Are YOU part of the end-times Elijah Generation preparing the way for the Messiah?

Isaiah 40:1–26,

Isaiah the prophet ministered in Judah for about 40 years from 740 to 697 B.C., approximately 100 years before the southern kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians in 586 B.C. Judah’s captivity in Babylon would last for 70 years. The Book of Isaiah contains more messianic prophecies than any other book in the Tankah, and many of those prophecies specifically relate to the redemption through the Messiah of the two houses of Israel.

In the Isaiah 40 prophecy, according to rabbinic understanding, Isaiah is prophesying (in verses 3–5) concerning Israel’s deliverance from exile seventy years after her captivity (The Soncino Pentateuch, p. 777). This is not an incorrect interpretation of this prophecy, although it is not necessarily the only one, for we know, as with many of the Scripture’s ancient prophecies, there are sometimes multiple fulfillments. Because the old adage that says, “history repeats itself,” is true, and because human behavior remains unchanged from time immemorial, though the players and costumes change on history’s theatrical stage, many biblical prophetic themes have cyclical patterns. In the present case, where Isaiah speaks in verse three of “a voice crying in the wilderness,” (Isa 40:3) we know that the gospel writers ­applied this to John the Baptist preparing the way for the coming of Yeshua the Messiah (Matt 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23). What in this prophecy did the gospel authors see as applying to Yeshua the Redeemer and Savior of Israel? First, Yeshua himself declared John the Baptist to be that messenger who would prepare the way for the Messiah that Malachi prophesied about (cp. Matt 11:10 and Mal 3:1). The messenger of Malachi 3 and 4 seems to be the same individual mentioned in Isaiah 40. Furthermore, Isaiah 40:3 speaks of preparing the way for YHVH and making a highway in the desert for Elohim. Clearly, the gospel writers recognized that Yeshua was YHVH Elohim based not only on his claims to deity, but based on the fact that Isaiah states that the Messiah, the Redeemer of Israel, would not only be YHVH Elohim, but that he was the arm of YHVH (Isa 53:1) making him a manifestation, if you will, of YHVH. 

Not only did the gospel authors see John the Baptist in the Isaiah 40 prophecy (Isa 40:3–4 cp. Matt 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4–5; John 1:23) because they recognized who Yeshua was and could see that John had fulfilled the Isaiah 40 passage, but they also likened John to Elijah the prophet who had come to prepare the way for Yeshua (Mal 3:1 cp. Matt 11:10; Mark 1:3). Additionally, we know that an end-time prophet, or prophets, will come to prepare the way for the second coming of Yeshua. This is clear from Malachi 4:5–6 where we find the prophecy concerning Elijah the prophet coming before the great and terrible day of Elohim’s wrath, which is understood to occur just prior to the coming of Messiah. This Elijah-type person, or person(s), coming in the spirit of Elijah (like John the Baptist, see Matt 17:11–13), will effect a great spiritual revival in helping to turn the hearts of the children to their spiritual fathers (Mal 4:6), and in so doing will be preparing Israel to meet their Messiah. So we can link the Isaiah 40 passage with John the Baptist and Elijah the Prophet and with an end-time generation of righteous individuals who will be fulfilling this prophecy; that is, they will be preparing the way of YHVH, exalting the valleys, lowering the mountains, and making the crooked paths straight. What do these poetic expressions mean in concrete spiritual terms?

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John the Baptist: Chop down that tree of religious pride!

And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (John the Baptist in Luke 3:9)

Luke 3:7–17, John takes an ax to the tree of religious pride. What’s really going on in this exchange between John the Baptist and the religious folks of his day? Let’s step back and look at the bigger picture.

YHVH sent John to prepare the way for Yeshua the Messiah. As if he had a giant ax in his hand (Luke 3:9), his preaching was aimed at chopping down the tree of human pride, misdirected religious zeal and lack of love for one’s neighbor of which these Torah-obedient Judeans were guilty. John spared no words in forcefully commanding them to repent of their sins. 

In our day as we await the second coming of our beloved Messiah, are many of us not guilt of the same sins as those who went out to hear John the Baptist’s preaching? How many of us have unknowingly exchanged our love for Yeshua and his gospel message, and a love for our neighbor for a self-righteous and legalistic Torah-obedience along with a devotion for rituals and traditions of men? How many of us are proud of our obedience, while sneering at those who aren’t walking in the light of Truth that we have? How many of us would rather argue, split and divide over doctrine rather than reach out to a lost and hurting persons regardless of his or her beliefs. What does John have to say about this? Let’s hold up the same mirror of the Word and heart of Elohim into which John forced the people of his day to look to see what we really look like. Then let’s ask ourself the following question: is this the bride that Yeshua the Messiah really wants to come back for?

The multitudes of Jews had to make the long, hot and arduous journey through the Judean mountains down to the Jordan River, which was the lowest spot on earth, to hear John the Baptist, who was the latest fad preacher to come on the scene. However, when they arrived at his lonely wilderness pulpit, instead of stroking their egos by complimenting them for their religious zeal, he excoriates them and calls them a brood of vipers. John confronts them by saying that if they don’t repent, the fires of YHVH’s judgment will consume them (John 3:7–9). John’s preaching pierces their hearts, and lays them low spiritually. In a proper response, they ask him what he expects them to do (John 3:10). John then preaches a message of social justice involving giving to the poor, being fair and honest in one’s business dealings, and if one is a government worker, then treat the citizens one serves with respect (John 3:11–14).

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The radical message of John is still radical

Luke 3:7–17, Then he said to the multitudes. What’s really going on in this exchange between John the Baptist and the religious folks of his day? Let’s step back and look at the bigger picture.

The multitudes of Jews had to make the long, hot and arduous journey through the Judean mountains down to the Jordan River, which was the lowest spot on earth, to hear John the Baptist, who was the latest fad preacher to come on the scene. However, when they arrived at his lonely wilderness pulpit, instead of stroking their egos by complimenting them for their religious zeal, he excoriates them and calls them a brood of vipers. John confronts them by saying that if they don’t repent, the fires of YHVH’s judgment will consume them (John 3:7–9). John’s preaching pierces their hearts, and lays them low spiritually. In a proper response, they ask him what he expects them to do (John 3:10). John then preaches a message of social justice involving giving to the poor, being fair and honest in one’s business dealings, and if one is a government worker, then treat the citizens one serves with respect (John 3:11–14).

Interestingly, he doesn’t instruct these religious Jews in what many consider to be the Continue reading


 

Do you see and believe, or doubt and mock?

Luke 1:41–45, When Elizabeth heard. During this greeting, Elizabeth had a spiritual encounter that helped her to connect the dots to understand what was going on in YHVH’s divine plan for John and Yeshua.

By now, it is likely that Zechariah would have revealed to her the angel’s previous message (vv. 13–17). Now when the babe leapt in her womb at Mary’s arrival, and she was filled with the Spirit (a visceral experience), and then prophetic words came out of her mouth, this was evidence and confirmation to both Elizabeth and Zechariah of YHVH’s plans for their son.

YHVH has supernatural ways of conveying his divine will to his people, so that only people of faith will see and understand his ways and his plans for their lives. All others, unless confronted with visible signs and empirical evidence (as verified by logic, or observable evidence or experience), will dismiss these spiritual revelations and circumstances as delusion.

Even when signs and miracles occur, it is unlikely that the hard hearted unbeliever will even then believe YHVH. This was often the case with the children of Israel and many who saw the miracles surrounding Yeshua’s ministry.

In the face of supernatural occurrences, sadly and to their own detriment, the unbelievers usually resort to mockery and to scoffing ridicule. Those, on the other hand, who walk by faith and hear the voice of YHVH and know his ways of communication and will remain undeterred, will have their faith strengthened, and will follow Elohim wherever he leads them.


 

The “Gospel of the Kingdom” Vs. the “Gospel of the Person of Jesus”

Are mainstream Christian Bible teachers and pastors really teaching what Yeshua and his apostles preached?

Recently, I received a letter where the writer asked the following question: Is the  gospel of the kingdom is different than that of the death, burial and resurrection or are the two connected?
Here is my answer to this excellent question:
The phrase, “gospel of the kingdom” is found in Matt 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:14, 15. We also find that the Gospels record that John the Baptist preached the message of repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt 3:2). The same words were used to describe the message that Yeshua preached (Matt 4:17). At the same time, both Yeshua and John preached the gospel of the kingdom of heaven as well (Mark 1:14, 14 and Matt 4:23; 9:35). Yeshua’s disciples were to preach the same message to the world (Matt 24:14). Therefore, it is logical to conclude that the message the gospel of the death, burial and resurrection as the apostles taught and the gospel of the kingdom are one in the same. Succinctly, they taught that one cannot enter the the kingdom of Elohim without placing one’s faith in Messiah. Therefore, these two messages are linked, indivisible and two sides of the same coin.
The problem is that the message of the kingdom is foreign to many Christians. They know about Yeshua, but little is taught or known about the kingdom of Elohim, even though this was a core component of the gospel message. This is because, in the minds of most Christians, when you die, your immortal soul “goes back to heaven” period. So what is the relevance of talking about the kingdom of Elohim in this paradigm? Little if any. Yet the kingdom of heaven/Elohim was one of the subjects that Yeshua talked about the most—certainly more than heaven or hell!
Let’s let the data speak for itself. Years ago I cataloged by topic the subjects Yeshua talked about the most in the synoptic Gospels (Matt, Mark and Luke). This is what I discovered:

1 Yeshua Speaking About Himself (316 references)

2 Yeshua Speaking About His Father (184 references)

3 Yeshua Interacting With the Disobedient/Hypocritical Religionists (177 references)

4 Yeshua Speaking About the Kingdom of Elohim (144 references)

5 Yeshua  Talking About the Torah (96 references)

So where does the gospel message that the mainstream church preaches fit into this paradigmatic scenario? Is it really preaching what Yeshua himself preached? Well, from the data above, it seems that that they’ve got the first subject covered quite well, thank you very much. But anyone with any church experience will see that that they’ve missed it big time on subjects two through five! This, in my opinion, is why the gospel of the kingdom, not to mention the subject Torah are such foreign concepts to the average Christian.
After that, Yeshua talked most about these topics:

6 Yeshua Speaking About the  Path of Righteousness (71 references)

7 Yeshua Teaching on Judgment (58 references)

8 Yeshua Speaking About His Death, Burial and Resurrection (54 references)

9 Yeshua Teaching About Obedience/Faithfulness (45 references)

10 Yeshua Speaking About Spiritual Rewards (43 references)

Sadly, the church doesn’t have much to say about most of these subjects as well.
By comparison, some of the things about which many churches teach the most frequently are are near the bottom of the list of what Yeshua preached about if even on the list at all. These include:
  • Money: 3 references (although “the perils of materialism” had 19 references)
  • Blessings: 4 references
  • Miracles and signs: 25 references
  • Physical needs: 2 references
  • Love (brotherly): 10 references
  • Love (of Elohim for man and vice versa): 19 references
The following subjects are not on the list of topics Yeshua discussed despite the fact that they are popular subjects within Christian circles (go to any Christian book store and see what the subjects of the best selling Christian books are!).
  • Financial security
  • Pleasure and entertainment
  • Retirement
  • Sexual pleasure and fulfillment
  • Self esteem
  • Psychology
So when John and Yeshua preached the gospel of the kingdom, and when Yeshua commanded his disciples to do the same (Matt 10:7), while at the same time preaching the basic message of the good news of Yeshua the Messiah (Matt 28:18–20; Mark 16:16; etc.), this is what they did, even though the church, by in large, doesn’t preach half of the gospel message, that is, the kingdom of Elohim and repentance.
Suffice it to say, briefly, the Scriptures teach us that the kingdom of heaven/Elohim was brought to this earth by Yeshua, is currently in force among his people, and will be made universal when Yeshua returns to this earth as King of kings and establishes his millennial kingdom here. Belief and faith in Yeshua along with repentance of sin (violation of the Torah) and obedience to his Torah commands will be requisite to being a part of that kingdom.

 

Mary and Elizabeth: Godly Women Produce Godly Sons!

A brief discussion from the Gospel of Luke about Mary (the mother of Yeshua) and Elizabeth (the mother of John the Baptist) may shed some clues on why their sons attained such high spiritual stature. Behind godly sons are often godly mothers!

Luke 1:6, Righteous…blameless. Zachariah and Elizabeth (Heb. Elishevah) were totally Torah-observant to the point of being blameless in YHVH’s eyes. This confirms Moses’ words in Deut 30:11–14 that Torah-obedience isn’t outside the realm of human possibility as some in the church erroneously teach today.

Luke 1:28, Blessed are you among women. These words of Gabriel were repeated verbatim in Elizabeth’s prophecy concerning Yeshua (verse 42). Doubtless this was a supernatural confirmation to Mary concerning her role as the mother of the Messiah, for how could her cousin have known what the angel had spoken to her previously?

Luke 1:36, Elizabeth your relative. While Mary was of the royal lineage of David through her father, she also was a relative on her mother’s side of Elizabeth, the priest-wife of Zacharias, who was a daughter of Aaron (Luke 1:5).  In Matthew one and Luke three two different genealogies are given for Yeshua, both of which  go back to King David. One is presumed to be that of Joseph and the other is that of Mary. In this way, Yeshua was a direct descendant of David legally through Joseph, his step-father, and genetically through Mary, his mother. Does this mean that Mary was of priestly as well as Davidic lineage. Yes, but not patrilineally, only matrilineally. In the Scriptures, tribal lineage was determined through the father’s family line and not the mother’s.

In the case of Mary and Elizabeth, they would have shared common grandparents making them cousins. Their grandfather would have been a priest. In the case of Elizabeth, her father—the son of her priestly grandfather—would have carried the priestly line making her a daughter of Aaron (Luke 1:5). In the case of Mary, her mother would have been her priestly grandfather’s daughter meaning that she was of priestly lineage but not her children, unless she married a priest.

It seems that Yeshua would have carried some priestly blood in his genes, but he was not legally a priest through patrilineal descent. To be sure, Yeshua was a priest, but not one of Aaronic lineage but after the order of Melchizedek, which was the priesthood of the firstborn son passed on generationally. Yeshua was the first born son of Elohim eternally, which is why he is presently at the right hand of Elohim acting as our Great High Priest (Heb 1:3 cp. 3:1; 4:4; 8:1).

Therefore, Mary laid claim to a Davidic as well as a priestly lineage (Jesus the Messiah, by Edersheim, p. 105). This means that Yeshua was not only of direct Davidic lineage but was of priestly lineage as well.

Luke 1:39, Now Mary arose. Those with similar divine missions or callings naturally want to be with others like them. Such divine encounters are too unbelievable and incomprehensible for those who haven’t encountered something similar that it is hard to relate to those who have. This is probably why, in part, the prophets of old, at times, lived together in a community. Those who see into the spiritual realm and operate by faith are constricted spiritually when they have to be around those who don’t.

Luke 1:41–45, When Elizabeth heard. During this greeting, Elizabeth had a spiritual encounter that helped her to connect the dots to understand what was going in YHVH’s divine plan for John and Yeshua. Zechariah would have revealed to her the angel’s previous message (vv. 13–17). Now when the babe leapt in her womb at Mary’s arrival and she was filled with the Spirit (a visceral experience), and then prophetic words came out of her mouth, this was evidence and confirmation to both of them of YHVH’s plans for their sons. YHVH has supernatural ways of conveying his divine will to his people, so that only people of faith will see and understand. All others, unless confronted with visible signs and empirical evidence (as verified by logic, or observable evidence or experience), will dismiss these spiritual revelations and circumstances as delusion. The unbelievers usually resort mockery and scoffing ridicule. Those who walk by faith and hear the voice of YHVH and know his ways of communication are undeterred, however, as they follow the Elohim wherever he leads them.


 

What was John the Baptist really preaching? A Lesson for Us…

John the Baptist was no politically correct, mealy-mouthed, sissified, panty-waist, Ahab-ized preacher! He grew up outside the religious system so that his perspective and preaching wouldn’t be jaded when it came to calling those inside the system to repentance. We need more preachers like him today!

Luke 3:7–17, Then he said to the multitudes. What’s really going on in this exchange between John the Baptist and the religious folks of his day? Let’s step back and look at the bigger picture.

The multitudes of Jews had to make the long, hot and arduous journey through the Judean mountains down to the Jordan River, which was the lowest spot on earth, to hear John the Baptist who was the latest fad preacher to come on the scene. However, when they arrived at his lonely wilderness pulpit, instead of stroking their egos by complimenting them for their religious zeal, he excoriates them and calls them a brood of vipers. John confronts them when he says that if they don’t repent, the fires of YHVH’s judgment will consume them (John 3:7–9). John’s preaching pierces their hearts, and lays them low spiritually, and they ask him what he expects them to do (John 3:10). John then preaches a message of social justice involving giving to the poor, being fair and honest in your business dealings, and if you’re a government worker, treating the citizens you serve with respect (John 3:11–14).

Interestingly, he doesn’t instruct these religious Jews in what many might consider to be the specificities and dos and don’ts of the Torah-law, although it could be reasoned that Continue reading