Feast of Tabernacles

I’ve been studying up on the Feast of Tabernacles lately ’cause I was leading a small group through John 7 and into chapter 8. It’s good stuff. You don’t really realize how dramatic Jesus was unless you understand the cultural practices of the Feast of Tabernacles. Let me explain:

The Feast of Tabernacles was a holiday which celebrated the time when God provided for the Israelites during their time in the desert. For the holiday they were required to travel to Jerusalem which meant that they weren’t going to sleep in their normal comfortable accommodations. The festival is also called the Feast of Booths ’cause they were required to build tents like the ones their ancestors would have used in the desert. This festival coincided with the end of the harvest and so it was truly a celebration. Not only were they celebrating the way God provided for them in the desert, but also how He provided for them that year. It is likely that tents were set up all over the countryside just outside of town during this festival.

Some even believe this may have been why there was no room at the inn for Jesus’ birth. The same word we translate “tabernacle” is also the word used for “stable.” It is also likely that Jesus’ birth happened during the time this festival took place (Fall: Oct-Nov) because there were shepherds in the fields just outside of Jerusalem. Based upon their normal travels from field to field throughout the year, they would not have been there very often, but certainly were during that time.

It is also notable to recognize a couple of other specific practices:
1.) On the last day of the festival the priests would pour water over the altar and the people would celebrate how God provided water for them in the desert. John 7 describes this very same scene on the last day of the festival as the very time that Jesus calls himself the “living water.” This would have been highly dramatic under these circumstances. While the people celebrate God’s provision in the past, Jesus stands before them as if to say, “I’m the new living water. I’m God’s provision. You should be celebrating me.”

2.) Huge lampstands were set up for the Feast of Tabernacles which required a ladder to light. The idea was that these lights could be seen throughout the city of Jerusalem. In John 8:12, Jesus refers to Himself as the “Light of the World” with these lampstands as a backdrop. As an answer to the priests questions about whether or not a prophet could come from Galilee (John 7:52), He recalls Isaiah 9

Isaiah 9:1-2
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan-

Isa 9:2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death [1]
a light has dawned.

God makes it clear in this passage that a prophet will come from Galilee and even more importantly, he will come “for” Galilee. When Jesus calls Himself, “Light of the World” this seems to be His intention. There we see it all again – Drama.

Jesus is not just a guy who spouts words. He is not just a preacher. He is a master at the dramatic. He’s great at capturing attention and causing people to think. It’s no wonder that the Pharisees were so threatened by Him. He doesn’t miss any “teachable moment.” He takes advantage of every opportunity and even uses object lessons to reveal Himself to the people. Jesus could take any regular moment and turn it around so that it reflected something about His own character. And since He is the Creator of everything, it makes sense that this was possible – the Creator is always revealed in His creation.

Anyway, these were just some thoughts today.

My Second Marriage – An Ancient and Future Wedding

No one plans to have two weddings, but I do. No, I’m not threatening to leave Miranda (and by the way, that’d be the dumbest thing in the world for me to do.) I’m referring to the Wedding of the Lamb (Jesus) to His bride, the church. Although my wedding was amazing, I don’t think it’s gonna be anything compared to this wedding. Bridezillas have nothing on this one. It’s “THE” Wedding. Nothing can compare.

Yesterday, I taught a group of students about all this stuff by looking further at the cultural practices of Ancient Jewish Weddings. I learned the basics of the material from a guy named Dan Kimball who wrote “The Emerging Church” – www.vintagefaith.com. I did a little more studying on the topic and discovered some really cool things. Many of Jesus’ words fly right over our heads ’cause we don’t understand the wedding customs of His day. The connection between the ancient Jewish wedding and the time when Jesus will return (A Future Wedding) are significant. He (the Groom) will return to take the church (the Bride of Christ) as His own. Check out the process for getting married in Jesus’ day: (The bulleted sections refer to the Future Wedding of the Lamb when Jesus returns to take the church as his bride.)

1. Selection of the Bride – The first step in the process was when the father of the groom selected the bride. Young Jewish girls had little say in who they would marry and would dream about who would select them. The groom committed his love to the bride based solely on his father’s decision. The bride loved her groom simply because He had loved her first.

    • It’s good for us to remember that God chose us. Even in the midst of our sin against Him, He still loves us.

Romans 5:8 “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    • Of course it is out of our response to the love that He offers us that we are able to love Him.

1 Jn 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.

2 Thessalonians 2:13 – “From the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit. . .

2. “Mohar” – The second step in the process is called the “mohar.” This is the price that was paid to the bride and her family. It represented the magnitude of how the groom valued her. The greater the price, the more value they had ascribed to her.

    • For us, we should remember that Jesus (the groom) paid the ultimate price for us with His own life. This is proof that we are incredibly valuable to God.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “You are not your own; You were bought with a price.

3. “Ketubah” – After paying the “mohar,” the groom would offer the bride a list of promises (called a ketubah) which he was committing to her for the life of their marriage. (like the vows we take in the modern wedding)

    • Jesus has also given us many promises. The Bible is full of them. Here’s a short list:

I will never leave you or forsake you.” – Deut 31:6

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matt 11:28

I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” – John 6:47

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” – Gal 3:26

4. Gifts – The groom would give her gifts to remind her of his love while he was away. (see step 6) Today, we exchange rings as reminder of our love and commitment for one another.

    • Jesus gave us gifts too.

Romans 12:6 – “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.

    • These gifts come in the form of spiritual gifts like serving, administration, compassion, teaching, etc and also in the form of other people (the church) that He has brought into our lives. And of course the greatest gift He gave us is His Holy Spirit.

John 14:26 says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

5. Wine – Next, the groom would offer a cup of wine (Cup of Redemption) to his girl. If she accepted his offer, then she would drink of the cup without saying a word. This act ceremonially sealed the engagement before he left. (check step 6)

Mark 14:23-24 – “Then he [Jesus] took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ he said to them.

    • Did you realize that every time we receive communion, Jesus is proposing? Essentially, this is the picture that Jesus was giving the disciples that night. He’s going to leave for a while and so He is sealing the engagement.

6. Groom Leaves – He leaves to prepare the wedding chamber. Typically this would last about a year, but the groom could not decide when he was ready to come back for his bride. This decision was made by his father. Most grooms would typically want to rush through the preparations to “get on with” the honeymoon, so their fathers would decide when the chamber was ready.

    • Jesus has left us to prepare a place for us too. John 14:2-3 says,

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

    • Also check out Matthew 4:26. Jesus is speaking of the time that he’ll return and he says,

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

    • This sure sounds a lot like the tradition from the Jewish wedding to me.

This is not a “mikvah” but an ancient tub that I sat in at Masada. Although similar, a mikvah is typically much larger.

7. “Mikvah” – While the groom is away preparing a place, the bride is at home preparing herself. The “mikvah” was a ritual bath that the bride would take in order to set her apart “from the world” and “for her groom.” Symbolically, she was saying, “My old life is gone and the new one has come.”

    • Our baptism is our “mikvah.” It is the time when we decide to “set ourselves apart” for Christ. It is during this time that we are made “new” again.

2 Cor 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

    • In the same way that a modern bride is concerned about the way she will present herself on her wedding day, this time is important for us as believers. It’s the time that we are becoming holy, spotless, pure through the blood of Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. Ephesians 5:25-27 describes the goal of this mikvah saying,

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

8. Wedding March – When the day finally came, the groom would gather his friends and together they’d march into town blowing a “shofar” (like a trumpet) and making all kinds of noise to announce their arrival. The louder they were, the more excited and proud the groom was to be able to marry this girl. It was the bride’s job to be ready (to have her lamp trimmed) for when he came.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 – “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.

Matthew 25:1-13 – It’s our (we are the bride) job to be ready for His arrival.

Rev 19:7 – “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

9. Wedding Ceremony – In most cases a “chuppah” (canopy) was built for the ceremony to be performed under. It symbolized the “covering/blessing” of God on this union. The bride would receive a crown and the couple would drink another cup of wine. (Another custom which was added later is that this cup would then be broken as a symbol of the “bittersweetness” of the day – sweet for the couple, but bitter for their people whose temple had been destroyed.)

    • When Christ returns and gives us our crowns (James 1:12 & Rev 2:10), our union will be complete and we will be with Him forever. Also, remember that when Jesus was in the upper room enjoying the Last Supper, He drank from the first cup (that was the proposal “Cup of Redemption”) and then he said,

I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.

    • This was Jesus’ way of referring to this particular cup of wine found within the wedding ceremony. He was saying, I’m gonna leave you, but I’ll be back and we’ll drink again for the wedding ceremony. (It also interesting to note that the Passover meal normally required them to drink of the cup one more time. When Jesus skipped it, he was purposefully trying to help them see this larger “wedding” symbol instead of the regular Passover symbols.) As the cup is destroyed, we can remember that we will no longer need it for communion – we’re already communing with Him.

10. Wedding Feast – There was one final step in the wedding process. The party time! It usually lasted for about a week. The couple would consummate their marriage in a room with the best man standing guard as the guests partied outside. Wow!! Talk about pressure.

    • This is the time after we are joined with Christ forever and begin the eternal party with Him. Read Rev 19:6-9 and  check out who is invited to the wedding in Rev 3:20 – the normal/poor people.

Below is a chart I created to help put all of this together. The “Modern Wedding” section may have the pieces in a different order, but each part coincides with something from the Ancient Jewish Wedding too. (Click on it or download it to see it in full resolution.) Ultimately, the main lesson here is for our own future wedding with Jesus as the groom. Better get ready!!

 

A Cannibal Meal

Passover Haggadah

I had a cannibal meal last night. Let me explain. A few years ago, I studied up on the Jewish Passover, which is the meal that Jesus celebrated with the disciples in the upper room. We have come to know it as the “Last Supper.” You know. . .the one where Jesus asks us to eat of His flesh and drink of His blood – the cannibal meal. (Sorry the whole cannibal thing was just a hook I was trying to use to lure you into reading this stuff. If you’ve gotten this far, maybe it worked?)

Anyway, I was amazed at the connections between Moses and Jesus and between the Passover lamb and the “Lamb of God.” The Lord’s Supper (or Communion) took on brand new meaning for me. I especially loved the wedding imagery that Jesus used that night and how He spoke of cultural things that the Jewish disciples would have understood perfectly which fly right over our heads.

Out of my excitement, I was telling some other people about what I was learning and ended up leading our whole church through a Passover/Seder experience which was a combination of the meal with some teaching about it. I also led my small group through it last night. We ate/celebrated last night. I guess that means I’m a cannibal. (By the way, Romans accused the first Christians of cannibalism for these very same misunderstandings.) Anyway, I love teaching this stuff!! Tomorrow night (Maundy Thursday) is the traditional night that Jesus would have celebrated it with his disciples in the upper room (John 13, Luke 22:7, Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12) and so I wanted to post this material so my on-line friends could remember/understand the “Last Supper” in deeper ways too. I’d love to talk to you guys about all this stuff, so please make comments or better yet – give me a call!!

Anyway, if you’re interested in the guide (also called a Haggadah) I wrote and used, you can just click the links or the picture to the right. It should take you right to it. (There is a regular guide and also a leaders guide with notes marked in blue.) If you prefer a version which can be printed and then folded together to make a booklet, you can get it here: Christ in the Passover (There are actually 2 versions of this one too – one for copiers that will print front to back without rotations and the other for those that rotate. If you’re not sure, do a test run on the first 10 pages and then try again with the last 10 pages.)

I’d also highly recommend watching the Zola Levitt videos: Miracle of the Passover pt1 and Miracle of the Passover pt2

Palm Sunday

 

Palm Sunday is the day that we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem the week prior to His crucifixion and resurrection. Anyway, here’s what I learned about the culture of this whole:

During Jesus’ day, Pilate ruled over Jerusalem as a Roman governor. Pilate’s superior would have been Caesar.

Caesar believed that he literally had come from heaven to earth and that he was the son of God incarnate on earth. He wanted to show people his power by spreading propaganda. Some of the sayings of his day were: “Caesar is Lord! There is no other name under heaven by which people can be saved than that of Caesar.” He also had a 12-day celebration of his birth called the “Advent of Caesar.” You could even give him offerings so that your sins could be forgiven. He was “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Caesar also minted coins with his face to help spread his name. When Rome conquered Jerusalem he also required a tribute in the form of a tax from that country. This is a huge deal to the Jews ’cause Caesar was claiming to be god. If they paid the tax, then they would be breaking thefirst two commandments – no other gods before me, and you shall have no graven image. (coin itself was an image) When the religious leaders try to trap Jesus with this issue he asks them for a coin – this means that Jesus didn’t have one (He wasn’t carrying a graven image) When the religious leaders pull one out, they have already broken the second commandment. Jesus is so cool!!!

During Jesus’ day, there were a few times a year that all Jewish people were supposed to go to Jerusalem to celebrate specific holidays together. The Romans were in charge and ruled over Jerusalem, but during these celebrations, the Jews would certainly have outnumbered the Romans who were present in the city. Pilate (the Roman governor) would probably have felt pretty weary about these festivals. I mean, there was always a big mess to clean up, fights to break up, and simply more people to govern and take care of during these times. It would have been a stressful time in government and there was also the ever-present threat that if the Jews decided to all get together, they might be able to overtake him. Pilate lived in a mansion in Caesarea, but during these festivals and specifically this week (Festival of Unleavened Bread or Passover – this festival celebrated that God heard their cry during a time when they were oppressed by a foreign government.) Anyway, Pilate would march into Jerusalem to keep things in order during these festivals. His procession was designed to be authoritative and show his power. It was designed to scare the people so that they would never even dream of uprising against Rome. The procession began with the Roman emblem which was an eagle.

Sidenote: A teacher of the law, says Jesus I’ll follow you wherever you go, and Jesus responds “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20) He was speaking about Rome as the “bird” and the word “fox” referred to the Herods who were corrupt kings who lived in palaces but didn’t care about the people. Jesus’ answer spoke saying “These other movements are about power, mine is different – I don’t even have a place to sleep.”

Behind the the eagle in the procession would have been the Roman soldiers carrying etchings of the Caesars with all kinds of things reminding the people of all the power they had and all the battles they had won. The etchings were all about power, strength, and domination. They also marched with metal shields which made sounds which would have brought about fear and terror to the people watching. Pilate would have entered next on a horse – a huge stallion – again a symbol of power, strength, and military conquests.

PILATE ENTERED JERUSALEM ON A HORSE FROM THE WEST!


Luke 19 describes another event which happened the same week. Jesus went to Jerusalem and from the Mount of Olives (east of Jerusalem) he sent some people ahead of him to get a donkey. As you look west from the Mount of Olives you can see Jerusalem just past the Kiddron Valley. They brought the donkey to him and people spread their cloaks on the road as He went past them. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” This word “King” might not have been a good one to use in light of Pilate who had just come in himself. Some of the Pharisees ask Jesus to rebuke the disciples and to kind of “keep it down.” Jesus responds, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out!” Now, there were a bunch of stones/graves on the Mount of Olives, because the Jewish belief was that the Messiah would raise from the dead all the good Jews who had died. From there they believed He would lead them all into Jerusalem where there would be peace and prosperity. Therefore, they all wanted to be buried near Jerusalem. So anyway, the Pharisees told them to be quiet, but Jesus says basically, “I’m the Messiah who will raise these people from the dead!” The Pharisees lightbulbs came on ’cause they certainly knew what Jesus was talking about.

Jesus doesn’t walk into the city, but rides a donkey. (Matthew 21) Zechariah had said years ago that the King would come “gentle and riding on a donkey.” Jesus used the donkey to say, “Hey, I’m the guy you’ve been waiting for.” Now the way Matthew quoted this verse is called a “remez” – where Jews would quote the first part of a verse knowing that the other Jews would know the 2nd part of the verse. (Remember, they all had to memorize the Old Testament)

Here’s the whole verse: Zechariah 9:9-10 “See your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt the foal of a donkey.(That’s the part Matthew quoted – next is the part the Jews would have known.) I will take away the chariots from Ephraim (Jews) and the war-horses from Jerusalem and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations.” Now check this out: Pilate came from the west proclaiming his war abilities, Jesus comes from the east and takes the peoples weapons away so he can proclaim peace. Jesus’ kingdom is totally different than the kingdom of Rome. His kingdom is about peace, not war. His parade is humble rather than proud.

JESUS ENTERED JERUSALEM FROM THE EAST ON A DONKEY!

Why did Jesus weep as He entered the city? In the year 70AD the Jews decided to do it all Pilates way and they took up arms against Rome – they got destroyed! The temple was also destroyed. Jesus knew that Jerusalem would fail to do things His way, even though they were quick to follow Him now. In the city of Rome today stands the “Titus Arch” in remembrance of the destruction of Jerusalem. Can you hear Jesus? “You guys don’t realize it, but you’re gonna end up falling into the trap of war too.”


OK – here’s the point for you and I: THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO ENTER A CITY – the way of Pilate or the way of Jesus. There are two ways to enter a conversation. There are two ways to treat your family. There are two ways to deal with conflict in a relationship. There are two ways to deal with pain. There are two ways to treat your friends. Which will it be for you? Horses or donkeys? From the West or from the East? The way of Pilate or the way of Jesus?

ME? I HOPE I CAN CHOOSE THE DONKEY.

No Room at the Inn & Pentecost

A few years ago (before I was married & had kids), the Corn family decided to go on a ski trip during the Christmas holidays. We had planned to drive to Colorado from my mom’s house near Ft Worth, TX. The weather in west Texas didn’t look good, but we decided to brave it anyway. Ski trips are a pretty high priority among the Corn’s. Anyway, as we drove through west Texas, ice began forming on the roads and we started seeing more and more cars that had spun out and were in the ditches. When we reached Quanah, TX they closed the road ahead of us. The road home was also closed so we were stuck in Quanah. Not only that, but there were so many other people stranded, that there were no hotel rooms left in the whole city. It was Christmas and we were stuck in a town where there was no room at the inn. A gas station attendant suggested that we check with the First Baptist Church of Quanah. WE followed his directions (just a couple of blocks) and discovered that they were receiving people. Many other travelers were there. The church people hosted us well. They had a few tables full of homemade food and Christmas goodies and offered to let us sleep in their gym using blankets which many of their members had brought from home. The other refugees were from all over the place, but most were on their way to some family get together. Some had their pets with them. In the end, the Christmas story came to life for us that year. There was no room at the inn so we slept with the animals.

Now, what’s all that got to do with Pentecost? I think my experience that year might have been similar to what the disciples felt the day we know and celebrate as Pentecost. Here’s what I mean: Pentecost had always been a celebration of the time that God had given the Law to Moses. He spoke to Israel that day. 50 days after the crossing of the Red Sea.

According to Exodus 19:16, God descended on the mountain with fire/lightning and with “voices” (the Hebrew word translated “thunder” is more accurately translated “voices”) Each year, the Israelites celebrated Pentecost, remembered God’s intervention, and rededicated themselves to the study and practice of His word.

Now, let’s jump forward to the New Testament. The disciples were celebrating Pentecost and would have read the Exodus passages recalling the original events of Pentecost. It was 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection. The Holy Spirit descends upon them like fire and they begin to speak in tongues. Sounds a lot like the lightning and voices in Exodus to me. Make no mistake that these Godly men, saw the similarities too. Like me as I snuggled into that blanket in that gym with the animals, I’m sure they felt like they were experiencing

something amazing – something that meant more than the surface experience. There was something going on much deeper. Check out this little table:

The Christian church celebrates Pentecost each year as the birth of the church and the time when the Holy Spirit was given. But I wonder if we are missing out on the rich history of it all? Like the Jews, maybe we should also use this time to thank God for His word. We even have more to be grateful for since it’s been written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Maybe we could celebrate and appreciate the Scriptures by studying more intently or with a focused time of applying them to our lives? If the original holiday was centered around God’s word, why isn’t our celebration of it?

The Israelites celebrated Pentecost by remembering God’s intervention with His Word, and rededicated themselves to the study and practice of it. We would be wise to do likewise with the addition of celebrating the birth of the church and the giving of the Holy Spirit. Somehow we got turned around – today, most churches only celebrate these “additional” blessings. I’m just trying to say that the original gift (His Word) is still worth celebrating too.

Torah and Mitzvah

Torah ScrollsI learned a little Hebrew today. Thought it was worth sharing.

Torah” = “Law” in Christian Bibles, but in a Jewish bible it’s almost always translated “teaching.” As Christians, we typically talk about the Old Testament law as the means by which God showed us, how much we needed a Savior. (“Cause we couldn’t live up to everything the “Law” required.) Therefore, we think of the “Law” as a condemning sort of thing. If we could think of it more like Jesus did, like our Jewish friend do, I think we’d be thinking more accurately.It may be subtle, but it makes a difference. Let me show you:

Psalm 1:2 – “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.”

but if we read it the way our Jewish friends do, it’d say:

Psalm 1:2 – “The teaching of the Lord is His delight, and he studies that teaching day and night.”

Our Jewish friends, think of the “Law” well the “Torah” very differently. The Torah is a blessing – not a condemnation. It’s God “teaching” which helps us to live life more fully. Their attitude toward “Torah” is much more in line with it’s intent, and therefore more in line with God.

In much the same way, “Mitzvah” is translated “commandment.” We hear that word as burdensome – as something which comes from a domineering authority figure. But our Jewish friends hear it differently – in a positive way. They say things like “I had the opportunity to do a mitzvah today when my neighbor needed some help.” It’s not a burden, but an opportunity to honor God in a special way.

Bottom line: I think our Jewish friends have it right. If we could learn to think of these terms like they do, I think much of the weight of our faith would be lifted and we could live in freedom by rejoicing in His “Torah” (teaching) and looking for opportunities to perform a “Mitzvah” (commandment).

Playing in the Dirt

satforb1Lately I’ve been reading a book called “Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus.” So far, it’s a great book – all about the Jewishness of Jesus and the insights that come to the Scriptures when you understand Jewish culture. I’m loving it!!! (I’m hoping to write a blog later about the things I’m learning from it.)

Anyway, one of the insights that has jumped out at me is the relationship between a disciple and his rabbi. One of the sayings found in the Mishnah, Bava Metzia 2:11 is, “If a man’s father and his rabbi are both taken captive, a disciple should ransom his rabbi first.” – Now that’s amazing devotion! Disciples lived with their rabbis with the goal of becoming like them. They served them and attended to their personal needs with the goal of understanding not just the concepts that they taught, but the lifestyle with which they lived. A rabbi was once (recently) observed in Jerusalem walking in a bent-over position with a little shuffle. Behind him walked several other men (presumably disciples) in the same manner.

kasen-wants-to-be-like-daddy-smallEarlier this week I was in the backyard watching Kasen as he ran around playing – pulling the wagon, collecting leaves, stooping down to pick up sticks on the ground or whatever he happened to notice, etc. (It’s a beautiful thing to watch a little boy discovering the world around him.) Anyway, as he played, I kicked at the ground – there was a specific spot where there was no grass and the mud had dried. Anyway, I was off in another world, kicking the ground, thinking about life and God and who knows what when I realized that Kasen had joined me to kick the ground. He was watching everything I was doing. He wants so desperately to be like his daddy and I must admit – that really scares me.

Scripture is pretty clear that Miranda and I are responsible for training up our children up in faith and teaching them. (Deut 6:6-9) Whoa! That means that for Kasen and Kesleigh – I’m the rabbi. What?!?! That’s crazy. God would put that kind of responsibility on me? I’m no rabbi. I haven’t had the training. I don’t have the knowledge. Or do I? I mean, it’s true I don’t have that kind of wisdom – but I have something better. The true rabbi, Jesus lived out the perfect example for me and for all His children (that includes my kids). The Holy Spirit also dwells within me and with His guidance. . . well. . . I’m hoping those are the things Kasen and Kesleigh will imitate – I’m hoping I can be better at modeling the behaviors that the Holy Spirit guides ’cause it’s definitely true. Kasen and Kesleigh will imitate me – even if all I’m doing is playing around in the dirt.

Prayer: Lord, I confess that I have played in the dirt for way too long. I don’t want to waste any more time though. Help me to build Your kingdom. Cover my children and draw them to Yourself so they can also join their parents and one day build Your kingdom too.

Jesus in the Passover – Maundy Thursday

I had the pleasure of leading our congregation through a Seder/Passover meal a couple of years ago. I put together a little booklet called a “Haggadah to explain the symbolism behind each element of the meal. I made the booklet into a slide show for anyone interested. I’d encourage everyone to step through it and truly think about depth of Jesus’ participation in this meal as the actual Passover lamb. You can also download the booklet and print it out here along with an extra leaders guide: Christ in the Passover (It has a few extra meaningful notes in blue.) For a better understanding of the fact that Jesus deviated from the normal Passover meal during the 3rd cup (Cup of Redemption), I’d also encourage you to read this blog I wrote about Jewish wedding customs.

Click on the first pic and the rest will come up in “book” form.

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Folded Cloth

Napkin My youth minister, Joe, sent me an e-mail that was pretty interesting today. I’ll have to study up on it to check on it’s validity, but here’s what it said was talking about:

John 20:6-7 says, “Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.”

According to this article it’s notable that the cloth was folded. It is certainly interesting that the Bible actually places such emphasis on this fact that it clearly spells it out for us in the midst of this incredible story.  Here’s why – Evidently in Jewish culture, when a Master was finished with his meal, he wadded up his napkin which told the servant that he was finished and the plate could be cleared. However, if he wasn’t finished yet, he folded the napkin telling the servant that he wasn’t finished and would return.

With this same imagery, Jesus told us that he wasn’t finished and that he would return. Cool Stuff!!

Jehovah Doesn’t Exist!!!

06-10-18Gosh! What are the Jehovah’s Witnesses gonna do now? Do I have your attention now?

No, I haven’t given up my faith. I’m not saying God doesn’t exist. I just learned something new in my Theology class last night. The word “Jehovah” was actually never intended to be used to refer to God. Here’s how it all happened: The Hebrew word YHWH (“Yahweh” which means “I am”) was used of God regularly in the Old Testament scriptures – as a matter of fact, God even calls Himself “YHWH.” (Exodus 3). Another word used of God was “Adonai” which meant “my Lord.”

Anyway, the name YHWH (Yahweh) was considered too holy to speak and so when the writers of the Bible wrote it they wanted to give the reader a “heads up” or a hint that the word was coming up so that they wouldn’t accidentally say it outloud. They took the vowels from the word “adonai” and placed them into the word YHWH – which would have made it look something like this “YaHoWaH.” The Hebrew reader would come across this word and would have known that it wasn’t a real word. This would have forced him to stop and think about what he was reading, and thus would avoid accidentally speaking the Sacred Name aloud. Unfortunately, when the German translators came along hundreds of years later, they didn’t understand what had happened, so they simply translated it as “Jehovah.” (The Hebrew “Y” sounds like a “J” in German and the “W” sounds like a “V”) We’ve been reading it that way ever since ’cause the English translators used the German translations as guides.

So the name “Jehovah” doesn’t exist. It is basically a translation error and was never used by the Jews – including Jesus.

Jehovah doesn’t exist, but YHWH still reigns!!!