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Purim 2020: Evening Monday March 9 to Evening Tuesday March 10.
Purim is a happy, fun-filled holiday that rejoices over the irresistible grace of God and His providential care. Purim also has a prophetic dimension that both has been fulfilled, and is yet to be fulfilled.
Purim commemorates the salvation of the Jewish community from near destruction at the hands of a power-crazed Persian high ranking official named Haman. As recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther, Haman nearly secured the King’s permission to wipe out the Jewish community, and he “cast lots” (kind of like the modern day flipping a coin) to choose which day to do it, only to be foiled at the last moment by Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai. (Interesting too that Proverbs 16:33 says “The lot is cast in the lap, but all his judgment is from the Lord.”) Well, anyway…
Wild that in this book, Esther, there is not one reference nor inference at all to God. This is the key to understanding the whole Purim saga. Lurking behind the dramatic scene is a miracle that will eventually be revealed in the end…
At the last moment of gloom and doom, the whole situation is turned completely around to have the totally opposite result. The wicked Haman who plotted to exterminate the Jews ended up being hanged himself instead! Was it just by chance that Esther became queen? Was it simply a fluke that Mordechai was in the right place at the right time to overhear the plot to kill King Achashverosh?
If you believe in God, you will see the hand of God and credit the hand of God; seeing the unseen. And if you don’t believe in God, you will say, oh, simply coincidence.
As this holiday celebration is about seeing the unseen, let us delve into that.
What did our ancestors do to merit this Divine Intervention? Did they do anything? Were they actually deserving of intervention, of salvation? Think about it carefully, reflect on what Scripture says, all of Scripture.
Based on the entirety of Scripture it is a firm NO, the people did NOTHING to deserve God’s intervention and saving grace.
Saving grace. It was an act of mercy, of love, from God bestowed upon His people. HIS GRACE.
Let’s delve deeper.
God places His people in the right place at the right time for His purposes. Esther 4:13-14 “And Mordecai ordered to reply to Esther, do not imagine to yourself that you will escape in the king’s house from among all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and rescue will arise for the Jews from elsewhere, and you and your father’s household will perish; and who knows whether at a time like this you will attain the kingdom?”
God is always in control. Sometimes He begins moving us into these places well before the time comes to perform the particular task He has in mind. Our responsibility is to be open to His leading and ready to go!
The primary observance of Purim is to hear the reading of the book of Esther. The book of Esther is commonly known as the Megillah, which means scroll. It is customary to boo, hiss, stamp feet and rattle gragers (noisemakers) whenever the name of Haman is mentioned in the service. The purpose of this custom is to “blot out the name of Haman.” Fascinating. A great study for those interested would be to research the abundance of scriptures where God gives His people the authority to “blot out” the name of the enemy. We are told in Scripture that we are given the power and authority to tread down the wicked, tread on serpents (which represent the enemy), to resist the devil and he will flee…
The Purim holiday is immediately preceded by a one day fast, the Fast of Esther, which commemorates Esther’s three days of fasting in preparation for her meeting with the king. It is one day before Purim unless that day is Friday or Saturday and then it is moved to the preceding Thursday. Why did Esther fast for 3 days? Why 3? Why not 2, or 1, or 5?
Another Purim custom is for people to dress up and disguise themselves, another allusion to the fact that the miracle of Purim was disguised in natural garments. The Tanakh (Old Testament) is rich in veiled references to the Messiah, the who, what, where, when, why, and how of His first and second comings. Hidden, disguised.
Tradition proclaims this a time to drink alcohol and some may even proclaim it a time to get drunk. In the Rava (one of the Talmudian Rabbis) this advice is given “A person has to get drunk on Purim until he cannot distinguish between ‘cursed is Haman’ and ‘blessed is Mordechai.”. Well, what does God say about that? When you read the celebration of Purim in the Tanakh, nowhere does it say to get drunk. The Scriptural celebration of the holiday in the Tanakh talks of feasting and joy, happiness, rejoicing. One does not need to overdose on alcohol to do that and God is quite clear on that.
Esther 9:22 “as the days when the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month that was reversed for them from grief to joy and from mourning to a festive day-to make them days of feasting and joy, and sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.” God warns us that it is not wise to get drunk on alcohol (Proverbs 20:1, Hosea 4:11, Isaiah 5:12, 22, Proverbs 23:20). And God does not contradict Himself (Malachi 3:6, Numbers 23:19, Isaiah 40:8). Where does Scripture say that joy comes from? That is another great scripture digging study for anyone interested. I’ll point you in the direction of Nehemiah 8:10 to start…
A common (and oh so delicious) treat associated with Purim is hamentaschen. These triangular fruit-filled cookies represent Haman’s three-cornered hat. Some say it represents his ears as his head was lowered in shame. As the fruit is somewhat hidden within the three cornered crust, it is also an allusion to the fact that the miracle of Purim was disguised in natural garments; God using a person for “such a time as this”.
Another fascinating interpretation for this delicious pastry is that the three corners are symbolic of the three patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Hmm, then we can also say that it could be a reference to a triune nature of the one triune pastry (one God with each corner of the triangle; Father, Son, Holy Spirit).
As we celebrate with joy at Purim, we again recognize God’s amazing love. The Jewish people did nothing to merit or earn God’s miraculous rescue at Purim. God saved us because He loves His people and is faithful to His covenantal promises (even when we are faithless).
The rejoicing at Purim reminds us of the faithfulness of God and the triumph of righteous victim over evil oppressor. Yet there are those today who see the meaning of Purim in terms of our good deeds overpowering the Hamans of this world. However a realistic view of our world shows us that despite our many good and noble efforts to work within social and political frameworks, there are too many Hamans for the Esthers and the Mordecais to handle.
What if the innocent willingly took the place of the guilty? Would the weight of such a sacrifice be enough to swing the world back to an upright position, a position where people could face God and ask forgiveness? Instead of an evil Haman hanging from the gallows, what if an innocent one, made this sacrifice? Hmm.
Would that one’s name be blotted out, forever cursed? Or would such a name become the name that brings life and salvation, a name that is above all other names, a name before which someday all will (in the words of the Aleinu, a Jewish prayer found in the siddur, the classical Jewish prayer book) “bend the knee and bow down.”
This Purim, as we reflect on the celebrations and traditions, we might also want to consider the claims of Jesus whose very name means “Salvation.” He offers life and peace to all, regardless of ethnic or racial background, all, who trust in his name. He puts out the call. And all who receive will have their own names written the book of life, where they can never be blotted out. Fascinating points to ponder! Chag Purim Sameach!
Counseling services are good for so many reasons and the reasons people go for counseling are numerous. However, I think we would all agree is that there is one main goal in it, to get unstuck from whatever has the person stuck so every area of that person’s life and relationships can improve.
In secular counseling, the spiritual dimension of people is not at all addressed. Secular counseling is based on people solving their own problems without bringing God into the equation as having any influence on human issues or solutions. It is a self-focused, self- improvement project for people who dismiss the notion of God as present, real, relevant, and involved.
Bible based counseling is for those who believe in God or who want to believe in God and His work in our life. It differs from secular counseling in that it specifically incorporates the spiritual dimension, Biblical truths. In that, there is belief in God as our Creator.
The type of bible based counseling I am focusing on here is the counseling that takes into account the entire bible of 66 books, Tanakh (Old Testament) and the New Testament. In that, God, salvation, the gospel, Jesus, the Holy Spirit (the third part of the Godhead, who draws a person to God and is a God oriented conscience within a believer) are all part of the conversation.
God is always in the process of redeeming, or buying back the broken/hurt/stuck areas and bringing them in line with how He desires us to think which leads to how we feel and act. Bible based counseling has an absolute standard by which to measure the objectives in counseling and evaluate the counselee’s lifestyle.
I would like to pose three questions.
1) Do you want truth or do you want to hear just what you want to hear?
2) Are you willing to consider that behaviors you may be engaged in may not be healthful?
3) If what God says in His Word, the Bible, contradicts what you want to be doing, or what you believe, are you willing to consider the entirety of what God says on the subject?
Bible based counselors can only present God’s truths to you. It is up to you whether you want to believe them, or not. Once you decide to believe them, it is not a self-improvement project. If you decide to focus solely on God, He will change you and you will become unstuck, I can guarantee you that. You will never be the same again! The key to unlock the change is where you are looking. At yourself? Or at God?
Of course we have choices to make in the process of becoming unstuck, but it is not about us focusing on ourselves. Just like when Peter tried to walk on water (Matthew 14:28-33), he was fine and able to do so when his eyes were on Jesus. The moment Peter moved his gaze from Jesus onto the wind and his own ability, Peter began to sink. It is no different with us!
Salvation is not simply a moment in time when a person becomes bound for heaven after they die here on earth. There is more as we still have a life we are living here on earth. Healing, unstuckness, freedom comes out of the beauty of living out one’s identity in Jesus (Romans 3:21-26; Ezekiel 36:26-29; Colossians 1:10-14; Colossians 1:21-23; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Colossians 2:6-15; Romans 6:1-11; Romans 8; Philippians 2:12-13.)
Once God saves us, He continues to bring us deeper and deeper into His gospel, for it is the power and the motivator for our life. We walk out here on earth what God has credited to us, that new identity. That inheritance is ours positionally, and our life is God working it out through us, experientially, as we live our life here.
My friends, there is nothing more exciting and beautiful! To God be the glory!
Praying for you.
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.)
When Adam fell into sin, the result was every one of his descendants (which is each one of us, regardless of ethnicity/religion/color or anything else that people might use to divide people into different groups) also being “infected” with his spiritual DNA, the sin nature. David mourned this fact in Psalm 51:7 Tanakh (Psalm 51:5 OT.) “Behold, with iniquity I was formed, and with sin my mother conceived me.” This does not mean that his mother bore him illegitimately. His mother had inherited a sin nature from her parents, and they from their parents, and so on. David inherited this from his parents, just as we all do.
Even if we live as “upright” and “good” a life as possible, every single thing we do is out of the body of a sinner as a result of the inherited sin nature. (Isaiah 64:5 Tanakh [Isaiah 64:6 OT].) “And we all have become like one unclean, and like a discarded garment are all our righteous deeds, and we all have withered like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.”
It is like a dirty pitcher pouring out the water contained in it. There will be contaminants in the water because the pitcher is not perfectly clean. It is the same with us. We have inherited the spiritual DNA of our original ancestor, Adam. We are not clean. Spiritually we are dead, separated from God.
Job 14:4 “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean one? Not one.” Job 15:14-16 “What is man that he should be innocent, and that one born of woman should be just? Lo! He does not believe in His holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in His eyes. Surely [not] one who is abominable and impure, a man who drinks injustice like water.” Job 25:4 “How then can man be just with God, and how can one born of woman be clean?” Psalm 14:2-3 “The Lord in Heaven looked down upon the sons of men to see whether there is a man of understanding, who seeks the Lord. All have turned away; together they have spoiled; no one does good, not even one.” (Genesis 8:21, 1 Kings 8:46, Ecclesiastes 7:20)
As God is infinite and eternal (lasting forever, no beginning or end) and since all sin is ultimately against God (Psalm 51:6 Tanakh, Psalm 51:4 OT), only an infinite and eternal punishment is sufficient.
First things first, this is not about converting to a new religion. This is not about religion at all. It is about life, real life!
Second thing. Many people do believe that this life here is all there is.
If this is you, please consider that if that is true, then what we do in this life actually does not matter as the end result to whatever we do is the same, nothingness.
Some may say well what we do will live on after we are gone, in people, or in memories.
But ultimately that too is meaningless since ultimately everything on this earth either dies or is destroyed in one way or another.
God planted within you the desire to live a meaningful, purposeful life, for a purpose much greater than yourself, and He alone can satisfy that desire.
You were made by God, you were made for God, and you were put here for a purpose, His purpose. Life is not going to make a whole lot of sense without an understanding of that concept.
There is an eternal destiny. Eternal means lasting forever. No end. We are made from dust (Genesis 2:7), and to dust we will return to an eternal destiny (Genesis 3:19.) Those 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.) Isaiah 66:24 also talks about hell “And they shall go out and see the corpses of the people who rebelled against Me, for their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring for all flesh.”
Heaven and Hell are real. Some may ask, what if they are not? My response, what if they are?
The document that states they are, the Bible, is true and using the same tests as any other historical document, can be proven as true.
How much we have to lose by denying truth. The reality and intensity of that denial is immense. After reading about the truth of the Bible, if you have questions or points to discuss, please always feel free to ask!
You do not earn your way into Heaven through your charitable works or by behaving well or by adhering to certain religious principles.
Your ethnicity or religious background does not grant you entrance, not even for us Jewish people, despite what some might believe.
This is for ALL people, regardless of ethnicity, culture, religious background, or anything else.
If you are Jewish, you remain Jewish, always, no matter what!
According to the Orthodox, a Jewish person is any person whose birth mother was a Jew, or any person who has gone through the formal process of conversion to Judaism. A person born to non-Jewish parents who has not undergone the formal process of conversion, but who believes everything that Orthodox Jews believe, and observes every law and custom of Judaism, is still a non-Jew, even in the eyes of the most liberal movements of Judaism.
And a person born to a Jewish mother who is an atheist and never practices the Jewish religion, is still a Jew, even in the eyes of the ultra-Orthodox. In this sense, Judaism is more like a nationality than like other religions, and being Jewish is like a citizenship (Reference.) This reference even says that it is important to note that being a Jew has nothing to do with what you believe or what you do.
Given that information, then the reality is that a person who is born a Jew can believe in and practice whatever they want, their identity as a Jew is not something that can be taken away from them. A fascinating post on the Chabad website testifies to just that: “Jewishness is not a belief, a feeling, a conviction or a lifestyle. It is a state of being. We can either celebrate it or fight against it. But it will always be there.”
I Kings 18:21 says “And Elijah drew near to all the people and said, Until when are you hopping between two ideas? If the Lord is God, go after Him, and if the Baal, go after him. And the people did not answer him a word.” Elijah the prophet was sent to rebuke those Jews who were worshiping a foreign god named Baal. The people were given a choice, if the Lord is God, follow Him, but if Baal, follow him. Ultimately the Jews renounced their idolatrous ways and returned to God.
Some have concluded that this is saying that a Jew who follows another religion is Jewish only to the point that he retains a spiritual obligation to repent and return to Judaism. Following that line of reasoning, as long as a Jew’s beliefs are idolatrous and foreign to Judaism, he/she cannot call himself or herself a Jew. In that same analysis some have made the differentiation between a non practicing Jew and one who has chosen to follow a “foreign” path (Pages 18-19 “The Jewish Response to Missionaries – Counter Missionary Handbook” by Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz.)
Is this what the Tanakh truly says? We must carefully consider the context of passages. In other words, we must look carefully at verses that precede and that follow a verse we are studying. When we take a passage “out of context” we are in danger of misinterpreting it. A passage can often be taken more than one way, until we look closely at the larger picture, perhaps an entire chapter or even the entire book.
Does it say in I Kings 18 that those who followed Baal were no longer Jews? No. Verse 18 “And he said, “I have not brought trouble upon Israel, but you and your father’s house, since you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and you went after the Baalim.” There is absolutely no mention of a loss of identity; what there is mention of is there were consequences from God, trouble, just like when we forsake God and pursue ungodly activities and interests. When we turn from God and follow our own path, there most certainly are consequences; natural ones as well as one’s from God.
Some may say that the Torah teaches that Jews and non Jews are given different paths to reach God. A Jew is obligated to follow the Torah while a non Jew must observe the Seven Laws of the Children of Noah. (Page 19 “The Jewish Response to Missionaries – Counter Missionary Handbook” by Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz.) That is found absolutely nowhere in the Tanakh. That is a Rabbinical thought expressed in the Oral Torah inferred from Genesis 9.
Now getting down to what the Bible actually states. The Tanakh does not specifically state anywhere that matrilineal descent should be used. The Orthodox Jews are using the following to support the matrilineal descent theory: Deuteronomy 7:1-5, Leviticus 24:10 and Ezra 10:2-3. Source.
However taking into account the context of these scriptures within the rest of the Bible, those scriptures discuss the intermarriage between a believer; a follower of God, and a non believer or a non follower of God like Deuteronomy 22:10, 1 Corinthians 5:9, 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 state.
Regarding who is a Jew, the Tanakh states that a Jewish person is any person who is a descendant of Israel (Jacob), as well as the patriarchs Abraham and Isaac, and their wives. (Genesis 12:1-3, Psalm 77:16 [Psalm 77:15 OT].) Interesting too, according to the Tanakh there isn’t any set out list of requirements to formally convert to Judaism. Ruth is held up by all as an example of conversion (Ruth 1:16.)
Who is a Gentile?
Gentiles are people who are not Jewish. Gentiles are not born Christian either. No one is BORN a Christian or is a Christian simply because their parents are Christians or they were sprinkled with water at an infant baptism. There is a personal and inner decision that each INDIVIDUAL must make for him or herself in order to become a Christian. Gentiles who place their faith in Jesus are “grafted into” the Jewish olive tree of faith Romans 11:17-25 becoming spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham (Galatians 3:28-29.)
Who is a Christian?
Anyone, GENTILE OR JEW, who receives Jesus as their Savior (Romans 10:11-13.) One is not born a Christian the way one is born a Jew or born a man (XY Sex Chromosomes) or a woman (XX Sex Chromosomes.) One is also not baptized into becoming a Christian either the way one might be baptized into a religion for example as in infant baptism by sprinkling of water. To become a Christian as the Bible states it, one must actually decide that they believe what scripture says about receiving salvation.
Bringing this page together regarding Jewish people….
If a Jewish person has decided for him or herself that Jesus is indeed the Messiah and has received Jesus as such, then they have a dual identity as Jewish and as a follower of Jesus.
The future, the hope… this concept of life everlasting, eternal life, is found in the Tanach (Tanakh, Old Testament) as well as in the New Testament. Death is viewed as the end of physical life but not the termination of existence. The dead, though separated from this life, continue to exist.
“May Your dead live, ‘My corpses shall rise; awaken and sing, you who dwell in the dust, for a dew of lights is your dew, and [to the] earth You shall cast the slackers.“Isaiah 26:19 (An Old Testament wording “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.” )
“And many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken-these for eternal life, and those for disgrace, for eternal abhorrence.” Daniel 12:2
“The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and raises up.” 1 Samuel 2:6
“Therefore, my heart rejoiced, and my soul was glad; even my flesh shall dwell in safety. For You shall not forsake my soul to the grave; You shall not allow Your pious one to see the pit. You shall let me know the way of life, the fullness of joys in Your presence. There is pleasantness in Your right hand forever. Psalm 16:9 –11
“I will see Your face with righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your image upon the awakening.” Psalm 17:15
“Like sheep, they are destined to the grave; death will devour them, and the upright will rule over them in the morning, and their form will outlast the grave as his dwelling place. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall take me forever.” Psalm 49:15-16 (14-15 Old Testament)
“Yet I was constantly with You; You grasped my right hand. With Your counsel You led me, and after[wards], You took me [for] glory. For whom do I have in heaven, and I desired no one with You on earth. My flesh and my heart yearn; God is the rock of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who have distanced themselves from You will perish; You have cut off anyone who strays from You. But as for me God’s nearness is my good; I have placed my refuge in the Lord God, to tell all Your mission. Psalm 73:23 -28
I do not however embrace the secularized version of the very critical and special happening nor do I connect with the bunnies and eggs (although I confess, I do have a fondness for chocolate. Thank you to Hershey’s and Russell Stover for your fantastic Resurrection Sunday chocolate treats!)
The actual events that transpired on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday are critical to ALL who truly believe the Bible, and these events are a part of the statement of faith for both Messianic Jewish synagogues and Biblical Christian churches.
Was Jesus actually resurrected??? IS Jesus actually alive with God right now??? How do we know that a 2,000 year old event actually happened??? Well, how do we know that anything in history happened?
A historian finds the facts relying on historical data such as archeology, ancient documents and recorded eyewitness testimony to reconstruct the past. Certain principles guide the determination of which historical accounts are reliable and which are not. If there are several independent sources reporting the same event, that is reliable history. If the sources are actual eyewitnesses, that is reliable history. If the eyewitness accounts are during the same general time period as the actual event, that is reliable history. Once the historian has gathered the facts, a determination has to be made if the facts support the alleged historical event.
Along with the Bible, about 18 different ancient non-Christian writers present more than 100 facts about the birth of Jesus, His life, teachings, miracles, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension: Josephus, Tacitus, Thallus, Phlegon, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Emperor Trajan, Emperor Hadrian, the Talmud, Lucian, Mara bar Serapion.
The facts are:
1) Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.
2) Jesus was buried in a known, guarded accessible tomb with a rock sealing it.
3) The disciples believed they had seen the risen Jesus. Paul lists the eyewitnesses in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. Even critical scholars believe 1 Corinthians is an authentic letter written by Paul so here we have a reliable list of people who believed they saw resurrection appearances of Jesus,
4) The disciples really believed they had seen Jesus such that it totally transformed them. Jesus, their leader, had been brutally killed before their eyes. Their reactions were understandable and also cowardly. Peter even denies Jesus three times. But something happened, transforming them from cowards who abandoned Jesus to courageous men who risked their lives for His message. They didn’t just claim Jesus rose, they absolutely believed it in a way that their lives were powerfully changed.
5) The tomb of Jesus was empty. There are three main reasons why the empty tomb is a historical fact. They fall under the acronym (JET). Jerusalem factor (J), enemy testimony (E), and the testimony of women (T). Any conspiracy theories as to a stolen body or any other claims do not have one shred of evidence to back up the claims. That He was actually resurrected has actual evidence to support it.
Skeptics certainly can and will believe what they want. There are doubters for all aspects of history and yet, history is just that, a record of events that happened in the past.
Will we discredit all history that occurred simply because there is no one alive now who was alive then to tell us what happened? The same historical method for compiling the evidence for the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the same historical method utilized for compiling evidence for anything in history.
Google the research and examine it all. If you are interested, really dig into the material. As insane, wild, and strange as it is to our natural minds, this actually did happen. An excellent publication, available free of charge that provide direction to all the research and evidence, biblical and non biblical sources, even from skeptics who show the evidence to support this: Gary R. Habermas, “Evidence for the Historical Jesus: Is the Jesus of History the Christ of Faith?”
The resurrection of Jesus is a testimony to the resurrection of human beings.
In the Tanach (Tanakh, 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.
In the New Testament, at the very central heart of the gospel is that the saving death of Jesus 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 onto Himself (expiation) thereby reconciling those who believe to God forever! Our sin (ALL of our sin, our entire body of sin; past, present, future) was imputed onto Jesus, and the righteousness of Jesus was imputed onto us, therefore called double imputation. (Romans 3:21-26, 1 John 2:2)
Over 300 prophecies stated in the Tanach (Tanakh, Old Testament) were fulfilled by one named Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew). Our eternal God became man (incarnation) for our salvation; sinless, born under the Law, to fulfill the Law perfectly (Genesis 49:10). Crucified, died, resurrected, alive seated at the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110:1), fully God, fully man (Daniel 7:13-14, Isaiah 52:6-7, Isaiah 9:5 Tanakh [9:6 OT]). By faith, we are able to be reconciled to God forever. Just as Abram back in Genesis 15, by faith.
Do you believe? Will you believe? Will you receive your Messiah today?