, but not to the commands of Torah. Paul also kept the Sabbath, as well as the other Biblical feasts of the LORD. There are several references to him being in the synagogue on the Sabbath day. Acts 13 tells of Paul being in the synagogue speaking to the “men of Israel” and to the “gentiles who worship God.” The people, Jew and non-Jew, were blessed by the preaching, and were encouraged by Paul to continue in the grace of God (Acts 13:43). Keeping the Torah is not opposed to grace. Yeshua was full of wisdom and grace and kept His Father’s commandments, and lived in His love. Paul followed the example of his Master, so should we.

“I Tell You the Truth”

Our Messiah established the permanence of the Torah when He said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Torah until everything is accomplished,” (Matthew 5:17-18). We must heed our Master’s words, and should interpret the writings of Paul in light of Messiah. Paul and Messiah agree, the Torah is not done away with. Therefore, there still remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God (Hebrews 4;9).

 “I Delight in Your Commands”

The charge may now arise that we are being “legalistic”. If you ask if we love the Torah, our answer is, “yes”. The psalmist wrote, “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts…for I delight in your commands because I love them” (Psalm 19:44-48).

Do we believe observance of Torah is necessary for salvation? The answer is no, most definitely “no”. “For it is by grace you have been saved and not by works” (Ephesians 2:8). Our salvation depends on the grace given to us, through faith in Messiah Yeshua. We can never earn righteousness through doing the right things. It is the LORD alone who is righteous and He imparts that righteousness to us through faith in Messiah Yeshua. Once we have entered the New Covenant, the Torah is written on our hearts and minds. It is not done away with, but is inside of us. It is who we are, and how we live, as followers of Messiah.

As we grow in our knowledge of Him, we become conformed to the image of Him. We become more like Yeshua, as the Holy Spirit moves us to follow His commands. Torah observance has nothing to do with salvation, but everything to do with sanctification. Sin is violation of God’s Torah (1 John 3:4). Once we are redeemed, we should make every effort to resist sin, and not grieve the Holy Spirit.

The Scriptures are given for correction, instruction, and training in righteousness. We must give our ears to the full counsel of His Word, contained from Genesis to Revelation. We need to give our hearts to understanding, to seek out His ways that are higher than our own. We should boldly walk along the road less traveled, to find the narrow way that leads to Him. Our testimony should be that of our Messiah, “The prince of this world has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (John 14:30-31).

#Sabbath #DayofDelight #FourthCommandment #KeepItHoly #ShabbatShalom