Tag Archives: Gospel of John

Luke 22:39-53: Yeshua sings the Hallel about God’s mercy

The sleepiness of the Eleven (Lk. 22:39-53; Mt. 26:36-56; Mk. 13:32-50) is describing is not just nodding off from being up too late, but this is a sorrowful sleep, we would describe it as depression. That was the source of their temptation that Yeshua was praying they would overcome. 

We read that they sang a hymn before leaving (Mt. 26:30; Mk. 14:26). Most likely, the hymn they sang was one of the Hallel (“praise”) Psalms commonly recited at festivals, Psalms 113-118 or Psalm 136.

One of the Psalms of the Hallel is Psalm 118, which is full of messianic prophecies. It starts and ends with a responsive refrain (Psa. 118:1–4, 29): כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ ki l’olam khasdo, because everlasting is His lovingkindness/mercy:

“The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly. The right hand of the LORD is exalted; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.” (Psa. 118:15–16)

“This is the gate of the LORD; The righteous will enter through it.” (Psa. 118:20)

“The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.” (Psa. 118:22)

“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD” (Psa. 118:26)

“The LORD is God, and He has given us light; Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.” (Psa. 118:27)

Psalm 136 recounts the great things God has done in Israel’s history. Like Psalm 118, it’s a responsive song, with the refrain כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ. One of the main Hebrew words that pops up in both Ps. 118 and Ps. 136 is chesed/khesed חֶסֶד (Strong’s H2617)which means “goodness, kindness, mercy; rarely, shame, reproach” (Lv. 20:17; Pr. 14:34) 

The Lord comes along side us in our difficulty. That is His khesed. Yeshua came as the khesed made flesh. He was able to endure insults and suffering and yet He was still loving and compassionate. 

Even for all the insult and rejection that would be heaped on Yeshua, much more than before, showing Himself as the LORD’s khesed made flesh was His mission. 

As they sang the Hallel to the Mount of Olives, they repeated the refrain “His mercy endures forever.” 

Khesed is not just “lovey-dovey” but also forgiving. The key to khesed is forgiveness, letting insults and offenses go. We need to bury those things that we have against others or those things others have against us.  Forgiveness was key to Yeshua’s teachings:

“ ‘For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.’ ” (Matt. 6:14–15)

“ ‘My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.’ ” (Matt. 18:35)

“ ‘Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.’ ” (Mark 11:25)

God wants to forgive but He also wants to teach us how to forgive. We have to have the same lovingkindness and forgiveness He has. We need to endure the same affronts and insults He has born. If we want God to hear our prayers, we have to love and forgive people just as God has loved and forgiven us. We are not just talking the talk. We need to walk the walk. We need to get over those things that bring us sadness, pain and bitterness. 

The הלכה halakhah ― the walk, “The Way” ― of the Khesed of God was ultimate forgiveness, appealing to the Father to let betrayal of the Son of God, the Chosen One for God’s chosen one from among the nations, Israel. Yeshua practiced what He taught, even on the Cross:

“ ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, ‘He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.’ ” (Luke 23:34–35)

The Light exposes the darkness. Darkness attacks, it doesn’t want to be exposed by the Light. This is true now and even more true in the Day of The Lord. 

“ ‘I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, [a spirit] of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.’ ” (Zech. 12:10 New American Standard Bible Update)

The direct context of “Me” is the LORD. However, if the leaders didn’t accept Yeshua as sent by the Father, they weren’t accepting the will of the One Who sent Yeshua. Rejecting Yeshua, piercing Yeshua spiritually and physically, was doing so to the LORD.

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD Than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD Than to trust in princes.” (Psalms 118:8–9 NASB)

Do we really trust in God and the direction He is taking us? God was taking Yeshua to the Cross, yet Yeshua trusted God. We will endure insults such as “How can you believe in the existence of God? Haven’t you grown out of that?” Do you snarl at them? Do you lash out? How do you respond to insult? This is what Yeshua was praying for: that God would give His disciples the wisdom to respond properly. 

“The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly. The right hand of the LORD is exalted; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.” (Psalms 118:15–16 NASB)

What is the “right hand of the Lord”? Yeshua is the One at the right hand. Yeshua is the khesed of God.

God doesn’t see who you are now. He can see over the horizon and see who you will be as His heirs, as His sons and daughters. God looks forward, He doesn’t look back. Yeshua didn’t care about washing feet and acting as a servant because He knew who He was and where He was going. 

Israel, our ancestors in trust in God, at its founding was not internationally significant. God delivered Israel from captivity in Mitsraim (Egypt) as well as being scattered in Babylon and then to all nations (see Deuteronomy 30–32).

People who lived under oppression understand the Exodus. They saw that God didn’t just offer freedom back then, He offers freedom now. The Exodus and the deliverance to the land is not just history but it happens to each of us when we come to Yeshua. God is looking to take all of us our of our Egypt and to our Promised land. 

“Who remembered us in our low estate, For His lovingkindness is everlasting, And has rescued us from our adversaries, For His lovingkindness is everlasting;” (Psalms 136:23–24 NASB)

Of all the enemies listed in Psalm 136, the one adversary that bested Israel repeatedly was the rebellious heart (interests, inclinations). Israel lost sight of their mission, of their purpose for existence. God made them a great nation, not for the sake of making a great nation, but to bring the whole world into the Kingdom of God. 

We may face terrestrial enemies ― oppressive governments, scoffing friends, oppositional family members ― but the toughest enemy is sin and death. 

The Torah gives a number of examples of what sin, transgression and iniquity are. Apostle Yokhanan defined sin this way:

“Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” (1John 3:4 New American Standard Bible Update)

  • sin = ἁμαρτία  hamartia (G266): to err, make a mistake. In the Septuagint for חָטָא khataʾ (H2398): to miss, sin
  • lawlessness = ἀνομία  anomia (G458), from νόμος nomos (G3551) by way of νέμω nemō, to distribute, assign: figuratively, law or custom. In the Septuagint for פָּשַׁע paw-shah’ (H6586): to break away (from just authority), i.e. trespass, apostatize, quarrel
  • unrighteousness, injustice = ἀδικία adikia (G93). Also used in the Septuagint to translate פָּשַׁע.

The Psalms are to remind us of God, not to remind God of us. God is the steadfast one, He has no whims of fancy. As we look into Yeshua’s trials, crucifixion and resurrection, think about God’s mercy and what endures forever. Yeshua repeatedly taught His disciples about God’s khesed and encourage them to extend it to others. 

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy. 

John 16:16–33: Grief turned to joy

In John 16:16, Yeshua repeats the warning He would be separated from His disciples physically (Mk. 9:31–32; Jn. 7:33; 12:35; 13:33; 14:18–24; 16:5). 

The Eleven are a little confused and didn’t understand or want to understand His proverb: “you won’t see Me then you will.” The  Greek word that is translated as “little while” is μικρός mikros (Strong’s lexicon No. G3398). It’s a word that is the root of words such as micro, micron. It means something very small.  It seems to refer to the “three days” of Yeshua’s death and resurrection. It’s Hebrew equivalent is katan. For example a talit katan, is a small talit often worn as an undershirt. 

However, other Scriptural uses of mikros and related words βραχύς brachus (G1024) and ὀλίγος oligos (G3641) point to Yeshua’s time as a human and the time leading up to the Day of the LORD being a brief time (Heb. 10:37 (quoting Hab. 2:3); Jas. 4:14; 1Pet. 1:6; 5:10; Rev. 6:11; 17:10). 

Critics say that the disciples use of the word mirkos was based on their misunderstanding but that is not the case. The expectation of “a little while” is really a little while because in God’s time, all of time is “a little while.” 

Why does God keep using the term “a little while” and says He is not going to tarry, when from the time of Habakkuk to Yeshua was 400 years? Or even Moshe’s foretelling of a Messiah was over 1,400 years before He came. 

We have to live as if He is going to come today. Today, if you hear God’s voice, is when you are to respond and make your choice. 

Since the times of Moshe and Israel’s exilic prophets ― about four centuries ― the people had waited for the Coming One (ὁ ἐρχόμενος ho Erchomenos, Matt. 11:3), aka the Mashiakh.

Yeshua taught via a string of interconnected parables and proverbs that we must always be ready for the Day of the LORD (Luke 12:16–53):

“And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.’ ” (Luke 12:42–43 NASB)

One lesson of this parable is that we are to respect other people. We are to treat those in our realm of responsibility and contact with respect today, not to wait until we get our act together. This is the point of the  “second-greatest commandment.” (Lev. 19:18; Mt. 19:19; Mk. 12:31; Lk. 10:27; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; Jas. 2:8). 

We are to remember that we are in the presence of the Master. We are not to become obsessed with pleasure, leisure and departure. People like to “tune out” in various ways, but taking ourselves from situation doesn’t really take us away from the situation. 

Pleasure, beauty and laughter are enjoyable, but they are fleeting. Excesses lose their fun, wrinkles come, and jokes get old. Thankfully, sorrow can be as fleeting, if we let it go. What we put into the lives of others, that is what lasts through time. 

The apostles likened our training as ambassadors for the Kingdom of God to preparing for endurance in sports:

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (1Cor. 9:24–25 New American Standard Bible Update)

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1–2)

If we are going to “run” as God’s servants, we have to be careful not to run faster than we’ve trained to, otherwise, we set ourselves up to get “winded” and quit. If we are running faster than the Spirit, we can exhaust that Spirit. 

Some of God’s servants have gotten so caught up in the work, they forget to pray, to take care of their house and they burn out. This is what happens when we presume that the call of God is a sprint when it’s actually a marathon.

We are racing against our former way of life before the covering of Mashiakh’s death and invitation of the Spirit of God. We are to rejoice at every milestone we pass. Yeshua repeatedly told the congregations they were to overcome. Each congregation had to overcome a different issue but they all were called to overcome to reach their goal.

As we wait for the “little while” we can see where God has changed us and moved us from the old life to the new life.  

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (1 Corinthians 9:24–25 NASB)

We are not racing our fellow believers in Yeshua as though we are in competition with each other. That old life lacked self-control and shrank away from persecution, leading one to want to decide the Kingdom of God isn’t worth the personal sacrifice.

For Yeshua, washing people’s feet, like the lowest slave, was not an issue for Him. He knew where He came from and where He is going. What the world considers as a high or low status meant nothing to Him. 

We are sons and daughter of the Kingdom of God. That is not a pollyanna goal that we will never attain. You are not looking at yourself as God sees you. God told Paul that He had a lot of people in Corinth. Corinth was one of the most decadent cities in the Roman Empire but God was looking at the inside, not the outside. 

The Apostle Paul in Romans 12 revealed to us the point of the offerings in the Torah: sacrifice all of what’s inside of us that keeps us from siding with the Creator of the Universe and His direction for how life works best. The Torah is not a slaughterhouse manual, it’s about a transformation of a nation and the entire world. It’s how to erase the old man or old woman and to bring out the new man or woman. 

The needed endurance training is what Yeshua had been telling the Eleven that Pesakh, recorded in John 13–15: God’s Helpers ― the Mashiakh and the Ruakh haKodesh ― are essential to starting and maintaining the new life as a guilt-free. 

Just as in the Torah, you see how leadership moved from Moshe to Joshua is similar to how Yeshua was preparing the Eleven to take over leadership. From the one who spoke to God face to face to ones who have the Spirit of God in a different kind of fullness. 

“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” (John 16:24 NASB)

What are we asking for? We are asking for the Helper to help us and move us into the new realm. 

Read Deuteronomy 30-32 to get the whole context just as you read John 13-17. I encourage you to feel the same emotion that is going on through a transition in leadership. Yeshua would be leaving the Eleven, but they were not going to be left behind, powerless and alone. Neither are we.

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy. Because of a technical problem, there is no recording of this discussion.

John 16:12-15: The Helper guides into ‘all truth,’ speaking directly from God

“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:12–15 NAS95)

Yeshua taught many things about the Kingdom of God, but now the close students had to understand many things. John, at the end of his gospel, said: 

“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25 NASB)

We can wish that John had more paper, more storage and had written more of Yeshua’s words down for us. What was said was what needed to be said. What else we need to know is what was written down. Part of the Spirit’s role is to help us remember what was said and apply it. 

You probably know people in your life who know the word of God better than you know and don’t believe a word of it. What do you do with the Word of God?

As you read through the Scriptures you start to notice lots of repetition, not just a simple repeat of words but also repeat of themes. 

In a time when possessing one’s own written copy of the scriptures was very expensive, students would memorize large portions of scripture so they would have it with them at any time. 

The most effective communication ― transmission of a message and motivating action ― is repetitive. 

Many passages in the Bible are repetitive ― for a reason. Repetition helps with memorization.

Chiastic literary structure pairs lines or thoughts in one section of a passage (group of verses, chapter or group of verses) with lines later on. The crux, or chi (Greek letter X, pronounced kai), of a chiastic passage is the line not repeated or the last line. There are several common chiastic patterns: 

  • A B C D E D’ C’ B’ A’ [thought E is the point]
  • A B C D E A’ B’ C’ D’ [thought E is the message]
  • A B C A’ B’ C’ [thought C is the message]

An excellent example of a chiastic structure is in John 1:1–14: The crux is Jn. 1:9; the “true Light” had come into the world.

Chiasmus of Revelation

Another example in passing is the book of Revelation. There are many allusions, or references back to the writings of the Prophets. There’s a giant chiastic structure in Revelation. The entire book is a chiastic structure, but there are smaller ones embedded throughout the book, too. The crux of Revelation is judgment; that is the “punchline.” God is going to take down the one who rules this world and he will not get up again. He is going down forever. 

A (prologue, Rev. 1:1–8) 
      B (seven assemblies, 1:10–3:22) 
        C (seven seals, 4:1–8:1) 
           D (seven trumpets, 8:2–11:18) 
               E (judgment, 11:19–14:20) 
           D’ (seven plagues, 15:1–16:21) 
              E’ (fall of Babylon, 17:1–19:10) 
        C’ (millennium, 19:11–21:8) 
     B’ (new Yerushalayim, 21:19–22:9) 
A’ (epilogue, 22:8–17)

Lessons on chiasma

When you see things repeated, pay attention. There are messianic themes throughout the Scriptures, not just in the lives of certain proto-Messianic figures such as Joseph or King David but even in physical places. Certain places have Messianic teachable moments as well including Shiloh. Shiloh is an object lesson that God had put His name in a particular place but He also removed His name from that place when they didn’t want to be led by God anymore. 

Another common pattern in Scripture is a pattern called parallelism. They are a double-barreled one-liner. You see it a lot in poetry. Hebrew parallelism helps explain the lesson via an “in other words” device. It’s common in Psalms:

“[A] I will meditate on Your precepts [A’] And regard Your ways. [B] I shall delight in Your statutes; [B’] I shall not forget Your word.” (Psa. 119:15–16)

Meditation on God’s Law involves observing, i.e., studying, how God acts. “Delighting” in God’s Law involves keeping it front of your mind. Delighting in God’s word means that we do not forget it. It’s not just a smile on your face, it’s a smile that actually does something good.

“[A] Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? [A’] And who may stand in His holy place? [B] He who has clean hands [B’] and a pure heart, [C] Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood [C’] And has not sworn deceitfully.” (Psa. 24:3–4)

“Clean hands” means a pure “heart,” i.e., thoughts and resulting behavior. Such purity of thought means that what one says and how one acts is really what’s in one’s heart.

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” (Luke 6:45)

A pure heart is when one’s thoughts, behavior, and speech are pure. 

Lessons on parallelism

  • Context in Scripture can help us check our views and understand difficult passages.

Context in life can help us not lose hope or become self-absorbed.

Prophetic figures or references to historical events call the reader to reflect on the past, learn from the past to understand the present and future.

Messianic figures: Yosef, Moshe, Aharon, Shimshon (Samson, partly), David

Prophetic figures: Mitsraim (Egypt), Edom, Babylon

Lesson: Reflection on what God has done in our lives and in the world can help us find peace with whatever we’re experiencing in the present and “the meaning of life.”

The Helper would bring to mind and explain Yeshua’s testimony about the Kingdom of God. 

The apostles came to understand how what Yeshua did fulfilled ― pleroo, i.e., filled up, made complete ― God’s “preview of the Coming Attraction” through the prophets.

You can see the Helper’s work in passages in the Gospels that include reference to reflection on what was written in the TaNaKh (Torah, Prophets and Writings, i.e., Hebrew scriptures of the Bible).

The role of the Helper in communicating God’s instructions and intentions first happened around the time God gave the Testimony (10 Commandments) at Sinai and when Israel was entering the Land.

Yeshua said three times that the Helper would “take of Mine” (John 16:14, also v. 15) and give it to the Eleven. What was being transferred was what the Spirit “heard” from the Father. A similar transference happened with Moshe on the approach to Sinai:

“So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD. Also, he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and stationed them around the tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him and placed Him upon the seventy elders. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do it again.” (Num. 11:24–25)

The Spirit that was on Moshe would be on the 70, too, ordained to bear the burden of fielding the concerns (gripes) of the people, so it all wouldn’t fall on Moshe alone (Num. 11:17). Moshe couldn’t carry the burden of all the complaints of the people on his shoulders, so he appointed 70 elders to share the work. 

You see that later in the book of Numbers that Yeshua ben Nun (Joshua) was ordained similarly:

“So the LORD said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and commission him in their sight. You shall put some of your authority on him, in order that all the congregation of the sons of Israel may obey him.’ ” (Num. 27:18–20)

It’s great to see this. Notice that it says that God’s Spirit already was “in” him, rather than “on” him as it was for the 70 elders in Numbers 11. You see this later in the life of King Shaul as well. He was filled with the spirit but it didn’t remain. The Spirit was replaced with a bad spirit and no longer heard God speaking to him. 

Yeshua ben Nun didn’t just receive power, but authority as well. “Take of what is Mine and give it to you.” The Spirit is to lead them into all truth. It doesn’t mean that whatever that pops into our heads is the truth. Rather, the Spirit is there to help us recall what God has said before. When we need them to call to account for the hope within us, the Spirit gives us the words to say. Our prayer should be what we what the Apostle Ya’akob framed our need for God’s Spirit as part of the personal transformation promised in the “New Deal” (New Covenant) foretold (Jer. 31:31–34; Ezek. 36:25–26):

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Jas. 1:2–8)

Yeshua warned them that as they came after Him, they will come after them. Yeshua is telling them they will not be left helpless. They will be given the words to say and the wisdom to know what they mean. As God teaches us of what the Kingdom of God is really like, we can see the lessons in the parallelisms. One phrase is defined and clarified by the next. 

Wisdom isn’t self-absorption and navel-gazing, which are destructive. 

God wants us to ask for wisdom, how to understand the Kingdom of God vs. the world around us.

We always need to look at the context of a verse when it baffles us. Looked at previous verses, previous chapters and even read the entire book. Sometimes you have to take a 30,000 view of it. 

Why are these chaisms there? There is a big picture that we can’t see. For example in Hebrews 11, those heroes did not see everything but they trusted that God could see that they were going to end well. If you can see beyond your front bumper, you might get hit. You have to look beyond where you are to see where you are going. Just “feeling good” isn’t a good way to live. 

God has not left us alone, He has given us His Helper, not just for the deep groaning but to give us wisdom and understanding. 

The things related to the Torah are the baseline, that’s the basic requirements. You want an “attaboy” for the bottom rung? If you want to be more than a servant, if you want to be Yeshua’s friend, you need to want to know God’s heart about the matter, just God’s rules on a matter. You have to long for a heart change, a motivational change that goes beyond our thoughts into our deeds and our hearts. Who are you when no one is looking? Who are you when someone depends on you? 

What the Spirit does for us is to remind us of what Messiah Yeshua did for us on the cross. He bore the burden of our guilt, absorbing it and unloading it onto His Son. 

Because of that God wants us to be new people, not chained to our old lives. We are all trying to leave the old man or old woman behind. God has not left us alone. We can call out at anytime. That is what is great about prayer and meditation on God’s word. 

There are people who know the truth, they know the Bible better than you do yet they don’t want to do it. We can only pray that ranks of those who don’t care shrinks as the lies are removed and the liar, haSatan, is taken away. 

Our time to respond to God is not determined by the calendar. Everyone of us has a day to decide if we want to enter His rest, that day is called today. We are to enter and remain in His rest, not as tourists but as citizens. 

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy. 

John 15:12-25: Friends with God

Keep Isaiah’s parable of the vineyard (Isa. 5:1-14) in the back of your mind as we take a look at John 15:12-25. This parable has a lot of symbolism embedded in it. Let’s define the symbols in this parable. 

  • Well-beloved: YHVH of hosts
  • Vineyard: Israel, men of Yehudah
  • Tower: Safety and Security
  • Grapes: Behavior of the people
  • Wine: Outcome of the people’s behavior
  • Viticulture: Word and Spirit of YHVH
  • Hedge: Protection against invasion
  • Punchline: Conquest will renew Israel’s thirst for YHVH

Israel didn’t want to obey and respect the one who created their nation and took them into the Land, cleared it out and protected it. Since they were not interested in obeying and respecting God, God took His protection away. They were left to protect themselves but there were larger powers in the area: Assyria and Babylon. 

Israel were given over to an insatiable thirst. Israel were to be a nation of priest and a light to the nations but when they didn’t want to do that job anymore, God had to give them a reboot and remind them of why they were called out in the first place. 

In Isaiah, justice was contrasted with murder, righteousness contrasted with oppression, contentment with greed. When they no longer wanted to pursue knowledge of God, the pursued partying, entertainment and drunkenness instead. All they wanted was a good time all the time. This is what dragged them down. If the partying, entertainment and drink are taken away, what are you? When the Israelites were hauled away, what did they have left? Who were they? 

The prophet Daniel also asked the question: Are you going to assimilate with the nations or remain separate? 

When you look at this, you see how Yeshua sets this up. The “reset button” is coming to Israel again and very soon. 

John 15 talks a lot about love, loving others as Yeshua loves us. It’s in the golden rule. John 15:12 and John 15:17 are the book ends to the core of our discussion. 

We first encountered Yeshua’s making personal the “second-greatest commandment” in Jn. 13:34 at the beginning of His “farewell discourse.”

There are four main types of love in the Greek: 

  • ἀγαπάω agapaō (Strong’s lexicon No. G25): it’s a veneration type of love, holding in high esteem. It’s translated as “charity” in some English because you are thinking of the recipient of that love as someone to be lifted up. 
  • φιλέω fileō (G5368): brotherly love
  • στέργω stergo: This is the mutual love of parents and children, love of subjects for a ruler. It’s a master/servant love.
  • ἔρως erōs: This is not word that is used in the Scriptures at all. There’s a reason for that. It is the love between a man and a woman, it’s a craving, a desire, it’s sensual. It is also the type of love that some Greeks had for their deities that is a spiritual love above the physical. This comes from Greek dualism in which the physical was inherently evil and the spiritual was inherently good. The pursuit of the physical became a pursuit of the spiritual. This is why do you not see the word eros in Scripture. 

The only two Greek concepts of love used in Scripture are agape and fileo. Agape is the primary type of love described in scripture, while fileo is more rare. Agape is the type of love that God has for His creation. 

Matthew 5:44 says, “love your enemies.” This is an agape love, esteeming your enemies higher than yourself. Agape is a type of love that you have to consciously do while fileo love is a more emotional response. 1Corinthians 13 is only about the agape love. This is a love that is chosen. 

This is what the people were facing in Isaiah 5. Were the people going to pursue an agape love for their God who brought them into the land and nurtured them into it or were they going to party all the time and pursue physical pleasure? 

“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

Friends of God

Agapeo love is a choice to esteem someone higher than yourself. There are a couple of people who are called “Friends of God” which are Abraham and Moses. Let’s explore why they were given that title. 

The account in Genesis 18 of the LORD appearing the Abraham and having lunch with him doesn’t use the Hebrew word most often used for friend, רֵעַ or רֵיעַ  reʿa (H7453). Yet the LORD did meet with him in person, face to face. God revealed His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah. God didn’t keep this secret from Him.  

“‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.'” (Gen. 18:17–19)

God spoke to Abraham so plainly that Abraham urged the LORD to consider through mercy by asking Him to reconsider for the sake of 10 people. The prophets and the Apostles saw Abraham as God’s friend

King Yehoshafat (Jehoshaphat) speaks prophetically after prayer and fasting following a rebuke through God’s Spirit: 

“‘Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?” (2Chr. 20:7)

We also see Isaiah repeat this as God loving Abraham in the present tense and into the future. 

“‘But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend….’” (Isa. 41:8)

The Apostle James also affirms this:

You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “and Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (Jas. 2:22–24)

The Septuagint referred to Abraham as the one God had agapeo for but James uses the fileo word for love. It’s the trust that Abraham had in God’s promises. This is why God was fond of Abraham. James’ message ties this fondness to Abraham’s imputed righteousness through trust in God’s promises.

“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” (John 15:16)

The vineyard in Isaiah 5 was supposed to produce fruit and be a blessing but it did not produce fruit and did not produce blessings so God had to hit the “reset button” which He did through the Apostles. 

From the vineyard parable of Isaiah 5, we can see that the 12 are being commissioned to continue the task the LORD originally gave Israel: to be a nation of priests and a light to the world about the agape the Creator wants to have with mankind.

We see how God related to Moses. 

“Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.” (Ex. 33:11)

“ ‘If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. 7 Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; 8 With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD.’ ” (Num. 12:6–8)

“… no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face …” (Dt. 34:10)

The friends of God are those who trust the promises and testimony of God and want to communicate with God face to face, despite knowing how disastrous that could be for one’s casual observance of God.

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.

John 15:1-11: Face to face with the Vine

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”  (John 15:1–2 NASB)

If a branch is not productive, the vineyard owner sends out workers to prune away any branches that are sickly or unproductive. When one prunes a branch, it is removed. It can no longer get nutrients, water, etc. When it no longer abides in the vine, it dies. To live, the branch must remain attached to its source. 

Before we dive into John 15:1-11, let’s read through prophet Isaiah’s parallel parable of the vineyard (Isa. 5:1-5, 7, 13). The “beloved” is the owner of the vineyard, and the vines are the tribe of Judah. The vineyard owner does everything He can so the vines will produce good grapes to make good wine but the fruit is lacking. How are they lacking? 

“Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge;…” (Isaiah 5:13 NASB)

Let’s read Psalm 80, which is a psalm of Asaph. Here the people of Israel are compared to a vine that God removed from Egypt and transplanted in a new land. There’s a refrain that is repeated three time and is amplified and intensified throughout the Psalm. 

“Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” (Psalms 80:3 KJV)

When the heart turns to God, God’s face turns towards the repentant person. When God shines He face, he is showing His favor and salvation. Vines thrive with sunlight and need the sunlight to grow. 

“It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him…the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.” (Exodus 34:29–30, 35 NASB)

Moses was speaking to God face to face and God’s glorious residue remained on Moses’ face even when he left God’s direct presence. The Hebrew word here is קָרַן qaran (Strong’s lexicon No. H7160), which literally means “to display horns.” The mechanical translation of qaran as to have horns in the Latin Vulgate translation led Michaelangelo to depict Moshe has having two horns in the famous statue. Fortunately, the KJV followed the Septuagint and rendered qaran as glory in Exodus 34. Think of it as the light shooting out like rays of light. 

The other important word here is face, which in Hebrew is פָּנִים panim (H6440). The continual petition for God’s “faceshine” on the commonwealth of Israel is embodied in the Aaronic blessing (Nu. 6:24–26). When God’s face is not there, there is no knowledge, no connection anymore.

Have you lost a connection with a high school or elementary school friend and then met them again many years later? The reconnection might have been very awkward because you have grown so far apart over the years that you don’t really know each other anymore. 

This is what happened to the northern tribes of Israel and the southern tribes of Judah. The northern and southern kingdoms had drifted so far away from God that they were estranged to each other and from God, too. 

But amid the long devotional prayer of Psalm 119 is the connection of God’s faceshine bringing understanding of God’s statutes:

“Make Your face shine upon Your servant, And teach me Your statutes.” (Psalms 119:135 NASB)

God wants to have the same connection with you that you have with your children, that you teach your children about the world and He wants to teach us about Him. God’s face shining is not about getting money or material blessings from God about learning God’s ways and longing to live the way God wants us to live. 

When Ezra and Nehemiah returned from Babylon, they had very little knowledge of God and they were thirsty to know Him. That is how revival came to the Jewish exiles returning from Babylon. 

The reason the children of Israel had been sent into exile is because they didn’t acknowledge God. They didn’t care to be with Him at all. The Prophet Daniel’s prayer for the end of the exile and restoration of God’s embassy in Yerushalayim included an appeal to “let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary.” It was desolate because when the people would come there, they worshipped Him with their tokens and their lips but not with their hearts and minds. 

The Tabernacle without the Panim, the “face” or “Presence” of God, is just an elaborate tent, and the Temple without the Panim is just a beautiful building. 

Yeshua said several times in John 6 that He was the “bread that came down from heaven,” which was referring to the “daily bread” God provided Israel between the Exodus and entering the Land. Yeshua was the face of God. 

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John. 1:14 NASB)

The connection between Yeshua and the faceshine of God for Israel is pictured again in the vision of the “Mount of Transfiguration,” where Moshe also was shown (Mt. 17:12–13), and the introduction to the “Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah” (Rev. 1:16).

Did the Jews in the first century know more about God than the people who were exiled to Babylon? Not really. The literalist Sadducee’s were specifically rebuked by Yeshua for their lack of knowledge of God’s word, but the charismatic Pharisees didn’t really know God well either. They were more concerned about the forms and rituals and separating themselves from “contamination” than about showing love, mercy and justice to their fellow man. 

What is the veil? What is the real issue we see in 2Cor. 3:1-4:6?:

“For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2. Cor. 4:6, NASB) 

Moses’s face shown, not because he had the tablets but because he was in God’s presence. With Christ, there is no condemnation (Rom. 8:1), so there’s no reason to consider being in God’s presence something to fear but something to look forward to (Heb 10:19–20, 34–36; 1 John 2:28–3:1; 3:19–22; 4:15–19). This is the great hope of all the prophets is that no one would be scared to be in the presence of God but would long for it. 

Part of remaining in the vine is wanting to be connected to the vine, wanting to be connected to God and being in His presence. That is our great hope: to know God and be known by Him. It’s a return to Eden and no longer being ashamed.

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy. 

John 14:25-31: Comforting is a Team effort

One of the main jobs of a friend or a BFF is to give comfort. Comfort is consolation, interceding, being an advocate. We have a limited understanding of this, in the concept of the best friend.

When Yeshua (Jesus) was preparing for Golgatha, He repeatedly encouraged and admonished His disciples to comfort each other. Yeshua said we are no longer servants, but friends. A master cares little about his servant’s groanings but a friend deeply cares about our sufferings and comes along side and shares them. He also promised to send the Holy Spirit, as the ultimate Comforter. The Holy Spirit’s job isn’t just there to give us a hug but to advocate for us, to speak up for us to the Father. He is also there to help us comfort and support each other.

Continue reading John 14:25-31: Comforting is a Team effort

John 14:15-31: Where are You going? Where are we going?

See also: Rev. 12:17; 19:10; 20:4; Psa. 19:8; 1John 5:9-11

The questions Yeshua (Jesus) answered in John 14:15-31 are “Where is Yeshua going?” and “Where are we going?” We are living in the time of “now and the not yet.” The “now and not yet” of Moses day was the Exodus from Mitsraim (Egypt) to Canaan. The first generation experienced the “not yet,” while the second generation experienced the “now.” The “rest” promised them is the same as it is for us today (Hebrews 3-4). We need to know where our Provider is. He is with us now but He is taking us somewhere else too. 

We will start today’s talk with the second half of John 14. This is a transition from John 14 into John 15-17. Yeshua has been dropping subtle and not so subtle hints to His Apostles that He will not be on earth much longer. It seems like Yeshua is talking in circles a bit but as we go through we can figure it out. 

There are two phases to the “now and not yet” for us in the 21st Century, the “not yet” are the future events of the “Day of the Lord” and Messiah’s return with power.  But this is not the only time in history that God’s people have had to live through a “now and not yet” promise. We can see that the children of Israel under Moses also lived under the shadow of “now and not yet” through the Exodus. Their “not yet” was their goal of settling returning to the Promised Land that was originally given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The first generation did not understand their moment, they were looking back towards Egypt so much that they did not see their “now” and did not see their future. 

The relevance of the plagues, the escape from Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the army of Egypt drowning in the Red Sea escaped the generation that experienced it. They didn’t see God in the “now” so they didn’t trust Him in the “not yet.” Our Provider is with us today and also going to take us to our destination. 

You’ll notice in John 14-15 the phrases such as “If you keep my word,” “if you keep my commandments” “my word is in you.” etc. pop up frequently. What is keeping the commandments? 

The Greek word for the word that is translated as commandments in John 14-15 is entolē (Strong’s G1785). It’s the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word mitzvah (מצוה), which is translated as such in the Septuagint (Greek) version of the TaNaK. The plural (entolai) is used as a translation for the Hebrew word פקודים piqudim, which English translators translate as precept, order, command, charge, precept. An example of this is:

“The precepts [δικαίωματα, פִּקּוּדים] of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment [ἐντολή, מִצְוָה] of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” (Psa. 19:8)

In Hebrew, there’s one word called shamar, which means guard. In Greek there are a couple of different words for shamar

One of the main themes of the Book of Revelation is the connection between “commandments” and “testimony.” This thread runs all through Revelation. This will helps anchor us as we review the testimonies of the Prophets in the Tanak. 

When you see how this is said in Revelation, you can take that lesson and see the connection. What are the things that do not change? The law and the testimony. Consistent with the now-and-not-yet message, the “now” comes via the testimonies of God and His Mashiakh, Yeshua.

“So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (Rev. 12:17)

The word here for commandment is entolē, which we have noted before, is a Greek equivalent to the Hebrew word for mitzvot or mitzvah. The word that is translated here in English as testimony is the Greek word marturia (Strong’s G3141) which comes from matrurion (Strong’s G3142). Our English word martyr comes from this word. As we continue, you will discover what a true martyr is. 

The Hebrew word for martyr is ‘eduwith (H5715) which means “testimony” or “witness.”  You’ll often see this word used in the context of “The Testimony” which is an euphemism for the 10 commandments and the Tabernacle was called the “dwelling/tent of The Testimony.”  This testimony is the source of all the mitzvot. 

This word has a couple of Hebrew roots you need to keep in mind as we move forward: 

  • עֵד ʿed (H5707); contracted from H5749; concretely, a witness; abstractly, testimony. This is a consistent testimony where the story is the same every time it is repeated or recollected. 
  • עוּד ʿuwd (H5749); a primitive root; to duplicate or repeat; by implication, to protest, testify (as by reiteration, or repeat); intensively, to encompass, restore (as a sort of reduplication). A faithful witness repeats the same way each time the story is retold. It doesn’t change over time.

When God says “I am the LORD, I change not,” that is the testimony of God. He is dependable. He is not like the pagan deities who change on a whim. His unchangeability is rock solid. The mitzvot comes from the testimony of God. 

When Yeshua says “there’s a new commandment I give you” go back to the testimony of God, of who He is and where He is going. When Moses asks God to reveal Himself, the list God gives Moses of His attributes looks a lot like the fruits of the spirit recorded by Paul in Galatians because God’s character does not change.

Every new moon, we read  Ps. 19 but we also see it in Ps. 119. This is an expression of God’s character. The mitzvot are expressions of God’s character. 

The testimony of God is about things that happen over and over again that are a faithful witness of where they come from and they are expressions that happened in time. They are fixed upon. 

We encounter the word marturia frequently in the New Testament. 

“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” (1John 5:9–11)

Just as with the children of Israel in the Exodus, God had determined back in Abraham’s day that they would end up in the promised land. That was God’s testimony to them. He made a promise and He would fulfill it by any means necessary. 

We can’t see over the horizon but God knows what is beyond that horizon is good for us and we are called to trust Him, regardless of how difficult the path. Do we trust in God and what He says about Himself or what others say about Him?

“I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 1:9)

In John’s preamble, he uses this phrase “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” We see this phrase come up again later towords the end of Revelation. 

“Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ ” (Rev. 19:10)

“Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:4)

John 14 tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. We think that prophesy is about predicting the future but prophesy is speaking for God. Prophets were faithful martyrs and witnesses. 

It is about being a faithful witness, a faithful “martyr” for God. They are all talking about the same thing. These people who go through the Day of the Lord, are speaking to and are faithful witnesses of what they had heard, which are the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus. They are martyrs. 

“Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.“He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” (John 14:23–24 NASB)

Yeshua was the faithful witness to God and with the Spirit, the Apostles would become faithful martyrs and witnesses for Him. 

We are called the sons and daughters of God in the hear and now. The key phrase we see in John 14:18: 

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18–19 NASB)

The Spirit is there to help remind us of God’s faithfulness. Just as God travel with Israel through the 40 years, He travels with us as our generations travels along waiting for the Day of the Lord. 

This is fantastic news. The Good News is not just about a one-time historical event, such as the Exodus or the death and resurrection of Messiah. The salvation of the Lord is not just one point in time but continues on through time. This is why when the Scriptures talk about the Spirit being a Helper, the Helper is also an Adovcate. God doesn’t expect us to figure Him out on our own. God is not just taking us away from something but towards something. He is making us a new creation. 

“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:37–39)

The water pouring ceremony of Sukkoth, which was the setting for Yeshua’s words in John 7 echo Isaiah’s words in Is. 12:1-6. This future indwelling the Holy Sprit that Yeshua prophesies was also prophesied in the Tanak. 

“Then you will say on that day, ‘I will give thanks to You, O LORD; For although You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, And You comfort me. 2 Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.’ 3 Therefore you will joyously draw water From the springs of salvation. 4 And in that day you will say, ‘Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; Make them remember that His name is exalted.’ 5 Praise the LORD in song, for He has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth. 6 Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isa. 12:1–6)

When we talk about Yeshua’s great expectation during Sukkot. Although God was angry, God would turn His anger away, not turn His people away. He had to discipline them but He didn’t abandon them. 

This can give us comfort as we face the future. We are not orphans. 

We sing this Hebrew song from Isa. 12:3: ‏וּשְׁאַבְתֶּם־מַיִם בְּשָׂשׂוֹן מִמַּעַיְנֵי הַיְשׁוּעָה‎ ush’avtem mayim b’sason mima’yiney ha-yeshua (We will draw water joyfully from the wells of the salvation.)

Holding on and clinging onto to God leads us to overcome and persevere through the horrendous things that are coming in the Day of the Lord. 

We don’t want to be like the first generation who approached the land and saw the people of the land were too big and too much. They freaked out and lost faith. 

We want to be like the generation who had faith in God’s power and saw His power was more than the power of man and cling to what God has gone and where He wants to take us. God took them out of Egypt and He could take them into the land of Canaan. 

We are called to hold on to the memory of God. Yeshua had asked, as recorded in Matthew and Revelation, if He would find faith on the earth when He returns. 

We don’t learn from history and because human nature hasn’t changed, God has to intervene in the same way to return the course. The fact that history repeats is the fingerprint of God, because He does not change.

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.