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Yearly Archives: 2018
As I sit down to type this, 2019 is merely hours away. There is something exciting about a new year, the concept of a fresh start, a clean slate, doing things differently. Yet, there is nothing magical about the transition from December 31 to January 1 each year. According to a January 3, 2017 Business Insider article, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Reality is that your life (and mine) is not going to be all that different tomorrow or next week or next month, from what it is right now. While making resolutions and gritting one’s teeth determined to make it work, this time, can perhaps have some noble intentions, the reality is that the more we focus on ourselves and make a list of laws we must keep in order to be successful, or be happy, or whatever our bottom line goal is, the more we will fail.
I see my life differently these days. Not just on December 31, but every day. Goals are important, having a direction to move in is important, but I know full well it is not possible for me to live these goals, this direction, perfectly. I am not here to become a better me, I am here because God placed me here. It is that simple.
In the Tanakh (Old Testament) there are so many laws. Religious Jews have added to these laws with the The Talmud consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara. The Mishnah refers to the oral law that, according to tradition, was given alongside the written Torah. The Gemara is rabbinic commentary on the Mishnah. 613 laws to follow! That is a heavy weight to bear!
Now I am Jewish however I am not simply going to point out the Jewish law, look at Catholicism or actually any organized religion and you will find an endless list of dos and don’ts, religious practices, traditions, rules, requirements, how tos.
But hey, God is sovereign, He created each one of us, He knew we would each go our own way. Isaiah 53:6 “We all went astray like sheep, we have turned, each one on his way, and the Lord accepted his prayers for the iniquity of all of us.”
Who is the “he” in “his prayers”? In context with the rest of the Tanakh, it is clearly the Messiah, our savior, the One God sent to save us from ourselves. You can read The Big Picture of this concept here.
I see my life differently now because I seek not to focus on myself, but to focus on God. I have been sick with Flu type A and then a secondary infection of bronchitis since this past Wednesday and I will say it has been a rough bout of illness. I never before was a fan of the flu shot, after this experience, while the flu shot is not 100% against every flu virus, it certainly is more protective than going without. Considering how physically horrible I have felt and still feel, it is very easy for me to default onto the pity pot. But God. Through all of this there has been such a strong reminder from Him that while of course this illness is not His perfect will for me at this time, it is His permissive will. He is allowing it for His purposes, the multilayered, multifaceted purposes that they might be. Does that make me angry at Him? Not at this stage of my life because I understand the meaning of the word sovereignty. God is in complete control of every molecule of existence, out there and in here. My definition of good may not be His definition of good but He knows the full scope of a situation meanwhile I know just my own little corner of it. And in focusing on God and that for whatever reasons He is allowing this situation, I have been able to relax and listen, despite the cough, the pain, the exhaustion, and hear what God has to say in many different areas. Not that I am enjoying this illness at all, but it has actually been a really special time.
So on that note, I wish you a happy new year! May you grow deeper in the knowledge of God’s grace, wherever you are on this journey called life.
A gospel tract is simply a paper, booklet or other tangible piece of writing that explains the gospel message in some clear way with a call for the reader to repent (turn from current status making a complete change of direction toward God) and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Please feel free to download, print, and distribute as you wish. It is set up to be one sheet of 8 1/2″ by 11″ paper, printed double sided.
The Gospel Tract is below.
In Real Life
Yes, it is common knowledge that Jesus was most likely NOT born on December 25. For a fantastic detailed analysis, here is an outside link that delves deep into it.
Christmas is also not a holiday observance outlined in scripture in any way, shape or form.
However, why not celebrate Jesus’ birthday on the day that is commonly utilized? We have Presidents’ Day on the third Monday in February to commemorate President Washington’s and President Lincoln’s birthdays. That assigned day is not their actual birthdays. We celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November yet the event that we commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621.
That being said, as a Jewish follower of Jesus, one who based on the evidence knows that Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Hebrew scriptures, I celebrate Jesus every day. I do not need a set aside day to celebrate Him. I also don’t find the cultural celebration of Christmas to be something I connect with. We light the menorah for Hanukkah. I do display the nativity scene as that speaks the message of the first Christmas, the birth of Jesus. However we do not desire nor put up Christmas trees, Christmas lights, etc. And as a Jewish family, we do not have extended family interested in a family gathering as a Christmas celebration.
BUT, if you do desire to put up a Christmas tree, there is absolutely no reason for you not to! You are not renouncing your Jewish identity, or any other identity. It is simply a tree, something beautiful and seasonal. I do feel that we as Jewish followers of Jesus are in an interesting position, people being more cognizant of the traditions we follow, are we Jewish enough, Christian enough, have we forsaken our roots, changed religions, the analysis goes on and on. It is ridiculous. And sad! And yet, a privilege! Because when leveraged healthfully, it can open the door to some awesome conversations!
So do I ignore the day? No!
Whether attending a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service, or going into Manhattan with my family and friends to go to Rockefeller Center, or driving around looking at beautiful Christmas displays, or being out of town and enjoying Christmas displays and celebrations there, or whatever else we may find to do, we glorify God and recognize Jesus in all we do.
Christmas is a special, set apart day, and we embrace that, in our private and personal ways. What I do find essential is to ensure that I am doing something. I learned from our very first Christmas as a Jewish family who followed Jesus. We were home, alone, the four of us. Our children were young but old enough to feel the isolation we felt. It was lonely and isolating. Everyone else we knew was with extended family, having their family traditions, many almost sadly boastful about it or oblivious to those who did not have that.
God taught me much in that place of isolation and loneliness! God has given us much and only for the purpose of giving out to others. Not just on the days surrounding holidays, but on the actual day! Since then, always out and about on Christmas. I and we (whoever I am with) always have a great time (and if I would happen to not have anyone to be with on a particular Christmas, I would absolutely be out and about on my own! Being out also provides wonderful opportunities to ever so slightly impact others. Saying Merry Christmas to others we see. Or a smile and a hello in passing. Having some pre paid gift cards to local food stores or fast food chains to hand out to people we pass who are clearly in need. These have become our Christmas traditions and I am grateful to God for how He developed them in me and in us!
Rabbinic Jewish Prayers
Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and commanded us to light Hanukah lights.
Baruch Ata Adonai Elohaynu Melech ha-olam, ah-sher kid-shah-nu b’mitz-voh-tayv v’tzee-vah-nu l’had-leek ner shel Hanukah.
Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our fathers in those days at this season.
Baruch Ata Adonai Elohaynu Melech ha-olam, she-ah-sah ni-seem la-ah-vo-tay-nu ba-ya-meem ha-hem baz-man ha-zeh.
Messianic Jewish Prayers
Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has given us holidays, customs, and times of happiness, to increase the knowledge of God and to build us up in our most holy faith.
Baruch Ata Adonai Elohaynu Melech ha-olam, ah-sher nah-tan lah-nu cha-gim, min-ha-gim, oo-mo-ah-dim l’sim-cha, l’hag-deel et da-at Adonai, v’liv-not oh-tah-nu b’emunah ki-do-shah v’na-ah-lah.
Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our fathers in those days at this season.
Baruch Ata Adonai Elohaynu Melech ha-olam, she-ah-sah ni-seem la-ah-vo-tay-nu ba-ya-meem ha-hem baz-man ha-zeh.
Additional prayer on the first night (both Rabbinic and Messianic)
Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who granted us life, sustained us and permitted us to reach this season.
Baruch Ata Adonai Elohaynu Melech ha-olam, she-he-che-yanu v’kee-ma-nu v’hi-gee-ah-nu laz-man ha-zeh.
The candles are lit from right to left. The first candle is placed on the right side of the Menorah, and the second one placed directly to the left. But lighting them starts from the left and moves to the right. Thus the first candle that is lit is the new candle added for that day. The Shamash candle (the tallest) is used to light the others.
The only candle that has a truly deeper significance is the Shamash. This candle is symbolic of Jesus, who came to be a servant, bringing light into the world, and then took His place, once again above the others. Philippians 2:6-10 “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
However, we absolutely can find scriptural significance for each candle being lit each night! These are simply my selections. You might find other scriptures that speak to you each night.
First: Genesis 1:3-4 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good, and God separated between the light and between the darkness.
Second: Exodus 13:21-22 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to cause it to lead them on the way and at night in a pillar of fire to give them light, [they thus could] travel day and night. He did not move away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire at night [from] before the people.
Third: Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; from whom shall I be frightened?
Fourth: Psalm 119:105 Your words are a lamp for my foot, and light for my path.
Fifth: Isaiah 60:1-3 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has shone upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and a gross darkness the kingdoms, and the Lord shall shine upon you, and His glory shall appear over you. And nations shall go by your light and kings by the brilliance of your shine.
Sixth: Proverbs 15:24 The path of life is above the intelligent person, in order that he turn away from the grave below.
Seventh: Daniel 12:3 And the wise will shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who bring the multitudes to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.
Eighth: Isaiah 25:8 He has concealed death forever, and the Lord God shall wipe the tears off every face, and the shame of His people He shall remove from upon the entire earth, for the Lord has spoken.
Chag Shamash – Happy Holiday!
Dreidel Game and Meaning
|What You’ll Need:
Tokens (use chocolate coins, small candies, pennies, anything like that).
Hanukkah celebrates a victory over an oppressor, and the miracle of light that would not be extinguished when a few drops of oil miraculously burned for eight days and nights in 165 B.C. We are reminded to boldly let our light shine, living in a way that honors God, and giving thanks to God for all He does for us.
The letters on the dreidel stand for the Hebrew words “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham” (a great miracle happened there). In Israel, the dreidel has a Pay instead of a Shin for “Nes Gadol Hayah Po” (a great miracle happened here). The letters also stand for Yiddish words giving game instructions.
|How to Play:
1. Sit around the table or in a circle on the floor.
2. Everyone starts with the same number of tokens.
3. Each player puts one token in the center of the playing area (the pot).
4. Players take turns spinning the dreidel. Use the chart below to determine what to do:
Nun – Player does nothing.
Gimmel – Player takes all the tokens in the pot.
Hay – Player takes half of the tokens in the pot.
Shin – Players add one token to the pot.
5. When there are fewer than two tokens in the pot, each player puts one more token in the pot.
Hanukkah is the Jewish eight-day, “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers, dreidels, chocolate gelt and latkes (potato pancakes) traditionally fried in oil. The Hebrew meaning of the name is “Dedication” or “Consecration.” In 2018 the holiday begins in the evening of Sunday, December 2 and ends in the evening of Monday, December 10.
Hanukkah is not one of the biblical feasts of Israel. It is not found in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh/Old Testament) at all, nor in the Aramaic portions in Ezra, Daniel and Jeremiah which is also in that biblical canon. Most of what we know about it comes from two texts, the First and Second Books of Maccabees (go to page 131 [the page number at the bottom of the page]) which are not recognized as canon by Jews or Protestants however they are in the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic bibles. The canonical books all followed certain guidelines that the Apocrypha (of which the First and Second Books of Maccabees are a part of), while useful, do not follow.
Hanukah is however referenced in the Greek New Testament. John 10:22-23 “At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.”
In the second century BC, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who tried to force the Israelites to accept Greek culture and beliefs instead of Jewish traditions, culture, and belief in God. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and as they were rededicating the Temple after an un-kosher sacrifice was made, the oil to light the Temple’s menorah (the seven-branched candelabrum), which was only enough for one day lasted for eight. Hanukkah is a powerful story of God interceding on behalf of His people and showing His faithful loving kindness.
Much more than the “Jewish alternative” to Christmas, Hanukkah recalls a dark time in the history of the Jewish people and our miraculous deliverance from that darkness. To celebrate, each night at sunset during Hanukkah we light the 8 branched candelabrum called a menorah (or hanukkiah.)
There is a 9th candle, on most menorahs in the center, or at one end raised higher than all the others. We first light that candle (which is called the Shamash), and we use that to light the other candles, one additional candle each night, from right to left (electric menorahs placed in windows will look the reverse to the people inside as those are meant to display right to left for the people seeing it from the outside.) Shamash means servant or caretaker. For people it refers to the person who takes care of the synagogue. For Hanukkah, it refers to the first candle that is lit on the hanukkiah, the “servant” candle that is used to light all the other candles.
Once the Shamash has brought light to the other candles, it then takes its place, once again, above the others. This is symbolic of Jesus, who came to be a servant, bringing light into the world, and then took His place, once again above the others. Philippians 2:6-10 “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Each night there is a blessing recited. Some families traditionally give children a small gift on each night, others give one larger gift for the entire holiday or do both.
At the end of this page I will link to the Rabbinic Jewish observance of the holiday as well as link to the Messianic Jewish adaptation of the prayers. However, for me, every day is about Jesus so of course this holiday is no different. In addition, the celebration of Hanukkah has always been about lighting the menorah, the chocolate gelt, dreidels, sometimes the latkes, and always my family. I have beautiful memories of my father lighting the menorah when I was growing up and singing Maoz Tzur in his off key voice. He has since passed away but any singing of this traditional song touches me deeply. Raising our children, we always gave them turns lighting the “real menorah” (the one with candles as compared to the electric one we placed in the window) and the chocolate gelt was a much enjoyed treat. When Jesus became real in our lives, the depth of what this holiday symbolizes became the forefront of it all. Never was there adherence to any strict Orthodox religious way of handling every aspect of the holiday. It was simply a beautiful time to celebrate, remember and rejoice.
As we celebrate the “Festival of Lights” we can rededicate our lives to Jesus and acknowledge Him as the perfect and true light of this world. Celebrating Hanukkah reminds us of God’s wonderful miracles on our behalf, the greatest miracle of all being His salvation. Hanukkah observance reminds us to remain true to God even when the world around us tries to force us into assimilation.
So, let’s discuss the Jesus aspect of it. During this great season of remembering miracles, Jesus pointed out to His listeners that the miracles He had done authenticated His claim that He was, indeed, the long-awaited Messiah (John 10:37-38). His works and His true character clearly demonstrated who He was.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). Jesus gives all of us, Jew and Gentile, black and white, Spanish, Asian, and every single other color and ethnicity on this great planet of ours, the “light of life.” Eternal life. With Him. Here and forever. With what He put in us at salvation “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has shone upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1.) “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16.)
Yom Kippur is known as the Day of Atonement. This holiday is outlined in Leviticus 16 although the modern day Jewish observance bears little resemblance to that. Leviticus 17:11 sums it up in brief: “For the soul of the flesh is in the blood, and I have therefore given it to you [to be placed] upon the altar, to atone for your souls. For it is the blood that atones for the soul.”
The ending of animal sacrifices occurred after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in year 70 by the Romans as there was no longer a temple altar designated by God in which to offer the sacrifice.
Thus began the religion we would call Rabbinic Judaism. Rabbis replaced the priests as the religious leaders of Judaism. (Priests inherited their position from their father’s side of the family. Rabbis were chosen.) Prayers replaced animal and grain sacrifices. The Jewish holidays remained the same in the transition from Biblical Judaism to Rabbinic Judaism, but their ritual content changed. The concept of atonement also was changed.
Atonement could no longer be accomplished by slaughtering animals or by the death of any surrogate, according to the Rabbis. Now, the way to atone for sins committed against another became to ask forgiveness from the person you had hurt (always a good idea regardless!) For sins against God, atonement could be achieved by confessional prayers to God and doing good works/giving charity. Rabbis stand on Hosea 6:6 to state that a blood sacrifice was no longer necessary after the Temple was destroyed. “For I desire loving-kindness, and not sacrifices, and knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Knowledge of God.
In the Tanach (Old Testament), there are many specific blood sacrifices listed and each one was a covering over the particular sin or sins, an atonement. This is why the sacrifices had to be repeated, and this is why there is the annual Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement.
The shadow of the Tanach/Old Testament sacrifices point to the New Testament.
God made it clear that He would be forming a new covenant with a new heart and His spirit placed within us (Jeremiah 31:30-33 Tanakh [Jeremiah 31:31-34 OT], Jeremiah 32:37-40, Jeremiah 33:14-16, Ezekiel 16:58-63, Ezekiel 36:26-29, Ezekiel 37:21-26, Isaiah 55:3-8.) The location to perform animal sacrifices being destroyed and no longer existing did not take God by surprise. It was part of His plan.
Isaiah 53. “Despised and rejected by men, pained because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his wound we were healed. We all went astray like sheep, we have turned, each one on his way, and the Lord accepted his prayers for the iniquity of all of us. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he would not open his mouth; like a lamb to the slaughter he would be brought, He committed no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. He poured out his soul to death, and with transgressors he was counted; and he bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”
The saving death of the Messiah is the final atonement, for it is the propitiation, the quenching of God’s wrath for us when He completely removed our sins and took them upon Himself (expiation.) Our entire body of sin was imputed onto Him and His righteousness was imputed onto us.
Over 300 prophecies stated in the Tanakh (Tanach, Old Testament) were fulfilled by one named Jesus.
Our eternal God became man (incarnation) for our salvation; sinless, born under the Law, to fulfill the Law perfectly (Genesis 49:10.)
By faith, we are able to be reconciled to God forever. Just as Abram back in Genesis 15, by faith.
THIS IS SUCH GOOD NEWS!!!
May this bring a deepening meaning and preciousness to you and your life as it has for me.
Rosh Hashanah is known as:
The Jewish New Year or The Head of the Year. So it is a celebration of a New Year!
Yom Teruah (The Feast of Trumpets) – The blowing of the Shofar is of precious significance as it is a call to attention, a cry of warfare and victory, and that the Shofar is a ram’s horn relates to Genesis 22:13 when Abraham took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son, foreshadowing of the greater sacrifice to come in the Messiah.
The Day of Remembrance – According to Jewish belief, Rosh Hashanah is the day when Adam was created. Creation reminds us of the absolute sovereignty of God, who created all things for His glory. We also remember God’s covenants, our purpose, our deeds.
The Day of Judgment – Yom Ha-Din, the day we stand in judgment before God. On Rosh Hashanah the religious Jewish belief is that this is the day/time period we are inscribed in the Book of Life (but for just one year…)
The first mention in the Bible of this holiday is in Leviticus 23:24-25 and what became Rosh Hashanah was an unnamed minor festival held on the first day of the seventh month, serving mainly as a precursor to the major harvest celebration of Sukkot two weeks later. Rosh Hashanah as we now know it come from the oral traditions compiled and organized in the extra biblical book, the Mishnah. By then the holiday was regularly celebrated over two days because of the uncertainty of predicting which day the sighting of the new moon, which signaled the start of the new month, would be announced by the Sanhedrin, the central Jewish religious court. Other scriptures regarding Rosh Hashanah are: Psalm 47, Numbers 29:1, Nehemiah 8:1-12.
Rosh Hashanah is celebrated by Jewish people worldwide through synagogue attendance and services. There are also several at home traditions which are deeply meaningful, beautiful, tasty, and fun, part of the way we here remain connected to our Jewish heritage with a richness and fullness that is joyous and precious. There may be other traditional foods and activities, but these are the ones known well here.
Yes, honey is a theme! The honey signifies hope for a sweet new year. Even deeper:
The Promised Land is described as a land flowing with milk and honey, a sign of all the good things from God to be found there (Exodus 3:6-8.) Honey is a symbol of good health or even deeper than that, the fullness of joy not contingent upon life circumstances and the eternal health/salvation for one who has placed his faith firmly in the promised will and power of God as it was for Jonathan in 1 Samuel 14:24-27. Honey is an honored gift (Genesis 43:11.)
Round Challah and Honey: Challah a traditional Jewish braided white bread. Most of the year it is braided into regular loaves. On Rosh Hashanah, it is round, recalling the cyclical nature of the year as well as being highly symbolic of a crown as God is the King.
Apples and Honey: Apples are references to being under God’s protection (Psalm 17:8, Zechariah 2:12 [2:8 OT], Proverbs 7:2)
Honey cake: For more sweetness for the new year, honey cake (or lekach) is another treat.
Taslich: From the Hebrew word meaning “to cast,” referring to casting our sins into a body of moving water (“He shall return and grant us compassion; He shall hide our iniquities, and You shall cast into the depths of the sea all their sins.” Micah 7:19) Whether at the ocean, the brook at the back of our property, a river, lake… graphically and symbolically taking small stones or pebbles and throwing them into the water is a reminder of the true depth and breadth of the holiday and the Book of Life.
Jeremiah 2:13 “For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the spring of living waters, to dig for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that do not hold water.”
Jeremiah 17:13 “The Lord who is the source of the hopes of Israel, all that forsake You shall be shamed, and they who turn away from me shall be marked out on the earth that they have forsaken the source of living waters, the Lord.”
Zechariah 13:1 “On that day, a spring shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for purification and for sprinkling.”
Psalm 51 “Wash me thoroughly of my iniquity, and purify me of my sin.”
Ezekiel 36:24-28 “For I will take you from among the nations and gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you to your land. And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you will be clean; from all your impurities and from all your abominations will I cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you and bring it about that you will walk in My statutes and you will keep My ordinances and do [them].
God made it clear He would be forming a new covenant with a new heart and His spirit placed within us (Jeremiah 31:30-33 Tanakh [Jeremiah 31:31-34 OT], Jeremiah 32:37-40, Jeremiah 33:14-16, Ezekiel 16:58-63, Ezekiel 36:26-29, Ezekiel 37:21-26, Isaiah 55:3-8.)
John 4:14 “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 7:38: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
L’Shanah Tovah – For A Good Year! Shalom
There is much discussion over the nature of what “records” or “books” God keeps, especially regarding the “Book of Life”. One point of agreement however is that the Bible does use the simile of writing in books. That provides a visual to assist us in more fully understanding and admiring God’s standards, wisdom, and work.
The first instance in Scripture where writing in a book is used regarding God was when God gave the law of commandments through Moses. That is detailed in Exodus 20-23, summarized in Deuteronomy 30:19-20, 32:46-47, and mentioned as being in a book in 2 Chronicles 34:14. In this book both blessings and curses are listed as referred to in Deuteronomy 29:19 Tanakh (29:20 OT.)
Other books in Scripture are: the “Book of Wars” which is a collection of war songs celebrating glorious acts of God on behalf of Israel (Numbers 21:14), the “Book of Jasher” which is a chronicle of the early history of Israel (Joshua 10:13, 2 Samuel 1:18), and the “Book of Works” which is a record of the deeds of unbelievers. Those who do not possess the imputation of God’s righteousness are judged by their personal works/things they have done. (Daniel 7:9-10, Romans 3 (particularly 19-24), Revelation 20:12-13.)
The “Book of Remembrance” is mentioned in Malachi 3:16 and also referred to in Psalm 56:9 Tanakh (56:8 OT.) Those whom God has called to Himself, who are His, will as a natural outflow, exhibit a reverential fear of the Lord, a respect for who He is. Out of that flows a desire to follow God, to learn about His character and His ways, to obey Him, to share about Him, as well as the natural tears of pain/frustration borne out of oppression, persecution, and wounds inflicted by enemies of God. All of this is recorded in the “Book of Remembrance.”
And then there is the Book of Life...
(Please click the image to read more on that one. Thank you!
The first mention of the “Book of Life” is in Exodus 32:31-33 and the thread weaves throughout the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament) into the New Testament.
I have found much analysis in teachings on if the “Book of Life” in the Hebrew Scriptures is the same as the “Lamb’s Book of Life” in the New Testament, and furthermore if the “Book of Life” is the same as the “Book of the Living” mentioned in Psalm 69:28-29 Tanakh (69:27-28 OT). As a side-note on that Psalm 69 verse, some translations say the “Book of the Living” (Psalm 69:28-29 Tanakh, 69:27-28 OT) and others say “Book of Life” (Psalm 69:28-29 Tanakh, 69:27-28 OT.)
In analysis of what God says in the entirety of Scripture, this is what I learned. The “Book of Life”, the “Book of the Living” and the “Lamb’s Book of Life” all refer to the same book. This book lists all of God’s heirs and their inheritance, eternal inheritance. The names of God’s elect were written in the “Book of Life” from the foundation of the world. Even before we were born, God’s elect were written in the Book.
So how can YOU ensure you are truly written in? Please visit: Our Glorious Inheritance” If you want to first analyze this Book of Life concept further, please remain on this page. Thank you!
What does it mean to be elect? The “elect of God” is irrespective of national origin, religion, race. While Jews as a “nation”, the “collective group” are God’s “chosen people” we as a collective group were chosen for particular purposes. As a nation and group we do receive unique divine protection, however that is separate from being chosen for salvation in the eternal sense.
Jewish religious teachings do teach the concept of sin and the “Book of Life”, especially during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, focusing mainly on “missing the mark” and practical steps to take to make amends to any people affected. The teaching continues that if amends is made with a sincere heart, the sin is forgiven by God.
In Judaism, being inscribed or erased from the “Book of Life” is taught to be an annual event; inscribed, not inscribed, inscribed, not inscribed… over and over and over again. The focus is more on life on earth in the here and now.
Modern Judaism in general does not teach that mankind is born sinful, separated from God. There are no teachings on what a person would need to be saved from, or to. Little focus on the afterlife; heaven or hell, and what forgiveness from God results in other than blessings on earth.
Although, in Orthodox Judaism and in examining the Hebrew Scriptures (Tanakh) we do find: We are made from dust (Genesis 2:7), and to dust we will return to an eternal destiny (Genesis 3:19.) Many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken, some for eternal life [heaven], and some for disgrace, for eternal abhorrence [hell] (Daniel 12:2.)
So, back to the elect. Those are the people whom God has chosen, predestined to salvation (deliverance from destruction.) God loves all of His creation and we see tremendous evidence of that in the Bible. However, we also see God’s hatred of evil. We also see instances where God raises up an evil leader or an evil doer for purposes that are not exactly apparent to the people afflicted at the time, but as we see the complete scene unfold in the Bible, we read about how it brings about a bigger picture of good, and displays God’s goodness, love, mercy, glory (Pharaoh is one prime example.)
We always have to remember, this world is God’s, not ours. God is sovereign, which means in complete control of every aspect of everything. Regardless of what we see with our natural eyes, God does have a plan and a purpose, and it is truly all detailed in the Bible.
Psalm 65:5 Tanakh [65:4 OT] “Happy is the man whom Thou choosest, and bringest near, that he may dwell in Thy courts; may we be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, the holy place of Thy temple!” And Psalm 139, in depth details the sovereignty of God and His foreknowledge of us. We also see from David in this passage, a man who desires to be in God’s will, a man who has been given that desire from His maker, a man who we can glean from this psalm, would be found among God’s elect.
God is the main character and focus in this love story through the huge, continuous thread of 66 books describing who God is, what God created and why, as well as showing God meeting us where we are at; rebellious, sinful, failing, guilty, striving yet never reaching. God meets us with His rescue, His salvation, His favor, His grace, His mercy, His goodness.
The Bible tells us of the perfect standard that God is, as well as the realization that we will never be able to reach that perfection. No matter how good we “behave”, there is always something in what we do, or in our motive, that is not “perfect”.
However, every book in the Bible, right from Genesis on, is love-filled, mercy-filled, grace-filled, as it contains His Gospel (Besorah, Good News) message. The deeper this message seeps and sinks into us, the more we will reflect just who God designed us to reflect, Him!
What does it mean when we read God “chose us”? Looking at a tangible example, let us go to 1 Samuel 17:40. “And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his scrip; (“scrip”is a pouch) and his sling was in his hand; and he drew near to the Philistine.”
Was there any willingness of the stones to be “chosen”? Did the stones move in a certain way, respond to David’s looking at them in a certain way? Of course not. The choice of which stones to select was completely David’s decision based on those that best suited his purpose, we might say a “sovereign” choice.
The way David chose those stones is exactly the way God chose Israel out of all other nations, and exactly the same way God chose specific individuals for salvation, by His grace, in His sovereignty, for His purposes, not by anything a person said or did.
Yes, we are flesh and blood human beings, not lifeless stones, however, what is the scriptural definition of our hearts before salvation? Ezekiel 36:26 “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” Interesting comparison.
Salvation, being written in the Book of Life, cannot be lost, a child of God’s name can never be blotted out, because it is never about us, it is always about God and what He did. One to whom God has given the new heart and spirit described in Ezekiel 36 will persevere to the very end.
The scriptures talking of erasing, or blotting out of a name in the Book is the same concept as Hosea 8 and Matthew 7:15-23. Not everyone who believes they are in the “Book of Life” or who says they are, truly is. Their fruits (their outward words, actions, behaviors) are the best indicators, of the reality of their situation.
Let us look at the various scriptures describing “The Book of Life” and analyze. Exodus 32:31-33 “And now, if You forgive their sin But if not, erase me now from Your book, which You have written.’ And the Lord said to Moses: ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, him I will erase from My book!'” And it shall come to pass that every survivor shall be in Zion, and everyone who is left, in Jerusalem; “holy” shall be said of him, everyone inscribed for life in Jerusalem.”
In Exodus 32 all these people are worshipping the golden calf. Moses wants to be the offering of atonement for them, God says no, He has it taken care of. “Whoever has sinned I will blot”. It is not a whoever sinned now I will now blot. It is a general reassurance to David, look I’ve got this. Not all who say they are Mine, or who believe they are Mine, are truly Mine. They are not all in the Book of Life.
Malachi 3:16-18 “Then the God-fearing men spoke to one another, and the Lord hearkened and heard it. And a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared the Lord and for those who valued His name highly. And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of Hosts, for that day when I make a treasure. And I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him. And you shall return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him who serves God and him who has not served Him.”
Psalm 40:7-9 Tanakh (Psalm 40:6-8 OT) “Sacrifice and meal-offering Thou hast no delight in; mine ears hast Thou opened; burnt-offering and sin-offering hast Thou not required. Then said I: ‘Lo, I am come with the roll of a book which is prescribed for me I delight to do Thy will, O my God; yea, Thy law is in my inmost parts.”
Psalm 40 tells us that there is nothing God requires us to do to be written in the Book of Life. His elect are already written in, and we are drawn by God, to God, when He gives us that revelation (opens our ears). When that occurs, the rest of what is stated here is the natural outflow.
Psalm 69:28-29 Tanakh (69:27-28 OT) “Add iniquity unto their iniquity; and let them not come into Thy righteousness. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.”
David in Psalm 69 is speaking of his adversaries, people whose fruits do not match someone who is truly a child of God. “You will know them by your fruits.” So when David says “May they be erased from the book of life and may they not be inscribed with the righteous”, David is speaking out of the pain and frustration of what he is dealing with from these people. Meanwhile they never were in the Book to begin with.
Daniel 12:1-2 “Now at that time, Michael, the great prince, who stands over the children of your people, will be silent, and it will be a time of distress that never was since a nation existed until that time, and at that time, your people will escape, everyone who is found inscribed in the book. And many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken-these for eternal life, and those for disgrace, for eternal abhorrence.”
Daniel 12 is a graphic Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament) description that there is an eternal existence, as well as a description of the book that is sealed until the end, not opened each year with God standing by holding a pencil and eraser.
Philippians 4:3 “Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Revelation 13:7-9 “It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. “
Revelation 17:8 “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. “
Revelation 20:11-15 “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. “
Revelation 21:27 “and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. “
Revelation 22:19 “and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.”
How can YOU ensure you are truly written in? Please visit: Our Glorious Inheritance” Thank you!