Tree of Life Messianic Congregation

A Fellowship of Jewish and non-Jewish Believers in Yeshua

Month: April 2023


20230408 Shabbat haMo’ed Pesach – The Reality and the Relevance of the Resurrection

Torah Portion                         Exodus 34:1-7

Haftarah                                Ezekiel 37:1-9

Brit Chadashah                      John 11:17-27

Today is the Shabbat that falls during the Passover week.  It is called Shabbat Chol haMo’ed.  On this Shabbat we take a break from the sequential reading of the Torah portions and revert back to Scriptures in Exodus.  The Haftarah reading is from Ezekiel and describes a vision given to Ezekiel of a valley of dry bones being resurrected into a might army.  Today I would like to explore the concept of resurrecting the dead.

  1. Introduction

A few years ago Patricia and I were invited to give a Passover demonstration at a local church on Easter Morning.  We got there and were told we had 15 minutes because they had a guy dressed up as the Easter bunny and they were having a big Easter Egg hunt.  No sermon, just the Easter Bunny and eggs.  Why does the Easter bunny and egg hunts seem to be more exciting than news about Yeshua’s death and resurrection? Because we simply haven’t grasped the significance of the death and resurrection of Yeshua HaMashiach.

I’m paraphrasing Hank Hanegraaff  (The Bible Answer Man) here, “The resurrection of Yeshua is the greatest feat in the annals of human history. It is the very “capstone in the arch of the Messianic Movement.” Without it, all else crumbles. When we fully comprehend the significance of resurrection, our lives will be revolutionized. Without resurrection, there is no hope. Indeed without resurrection, there would be no Messianic Movement.”

  1. The Reality of the Resurrection

We need to come to a conclusion today that the resurrection of Yeshua is more than a fairy tale, more than a legend, and more than some religious symbol. It is a historical fact that is indisputable.

In fact, Billy Graham said that “There is more evidence that Yeshua rose from the dead than there is that Julius Caesar ever lived or that Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-three.” How can Billy Graham make such a statement? Is there really evidence that makes believing in the resurrection more than a leap of blind faith? Let’s see…

I’m going to borrow from Hanegraaff’s acronym F-E-A-T to show you the importance of the resurrection.

While each of these points could be studied in more detail, we’ll just stay on each point briefly, but enough to make the point.

– Fatal Torment

One of the first things that we need to realize is, that for Yeshua to be resurrected, first he had to actually die.

Some commentators have posited that Yeshua just passed out and revived later in His tomb. But that’s dumber than dirt! Yeshua suffered horribly. Let me explain how horribly He suffered and eventually died.

He began his suffering at the Garden of Gethsemane where Luke 22:44 says, “his sweat was like drops of blood falling the ground.”

His suffering continued throughout his interrogations before Annas and Caiaphas, where he was hit in the face, spit upon and beaten,

and continued on as he was taken to Pilate, where he was flogged, given a crown of thorns, spit upon and struck on the head again and again. The flogging alone was so brutal that it is amazing he lasted until His crucifixion.

And then there was the crucifixion itself. The Romans had perfected the act of crucifixion to inflict the maximum amount of pain and suffering. The nails were driven into the wrists and ankles, some of the most sensitive parts of the body.

John 19:31-37 gives the account of the guards breaking the legs of the thieves to hasten their death by asphyxiation at the request of the religious leaders so that the bodies would not be left on the crosses during the Sabbath. But when they came to Yeshua, he was already dead, and they speared His side instead. This produced a sudden flow of blood and water. If he wasn’t dead, he would certainly be dead now.

Mark 15:44-45  Pilate was surprised that He was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him whether Yeshua had been dead for long.  (45)  When Pilate learned this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.

He was dead. No doubt about it.

– Empty Tomb

In Matthew 27 gives the account of Yeshua’s burial. Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, placed Yeshua’ body in his tomb. This account also says that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting opposite the tomb, so they knew where it was. And the next day the Sanhedrin came up with a plan to specifically thwart any plan the disciples might have of stealing Yeshua’ body and faking a resurrection by getting Pilate’s order to post a guard and seal the tomb (read Matthew 27:62-66).

Some might say that the Romans or the Jews stole the body, but that makes no sense. What motive would they have had? That would only encourage something they wanted squelched. Instead, after Yeshua had risen, and the guards had reported everything that had happened, the chief priests bribed them to circulate a false story that the disciples had stolen the body.

The tomb was discovered empty because it was empty. Nobody got the tombs mixed up. Nobody stole the body. It was empty, period.

– Appearances

One of the greatest proofs of the Resurrection of Yeshua HaMashiach was His many post-resurrection appearances.

While there were many appearances, for the sake of time, I want to look at just one of these appearances.

1 Corinthians 15:6  After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

More than 500 people! There were surely many people that could testify to the trustworthiness of this statement. Several hundred. Paul’s statement had plenty of eyewitness testimony to back it up or to disprove it if it had been false.

– Transformation

The reality is that a transformation in Yeshua’ followers took place. This is evidence of the reality of the resurrection. This little band of disciples went from hiding to preaching in a very short time. They were willing to go through horrible torture and death. As one writer put it, “Nobody willingly dies for something that they know is false”. But they knew it to be true. They knew Yeshua had died, they knew there was an empty tomb, and they had seen Him.

And the reality of the resurrection’s transforming power didn’t stop with the eyewitnesses. For within weeks of the resurrection, not just one, but an entire community of at least ten thousand Jews were willing to give up the very sociological and theological traditions that had given them their national identity.

Some angry Jews in Thessalonica said of Paul and his comrades that “These men who have upset the world have come here too”. The original followers and the hearers of that first century were so radically transformed that they affected their culture big time. And the transformation of people has been continuing for 2000 years.

III. The Relevance of the Resurrection

Now the question is ‘Why should Yeshua’s resurrection be important to me?’

  1. The Resurrection proves Yeshua is God

Yeshua’s resurrection proves He was God, and not an imposter. In John 2 Yeshua chased out the money changers in the Temple because they’d turned God’s Temple into a marketing venture. The Jews asked Him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” This is what Yeshua told them:

John 2:19  “Destroy this Temple,” Yeshua answered them, “and in three days I will raise it up.”

They thought he was referring to the Temple building they were in. But verse 21 tells us He was referring to His body. He delivered on His miraculous sign, thus proving who He was.

Paul opened the letter to the Romans like this:

Romans 1:1-4  Paul, a slave of Messiah Yeshua, called to be an emissary and set apart for the Good News of God,  (2)

which He announced beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures.

Concerning His Son, He came into being from the seed of David according to the flesh.  (4)

He was appointed Ben-Elohim in power according to the Ruach of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. He is Messiah Yeshua our Lord.

The Resurrection proves Yeshua to be the Son of God and brings us face to face with the fact that He is who He claimed to be, God. The founder of every other religion died and stayed dead. Yeshua rose again. This is important to you because it forces you to make a decision in your life. Since Yeshua is who He claimed to be, how will you respond to Him?

  1. The Resurrection makes your salvation possible

Without the Resurrection of Yeshua every person is still dead in their sins.”

Romans 4:25 NIV says, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

If Yeshua died and was never raised, then his death did nothing to accomplish justification. God raising him from the dead showed acceptance of Yeshua’s sacrifice. If God left Yeshua in the grave, then the sacrifice was not accepted and no one has received cleansing from sin. The condemnation for sin is death (Romans 6:23).

To still be under condemnation means that all people will be given the ultimate penalty for their sins.”

Paul writes,

1 Corinthians 15:14  And if Messiah has not been raised, then our proclaiming is meaningless and your faith also is meaningless.

1 Corinthians 15:17-18  And if Messiah has not been raised, your faith is futile—you are still in your sins.  (18)  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Messiah have perished.

If Yeshua did not rise then you are still dead in your sins and your faith in him is worthless and anyone you’ve known who died a believer is just as damned as an unbeliever.

If there had been no resurrection, then Yeshua proved Himself nothing more than a self-deceived prophet or crazy man and all of us are fools for trusting Him. BUT, as we’ve already seen, thankfully, the resurrection of Yeshua is a historical fact. Faith in Yeshua is not in vain. This is important to you this morning because Yeshua being alive means the way to God has been ‘paved’ by Yeshua and you can be made right with Him and have relationship with Him this morning.

  1. The Resurrection makes your resurrection possible

You and I are spirit and body. We are spiritual and we have physicality. Unlike the beliefs of the Greek philosophers who thought the body was evil and something we should want to be released from, God made our bodies as part of who we are and they complete us. Right now our bodies are affected by sin and die, but God has a plan to resurrect our bodies to perfection.

These resurrected bodies, our current bodies transformed, will be bodies completely perfect and dominated by the Spirit rather than the sinful nature. Granted, the resurrection will not take place until Yeshua’s Second Coming, and 2 Corinthians 5 lets us know that our disembodiment at death, for the believer, results in being in God’s presence.

But the same passage also lets us know that Paul desired to be “clothed” with his heavenly dwelling and not “naked,” or disembodied. So we can conclude that while our family members and friends that have died who were believers are very much enjoying the presence of the Lord, this is not their final eternal state. God has their bodily resurrection planned because He never planned permanent disembodiment for us.

Romans 8:23-24  and not only creation, but even ourselves. We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Ruach, groan inwardly as we eagerly wait for adoption—the redemption of our body.

(24)  For in hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?

Our spirits have been saved, but we are awaiting the day our bodies are completely made new and free of the weight of sin and totally dominated by the Holy Spirit. “For in this hope we were saved.” Resurrection is our hope.

And 2 Corinthians 5:5 says, “Now the One who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Ruach as a pledge.”

This ‘first fruits of the Spirit’ spoken of in Romans 8:23 is elsewhere referred to as a guarantee and pledge that we, who are His followers will be resurrected and will be forever with Yeshua.

And our resurrection is only made possible by the resurrection of Yeshua. Yeshua’s resurrection guarantees our own bodily resurrection. The Bible refers to Him as being the ‘first fruits,’ which guarantees the whole harvest, of which you and I are a part if we are in Yeshua. In other words, since He was raised first, we know we will be raised.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23  But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

(21)  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also has come through a Man.  (22)  For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah will all be made alive.

(23)  But each in its own order: Messiah the firstfruits; then, at His coming, those who belong to Messiah;

When will our resurrection take place? The passage we just read said, “when he comes.” This second coming is referred to in Titus 2:13 as the “blessed hope.” Philippians 3:20-21 tells us that we are awaiting a Savior from heaven who “will transform this humble body of ours into the likeness of His glorious body.” When Yeshua returns we will see Him and we will be transformed! What a blessed hope indeed!

Now, just look at yourself. Take a minute. Do you feel too fat? Too thin? Got hurting knees or allergies? Losing your hair? Whatever problems and imperfections you have are temporary and will one day be changed in the twinkling of an eye if you are in Yeshua. That is our hope. It is the completion for us of the ultimate extreme makeover. A heavenly body for eternal living.

  1. Conclusion

Do you ever feel like your life is like Humpty Dumpty’s. Remember, he sat on a wall and fell and all the king horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put him back together again?

You and I are broken because of sin. And there’s not a thing anyone can do to fix us. We are utterly helpless and hopeless and stand in judgment before God because of our sin.

You may be broken like Humpty Dumpty because of sin and unfixable by anyone in the world.  But that tomb is genuinely empty and Yeshua is alive! What He did on the cross paid for your sins and you’ve been given an opportunity to not just be fixed, but to become a NEW CREATION and to have fellowship with God.


That’s the joy of Resurrection morning. God can fix you spiritually and you can have the hope that He will one day complete your redemption by redeeming your body to be like Yeshua’s body!  Do you see how relevant the resurrection is to our lives? Without it we have no life.



20230401 Parashat Tzav – Keep the Fire Burning

Torah Portion                 Leviticus 6:1-7

Haftarah                        Malachi 3:4-12

Brit Chadashah                      Matthew 3:10-17

The twenty-fifth reading from the Torah and second reading from the book of Leviticus is called Tzav, which means “Command.” The name comes from the first word of Leviticus 6:9, where the LORD says to Moses, “Command Aaron and his sons …” Tzav reiterates the five types of sacrifices introduced in the previous portion but this time discusses the priestly regulations pertaining to them. The last chapter of the reading describes the seven-day ordination of Aaron and his sons as they prepared to enter the holy priesthood.

The title for today’s drash is “Keep the Fire Burning.” Many times you hear someone say, “That church is really on fire.” Or, maybe they say, “That person is really on fire for the Lord.”

We want to consider words from the Bible that should encourage us to keep the fires burning in our life for always. We can keep that fire burning with God’s help. And not just in our individual lives but in the life of this congregation, also.

Let’s look at our primary text now.

Leviticus 6:2  “Command Aaron and his sons, saying: This is the Torah of the burnt offering. The burnt offering should remain on the hearth atop the altar all night until the morning, while the fire of the altar is kept burning on it.

Leviticus 6:5-6  The fire on the altar is to be kept burning on it—it must not go out. Each morning the kohen is to burn wood on it, laying the burnt offering in order upon it, and burning up as smoke the fat of the fellowship offerings.  (

6)  Fire is to be kept burning on the altar continually—it must not go out.

It should be our prayer that Tree of Life, St. Peter’s UMC, other churches in our area, and all congregations around this world that stand for Yeshua HaMashiach be on fire for God. May it be that we are on fire more than we have ever been before. May it be that when a lost person comes by, they might say, “I don’t know why I’m here. I just felt that something was persuading me to come in here and see what’s going on.” May it be that this congregation is so on fire that people in this community say, “There are wonderful things happening at Tree of Life. Things that can’t be explained. Things that only God can do.”

We should be praying for the fire of the Holy Spirit to consume this place. And that it happen in such a way people will be drawn to this place.

Now, there are some questions we need to ask and try to answer as we consider this fire that is spoken of in Leviticus.

First of all: What is this Holy Fire?

Secondly, Whose Responsibility is this Holy Fire?

And, thirdly, How Do We Maintain this Holy Fire?

  1. What Is This Holy Fire?


The Scripture tells us what this fire is. Over and over in the Old Testament we’re reminded of the symbol of fire.

The fire first appears as Moses sees a bush burning in the desert but its not being consumed. Moses had often seen bushes burning in the desert, but he had never seen one that wasn’t being consumed. So, Moses went over to see that bush and he heard a voice. That voice said, “Take off your shoes, Moses, for the ground on which you’re standing is holy ground.” Moses removed his shoes and began a meeting with the Lord God.

Later, after leaving Egypt, Israel was led by a cloud by day and a column of fire by night.

At Mount Sinai, the top of the mountain was covered by fire because of the presence of God.  You can still see the blackened mountain top even today, 3500 years later.

Later, in the book of 1 Kings we read about a challenge between Elijah and the prophets of Baal.  The pagan priests could not call down fire from Baal.  After drenching his own altar and sacrifice with water, Elijah called down fire from heaven that consumed the sacrifice, the altar and the priests of Baal.

And then on the Emmaus Road, the two disciples who were walking and had an encounter with the incognito risen Messiah said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Do you see what the fire represents? The fire represented the presence of Almighty God.

It wasn’t the burning bush that made the meeting with Moses holy. It was the presence of Almighty God. God Himself led the children of Israel. Elijah didn’t defeat the prophets of Ba’al. It was God Who defeated them. It wasn’t the emotional moment of the day which created the fire for the disciples. It was the very presence of Yeshua HaMashiach.

And there were others who experienced this fire.

Jeremiah said there is a fire in my bones and I have to speak the Word of God.

Yochanan, John the Baptist said that Yeshua would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

At Pentecost, in the Book of Acts, we see the Holy Spirit coming down with tongues as of fire.

In the Book of Revelation, John had a vision of the risen Lord Yeshua. He spoke of His eyes being as that were fiery. Those fiery eyes that can see into our soul and discern everything that is within. The fire represents the judging presence of Almighty God.

The fire represents God’s presence among us. When you give your life to Yeshua, He places a fire within you to grow and become more and more like Him. Sadly, though, that fire begins to die out. It becomes a flickering flame where once it was an inferno for Him. What’s happened?

Well, let’s consider our next question,

Whose responsibility is this Holy Fire?

Here in Leviticus it’s clear that it’s the priest’s responsibility. So, by extension, it is the rabbi’s responsibility. It’s the responsibility of the leadership. You might say it’s the responsibility of those who teach our children.

But, as New Testament Christians, we must remember what Peter said in 1 Peter 2:9,

1 Peter 2:9  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Every Believer should be a priest of Adonai. It was the responsibility of the priests to carry men to God and to carry God back to men. Take men to God through prayer and take God to men through His Word. And it is our responsibility then to be God’s priests. We are to pray for our neighbors and our coworkers and our family. And we are to take God to our neighbors and coworkers and family by sharing His Word.

Whose responsibility is it to carry the fire? It’s mine, it’s yours and it’s the responsibility of us all to carry this fire and to keep it burning. Because we are all priests.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “Oh, our congregation is just so cold. I just don’t feel anything there anymore.” Listen folks, if you feel your synagogue is cold, then you go in on fire and heat up that place. It doesn’t have to be cold if you’ll set it on fire. It only takes a spark to get a fire going. You warm up somebody else and let them warm up somebody else and soon your whole congregation will be on fire for Yeshua.

Whose responsibility is it? It’s all our responsibility.

There is a need for people of all ages to carry the fire.  You are never too old or too young to share the Good News of Yeshua.

Senior Adults we need you to help carry the fire because you look at life as no other age can – from the other end of spectrum. We need you to be involved because of your wisdom and experience.

Young people we need you to be involved because of your energy and enthusiasm. And don’t ever use youth as an excuse not to join God in some great work.

Jeremiah tried that and God said to him,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.”

To those of you in between, we need you because you are out there in the real world. You know the needs and how best to meet those needs. We rely on you to lead this church in taking the light of His fire into a sin-darkened world.

What does fire represent? It represents God’s presence. Who is to keep the fire burning? We are all called to help keep the fire burning.

Now, how do we keep the Holy Fire burning?

Those of us who have been married a while can probably agree that one of the keys to a successful marriage is communication.

Do you and your spouse talk to each other?

“How was your day?

What have you done today?

What are your plans for later this week?

Can I do something to help you?”

Any time I am out running errands I will call home and tell Pat where I’m at, does she need anything from HEB, how the doctor’s visit went.

These kinds of conversations keep us in touch with how one another is feeling and what our needs are and what our expectations are.

But, what would happen if we didn’t communicate with one another? What if we just saw each other briefly in the morning and said a quick ‘hello’ and ‘have a good day’? What if when I come in from the garden or workshop and plop down at my computer and wait for Pat to finish cooking my supper? You know what would happen? I might lose the chance to do a little grilling if didn’t communicate to her that we should have steak for supper.  She might cook Brussel sprouts just so I would protest.

Without good communications we would begin to lose touch with one another. I wouldn’t know what her needs are. We wouldn’t know each other’s expectations. How would that make us feel toward one another?  I think both of us would be really disappointed if we didn’t spend time talking to each other.

How do we keep the fire burning? We pray. We talk with God throughout the day.

“Lord, I feel a difficult day coming on. Help me out.”

“Lord, show me where You’re working. Empower me to join You in the work You have already started.”

“Lord, we need to feel your power in our home, in our community, in our congregation. Help us out, Lord”

“Lord, here’s a lonely person. Show me how to be your servant and help him out.”

As we talk with Him through the day we grow closer to Him. That’s one way to keep the fire burning – prayer.

A second way to keep the fire burning is by hearing the Word. Prayer is primarily us talking to God. I know He talks with us in prayer but it’s mostly us talking to God. So, we turn to His Word to hear from Him. That’s God talking to us. That’s part of the communication process.

The Word of God will keep you from sin.  Conversely, sin will keep you from the Word of God.

If you are burning with His fire you will stay in His Word.  But when you move away from the fire of the Lord you get cold.

Spend time in the Word every day. To help you do that, I highly recommend a plan that will keep you engaged. One such plan is The Bible Recap which takes you through God’s Word chronologically in one year. It is available as a podcast and also on YouTube, so you can listen on the way to work, or watch it from your device or TV at home. There are journals and study guides available, but you can do it for free with your own Bible, and the YouTube channel. Every day, you read about 2 chapters, and then follow up with the podcast or YouTube portion to summarize and give context to what you’ve just read. That kind of program helps you to build consistency and accountability to stay in God’s Word, and deliberately hear from Him every day.

A third way to keep the fire burning is what James called “works”.

James 2:14-18  What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can such faith save him?

(15)  If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food,  (16)  and one of you says to them, “Go in shalom, keep warm and well fed, ” but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is that?  (

17)  So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself.  (18)  But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works.

Doing things for others will keep you warm as well as the one you are helping.  One gentleman in this congregation took a generator over to the home of a friend during that ice storm a couple of years ago so that he would have electricity to operate his medical equipment.

Other members devote time to people in need.

How do we keep the fire burning? Through prayer, through Bible Study, and through our works. Ask God what you can do. There’s something all of us can do. And all of us don’t have to do the same thing. What God has for you to do might be something no one else is doing in this congregation.

There are needs all around us. Ask God to open your eyes and empower you to do the work that He has already begun.

So, we have seen that fire represents God’s presence. We are all responsible for keeping the fire burning. We keep the fire burning through prayer, studying His Word, and by our works.

It was a commandment to keep the fire burning.  Yeshua said that if we loved Him, we would keep His commandments.  Let’s show our love for the Messiah.  Keep that fire burning within us.