A Bounty of Hope

A Bounty of Hope

  And his disciples answered him, “Where will anyone be able to find enough bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?” (Mark 8:4)

The miracles were becoming renowned. Yeshua of Nazareth, a name which has been transliterated through the centuries to the name Jesus, had quickly gained a large following through the villages and countryside of rural Israel. Avoiding the major commerce centers, and Greco-Roman settlements, Jesus wove his way among the common people, teaching, healing and astounding them. Trailed at most times by curious Pharisees and often hounded by emissaries from the Sanhedrin who viewed him as an upstart, he and his disciples found themselves in a “desolate place” among a throng of 4,000 strong. They were hungry. The provision was scarce.

    And he was asking them, “How many loaves do you have?” and they said, “Seven.” And he directed the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, he gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to his disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the people. They also had a few small fish; and after he had blessed them, he ordered these to be served as well. And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces. (Mk.8:5-8)

How does this miracle of Jesus fit into his ministry of proclaiming the kingdom of heaven? Let’s consider the Lord’s Prayer…

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World Vision and Hamas

According to the allegations, funds designated for civilian projects, more than a million dollars a year, were ‘given in cash’ to Hamas combat units. Shin Bet claims that money raised to support children allegedly injured by conflict with Israel was diverted to Hamas families by “fraudulently listing their children as wounded.”

Source: World Vision and Hamas

Who is the Free Woman in Galatians 4?

Who is the Free Woman in Galatians 4?

Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, she is our mother.

                                                                        – Galatians 4:25-26

No other book of the Bible feeds the narrative of Replacement Theology quite like Galatians. It is the Holy Grail of the paradigm of Law vs. Grace.

Galatians chapter 4 represents the conclusion of Paul’s thematic argument against the Judaizers who sought to change his gospel in the minds of his followers. The first thing we need understand, then, is who the Judaizers were, and what they were doing. It is commonly believed that they were busy telling Paul’s Gentile converts to Christianity that they needed to continue to obey the law of Moses. They didn’t realize that these Jesus-following Gentiles were free from the law! And Paul was really mad!  However, we learn through a careful study of the context of the epistle that the real issue was formal conversion to Judaism, not obedience to God’s commandments.

A Judaizer is not someone who tells you that you should obey the law. It is someone who believes that you must be legally Jewish to be saved.

In Gal.4:21, Paul issues a challenge to those who are converting, saying, “Tell me, you who want to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?” He then gives his famous allegory of the slave woman and the free woman. Those born of the slave woman are “of the flesh”, while those born of the free woman are born of “promise”.

First, we must understand that when Paul uses the phrase “under the law”, he is not talking about someone who is forsaking grace, as though grace is opposed to law. No, he is referring to a person who is taking on legal Jewish identity through conversion.  Continue reading

This Day

This Day

In the third month of the going out of the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt, in this day they have come into the wilderness of Sinai..                                     – Exodus 19:1, Young’s Literal Translation

Most Bible translations render this passage in the more sensible phrasing, “on that day”, as in past tense, i.e., this is what happened at that time. It is a logical transliteration of the awkwardness of the Hebrew. However, as in so many other places in the Bible, the translators bring us an adulterated version, stripped of it’s deeper midrashic meaning.

We see from Young’s literal translation that the Hebrew says, “in this day they have come”, which seems to change the tense of the narrative. The great Jewish scholar, Rashi, paid careful attention to the Hebrew here and connects it to the Passover event 50 days earlier:

This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.(Ex.12:2)

The inference, which is explicit in Rashi’s understanding, is that the Passover event marks the beginning of months. This could also be understood as the beginning of new life. Fifty days later, Israel reaches the place of Mattan Torah, or the giving of the Torah.

The direct parallel of this event can be found in Acts chapter 2, which records the giving of the spirit, which lighted upon all who were gathered in Solomon’s Colonnade, where they were all in one accord in one place (Acts 2:1). The descent of the spirit and the manifestation of the utterance of foreign languages by non-native speakers, also parallels the Midrash’s rendering of “thunderings” which the people heard from the mountain of Sinai as the “voices of God”(Ex.19:19).

The important picture in our key passage, according to traditional Jewish understanding, is that the people arrived at Sinai in a place of unified repentance.

Clear out of your mind, for now, the tragic events of the golden calf which will soon follow. Here, this day, the nation is repentant and ready to receive the word of the LORD. This month, the first of months, and this day, the day in which new life is given. Continue reading

What is the Fear of the Lord?

What is the Fear of the Lord?

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction

                                             – Proverbs 1:7

Often, the concept of the “fear of the Lord” carries a negative connotation in Christian circles. Many in the evangelical world prefer to focus on the “positive benefits” of believing in God, and feel that emphasizing the fear of the Lord is a negative motivation.

In reality though, it’s not an issue of positive or negative.

Too many times, the concept gets muddied by talk of God’s grace and mercy vs. His judgment, and the issue of the fear of the Lord becomes a code-phrase for which part of the church you align yourself with. You are not necessarily a Baptist if you talk about the fear of the Lord, though much to my delight, Baptists tend to be much more concerned with this concept than charismatics, though that is to be left for another discussion, not here.

The fear of the Lord has nothing to do with Jonathan Edwards pounding the pulpit in true Calvinist fashion with his cry of “sinners in the hands of an angry God!”.

What it does have quite a bit to do with is the free choice of man to either worship or go his own way. The fear of the Lord has to do with God’s grace and the dignity of the individual. How so? In our continued study through the Talmud, we continue to unearth parallels with the teachings of the master and the apostles. We will consider a passage which deals with the fear of the Lord and see how it may impact our view.

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