Hanukkah — or Chanukah as it’s sometimes spelled, typically falls sometime in December. I had heard of it, but didn’t actually know what it celebrated. So one day I decided to look into it. If you’re that point, I can save you some time.
It turns out, it’s really not the Jewish version of Christmas. It’s not even the most important Jewish holiday. It just happens to usually fall between America’s biggest holidays — Thanksgiving and Christmas — so we end up throwing it in with the majors. Not to say that what’s celebrated is not a big deal. Here’s what I found out… (more…)
In an earlier post, we reviewed the lifestyle of following the 10 Commandments and the blessings it produces based on Deuteronomy 26:16-19. But God’s blessings go beyond human logic. It’s not only that if you do this, then that will happen. While that is certainly true in the natural realm, when we pursue God’s commands, the spiritual results are compounded beyond what we can imagine. (more…)
“He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.” (Deut. 26:19)
Those are blessings I’d like to receive! But before we “name it and claim it”, let’s look at the context. (more…)
In an earlier article, I shared how God had helped me identify six idols in my life – those things I put my trust in either in addition to Him or instead of Him. After a 40-day examination of my attitudes toward them, I realized they were borne out of fear—fear of losing those things I depended on for security. During that time God provided me a new perspective more closely aligned with His desire for my abundant life.
A year later, I still kept God’s word to me on my desk: (more…)
As I walked a familiar path, I pondered my goals and pursuits — the progress or lack thereof, the advances and obstacles. Were my efforts having the desired effects? Were my primary purposes being met? These were pursuits I know God had led me to, called on me to participate in. Yet, while I could point to advances I had made, I couldn’t see tangible results I believed were God’s greater purposes. I could hear in my mind, “If only…” “If only this project were to reach that point, then it would be successful.” “If only I could get beyond this or that, I could really make a difference.” “If only…”
I recently wrote an article on how the phrase “If only” is a red flag for the temptation to reach beyond what God is already doing, to jump out ahead or create my own plan when things aren’t as I think they ought to be. On my walk, my own “If onlys” echoed through the trees. I knew I needed to repent. When I did, God responded in His typical fashion with patience, understanding, gentleness and fatherly love. (more…)
This 3-part blog series focuses on the Lord’s instruction in Leviticus 23:15 to count the seven weeks (49 days) that occur before the Day of Pentecost (the 50th day) also called the Festival of Weeks and Shavuot in Hebrew. For the Israelites, the count was about the harvest, thus the word “omer” which was a unit of measure used to count and track grain harvests. Yeshua taught us the spiritual meaning of “harvest” as those ready to receive the good news of the Messiah (Matt 9:37). That’s what the third phase of counting the omer is about.
The first two phases prepare us for what’s about to happen on the 50th day and beyond. (more…)
In Leviticus 23:15 God instructs us to count the seven weeks (49 days) that occur before the Day of Pentecost (the 50th day) also called the Festival of Weeks and Shavuot in Hebrew. But counting days with no explanation? Why would this be important to God and to us?
For the Israelites, it pertained mainly to their harvest cycle and offerings to be presented. For us living after the time of Yeshua, and the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples, we can see the spiritual implications of this count. We know that on the 50th day after Yeshua’s resurrection, something unimaginably wonderful happened: The pouring out of the Holy Spirit not only on the disciples, but on all those who come to faith in Yeshua as the Messiah! The implications of that day reverberate even stronger in these last of the last days. The 50th day is one I want to be prepared for every year. (more…)
Counting the Omer – most are familiar with the culmination of the count, which is Pentecost, also called the Festival of Weeks. “Weeks” is taken from the Hebrew word “shavuot” and refers to the seven weeks that precede Pentecost. Leviticus 23:15 tells us to count the weeks between the Feast of First Fruits and Pentecost:
“From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.”
It’s called “Counting the Omer” because the omer was the unit of measure used in this counting process of tracking the grain harvest.
In 2014, the Feast of First Fruits occurs on Sunday, April 20th. Pentecost occurs on June 8, seven weeks or 50 days later – thus the name Pentecost.
For the past few years, I’ve kept count of the 50 days, although not understanding why. I was like a child – obeying my Father because he’s my Father. As with all the Feasts, God has been faithful to teach me little by little each year in accordance with my desire for His revelation. Last year brought insights about the count that I had never seen or heard of in my research. (more…)
Esther – Queen of Persia, intercessor for the Jews before the King, and the one for whom the book of Esther is written. Understandably, as the heroine of the story, most discussions of the book are meant to inspire people to emulate her. But how many people are going to get the chance to be a queen, or be in a position to intercede for their people in front of a king? Re-reading the story this year, I realized Mordecai’s role in the whole affair is probably a more realistic picture of what people in any position could aspire to. (more…)
To many, the account of Abraham offering up Isaac to God in Genesis 22 is one of the hardest stories in the Bible to read and comprehend. You don’t have to be a parent to feel the anguish Abraham must have felt, to question how he could attempt such a heartbreaking act, and even to doubt the goodness of God.
In addition to the emotion it raises, there are several unanswered logical mysteries as well. What did Abraham tell Isaac they were doing? Was Isaac really that gullible? The fact that Abraham had Isaac carry the wood up the mountain indicates that Isaac was stronger than Abraham. How did Abraham wrestle him onto the altar? Furthermore, the surrounding information indicates Isaac would’ve been an adult, probably near 37 years old. Just how did Abraham get him to go along with this preposterous plan? There are enough holes in the report to make us wonder if we’re really hearing the whole story. (more…)
At one point in my career, I had not been demoted, but it certainly felt that way. Our administrative help was let go, and I was asked to take on her work in addition to my own. The new arrangement was working, so there was no hope of it changing any time soon. But I grew restless and sometimes frustrated. It also began to change other peoples’ perceptions of my capabilities and my status in the organization. I considered looking for another job, but in the current economy, this was not the time.
I asked a question I often use to glean answers and direction from God: “Who in the Bible has felt this way, and what did he or she do about it?” Two Bible giants came to mind — Joseph and Moses.
In my first blog about Hanukkah, I explored how the Hanukkah candles symbolize our light in the world and how we partner with God to bring light to the darkness. Our focus was on Isaiah 60:1-3. As I continued my research into the Hebrew words used in Isaiah 60:1, it gave me a deeper understanding into my true power as a light in the world.
Isaiah 60:1 reads, “Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.” In a literal Hebrew translation, this would read: “Arise-you! light-up-you! That he-came light-of you and glory-of Yahweh on you he-is-radiant.”
The Hebrew seemed to be a much stronger statement, especially the idea that Yahweh is radiant upon us. (more…)
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” Isaiah 60:1
I find no evidence that this passage was originally about Hanukkah. It’s meant as a prophecy about Israel in the Millennial Age. But as I was contemplating the Hanukkah candles, this verse came to mind.
Then as I read verses 2-3, I realized how much this really parallels the idea of the Hanukkah candles:
“See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” Isaiah 60:2-3
I decided to take a closer look at this passage and some of the Hanukkah themes that it contains. (more…)
In my last blog I discussed the balance between stewarding our resources while remaining completely dependent on God during the increase in economic or political turbulence and especially natural disasters.
A wonderful example of this principle is Joseph. His leadership during the great famine of his time not only demonstrates his response to and preparation for hard times, but has additional significance for us today because of the fact that he is a foreshadow of Yeshua Himself. I believe Joseph’s story provides us a glimpse of what’s ahead for Yeshua’s followers as end-time events escalate. (more…)
With today’s wars and rumors of wars, the rising price of food, gas and supplies, civil unrest, political upheaval and natural disasters of Biblical proportions, it seems the Bible’s prophecies are now daily headlines.
Fear of the possibilities, or even fear born from first-hand experience, can creep in and begin to change our mindset and our focus. It’s easy to start making a plan for our security: saving more money, storing up food and supplies, buying additional insurance, making plans for various disaster scenarios, and the list goes on — all good considerations and wise counsel.
But there’s a danger even in our planning: pursuing our own plan for security can take us away from God’s. The very things we amass to keep us secure can begin to replace the true source of not only our security, but the source of all those things we’re gathering. When we take our eye off the Source, the result is more fear of the unknown and more worry about protecting it all. Before we know it, the provisions become our security instead of the One who provided them.
The key is balancing stewardship of our resources while remaining completely dependent on God for our security and provision. (more…)
In our review of Numbers 11, we’ve seen how rejection of God’s provision (Part 1) and replacement with their own desires (Part 2) forces God’s presence out of the Israelites’ wilderness camp. But that’s not all. The story includes details that provide clues about something more God had planned.
In His mercy, I believe God hid a blessing in the midst of the incident for those who would pursue the path He laid out. While, there’s no account of any of the Israelites doing so, it serves as a lesson to us today of how God provides us a way to correct our path when we’ve gone astray. It’s a testament to God’s patience and tenacity in His pursuit of us and shows us how to stay in His will and presence. It’s a revelation the Israelites missed. (more…)
In Numbers 11 we read of one of the complaints the Israelites brought against God and Moses during their sojourn in the wilderness. They asked for meat; however, as we discussed in Part 1, they already had meat. Their true sentiment stemmed from discontent and a rejection of God’s provision.
As true today as it was then, when we reject God’s provision, we end up pursuing our own agenda. As a result we are presented with opportunities to either turn back or continue with our own way of living. In this case the Israelites’ choices led them away from the blessing of God and into separation from God’s presence.
Did they realize what they had done and what the implications were? Hindsight is wisdom’s teacher. Based on their experience, I realized I had to change my own course. (more…)
Remember the story of how God fed the Israelites quail – tons of quail – in the wilderness? It takes up one chapter in the Bible but seems to be just another incident in the litany of complaints the Israelites brought against God and Moses.
How was it different from the other incidents? Why was God so angry? Why so many quail? The story almost raises more questions than it answers. Yet there are a few hints that create intrigue as to its deeper meaning. Contrary to my first impressions, I believe it holds some (almost) hidden lessons about God’s mercy and desire to dwell with us and bless us. (more…)
Have you ever had someone give you a scripture saying they believe the Lord wants to use it to speak to you, yet it doesn’t seem to fit anywhere in your life? Hold it. I mean literally hold onto it – write it down, log it, memorize it.
I have a wonderful friend who has often done this for me. At times, the scripture or insight exactly fits with what I’m facing. Other times we talk through it and can’t seem to connect the dots. But I know she is a woman of God gifted in intercession and speaking into my life and others’. So I hold on to it.
One such scripture was Isaiah 30:21:
With your ears you will hear a word from behind you: “This is the way; stay on it, whether you go to the right or the left.”
Wait a minute – I thought that was Abraham! Well, actually the verse is about Abraham, but it could well be about Joseph. Abraham has the well-earned reputation of being a faith giant. After all, it’s his faith that God is rewarding us for even to this day. No doubt, he deserves high honor for his life of faith.
Joseph, on the other hand, is known for his wisdom in the gift of administration. It’s him we have to thank that the Israelites – and in fact the entire population — were spared in the great famine of his day. With a reputation of saving the known world from starvation, it’s easy for people to overlook the great gift of faith he had.
We know that God enabled Joseph to interpret dreams from an early age – his own as well as others’. We read the story of how he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream when all the magicians and wise men of Egypt could not. That’s faith enough – being called up from a dungeon after several years to stand in front of one of the most powerful leaders in the world and trusting God to give the ruler of Egypt an interpretation that no one else could. But what comes next is even more impressive. (more…)
Upheaval sweeping through country after country, global financial instability, impending and seemingly unavoidable wars, an increase in natural disasters and manmade dangers – the headlines bombard us. The low level hum of a looming turmoil grows louder. Thank goodness for The Feast of Tabernacles!
The Feast of Tabernacles, called Sukkot in Hebrew, is the seventh and last Feast in God’s holy days. This year it takes place from sundown October 9 through sundown October 16, 2014. It looks back to God’s unlimited provision for the Israelites as they sojourned 40 years in the wilderness. During the seven days of Sukkot, we spend time in our flimsy, homemade shelters to remind us of our complete dependence on God. Sukkot also looks forward to the Millennial Age where we will “tabernacle” with Yeshua eternally.
But there’s an often overlooked aspect to this Feast. (more…)
“…and forgive us our debts as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (Matt. 6:12)
…”Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)
Forgiveness: Relinquishing our desire to punish another for their offenses. (Dr. Jerry Cook)
Easy to understand, hard to apply. But Yom Kippur is all about forgiveness – God’s forgiveness of man, and man’s forgiveness of others. Yom Kippur (translated the Day of Atonements) begins at sunset on October 4, 2014 and is the sixth in the seven Biblical Feasts. It commemorates God’s annual forgiveness of the Israelites as a nation and God’s forgiveness of all through Yeshua’s death. Likewise, it’s a time when we are to forgive others. (more…)
This year the Feast of Trumpets (also called Rosh Hashanah) begins on the evening of September 25, 2014. We put aside our work and gather with other believers, share a meal, blow our shofar, present an offering and worship just as the Lord commanded us in Leviticus 23.
But Leviticus 23:24 also tells us this is to be “a day of complete rest for remembering.” Remembering what, it doesn’t say. In fact none of the references to the Feast of Trumpets tell us what we’re remembering.
To get some perspective, let’s go back in time about 3,500 years when the observance of this day was first commanded. (more…)