Knelsen Kollection Photographs: Blog https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) Knelsen Kollection Photographs graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) Fri, 26 Feb 2016 18:03:00 GMT Fri, 26 Feb 2016 18:03:00 GMT https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/img/s/v-5/u413890614-o602007795-50.jpg Knelsen Kollection Photographs: Blog https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog 120 80 HOLINESS, DECISIONMAKING AND TORAH READING https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/2/holiness-and-decisionmaking-in-the-torah-readings-this-month HOLINESS, DECISIONMAKING AND TORAH READING

The Torah provides a solid foundation for Israel, and, of course, all of us who worship and follow YHVH, the God of Israel, through the sacrifice of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53; I'll get back to this later.

I will begin with Exodus 24 and touch on certain elements through to chapter 34; since I am not qualified to provide exegetical analysis, a few personal reflections on the WORD in these chapters as they apply to myself and to our life together as the people of God will be the scope of my musings.

In Torah, not only are the WORDS themselves of utmost importance; the ONE speaking them must be known.  

According to Exodus 24: "Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank ." (emphasis added).

When our way of seeing and living comes out of the PRESENCE of the "God of Israel", we can be sure that we are safe; I will not enter into a discussion of the complexity of the emphasized part of the quotation, but it is amazing to me that when God has invited us into His Presence, then that Presence where we "see God", which we are told in Exodus 33, is fatal, is, in fact, safe for us. What a life-giving TRUTH!

This God, YHVH, the Creator and King of the Universe, the God of Israel, is the source and foundation of this WORD which we have before us.

We did not, through vigorous, active searching, arrive at an understanding of Him; but rather, He revealed Himself to man.

According to the text, this revelation, throughout time, came to specific and specially chosen people from Adam and Eve through Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham Isaac and Jacob, Moses and the Prophets, and among may others, King David and finally through Yeshua and Ruach Hakodesh, the Holy Spirit of God, whom Yeshua said He would send; on Shavuot, Pentecost, the Feast of the LORD commemorating the giving of Torah, the Holy Spirit came to all mankind who will, in Faith, trust Him as He opens the revealed TORAH/WORD. 

But, back to the passage.

This account of "seeing God" is followed by the instructions for the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Testimony, and all of the other furnishings for the place YHVH's PRESENCE would reside among men. Aaron, the High Priest, is given clear instructions regarding how he is to be clothed when he approaches YHVH in the Tabernacle. The symbolic "sacred garments", described in Exodus 28, will ensure two specific aspects of the High Priest's time in the PRESENCE: first, the 12 names of the sons of Israel are engraved on the two shoulder sections of the "ephod", and second, the "breastpiece for making decisions", is to be worn with the ephod to ensure that all important decisions are made in the Presence of the YHVH.

Exodus 28 tells us, “Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord. 30 Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord."

Thus Aaron, representing all Israel, will stand before the Almighty on their behalf to make decisions for the nation before their God. The "Urim and Thummim" represent the options of Blessings one hand and Curses on the other, a reminder that all decisions have consequences that can bring either. 

So, not only is YHVH the source of Torah, but decisions regarding Israel's national life based on the directions of Torah will be made in the PRESENCE of YHVH.

When YHVH says that Israel belongs to Him and He is their God, He means just that; and He graciously provides Israel with all the recourses they need to be the nation through whom YHVH will Bless all the other nations of the earth. 

After the disastrous "golden calf" affair of Exodus 32, YHVH's immediate punishment and the looming possibility that YHVH would send an Angel to guide them the rest of the way to the  Promised Land while He Himself would not go with them since His PRESENCE might annihilate them because of their "stiff-necked" nature, Moses is on his face before God, pleading for His mercy on His people.

Moses knows that without their God, they are nothing; he pleads with God:

"If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (emphasis added).

Here is the heart of the matter: YHVH called Israel to be a Holy, set-apart people; and Moses knows that if YHVH's PRESENCE is not with them to display, before the nations of the earth, that they are a Holy Nation belonging the Creator and King of the Universe, no one will know that they are different. They are, after all, only human, and "stiff-necked" at that, and absolutely in need of the PRESENCE to differentiate they from everyone else.

With the coming of "the Suffering Servant", Yeshua, His death, resurrection, ascension back to Heaven and the coming of Ruach Hakodesh, the Holy Spirit of God, this PRESENCE permeates the people of God with an internal fountain of Living Water which not only sustains and nourishes us, but flows from us to nourish the world around us.

Now, in our day, YHVH is gathering His people back to their LAND and we, those who are "in Christ", are called to co-operate with God's purposes and participate in this re-gathering and re-settling of His people. We have a grave responsibility; and the Church is not doing well in fulfilling that obligation to God.

As a Church we have set up far too many NGOs that do not serve the people of God well, and sometimes are diametrically opposed to YHVH's purposes for His people; I will elaborate on that in another blog; there is much to be said.

Later in Exodus 33, the account of Moses in YHVH's Presence continues, but complicates the earlier part where Moses and several others, including the 70 elders, "saw God, and they ate and drank"; here, after assuring Moses that His PRESENCE will go with the people, YHVH says to Moses, " I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

So, we have a mystery: Moses and the elders "saw God, and ate and drank", and Moses spoke with Him "face to face", but here YHVH says that "no one may see me and live". I think there must be an explanation hidden in the "cleft in the rock" where Moses was sheltered as YHVH walked past him; but that is for another time.

I must conclude.

Israel is moving quickly to its 2015 election on March 17th. Before that event, Prime Minister Netanyahu is invited and scheduled to speak to the US Congress on March 3rd.

I challenge us all to pray that: (1) Mr. Netanyahu will prepare that speech in the PRESENCE and deliver it in the power or Ruach Hakodesh; and (2) that Israelis will be moved by this same Holy Spirit of God to search for Torah-influenced men and women to vote into the next Knesset.

Soldiers at prayerSoldiers at prayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) Israel Netanyahu Torah elections https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/2/holiness-and-decisionmaking-in-the-torah-readings-this-month Fri, 26 Feb 2016 18:03:31 GMT
THIS TIME OF CONVERGENCE: HANUKKAH AND CHRISTMAS2 https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/12/this-time-of-convergence-hanukkah-and-christmas2 THIS TIME OF CONVERGENCE: HANUKKAH AND CHRISTMAS
 

Shabbat Shalom everyone!
 

Zechariah the Prophet's proclamation of the LORD's words are the heart of the Hanukkah Shabbat Haftarah reading:
 

"Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the LORD. “Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. The LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.”
 

Although the LORD's words are directed toward His Chosen People living in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile, the words themselves contain evidence that they are not meant for Abraham's physical descendants only; He says that, "Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people". We are among those Gentiles that He has joined to Himself.
 

HALLELUJAH!
 

So it is particularly exciting to me that at this time of the year our celebration of Hanukkah and Christmas coincide. I experience this excitement even though I know that the Church in the past deliberately chose December 25th, as the day to celebrate Christ's birth, to separate the Church from our Hebrew roots. It is, therefore, so ironic that the Pagan holiday they chose for this celebration happens to be at the time of the Jew's celebration of Hanukkah, the Maccabee's victory over Antiochus Epiphanes, and probably at about the time of the Angel Gabriel's visit to young Miriam in Nazareth and the conception of Yeshua.

So, as Joseph says to his brothers, "what you meant for evil, the LORD meant for good", and the Descendants of Jacob/Israel were saved from death by famine.

Interesting also, that Joseph's anguish gave rise to providing BREAD for the LORD's Chosen people at that time, and the Christmas story is all about the BREAD OF LIFE being born in BEIT LECHEM, the "House of Bread", that we know as Bethlehem.
 

Although we Christians do quote Micah 5,

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.”

 

as a prophecy regarding the birth of the Messiah, we stop reading too soon; the remainder of the chapter indicates that there is much more to the Prophecy than simply the birth. The rest of the chapter, and the book, describe this "ruler", after the abandonment of Israel and their return to their ancient land, in this way:

"He will stand and shepherd his flock
    in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
    will reach to the ends of the earth."

That is, the Messiah has a great deal more to do than what we Christians believe He is doing among the Gentiles, the Church. Messiah, the "Good Shepherd", will come to Shepherd His people in their Land as He brings them back to live in the LAND Promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel.

Micah prophesies that Israel will, under their SHEPHERD, "live securely" in such a way that His, the Shepherd's, "greatness will reach to the ends of the earth". 

Another part of this word, found in Zechariah 2, that indicates a future fulfillment that we have not yet seen is:

 "‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’"
 

Since we do not see that fulfilled yet, we can anticipate that His work is not yet completed and there is still time for us to rise up and participate in the work of the Lion of Judah.

Grace and I understand this as a challenge to us, as Gentile followers of Christ, to work with Israel as God draws Jews back to their ancestral LAND from all corners of the earth, particularly France and the Ukraine at this time, but also from Ethiopia, India, China and even from Canada and the USA. 

In Isaiah 49, the Sovereign LORD declares:

"See, I will beckon to the nations, [Gentiles],
    I will lift up my banner to the peoples;
they will bring your sons in their arms
    and carry your daughters on their hips."

When the Sovereign LORD, the Creator of the Universe, the God who called Abram, "beckons", we believe it to be more that just an option that we might want to consider. YHWH called Abram, and his obedience brought into existence His Chosen People through whom He will Bless all Nations; likewise we Gentiles are called to assist in the re-gathering of His people to their ancestral LAND, the LAND, of which it is said, "The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem." 
 

This is the very LAND He chose as a Dwelling Place for His Holy Name.
 

When Israel declared itself a Nation and was re-established as such in 1948, the Temple Menorah was selected as the National Symbol:


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

The Menorah is seen above with the Knesset building behind it; and inscribed on the lower branch are the words from the Sovereign LORD to Zerubbabel in Zechariah 4: 

"This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty."
 

We PRAY that Israel will truly trust in that WORD; for the Sovereign LORD also promises, as quoted above:
 

"‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’"
 

HALLELUJAH!
 


 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) Abraham Hallelujah Hanukkah Jerusalem Shepherd Zechariah https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/12/this-time-of-convergence-hanukkah-and-christmas2 Tue, 15 Dec 2015 14:50:34 GMT
ABRAHAM AND THE LORD'S APPEARANCES TO HIM: a story of FAITH and OBEDIENCE https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/11/abraham-and-the-lords-appearances-to-him ABRAHAM AND THE LORD'S APPEARANCES TO HIM
 

a story of FAITH and OBEDIENCE
 

This week's Torah Portion, VaYera, "And YHWH Appeared", begins with one, perhaps the 4th, of YHWH's Appearances to Abraham.
 

According to Stephen, in Acts 7:2, "The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you." This is recorded in Genesis 12.
 

Abraham hears "the word of the LORD [coming to him] in a vision" in Genesis 15; a vision that seems to turn into an actual encounter in which "[YHWH] took him outside and said, 'Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.' Then he said to him, 'So shall your offspring be.'" Then, in an incredible experience, after butchering 3 animals, laying out their carcasses in 2 rows and chasing away the "birds of prey", Abraham is overcome by "a thick and dreadful darkness", but sees "a smoking firepot with a blazing torch [pass] between the pieces" he had laid out, and hears YHWH say, "To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates"; this will happen after 400 years of servitude in another country. In this passage there is no "YHWH Appeared"; but YHWH interacting with Abraham and Covenanting with him, certainly; it includes the famous "Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness" statement.
 

Thirdly, Genesis 17 begins with "When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, 'I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.'” In this passage YHWH changes Abram's name to Abraham, that is, from "exalted father" to "father of many nations", and declares: "I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you." Not only that, but He repeats: "The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” This Covenant includes circumcision, so, before Isaac is even conceived by Abraham's wife Sarah, Abraham, at 99 years of age, and his 13 year old son Ishmael, are circumcised.
 

Genesis 18, the beginning of this week's Torah potion, VaYera, then begins with the 4th Appearance.
 

Here "The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby."
 

As it stands, this passage might suggest that Abraham sees the 3 men after the LORD appeared to him; that is, the LORD and the 3 men are separate.
 

However, after serving the 3 men a meal, and hearing the LORD re-affirm the promise that in 1 year, Sarah would give birth to the son, Isaac, through whom Abraham's descendants would be counted, " The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord." The next chapter begins with 2 angels/men, approaching Sodom. Thus it seems, possible at least, that the third "man" was, in fact, the LORD who remains to share His plans with Abraham.
 

(Asher Intrater's, Who Ate Lunch with Abraham, explores this subject very well).  
 

After recounting the stories of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his family saved, but with rather unsavory results, and the Abraham-Abimelech interactions, the text returns to the birth of Isaac, chapter 21, and the "binding of Isaac", chapter 22.
 

The final "APPEARANCE" comes in the "Binding/Sacrifice of Isaac" account, and illustrates Abraham's FAITH in action, that is, his OBEDIENCE.
 

For Abraham, when YHWH appears and speaks to him, he HEARS, BELIEVES/exercises FAITH and OBEYS!
 

Abraham has bound his "only son" Isaac for sacrifice, a ram has been provided as a substitute for him, and then: "The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, 'I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.'”
 

We are told in Genesis 15 that "Abram believed the Lord, and [He] credited it to him as righteousness." This FAITH carries Abraham through a huge range of experience resulting finally in YHWH's declaration: "I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."
 

All of Abraham's descendants, including those of us who through Christ, (we believe the same "Christ" who kept appearing to Abraham), belong to our father Abraham, are BLESSED because he OBEYED YHWH when He spoke to him.
 

May we all have a FAITH in YHWH that results in radical OBEDIENCE!
 


 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) Abraham Isaac LORD appearance faith obedience sacrifice https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/11/abraham-and-the-lords-appearances-to-him Mon, 02 Nov 2015 01:10:01 GMT
RELECTIONS ON NOAH, ABRAHAM AND ISAIAH https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/10/relections-on-noah-abraham-and-isaiah REFLECTIONS ON NOAH, ABRAHAM AND ISAIAH
 

Since I did not write on the previous Torah Account of Noah and the accompanying Isaiah 54 - 55 passage, a passage that has become very close to the center of my understanding of Prophecy and Israel in our day, I will bring it into my reflections later.
 

Yesterday's Shabbat Torah readings, the Lech Lecha, ("Go Forth, Yourself"), serve as the foundation of these thoughts. It is the story of Abraham, Sarah and the Sovereign LORD as He revealed Himself to Abraham at this time: calling him to leave his home in UR for a LAND that He, YHWH, would show him; his arrival at the Oaks of Moreh; then, being forced by famine , he flees to Egypt; returns to Bethel where Lot separates from him, and he moves down to the "great trees of Mamre" at Hebron where he builds another altar to the LORD; he meets Melchizedek, priest of God Most High, when he returned with the captured Lot; and finally, he experiences two of the great APPEARANCES of the LORD, in chapters 15 and 17, separated by a Life and World changing family conflict involving, on the human level, himself, Sarai, his wife, and Hagar, her Egyptian maid, but also an untold yet fierce battle in the Spiritual realms that began before the foundation/creation of the world, entered into Eden, came to a head 2,000 years ago in the Crucifixion and Resurrection, and will be settled finally when Messiah brings Judgement and establishes His Kingdom in Jerusalem. Isaiah 40:27 - 41:16, the Haftarah passage, Prophetically reminds Abraham's descendants of YHWH's Promises to their Forefather Abraham, and seems quite applicable today.
 

Considering the Torah and Haftarah passages in parallel, the LORD's words, in Isaiah 40:27 - 31, hark back to the time of Abraham, and he becomes an example of the truth of Isaiah's message to Jacob/Israel:
 

"Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
'My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God'?
Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.

 

He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;

 

but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint."

 

This Word, seem to me, to apply equally well to Israel today.
 

Let's go back to the Torah passage in question, Genesis 12:1 - 17:27. This a very large portion and I will look only at 15 through 17 which describes the Abrahamic situation connected with the Isaiah 40 passage.
 

Already in chapter 15, before the World and History altering family conflict of chapter 16, Abram is concerned about YHWH's Covenant regarding Descendants and the LAND they are promised, and he says,  “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
 

So the LORD instructs him to “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” Abram obeys, brings them and cuts the three animals in half, laying them out in two rows with a path between them; we don't know just what he did with the dove and young pigeon, although they may have great symbolic significance. This activity, three slaughtering events and then laying the carcasses out in the required pattern, would have been tiring enough, but he is also harassed by predatory birds who think he has provided dinner for them; again, probably symbolic significance here.
 

Quite understandably, "As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him."
 

At that point, an absolutely amazing event occurs:
 

"Then the Lord said to him, 'Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age.
 

In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.' 
 

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, 'To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.'" (Emphases mine).
 

Many years ago now, when my eyes were first opened to what I was reading in Genesis 15 - 17, and I saw that YHWH had foretold to Abraham, before any of his descendants were even born, that they would live in Egypt for 400 years prior to their exodus and possession of the Promised Land, and then saw that prophecy fulfilled to the letter, I began to pray for on-going revelation regarding fulfilled prophecy, as I continued to read the Biblical text.
 

It is, of course, not just the fulfilled Prophecy that caught my attention.
 

In Exodus 34, when Moses desperately needs to know God's Name and see Him, God passes by in front of him and declares His Name to be: "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin."
 

I was also gripped with the realization that the 400 years were not simply history unfolding, but a demonstration of His Character. In order to remain true to His NAME, YHWH was willing to take His people through those years, including the suffering of slavery in Egypt, because His Nature demanded a 400 year period of Grace for the Canaanite peoples whose "sin ... [had] not yet reached its full measure" when Abraham was given the Covenant.
 

All of this had a staggering impact on me; and God's answer to my prayer for further revelation, brought me through the Prophets in a way that has established me as a firm believer in this Gracious God of Abraham, a solid advocate for Israel and a campaigner in the Church for understanding the significance of our Hebrew roots and the implications of that for our everyday lives. I am obviously rather naïve and slow to understand, but it is finally becoming clearer.
 

But, I'm digressing; let me return to the chapter between YHWH's two great appearances to Abraham.
 

In this chapter, Genesis 16, we have the World and History altering story of Sarai, Abram's wife, attempting to play God. Seeing that both she and Abram are getting old, and knowing the stress that brought about the interaction between YHWH and Abram that we have just seen in chapter 15, she decides to "help" by offering her Egyptian maid Hagar to Abram with this plan: “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
 

That seems to make sense, until, the now exultantly pregnant, Egyptian Hagar, instead of joyfully informing her Mistress Sarai that her plan was working, "began to despise her mistress."
 

Like Hagar, Sarai's response, of course, is not quite the godly response we might expect from the Matriarch; she attacks her husband with, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”
 

Incidentally, the Hebrew word she uses for her suffering is hamas, the very word Gaza Islamists today use as their name, Hamas.
 

Abram, not willing to have this strife in his house, complies with Sarai's demand and banishes the pregnant Hagar to the desert.
 

That's where we now go to hear YHWH's predictive comments about Hagar's little boy child:
 

"The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
 

“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.

Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
 

The angel of the Lord also said to her:
 

“You are now pregnant
    and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
    for the Lord has heard of your misery.
He will be a wild donkey of a man;
    his hand will be against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility

    toward all his brothers.”

 

I am not an authority, but I understand that Muslims claim that Muhammed is a direct descendant of Ishmael. The world will no longer be the same.
 

Two observations about YHWH's words to Hagar.
 

He commands her to go back "and submit to [Sarai]" her Mistress. God's intended arrangement is for Hagar to assume her place in relation to Abram's wife, that is, a place of submission. Whatever His reasons for this order, that is what it is.
 

Secondly, YHWH predicts that her son, Ishmael, will have the same inclination as his mother to fight against the LORD's order.
 

"He will be a wild donkey of a man;
    his hand will be against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility

    toward all his brothers.”

 

Some translations use "wild ass of a man"; sounds a little more appropriate than "donkey" to me.
 

In the next chapter (17) after Abram's and Sarai's names are changed to Abraham and Sarah respectively, and YHWH has promised them a son through Sarah, Abraham still advocates for his son Ishmael, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”
 

YHWH answers in an emphatic, clear voice to silence any further attempts on Abraham and Sarah's part to have their own way; He is the Sovereign LORD, and they are chosen by Him for a certain role in Human History, a role that does not include Ishmael:
 

 "Then God said, 'But your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.' When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him."
 

Ishmael has his place, BUT not in the Covenant which is established through Isaac.
 

We may not think this fair, but God is God, and His ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts; and being the Creator and Sustainer of our very life, I think we know whose WAYS AND THOUGHTS take precedence.
 

In last Shabbat's Haftarah reading, the Sovereign LORD says about His re-gathering of His People from the Diaspora (to which He Himself had sent them in Judgement), calling them back to His Land, the Land He had Promised them:
 

"'To me this is like the days of Noah,
    when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
    never to rebuke you again.

Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,'
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you."

 

I do not know the implications of those emphasized words, but that is the Sovereign LORD speaking; should be encouraging to Israel.
 

In conclusion, I invite you to look with me at this week's Haftarah passage in Isaiah 40-41, in the light of the violence perpetrated by Muslim extremists among YHWH's People today. Given the prediction we have just read about Ishmael's manners, the descendants of Ishmael seem to be true to his character.
 

Read and PRAY these Isaiah passages, in the light of the current terrorist activities and lies directed at His People.
 

"But you, Israel, my servant,
    Jacob, whom I have chosen,
    you descendants of Abraham my friend,
I took you from the ends of the earth,
    from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
    I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

 

YHWH, the God and friend of Abraham, declares His protection of His People. We can remind Him of His Promise.
 

But, not only will He protect them; He will use them as a tool of His Judgement:
 

"'Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob,
    little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help you,' declares the Lord,
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

 

'See, I will make you into a threshing sledge,
    new and sharp, with many teeth.
You will thresh the mountains and crush them,
    and reduce the hills to chaff.
You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up,
    and a gale will blow them away.
But you will rejoice in the Lord
    and glory in the Holy One of Israel.'"

 

"THRESHING SLEDGE" it is then!
 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/10/relections-on-noah-abraham-and-isaiah Sun, 25 Oct 2015 12:53:27 GMT
TABERNACLES/SUKKOT AND NEW BEGINNINGS https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/10/tabernacles/sukkot-and-new-beginnings
 

TABERNACLES/SUKKOT AND NEW BEGINNINGS
 


 

We have just concluded a month, Elul, of soul-searching, daily reading of Psalm 27 and daily shofar blasts to prepare for the High Holy Days.
 

Last year Grace and I were privileged to be in Israel for September and October to celebrate our 50th anniversary on Rosh Hashanah, and Sukkot in Jerusalem.
 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

This year we  worked with Bridges for Peace to provide an educational Feast of Tabernacles experience here in Winnipeg from October 1st to the 4th. (You can find updates of this event on the Bridges Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Bridges-for-Peace-Canada-148849075257460/timeline/). We experienced the Presence of God's Holy Spirit throughout this time, but particularly on the Sunday evening Simchat Torah celebration; truly confirming, inspiring and energizing! Next year in Winnipeg! One day we will all be in Jerusalem for these celebrations!
 

Grace and I also enjoyed on-going communication with very good friends who are presently spending the month of the High Holy Days in Israel this year. They are so Blessed.
 

But I must get to the subject at hand; unfolding world conditions are creating an intensely thought provoking context for the Sovereign LORD Almighty's appointment to meet with His people for the High Holy Days this year. (I'll get back to this context later).This time of the year is always a time of reflection, self-examination, repentance and REJOICING; a time to review what our God has done in the past, thank and praise Him, then look forward to what He is about to do; we are commanded to do this with JOY.
 

Grace and I, and many close friends, are in a transitional stage of opening our hearts and minds to something the growing early Church lost, well not "lost" as much as deliberately separated itself from; that is, the fact that God actually gave His people appointed times in which He called them together to meet with Him; those times being the FEASTS OF THE LORD. The early church clearly understood that these Feasts were God-given times to meet with Him, and they celebrated them faithfully. Weekly, of course, they celebrated Holy Sabbath; monthly, the Rosh Chodesh, then seven times during the year, they, following Yeshua and His Disciples, celebrated Passover/Pesach, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Weeks/Pentecost, in Spring, then Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah, Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur and Tabernacles/Sukkot, in Fall.
 

For us, the Torah and Haftarah reading has been a time of revelation again this year.
 

I will share some of those personal revelations.
 

On Saturday, October 3, 2015, 20 Tishrei, 5776, on the Hebrew calendar, the Haftarah reading is Ezekiel 38:18-39:16. As most of you know, this is the famous Gog/Magog final war passage.
 

The LORD declared in Joel 3:
 

"In those days and at that time,
    when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,

 

 I will gather all nations
    and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
There I will put them on trial
    for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel,
because they scattered my people among the nations
    and divided up my land."

 

Ezekiel 38 and 39 seem to be a description of that very time when YHWH gathers the Nations around Jerusalem for their Judgement.
 

In world news we read and hear that President Vladimir Putin, Russia, has transferred submarines bearing nuclear armed missiles and a large array of military equipment and personnel into the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Syria, and built perhaps the largest Military base in the region on Syrian soil, brought in enough S-300 missiles to enforce a No-fly zone over Syria and northern Israel. Russia now has a much larger military force active in the region than the US. 
 

That sounds somewhat like Ezekiel 38 to me.
 

In response to a post by Caroline Glick a few days ago, I wrote on my Facebook, October 8th:
 

"Whether the decision, described in the Jerusalem Post article, will accomplish the Sovereign LORD's purposes or not, remains to be seen; it is certainly not the sort of decision we would expect from Torah Observant Leadership.
 

Through the Prophet Zechariah, the Sovereign LORD says:

“I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.”

       ...

That "Holy Mountain" is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem; it is the Mountain on which Abraham was called, by YHWH, the God whom he had followed from his home in Mesopotamia to Canaan, to sacrifice his miracle son Isaac, (YHWH provided a substitute); it is the Mountain on which King David purchased a threshing floor from Araunah the Jebusite so he could build an altar to sacrifice to the "LORD my God"; and it is the Mountain on which King David's son Solomon built the Temple, (about 950 BCE), which Nebuchadnezzar destroyed about 400 years later in 586 BCE, and Ezra & Nehemiah rebuilt; only to be finally destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE; it is the Mountain on which 2 Muslim edifices currently stand, and it is under Muslim control today.
 


 

For this mountain to be under the control of anyone, other than sovereign Israeli control, is not in line with what YHWH says in Zechariah 8, quoted above.
 


 

THEREFORE, there is huge reason to PRAY: "Father, Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven"!
 

SO:

"You who call on the Lord,
give yourselves no rest,
and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth." (Isaiah 62)."

 

To spiritualize that Zechariah passage to mean the Church, as in Jerusalem=Church, simply makes no sense to me since Israel is again a Nation; that, incidentally, still belongs to YHWH as her REDEEMER.
 

Since 1967, Jerusalem again belongs to the Descendants of Abraham; and YHWH's Covenants with the Patriarchs, according to the text, are ETERNAL/EVERLASTING Covenants. There is such a close connection, that LAND and PEOPLE seem in some texts, actually, to be interchangeable. In Ezekiel 36, YHWH clearly states that when His LAND and His PEOPLE are separated, His HOLY NAME is "profaned" among the Nations; therefore, "for the sake of [His]Holy Name" He will restore them to their land. In the next chapter, YHWH says that "They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever." The Restoration is not some temporal event that will come to an end. When the Eternal Creator of the whole Universe uses the term "forever", it has a different ring than if I would use it regarding anything "belonging" to me.
 

The Arab violence in Jerusalem, and other areas of Israel, that is beginning to be called the 3rd Intifada, is, understandably, centered on the Temple Mount because that Mountain is at the center of YHWH's unfolding plan to REDEEM the world through Jerusalem.
 

Since I am a follower of Yeshua Ha Mashiach, I believe, of course, that Yeshua's Kingdom and rule emanates from His throne in the Heavens, it is a Kingdom beyond this world; but the Prophets are very clear, for example, the Zechariah passage quoted above, that there is coming a time in the unfolding of Divine History on earth, when Messiah will come to Jerusalem, "and David my servant will be their prince forever", to establish His Kingdom. He is, after all, not just the "Lamb of God", but at the same time the "Lion of Judah". He is not one or the other, but BOTH.
 

Now that the High Holy Days are concluded for another year, we are in the time of Beginnings in the current Torah and Haftarah portions.
 

I have just learned, from Rabbi Tuly Weisz, that the first letter in the Torah, Bet, and the last letter, Lamed, together are the word "Heart"; Torah is the HEART of YHWH!
 

Since Elohim, God, the Almighty Creator, "In the beginning created the heaven and the earth.", it all belongs to Him and He has the right to give any part of it to whomever He choses; therefore, we all, including the Arab people who are trying to make a case for a separate "Palestinian" identity and claim to the land, simply need to accept that designation; the "Mountains of Israel", Judea and Samaria, belong to YHWH, and He will not allow His land to be divided up and given away.
 

Then in the Haftarah reading, Isaiah 42:5-43:10,
 

"This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
    who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
    who gives breath to its people,
    and life to those who walk on it:
 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
    I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people
    and a light for the Gentiles,
 to open eyes that are blind,
    to free captives from prison
    and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

 

 “I am the Lord; that is my name!
    I will not yield my glory to another
    or my praise to idols.
 See, the former things have taken place,
    and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
    I announce them to you."

 

The Creator is speaking to His people/servant, Israel, in the context of returning them to His LAND.
 

So, despite to Sound and Fury of Geo-Political leaders and the events they are designing against Israel, YHWH's returning people, they must focus on their REDEEMER and follow His ways, and He "will take hold of [their] hand" and Protect them.
 

Therefore, we Gentiles, the nations, to whom the Sovereign LORD says, in Isaiah 49,  
 

"I will beckon to the nations,
    I will lift up my banner to the peoples;
they will bring your sons in their arms
    and carry your daughters on their hips."

 

have both a role to play, and confidence, together with Israel, that His ETERNAL PLAN is unfolding under His SOVEREIGNTY.
 

HALLELUIAH!  
 


 


 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/10/tabernacles/sukkot-and-new-beginnings Tue, 13 Oct 2015 13:40:54 GMT
A VISION FOR EXPANSION: ISAIAH 54 https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/6/a-vision-of-expansion-isaiah-54 A VISION FOR EXPANSION: ISAIAH 54
 

We Christians have often scooped-up and claimed as our own, verse 2 of Isaiah 54:
 

"Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
    strengthen your stakes."
 

We use it as God's word to us to move forward because He has called us, in this passage, to do so with confidence and the expectation of His Blessing; and we may be quite right to do so.
 

However, the context of that verse, that is, the whole of Isaiah 54 and its context from chapter 48 all the way through to the end in chapter 66, has become more the focus for me because it is being fulfilled, right before our eyes, and on a day to day basis, in Israel and the world today. The fulfillment is not by any means an historically "done deal", although in the Prophetic Vision given to Isaiah, that is how it is formed.
 

This is a rather large context that speaks of YHWH's Eternal Redemption Plan: which includes "the Servant", "the Man of Sorrows", "the Branch", and the Sovereign LORD who says,
 

"Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior,
    your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob" (60:16).
 

"Then" clearly means when He restores His people, Israel, to their LAND, and "establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth" (62:7-8).
 

He declares to Her:
 

"For your Maker is your husband—
    the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
    he is called the God of all the earth.
The Lord will call you back
    as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—
a wife who married young,
    only to be rejected,” (54:5-6)
 

Since this narrative includes both the Prophecies of Restoration of His People to their LAND, and the "Suffering Servant", "in [whose] hand ... the will of the LORD will prosper" (53), as the One who will bring all of this about, I must conclude that:
 

we cannot say that the "Suffering Servant" part (Isaiah 53) is literally and entirely fulfilled in Yeshua Ha-Mashiach, Jesus Christ, but, at the same time say, that the restoration of Jerusalem as the "praise of the earth", and
 

"In the last days
 

the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
    as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
    and all nations will stream to it"
 

are metaphorically fulfilled in the church!
 

We are to expect literal fulfillment of all the other Messianic prophecies as well.
 

Our church elders recently indicated that this verse was the springboard of an expansion vision for our church, and I was delighted because Grace and I have for some time now been very grateful to our LORD for the expansion He is working in our vision and understanding of Scripture; particularly the Prophetic Scriptures.
 

As indicated above, the context for that verse is not only all of chapter 54, but the whole book in which YHWH, and the "Servant", speak about and to Israel, both the people and the Nation, about sin, punishment, exile and devastation because of disobedience, restoration to the Land of Promise, cleansing, purification and Redemption.
 

I find YHWH's Oath fascinating. This Oath, He says, is like the Oath that He gave to Noah, but now declares to Israel, back in their own Land after the Diaspora:
 

"So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
    never to rebuke you again.
Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you." (54:9)
 

This sounds quite unilateral; but when we remember that the Sovereign LORD said, in Ezekiel 36-37, that "It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name ... I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes" (emphasis added), this unilateral declaration sounds familiar.
 

It seems clear that the "proof" spoken of is the Restoration of all Israel to their LAND. YHWH will be "proved holy" when Israel, and the world, see that the people of Israel are back in the Land that He Promised to Abraham Isaac and Jacob/Israel.
 

YHWH's Redemption Plan, the one that we Gentiles have, in some mysterious way through "Christ", been grafted into, must include everything that the Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Zechariah and all the others say will be concluded only when the LORD Almighty will literally, (the text gives no hint that this is metaphorical), "return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain." (Zechariah 8).
 

In fact, Zechariah continues with:
 

"A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls.
 

I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him." (14)
 

The re-establishment of the Nation of Israel in 1948 has made these Prophesies much more believable than they may have been for the 2,000 years of the Diaspora. Perhaps we can forgive "Christian" theologians who took it upon themselves to declare that YHWH had abandoned His people Israel, and replaced them in His favor with "Christian" who became followers of the Jewish Yeshua Ha-Mashiach; these same theologians then proceeded to distance themselves and the church from their Jewish roots. Vestiges of this are still with us today, even though we no longer accept Replacement Theology as such.
 

Back in that day, one might understand how theologians could come to such conclusions, but not after 1948. Once these "latter day" prophecies began to be  LITERALLY FULFILLED before our eyes, we needed to review our beliefs and become open to the possibility that prophecies we had seen as being METAPHRICAL ONLY, could, or perhaps should, be returned to the realm of LITERAL MEANING. That is, back to the way we used to read the Scriptures; take literally everything that can be read so, and see the metaphorical as another dimension of depth, but never replacing the literal understanding of the text.
 

That passage in Isaiah 54,
 

“Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
    strengthen your stakes."
 

then needs to be read with the sentence that follows it, which does not apply easily as metaphor for the church:
 

"For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
    your descendants will dispossess nations
    and settle in their desolate cities."
 

I do believe that we can be encouraged by this passage in our own situation today, and, in fact, even more dramatically if we understand it as literal fulfillment of Prophecy regarding YHWH's people and their return to their Land. Since that Return is being fulfilled on an on-going basis today, we can be confident that our God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, and is the same LORD God of Israel who is bringing His people back to their Land blessing them there, will indeed bless the EXPANSION He has determined for our lives as well.
 

MAY OUR EXPANSION VISION PROSPER UNDER HIS DIRECTION!
 

P.S. An interesting article regarding a detail that might be easily missed as we look at unfolding of PROPHECY today:
 

http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/44124/hints-final-redemption-israeli-agricultural-exports-jewish-world/?utm_source=Breaking+Israel+News&utm_campaign=01d124ab66-BIN+Email&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b6d3627f72-01d124ab66-83510257#k7XWKtCymTOVMmB3.97
 


 


 


 


 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/6/a-vision-of-expansion-isaiah-54 Sun, 28 Jun 2015 20:38:24 GMT
CONCERNS REGARDING CHRISTIAN NGOs AND ISRAEL https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/6/concerns-regarding-christian-ngos-and-israel  

 

CONCERNS REGARDING CHRISTIAN NGOs AND ISRAEL
 


 

Because of our growing concern regarding many Western NGOs' blatant anti-Semitic philosophy and purpose, I have decided to publically publish this letter that Grace and I sent to Mennonite Central Committee in February, 2015. At the Director's invitation, we met with him and the Board Chairperson, via Skype, in early March to discuss the letter and its contents in further detail. Our reception was warm, and we were given the opportunity to answer some of their questions; there has not been any on-going dialogue; and the concern continues to gnaw at our minds, not just regarding MCC, but many other Western NGOs with a similar inclination to believe and act on the basis of a factually false narrative.
 

Here is the letter: 
 

LETTER TO MENNONITE CENTRAL COMMITTEE
 

February 17, 2015
 


 

 

Dear MCC Canada Director, MCC Board and anyone connected with MCC in Israel,
 

As you know, Grace and I are MCC alumni having served in a teaching capacity at the David Livingstone Teacher Training College in Livingstone, Zambia. We have always admired MCC’s development work around the world, and have been proud to be associated with such an organisation. Therefore, we are deeply grieved to be writing this letter, but believe that we cannot be faithful to our Redeemer God and His calling on our lives unless we express what we see happening.
 

In preparation for our 3 month 2012 BRIDGES FOR PEACE volunteer time in Israel, we used the CMU tour reading list to familiarize ourselves with a broader range of thought; and we accessed the MCC site to read policy related to the work in Israel, and the partners with whom MCC chooses to work.

Later, in our 2013 visit to Israel, we met with MCC’s public relations person at the time, for a tour of MCC projects in Bethlehem. She also arranged for us to meet Dr. Yad Isaac of Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem who gave us an overview of the Palestinian perspective that he expected to present to US President Barak Obama later that week.
 

Our concern is not about the actual development projects, we were impressed with their appropriateness, but rather the Organizations with which MCC has chosen to partner, like Sabeel, for example; and the unquestioned use of the Palestinian narrative by the young recruits that we met.
 

September and October, 2014, gave us further interaction with Arab Christians; but also with Jews who understand that their God has, according to Biblical Prophecy, brought them back to their land to be stewards of both their own restoration and their land’s redemption; for them, this, of course, includes caring for the Palestinian people, as they anticipate the coming of Messiah.

More recently, I read the December, 2014, MCC blog titled “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People 2014 Statement”, (I did not see an author’s name), and am appalled at the misguided and misguiding nature of the statement. The fact that the writer has indiscriminately assumed the Palestinian narrative, without any suggestion that there is another narrative that accounts for the situation in a very different way, is distressing.

This, again, underscores our deep concern regarding the position taken by MCC in this land that is of special interest to our Creator God; it seems that “in the name of Christ”, and whatever that means for MCC, eliminates the need to apply the rest of the text, especially those many Scriptures concerning the eternal nature of God’s covenant with the children of Abraham.

The recent presentation at CMU, by the MCC Rep who gave us the Bethlehem tour mentioned earlier, was of great concern also because it contained “information” that misinformed, at least, and told outright lies at worst. CMU’s unwillingness to open that forum to questions from other attendees, was equally concerning.
 

Also, as the responses to her letter to the Free Press indicated, there are many readers who were distressed by her biased and uninformed letter. We know her as associated with MCC, a former spokesperson, and thus we cannot but assume that MCC knows about her presentations, and may support them.
 

This is of serious concern to us.
 

At the time of this writing, we have Jeff Halper, ICAHD, in Winnipeg speaking at both the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg; MCC is listed as a sponsor. I see also that MCC funds Halper’s organisation.

ICAHD, although an Israeli organization, is clearly biased against Israel; in fact, Halper’s January, 2014, Newsletter hints strongly that “Israeli Occupation” = Israel, and that “its final demise” will remove it [Israel] for “something new and just” to take its place. That does not sound like a fellow worker toward peace, but like downright anti-Israel/Zionism, which, as we all know, is the new anti-Semitism, whether that is admitted, and it often isn’t, or not.
 

Hearing Mr. Halper’s rant at the Free Press Café Monday evening did not endear us any more to his clear and expressed Bible and history denying position.
 

I invariably remember that impassioned devotional I have spoken about to you, MCC Canada Director, before, in which you addressed our MBCI staff from Ezekiel 37. I do not remember whether you were speaking about the literal content of the Prophet’s message regarding God’s hand in resurrecting the “dry bones” of His people and returning them to their land, after the millennia of persecution in other lands, to re- establish them there, but I do remember your passion regarding new life from God.
 

I do trust that as you continue to read the Prophets regarding God’s returning people, you will note that God’s interest in re-establishing His people in His land is “for the sake of [His] holy name”. I believe that this return is so central to God’s purposes that it is imperative we get it right when we chose to enter and work in Israel.

Is it possible that MCC needs to review its selection of which narrative to believe, and to revisit its understanding of what a Biblical stance regarding its work in Israel, and its choice of partners, might be?

The Palestinian leadership is desperately attempting to re-write history and create a narrative that would give them the right to the claims they wish to make; and they are quite successful in portraying themselves as victims/underdogs; but, at the same time, they are causing immense and unacceptable suffering for their own people, both in Gaza and in Judea and Samaria.

They, however, can only be seen as underdogs when we do not see, whether intentionally or not, the larger historical process that has brought us to where we are today. Look at a map of the region; the surrounding Arab nations own 500 times the amount of land the Jews have in Israel, including Judea and Samaria, the heartland of ancient Israel. Every war that Israel has needed to fight, from 1948 to the present, has been to defend itself against Arab aggression. Where is the fairness in that? Let’s get our David and Goliath metaphor right.

Since an anti-Semitic position is not compatible with God’s purposes for the Jews, His people, in His land, and our partnering with Him in this region to resolve the conflicts, how can anti-Semitic organizations be suitable partners for MCC?

Finally, as Jesus declares in Matthew 25:31-46, serving Him means that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”. Jesus, a Jew, seems to be clearly saying that in the final judgement, how we have treated “the least of these brothers of [His]” is crucial. Of course, the “brothers of mine” in some way includes all of us, but the primary literal meaning is His Jewish “brothers”; which is entirely congruent with YHVH’s word to Abram, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

For the sake of Arab Palestinians, please take a close look at MCC policy regarding the work in the Middle East; find it in your heart to bring it in line with God’s WORD.

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) MCC Mennonite Central Committee NGO anti-Semitism https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/6/concerns-regarding-christian-ngos-and-israel Mon, 22 Jun 2015 14:57:10 GMT
THE PROMISED LAND: FEAR VS FAITH, THEN AND NOW https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/6/the-promised-land-fear-vs-faith-then-and-now THE PROMISED LAND: FEAR VS FAITH, THEN AND NOW
 

Oh, the wonders of the WORD!
 

Numbers 13 - 15:41 & Joshua 2, the Torah and Haftorah readings for this Shabbat, provide fabulous insight into the radical reality of having Almighty God, YHWH, living among you.
 

Tribal memories of the land YHWH had promised their Forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, had grown rather dim during nearly the 400 years in Egypt. Now, again on the margins of that land, after experiencing the drama of YHWH's miraculous PRESENCE in their redemption from Egypt, and throughout the desert journey, Moses sends spies ahead to check out the land before entering to possess it.
 

The 12 spies, one selected from each of the tribes, except the Levites, included Caleb son of Jephunneh, tribe of Judah, and Hoshea son of Nun, whom Moses renamed Joshua, tribe of Ephriam.
 

Ten of them, even though they could hardly manage to carry the single bunch of grapes from the valley of Eshcol, and other produce of the abundantly fruitful land, to a man, reported that they saw sons of Anak, who, in their imagination, quickly became sons of the mythical Nephilim; their fear compelled them to ignore all of the Miraculous Divine Action they had just witnessed along the way, and declare that they were like grasshoppers in the face of the enemy and, of course, would be foolish to go in. Although they give no evidence of actual Anakite threats, the very sight of them was enough for them to counsel appeasement. (Have modern day "appeasement" addicts inherited this attitude from these guys?)
 

At any rate, their advice ruled the day and the people, to their detriment, accepted, and rebelled against their God.
 

What happens next seems a bit extreme, but, remember, we are looking at a time in the history of YHWH's people when He Himself, in the Pillar of Cloud or Fire, was physically Present in the Tabernacle in their midst. They were His people and He was their God, and, as Moses pointed out, whatever happened to His people after what the Nations knew about Him from the Exodus out of Egypt, reflected on Him and who He was. (Numbers 14).
 

So, when the 10 succeed in convincing the people to disobey YHWH, they condemn Israel to 40 years, one for each day spent inside the Promised Land, of wandering in the Desert, and they themselves die of a plague instantly. Even after the people apparently repent and, against Moses' advice, some of them try to "redeem" the situation by going in after all, only to be soundly rebuffed by those people they had been told were too strong for them, they are condemned to wander.
 

Without skipping a beat, the Torah text continues on with instructions from the LORD, "After you enter the land I am giving you as a home..."! Some of them behaved in an atrocious way, so badly that an immediate plague from the LORD fell upon them and all died, yet YHWH their Redeemer will keep His promise and carry them into their inheritance. When this happens, He instructs them on how to bring their gifts of thankfulness appropriately.
 

After the 40 years of wandering, and the death of Moses, who because of his own mistakes is not allowed to enter, Joshua, one of the 2 faithful spies out of the initial 12 sent into the land by Moses, now is installed leader in Moses' place. The LORD says to Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
 

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 2).
 

With this transition and Promise from YHWH Himself, Joshua sends 2 spies to Jericho before crossing the Jordan to possess the Land YHWH had given to them. Remembering what happened 40 years ago, I'm guessing that Joshua looked rather carefully for these 2 godly young men; trusting they would return with the true reality on the other side.
 

To be sure, they had just experienced the victory over Sihon King of Heshbon and Og King of Bashan, east of the Jordan River, under Moses, and heard all of Moses' final instructions, (the Book of Deuteronomy), including the instating of Joshua as Israel's leader in the place of Moses. They better be ready.
 

In Jericho these 2 find safety in an Inn, where the Innkeeper tells them,  “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
 

“Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”
 

The tables have been turned and now it is the inhabitants of the land, not the Israelites considering entry, who are quaking with fear. Israel has learned during the ensuing 40 years that YHWH does, in fact, Provide and Protect them. Joshua and the people are ready to not only believe in YHWH's Faithfulness but to act on it.
 

No more appeasement or placating hesitancy; they are ready to do what they are called by their God to do.
 

Would this were true of today of all Israelis living in Israel, and of Jews everywhere in the world; but, alas, we are not quite there yet, as this article in the Observer indicates: http://observer.com/2015/06/former-chief-rabbi-of-england-calls-for-jewish-surrender-in-europe/
 

Why do we, including Israel, still take seriously the pressure from world governments to "divide the land", and "land for peace", when YHWH says clearly, in Joel 3:  
 

“In those days and at that time,
    when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
I will gather all nations
    and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
There I will put them on trial
    for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel,
because they scattered my people among the nations

    and divided up my land." (Emphasis added)
 

Why is the appeasement of giving "the Mountains of Israel", Judea and Samaria, the heartland of Ancient Israel, to a group of people who have vowed, and written into their statement of identity, that they will annihilate the State of Israel, that is, the Jews, even considered, let alone promoted, by any sane person who knows history and can recognize Truth behind all the Lies that have masqueraded as truth?
 

Is the word of the EU, UN or Mr. Obama of more value than the WORD of YHWH spoken through Moses?
 

It seems impossible for me to understand.
 

The Joshua story we have reviewed, however, gives us confidence to continue PRAYING that YHWH's purpose in restoring His people to their LAND "for the sake of [His] Holy Name" will continue till all is as it should be.
 

AND THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT ALL WILL BE AS IT SHOULD BE WHEN YHWH IS DONE!
 


 

 
 


 


 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/6/the-promised-land-fear-vs-faith-then-and-now Mon, 15 Jun 2015 03:51:09 GMT
THE PROPHETIC WORD AND THE GROWING THREAT SURROUNDING JERUSALEM https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/6/the-prophetic-word-and-the-growing-threat-surrounding-jerusalem THE PROPHETIC WORD AND THE GROWING THREAT SURROUNDING JERUSALEM
 


 

This past Shabbat's Haftorah reading in Zechariah finally stirred me to action in the Blogging realm; to read those words in the context of the news of rising anti-Semitism, both in Muslim dominated countries and in the Western world alike, (although it may well be stirred in these western countries, like France, the UK and the Netherlands by rampant Radical Muslimization), and the open threats of ISIL's gains, Syria's and Iraq's rapid disappearance as the Nations we have known, and Iran's declarations and nuclearization, is a Faith Builder.
 

Let us begin with the TEXT; the Sovereign LORD, YHWH, the Creator and King of the Universe, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel speaking:
 

" ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’
 

“Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north,” declares the Lord, “for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven,” declares the Lord.
 

“Come, Zion! Escape, you who live in Daughter Babylon!” For this is what the Lord Almighty says: “After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye— I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me.
 

“Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” (emphasis added).
 

Some may think I got carried away introducing "the Sovereign LORD"; but as I see the situation, it is all about HIM, so we need to pause and reflect on Who He IS, and how we humans fit in this unfolding drama of our times.
 

We are living in times when to allow our attention to stray from Him to look only at our circumstances is dangerous because we can easily be ensnared by the Father of Lies and succumb to depression, or act in accordance with the Lie. As you all know, I could continue elaborating on this world of the LIE; it is everywhere, often disguised as LIGHT, but I want our focus rather to be LIGHT dispelling darkness.   
 

I love that emphasized portion because we know that we are not alone here: He has roused Himself from His Holy Dwelling! He is not only participating in History, but directing its unfolding.
 

So, frightening as the advance of ISIL, ISIS, IS or the Arabic DAESH (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or just Islamic State, whatever term we use) into the Sinai and Gaza, and their declaration that the Sinai is "the Sinai Provence of ISIS" may be, and it is certainly unnerving, it must be understood in its context; that is THE SOVEREIGN LORD ALMIGHTY and His purposes as they are revealed in the Bible, His TORAH/WORD. I do not pretend to understand, or be able to explain this, but I am confident that our God, THE SOVEREIGN LORD ALMIGHTY, keeps His Covenants and is finally, however our free-will functions in that context, SOVEREIGN!
 

To see the threat more clearly, check out this DEBKAfile link: http://www.debka.com/article/24652/ISIS-purloined-rockets-from-Hamas-production-lines-to-attack-Israel-Netanyahu-marks-out-wide-sterile-zone-
 

This build-up of armaments, all pointing at Israel, is really there, but another reality we must keep in mind is Isaiah 54 where the Holy One of Israel, your Redeemer, says:
 

“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
    Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
    and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
 For your Maker is your husband—
    the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
    he is called the God of all the earth."
 

This same Redeemer, their Protector, has also instructed them to move forward and,
 

“Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
    strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
    your descendants will dispossess nations
    and settle in their desolate cities."
 

Although we are seeing this growth happening before our eyes, we are also seeing most of the rest of the world, including President Obama, (although, thankfully, not many of the people of the US), the EU, the UN and, of course, all Muslim dominated Nations doing everything in their power to thwart it.
 

Not only does Mr. Obama let his personal feelings toward Mr. Netanyahu color his policy toward Israel itself in his constant attempt to interfere in Israeli internal growth, he promises his Arab State friends, although some refuse to meet with him, his absolute support in their Nations' defense against a nuclearized Iran (I'll say, if they will believe Obama, they will need to turn a blind eye to his similar promise to Israel and his subsequent withdrawal of that support, as far as he can control that support).
 

Steven Rosen's recent article in the Middle East Forum is interesting in this context:
 

 http://www.meforum.org/5289/obama-iran-gcc-summit
 

Another fascinating aspect of the LORD' word to His people in this Isaiah passage is:
 

“To me this is like the days of Noah,
    when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
    never to rebuke you again.
Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you."
(Emphasis added).
 

This is a very strong commitment that many of us may have difficulty understanding; but it seems to clearly indicate that since He is, according to Ezekiel 36, returning His people "for the sake of [His] Holy Name" and not for their sake, He is doing so in a unilateral way that even they cannot disrupt. This commitment sounds entirely secure; but perhaps has the same action dimension as the promise to Joshua that He would drive the Canaanites out before them, but He used them as the Instrument of Judgment.
 

This Promise also includes:
 

“Afflicted city,[Jerusalem], lashed by storms and not comforted,
    I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
    your foundations with lapis lazuli.
I will make your battlements of rubies,
    your gates of sparkling jewels,
    and all your walls of precious stones.
All your children will be taught by the Lord,
    and great will be their peace.
In righteousness you will be established:
Tyranny will be far from you;
    you will have nothing to fear.
Terror will be far removed;
    it will not come near you.
If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing;
    whoever attacks you will surrender to you."
 

“See, it is I who created the blacksmith
    who fans the coals into flame
    and forges a weapon fit for its work.
And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc;
   no weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,

    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the LORD." (Emphasis added)
 

Given such a Promise, we may conclude that the limited physical damage done by the rockets fired from Gaza, and they flew again last week, is because of this very protection.
 

I'll conclude with an image we brought back from a visit to S'derot, very near the Gaza border, which has been named the Bomb Shelter capital of the world because it is the target of the majority of the 10,000s of missiles fired at Israel from Gaza; and citizens have 15 seconds to get into a bomb shelter when they hear the Red Alert siren. A large factory took a hit and burned to the ground a few weeks before our visit in October, 2014; no casualties. I love the rainbow in the image, a reminder of the Prophecy cited earlier; YHWH's PROTECTION! The children have bomb shelters in all their playgrounds, and school yards. All old schools have new bomb proof roofs built over them and new schools are built with bomb shelters.
 

Until MESSIAH comes, this is how things are.
 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) Ezekiel Isaiah Jerusalem Promise Protection anti-Semitism https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/6/the-prophetic-word-and-the-growing-threat-surrounding-jerusalem Tue, 09 Jun 2015 16:23:45 GMT
PESACH WEEK: PROPHECY'S ON-GOING FULFILLMENT https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/pesach-week-prophecys-on-going-fulfillment PESACH WEEK; PROPHECY'S ON-GOING FULFILLMENT
 


 

A week ago, Pesach week began with the Haftorah reading from Ezekiel 37; the Prophet is brought by the power of the Spirit of the LORD into a valley of dry bones and told to prophesy; as he is prophesying, the bones rattle and clash as they come together, become covered with sinew and finally with skin.
 

At this time he hears the LORD say: “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
 

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
 

This amazing resurrection story fits very well, for us Yeshua followers (I have come to prefer the original Hebrew version of our LORD's name to the Greek version, Jesus; He was, after all, a Hebrew not a Greek), into this particular Pesach time because it coincides with our celebration of the death and resurrection of the Sacrificial Lamb of God.
 

(I have written in previous blogs already about the wonderful CONVERGENCE that the Sovereign LORD, the Almighty Creator and King of the Universe, has been bringing into being right now in our time; HALLELUJAH!)
 

Before I continue with reflections on this Haftorah reading, let me give you the reading for today, the Shabbat that brings Pesach week to its conclusion; Isaiah 11 & 12:
 

It begins with: "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord."
 

We Christians like to think that Yeshua, our Savior, is this Branch; I believe we are correct in this understanding, but may not realize the extent of the vastness beyond our understanding that is contained in this identification of the Branch and the Messiah.
 

I am personally exploring what I have believed about this equation of Branch with Messiah, and what I am coming to see as huge limitations in that understanding. I am humbled by the realization that the Sovereign LORD, the Creator and King of the Universe, the God of Israel, through His Holy Spirit is opening my eyes to see something of what He is beyond these limitations.
 

Yeshua himself, when He stood up in the Synagogue in Nazareth, His home town, to read from the Prophet Isaiah, terminates the reading in mid-sentence, and then declares to the listeners that this Scripture is fulfilled before their very eyes as He reads:
 

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4)
 

We find when we read the passage in Isaiah 61, it continues on to describe a great deal more about this same person that Yeshua claims to be Himself. Why does He stop where He does?
 

Let's look at how that Isaiah passage continues:
 

"to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.
 

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
    foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
    you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
    and in their riches you will boast."
 

Is it possible that He could not continue reading and still say, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” because, although it is all about Him, He would be lying to say that it was fulfilled on the day He read it?
 

I believe that to be the case.
 

The day in which, 
 

"They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations",
 

is a day that is unfolding in the 19th, 20th and in the 21st Century, today, that is, some 2,000 years after Yeshua stood in that Synagogue in Nazareth to proclaim that He was here to fulfill what Isaiah was Prophesying; so, today, our today, He is saying to us that we are seeing this Prophecy being fulfilled in our hearing. That does not in any way detract from His declaration in Nazareth, it simply tells us that not all of His Messianic work was "fulfilled in [their] hearing".
 

Today we see "ruined cities" like Shiloh, seen in the photograph accompanying this blog, as archaeological sites with a re-establish and thriving modern community nearby; in this case, on the hill overlooking the ancient city, in the foreground, and site of the Tabernacle which housed YHVH's PRESENCE and where Samuel ministered to the LORD. 
 

This restoration I suggest can be understood to mean that we, Yeshua followers, are, today, anticipating the coming of Messiah together with our Modern Orthodox Jewish friends, and probably, just as passionately as they.
 

To return now to the passage from Isaiah that is today's Haftorah passage, I want to reflect for a few minutes on the relevance of this passage to Yeshua followers.
 

"He will raise a banner for the nations
    and gather the exiles of Israel;
he will assemble the scattered people of Judah
    from the four quarters of the earth.
13 Ephraim’s jealousy will vanish,
    and Judah’s enemies[g] will be destroyed;
Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah,
    nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim.
14 They will swoop down on the slopes of Philistia to the west;
    together they will plunder the people to the east.
They will subdue Edom and Moab,
    and the Ammonites will be subject to them.
15 The Lord will dry up
    the gulf of the Egyptian sea;
with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand
    over the Euphrates River.
He will break it up into seven streams
    so that anyone can cross over in sandals.
16 There will be a highway for the remnant of his people
    that is left from Assyria,
as there was for Israel
    when they came up from Egypt"
 

When Isaiah says, "He will raise a banner for the nations", "nations" could read "Gentiles". We are to see, in the re-gathering of the "exiles of Israel", both from the House of Judah and the House of Ephriam, a re-united Israel. ("Ephriam" is used as the head of Northern Israel after the separation.)
 

Probably most of the Israeli citizens today are Jews, that is, from the House of Judah; but the Bnei Menashe, from India, and the Ethiopian "Jews", from the tribe of Dan, are already there to represent the House of Ephriam; so the process of Aliyah, return to the Land, today includes the return of members of both Judah and Ephriam in one Israel. All of them together are modern Israel; and this process continues.  
 

But we must also see the involvement of the Gentiles in this process. The Prophets declare this, and it is happening. Many Gentile Christian Organizations are presently at work in Israel and around the world facilitating this move of God as He restores His people to His Land, the land that He covenanted to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants.
 

Grace and I, volunteering with BRIDGES FOR PEACE, participated in this process in Israel, and continue to do so now that we are back in Canada.
 

I will publish this for now with the promise to continue these reflections in the next blog. I'm intrigued by the fact that when the Ezekiel 37 bones receive God's breath and come to life, the stand "up on their feet--a vast army"; I take that to mean that the Sovereign LORD raises them up as "a vast army", rather that a community of farmers, the Prophecy includes awareness of the situation surrounding Israel as they return; their enemies necessitate the "vast army" designation.
 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/pesach-week-prophecys-on-going-fulfillment Mon, 13 Apr 2015 21:38:52 GMT
PASSOVER/PESACH & THE NEW VERSION OF THE EXODUS https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/passover/pesah-the-new-version-of-the-exodus PASSOVER/PESACH & THE NEW VERSION OF THE EXODUS
 

For some years now, Grace and I have been excited by Jeremiah's words in chapter 16:“However, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ 15 but it will be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors."
 

Passover is all about remembering how the LORD brought the "Israelites up out of Egypt".
 

That celebration is still as important as it always has been, both for Jews and for us, followers of Yeshua, because it is the Divine Demonstration that the LORD ALMIGHTY, the God of Abraham, Isaac, (not Ishmael) and Jacob (not Esau), the God of Israel is, in fact, the Sovereign Creator and King of the Universe who will move His Plan of Redemption forward and no Pharaoh will hinder Him. Because He has demonstrated that so clearly, we can believe that He does what He says He will do; a rather dramatic Faith builder. He is Faithful and Trustworthy!
 

Yet Jeremiah's words suggest that in "the days [that] are coming" some new move of God will take precedence over that original Exodus. It will also be an EXODUS, but from "all the countries where he had banished them", not just from one country, Egypt.
 

 
 

Several of my earlier blogs explored the Ezekiel 36-37 prophecies in which the Sovereign LORD addresses the "Mountains of Israel" to tell them to prepare themselves to receive the LORD's people, the people of Israel, who were about to return to their home.
 

“Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
 

Since the mid-19th Century, His people have been returning to this land. The LORD says in the quoted Jeremiah passage, "I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors"; this is their PROMISED LAND.
 

Our friend Rabbi Tuly Weisz just published an exploration of this text in ISRAEL365, which you can read here: http://israel365.com/2015/03/biblical-passover-miracles-thats-nothing-compared-to-what-god-has-in-store-for-israel-in-the-end-times/?utm_source=Jerusalem365&utm_campaign=59d7f5c1fe-Jerusalem365+Email&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_966f66c607-59d7f5c1fe-19563093&mc_cid=59d7f5c1fe&mc_eid=ccae9e0435
 

In Isaiah 49, the Prophet records these words:
 

"This is what the Lord says:
 

“In the time of my favor I will answer you,
    and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
    and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’
    and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’"
 

We have already seen a similar Restoration word in Ezekiel; a prophecy that has been fulfilling since the mid-19th Century. What Isaiah adds in this next announcement about the "nations", which some translate "Gentiles", is that the fulfillment will involve the cooperation of the Gentiles; we get to participate in this restoration by being "carriers".
 

"This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
 

“See, I will beckon to the nations,
    I will lift up my banner to the peoples;
they will bring your sons in their arms
    and carry your daughters on their hips.
23 Kings will be your foster fathers,
    and their queens your nursing mothers."
 

That is how Grace and I saw our volunteer work in Karmiel in 2012, but it is also how we see all of our advocacy work in Israel and right here in Winnipeg.
 

Being followers of Yeshua, that is "in Christ", we participate in the same Redemption Plan of which Yeshua, His death and Resurrection, is the central element. He is Torah/Word in our inner being.
 

The Ezekiel text says, " I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord." and continues with, "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding,[b] and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
 

24 “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. 25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”
 

Verses 24-28 describe where this whole Restoration is going: I understand "My servant David" to be the promised Messiah, and many of the people we know in Israel also see this Restoration Process culminating in Messiah coming; which we believe is "coming again". We will certainly know when He comes, as some of our Israeli friends say, "we'll ask Him if He has been here before". In the mean-time, together, we work at Tikkun Olam, we work together to repair the world.
 

I will conclude with this invitation to tune in to a "voice of Israel" interview with David Nekrutman and Rabbi Tuly Weisz:
 

 http://www.voiceofisrael.com/the-difference-between-prayer-and-praise/?auto=1
 

HALLELUJUAH!
 


 


 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/passover/pesah-the-new-version-of-the-exodus Sun, 05 Apr 2015 22:00:32 GMT
CONVERGENCE: YHVH, HIS PEOPLE AND HISTORY https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/convergence-yhvh-his-people-and-history CONVERGENCE: YHVH, HIS PEOPLE AND HISTORY

Since my retirement from the classroom in 2007, Grace and I have experienced a renewed eye-opening relationship with the WORD that we have come to understand as God's call to us for EXPANSION. In the last couple of years, and quite separate from us personally, this EXPANSION theme has become the word for our church as well; the first bit of convergence.

For us this sense of call reminded us of the Jabez story to which many people paid attention some years ago:

"Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request."

Jabez was not willing to give in to the pain of the name given to him, so he came before YHVH with his plight and asked that God would grant him just the opposite of that with which his name saddled him. We are told that he "was more honorable than his brothers"; was it that characteristic that gave him the courage to enter YHVH's Presence, or was it perhaps his decision to approach YHVH that made him "more honorable"? Whatever the case may be, he brought his request for enlarged territory, the hand of God on him and freedom from pain, or causing pain, before the Creator and King of the Universe, "And God granted his request".

So we have had our territory expanded; and a primary component of that expansion has been our growing love for Israel, God's LAND and People, and the WORD that has come to us through them, through their Prophets. Of particular encouragement has been the joy of being called, as Gentile followers of Israel's God, to participate in YHVH's restoration of His people to His Land.

This brings me to the CONVERGENCE event I want to explore.

One week ago Friday, March 20th, our Spring Equinox converged with a gathering in our home to pray for Israel.

That was wonderful in and of itself, since it also coincided with an enormous burst of Solar Flare that caused exciting Aurora Borealis that were visible from Winnipeg. Grace and I went out one evening to photograph, but came home only with a few sunset images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But, allow me to back track a little. Right now, 2014-2015, as most of you know, we are in the middle of a tetrad of lunar eclipses, that is 4 consecutive total lunar eclipses that each happen on one of the Feasts of YHVH; the Feasts He gave His people to organize their year so that they would remember Him on a regular basis. I have written about the significance of this new calendar before, so I will not elaborate here, except to say that He gave them a pattern for life that would, if they followed it, keep their minds on His relationship with them: morning and evening prayers every day; Shabbat, the Holy Day, every 7th day; the New Moon celebration to remember the past month and look forward to His Presence and Blessing for the next month; and finally, the 7 Feasts; four Spring Feasts, Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Pentecost; and three Fall Feasts, Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles. Again, I have written, although much too briefly, about these Feasts before, and will again.

Before I go back to the CONVERGENCE story, I must insert a personal memory. For the second of the tetrad of Lunar Eclipses, Grace and I were privileged to be in the Eternal City of Jerusalem. We had celebrated our 50th anniversary on the Feast of Trumpets/Yom Teru'ah/Rosh Hashanah, and then enjoyed Tabernacles/Sukkot there as well, during which the second of the tetrad occurred.

So, now we are approaching the 3rd of the Eclipses, which will occur on Passover/Pesah.

But that gets us ahead of the convergence.

On March 20th, not only did we celebrate the Spring Equinox, but it also happened to be the 1st of Nisan, the head, or 1st, of the months on the Jewish calendar, the New Moon of the month of Passover/Pesah. And earlier that morning we experienced a total eclipse of the sun, the shadow of which swept up over the North Pole.

This latter convergence, a Total Solar Eclipse occurring on the New Moon celebration in the midst of a Lunar Tetrad has never been recorded before, and I'm told that such convergence occurs only once in 100,000 years.

Just a brief related digression: As we celebrated Purim this year, we were looking forward to elections in Israel; elections in which the whole world seemed to conspire to support "anyone but Bibi", including representatives supported by the White House, with American money, perhaps White House money, forming a "charitable" organization, V15, whose mandate was to support the anti-Bibi camp. The proximity of Purim to the unfolding of these events did raise questions about a modern day Haman whose plot was foiled by Mordecai.

The election results revealed a foiling of those plans. Enough said.

March 20th was our regular 3rd Friday of the month gathering to pray for Israel, and, of course, celebrate the election victory; all the other events CONVERGED by Divine Appointment. Plus, we noticed, this day marked the halfway point of Israel's Shmita/Sabbath rest year.

Needless to say, it was an incredible celebration that reminded us all that YHVH is Sovereign and that He will not abandon His people. He is FAITHFUL, His WORD is trustworthy.

Jeremiah 32:40-42 says, "I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul. This is what the Lord says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them."

Let me conclude with the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 33:

"There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
    who rides across the heavens to help you
    and on the clouds in his majesty.
27 The eternal God is your refuge,
    and underneath are the everlasting arms.
He will drive out your enemies before you,
    saying, ‘Destroy them!’
28 So Israel will live in safety;
    Jacob will dwell secure
in a land of grain and new wine,
    where the heavens drop dew.
29 Blessed are you, Israel!
    Who is like you,
    a people saved by the Lord?
He is your shield and helper
    and your glorious sword.
Your enemies will cower before you,
    and you will tread on their heights.”

We are so Blessed that our God has called us to participate in the unfolding of His Almighty Plan of Redemption for the whole world through His Covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and that He is revealing Himself to be present in His world to accomplish His Purposes!

HALLELUJAH!

 

 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) convergence lunar eclipse new moon tetrad word https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/convergence-yhvh-his-people-and-history Sat, 28 Mar 2015 00:39:26 GMT
HOLINESS, DECISIONMAKING AND TORAH READING https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/2/holiness-and-decisionmaking-in-the-torah-readings-this-month HOLINESS, DECISIONMAKING AND TORAH READING

The Torah provides a solid foundation for Israel, and, of course, all of us who worship and follow YHVH, the God of Israel, through the sacrifice of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53; I'll get back to this later.

I will begin with Exodus 24 and touch on certain elements through to chapter 34; since I am not qualified to provide exegetical analysis, a few personal reflections on the WORD in these chapters as they apply to myself and to our life together as the people of God will be the scope of my musings.

In Torah, not only are the WORDS themselves of utmost importance; the ONE speaking them must be known.  

According to Exodus 24: "Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank ." (emphasis added).

When our way of seeing and living comes out of the PRESENCE of the "God of Israel", we can be sure that we are safe; I will not enter into a discussion of the complexity of the emphasized part of the quotation, but it is amazing to me that when God has invited us into His Presence, then that Presence where we "see God", which we are told in Exodus 33, is fatal, is, in fact, safe for us. What a life-giving TRUTH!

This God, YHVH, the Creator and King of the Universe, the God of Israel, is the source and foundation of this WORD which we have before us.

We did not, through vigorous, active searching, arrive at an understanding of Him; but rather, He revealed Himself to man.

According to the text, this revelation, throughout time, came to specific and specially chosen people from Adam and Eve through Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham Isaac and Jacob, Moses and the Prophets, and among may others, King David and finally through Yeshua and Ruach Hakodesh, the Holy Spirit of God, whom Yeshua said He would send; on Shavuot, Pentecost, the Feast of the LORD commemorating the giving of Torah, the Holy Spirit came to all mankind who will, in Faith, trust Him as He opens the revealed TORAH/WORD. 

But, back to the passage.

This account of "seeing God" is followed by the instructions for the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Testimony, and all of the other furnishings for the place YHVH's PRESENCE would reside among men. Aaron, the High Priest, is given clear instructions regarding how he is to be clothed when he approaches YHVH in the Tabernacle. The symbolic "sacred garments", described in Exodus 28, will ensure two specific aspects of the High Priest's time in the PRESENCE: first, the 12 names of the sons of Israel are engraved on the two shoulder sections of the "ephod", and second, the "breastpiece for making decisions", is to be worn with the ephod to ensure that all important decisions are made in the Presence of the YHVH.

Exodus 28 tells us, “Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord. 30 Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord."

Thus Aaron, representing all Israel, will stand before the Almighty on their behalf to make decisions for the nation before their God. The "Urim and Thummim" represent the options of Blessings one hand and Curses on the other, a reminder that all decisions have consequences that can bring either. 

So, not only is YHVH the source of Torah, but decisions regarding Israel's national life based on the directions of Torah will be made in the PRESENCE of YHVH.

When YHVH says that Israel belongs to Him and He is their God, He means just that; and He graciously provides Israel with all the recourses they need to be the nation through whom YHVH will Bless all the other nations of the earth. 

After the disastrous "golden calf" affair of Exodus 32, YHVH's immediate punishment and the looming possibility that YHVH would send an Angel to guide them the rest of the way to the  Promised Land while He Himself would not go with them since His PRESENCE might annihilate them because of their "stiff-necked" nature, Moses is on his face before God, pleading for His mercy on His people.

Moses knows that without their God, they are nothing; he pleads with God:

"If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (emphasis added).

Here is the heart of the matter: YHVH called Israel to be a Holy, set-apart people; and Moses knows that if YHVH's PRESENCE is not with them to display, before the nations of the earth, that they are a Holy Nation belonging the Creator and King of the Universe, no one will know that they are different. They are, after all, only human, and "stiff-necked" at that, and absolutely in need of the PRESENCE to differentiate they from everyone else.

With the coming of "the Suffering Servant", Yeshua, His death, resurrection, ascension back to Heaven and the coming of Ruach Hakodesh, the Holy Spirit of God, this PRESENCE permeates the people of God with an internal fountain of Living Water which not only sustains and nourishes us, but flows from us to nourish the world around us.

Now, in our day, YHVH is gathering His people back to their LAND and we, those who are "in Christ", are called to co-operate with God's purposes and participate in this re-gathering and re-settling of His people. We have a grave responsibility; and the Church is not doing well in fulfilling that obligation to God.

As a Church we have set up far too many NGOs that do not serve the people of God well, and sometimes are diametrically opposed to YHVH's purposes for His people; I will elaborate on that in another blog; there is much to be said.

Later in Exodus 33, the account of Moses in YHVH's Presence continues, but complicates the earlier part where Moses and several others, including the 70 elders, "saw God, and they ate and drank"; here, after assuring Moses that His PRESENCE will go with the people, YHVH says to Moses, " I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

So, we have a mystery: Moses and the elders "saw God, and ate and drank", and Moses spoke with Him "face to face", but here YHVH says that "no one may see me and live". I think there must be an explanation hidden in the "cleft in the rock" where Moses was sheltered as YHVH walked past him; but that is for another time.

I must conclude.

Israel is moving quickly to its 2015 election on March 17th. Before that event, Prime Minister Netanyahu is invited and scheduled to speak to the US Congress on March 3rd.

I challenge us all to pray that: (1) Mr. Netanyahu will prepare that speech in the PRESENCE and deliver it in the power or Ruach Hakodesh; and (2) that Israelis will be moved by this same Holy Spirit of God to search for Torah-influenced men and women to vote into the next Knesset.

Soldiers at prayerSoldiers at prayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) Israel Netanyahu Torah elections https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/2/holiness-and-decisionmaking-in-the-torah-readings-this-month Thu, 19 Feb 2015 22:42:00 GMT
SINAI, TORAH AND THE PRESENCE https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/2/sinai-torah-and-the-presence SINAI, TORAH AND THE PRESENCE

 

Torah and Haftorah readings for Shabbat coincide with an extremely significant time in Israel's history. Israel has embarked on an election process in which the world is very interested. The US is so interested that they, quite illegally, have dispatched personelle and money to fund V15, a group under the umbrella of ONE VOICE, and dedicated to work toward Netanyahu's defeat. This is clearly foreign US interference in Israel's elections; at the same time Mr. Obama refuses to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he comes to address the joint US Congress in March because he does not wish to appear to be meddling in Israeli elections.

Sounds hypocritical to me.

Our Torah passage begins with the account of Jethro, Moses' father-in-law suggesting to Moses that he "choose", (Hebrew "hazeh"--to watch, envision see prophetically, foresee) "men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain"; men with this mindset will help him lead/judge the people.

Precisely those qualities are needed in Israeli leadership today; in Canada, or anywhere else for that matter. Israel needs leaders who will stand firmly against external pressure to give in to what is not in Israel's long term interest.

Having made the appropriate selections, Moses and the people arrive at Sinai. Here YHVH tells them that He has brought them to Himself. In the Deuteronomy retelling of this event, it sounds like this: "In a desert land [God] found him [Israel], in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions. The LORD alone led him". God brought Israel, "the apple of his eye", through the desert to the place He selected to speak personally to Moses, and to the people, giving them the Torah from the flaming top of Sinai.

Torah was their guide for all of life; it would, if they followed it, keep them on the straight and narrow way of blessing; if they strayed, they would pay the price.

The rest of their story underscores that principle; they know about paying the price; ironically, sometimes at the hands of Christians!

The Haftorah passage, Isaiah 6:1-7:6 and 9:6-7, brings a wonderful new insight into the Sinai Presence out of which YHVH speaks His Life-Giving and Life-Guiding WORD, TORAH.

Isaiah describes his own commissioning in terms that sound very much like the atmosphere on Sinai when YHVH came down on the mountain, in fire, lightning, smoke and thunder, to speak to Moses and the people; His Presence was frightening.

The Hebrew word, translated here as "Lord", the King sitting on the throne, is "God" or the "suffering Servant" in other passages. Whoever we understand Him to be, the train of this King's robe fills the temple where Isaiah sees Him. According to the Seraphs, however, this Holy LORD Almighty's glory fills, not just the temple, or mount Sinai, but the whole earth.

Isaiah feels "unclean" in the presence of this Holy Being; but, after an angel purifies his lips with a burning coal taken from the alter, he declares, " Here am I. Send me", in response to the King's, "Whom shall I send?". Once cleansed, he is prepared to take up his commission.

Isaiah quickly launches into prophecies of "the last days" (chapter 2) when "the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established...and all nations will stream to it...[and] The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem"; much is said about judgment and signs; and that brings us to the next piece of the Haftorah reading, Isaiah 9:6-7. 

"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this."

Reading this together with Zechariah 8, where we again hear the LORD say, "I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her....I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain", brings an astounding TRUTH into focus: we are living in a time when God is on the move in ways that are fulfilling explicitly prophesied events.

So, even when things sound negative, and violence abounds in and around Israel, we can be confident that YHVH's purposes are unfolding; He is on the throne, and His LAND, Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and all the rest of it, is in GOOD HANDS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) Haftorah Isaiah Judea Samaria Torah Zechariah https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/2/sinai-torah-and-the-presence Mon, 09 Feb 2015 22:46:14 GMT
GOD'S REDEMPTION PLAN, CONTINUED https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/1/redemption-plan  

Grace and I have been experiencing, over the last few years, a bit by bit revelation of who we, as Christians, are in the context of God’s Plan to redeem the world; a plan that began in the Garden when our Creator told the serpent that he would bruise the heel of the woman, but that the woman’s seed would crush his head.

Later, God called Abraham to seek a land that He would show him, a land that He was giving to Abraham’s descendants; and that through Abraham’s seed He would bless the whole world. We understand that “Blessing” to mean the Salvation/Restoration/Reconciliation of man to God so that God’s image in us will be restored.

These chosen people were “the apple of God’s eye”, living in a land of which He says that “His eye is on it from the beginning of the year to the end of the year”. This is the land to which Moses leads God’s people and Joshua conquers after the 400 years that God tells Abraham, in Genesis 15, they will need to wait, “for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure”. Only when the Amorites, a general term for the inhabitants of Canaan at that time, are ready for God’s judgement; Joshua and the Israelite army are the instrument God choses to use for His judgement purposes.

King David is promised an heir who will sit on his throne “forever”, an heir who will be born in Bethlehem, David’s own birthplace, and, as Zechariah says, will ride into Jerusalem on a donkey.

Most of the Prophets repeat this Messianic prophecy in some way.

Yeshua himself claims, in Luke 4, when He reads from Isaiah 61:1-the first half of 2, that He is the fulfillment of this prophecy. When we check the passage in Isaiah, we find that Yeshua, it seems quite deliberately, stops reading halfway through verse 2 and declares that “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”.

There is, however, no break or pause in the Isaiah text; it continues on, prophetically still speaking about the events surrounding Messiah. Why does Yeshua not continue reading? Is it because it does not apply to Him? I think we all agree that not only does it apply to Him, but that, because this first part is fulfilled, the rest will be as well; although even today it has not been fulfilled.

Jeremiah in chapters 16 & 23 prophesies: “So then, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’  but they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”

With the re-constitution of the nation of Israel in 1948, that regathering had a home land to which they could be re-gathered, and are continuing to be gathered, even more so now from France; 7,000 in 2014 and, it is expected, that will double to perhaps 15,000 in 2015.

Ezekiel (36-37) clearly quotes the Sovereign LORD saying that the re-gathering is “for the sake of [His] holy name” and that it is part of a process of redeeming/restoring the land, rebuilding the ancient towns, and restoring the people, cleansing them from their sin, with the Messiah to redeem them.

Grace and I have been meeting more and more people in Israel who understand themselves to be back in the land in just this context. They are God fearing, Bible believing people anticipating the Messiah’s coming; only, in distinction from our Christian view, they are anticipating the Messiah who will fulfill the prophecies in the remainder of Isaiah, from 61:2, where Yeshua stopped His reading, on through the remainder of Isaiah.

Since there is much more said about Messiah in that part of the book than what Yeshua read, it seems reasonable that we should try to understand how these two views fit together. Passages like these chapters in Isaiah, and many other Prophets, speak of the Kingdom that Messiah will establish. Zechariah clearly places the center of that Kingdom in Jerusalem, or Zion, which is another name for Jerusalem.

In Matthew 24, Yeshua describes the moral environment at the time of His return, saying, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (emphasis added).

Because there are many texts that speak of “this Kingdom” being an earthly Kingdom with an earthly center of rule, namely Jerusalem, we need to be careful when we spiritualise this Kingdom to be the church, that we do not discard the earthly Kingdom; the Kingdom that the Jews anticipate will be established by Messiah when He comes.

We believe that somehow these will come together and there will be ONE Kingdom and ONE Messiah.

 

I believe what Paul suggests in Ephesians 5: "just as 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", is another way of saying that we Gentiles will be woven together with the Jews, into one body which we will recognise as the God-preserved Jewish remnant into which we have been grafted. 

The anticipation of this motivates our search to understand the Scriptures more clearly, and to work toward cooperation with the Jews in gaining this understanding.

Paul, in Ephesians 1-3, explains to the Gentile Ephesians that salvation does not stand alone. He declares to them: “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (emphasis added).

Paul calls this process a mystery, which it certainly is for me; how can we understand what God is doing to bring all of His people together in ONE body? But, since so many prophecies are already fulfilled, it is easier to accept, in faith, that this prophecy too will come to pass.

Our experience of the joint Jewish-Christian worship and prayer event in the synagogue at the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Efrat, Israel, this October certainly strengthened our faith in and anticipation of this reconciliation and cooperation to grow in the future. We came home with a heightened desire to work to facilitate this reconciliation. (For a more thorough description of this experience please see the blog posted October 30/14).

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/1/redemption-plan Sun, 25 Jan 2015 03:50:26 GMT
HOPE FOR SDEROT https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/1/hope-for-sderot .I can't forget Sderot.  The news described Sderot, a small city dangerously close to enemy lines, as a besieged town, terrorized by thousands of Kasam rockets since 2007; as many as 60 some days last summer.  During Operation Protective Edge the rain of rockets was constant, leaving residents unable to live or work safely.

The source of the rockets was Gaza, a strip of premium land given over, by Israel, to the Palastinian Authority; it was an arrangement of land for peace in 2005.  Beautiful homes, park and agricultural projects were given up only to deteriorate and to be turned into launching pads for rockets.  Israeli's were deceived; the hope for peace turned into a regular reign of terror.

We, along with Real, a BFP partner, hopped the bus to ride an hour and a half, seeing harvested fields slip by; all looked peaceful.  Stewart and Etti invited us to visit their beloved town.  They run a food distribution centre, HOPE FOR SDEROT (http://www.hopeforsderot.com/). We arrived and immediately saw the effects of the war.....a city left with the obvious effects of Kasam rockets that had left their mark.  The police station has collected a few, to be touched and held by those who are in disbelief.  The sheer weight of each is unbelievable; the potential of damage understandable. 

                                                               

We drove to the outer edge of the town, seeing Gaza within walking distance.  There too, live people who have been deceived, at one time persuaded that Hamas would govern them well.  They too live in terror. Ahead of us lay the open field where 13 terrorists emerged from a tunnel dug for the purpose of destruction.  Instead they met their own deadly fate.  I couldn't help but wonder if the 13 were coerced, forced and promised a heavenly reward in the event of death?  In any case, they became martyr's and hero's.  They were lost to fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, wives and children.  Did anyone love them enough to dissuade them?  Did they not love themselves enough to say "NO" to dictatorship and oppression? How did they become voiceless?   How and why did they give up their freedom?  We stood and lingered, suddenly becoming aware that we could well be a visible sniper's target. (The post may not have provided adequate protection! :)

The town looks like a war zone....because it is.  Every apartment has been equipped with a bomb shelter added to the exterior of the apartment block.  Schools buildings have been covered with large steel structures; the yard itself sports numerous bomb shelters for coverage during recess.  In city parks, right in the midst of all the  play structures, are colorfully camouflaged bomb shelters for the children.  Across the city, every bus stop is a shelter.  We look around and see rocket- pocked buildings & streets. The worst damage would be witnessed the following day as we offered our services of help and hope at the food bank.  We joined Stewart & Etti, along with several others for whom the manual work and the fellowship with others was their weekly therapy session.  As we laid out and packaged bags of rice, sugar, canned vegetable and  bottles of oil, the stories began to pour out.  

Miriam volunteers regularly; for her it is therapeutic.  Her husband, like other men in the city, is suffering severely from Accumulative Post-Trauma Disorder, unable to find the initiative to perform everyday work duties. The family income is largely reduced, creating much stress on a marriage relationship.  To remain super vigilant takes an emotional toll.  The women and children are fearful of going outdoors, choosing to remain inside.  To move from Sderot, to a safer area, would be defeat, says Miriam.  "Israel is our country; our house is here.  There are no options." 

            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so life goes on.....fearfully.  The playgrounds are quieter. Everyone is on high alert....at all times.  Sadness is palpable.  Rick and I walk away towards the bus stop.  There we leave the reality behind.  Except it doesn't leave us. 

 

 

 
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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/1/hope-for-sderot Fri, 16 Jan 2015 18:42:26 GMT
GOD'S REDEMPTION PLAN BEGINS AND ENDS WITH ABRAHAM AND THE CHOSEN SEED https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/1/gods-redemption-plan-is-jewish-from-beginning-to-end God Almighty, Creator and King of the Universe, prophesied in the Garden that the Serpent's head would be crushed by the "seed of the woman"; thus emerged the Great Redemptive Plan to restore Man and Creation to the GOOD it was created to be.

At the appropriate time, God called Abram/Abraham to leave his home in Chaldea and follow Him to the LAND that He would show him. Abraham obeyed, packed up and followed his God Almighty to that land, which he surveyed from Elon Moreh many years later.

What Abraham saw was not as populated as this, but from the peak in the center of the image on the left, Elon Moreh, he looked out, and this is part of what he saw.

In Genesis 15, however, God Almighty again prophesied that Abraham's descendants would only return to possess the land He promised to Abraham after 400 years, some of which would be spent in servitude to another nation.

The Torah reading for this coming Shabbat records the call of Moses, the child of Levite parents brought up in the courts of Egypt's Pharaoh, to return to Egypt as God Almighty's representative to redeem His people from their bondage and suffering in Egypt.

In response to Moses' plea to know the name of the God calling him, God Almighty identifies Himself with a new Name. Tell the people, He says, I AM WHO I AM, or I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE, in Hebrew, YHWH, Yahweh, has called you and sent you to them.

Even though this tells Moses clearly that the Creator and King of the Universe is calling him, Moses says, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue...Please send someone else.”

He is reluctant in the extreme.

Jeremiah, in the Haftara reading for this week, exhibits a similar reluctance.

Although the LORD assures Jeremiah that, "“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah says,

 “Alas, Sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Now that the LORD has his attention, He gives Jeremiah his first vision:

"The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”

“I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied.

The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”

The almond blossom, the first to appear in Spring, symbolises, among other things, God's watchfulness over His LAND and His PEOPLE. Incidentally, Aaron, Moses' brother, had an almond rod/branch that miraculously not only budded but also blossomed as evidence that God was overseeing the situation.

So Jeremiah is reminded, at the outset of his call, that YHWH, the God who brought His people out of Egypt with His Mighty Arm, is the same God calling him to ministry.

This is the same God who in Zechariah's visions, (6: 12-13), identifies a "Joshua" as  ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.’

"Branch" of David is a designation for Ha Mashiach, the Messiah, a Priest King who will rule over His people "forever".

 

In chapter 8, Zechariah, hears these words from the mouth of "the LORD Almighty":  

“I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.”

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.”

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?” declares the Lord Almighty."

Associated with the coming Messiah, this prophecy is already being fulfilled in our day as we saw with our own eyes in Jerusalem.

girl at Zion Gategirl at Zion Gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Christians believe that Jesus Christ, Yeshua Ha Mashiach, is the Jewish Messiah and see this fulfilled prophecy in that light; however, regardless of the difference between our view of Yeshua as Messiah and our Jewish brothers and sisters' view of Messiah, there will be no such difference of view when Messiah "will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.”

 

Together we wait for that time.

Yeshua taught us to pray to the Creator and King of the Universe, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Israel, "Your Kingdom Come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven".

From the text in which we read that, we also know that His will is to bring His people, the descendants of Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob, back to the LAND  that He promised to Abraham.

He is currently bringing them back; 28,400 new Aliyah makers arrived in Israel in 2014, http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/24800-new-immigrants-arrive-in-Israel-in-5774-376063 including another 250 Bnei Menashe from India in November, and He is not about to stop that process until it is entirely His will to do so.

Mohammed, the Koran and the followers of Allah are quite aware of this Plan, and have been, since Mohammed himself began the process, determined to thwart it and all of God's purposes for this world, substituting their understanding of "submission" to Allah. That "submission" means 1) convert to Islam, or 2) pay the tax in return for life under their rule, or 3) say goodbye to your head; and we have seen enough of this literally happening, recorded on camera no less, to know that those options are real choices that many who happen to live anywhere Islam rules, or has ruled in the past, need to face.

The Temple Mount is, today, the center of the enemy's attack.

In Matthew 24, Yeshua says: "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

The Kingdom He is referencing is the Kingdom that will be established in Jerusalem when Messiah comes and "his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south" (Zechariah 14).

"On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter.

The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name" (Zechariah 14).

Thank God for His Living Water which is available to all, but will, in that day, flow freely from Jerusalem and "then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles."

One day all of us, as Grace and I were privileged to do this past October, will go up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot.

A wonderful thought with which to begin 2015! 

 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/1/gods-redemption-plan-is-jewish-from-beginning-to-end Sun, 04 Jan 2015 23:28:15 GMT
A GUEST BLOG FROM MICHAEL FREUND https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/11/a-guest-blog-from-michael-freund

A Palestinian Pogrom in Jerusalem

By Michael Freund November 19, 2014 , 10:26 am

A government’s primary responsibility is to protect its people and ward off threats to their security and well-being. And the PA has shown once again that it is truly such a threat.

Yesterday morning two Palestinian Arabs entered the Kehillat Yaakov yeshiva and synagogue complex in Jerusalem and proceeded to slaughter Jewish men at prayer.

Armed with guns, knives and a meat cleaver, our “partners in peace” shot, slashed and stabbed their victims, leaving pools of blood and horror in their wake, before being eliminated by the police.

It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable deed.

This act of Palestinian brutality was so heinous that even Israelis hardened by decades of terror responded with disbelief. Indeed, anyone still thinking of giving the Palestinians a state should take a long, hard look at the disturbing photos of the synagogue slaughter that are circulating online.

In one such picture, a Jewish man lies dead on the synagogue floor, wrapped in his tallit and tefillin and surrounded by blood stains, evoking scenes reminiscent of the days when the Cossacks massacred our people. It is a startling and distressing testimony to the savagery of our foes, to the bestial depths of inhumanity to which the Palestinians are willing to descend in their war against the Jewish state.

After all, what kind of human being wakes up in the morning, grabs a few weapons, and then walks into a house of prayer intent on maiming and murdering innocent people? Guns were not sufficient for these savages. They employed axes and knives, which are far more intimate and bloody weapons, the kind that require physical contact with the victim rather than the less personal act of pulling a trigger.

If it is possible for a person to strip away the Divine image with which he was created, then the Palestinian terrorists who perpetrated this attack have surely succeeded in doing so.

Make no mistake: this was a pogrom, a premeditated orgy of violence that was fuelled by incitement coming from the Palestinian Authority and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas. For weeks, Abbas has been trying to ignite a religious war, instigating Palestinians to “defend” al-Aksa Mosque and use “any means” at their disposal. He repeatedly harped on the religious symbol of the Temple Mount, attempting to stir up primal passions and ancient hatreds.

Is it therefore any surprise that two Palestinians went ahead and attacked a synagogue? Shortly after the incident came to an end, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch went before reporters and sounded like a broken record, repeating the same empty promises he has made after previous attacks, insisting that we will prevail even as he failed to offer any substantive ideas as to how that will happen.

Frankly, I am tired of the meaningless mantras and barren babble of many of our politicians. The time for tough talk is over. Now is the time for tough action, for measures that will change the course of events and punish those behind this evil deed.

For God’s sake, Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, is under attack. Stabbings, stonings, premeditated vehicular attacks, rioting on the Temple Mount and now an assault on a synagogue.

The only way to stop this spiral of violence from spinning further out of control is to go to the source, to the root of the problem.

Simply put, it is time to topple the Palestinian Authority (PA ) and declare to the world once and for all: there will never be a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria.

Abbas, like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, has used the PA as a springboard to attack Israel in international forums abroad while fomenting anti-Jewish violence here at home. It is the PA that is leading the charge to demonize and delegitimize Israel even as it encourages terrorism against the Jewish state.

Throughout the years, the Palestinians have proven again and again that they do not want peace, are not interested in it and prefer to resort to violence to achieve their aims. How much longer must we tolerate acts of barbarism and terror? For the sake of Israel’s future, we cannot and must not allow a hostile terrorist entity to continue to exist in Judea and Samaria. Ever since it was established in 1994, the PA has been a poisonous thorn in Israel’s side. Rather than bringing peace to the region, it has incessantly promoted violence and bloodshed. The PA long ago outlived any usefulness that some may have hoped it would serve. It should be demolished forthwith and Israel should assert full control over the area.

Will there be a heavy price to pay diplomatically? Certainly. And will it be difficult to implement? Absolutely. But a government’s primary responsibility is to protect its people and ward off threats to their security and well-being. And the Palestinian Authority has shown once again that it is truly such a threat.

So let’s stop appeasing the terrorists and start opposing them. The blood of our brothers, of our fellow Jews, is crying out to us from the Kehillat Yaakov synagogue in Jerusalem, and from all the other sites of Palestinian terrorism over the past two decades. Let us finally heed their cry and prevent further suffering by dismantling the Palestinian terrorist entity once and for all.

 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/11/a-guest-blog-from-michael-freund Sun, 23 Nov 2014 04:30:23 GMT
THE LIFE OF SARAH/PARSHA CHAYEH SARAH https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/11/the-life-of-sarah THE LIFE OF SARAH

PARSHA CHAYEH SARAH

This week's Torah reading, Genesis 23:1-25:18, is the story of Abraham's wife Sarah and, more particularly, Abraham's purchase of the field and cave of Machpelah for 400 shekels of silver from Ephron, the Hittite, of Mamre in Canaan, Hebron, as a burial site for Sarah.

A slight digression: This piece of land is one of three pieces of Canaan, the land YHWH gave to Abraham and his descendants, that are recorded as being purchased for a particular sum of money. The next one is Joseph's tomb in Shechem, modern Nablus, purchased by Jacob for 100 pieces of currency; transaction recorded in Joshua 24:32. The third is a threshing floor on top of mount Moriah, purchased by King David for 50 shekels of silver; the property would later become the Temple Mount when Solomon, David's heir on his throne, built the first Temple there; transaction recorded in 2 Samuel 24:24.

Reason for the digression: Precisely these three locations, in present day Israel, are the sites that the Arab/Palestinians are most irrationally contesting and claiming as theirs. Joseph's tomb in Shechem has been vandalised many times by local Arab/Palestinian residents, even after assuring Israel that they would protect it. The Temple Mount is under the protection of Jordan's Muslim Waqf, and Jews are not generally allowed on it, and definitely not to worship. (Israel does not always make wise decisions; but that would be the subject for another time).

Back to the Machpelah story. Between the end of the 1948 Arab war to exterminate the Jews, when the State of Israel was founded, and the Jewish victory in the 6-day war of 1967, in which the aggressor Arab States' declared agenda was, again, the extermination of the Jews in the State of Israel, the Jordanians did not allow Jews into Hebron to pray at Machpelah at all.

Today, after the Jewish victory of 1967, the Jews are allowed in 20% of Hebron, and they may worship at Machpelah in a smaller part of the structure that houses the cave and the tombs; in the larger part, the Hall of Isaac, Muslims allow Jews only once a year, this coming weekend, to enter for prayer. (Again, the "wise decisions" question). This larger hall is the one that is located over the opening to the cave and actual burial site, thus it is controlled by the Muslims.

This coming Shabbat, November 14th-15th, there will be a large gathering of Jews from all around Israel and the world to pray in the Hall of Isaac and worship as they should be able to do all year round, were it not for the Arab/Palestinian claims.

During the rest of the year Jews are allowed in the smaller Abraham and Jacob Halls; where we were privileged to worship and pray with them.

Because of the significance of this burial place, in which all of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, except Rachel, are buried, Abraham's sojourn in Hebron and the fact that Hebron was King David's first Royal Residence and National Capital, Hebron is considered the 2nd most Holy site in Israel.

Again, why Israel would allow Arab/Palestinian, Muslim, control of 80% of Hebron is beyond me. I understand why, but it is not right.

My apologies: I have just returned from the land, and my feelings about the terrorist activities being done there by the Arab/Palestinian people, whose lives have been improved so greatly by the Israeli government, above the lives of ordinary Arab residents in the surrounding Arab Nations, are still rather raw. Hence my comments about the injustice done to the Jews, the rightful owners of the land; the contributions to this injustice by the EU, UN and the US are equally disturbing.

Hebron is also known in Scripture as Kiryat Arba, the City of Four; because, according to Jewish tradition, of the four couples buried in the Machpelah tomb. Three of the couples are recorded in the Bible, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca and Jacob and Leah; according to tradition, the forth couple is Adam and Eve. This same tradition also suggests that the cave in which the bodies are buried is the entrance to the Garden of Eden. Needless to say, for Jews this is a very important site and this weekend will be a glorious celebration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are reading this before the end of Shabbat, please pray for the safety of the worshippers. If after, continue to pray freedom for Jews in their own land to gather for worship wherever they wish to pray and worship, including the Temple Mount, their most Holy site.

Pray also for the recovery of Rabbi Yehuda Glick who suffered four bullets to the body in an assassination attempt on his life by an Arab/Palestinian because he actively worked toward the Jews' freedom to worship on the Temple Mount. The assailant was a man who had worked in the cafeteria of the Begin Center in front of which the assassination attempt occurred. Does that make any sense?

The Temple Mount, a location that King David actually purchased, as mentioned earlier, has become the focus for Arab/Palestinian violence in Jerusalem.

For us Gentiles, people who, as Yeshua followers, have been joined to the family of our Father Abraham through faith, the Temple Mount is of paramount importance because of our family connection and its centrality in prophecies regarding the "last days". We need to do what we can, and prayer is a beginning, to support the Jews in their right to worship on this location.

Now they are limited to the Western Wall, the Kotel, which is merely a retaining wall for the Temple Mount. Their worship at the Kotel is fervent and constant. The left image below shows the thousands gathered on the Eve of Teru'ah, Rosh Hashana, this September. What a joy to be a witness and participant!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HALLELUJAH!

In the midst of the current waves of violence perpetrated by the terrorists, PRAY with us for the "Peace of Jerusalem".

At least four Israelis, one young baby, have been murdered by terrorists in Jerusalem in the last month. Arab news agencies, including the PA/PLO leader Abu Mazen's Facebook, are calling the terrorists heroes. Something is drastically wrong here.

We are called to be Watchmen on the Wall: PRAY!

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) Rabbi Yehuda Glick https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/11/the-life-of-sarah Fri, 14 Nov 2014 21:33:52 GMT
HALLEL READING DURING SUKKOT https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/10/hallel-reading-during-sukkot HALLEL READING DURING SUKKOT

Grace and I participated in the reading of the Hallel Psalms, 113-118, on the 6th day of Sukkot, October 14, 2014/Tishri 20, 5775, in the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Efrat, Israel this year.

David Nekrutman, the Director of the Center founded by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, organised the reading as a joint venture of Jews and Christians; the readers were mostly Rabbis and Pastors, both women and men, Jews, Arabs, African American and Caucasians.

David Nekrutman, Efrat Hallel prayersDavid Nekrutman, Efrat Hallel prayers Rabbi Shlomo RiskinRabbi Shlomo Riskin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although our small group had been cautioned by our Rabbi leader to be careful not to become too charismatic/exuberant in our worship, (there would be Jews in attendance who might not understand), the music was lively and Rabbi Riskin quickly broke out in clapping and dancing that drew the dancing men into one area and the dancing women into another. Grace and I glanced at each other before we too joined in the clapping enthusiasm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was an amazing experience of the Joy of Sukkot bursting out of our hearts as we shared it with all in the congregation.

Memorable and thought provoking to say the least.

We heard later, from both Christian and Jewish leaders involved with the Center, that what we were seeing and experiencing was a breakthrough event.

Hallelujah!

You may well have read some of our description of the experience on my Facebook page; for the Center's own description see: http://cjcuc.com/site/2014/10/22/hundreds-of-christians-joined-rabbi-riskin-to-celebrate-sukkot/

Given the history of Jewish-Christian relations over the centuries, how is it possible for Jews and Christians to openly, joyfully and spontaneously pray and worship together like this?

Reflecting on the aspects of the experience already mentioned and the thoughts expressed by the various participants, and particularly the concluding comments by Rabbi Riskin, I want to share some thoughts regarding the question posed above.

I am reminded, to begin with, of an observation made by our host in Kfar Hanassi about a month prior to this event. He prefaced his comment with an assurance that he did not want to offend, but suggested that to be a true "Christ follower" one would be a Jew.

It was a passing comment, and we did not find time to pursue it further, but it stirred my thinking. It is true that many "Christians" are so only nominally while others are deliberate about being separate from Jews, but since Yeshua was undeniably a Jew, and a Torah observant one at that, our friend's observation made sense to me. I wondered if it might also be fair to say that a "true Jew" would be a Christ follower, since the essence of Christ's teaching comes straight from Torah, Psalms and the Prophets. But that was never discussed.

So, what do we have in common that would make for such a joyful celebration together?

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list by any means, nor is it in any order of priority; but let's see where this goes.

We all acknowledge the One LORD God who calls Himself YHWH (Yod Heh Vav Heh), or Yah, the Creator of the Universe, and everything in it, our Redeemer, our Provider and Sustainer, the HOLY one of Israel.

He made a Covenant with Noah and his descendants after destroying the corrupt, Godless world; and then with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as a specially selected family through whom He would bless the whole world.

We agree that the Covenant included the Promise of a specific LAND, specially chosen by God, "the Mountains of Israel", as the place on earth where His NAME would reside, first in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and at Shiloh, and later, after King Solomon built it, in the Temple.

We agree that the first and essential command is: " Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

YHWH gave His people a whole new calendar, based on the lunar year, to separate them, as a Redeemed people, from the nations around them; so they would be a light to those surrounding nations.

They were to keep Shabbat weekly as part of this separation; the Shabbat, incidentally, is the only part of Creation that the Creator calls HOLY; every aspect of the spatial dimension of Creation is called GOOD or VERY GOOD; only the Sabbath, an element of Time, not space, is HOLY. Every seventh day is to be separated from the six work days so that we will give ourselves wholly to God who is Holy. We are to be Holy as He is Holy. "You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6).

In addition to the weekly observance of Shabbat, He instituted annual feasts through which they would remember YHWH's actions; beginning with Passover (Pesach), Nisan 14-15, which commemorates their deliverance from death because of the blood on the door posts, lintel and sill. After the death of the firstborn descended on the Egyptians, the Hebrews emerged, like newborns, through the bloody door into a new life as a Free People.

Pesach is followed closely by Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamotzi), Nisan 15-22 and First Fruits (Habikkurim), Nisan 16-17.

Next month, Sivan 6-7, comes Pentecost (Shavu'ot), commemorating the giving of Torah.

In our Christian understanding, we see these three as having a significant correlation with events in the life of Yeshua.

In Fall we have the remaining three, all in the month of Tishrei: Trumpets (Yom Teru'ah), 1 Tishrei, Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), 10 Tishrei, and finally the crowning joy of Tabernacles (Sukkot), a full week of celebration from 15-22 Tishrei. This final Feast is one in which Israel has always known that they are to include all nations; Zechariah, in chapter 8, prophesies this ingathering of the nations.

We were privileged to be part of the fulfilment of Zechariah's prophecy this year, 2014 (5775). Hallelujah!

Thus, year round, God's people have special events to focus their attention on the God who called them into a unique relationship with Himself, and set them apart as a light to all nations. We believe that in God's own mysterious way, we followers of the Way, of the Christ, are joined, grafted-into His tree of Redemption, together with our older brother; in which case, we should give very close attention to the LORD's Feasts and get on board with their celebration.

I am thoroughly challenged to study and pray for revelation regarding God's purpose for all of us to be separate from the world around us in this way; we have lost a great deal from the time when the early followers of the Way were Torah observant people, even after Gentiles became the majority.

A helpful link: http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Introduction/introduction.html 

Moses (Moshe), in the Torah, lays out YHWH's directions for life, including the blessings associated with following those directions, and the curses associated with missing the mark; all of which is revealed to him by YHWH on Sinai, some of it written by the "finger of God" Himself.

Already in the initial call to Abram (Avram) in Ur of the Chaldeans, God said, "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you"; making the mandate to include the nations quite clear.

The prayer, worship and celebration in which we participated in Efrat brought all of this, and much more, powerfully to bear on our whole being. It was like the command to Love God with all our heart, soul/mind and strength; the whole being drawn in and deeply touched. David Nekrutman said that the Holy Spirit of God, Ruach Kadosh, was evidently present and infusing the gathering with the Presence of God.

Grace and I certainly experienced this Presence powerfully stirring our inner beings. We want more! 

 

 

 

 

 

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graceandrick@usana.com (Knelsen Kollection Photographs) https://knelsenkollectionphotographs.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/10/hallel-reading-during-sukkot Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:45:06 GMT