Blog Scripture Readings for 8-30 Through 9-5-15

Aside

THIS WEEK’S SCRIPTURE READINGS FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION:

Parashat Ki Tavo — Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:8 (9)* 
Haftarah — Isaiah 60:1-22
Prophets — Amos 9:1-15; Obadiah; Jonah 1:1 – 4:11; Micah 1:1 – 2:13
Writings — 2 Chronicles 1:1 – 8:18
Testimony — Hebrews 3:1 – 9:28

Most of this week’s blog discussion points will be on these passages. If you have general comments or questions on the weekly Scripture readings not addressed in a blog post, here’s a place for you to post those. Just use the “leave a reply” link below.

The full “Read Through The Scriptures In A Year” schedule, broken down by each day, can be found on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links.” There are 4 sections of scripture to read each day. One each from the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and from the Testimony of Yeshua. Each week, the Torah and haftarah readings will follow the traditional one-year reading cycle.

* Verse numbers in parenthesis refer to the verse number in Christian Bibles when it differs from the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh.

Weekly Blog Scripture Readings for 8/30 through 9/5/15.

 

Ways to Help Persecuted Christians in Syria

The following article is from Open Door USA (http://www.opendoorsusa.org) — http://www.opendoorsusa.org/newsroom/tag-news-post/syrian-pastors-church-workers-carrying-out-ministry-with-gods-help/

SYRIAN PASTORS, CHURCH WORKERS CARRYING OUT MINISTRY WITH GOD’S HELP

August 31, 2015 by Janelle P in Middle East
Syria_2012_0260008895

An estimated 700,000 Christians have left Syria, but some pastors and church workers have made the decision to stay in the country torn apart by a civil war and the savage murders and kidnappings carried out by Islamic State (IS) extremists. Life is dangerous for Christians with daily shootings, regular bomb explosions and snipers in the streets. What makes Pastor Samuel* and relief worker Fathi* from Aleppo and Pastor Edward from Damascus stay?

Before the war began, cities such as Aleppo, Damascus and Homs were home to large Christian communities. Many of the Christians who are still in Aleppo are there for two main reasons: 1) they have no money to leave the city, or 2) they feel called to stay to help the remaining people or their congregations. One of them is Pastor Samuel, a pastor of a Protestant church with 250 members attending every Sunday. His wife and children have left the country; for them it was impossible to live under the constant threat of violence. The family endured great sacrifice. They have been separated from each other for a long time.

“Despite everything that has happened, we are all trying to do our best to serve the people who remain and provide God’s hope in a hopeless situation,” says Pastor Samuel. He sees many people coming to his church, mainly people who cannot go to their own churches because of the fighting. “In many situations the only thing we can do is pray. Psalm 91 comforts me and gives me strength.”

Fathi is one of the Syrian Christians who plays a key role in helping refugees through local churches supported by Open Doors.

“No, I never thought of leaving,” he said to an Open Doors worker. “Every day I see how we can help people deal with reality. Of course, on the other side, I think of my family. I am afraid for their lives, but not for my own. Over the last couple of years the Lord had protected me when I was stopped at checkpoints and when I went through certain areas of the city and country. God protected me.

“That keeps me going. I see how we can make a difference through the work we are doing. When bullets hit left and right of you, when buildings crash, and when you fear for your life, the bigger picture helps us to continue. We need to go on. I am happy to see it is a joint effort of different churches and denominations. It is not about me.”

Pastor Edward stays with his wife Ranaa in the Syrian capital of Damascus.

“We don’t want to leave,” he shares. “We are feeling even more responsible now. To be honest, we’re not really concerned about our own safety. We thank God who is helping us day by day. He is giving us a peace that surpasses understanding.”

All of the people leaving have left a large hole in the churches.

“Of course we feel it when people leave,” says Pastor Edward. “It depresses us to see people depart. Though many have left, the church is still full. Many new people are coming to church. That is very encouraging. We see the hand of God at work.”

The three are thankful for the Christians around the world who pray for Syria.

“We thank God for all those who pray for us and who support us,” expresses Pastor Samuel. “The Lord is watching us. He is our fortress, our strength and refuge. He will protect us.”

Syria is ranked #4 on Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List (www.worldwatchlist.us) of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians.

Open Doors President/CEO David Curry told the Christian Post in a phone interview recently that refugees in northern Iraq and Syria are facing “huge food shortages,” with close to 300,000 Christians having limited means by which to pay for food. With millions of people displaced across the region, Open Doors estimates that $20 million will be needed to provide food for the refugees in the next 18 months. Curry said that one of his biggest concerns is that Christians “will be the last among the refugees to receive vitally needed help,” and called on Christians around the world to partner with Open Doors in order to remind those who are suffering that they are not forgotten.

Help feed an entire family in Syria and Iraq for a month for just $50.

*Real names are protected for security reasons

Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.

 

5 Things Americans Can Do to Help Persecuted Christians in Iraq

From the Christian Post at http://www.christianpost.com/news/5-things-americans-can-do-to-help-persecuted-christians-in-iraq-125821/

BY MELISSA BARNHART, CP REPORTER
September 5, 2014 | 7:39 am

Iraq(PHOTO: REUTERS/STRINGER)

A child cries in a military helicopter after being evacuated by Iraqi forces from Amerli, north of Baghdad, Aug. 29, 2014. A home to around 180,000 people, mostly Turkmen Shi’ites, the small town of Amerli is still holding out against repeated attacks by Islamic State fighters despite the fall of all the 34 villages surrounding it.

Iraqi born pastor Jalil Dawood of the Arabic Church of Dallas, who, along with other Christian leaders will be holding a rally on Sept. 14 in support of Iraqis who are being persecuted by the Islamic State, says there are five things Americans can do today to help their brothers and sisters in Christ.

“What Americans can do today is write to their representatives and tell them the U.S. government needs to take more aggressive action toward the Islamic State, because this group is not only a threat to Iraq, it’s a threat to America, eventually. And we need to deal with them now, before it’s too late,” Dawood told The Christian Post.

“I heard the president say last week that he doesn’t have a strategy. Well, ISIS’ strategy is to kill us. Their strategy is to convert us and kill us,” he asserted.

The second thing Americans can do, he said, is to provide tangible assistance to the 250,000 refugees in Iraq through trusted nonprofit organizations that are helping Christians and other religious minorities who’ve been forced to leave their homes to flee the terrorist organization.

Pastor Stephen Broden of Fair Park Bible Fellowship, who will be a featured speaker at the Dallas rally, told CP Thursday that three of the nonprofits that have been helping Iraqi Christians are Open Doors, Samaritan’s Purse and Voice of the Martyrs.

Iraqi Christians(PHOTO: REUTERS/MUHAMMAD HAMED)

An Iraqi Christian man from Mosul, who fled from violence in their country, reads a book at the Latin Patriarchate Church in Amman, Jordan, Aug. 21, 2014. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have fled their homes since the terrorist Islamic State group swept through much of the north and west of Iraq in June, threatening to break up the country.

Dawood added that when Americans write to their representatives on behalf of Iraqi Christians, they should ask that the government allow them to immigrate to the U.S. within six months, and to provide humanitarian aid through the United Nations while they’re waiting, “so they don’t suffer or [resort to] selling themselves for sex so they can survive.”

He also believes that there needs to be special criteria for Iraqi Christians who are seeking asylum, one that is separate and apart from the current quota system that is used for Iraqis who are immigrating to the U.S.

“There needs to be a special category to be accepted faster because these people are really the victims of this conflict,” he added.

Fourth, and the most important thing Americans can do, he said, is to pray.

And fifth, Dawood encourages Christians to take part in rallies and speak at their churches to bring greater awareness and attention to the plight of Iraqi Christians who are being persecuted in their homeland.

“To be honest with you, I’m surprised that churches here are not doing anything — anything that is tangible,” Dawood said.

“There was a London demonstration talking about suffering in Gaza and the people living in Gaza. They raised $11 million toward Gaza. The church is not raising anything significant [for Iraqis] and the needs are tremendous. This is our time to reach those people through Christ,” he continued.

Another way Americans can help Iraqi Christians is by contacting their local Arabic Christian church and support that community by helping to meet the needs of Iraqis who’ve immigrated to the U.S. and are transitioning to their new lives.

“Support that church,” he said, “because that church is trying to reach out for Christ’s sake to the immigrants and refugees — some of them are nominal Christians or Muslims. We need to at least tell them: ‘You are not alone. We love you; we pray for you; and we will help you tangibly, in this way.'”

“The church needs to reach out to those minorities in order to win them to Christ and be impactful, and not [leave them] to segregate into communities and ethnic groups. Get involved with the community; help the community; love the community that is around you. And serve the people and the churches that are already meeting the needs of these people,” said Dawood, who emigrated from Iraq to the U.S. in the 1980s.

While the Sept. 14 rally is being held in Dallas, Dawood is encouraging everyone who lives outside North Texas to hold simultaneous rallies in their communities; not only to show support for persecuted Christians and religious minorities in Iraq, but to pray and find tangible ways to help.

“Do something practical, not only in words but in deeds,” he advised. “We need to speak; we need to shout to the Lord, we need to shout to the nation.”

“This has to do with people of our faith. This is not an Iraqi issue, this is a global issue and it will touch us if we don’t do something about it,” Dawood emphasized.

“Like Bonhoeffer said, if we are silent in the face of evil we are agreeing with it, we are part of it; we become accomplices and are allowing it to happen. We don’t need to wait. We need to take action now and be heard before it gets too late.

 

Praise YHVH from the earth!

This weekend, Sandi and I took a quick little camping trip — our first of the summer — to the north Oregon coast to Fort Stevens State Park near Astoria. We escaped Babylon for some physical and spiritual rest and recuperation.

I was feeling very weary from working long hours during an unusually arduous and hot summer. Needed physical and spiritual refreshment. The fall  biblical feasts are just around the corner, and it’s important to reconnect with Eloihim in a special way. He is the source of inspiration for my teachings, and I needed his help and divine revelation, so I can give his people some fresh manna for the upcoming feasts. I give him the praise that he answered my prayers in this regard during our mini-vacation.

Often I take prayer walks into nature where I sense YHVH’s Presence as I seek his face and attempt to reconnect to him in a special way.

Here are some photos I took during my prayer walks this weekend early on Shabbat morning:

Shabbat morning as the sun is shining through a forest of giant, moss-covered sitka spruces.

Shabbat morning as the sun is shining through a forest of giant, moss-covered sitka spruces.

The sun shining through the trees.

The sun shining through the trees.

IMG_2498

A phalanx of alder trees.

A phalanx of alder trees.

A meadow where the elk graze.

A meadow where the elk graze.

The color of the sunlight becomes more orange as the sun gets higher in the sky.

The color of the sunlight becomes more orange as the sun gets higher in the sky.

I snuck up on an elk grazing in the meadow. You can see him in the shadows at the top center of the photo.

I snuck up on an elk grazing in the meadow. You can see him in the shadows at the top center of the photo.

Worship and praise at our campsite.

Worship and praise at our campsite.

 

Mount Ebal: More Prophetic Shadow Pictures of Yeshua

Deuteronomy 27:2, 4, 8, Set up great stones. On Mount Ebal on whole, un-cut stones, the Israelites were to write the Torah-law and then coat these stones with lime plaster. Elohim also told them to build an altar there where they were to make burnt and peace offerings.

Cross, hanging on 16957854

Why was the Torah written on stones on Mount Ebal—the mountain of the curses? Why not on Mount Gerizim, the mountain of blessing? Certainly this cannot mean that the Torah is a curse, for Paul calls it kadosh (holy), just and good in Romans 7:12.

What could the stones represent? Who is the Chief Cornerstone, the Stone the builders rejected (Ps 118:22; Matt 21:42; Acts 4:11; Eph 2:20), and the stone cut without hands (Dan 2:34)?

What was the purpose of these offerings and to whom do the burnt and peace offerings point?

Could lime plaster represent robes of righteousness? Who is clothed in robes of righteousness once their sins have been atoned for? (Read Rev 19:7–8 cp. 3:5,18; Isa 61:10.)

Who was wounded for our ­transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, had laid on him the iniquities of us all, and was made an offering for sin (Isa 53:5, 6, 10)?

Who was the Living Torah, the Word of Elohim made flesh (John 1:1,14)?

Who redeemed us from the curses of the law (Gal 3:13), which came upon us as a result of our sinning (sin is the violation of YHVH’s law, 1 John 3:4), and thus bringing a death penalty upon us (the wages of sin is death, Rom 6:23)?

Does it now make sense why the Torah and the altar were placed on Mount Ebal? This is another one of the many prophetic shadow pictures in the Torah pointing to the redemptive work of Yeshua at the cross. Does this strengthen your faith that Yeshua is indeed the Messiah, the Lamb of Elohim slain from the foundation of the earth? Who else could have fulfilled these prophecies?

 

Do not be overcome, be an overcomer!

Deuteronomy 25:19, Blot out Amalek. The Hebrew name Amalek literally means “I am king.” Remember how the people of Amalek attacked the children of Israel as they were coming out of Egypt (Exod 17:8)? These heathens attacked the weary, stragglers and weak Israelites who were falling behind in the rear ranks (Deut 25:18).

The Israelites defeated Amalek militarily under the leadership of Moses and Joshua when Moses stood on a hill with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross (Exod 17:10–13). It was at this spot that Israel learned that YHVH Elohim was their spiritual banner (Heb. Yehovah Nissi; Exod 17:15).

There is a spiritual lesson in this story for us today. Amalek is a spiritual picture of the world, the flesh and devil that will attack and try to destroy us spiritually as we’re coming out of our own spiritual Egypt and beginning our trek through the wilderness of life en route to Promised Land of our spiritual inheritance, which is the kingdom of Elohim from heaven.

This reminds us of Yeshua’s Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:3–9) where the good seed of the Word of Elohim was sown on four types of soil. The seed failed to grow in the three types of soil representing the world, the flesh and the devil (Matt 13:18–23). This is another picture of Amalek.

What defeated Amalek? Joshua the valiant warrior defeated the Amalekites militarily, while at the same time Moses was perched on a hill over the battlefield with his arms raised to heaven. Both Joshua and Moses are a prophetic picture of Yeshua. Joshua’s Hebrew name is Yehoshua, which is the long version of the name Yeshua. At the same time, on the mountain Moses’ arms grew tired and had to be supported and in so doing took the form a cross. What are these things a spiritual picture of? Moses and Joshua combined form a prophetic picture of Yeshua defeating the world, the flesh and the devil at the cross on Golgatha’s hill. Only when Moses’ arms were raised up to heaven in surrender and supplication to the Almighty did Joshua experience victory over the Amalekites. Similarly, only through prayer and the intercession on our part and through the resurrected Yeshua the Messiah in heaven acting as our Great High Priest before Elohim’s throne will we be able to defeat the spiritual enemies that are attempting to prevent us from entering the Promised Land of our spiritual inheritance.

The enemies of our salvation will attempt to destroy us when were weak, tired and falling behind in our spiritual walk. However, when we determine to fight, we have Yeshua’s victorious death on the cross as well as his help in heaven to overcome our enemies.

One of YHVH’s covenant names is Yehovah Nissi or YHVH Is My Banner. A military banner is something used to help build the morale of troops during the battle. YHVH is our strength and morale booster in the time of battle, and through or faith in YHVH-Yeshua, we already have the victory over the world, the flesh and the devil!

This lesson illustrates the fact that the Scriptures contain many deep spiritual mysteries and truths that if it weren’t for the physical examples or prophetic shadow-types contained therein they might otherwise be obscured to us and too difficult to comprehend.

 

Yeshua Teaches About Divorce

A commentary on Deuteronomy 24:1–4

While on this earth, Yeshua taught on many subjects pertaining to all areas of human existence—136 in all. He taught on everything from angels to worship, from money to taxes, sexuality to celibacy, fasting to food, joy to sorrow and yes, on the subject of divorce, as well (see Matt 19:1–12).

Malachi says that YHVH hates putting away, a Hebraism for divorce (2:16). Yet Yeshua says in Matthew 19 that in the Torah divorce was permitted if one of the parties had a hardened heart resulting in irreconcilable differences. Adultery was cause for divorce if the offending party refused to repent.

YHVH married the whole House of Israel (i.e., all twelve tribes) at Mount Sinai and the Torah was the marriage agreement (See The Bible: The Good News – The Story of Two Lovers & YHVH’s Set-Apart Feast Days Are the Outline of that Love Story: A Plan of Redemption where the Jewish wedding is outlined historically and prophetically in a biblical context, available at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/love_story.pdf). Ezekiel describes the marriage between YHVH and Israel succinctly and allegorically in Ezekiel 16:6–8.

Yet because both the Houses of Judah and Israel committed spiritual adultery by whoring after foreign gods and lovers and failed to live up to their marital agreements they had made with YHVH at Mount Sinai when they said “I do” three times (Exod 19:8; 25:3, 7). YHVH sent prophet after prophet as recorded in the pages of the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) in attempts to turn the heart of Israel back to him, yet her heart was hardened toward him and she refused to repent of her adulteries; therefore, YHVH was forced to do that which he hates and dissolve the marriage and divorce Israel.

In light of these issues, what are the prophetic implications of the divorce of YHVH from the nation of Israel and his future remarriage to the same nation? To understand this issue and to gain a deeper understanding of YHVH’s wonderful plan of salvation for his people, read “The Prophetic Implications of Divorce in Light of the Two Houses of Israel,” which is available at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/divorce.pdf.