This is the first Shabbat (Sabbath) of a new Torah cycle. Each year, Jews and Messianic believers in Yeshua go through the Torah (the Books of Moses) and the Haftorah (selected passages from the other books of the Tanakh (Old Testament)) in weekly portions. The portion for this week is Beresheet, “In the Beginning”.
The world’s first truly global conflict, known in Europe as the Seven Years’ War and in America as the French and Indian War, was a disaster for France. By the war’s end in 1763, France had ceded the vast territories of Canada and Louisiana to England and Spain. And yet it was not a complete disaster; the Treaty of Paris which ended the war left France with its most prized possession: the Caribbean sugar island of Guadeloupe. Great Britain had won control over both Guadeloupe and Canada during the war, and in the peace negotiations the British deemed Canada more strategically valuable to their empire. But Guadeloupe had proven more valuable economically, producing more income for France than all the fur collected by trappers and traders in Canada, and all the sugar produced by Britain’s own island colonies. King Louis XV, therefore, was quite willing to trade a vast empire for this small island.
A similar transaction appears in Scripture, when the Lord explains what He is ready to do to redeem a people He deems more valuable than all the nations of the earth:
What keeps Jews and Christians from getting along? That is a primary question addressed on The Barking Fox. The view here is that we are two parts of the same people, the Kingdom of Israel. Jews are the basis of that Kingdom, the remnant of ancient Israel to whom God committed His oracles, and through whom He brought forth salvation through His Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth. Christians are people of the nations (Gentiles) who, by the grace of God and their belief in Yeshua as Messiah, cease being Gentiles and join with Jews in the Commonwealth of Israel.
“We have been robbed of a significant part of our godly heritage through a calendar that was intentionally removed from the biblical one.”
That is how Pastor Don Finto begins his excellent discourse published recently in Charisma Magazine on the purpose of the Biblical calendar and its applicability to all of God’s people – not just Jews, but Christians as well. This is a subject Messianic believers have understood for quite some time, but which the church as a whole is only now beginning to suspect. Finto continues:
“The early believers in Jesus were all Jewish. Not until Cornelius were the Gentiles received into the fellowship without converting to Judaism. But even these early Gentile followers observed the biblical feasts as a prophetic statement of their newly found faith in the Jewish Messiah who is also Redeemer of the nations. When Paul wrote to the predominantly Gentile believers of Corinth, he spoke of “Christ, our Passover lamb (who) has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival …” (1 Cor. 5:7-8). The biblical feasts had become the feasts of the Gentile believers as well.”
The world’s attention has at last focused on the genocide happening in Iraq. Tragically, this story is not new. What is new is that the Islamic State (IS) has undertaken the brutal, systematic eradication of every group that does not adhere to its barbaric and quite literal interpretation of Islam. The murder, rape, starvation, and enslavement of Iraq’s minorities who have refused to convert to Islam is now making headlines in the mainstream media. Hopefully all the world now knows about the Yezidis of Iraq who have suffered these brutalities, many thousands of whom are only now finding refuge after being trapped on the Sinjar Mountains.
Yet the Yezidis are not alone in this suffering. The Christians of Iraq have undergone severe persecution since 2003. The estimated Christian population of Iraq in the 1990s was 1.2 million; today it is perhaps 300,000. Many have fled to the Kurdish region of Iraq, where they have found refuge. Many others have fled the region altogether, finding new lives as refugees. The plight of Iraq’s Christians prompted Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) to speak out recently, saying on the floor of Congress, “Christianity as we know it in Iraq is being wiped out.” His remarks highlighted the atrocities of the Islamic State against Christians in Mosul, indicting the United States and the West for silence on this matter. Congressman Wolf called on the church to speak out on behalf of Christians who have been persecuted in the extreme, not only in Iraq, but in Egypt, Africa, and elsewhere that Islamic extremists have taken control. He could also have mentioned Syria, where the Christian population has been literally under siege since the civil war in that nation began in 2011.
Every one of us requires correction now and then. This timely word from fellow Hebrew Roots blogger K. Gallagher at Grace in Torah serves as a reminder not only to Messianic believers, but to all who have a testimony of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) about the basics of our faith. There is no substitute for the fruit of the Spirit, which is the only genuine evidence and measure of our walk with Messiah.
When describing her experience with the Messi-antics movement at a recent women’s retreat, my new friend, Deborah F., used the most clever analogy to describe the people she encountered. She called some fruit loops, some fruit punch, and others fruit snacks. Therefore, I must give her credit for inspiring me with this post. Thanks Deborah, I’m very grateful that the Father saw fit for our journeys to cross paths and I look forward to a great friendship.
Fruit of the Spirit
There is no mystery that the followers of the God of Israel and His Messiah are supposed to produce godly fruit. After all, that is how we are told we will know one another… by their fruit. But there is some controversy as to what that fruit will look like. Regardless of your view, if you follow the God of Israel, we can all agree to…