Tree of Life Messianic Congregation

A Fellowship of Jewish and non-Jewish Believers in Yeshua

Month: January 2022

Life or Death, the choice is yours

20220108 Parsha Bo – Life or Death The choice is yours

Blessing

Torah Portion                   Exodus 10:1-9

Haftarah                          Jeremiah 46:13-20

Brit Chadashah               John 1:29-34

The fifteenth reading from the Torah is named Bo (בא), which means “Come or in context can mean Go.” The title comes from the first words of the first verse of the reading, which say, “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘[Come or Go] to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart” (Exodus 10:1). The portion begins by concluding the narrative of the ten plagues, the tenth of which is the slaying of the firstborn. To avoid the plague, the Israelites are given the instructions for the Passover sacrifice and the laws of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Pharaoh finally consents to let Israel go, and they leave Egypt.

This particular Parsha has several very well known incidents within it that are foundational to our belief system as Jews, Messianic Believers and Christians.  One’s understanding of the events surrounding Passover, or Pesach depends entirely on your perspective regarding the Messiah.

The Jewish person will look at this and see only the idea of Passover in the Passover lamb whereas the Messianic would look at this as being the Passover, of course, and also the Passover Lamb being Yeshua.  Generally, the Christian would look at this and agree that the Passover Lamb is Jesus, but they don’t really internalize the story of Passover as being personal for themselves. To most Christians, it is a Jewish holiday. The Jewish people look at Passover as extremely personal, and we put ourselves in the place of the early Israelites as if we were actually there too.

Today I would like to put these views together into a cohesive story that would include the Jewish view of things, the Messianic view of things, and the Christian view of things.

For the Jew, the story of the Passover is a historical observation that is remembered every year.  It tells the story of Moses being called by God to lead the Israelites to freedom.  A perfect livestock lamb was slain to provide blood that was to be splashed on the door posts and lintel of their dwellings.  If the people did what Hashem commanded, then the angel of death would pass over their homes and no harm would come to their first born.

Most Egyptians chose not to follow God’s commandment.  They suffered the consequences of losing their first born.  The edict was carried out from the lowest hovel to the palace of Pharaoh.

Did the relief from death apply to others outside the Israelites?  We can’t know for sure, but scripture tells us that there was a large amount of people called the “mixed multitude” that were also with the Israelites when they left Egypt the next day. It seems most likely that anyone who went with B’nei Israel would have also had faith enough to cover their doorpost with the markings prescribed by the Israelite God.  So I think it is possible that the population as a whole could have avoided the tenth plague if they put the blood on the door posts.  They had a choice.

The sages tell us that only 20% of the population of Israel chose to leave Egypt.  Why would that be?  Did only 20% of the Israelites follow God’s commandments?  Did the other 80% fail to heed Hashem’s warning and as a result decided not to follow Hashem into the desert because they too had lost their first born?  We don’t know, but it is an interesting question.  The Egyptians, the mixed multitudes and all of Israel had a choice to make.  They could follow God’s commandment and have life or disregard His commandment and suffer the consequences of death.

When the sun rose over Egypt on the 15th of Nisan, there were two emotions present in the land.  In all of Egypt there was wailing and crying over the loss of their first born children.  But in Goshen there was a different sound.  It was the sound of preparation and excitement.  For you see, when the Israelites killed the lambs and splashed blood on their doorposts, they were slaves in a foreign land.  But when light dawned on Goshen, the people of Israel were no longer slaves.  They were a nation of free men and women.  The blood made the difference.  It was their choice.  They chose life.

Today we hear much about choice.  A woman’s right to choose.

In the coming weeks, the US Supreme Court will be looking at some cases involving. abortion. I think it’s incumbent upon each and every one of us who are Believers to be in prayer about this, because this is very, very important to our nation. Since the landmark decision of Roe V. Wade in 1973 over 63 million babies have been killed in the United States in abortion clinics. The most evil organization that I can think of in the United States right now is Planned Parenthood. These guys make the Holocaust, Stalin, Genghis Khan and Molech look like choir boys when compared to how many babies have been murdered in Planned Parenthood clinics.  In Israel, one must get a 3-panel committee’s approval for abortion, but once it is approved, it is covered by government funding until the age of 33.  Out of a population of over 8 million, over 20,000 abortions are performed in Israel annually.  I cannot help but wonder if troubles in the US, as well as Israel, are somehow connected to our utter disregard for the most innocent among us.  Clearly, the abortion industry and their supporters in government chose to put the wrong blood on the door posts.

The drash delivered on Christmas morning, regarding the date of Yeshua’s birth, had over 2600 views on social media.  Some people agreed, some disagreed and some shrugged and said “whatever”.  But that figure of 2600 views was a wakeup for me.  Most of my drashes or sermons have been targeted to those of you who are sitting here in this building.  As a result, they are focused largely on Believers and the lives you lead.  This week, I felt the urging of the Ruach HaKodesh to change the focus and speak to the hundreds that watch this service at home.  Many have not accepted Yeshua as their personal savior.  I am speaking both to Believers and those who are not. Jew and Gentile. Christians and Muslims. To anyone who has ears to hear.

We have often discussed the problems people have as they live their lives.  Many are burdened with addictions, depression, bad habits, destructive relationships, the list goes on.  Somewhere in our lives, each of us is faced with a choice.  A life changing choice.  Maybe you chose to smoke that first cigarette, or pop some kind of pill, or entertain that first kiss that you knew would lead to destruction.  You started hanging with people who support your choices, because it was fun or exciting or to escape the discomfort of your reality.  It doesn’t really matter how, when or where these decisions were made.  Bad choices bring about bad results.  In computer language, garbage in, garbage out.  Eventually, bad choices which result in bad consequences will destroy your life, your job, your family.  Let’s face it.  Our choices can make us just as much a slave to sin as the Israelites were slaves in Egypt.  You may have experienced many plagues in your life with no Moses to lead you out.

But there is a way out.  I said I would connect the dots between Judaism, Messianic Judaism and Christianity.  Jews look at the Passover lamb as a historical fact.  The death of the lamb was necessary to provide blood for the door posts.  Jewish tradition does not ascribe any messianic significance to the lamb.

However, for traditional Christians, and for us as Messianic Believers, we look at the lamb differently.  The prophet Isaiah spoke of the Messiah as a lamb.

Isaiah 53:7  He was oppressed and He was afflicted yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter, like a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth.

While Yochanan the Immerser, (John the Baptist), was preaching and immersing repentant Jews in the Jordan River, he saw Yeshua approaching and declared him as “   the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. John 1:29.

Rav Shaul, the Apostle Paul, spoke of Yeshua this way: “ for Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.” 1 Cor 5:7

Peter equated the blood of Messiah to the Passover Lamb.

1 Peter 1:19  but with precious blood like that of a lamb without defect or spot, the blood of Messiah.

For those of us who are Believers in Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Messiah, the Passover lamb takes on a monumental significance.  The Passover Lamb in Egypt was significant because it separated those that believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, from those who did not.  The Passover Lamb in Egypt did not save anyone from their sins.  It was a vehicle to physically save the Israelites from the horrors of losing their first-born children.  But they still were not absolved of their sins. They were then set free from the bondage of Pharaoh.  But they still had their sins.

The difference is that the lamb could not remove their sins.  Only the blood of one born of God who lived a sinless life could be the agent who removed their sins and our sins.

Hebrews 10:4  for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

This passage was speaking of the sacrifices of the temple system.  Those sacrifices were but a covering.  David prophetically spoke of the Messiah and sin.

Psalms 103:12  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

East to the west.  That means that your sins are gone from one infinity to another.  There is no circling back like the north and south.  There are North and South poles that can be measured geographically.  But there are no east or west poles.  Your sins are gone.

This morning all of us need God’s forgiveness.  If you are a human like me, you have sin in your life. It is easy to become a slave to addictions, bad habits, evil thoughts, …whatever is troubling you.  You don’t have to live a life of slavery.  The Israelites started their Passover meal with the roasted lamb as slaves.  But Baruch Hashem, praise God, when the sun came up the next morning, they were no longer slaves.  They were free.  Just like them, we need to be set free.  Every day, we need to paint the doorposts of our hearts with the blood of Yeshua. Yeshua’s sacrifice only needed to happen once to absolve the world of sin, but we have to choose His sacrifice every day. Apply His blood to your addictions.  Splash His blood on the doorposts of your home and every aspect of your life.  You can wake up to a new day as a free person, free from the sins that weighed you down.

Let us all pray this prayer together right now.

Heavenly Father, forgive me of my sins, my failings, by bad choices.  Cover the entrance to my heart with the blood of Yeshua the Messiah.  I invite Yeshua into my life, into my home, into every part of my being.  I want Him to be my Lord and Savior.

I know, it is just a simple prayer, but I believe that if you sincerely prayed that prayer, or something similar to it, your sins are washed away.  You are no longer a slave.  Make your preparations for the promises of God for your life.

When was Yeshua really Born?

20211225 Parsha Shemot – When was Yeshua (Jesus) born and does it matter.

Blessing

Torah Portion – Ex 2:1-10
Haftarah – Isaiah 27:7-13
Brit Chadashah Matthew 1:18-25

Shemot is both the title for the second book from the scroll of the Torah and the title of the first Torah portion therein. Shemot means “names.” The English-speaking world calls this book Exodus. The Hebrew title for the book comes from the opening phrase of the book: “Now these are the names (shemot) of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob” (Exodus 1:1).

The English name Exodus comes from the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. The Greek title for the book is Exodus Aigyptou, which translates as “Departure from Egypt.” The name Exodus is an abbreviated form of that title. Exodus means “departure.” The book of Exodus tells the story of the children of Israel enslaved in Egypt and their miraculous redemption through the hand of Moses, the story of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, the construction of the golden calf and the construction of the Tabernacle.

As we read the first week’s reading from the book of Exodus, we find the children of Israel in slavery. It seems at first that the God of their forefathers has forgotten them. But God has not forgotten His promises. He remembers His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and brings a Redeemer to their children’s children, for the sake of His name, with love.

Today is a day celebrated around the world as the birthday of another Redeemer. The Redeemer we call Yeshua. But many if not most educated people today readily admit that Yeshua, Jesus was not born on December 25th. When was he born? Alternate dates include Rosh Hashanah or Sukkot. Sukkot being the most popular among Messianics. Sukkot is popular because it is the Feast of Tabernacles, and it would fit that Yeshua was tabernacling with us. However, this doesn’t work because Sukkot is one of the Regalim, the required feasts where every male was supposed to be in Jerusalem. Joseph would not have broken the law to be in Bethlehem rather than in Jerusalem. As a side note, the Romans would not have ordered a census on one of these holy days because it would have most certainly cause resistance if not outright revolt among the Jewish populace.

I would like to propose another date. This date is based on a careful study of God’s word coupled with contemporary, extrabiblical sources and an interview with Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. Before I begin, I would like to lay out some ground rules.

1. Please hear me out to the end. Don’t get up and walk out because you disagree.
2. Listen with an open mind and heart.
3. Please do not throw rocks or rotten vegetables.

I don’t remember when I came to the realization that Yeshua was not born on December 25. But I do remember many years ago when I first began studying Messianic Judaism under Rabbi Michael Rudolph. He spoke of an alternate date for the birth of the Messiah. We were deep into another subject when he said that he thought Yeshua was born in the springtime when the lambs were being born. Unfortunately, he didn’t elaborate because we had course requirements that precluded further discussion regarding the birth of the Messiah. Over the years I have heard the various hypotheses as to the actual day Yeshua was born.

One thing that hurts my heart as a Messianic leader is the invective spewed by some regarding the celebration of the Christian holidays of Christmas and Easter. Has the celebration of Yeshua’s birth been hijacked and cheapened by secular commercialism? It most certainly has. But I think calling it a pagan holiday and denigrating friends and family for wanting to celebrate Christmas must stop. Christmas is no more pagan than you are for being born on a Sunday, named for the worship of the sun, or in January, named after the Roman god Janus, July named Julius Caesar, proclaimed a god. If you are somehow convinced that you should not celebrate the birth of the Messiah on December 25th, then by all means, don’t do it. But in the process, please don’t sever ties and poison relationships with family and friends. Those relationships are God given for your blessing and possibly as your own mission field. You can’t win someone to the Lord by insulting them. Ok, that’s enough of me fussing you out. Let’s get on with the study.

After a lot of study, I’ve settled on a date. Please stay with me and at least have an open mind. Let’s begin. There are several clues to which we can point.

Year – What year was Yeshua born?

We have to go about setting the year based on the death of the king of Israel. His name was Herod the Great. He was a great builder who remodeled the Temple over the course of 46 years. He built up the area known today as the Temple Mount. Herod was a great builder and engineer, but he was also a sociopath. He killed anyone who he considered a threat to his throne. We know with certainty that he died in 4 BCE based on the writings of Josephus as well as other contemporary historians.

Shortly before he died, he issued an order to kill all the male children in Bethlehem aged 2 and under. This was based on the time that the Magi from the east visited him in his winter palace in Jericho and inquired about the one born king of the Jews. Two years had elapsed from the birth of Yeshua until Herod heard about this birth from the wise men. So, to be sure that he did not have a rival to his throne, Herod issued his murderous edict. That would have placed the birth of the Messiah in the year 6 BCE.

Another clue would come from Luke 2:8.

Sheep

Luke 2:8 Now there were shepherds in the same region, living out in the fields and guarding their flock at night.

The Talmud obliquely discusses the care of sheep and when shepherds would be taking care of them. It says that the shepherds would be in the fields with their sheep from some time in the spring until the latter rains began during the fall of the year. Shepherds would not be in the field with their sheep during the winter in Israel because it would be too cold and rainy.

The breed of sheep most likely to have been encountered during this time period was the Awassi. It is a breed especially adapted to the harsh environment of the Middle East. Unlike many other mammals, sheep are seasonal breeders. That means they breed only once a year and the offspring are born in the springtime, mid-March to late April. That is the only time that shepherds would have been out in the fields guarding the sheep is during the lambing period. Springtime.

Another interesting fact is that the area around Bethlehem was well known for providing lambs for Temple sacrifices. The shepherds were well acquainted with the halachic requirements for sacrificial lambs. It was to these sacrificial lamb shepherds that the angel appeared announcing the birth of the Lamb of God.

Moedim

All the major events surrounding the life of Yeshua occurred in conjunction with one of the Appointed Times of the Lord, the Moedim, feasts of Israel.

Yeshua was killed as the sacrificial lamb on Pesach, Passover. He rose from the dead on the First Fruits. The giving of the Holy Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh was on Shavuot, or Pentecost.

There was also another event tied to Yeshua’s life that fell on a specific date. Today we call it Palm Sunday, when Yeshua rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. So how is that a Jewish holiday? It is connected to Passover.

Exodus 12:3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month, each man is to take a lamb for his family one lamb for the household.

The lambs for Passover were to be a year old. They were selected from the flock that had been born the previous year. The month referred to in this passage is Nisan, the 10th day was when the lamb was selected and brought into the home. During this time the lamb would be inspected to ensure that it was without defect. It was on the tenth day of Nisan that Yeshua rode the colt into Jerusalem, the city of God, home of the Temple. He did not leave Jerusalem proper until his arrest by the Temple guards and the eventual crucifixion. The Lamb of God was brought into the Home of God on the day specified in Exodus.

Keep in mind that Yeshua’s first coming was centered around the spring feasts.

So what other springtime date is important? The first of Nisan.

Exodus 12:2 This month will mark the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year for you.

The first of Nisan is the actual God-given Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah came to be known as the Jewish New Year as a result of calendar assimilation during the Babylonian captivity. (Where are all the pagan trash talkers now?) But on God’s calendar, it is the first of Nisan.

• God’s New Year
• Exodus from Egypt
• Passover on the 15th
• “Nes” means “miracle,” so it’s Miracle Month
• Aaronic priesthood initiated
• Temple sacrifices initiated
• First incidence of Fire from Heaven
• First time the Divine Presence rested with B’nei Israel

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/4333602/jewish/12-Facts-About-the-Month-of-Nisan-Every-Jew-Should-Know.htm

It should be no surprise to you by now that I’m proposing the 1st of Nisan as the birth of Yeshua. If I was a better writer, I would have strung this out for a big finale, but I’m not a great writer.
Let’s look at some more clues.

Moon

Yeshua died on Passover which is always a full moon. The full moon was said to be the fullness of that month. Yeshua died on the fullness of Nisan. He fulfilled God’s plan of salvation on that date.

The Magi

The Wise Men or Magi were actually prophesied in Isaiah.

(Isaiah 60:1) Arise, shine, for your light has come! The glory of Adonai has risen on you.
(Isaiah 60:6) A multitude of camels will cover you, young camels of Midian and Ephah, all those from Sheba will come. They will bring gold and frankincense, and proclaim the praises of Adonai.

There’s so much packed into that verse. “Your Light has Come” The star. Multitude of camels bringing gold and frankincense. It is exactly what happened. Now these guys didn’t make it to the birth. They were a couple of years late. So all the nativity scenes…yeah they got it wrong. But they did come. We read in Matthew…

Matthew 2:1-2 Now after Yeshua was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, magi from the east came to Jerusalem, (2) saying, “Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

The Star

Astronomers tell us that in the spring of 6 BCE there was a great convergence of the planets which to the ancients appeared a stars. This particular astronomical event occurs only once every 6000 years. Jupiter aligned with other planets in the constellation of Aries. Jupiter was known as the King Star. Aries the ram represented the Jewish people. So the Magi deduced that this King Star (Jupiter) being seen in the Aries constellation meant that a king of the Jews was being born.

Zachariah

Luke 1:5 In the days of Herod, King of Judah, there was a kohen named Zechariah from the priestly division of Abijah. Elizabeth, his wife, was from the daughters of Aaron.

There were 24 divisions of priests ordained by King David. Priestly duties were on a rotational basis throughout the year. Abijah was the eighth group and Zechariah was on duty in the temple when an angel appeared to him and announced the conception and eventual birth of a son. This would be Yochanan, better known in English speaking circles as John the Baptist. If we knew when the division known as Abijah was on duty, we could work back to know when Miriam, mother of Yeshua visited Elizabeth and pinpoint the time of Yeshua’s birth. Well as it happened the Dead Sea Scrolls provided the clue. They gave us a time for when the actual rotation began. When the Temple was destroyed, we know what division was on duty, and then by backtracking, we can know with reasonable certainty that Yeshua was born on 1 Nisan.

There are several other clues, but I would like to end with these final indicators.

The Tabernacle

Exodus 40:2 “On the first day of the first month, you will set up the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting.

The first day of the first month could only be the first of Nisan. This was a little less than a year after the Torah was given to the people at Mount Sinai. They had been working on building the Tabernacle from that time. Finally, the tabernacle was complete and ready for dedication on the first of Nisan. That was when God came down and dwelt among His people.

It was about nine months of building and preparation to build the tabernacle. It was about nine months for the building and preparation of a baby named Yeshua. Nisan is the month of new beginnings. The Rosh Chodesh (the new moon) of Nisan is called the head of the months. Yeshua was born at this time of new beginnings.

If the Tabernacle construction started at the time of Shavuot, when ADONAI gave the Torah to B’nei Israel, and the birth of the Tabernacle was just over 9 months later, then likewise, Miriam would have been covered by the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) around Shavuot, which is the same time that Messianic Believers and Christians alike, celebrate the Pentecost, giving of the Holy Spirit.

Does it matter what day Yeshua was born? I think that in some ways yes and some ways no. The Spring feasts all point to the first coming of the Messiah. The Fall feasts represent His second coming. It just makes so much more sense that the Lamb of God was born when the Passover lambs were being born.

I believe that what is more important than what day we settle on or disagree on for the birth of the Messiah is that there WAS a birth of the Messiah. He was born of a virgin, in Bethlehem. He lived a sinless life so that he could be that sacrifice lamb that whoever believed in Him could be saved from a life of sin.

For a believer, every day is like the birth of the Messiah because we are a new creation, His mercies are renewed every morning. Everyday should be celebrated as the birthday of the Messiah, because He is born anew every day in the lives of those who are His followers.