When did Peter live as a Gentile? A look at Galatians 2:14

When did Peter live as a Gentile? We will address this specific passage of Scripture and examine some of the broader issues as well. See post at www.inhishand.com.

Gen. 8:15 -9:17 Parashah 7, triennial cycle – Be fruitful and multiply

Gen. 8:17 Bring out every living thing of all flesh that is with you – birds, livestock, creatures that crawl on the earth – and they will spread over the earth and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.

Gen. 9:1 God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”

Gen. 9:7 But you, be fruitful and multiply, spread out over the earth and multiply on it.

Three times in this section God instructs Noah, his sons, and the animals to be fruitful and multiply. What does this mean? Doesn’t to be fruitful mean to increase and multiply?  How can we be fruitful and what is the connection with increase?

One of the words translated as “fruitful” in Hebrew is “parah” פרח, Strong’s #6509. The word means “to bear fruit”. The ancient Hebrew pictographic letters symbolize an open head and a mouth, meaning open the head, symbolic of crushing the head of a grain of wheat to reveal the nut inside. [Benner, Jeff, Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible, #1388] Related words are bull, break, decorations, crush and winepress.

The word “multiply” in Hebrew is “rabaw” רבח, Strong’s #7235. The word means to “increase”. The ancient Hebrew pictographic letters symbolize a head and a tent, meaning head of family, symbolic of a representative with authority, abundance of, or increase in, numbers, strength or authority. [Benner, Jeff, Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible, #1439] Related words are master, much, increase, ambush or struggle, encourage, pride, strive and strife.

In John chapter 12, Yeshua said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I assure you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop. The one who loves his life will lose it and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” John 12: 23-26.

Yeshua illustrates the meaning of being fruitful by visualizing a grain of wheat falling to the ground, dying and producing a good crop. In order to bear fruit, the outer shell must be crushed to reveal the life within the wheat. He immediately relates the wheat to people who want to follow Him. The crushing of the wheat in our lives is done through the process of serving Him as He obeys the Father.

In Colossians 2, verses 6 and 7, we are exhorted: “Therefore as you have received Messiah Yeshua the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”  If we walk with Yeshua, we are with Him, following Him. Being with Him and serving Him results in good roots and being built up in Him. The visible result is thankfulness.

Being fruitful leads to increase. Paul criticized some in Colossians 2, verse 19: “He doesn’t hold on to the head from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and tendons, develops with growth (increase) from God.”  If we are rooted and grounded in Him, established in the faith, demonstrating thankfulness, we are connected to the body and God brings the increase.

Paul continues in chapter 3 with teaching on how to walk in Him: “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another, and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive. Above all, put on love, the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to whom you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.” Col. 3:12-15.

There are obstacles to being fruitful. The kingdom of God and the word of God may be compared to seed. Matt. 13:24. In Matthew chapter 13, Yeshua told the parable of the sower:

Then He told them many things in parables, saying: “Consider the sower who went out to sow. As he was sowing, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and ate them up.  Others fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil, and they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them. Still others fell on good ground, and produced a crop: some 100, some 60, and some 30 times [what was sown]. Anyone who has ears should listen!” Matt. 13:3-9.

He explained the parable:

“You, then, listen to the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one sown along the path. And the one sown on rocky ground—this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. Yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now the one sown among the thorns—this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But the one sown on the good ground—this is one who hears and understands the word, who does bear fruit and yields: some 100, some 60, some 30 times [what was sown].” Matt. 13:18-23.

If we hear the word and don’t seek understanding of the word, the enemy snatches it away. The word, the seed, never takes root. Some seed does take root, but the roots are not deep. We may hear and understand the word, even receive it with joy, but since we harbor unthankfulness, the root is short. If we do not walk with Him, serve Him and display thankfulness, we are not well rooted and grounded in Yeshua. Thus the word and the kingdom of God does not produce good fruit when the time of persecution or pressure comes. Other times we let the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Yeshua told us to be anxious for nothing, not worrying about food, drink or clothing. Luke 12:22-32. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34. He immediately follows this warning with a call to service:  “Be ready for service and have your lamps lit.” Luke 12:35. If we die to self, being the crushed grain, we will display the fruit of thankfulness and be anxious for nothing. After all, what does a dead body have need of food, drink and attire? If we allow the desires of this life to distract and divert us from walking with Him, or allow the worries of the world to choke out the word, we will not be fruitful and there will not be increase.

Increase –  the abundance of numbers, strength or authority – is granted by God as a result of fruitfulness. The crushing of the grain or the pressing of the grapes leads to fruitfulness. The word “winepress” is related to fruitfulness. In the parable of the vineyard owner, we see that there is a connection to authority.

Matt. 21:33-46:

“Listen  to another parable: There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. He leased it to tenant farmers and went away. When the grape harvest drew near, he sent his slaves to the farmers to collect his fruit. But the farmers took his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Again, he sent other slaves, more than the first group, and they did the same to them. Finally, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. But when the tenant farmers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance! So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?”

“He will completely destroy those terrible men,” they told Him, “and lease his vineyard to other farmers who will give him his produce at the harvest.”

Yeshua said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This came from the Lord and is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing its fruit. Whoever falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder!”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they knew He was speaking about them. Although they were looking for a way to arrest Him, they feared the crowds, because they regarded Him as a prophet.

Yeshua linked the fruitfulness of the nation to the kingdom of God. The chief priests and Pharisees knew this parable was about them. The issue was who would obey God’s authority? The tenants did not honor the authority of the owner, the Pharisees did not honor the Son sent in the Father’s name. Good fruit leads to an in increase in numbers, strength or authority, all of which are gifts from God, and all are designed to increase His kingdom.

Isa. 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

This verse is not about earthly governments – it is about the ever-spreading and growing authority of God in the earth as a result of the good fruit of the followers of Yeshua. As we follow Him, as we produce good fruit, His authority in the earth grows and will never end. To the degree that we hold on to our life, let the pressures and deceptive charms of the world stifle the production of good fruit, we will also hold back the kingdom of God and reduce our rewards in the life to come.


In honor of Jude

Jude’s time with us on this earth seems so short and we long for the time when we will see him again. We know where he is now, to be absent from the body is to be with the Lord. We will see him again, we just don’t know when or where yet. We believe in resurrection – Paul tells us in1 Corinthians 15:20-22 Yeshua was raised from the dead as the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. In Him, all shall be made alive.

We have faith in the truth of His word. David had faith, he knew he would go to meet his son again. (2 Sam. 12:23) The Shunamite woman had faith, she knew our Father and King could act and her son returned to her. (2 Kings 4:1-37) The synagogue official had faith and saw his daughter arise and walk. (Mark 5:41-42) Mary and Martha had faith and saw their brother came forth after four days. (John 11:1-44)

Yet even those who did not act upon their faith had God intrude into their everyday lives. When Yeshua declared “it is finished”, the ground shook and many tombs were opened and the dead raised. Many a family received an unexpected visit from personal messengers from God in the form of relatives that they did not expect to see again. In Second Kings 13:21, the Scriptures record that a dead man touched Elisha’s bones and was raised again, to the surprise of his companions.

We are to be strong and courageous for the Lord of Hosts is with us. We are not to fear nor be troubled but instead we are to sanctify Yeshua as Lord in our hearts, being always ready to make a defense to everyone who asks us to give an account for the hope that is in us, with gentleness and reverence. For we are not uninformed about those who are asleep and we do not grieve like those who have no hope. For we do believe that Yeshua died and rose again and that Yahweh will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Yeshua.

1 Cor. 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

John 14:1-3 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places ; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for Jude. 3 “If I go and prepare a place for Jude, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

John 11:25 Yeshua said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.

Phil. 3:14-21 So let us … press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. Brethren, let us join in following his example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern we have in Scripture. …(20) For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for our Savior, the Lord Yeshua haMashiach; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

Psalm 139:13-18 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.

Harry and Cheryl Salem, in a book called From Grief to Glory, said: God, through the Holy Spirit, speaks to us through our spirits. Our enemy focuses his energy on directing our attention to what we can see and feel, to get us to stay earthy minded, reoccupied with temporal things – our thoughts and feelings. Remember that our thoughts and feelings are completely subject to change and are not eternal. The life of faith in Yahweh is based on believing more in what we cannot see than in what we do see. Faith says to us during our thoughts and feelings of loss that God is a good God who will bring beauty to our lives once more. This is where our strength and hope come from.

Psalm 126:5-6 Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

May Yahweh bless each of us with peace.

Is Christ the least in the kingdom?

Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:19).

It is popularly taught that Christ fulfilled the law of Moses, making it irrelevant to today’s followers of Him. Yet, His own words would indicate that this teaching could not be true, for then Christ would be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

Further discussion of this issue at Theology News Network.

The narrow gate – a game changer – guest post

the narrow gate…..a game changer. I was reading this week’s Brit Hadasha portion in Matthew 21 and 22. I found it interesting how Yeshua referred to the Law (Torah) and the Prophets together when making a point. I don’t really remember linking the two before for purposes listed below. It can also be found in Matt 22:40, Matt 5:17, and Matt 7:12. This brought to mind an argument(s) presented by non-Torah keepers, a.k.a. Lawless Ones, where Torah was somehow done away with. So I naturally asked myself (not really) “are the Prophets done away with too since Yeshua mentions them in the same passage(s); same context?” Not hardly! But for now I will holster my hollow point loaded, Messianic Apologetics .357, for the next time I get into a shootout with the Law-less Ones as this is not at the heart of this study. (Yes, this is original material even though I did spend ALL weekend listening to Michael Rood) It began and ended, focused on and illuminated by Yeshua in the Sermon on the Mount. Most of us awakened to Torah, realize Yeshua is explaining the Spirit of the Torah v The Letter in The Sermon. Towards the end of The Sermon in v 13 Yeshua says: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy [1] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Instantly the light came on and a huge burden was lifted. It made sense. If we have been chosen by Him and we choose life (Torah), then the promise is it will be hard. And it’s hard like mining for gold; very few find it. But in a very real way, at the intersections of our lives, it’s hard like raising children, working at a marriage, writing a business plan, making a business plan work, getting the children ready to go to Shabbat, getting ready for Erev Shabbat, etc. All these are more than rewarding after accomplished.

As I began to share this with Jennifer, she pointed out she had done a word study a few years back on this passage. The word “narrow” was really more like “obstacles” with the understanding that “the narrow way” of a Torah observant life will be filled with obstacles. Everyone has obstacles in their lives. Often it is the same recurring one. The one that just will not go away. The one that’s there year in and year out. The hurdle we can’t get over. The one that causes us to ask “what are we doing wrong?” The one that feels more like a curse, but we know that can’t be right because we’ve been through the Mikvah process. For me this answered a lifelong quandary; and that is this….. They’re just obstacles. Not curses. Obstacles make us stronger. They are there for us to navigate around, climb over, or drive/push/pull/drag them out of the narrow way. His way. The only way. Asking ourselves and/or our brothers and sisters in Yeshua “why, why, why?” is not even germane to the Torah filled believer. Now, asking the “why questions” about the Lawless maybe germane. Like “why do they have the big buildings” and “why are they able to raise big money, have big homes, take long trips, while comfortably coasting?” Yeshua said the “wide gate is easy, leads to destruction, and those who enter are many. That’s really not that hard to understand.

Today I have come to understand and embrace joy of the journey; (Rabbi Messer told us this 6-7 years ago and I couldn’t receive it then) knowing its purpose will be served and with it, great reward! Anything worthwhile in life has and will cost us dearly; 1. either financially, 2. emotionally, 3. physically, 4. maybe even spiritually. For women it is 1. childbirth, 2. homeschooling, 3. enduring the poor decisions of their husbands, while waiting on YHWH to make them the men they were born to be. If anything is easily attained, it generally will have a diminished value v. something of great price. The fact that Yeshua said “the way that leads to life is hard and those that find it are few” makes it liberating! It lets us know that if we are coasting and comfortable in life, we’re most likely not on His Road of Torah, but possibly on the wide road to destruction. He’s telling us to count the cost, and its will cost a lot, but come at all costs.

So if you’ve been living Torah and fighting; even bloody, broken, and bruised, for what seems like the same fight for years, rejoice; you’re in the good fight! You didn’t do something wrong. That’s the evil report. You’re in the narrow way! Filled with obstacles of every sort; Baruch HaShem Yahweh; and your reward is closer than it’s ever been. It is written! Abba, we praise Your Holy Name; Yahweh Unrivalled! Yahweh the Magnificent! Yahweh the Great! Great is your mercy, as you have and are, allowing us to understand your purposes; while we’re still on the planet. Yahweh, your promises are even greater than your fame. Both strengthen and lead us into all truth, as we do our best to follow you, Yahweh Elohim. Le ‘olemei ‘olamim. Ameyn. Curtis Russell 12/17/2009

Roots of Conspiracy

“The NWO is hard at work and moving fast.”

“The elite’s conspiracy to exploit the financial crisis to finalize their global government takeover.”

“The ultra-secret Order of the Illuminati has members who are devoted to America’s destruction by merging us into an all-powerful, one-world-government.”

“Puppetmasters behind the prophesied One World Government, One World Currency and One World Religion that is coming.”

Sound familar?

Emails, blogs or websites containing these assertations are easily found. Stories of conspiracies are ever-popular. They are also quite old.
Jer. 11:1-11, v 9 And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

The word “conspiracy” is Strong’s number 7195 – transliterated “qesher” (koof shin resh), meaning conspiracy, treason, (unlawful) alliance.

Jer. 11:10 “They have turned back to the iniquities of their ancestors who refused to hear My words, and they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers.”

Ezekial 22:23-31 – 23 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 24 “Son of man, say to her, ‘You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.’ 25 “There is a conspiracy of her prophets in her midst like a roaring lion tearing the prey. They have devoured lives ; they have taken treasure and precious things ; they have made many widows in the midst of her. 26 “Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things ; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean ; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. 27 “Her princes within her are like wolves tearing the prey, by shedding blood and destroying lives in order to get dishonest gain. 28 “Her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken. 29 “The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice. “

The oldest conspiracy is the one man has engaged in since the fall of Adam – disobeying God. Yet we have a tendency to want to blame something or someone else for the consequences of that disobedience. Isn’t it easier to point the finger at someone else and say ‘it’s his fault” than it is to admit I brought something I don’t like into my life because I ignored God’s word.

Too often, the fingerpointing accuses the Jewish people or some semi-secret, long lasting cabal of “elites” of ruining/running/taking over the world/already in charge of world affairs or some combination thereof.

Daniel Pipes studied the roots of conspiracy theories and found them to be persistent. In his book, Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From, Pipes looks at the records that can be accessed and discusses the philosophical forces that drive the conspiracy theories. Very interesting material but not encouraging for those who believe in the elite puppetmasters that control or want to control your life.

A Prayer to Our Father

Does uncovering the Hebrew origin’s of a prayer help us to understand it as it was originally understood by the listeners of the Galilee area over 2,000 years ago?  In A Prayer to Our Father, Nehimia Gordon and Keith Johnson present a case that their investigation will inspire others to explore a common heritage between Jews and Christians or at least to “embrace” the blessing of the Hebrew language.

Do not expect a scholarly work, this is more of a personal journey and story of two men discovering common ground in the Scriptures. The opening sentence set the tone: “As the only prayer written by Jesus himself…” I missed the part in the Scriptures where it said Jesus wrote the Gospels.

If you have studied the Gospels and searched the internet for insight, you may see that there is an active discussion going on about the language in which the Gospels were originally written. In 1987, university professor George Howard wrote THE HEBREW GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, a scholarly introduction to an ancient Hebrew version of Matthew. Based on the existence of Hebrew word “puns” and other evidence, Howard believed that the text written in the 14th century was based on an original Hebrew writing rather than a Hebrew translation of a text written in another language. Gordon and Johnson use the old Hebrew version in order to argue that the “Lord’s Prayer” was originally written in Hebrew and therefore, additional insight can be gained for today’s English readers if we look at the Hebrew.

A Prayer to Our Father delivers some insight, but much of the book is the story of Gordon and Johnson as they meet each other, began studying Hebrew together and agreed to discuss the book of Matthew (at Gordon’s request). A significant portion of the book is about the search for the physical location where the sermon on the Mount was given based on the Scriptures and other ancient writings. This search is like “archeology lite” because it seemed to be based on their personal observations and feelings, rather than historical records and research.

Be aware that Gordon identifies himself as a Karaite Jew, but does not explain that he is a founder of the Worldwide Karaite revival movement.  Some of the links from his website lead to anti-missionary sites designed to lure people away from their belief in Jesus/Yeshua.

Overall, the book was interesting concerning the personal stories of the authors but not useful as a reference or teaching tool.

Shabbat Blessing

May you always abide in the tent of the Lord, and dwell on His holy hill. May you walk with integrity and speak truth in your heart. May you not slander with your words, nor do evil to your neighbor nor take up an offense against a friend. (Ps. 15)

Willful ignorance

This week, we studied the story of Noah. Of course, we live in times where the story of the great flood is considered to be fiction.

2 Pet.3:3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

The book Grand Canyon: A Different View offers a discussion of the evidence of the flood presented by the Grand Canyon.  It has photos of the Grand Canyon, with illustrative Bible verses, essays from scientific Christians who believe the flood formed the Canyon, descriptions of the animals and plants living in the Canyon,  and a few essays by Christians explaining why they believe in Biblical creation rather than the theory of evolution or the Big Bang Theory.

The photos are beautiful and the book raises issues not easily explained except by God’s word. Recommended for families.

Is it really by chance?

Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. Proverbs 25:2.

Our family watched one of the DVDs in the series: Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Christian Families 10 DVD Set Vision Forum last night. The speaker strongly encouraged us to develop a multi-generational entrepreneurial vision for our family. However, one of the comments stuck in my mind – he mentioned several times that the good fortune his family received on occasion was purely serendipitous. 

While it probably was not what he was looking for, perhaps the glory should be directed to the one that supplies all our needs. As previously pointed out, nothing is really by chance. It is our Father’s glory to conceal something and our job to seek it out. And when we do find it, the glory belongs to Him.