Monthly Archives: December 2010

Our Israelite Faith. What should we believe? [by Angus & Batya Wootten]

Our Israelite Faith
What Should We Believe?
by Angus and Batya Wootten

Shalom
How does one begin to answer the all-important question, “What should I believe now that I have begun to understand my role as part of the people of Israel?”
In our day, we find an infinite number of answers about faith through the internet, television, and other media venues. We are flooded with words on the subject, and we are warned of a latter-day flood of words that comes forth from Satan’s mouth. Moreover, he spews out these words in order to sweep the believing children Israel away from the truth (Rev 12:15).
In this hour, we who seek to follow the Messiah of Israel need to be especially careful about what we believe. The abundance of opinions available to us in an instant makes for a gigantic religious smorgasbord at which we can freely dine. However, we need to beware this buffet because some of the offerings are seasoned with “spiritual arsenic.” Moreover, after passing through this dinner line, it seems that Believers seldom end up with similar plates of food. For this reason, we ask, what basic truths and understandings must we have on our eternal plates? What essential foods will best strengthen us and help us to fulfill our Father’s plan to restore the whole house of Israel?
To begin, we note that the first Adam was disobedient and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There was “good” food on Adam’s plate, but the little bit of evil found there brought about a death sentence that affects us to this day. And yet… the Father continued to love Adam’s heirs. He even sent His Son Yeshua, the second Adam, to re-gather us. Our Messiah offers us His empowering Bread of Life to eat. In Him we find the eternal redemption that we so desperately need.
On a cross made of two sticks/trees (etz), Messiah Yeshua took our place – He bore our sins and paid the price for our transgressions – so we could find eternal forgiveness and become one new man in Him. It is essential that we understand that He could not pay this high price in man’s behalf unless He was our Elohim, unless He was truly God come in the flesh (Psa 49:10,15; John 1:1; Eph 2:15). Having paid that high price, He left life on this earth and then rose from the grave. He ascended into heaven and sent us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, the Ruach haKodesh.
When we invite Yeshua into our hearts, the Holy Spirit begins to change us from within. He woos and draws us and seeks to conform us into the image of our Messiah. He works to write YHVH’s eternal Torah on our hearts – for that is the essence of the promise of the New Covenant. He wants to empower us to have a faith like that of Yeshua, to walk as He walked, and to do that which is pleasing to the Father. So it is that, to have the power Israel needs in order to prevail in the last days, we must have the Holy Spirit (Jer 31:31-33; Zec 4:6; John 5:19; Heb 8:10; 1 John 5:4-6).
These are essential truths that must always be on our proverbial faith plates.

Having A Working Faith
Concerning faithfulness (fidelity/faith), we see in the Old Covenant that YHVH is a God of faithfulness, that only the faithful will enter into His Gates, that in this life, faithful friends are hard to find, and that they bring healing and will not lie (Deu 32:20; Pro 13:17; 14:5; Pro 20:6; Isa 26:2). In the New Covenant, Yeshua told His disciples to have faith in YHVH, that righteous men must live by it, that it comes from hearing the Word of God, we all have an adequate measure of it, and, we are called to walk by faith and not by sight (Mark 11:22; Rom 1:17; 10:17; 12:3; 2 Cor 5:7).
YHVH chose us for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit, and by faith in His Word of truth. He declares that, “My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”
Faith preserves our soul. It is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” By it, the men of old gained approval. Without it, it is “impossible” to please God. He who comes to YHVH “must believe [must have faith in the fact] that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (2 Th 2:13; Heb 10:38-39; 11:1-2,6).
Concerning our faith, James warns us that it will be tested – because testing produces endurance. Testing comes so we can be made perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. When being tested we must ask for help in faith and without any doubting. The one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. In this unstable state, one should not expect to receive anything from YHVH (James 1:3-8).
Faith is more than just believing something. The devil “believes” that God exists. Our faith must consist of more than just believing, as in assenting to a fact. Faith calls for action on our part. James says, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works?” Faith alone will not save us, without accompanying works it is useless, even dead faith. If we see a brother in need to do more than just pray, we must also help provide him with the necessities of life. In this way, we show our faith by our works. Abraham was justified by works when he offered up Isaac (his son) on the altar. His faith resulted in works and that combination was credited to him as “righteousness” (James 2:14-26).
So, what kind of works should Israelites have on their proverbial faith plates?
John sums up the essence, call, hope and purpose of our faith when he says, “Whatever is born of YHVH overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (1 John 5:4). We are given the gift of faith to help us in our call – which is to overcome the world. We do that by helping to establish our Messiah’s eternal Kingdom, here, on earth (Mat 6:10). It is not enough for us to believe that Yeshua wants to one day establish a Kingdom. We must couple our faith with works that move us toward His stated goal. We must not be idle and think He will one day do all of the work. Yes, our works must truly be faith-based and God-inspired. Moreover, if we do something in the flesh, it will ultimately be exposed as a work of the flesh – but doing nothing will similarly be exposed as being of faithless flesh. Our God uses His people to accomplish His work in the earth. If we know that He wants to establish His Kingdom here, that knowing must be alive in our hearts.
We also must better understand the role of Jerusalem and the Believer.
Our Messiah will one day return to a particular Land and to His chosen city, Jerusalem. From there He will rule the earth. Although the whole Earth is YHVH’s, Jerusalem is its center. She is the promised “Bride.” We learn much by seeing ourselves as Messiah’s Bride, but we also learn if we see Him as the Bridegroom and ourselves as His Body. In this way, we see ourselves as Jerusalem’s Bridegroom/Protector. Like a bride, we will become one with her, so we pray without ceasing for her well being. Like a husband, we care for her and protect her from those who would molest her. There is a higher call that is yet to be realized by the modern Nation of Israel, because the city they so dearly love, and have fought so hard to protect, is destined to become the “City of the great King” (Isa 62:1-7; Psa 122:6; 48:1-2; Mat 5:35; Mark 2:19; Eph 5:24-31; Rev 21:2,9-10).
Our promised “dessert” is the New Jerusalem, and we, the Believers in Messiah Yeshua, are now being called to help prepare this delicate dish.

Keeping the Word – Genesis to Revelation – On Our Plates.
The night before Messiah Yeshua went to the cross for us, He prayed to the Father concerning both His disciples and each one of us. He said, “I have given them Your word…I also have sent them into the world…I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are One: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father…I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17: 14-26).
The “words” Messiah Yeshua spoke to His disciples (which words they believed and ultimately wrote about) were foretold in Torah. Yeshua is the promised Prophet likened unto, and even greater than Moses. As promised, YHVH put His Words into the mouth of His Son. The Son then spoke those words of promise to us, and we must believe in them – even as we believe in the Torah that foretold of them. Either we believe in the Messiah’s Word, or Father will call us to account for our unbelief (Deu 18:15-19; Mat 12:6,41-43; John 5:36; 12:48; Heb 1:1; 3:1-6).
We must have an abundance of the Father’s Word, Genesis to Revelation, on our plates. We cannot eat too much of this nourishing food. It is like Manna that we must hide in our hearts. It will strengthen us in the days when we need to run with horses.

Faith and Israel’s Restoration
Messiah Yeshua is gathering His flock and that flock belongs to His Commonwealth of Israel. His ministry was about re-gathering Israel’s lost sheep. He called for us to be “One,” even as He and the Father are “One.” His plan for us is that, as a truly repentant people, we might be re-gathered back to our own soil; that we might be a nation set apart in holiness and true dedication to our God (Jer 3:21; 23:1-8; 31:9; 50:4; Eze 34; John 10:30; 17:22; Eph 2:10-20).
The Holy One of Israel is now in the process of restoring His chosen nation, and we are part of that nation. He is now making its “two sticks” one in His Holy hand (Eze 37:15-28). Even so, we need to recognize its other members even as we do with our actual families, knowing that each one of us can be “in a different place with the Father,” yet still be “family.” We do not compromise what we know to be the truth, and we treat them with the loving respect due to family members. Through our walk (which is our true testimony), we try to help draw them closer to the Father.
We are being re-gathered as a Nation, thus we need to seek unity wherever possible. However, unity is not the same as uniformity. Each one of us is unique and very special to the Father. Each of us needs to see, know, understand and trust in the fact that, He has a good plan in store for us. He says, “I know the plans that I have for you…plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
YHVH follows this promise with the declaration that, once we begin to grasp His plan, and to trust in it, something glorious will happen: “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
We are about to find, discover, and know the Holy One of Israel in a new, more profound, and powerful way than ever before. For He has sworn, “‘I will be found by you…and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and…places where I have driven you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile'” (Jer 29:11-14).
Our plates must always be liberally sprinkled with loving concern for the whole house of Israel.
As Believers in Messiah, we have been blessed with the unmerited grace and favor to see the truth about our heritage. Most importantly, we are getting a glimpse of the coming glory that awaits a redeemed, reunited, and restored House of Israel. We have been uniquely chosen to be in the forefront of this prophesied re-gathering of the whole house of Israel. This knowledge has changed our lives. However, we must realize that there is a reason why we have been chosen to be in the forefront at this time.
Glory lies just ahead. But, we will not enter into that glory alone. Again, YHVH wants to restore us as a nation, thus, He wants us to share with others about the life-changing truth which He has blessed us. Paul said, “Whoever will call on the name of YHVH will be saved.” But he also asked, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!'” (Rom 10:13-15).
We are being called to share the good news that has changed our lives with those to whom the Ruach leads us. As good students of the Word, it is time for us to cease to be spectators in this amazing restoration that is presently taking place. It is time for us to become active and effective participants and pioneers. We know the essentials that must be on our plates and it is time for us to step up and help guide others through the end-time buffet. It is time for us to share the truth, to tell others about what we have found to be both true and nourishing (2 Cor 7:7).
The world was created with God’s spoken words and is even held together with His Word: Genesis to Revelation. Everything involves words, whether spoken, written, thought, sung or depicted. Words are important and so is choosing the right ones. Messiah Yeshua said He spoke only as the Father directed Him so speak (John 8:26,28; 8:38; 12:50). We need to learn to do the same.
Words that are inspired by the Ruach HaKodesh can change lives for the better. So let us ask the Father to give us an opportunity to speak such words. Let us ask Him to allow us to work this day toward rebuilding His glorious Kingdom.
Amen and Amen. May it be so in our day

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Hanukkah The Feast of Dedication [by Batya Ruth Wootten]

Hanukkah
The Feast of Dedication
by Batya Ruth Wootten

Shalom
The following article was previously published in a House of David Herald Newsletter. Batya enlarges on the subject in her feast book, Israel’s Feast and their Fullness – Expanded Edition. In it, she points out that the Hasmoneans forced conversions and began a Dynasty that took leadership from King David’s House – so they were opposed by some from his line (See Maccabees). The Hasmoneans also mandated its celebration, which is unscriptural (Deu 4:2). This may be why Messiah Yeshua was watching the celebration off to the side, while walking (treading? Strong’s # G 4043) in Solomon’s Portico (John 10:23). He was from King David’s house and would have been aware of the error of usurping the calling that was upon the House of David.

Zechariah apparently recognized a separation between Judah and the House of David. Speaking of Israel’s endtime return to the land, he said, “The LORD also will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem will not be magnified above Judah” (Zec 12-7).

Hanukkah began as a late Tabernacles celebration, but later became a symbol of Jewish perseverance (see the Apocrypha, 2 Maccabees 10:6-9).

Hanukkah History

Menorah Nine BranchIn 168 B.C., on the 25th day of Kislev, which falls during November/December, the army of the Greek-Syrian King, Antiochus Epiphanes, desecrated the Temple of the God of Israel. He also ordered the sacrifice of a pig on the Temple altar, had pagan idols brought into the Sanctuary, and forbade all worship of the God of Israel – as well as following the Law of the God of Israel. Those who chose to obey the Holy One rather than man, were seen as violators – the decreed punishment being execution.
Under the leadership of Judah the Maccabee, who was also known as the “Hammer,” a faithful remnant resisted the Syrians. They called on YHVH Tsavaot, the God of the Armies of Israel, and asked Him to aid them in their battle. Although they were greatly outnumbered, the Maccabees managed to regain control of Jerusalem in 165 B.C.

According to tradition, the Almighty then caused a one day supply of Menorah oil found in the Temple to last for eight days, while fresh oil was being consecrated – thus giving light in the Temple. (Note: There is no historical record of this miracle in the early accounts of Hanukkah and it is contested by many.) The Maccabees then cleansed the Temple, and on the 25th day of Kislev, exactly three years after the Syrians had profaned the Sanctuary, a new altar was dedicated.

It is said that in commemoration of this victory over evil, and because they had been unable to celebrate Sukkot/Tabernacles at its proper time, for eight days the Jewish people celebrated – giving glory to their God for delivering them from their enemies.

Hanukkah means “Dedication” and is thus thought to be a “Sukkot” type celebration that ultimately took on a life of its own.

In the Apocrypha, in I Maccabbees 2-4, we read of these zealous Israelites who refused to bow down to false gods. To honor the event in our day, worship services in synagogues around the world include the prophetic passage from Zechariah: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts” (Zec 4:6). For eight consecutive days Jewish people light candles on a nine branched Hanukkah Candelabrum (as opposed to a seven branched Menorah like the one that was in the Temple). Just before sunset, families gather to light the first candle during this “Festival of Lights.” Children are given gifts of gelt (money) and chocolate, and a dreidel game is played using a special spinning top and beans. Hanukkah songs are sung and the story of redemption is retold.

The center, or otherwise prominent candle of the Hanukkia Lamp is traditionally called the shammas or servant. Each night, it is used to light the other candle(s). On the first night, it is used to light one candle (starting on the right), on the second night two; adding one candle each night until, on the last night, all eight are lit by the shammas, which is lit every night. Nine-branched Hanukkah lamps were created for this occasion because the rabbis felt Jews should not reproduce anything that was in the Temple. These should be called Hanukkia lamps, to distinguish them from the Spirit-inspired seven-branched Menorah that was in the Tabernacle and Temple.

Long ago, the Maccabees won a great military victory for our Jewish people. They won because they were faithful to the Almighty alone. Due to their faith-filled actions (coupled with YHVH’s grace), the Temple was rededicated and freedom to worship the God of Israel was restored. In and through them, the God of Israel once again confirmed His desire to preserve His people.
In this story we see a picture of deliverance for those who follow “good shepherds” – leaders like the Maccabees. The focus of the celebration is on faithfulness, on being dedicated to righteousness. We are to be faithful and righteous even as is our God. But how should the non-Jewish Believer in Messiah relate to this Holiday? Are they to simply to follow the traditions of our Jewish brothers, or is there something more for us to see here?
In John 10:22-24, we read, “At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Yeshua was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon.”

Some feel these verses prove that Yeshua celebrated Hanukkah. Others feel they portray Him as being off in the distance, looking on, from Solomon’s portico. Regardless, we know He was there, and that, at that time, some from Judah asked Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.

In response, Yeshua affirmed His oneness with YHVH, and He made it clear that He was leading His people. He said, “You do not believe….because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” We read that, when He said this, “the Jews picked up stones again to stone Him.” They told Him they did this, “Because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (John 10:24-32). This is the second time they sought to stone Yeshua. The first time was during a Feast of Tabernacles when they were lighting the great menorahs and He cried out, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

When questioned about His Messiahship during Hanukkah, why did Yeshua answer by affirming His Oneness with YHVH, and by talking about His sheep hearing His voice, and about them being protected by the Father?
Because the people were putting great emphasis on physical deliverance from their oppressors. Even Judas Iscariot wanted a Messiah who would crush the Roman oppressors like the Maccabees did with the Syrians. But Messiah Yeshua wanted something greater and more lasting for His followers…

Cleansed Temples and Pure Lights

Messiah Yeshua wants people who do not love their lives even unto death. He seeks those who will focus on cleansing a different temple, one that is being built up by His Holy Spirit. As his people, we are to be temples of the Living God, and we are to allow His Ruach HaKodesh, His Holy Spirit, to cleanse our hearts. In that way, Yeshua’s light will shine forth from our inner man. Messiah Yeshua will pour in the oil (which symbolizes the Holy Spirit) and we will become living examples to all the world of His protection and provision (2 Cor 6:16; 7:1; Heb 9:14; 1 John 1:9; Mat 5:14; John 8:12).
Messiah Yeshua is the “Servant” named “Israel” who was sent to “raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel.” Yeshua is especially “a light to the Goyim (Gentile Nations),” to those who were once destined to become a melo hagoyim, or “fulness of the Gentiles.” He is the Shepherd God of formerly scattered Ephraim Israel, those of the supposedly “Lost Tribes” (Isa 49:6; Gen 48:19).

YHVH said He Himself would search for His lost sheep. He also said. “And I will set over them one Shepherd, My Servant…He will feed them Himself and be their Shepherd… will be their God and My Servant David will be Prince among them…. They will live securely, and no one will make them afraid…. Then they will know that I, YHVH their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are My people….For, I will take…Ephraim and Judah and their companions…and make them one stick in My hand…and they will be one nation in the Land…” (Isa 8:14; Eze 34:11,23-30; 37:15-28; Amos 9:9).
Those who follow the Good Shepherd do not need to fear oppressors. They simply need to trust in Him and be filled with His light (Isa 2:5; 1 Pet 2:9,10; Hos 1:2-11; 2:23; Luke 1:33).

At this Hanukkah season, let us celebrate by rededicating ourselves to our God, to the Holy One of Israel.

Let us ask the Father to empower us to: Better hear the voice of our Shepherd – Help build up His Holy Temple in the Spirit – Be willing to be cleansed when the Ruach shines His light on our sin – Be more dedicated to the restoration of His Kingdom to the whole house of Israel.

So gather family and friends, light the menorah, and meditate on verses of Scripture that have to do with light, such as:
Night one: John 1:1-12; 8:12; 9:5; 12:35-36.
Night two: Psa 4:6; 27:1; 56:3; 89:15; 119:105,130.
Night three: Isa2:5;10:17;Mat5:14-16.
Night four:Luke11:30-37;Acts26:18;2Cor4:4-6.
Nightfive:Phil2:14-16;Isa42:16.
Night six: Eph 5:8-15; Pro 6:23.
Night seven: 1 Pet 1:1; 2:9-10; 1 John 1:5-9.
Night eight: John 3:19-21; 1 John 2:9-11.

Father, we ask You to cleanse us and to help us to walk in a way that causes our internal light to shine before men, so that they too might find hope and safety in You.

During this season of lights, help us to lift up the One Who is both the Light and Shepherd God of Israel. For “in Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of YHVH has risen upon you” (Isaiah 60:1).

Batya Ruth Wootten
For the Patrol
batya@mim.net

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