According to Romans 11, the Church has been grafted into the Olive tree. (representing Israel) Thus, we "share in the nourishing sap from the olive root." (Romans 11:17) It is the root of this olive tree that supports us. This being the truth, would it not follow that when Israel is at war, the Church must also be at war? Ephesians 2:13-15, 18 explains: "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace...For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit."
It is a fact that Satan hates what God loves. He stations demonic principalities over every region. Since Israel and the Church are one, what impacts one impacts the other.
As I awoke on Saturday morning, Holy Spirit placed a song on my mind" "Onward, Christian Soldiers." It was written by Sabine Baring-Gould, a Church of England minister who was inspired to write this song so that the children of his church could sing it while marching from village to village. He writes that the entire song came to him within 15 minutes. The text for this hymn became an inspiration to Christians around the world. It is one to use while taking on our responsibilities of advancing the cause of Christ. It is a battle cry for the Church and Israel.
Verse 1: "Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before! Christ the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle see His banner go!"
Refrain: "Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before!"
Verse 2: "Like a mighty army moves the Church of God; brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod. We are not divided, all one body we—One in hope and doctrine, one in charity." (Refrain)
Verse 3: "Onward, then, ye people, join our happy throng; blend with ours your voices in the triumph song. Glory, laud, and honor unto Christ the King—This thru countless ages men and angels sing." (Refrain)
During this season, we must "Be alert and of sober mind. Our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because we know that the family of Believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of suffering." (1 Peter 5:8, 9) Our battle tools are two-fold: Prayer and Worship. Let us use them on behalf of Israel and the Church. Victory has already been won at the Cross of Christ. Our job is to manifest it.
Every year the observant Jews read what is called the Torah Portion or "parashah." (The five Books of Moses) The first five books of the Bible are divided into 54 sections to be read over the course of one Jewish year. The cycle begins the day after the completion of the fall feasts. It is called Simchat Torah or Rejoicing in the Law, and on this day, the final Torah readings take place.
The custom of reading Torah started at the time of the Babylonian captivity of the Jews. In the book of Nehemiah, we are told that Ezra the Scribe wanted to ensure that the Israelites would not go astray. This is what led to the beginning of the weekly system for all Jews to read Torah. My Jewish calendar has the Torah Portion for each week printed on the Sabbath day. The reading on the second week after the Hamas attack on Israel is Genesis 6:9 through 11:32. It encompasses the story of Noah and the flood.
As one who follows the Jewish feasts and monthly festivals, I am fascinated by the way the Scripture readings correspond with them. But nothing could have surprised me more than the way last week's readings about Noah and the corruptness of those around him could have been talking about what is happening in Israel today. I listened to a recent teaching by Rabbi Jason Sobel, a messianic rabbi who appears on the TBN channel. His teaching entitled "Unlocking Hidden Connections in Scripture” was so enlightening. He points out how the Torah Portion from last week not only spoke of events from 2,500 years before Christ, but also of today.
In Rabbi Sobel’s teaching, the key to unlocking our comprehension of God’s Word was through knowing the original Hebrew. The Rabbi read Genesis 6:11. "The earth was corrupt before God; the earth was filled with violence." (The Complete Jewish Study Bible) Genesis 6:13 is a more detailed explanation of what is about to happen. "God said to Noah, 'The end of all living beings has come before me, for because of them the earth is filled with violence. I will destroy them along with the earth.'" (The Complete Jewish Bible) What is intriguing about these two verses is that the Hebrew translation for the word "violence" is Hamas. Hamas has several meanings that include violence, lawlessness, and an anti-Christ spirit. We can see the timelines of God’s Word for today.
The Torah reading is also meaningful to those who connect it with the eighth month on the Jewish calendar. We are in that month, called Cheshvan, right now. The number eight signifies revelation and new beginnings. The Great Flood began on Cheshvan 17 and ended the following year on Cheshvan 27. Rabbi Sobel teaches that the flood was like a ritual bath or mikvah for the world.
I believe that God wants to cleanse the earth again. How this will happen is a mystery; however, we see in Genesis 6 that Hamas grieves the Lord. God's intention for His people is that they live in peace and fellowship with Him and one another. Violence/Hamas has poked the “apple of God’s eye.” The Israelis are in the forefront of a battle for their lives, but God is not unaware. Let us pray for the destruction of Hamas through God's intervention, a cleansing of all people, and a spirit of the fear of the Lord to fall upon us. Our awesome God is holy and tells us to be holy as He is holy. (1 Peter 1:15) He knows the details of every part of our lives and gives us signs, through His Word, which are meant to show us how engaged He is with our lives. Peace can only come to the world as those who live in it trust their lives to our Messiah.
I am without words to describe last week's despicable violence and acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on innocent Israeli citizens. The depravity of this group whose goal is to destroy Israel is beyond comprehension. Hamas leaders and the leaders of nations that align with them are praising their savagery and gleefully exhibiting the horrors of their behaviors. We have no moral equivalence to their acts of brutality.
How do we process the emotions that rise within us? I was drawn to read the Scriptures that talk about Gaza. Let us begin with the definition of Gaza-"Stronghold." This is the oldest city of the Philistines. The Old Testament is filled with stories of how the Israelites had to battle this ungodly people group. We are all familiar with the story of David as he fought the Philistine champion named Goliath. But, why did David have to fight the Philistine?
When God gave the Israelites the Promised Land, He instructed them to drive out every inhabitant of the land. Then He gave them this warning: "If you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live, and then I will do to you what I plan to do to them." (Numbers 33:55-56) We see in Joshua 11:22 what transpired when Israel fought their battles. "No Anakites were left in Israelite territory; only in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod did any survive." God's warning was not heeded, and the disobedience of the Israelites has come back to haunt the people of Israel.
Let us also look at what has been happening in the spiritual realm. At one time, Satan was the chief praiser of God. It was his position, along with legions of angels, to worship the Lord. However, his pride got in the way and he, along with one-third of the angels, was expelled from heaven. War between Satan and God has been taking place ever since. Whatever God blesses, Satan curses. When God chose the Israelites to be His treasured possession, Satan began a rampage to destroy them. When God gave the Promised Land to His people, Satan started a campaign to eliminate the Israelites from this land. Remember that it was the tribe of Judah that received Gaza as their inheritance. This is the very tribe of Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Jesus already defeated Satan in His death and resurrection, but the battle to destroy the Apple of God's eye continues.
A combination of the above factors has kept the Jews in a constant battle with the forces of evil. There was a time when the Philistines, who occupied Gaza, captured the ark of God. God sent plagues and tumors to those people for seven months until they returned the ark. God is aware of the evil that is trying to consume His people—Christians and Jews. The prophet Amos has somethings interesting to say about Gaza. "For three sins of Gaza, even four, I will not relent. Because she took captive whole communities and sold them to Edom, I will send fires on the walls of Gaza that will consume her fortresses." (Amos 1:6, 7) Do you think we may be seeing this prophecy being played out?
Our modern-day Philistines, Hamas, have great hatred for our Prince of Peace. Their brutality extends to the Palestinians who are living under their thumb. Hamas terrorists hide behind civilians and shoot their rockets into Israel from schools, hospitals, and private homes. Unfortunately, many in the younger generation have bought into the lies that Hamas has spread around the world. Their false ideologies and anti-Israel rhetoric have seeped into our institutions of higher learning, the halls of governments, and the United Nations. We must educate our children and grandchildren on the truth of Scripture and the history of Israel. We must teach them that they will find their refuge in God alone.
How do we battle? "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world, on the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (Gaza) We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) Put on the armor of God described in Ephesians 6. Use the sword of the Spirit (The Word of God) and pray.
Below you will find some prayer suggestions:
The last of the fall feasts, The Feast of Tabernacles, is the culmination of all of the biblical holy days. It is also called "The Feast of Ingathering" because it is a time of harvest. This feast is a picture of the Kingdom of God to come. But before this joyous time of celebration there is the repentance of Yom Kippur. Repentance is what leads us to joy and peace. Messiah Yeshua experienced the Cross before the resurrection. He took up this Cross for us so that we could live in His glory.
In remembering God's faithfulness to them in the wilderness, the children of Israel built temporary shelters called Sukkahs. Seven days they dwelt in their shelters to remind them that God wants us to dwell under the tabernacle of HIs peace. Though the sukkah represents the wilderness season, the branches of fruit placed on it represent the bounty of the Promised Land. This is a season of joining together heaven and earth. The wilderness is our life on earth and our journey to the Promised Land, while the Promised Land itself is the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Sukkah also represents a place to tabernacle with God. Here is an interesting fact to consider: The Sukkah, or temporary dwelling, was originally made from broken branches. The Apostle Paul writes about the Jewish people being broken branches from the Olive tree. These "branches" were broken off of the Olive tree (a symbol for the Jews) because of their unbelief. And here is the benefit to the rest of world: "Because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” (Romans 11:11) It is God's desire that all nations come to Him. Isn't it interesting that the "broken branches" are integral in the salvation of the nations? They make room for all nations to come to the Lord and then those nations draw the "broken branches" back to Him.
The prophet Zechariah gives us a glimpse of the future when the Lord will gather all the nations in Jerusalem. "On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem...The Lord will be king of the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and His name the only name...Then the survivors from all nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles." (Zechariah 14:8, 9,16)
God desires to tabernacle with everyone from every tribe, and tongue, and nation. Through the disciple John He paints a beautiful picture of life in the New Jerusalem that is so connected to the Feast of Tabernacles. "Look, God's tabernacle is with human beings. And from now on He will tabernacle with them as their God. Now God Himself will have His home with them--'God-with-them' will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and eliminate death entirely. No one will mourn or weep any longer. The pain of wounds will no longer exist, for the old order has ceased." (Revelation 21:3, 4 - TPT)
Friday at sunset began the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. It will be celebrated for seven days. Should we not join in this celebration of joy and peace in remembering that Jesus/Yeshua will reign with us for eternity and that the earth will become the tabernacle of God?
Sundown tonight begins what is called holiest day on the Hebrew Calendar—Yom Kippur or The Day of Atonement. It is the final day of what the Jews call "The Ten Days of Awe." These ten days are meant for a time of reflection and returning to the Lord. The Day of Atonement is set aside as one to fast and confess sins to God. Psalm 139:23-24, written by King David, seems like the perfect prayer for this season. "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting."
In David's time and under the Old Covenant, the high priest would have confessed the sins of Israel as he placed his hands on the head of two goats. This act was meant to transfer the burden of sin to the animals. Next, the priest would sacrifice one of the goats and a bull as an offering to the Lord. God explains what needed to happen in Leviticus 17:11. "For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life." The blood of the sacrificial goat and bull would be brought into the Most Holy Place in the Temple. The blood placed on the altar was the atonement that cleansed the high priest, the people, and the sanctuary. It brought forgiveness and "covered" the sins of the people for a year, until Yom Kippur the following year. The Hebrew word "Kippur" means covering.
The second goat is referred to as the "scapegoat." After the priest confessed the sins of the nation, transferring them to the goat, a trusted man would lead the scapegoat into a rocky place deep in the wilderness to ensure the death of the goat so that he would not make his way back into the Israelite camp. I think of Psalm 103:12 in reference to this act. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
You may ask about what happens today. God took care of this very issue. Since the shedding of blood is required for the atonement of sin, a new covenant was established. Believers in Yeshua, Jesus, have a better covenant through the blood of God's own Son. "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21) The prophet Isaiah described Jesus as "The Suffering Servant" in Isaiah 52 and 53. Verse 12 of Isaiah 53 says that He will be given "a portion among the great...because He poured out His life unto death and was numbered with the transgressors. For He bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors." Our high priest, Jesus, permanently took away our sins.
The Jews who do not know their Messiah are left with a dilemma. How do they find redemption without a blood sacrifice? It is my understanding that the rabbis have temporarily "suspended" the command for a blood sacrifice after the Temple was destroyed. Repentance is emphasized instead of sacrifice. Acts of charity are done in place of the commandment. We must pray that our Jewish brothers and sisters will have their blinders removed and that they will see that God has already sent a perfect sacrifice for the sins of all humanity. May they see the truth prophesied in Isaiah 53 as God's forever sacrifice for their redemption.
Psalm 62:1 - "Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress. I will never be shaken." Soul rest is a deep rest where we follow the example that God gave us after creating the universe. "...On the seventh day He rested from all His work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done." (Genesis 2: 2-3) Our bodies and souls were designed to need rest. In fact, every creature that God placed on earth needs rest. God called the day of rest the Sabbath because we are to stop our normal routines and direct our thoughts and actions toward Him. The fourth of the Ten Commandments says, "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." (Exodus 20:8)
The Greek word for rest is "anapauo" and its definition includes several possibilities such as refresh, rejuvenate, reinvigorate, and revitalize. Notice the "re" at the beginning of each word which means "anew." These words can apply not only to mankind and the creatures of the world but also to the land. God's instructions to the children of Israel concerning the land are explicit: "When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather your crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest." (Leviticus 25:2-5) The Jews call this year the Shemitah year.
In His instructions, the Lord makes provision for all people. He is aware that the poor and needy are in a position of not being able to provide for themselves or their families. Their daily existence is a struggle that makes it difficult for them to rest. In Leviticus 25:35 we see where God makes provision for them. "If any fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you." How would a farmer who is ready to harvest his fields help the poor and the stranger so that they could rest from their worries? Leviticus 19:9 gives instructions on this: "When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over the vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God."
Jonathan Cahn of Hope of the World Ministries teaches that the Hebrew word for harvest is "Katzeer." He tells us that God's children need to learn the law of the Katzeer which says that we should not reap the ends or corners of our land but leave them for the poor and the stranger so that they may be fed. Since most of us are not farmers, how does this law apply to us? It has to do with our mindset. It requires us to have faith in God that there will always be more than enough. What does this look like? It means making a choice to give away portions of our possessions like time, energy, money, and love. These are the corners of our fields. When we give to others in this way God fills our cups to overflowing and makes our harvests spectacular.
On the Jewish calendar, the first month of the civil year and the seventh month of the religious year coincide. The seventh month is called Tishrei, meaning beginning. Seven is the number of completion or perfection, so it is significant that the three fall feasts occur in this month. The New Year occurs on the first day of this month. The celebration, also known as Rosh Hashanah or The Feast of Trumpets, occurs at sundown on September 15 on our calendars. The shofar, an instrument made of a ram's horn, will be blown to call the Jews together so they can consider the past year and look at the year ahead. The sound is meant to awaken the souls of those who hear it so that they are prompted to return to God. The horn brings to remembrance the ram that Abraham offered to God as a sacrifice in place of his son, Isaac. It is also a reminder for God's people to remain humble in the face of a holy God.
Another name for the Jewish New Year is "The Day of Judgment." It begins the fall feasts. These feasts are meant to lead those celebrating into right standing with God. Joel 2:1 commands, "Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill." The shofar is sounded 100 times at Rosh Hashanah. Not only does it call for a gathering of God's people, but it also reminds them to go to war against anything that is contrary to God's truth. We should be encouraged by the words of Joel 2:12-15. "'Even now,' declares the Lord, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.' Rend your heart and not your garments, return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and He relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing...Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, and call a sacred assembly."
God is focused on our redemption. The New Year is to be a time for a reset for all of humanity after a time of self-reflection and repentance. The number of the year is one that speaks to us about the Lord's intentions. In order to follow what many of the prophets are saying about the year to come, we must understand that every letter in the Hebrew alphabet is a picture that conveys a message and has a numerical value. 5784 is the number of the New Year. The fourth Hebrew letter is "Dalet" and has a pictographic meaning of a door or portal. God created the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day, and their light separates us from darkness. These celestial bodies indicate our times on the calendar. Thus, our Creator regulates our times and seasons, and Tishrei is meant to demonstrate the linking of time and authority.
Let us look at all the numbers of this year: Five is the number of grace. Seven is the number of perfection. Eight is the number of new beginnings. And four is the number of a door. We are four years into the decade of the 80s. This number 80 is the seventeenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and is the picture of a mouth. It is called "Pey" and is associated with speech and other functions of the mouth like blowing. What does this say to us as we consider the year 5784? Remember that God created the world with His spoken word. Since we are made in His image, our sounds have power as did His. We have been given the power to bless or curse. Proverbs 18:21 tells us, "The tongue has the power of life and death..." Then we have Psalm 81:10 that promises, "...Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." God is the one who fills us with good things!
The ten days between Rosh Hashanah (The New Year) and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) are called The Days of Awe because the Jews believe their actions during these ten days can alter the decree God writes about them in His heavenly book. I believe we have a great opportunity to walk through new doors in the year to come. Perhaps this is time for us to experience growth in a new dimension—the fourth or spiritual dimension. Believers have legal access to the spirit realm. Ephesians 2:6 confirms this: "God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in heavenly realms in Christ Jesus." Could the declaration of our faith move us into a season of creation that we have not seen before? We must embrace the promises of God by declaring them so that the door of blessing and opportunity is open for us. Let it be!
In just two weeks, the Jews will be celebrating their New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Central to their celebration is the reading of the story of Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, at the command of God. Because of his act of faith in God, Abraham has become known as The Father of Faith. He began to demonstrate faith when God first spoke to him at the age of 75. God said to him, "Go from your country, your people, and your father's household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all people on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:2-3) Abram, as he was known then, put feet to his faith and set out for the Promised Land.
Abram had another encounter with God when he was 99 years old. God said to him, "As for me, this is my covenant with you. You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations." (Genesis 17:4-5) To seal the promise God was making, He required all males to be circumcised as a sign of this everlasting covenant.
Faith was to become the key for all nations to be part of the family of God. That faith must be established through our belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and died for our sins. If we make this decision, the righteousness of Christ is given to us. Romans 4:9 tells us that "Faith was credited to Abraham as God's righteousness!" (TPT) Faith in God and righteousness go hand-in-hand. Romans 4:3, in The Passion Translation, explains this. "Because Abraham believed God's words, his faith transferred God's righteousness into his account."
Romans 4 also makes it clear that this righteousness is available to every person on the face of the earth. Look at Romans 4:10-11. "How did he (Abraham) receive this gift of righteousness? Was he circumcised at the time God accepted him, or was he still uncircumcised? Clearly, he was an uncircumcised gentile when God said this of him! It was later that he received the external sign of circumcision as a seal to confirm that God had already transferred His righteousness to him by faith, while he was still uncircumcised." (TPT)
God's promises to Abraham were ultimately fulfilled through Jesus Christ who is in Abraham's line. Notice that God did not select a perfect man in Abraham. We can see the mistakes that he made and sins that he committed. He learned through these and grew in faith. The ultimate test of his faith was when he was told to sacrifice Isaac, his only son. He traveled approximately 50 miles to Mount Moriah and had an abundance of time to reconsider what he was about to do. But Abraham demonstrated that he loved God more than he loved the promise. Through his commitment to follow God's command, he was rewarded with blessings that confirmed his faith in God.
We can be assured that our faith in God will be tested. That is the only way for it to grow. God wants to increase His righteousness in our "accounts" through increasing our faith. Why else would He send his Son to earth to die? "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21) It seems to me that when we pass our tests, we get a double bonus: increased faith and righteousness.
"A Haven in Time"—that is what the month of Elul is called. We entered into this sixth month on the Hebrew calendar on Thursday evening. Why is Elul called a haven? It is because our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, appointed this time as one where His mercy and forgiveness are extended to us in a personal way. If we look back at the history of the children of Israel, we see that the prior two months (Tammuz and Av) are known for the sins committed against the Lord. Because of their sins of lust and unbelief, the Israelites built the golden calf and refused to enter the Promised Land. Elul is meant as a time for repentance and redemption.
Today, God reaches out to us even in the midst of our sin. His overwhelming desire for intimacy with us overrides any anger over our disobedience. During Elul, He extends the opportunity for us to prepare for the high holy days of the next month through repentance now. The Lord extends mercy in a very personal way by making Himself more accessible to us. The Jewish people say of Elul: "The King is in the field." God's desire for intimacy with us is so great that He leaves His heavenly dwelling to come to earth and make Himself accessible in the field of our lives. We have an entire month when the Lord is here to remind us of His loving kindness and love.
For me, it is particularly significant that God picked the month of Elul to send the angel Gabriel to tell Mary about God's plan to use her to birth His son. "In the sixth month, God send the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary...the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.'" (Luke 1:26-27, 30-31) "...So, the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35) During the month of Elul, God took His first step to put into motion His plan for His Son to come to earth to live in a tent of flesh for 33 years. John 1:14 describes what happened: "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." The Passion Translation gives us a good visual of John 1:14. "And so the Living Expression became a man and lived among us! And we gazed upon the splendor of His glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father overflowing with tender mercy and truth."
God's desire has always been to dwell with us. Look back to Exodus 25. In this part of Scripture, the Lord instructs Moses to build Him a tabernacle. Verse 2 says, "...You are to receive the offering for Me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give." The purpose for the tabernacle is described in Verse 8. "Then have them make a sanctuary for Me, and I will dwell among them."
It is hard to imagine such a loving God. The Lord made the ultimate sacrifice for us so that we could live with Him for eternity. "This is love: He loved us long before we loved Him. It was His love, not ours. He proved it by sending His Son to be the pleasing sacrificial offering to take away our sins." (1 John 4:10 - TPT)
During Elul, God gives us an invitation to experience deeper measures of HIs love. It is so fitting that the name Elul is a Hebrew acronym, "Ani L'dodi V'dodi Li" which means "I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine." (Song of Solomon 6:3) Should we not respond positively to God's loving invitation for intimacy? Let us be sure that our hearts are clean, open, and prepared to experience Him in this haven in time.
July 4, 1776, 247 years ago, our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence with two main objectives: (1) A declaration of independence from Great Britain, and (2) a declaration of dependence upon Almighty God. Its writers used the Bible as their example. I wonder how they would feel about the chaos that has ensued in our country. It seems we have endless battles between Christians and non-Christians whose opinions are opposite when it comes to the evidence of a Creator and creation. Moral absolutes are being challenged by those who say there is no such thing. Yet, on the day of America's birth a bell was rung that had a Scripture inscribed on it from Leviticus 25:10. "Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof." That bell remains as a testimony to the foundation from which our nation was established--The Bible.
Our 30th president, Calvin Coolidge (who was born on July 4, 1872), said it well when he looked into the future of our nation. "The foundation of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country." Sadly, I see these words beginning to bear fruit. Let us not forget that the Bible was the foundational book used in our schools at the dawning of America. Those of us who hold to the truths upon which our country was established must come into agreement with our forefathers. Dutch Sheets, in a post written on June 22 entitled "God Needs Our Agreement," confirms this. He reminded us of the importance of agreeing with previous generations.
Dutch shared interesting information about the foundations of our schools. He wrote, "One hundred six of America's first one hundred eight colleges and Universities were founded on the Christian faith. Students at Harvard and Yale were required to read Scriptures twice daily. Harvard's founders stated: 'All knowledge without Christ is vain.' Its motto was 'For Christ and The Church.' Yale's founders stated that 'Every student shall consider the main end of his study is to know God in Jesus Christ...' Princeton's motto was 'Under God's Power She Flourishes.'...Noah Webster, who published the first American Dictionary of the English language in 1828 said, 'Education is useless without the Bible.'...Webster also said, 'The principles of genuine liberty, and of wise laws and administrations, are to be drawn from the Bible and sustained by its authority. The man, therefore, who weakens or destroys the divine authority of that book may be accessory to all the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer.'"
There is a remnant of people in the United State who understands and believes in the foundational truths upon which our nation was established and on the precepts and commandments that are the underpinning of our Constitution. We must declare these truths in agreement with the generations that came before us. We cannot allow the loud voices of descension to override truth. The future of our nation depends upon us. In a post from June 21, Dutch Sheets reminded us of the powerful hymn written by Martin Luther titled, "A Mighty Fortress is our God." I would like to highlight a line from the third verse. "And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God has willed HIs truth to triumph through us..." Triumph occurs through our declaration of truth. We must take every opportunity God gives us to make truth known. We can take heart from the words of Scripture: "Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him." (Proverbs 30:5)
Joan E. Mathias