The Truth You Know

by Sue Priebe

In Matthew 11 we read the story of John the Baptist in prison.

John heard about the things Jesus was doing so the Bible tells us he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus what may seem to us a very strange question.  “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting or should we keep looking for someone else?”  How could John ask such a question?

This is the same John who is described in John 1:6-8 as the man sent by God “to tell about the light so that everyone might believe of his testimony.  John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light.”

This was the same John who recognized the Messiah while they were both in their mothers’ wombs.  Remember his mother Elizabeth proclaimed that the baby leapt within her.

This is the same John whose father was given a prophetic word that “he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God…He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.”  (Luke 1:16-17)

This is the same John who was confronted by the Jewish leaders about his identity.  He replied quoting Isaiah in John 1:23, “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’”

This is the same John who identified Jesus when he saw Him saying “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!  He is the one I was talking about then I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for He existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel…I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him.  I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that He is the Chosen One of God.”

So, what happened that would make John send his disciples to Jesus to ask if He really was the One?

His entire ministry had been based on declaring that very revelation.  What brought such doubt to his mind?

What expectations might he have had?  Did he expect Jesus to work a miracle and get him our of prison?  Surely Jesus would at least come to see him.  I am sure his mind was working overtime …..”maybe Jesus really isn’t who I thought He was.”  His circumstances may have been causing him to doubt what he absolutely knew to be true.

Historians tell us that John was in prison for about a year and a half.  This man who lived outdoors was now imprisoned with very little light, very little fresh air, very little company.  He was definitely in quarantine! 

Science tells us that prolonged social isolation can actually change the shape and function of our brains.  The region responsible for learning and memory can shrink in response to long-term isolation and the part that regulates fear and anxiety goes into overdrive.

Unexpected circumstances, isolation and distancing can cause us to doubt what we know to be true!  This was definitely a time of isolation for John.  Even though John said “He must increase and I must decrease,”  I don’t think he had counted on ending his life in prison.

As we enter another month of isolation and distancing, we must not let our minds “shrink” away from what we know to be true.  In times of isolation and stress, we too can begin to doubt.  We can begin to wonder where God is in the midst of this pandemic when economies are shaking, when our whole world changed in a matter of days.  We might ask,  “Where are you God?” or “Why aren’t you doing something about this?  We can’t even go to church!  People are dying!”

Jesus’ answer to John might seem strange to us.

There is a message in it for us too.  Did Jesus even answer the question? Jesus sent His answer, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.”  And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”

It may seem to us that Jesus’ answer was obscure, but it would have been clear to John who would have recognized that Jesus was quoting Isaiah 35 and 61, prophetic scriptures describing the ministry of the Messiah.  John also probably recognized the portion of the scripture that Jesus didn’t say:  Jesus did NOT say the phrase from Isaiah 61 that “prisoners will be freed.”  What was the message Jesus was sending? “Yes, I am the Messiah, but you will not be getting out of prison.”

Jesus also added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”  Some versions say “those who are not offended by me.”  Basically Jesus was saying to John—“Don’t turn away from me, don’t doubt what you know to be true because I don’t do what you expect me to do!  You know who I am.  Trust me even in your current difficult circumstance.”

I believe the Lord is saying the same thing to us today.  Our desire is for Him to intervene and stop this virus.  Perhaps we have an unmet need for which we have been praying.  The message Jesus is sending us is, “Don’t fall away, or don’t be offended by me because I am not doing what you think I should be doing.”  It is time for us to stand firm on what we know to be true!

An encouraging part of this story is that we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves when we have some fear and doubt in these difficult times.  In Luke 7: 28 Jesus said, “I tell you of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John.”  If the greatest one who ever lived (besides Jesus, of course) can have moments of doubt, so can we.

We may have those moments, but the key is not to stay in that place of doubt or fear.  Remember what the Word of God says.  Remember who God is.  Remember that He is a good God and His character has not changed.  After hearing the report from Jesus, I think John faced his situation with confidence, and we can do the same.  Jesus reminded John what the Bible said about the Messiah, and I believe Jesus’ response reminded John what he himself had seen and heard.

In times of difficulty, we must hang on to what we know to be true and not give in to doubt.  God is still God, and He is working in ways that we may not yet see, but that does not mean He is not working.  It is a time to stand firm in the Lord and the power of His Might!

“In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might.  Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier] so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (spiritual) places.  Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].  So stand firm and hold your ground having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news].  Above all, lift up the [protective]shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.” Ephesians 6:10-18 (AMP)

Sue Priebe is Associate Pastor at City of Hope Church in Janesville, Wisconsin, a Chaplain for Marketplace Chaplains and serves on the Board of Directors for Women of the Word. She is passionate about teaching the Word of God in ways that are relevant and applicable to daily life. She also has a deep love for Israel and travels there frequently connecting with believers there and teaching God’s Word on location. 

 

 

Watchful Gardeners

by Kim Warf

Let us be watchful gardeners and keepers of the inner treasure.

As natural gardeners of our flowers and vegetables, there is much care and foresight given. The necessity for proper soil and healthy seeds and seedlings are understood and due diligence is given for the hope of an abundant harvest.

What of the garden of our hearts? It is from there, the Bible tells us, that the issues or the overflow of our lives will stem. So, the condition of our heart foretells the condition of our lives.

Take care that seeds of discontentment are not allowed to flourish there. Those are like the pesky weeds that grow deep roots and choke out the wonderful things you are trying to grow .

The Bible refers to this in Hebrews 12:15, ‘See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled’. These deep, dark roots of offense become tangled and twisted causing distress for oneself and will spread to others if not dealt with immediately.

In Mark 4, we see another scenario. Here, the condition of our heart is addressed. “Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.” Even when good seed is sown (God’s word), if the condition of our heart isn’t right, it will not flourish and produce properly.

If good seed can be choked, what happens when “bad seed” (negativity, divisiveness) evil is sown? Be vigilant over the soil of your heart and do not receive these words as truth. At the very least, take the time to get the “whole story”.

Do you remember when we first came to know the Lord?

There were strongholds that were deeply rooted in our hearts and minds. Over time, our minds and hearts were renewed by the good seed of the Word of God. We need the truth and the love of God to realign our mind and thinking. This is true for every season of life.

Let’s be watchful gardeners of our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 warns us to “Keep our heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

Thankfully, we are then instructed how to do this:
Verse 24 “ Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you.”
Verse 25 “Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you.”
Verse 26 “Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established.”
Verse 27 “Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.”

How do I know what is good seed and what is bad seed? The good seed brings forth the peaceable fruit of righteousness and the bad seed brings forth distress. The watchful gardener will reap what is sown.

Kim Warf is the associate pastor, alongside her husband Paul of New Beginnings Church in Bangor, ME.  She is also a Board Member of Women of the Word and has served as Conference Chairman of several WOW conferences in Maine. Paul and Kim have two grown daughters and a beautiful grand-daughter.

Why is this Night Different from All Other Nights?

by Betsy Roy

Good question! This is the question asked by the youngest member in a Jewish family during the Passover Seder Meal celebrated each year.

The question in the Bible is actually “What do you mean by this service?” The answer is “It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our house.” (Exodus 12:26, 27). The LORD also instructed them to keep this feast at its appointed time from year to year so that they would remember what HE did for them throughout their generations. (Exodus 13:3-10)

Passover this year (2020) begins at sundown on April 8th and goes to sundown on April 16th. Many of us are familiar with the story of the Exodus from Egypt and the basic teaching of Passover when the death angel passed over the homes of the Hebrew people who had the blood of a lamb on the doorposts and lintels so as to spare the death of the first-born (the last plague Exodus 12:21-24).

How is it pertinent in our day especially this year as the world is under the scourge of COVID-19?

Passover is not only a feast of remembrance. It is also a present reality with prophetic meaning. There is much to be learned as we study the prophetic scriptures. God has a plan. Much has been fulfilled but much is still to be fulfilled as we await the glorious return of the Lord!

Many of us are under a “shelter at home” or “shelter in place” directive right now here in the USA. People in Israel are forbidden by the government to leave their homes for 3 days during this Passover. Also, they are not allowed to celebrate with their extended families (which is traditional) but only with those who live under the same roof. Is God saying something to Israel and to His Church throughout the nations? I believe that He is.When I reflect on the Exodus and the Passover meal the Lord Jesus shared with his disciples (Luke 22:14-22), his suffering, his death and his resurrection I am reminded that God is a God of Covenant! He is a Covenant-keeper. We see this theme throughout the Scriptures in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Covenant. The Lord Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s Covenants with us.

God has made A Covenant of Peace with us. 

“‘For the Mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10) We certainly need that peace, that shalom, in these days. In Hebrew the word shalom (peace) is not the absence of trouble, not the absence of war. Rather it speaks of wholeness and completion in our lives which includes provision and health to us physically, spiritually and emotionally. This covenant of peace was promised to the Levitical priesthood in Numbers 25:10-13 and for us as believers this is extended to us today as we are also a part of this perpetual and royal priesthood (1 Peter2:9). Remember that one of Jesus’ titles is “Sar Shalom” which means Prince of Peace! Even in this time of great distress in the world and very difficult circumstances we can be a people that have God’s peace as an anchor to our souls and a witness to others.

Let’s remember that the Lord isn’t finished with us yet. Yes, it’s a very difficult season but it is the beginning of birth pains (Read Matthew 24:1-14), not the Great Tribulation. It is a very important sign and I believe one we must pay attention to individually and corporately as the Church. It is a huge shift; the ending of one era, and the beginning of another era. We cannot return to “the way we were”.  Let us be about our Father’s business and usher in the return of the Lord. May our cry be “Maranatha! Maranatha!”, Come Lord Jesus Come. As surely as God has fulfilled His promises through the first advent of our Messiah so the final promise of His return will be accomplished also at His second advent. (Revelation 19:11-16).  Hallelujah!

Lastly, allow me to pray for you please. Father God, in the mighty name of Jesus I lift up the reader right now. Father, I ask for your assurance of peace for them in the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. You know what is going on in their life. Please reveal yourself to them. If they are in need of repentance then I pray for your loving conviction upon their hearts to draw them to ask forgiveness knowing that you are willing to forgive and to cleanse their hearts. If they are in emotional or mental turmoil I ask that they cast their cares upon you knowing that you care for them and will shelter them under your wings of love. If they are fearful, anxious, or in grief, I ask that you comfort them and make provision for them. If they are ill, I ask for your healing touch on their bodies restoring them to health. Father, I apply the blood of the pure and spotless Lamb, the blood of Jesus over our homes and families. Thank you that it is protection, a place of shelter for us. Father, I thank you that you hear us when we call out to you and that Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us before Your throne of grace. I thank you that you are the same yesterday, today, and forever. May our eyes look upon Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Amen

Women of the Word has corporate prayer on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm (EST). We invite you to join us. Please visit our website by clicking here. 

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.

 

 

 

Defensive and Offensive Weapons against the Coronavirus

by Betsy Roy

I am Christian, a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am also a nurse, a wife, a mother and grandmother.

First I will give the practical weapons against bacteria and viruses (like “flu” and “coronavirus”).
  1. WASH your hands!! Wash them well with lots of soap, water and long enough (at least 20 seconds). Get all surfaces of you hands (front, back, between fingers, under nails).  See picture
  2. STAY home if you’re sick! Don’t infect others!
  3. DON’T shake hands and DON’T touch your face and eyes.
  4. SNEEZE and COUGH into tissues and dispose of them.
  5. BUILD UP your immune system. Eat right, get rest, exercise. Take a good multi-vitamin. Extra Vitamin C and D are also a good idea.
  6. SUBMIT to and OBEY the governing authorities of your pastor, employer, community, state and nation regarding meetings, travel and health directives in hospitals, nursing homes, etc. according to Romans 13:1.
Now for the spiritual weapons. the Bible tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (natural) but mighty through God (2 corinthians 10: 4-5)  so let’s use them!

Believing prayer and saying what God says works! About 18 months ago I received a diagnosis that frankly did scare me at first. So, I understand fear but I didn’t stay there. Here are some of the scriptures the Holy Spirit gave me to fight with and I believe they will work against the flus and coronavirus also.

  1. If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior you are a child of God. Know who you are, remind yourself you are not of the world and declare it to the powers of darkness that try to intimidate you with fear. You are a daughter of the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords and HE is in your midst and has taken away the judgments against you and clears away your enemies.  (Zephaniah 3:14 – 17) Sickness is an enemy!
  2. I do not fear bad news! My heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. I am blessed because I fear (reverence in awe) the Lord and greatly delight in His commandments! (Psalm 122: 1, 4 – 8)
  3. God’s Word is life to me and healing to all my flesh. I am attentive to His words. (Proverbs 4: 20-22)
  4. Christ redeemed me from the curse of the law becoming a curse for me. (Galatians 3:13) 
  5. Jesus healed all who were sick, took our illnesses and our diseases. (Matthew 8: 16-17; Isaiah 53: 4-5; 1Peter 2: 24)
  6. Jesus gives life to my mortal body through His Spirit who dwells in me and has set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8: 2, 11)
  7. I fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6: 12)
  8. I am strong in the Lord and put on the whole armor of God to stand against the schemes of the devil. I pray at all times in the Spirit. (Ephesians 6: 10 – 18)
  9. I take refuge in the Lord, rather than trust in man. The LORD is my strength and my song and has become my salvation. (Psalm 118: 8-9, 14)
  10. I do not think like everyone else does. I wait for the LORD and put my hope in Him. (Isaiah 8: 11) His thoughts are higher than man’s thought and His ways are higher than man’s ways. (Isaiah 55: 8-9)

Finally, stay in peace. Stay your mind upon God.  Do not give into fear or be anxious. Rejoice in the Lord! (Philippians 4: 4-6) Stop listening to and watching the news all the time, including social media. I’m not saying stick your head in the sand, but don’t let yourself get bombarded by all the hype either.

Let’s pray together………..Father God you are on the throne! You are greater than any sickness or disease including the coronavirus. I thank you that I am your daughter and that my household and those who live in it are under the protection of the shed blood of Jesus. I do not fear for myself nor my family. I do pray for those who have been afflicted by flus and coronavirus. I ask for your mercy and healing. Along with my brothers and sisters in the faith I raise the standard of the blood of Jesus against this flood of sickness knowing that your WORD prevails against all the power of the enemy. We stand firm in expectation of the victory you bring. Amen.

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.

 

Celebrating Shavuot/Pentecost

by Betsy Roy

On the Hebrew calendar Shavuot occurs fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits. On the Christian calendar Pentecost occurs fifty days after Jesus’ Resurrection.

They are the same day since Jesus was resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits! The Old Testament Feast of Shavuot (or Weeks) is an agricultural feast celebrating the wheat harvest and also called the Feast of Reaping or Harvest. While not supported in the Biblical text, Rabbinic tradition teaches that at this time God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. Pentecost in the New Testament commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the 120 gathered in the Upper Room and their empowerment to spread the Gospel. Indeed, 3000 new believers came into the Kingdom that day (Acts 2) and were baptized. Wouldn’t we like to receive 3,000 new believers into our congregations today? That is a mighty move of the Holy Spirit upon the hearts of men and women!

We need both the Word of God (His teachings and instructions) and the Spirit of God to guide us and teach us.

The Holy Spirit is our teacher and he brings to our remembrance all that Jesus taught. Jesus himself spoke the scriptures many times in various situations. Growing up as a Jewish man within a Jewish community, Jesus studied the scriptures, went to the synagogue and celebrated the Feasts of the Lord going up to Jerusalem to be in God’s House (the Temple). After being baptized in the Jordan River, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil and Jesus met every temptation by speaking God’s Word from Deuteronomy (see Luke 4).

Jesus’ example shows us how much we need to know God’s Word and need the Holy Spirit to rightly apply God’s Word in our lives. It’s not one without the other. There are many voices competing for our attention today. As believers we need to know whose voice is speaking to us as the enemy of our souls surely tries to get us to listen to his voice. The Holy Spirit will never contradict God’s Word. Therefore, to know the voice of the Spirit, we must also know what the Word of God says. The Spirit will bring understanding, illumination, revelation and confirmation of God’s Word, but never speak contrary to it. So, it’s the Word and the Spirit together!

Are you struggling with Life Issues, not knowing what to do today?

Go to God’s Word, the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to help you. He will! Perhaps you need a Redeemer – His name is Jesus – and he will forgive you of every sin if you ask him and then give you strength and power to live free of sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you need direction? Again, the Holy Spirit and the Word of God will help you. The Lord never turns away a sincere heart that comes to him.

Commemorating Shavuot and Pentecost is celebrating the WORD and the SPIRIT. Let’s be thankful God gave us both and pray and work towards a great harvest of souls into God’s Kingdom! 

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.

How should Christians Relate to Israel: Part 2

by Rose–Marie Slosek

Click here for Part 1: How Should Christians View Israel

Part 2: A hundred years ago, one could not have even seen that Israel would come back on the world stage as a country. If you read books concerning eschatology and end time issues written before 1948, they do not seem to focus directly on Israel because Israel did not even exist as a sovereign country.  

In 1948, Israel was once again a nation! This was a mere 70 years ago! But Israel is now, and will be increasingly, at the center of much world controversy.  Jerusalem is the most contested city on the earth and will be until Jesus comes. It is now essential to realize that God is not finished with Israel. He who has begun a work in her, will finish it, and why is this? It is because of covenant.  Although we can be happy that the embassy of the US has moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem we must also realize that we cannot relate to Israel, nor does God relate to Israel, through political avenues. Because Israel is both a sovereign country and a political state, many Israelis may not remember or pay heed to Israel’s covenant with God, and those that do may be mistaken in its application and meaning at this time in history.

So we need to be able to relate to Israel according to biblical wisdom and not secular or political protocol. So let us turn and search the scriptures. God has spoken to Israel by means of The Law and the Prophets. When Israel was straying from God, God sent prophets to call Israel back to Himself. When they did not return, then there were consequences. God allows free choice, but He was sovereign over the nation, and sovereign He still is and will forever be.

Blessed be He! To our way of thinking, God’s ways can be difficult to understand or appear harsh. But God is God and acts from wisdom and covenant love.  We must stand with Him and trust Him.

There is much humanism that surrounds both Jewish thinking about its own nation, and also our thinking as Christians about who and what Israel is and what God will do to accomplish His purposes with His nation on the earth. If we find ourselves on the wrong side of God, we will find ourselves of no use to Him, or worse, to be at odds with Him and He will have to sweep us aside. At some times, in some crucial moments in history, there is little place for error.

Many stand with Israel no matter what she does. Yes, it is our place as Christians to stand with her, but not without discernment and clarity as to where God stands with her.  To the degree that she is astray, we cannot fully support her. So it behooves us to know the covenant. God has a history of using other nations to come against Israel to bring His people back to Himself.  We cannot forget this. He controls the discipline, but He allows it, even causes it, make no mistake. (Ezekiel 38:14-18, Ezekiel 8:7-18).

Just as the bible says, “God disciplines everyone He loves and chastises everyone He receives.” (Hebrew 12:6) So it is individually, so it will be corporately with Israel. He cannot now accept them because in many ways they are not right before Him and because they have not yet “Looked upon He whom they have pierced and… mourned… and wept bitterly” (Zechariah 12:10). Make no doubt about it, national repentance is in Israel’s future. But gloriously, when they have, He will raise them up. God’s heart is restoration and salvation and grace, but all things must be in order. So let us, even if we do not not understand everything, begin to pray with a spirit of brokenness and supplication, that God will have His perfect way with us, as the Branch, grafted in, and with the original branch, the nation of Israel. We are in this together. May God give us great wisdom and compassion. 

Rose-Marie Slosek is a Board Member of Women of the Word. She also blogs at Pen of the Wayfarer and is a spiritual director. She loves to travel to other nations, especially Ireland and Israel , and is an avid photographer of nature. Rose-Marie also rescues dogs and gives them a loving home.

Women of the Word is an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel. Consider joining us on the next Amazing Israel Adventure March 31 – April 11, 2019.  Trips to Israel are open to men and women. 

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Why was Resurrection “on the Third Day”? Two Answers

by Lois Tverberg

Every year during Holy Week, Christians scratch their heads over questions about Jesus’ being raised “on the third day.” We look at our calendars and see that Sunday comes only two days after Friday. Elaborate schemes have been worked out to make the timing make more sense.

 

One neglected cultural detail suggests a simpler answer. Throughout the Bible, Jews counted time this way:

– Today

– Tomorrow

– Third day

What they call the “third day” we would call “the day after tomorrow.” It sounds surprising, but here are a couple examples:

When you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted. It shall be eaten the same day you offer it or on the day after, and anything left over until the third day shall be burned up with fire. (Leviticus 19:5-6)

The Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day.” (Exodus 19:10-11)

The idea is not to count 24-hour time spans but to name successive days, including the day of an announcement, which was understood as the “first day.” If an announcement came towards the end of a day, the beginning of the “third day” could arrive not much more than 24 hours later.

Seen in this light, if Jesus died and was buried on Friday, it would be completely logical that Sunday would be seen as the “third day.”

Why was the “Third Day” so Significant?

Understanding how the Jews counted days solves one mystery for our logical, Greek-thinking brains. But another insight comes from looking at Jesus’ words about “the third day” more Hebraically.

In several places we hear Jesus talk about his death, but then how he’d be raised on “the third day.” He makes this prediction over and over. Jewish scholar Pinchas Lapide thinks that he did so because of a motif that Jewish teachers had noted in their Scriptures that reminded them of a promise from Hosea:

Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him. (Hosea 6:1-2)

Hosea had rebuked the people of Israel for their sins, and they knew they were suffering from God’s punishment. But then the prophet invited them to return to the Lord, issuing a gracious promise that God’s forgiveness would soon come. Today might be a terrible day of his anger, but tomorrow would be better, and in not too long, life would seemingly begin again. This message gave them hope that even when God was angry, he desired to forgive.

When the rabbis looked back on the Scriptures in light of Hosea’s words, they noticed several places where the “third day” was when redemption came. They were not being woodenly literalistic in counting up days. They were not developing codes and prediction schemes. They were saying that scripturally, God’s forgiveness and redemption comes on “the third day,” poetically speaking.

Lapide writes that in Jewish thought,

“On the third day” has nothing to do with the date or the counting of time but contains for ears which are educated biblically a clear reference to God’s mercy and grace which is revealed after two days of affliction and death by way of redemption.

It made perfect sense to Jesus’ first Jewish followers that Christ would be raised to life “on the third day.”

 

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* Genesis Rabbah 56. Pinchas Lapide, The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective (Minneapolis, Fortress: 1982), 91-93.

For more about this motif of “the third day,” see p 214-216 in Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus (Tverberg, Baker, 2018).  It is part of a larger section called “Reading about the Messiah” (p 178-250) which discusses the distinctively Jewish, Hebraic way of reading the Bible that Jesus used to communicate his Messianic identity. Some of his boldest claims float right past us because we don’t know how he read his Scriptures, our Old Testament.

(Images: Raw Pixel, Dion Tavenier)

Original blog posted at ourrabbijesus.com. Re-posted here with permission.

Lois Tverberg

Lois Tverberg holds a Ph.D in biology and was a college professor. While in a Bible study class she became interested in studying the Bible in it’s cultural context. Discovering the answers to head-scratching questions and sharing the “ah-hah” moments with others became a passion. She began learning Hebrew and Greek, studying in the land of Israel, and exploring recent scholarship on Jesus’ first-century Jewish world. Ultimately, she left a life in academia to devote herself full-time to teaching and writing on the topic, and now has been at it for almost twenty years. She has authored five books and also directs the En-Gedi Resource Center, an educational ministry. 

Lois will be the speaker at “Through the Eyes of Jesus”, a Bible study seminar for men and women in Janesville, Wisconsin April 13 & 14, 2018. Registrations close April 6, 2018.

Registration includes Saturday lunch. Our time together will include worship, teaching, and practical application via round-table discussion. You will receive materials to take home with you for ongoing study. Information here.

Women of the Word is an inter-denominational, inter-generational, and inter-cultural ministry dedicated to transforming lives into the image of Jesus through growing disciples taught by God’s Word and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We honor our elders, learning from them as they mentor us. We value and strengthen the middle-aged. We seek to reach the millennials and younger generations to encourage and mentor them in the ways of the Lord. Our prayer is that we honor God together. We welcome men to join us at Bible seminars such as “Through the Eyes of Jesus” and on our Amazing Israel Adventure trips. 

Waiting for Resurrection

by Rose-Marie Slosek

Our life with God is in the process of growing:  there is a tension between the now and the “not yet.”  While the plan for who He meant us to be was in the mind and heart of God before we were conceived, the living out of that destiny takes place, here on earth, through a process of time and trust.

On this day, Holy Saturday as the liturgical church calls it, Jesus is in a place of utter waiting and trust on God to resurrect Him.  As a man He did not have the power to resurrect Himself, He had to wait for His Father. So likewise, we cannot bring life to ourselves but must surrender to God, knowing that His love for us will not forget us, will not abandon us, will not hurt us, but will bring us to a higher life than we have known.  This is not a hopeful truism, but a living truth!

Jesus understands waiting in trust for God to bring life and resurrection. He understands the vulnerability of waiting in hope, and trusting in faith. Today we can all say that there is something within us that is giving place, perhaps in fits and starts, to who we are yet to become.  The sons and daughters of God are being revealed. The life of God is welling up within us ready to bud forth new things that will glorify and reflect God’s nature in us.

Ponder happily that this day signifies that we are moving from the valley of the shadow of death to our rightful place beneath the shadow of His wings!  So let us surrender ourselves into the hands of our Father. Though we be in an “in-between” place, a place of almost there but not yet, we know that “He who has begun a good work in us will continue to carry it through to completion in Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6)

Look to your Father and to your Saviour!  Resurrection awaits us!

Re-posted with permission. Original posted here.

 

Rose-Marie Slosek is a Board Member of Women of the Word. She also blogs at Pen of the Wayfarer and is a spiritual director. She loves to travel to other nations spreading the Gospel, and is an avid photographer of nature. Rose-Marie also rescues dogs and gives them a loving home.

Women of the Word is an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel.

Jesus Celebrated Passover

by Betsy Roy

During Passover and “Holy Week”,  our focus is rightly on the things that transpired during this season in the life of Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew). Glorious LORD JESUS! Psalm 116:12 says, “What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits to me?” Indeed! We cannot. But, we can set our hearts to follow hard after Him and honor Him with our lives as faithful disciples.

Sometime we get so busy with all the practical preparations, like cleaning,  cooking, and Easter egg hunts that we truly forget what this season is all about. We forget the purpose which is stated by God several times in Exodus Chapters 7-10, “Let my people go, that they may serve (sometimes translated ‘worship’) me!”  God’s purpose has not changed since the time of the Exodus. Jesus came to set us free from all that holds us in bondage so that we may serve (worship) Him and one another in spirit and in truth.

I encourage you to take time during this season which extends past Resurrection Sunday or “Easter” to read God’s Word and ponder it in your heart. Exodus 12 tells us how God instituted Passover. Do you see how it prefigures Jesus? In the New Testament, Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples. Read Luke 22:7 – 20. During the Passover Seder, Jesus instituted what Christians now call “Communion”. This all has great significance for us as believers in Jesus. Then read the rest of Luke 22 – Luke 24. Sometimes we are so familiar with a “bible story” that we miss some important revelations the Holy Spirit wants to show us because we don’t take the time to read it prayerfully. What is the text saying to you? How are you to apply the text so that you grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? Does an understanding of Passover from the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) enrich what your read in the New Testament? Prayerfully so!

Also consider prayerfully reading the prophetic scriptures of Isaiah 42:1 – 4, Isaiah 49:1 – 6, Isaiah 50:4 – 9, and Isaiah 52:13 – Isaiah 53:12 known as the “Servant’s Songs” which speak of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). 

This year (2018) Passover begins at twilight March 30 and goes till sundown April 7.  Passover is really a “season of liberation”. It includes the Feast of Passover,  the Days of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Firstfruits. Jewish people read certain scriptures during this time and Messianic Believers add readings from the New Testament. I encourage you to read them. A great resource is Hebrew for Christians, which lists the scriptures and also teaches about this season which ends with the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) on May 19, 2018.

The celebration of the Passover Seder will occur throughout the world in Jewish homes this year (2018) beginning at twilight on March 30 (Nisan 14, beginning Nisan 15 on the Hebrew calendar). It’s an excellent time to pray for the salvation of Jewish people. Pray that their eyes will be opened and they see that Yeshua (Jesus) is their Messiah.

This year (2018) “Good Friday” falls on Passover. Because the Gregorian calendar, which we observe, and the Hebrew calendar are different, Passover and Easter fall on different days every year. While as Christians we might not take part in a Passover Seder, we can join in by also remembering what happened then and what happened to Jesus, the perfect Passover lamb! Let’s remember and rejoice because Jesus has set us free and wants to deliver us from every bondage so we can live the abundant life He has promised us; a life where we are free to follow Him as His disciples, serve Him, His people and gather in His harvest of souls.

Let’s give Him praise! The Hallel (praise) Psalms of 113 – 118 are read during the Passover Seder. We can read them too! Let’s begin right now!

“Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD! Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised! (Psalm 113:1, 2)

The Garden Tomb, Jerusalem

We have great reason to celebrate because our Savior is not dead. HE IS RISEN. HE IS ALIVE. The grave could not hold Him. The tomb is empty and because He lives, we have hope and we can face tomorrow. Yes, life has its difficulties and pain, but Jesus has promised to never leave us, nor forsake us. May this reality encourage you and may you truly experience His peace and joy during this season. The Lord abundantly bless you!

Wreath pictured with lilies from wreathswithareason.com, a non-profit organization that raises awareness and funds to combat sex-trafficking. 

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation. 

Stepping It Up a Notch at 60

by Rose-Marie Slosek

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:12-14)

While we are eternal beings in an ultimately real sense, we are also mortals while on this earth. The Psalmist tells us to “number our days” that we might gain a sense of how short they are, and how imperative it is that our earthly sojourn should count much for the eternal kingdom of God.

A couple of us at Women of the Word are turning 60 this year! With that comes a soberness of heart that causes us to turn to the Lord, and implore Him to use us as He wills. There can be nothing held back from Him in this hour. As our bodies age, our spirit can burn every more brightly because we identify with our Lord and understand His purposes and ways in an even greater way. The desire and pursuits of earlier decades give way to wholehearted and unreserved abandon to our God and His passionate work to win all peoples to Himself.

There are some things that can not be done when we are young because we do not yet have the experience. Maturity in God happens over the course of decades– line upon line of faithful walking with God, day in and day out, through the many storms of life.  While youth has energy, the seasoned know that of themselves, they can do nothing and their self-trust has given way to trust in God alone, or at least the beginning of that. There are no shortcuts to some things. Knowing where you end, and where God begins is a great wisdom.

Paul writes, “Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character produces joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.  Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. While we were yet in weakness [powerless to help ourselves], at the fitting time Christ died for us in our ungodly condition (Romans 5:3-6 Amplified).

By the time one turns 60, our character is soberingly starting to show itself for what it is. Now is our wake-up call to be awake, and surrendered, and fit for the Master’s use. For if not now, when? If we have not taken the claims of Jesus upon our life seriously, we had best get down on our knees. And if we have, there are always deeper, more wonderful depths to plumb. I feel that I am only getting to the starting line and I have endeavored to run the race with sobriety for these many decades.

God views our life from the finish point. He stands at our finish line and beckons us to run well, run with abandon, run with character, run with grace.  So let us do that, with all our mind, soul and strength. There is no time to lose, and no time like the present to press into God.

Re-posted here with permission. Original blog posted here.

Rose-Marie Slosek is a Board Member of Women of the Word. She also blogs at Pen of the Wayfarer and is a spiritual director. She loves to travel to other nations spreading the Gospel, and is an avid photographer of nature. Rose-Marie also rescues dogs and gives them a loving home.

Women of the Word is an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel.