Tag Archives: repentance

Exodus 14:1–15:21: Seventh day of Unleavened Bread teaches repentance, salvation and righteousness

The seventh day of Chag Matzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread) is a memorial to the crossing of the Red Sea. It’s not only the zenith of most movies about Israel’s flight from Egypt but also a parable about every believer’s path to repentance, salvation and righteousness.

Mankind can only serve one master: God or sin. We can’t serve both. God purchased all of Israel with the death of the first born to serve Him. God owns all of Israel. God is not only teaching Israel a lesson but Egypt as well. When God covered the children of Israel with the cloud and then sent them through the sea, this was a form of baptism.

Repentance is something that happens on the inside, the water is a physical representation of that repentance. Repentance doesn’t pay for your sins. Repentance is merely step 1 of our walk with God. It clears the conscience so salvation can enter. Step 2 is filling one’s life, so “Egypt” will never return.

Continue reading Exodus 14:1–15:21: Seventh day of Unleavened Bread teaches repentance, salvation and righteousness

Exodus 38:21–40:38: Abomination of desolation vs. glory of habitation

During the course of Israel’s settlements in the wilderness and later in the Promised Land, God’s name rested on several places, including Shiloh and later Jerusalem. The Tabernacle was never desecrated by outside forces but it’s worship was compromised from the outside in.

The Temple, in Jerusalem, on the other hand, was sacked several times by corrupt kings as well as foreign invaders. Sometimes, God blessed the dedications of His temples with a visible sign of His Divine Presence, sometimes he did not. In the Torah reading פקודי Pekudei (“countings,” Exodus 38:21–40:38), we will look at how and why God did or did not visibly show His presence when the various Tabernacles and Temples were dedicated or rededicated through Israel’s history.

Continue reading Exodus 38:21–40:38: Abomination of desolation vs. glory of habitation

Numbers 15: One law for Israelite and foreigner

Numbers 15 is not disconnected from Numbers 14, which ends with disobedient people trying to enter the Promised Land after they had rejected it. The rebellious Israelites were routed in that battle. 

“Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land where you are to live, which I am giving you,” (Numbers 15:1–2 NASB)

This message is not for those who rebelled and were to die in the wilderness. This message is for the younger generation. 

The rebellious ones tried to “repent” but they were actually acting in further rebellion. This is written for our understanding so we will know how God acts and thinks. When we say “no” to God and then we try to say “yes,” sometimes our “yes” comes too late. God cannot be mocked. When we try to assume that God will keep His promises to us on our terms and not on His terms, we invite trouble on ourselves. 

“… then make an offering by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering or a sacrifice to fulfill a special vow, or as a freewill offering or in your appointed times, to make a soothing aroma to the LORD, from the herd or from the flock.” (Numbers 15:3 NASB)

Every freewill offering is pleasing to God because of the heart of the person bringing it. Everything we give to God is something God gave to us first. 

We see in Numbers 15:4-12 that the more expensive the animal, the greater the grain and wine offerings to accompany it. There is a reason to all these offerings. 

“All who are native shall do these things in this manner, in presenting an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD. If an alien sojourns with you, or one who may be among you throughout your generations, and he wishes to make an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD, just as you do so he shall do. As for the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the LORD. ‘There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you.” (Numbers 15:13–16 NASB)

The sacrifices a person presented have more to do about their social status not necessarily their wealth (Numbers 15:17–21).

When they were ready to enter the land, the first thing the people were to do is to give a freewill offering of a portion of the harvest. When you give a gift to God, you are really giving it to your High Priest, Yeshua. God wants to be appreciated for His gifts, just as we want to be appreciated when we give a gift (Numbers 15:22–26). 

God’s response to a sin done in ignorance, whether it’s an individual or a communal sin is to request an offering of repentance. The priest will run interference and present the offerings to God. God winks as long as we remain ignorant but once God shows us our error, we have to respond in repentance. 

Most of us have entered into the community ignorant of God’s rules until God show them to us. We had no knowledge about the Sabbath or the Holy Days until God showed them to us. We used to enjoy Christmas and Easter and He winked at our ignorance until He was ready to show us the truth. God is not looking to find fault with all of us, He is looking to save us from our faults. 

The native born is to do sacrifices, the sojourner can if they wish. However if the sojourner chooses to present a sacrifice to the Lord, they are to do it the same way the Israelite does it. The bar will not be lowered for the sojourner. If you are just a visitor, God doesn’t require anything of you but if you want to join the community, become a citizen of Israel, you have to act like a citizen of Israel, upholding the same standards. You receive the same blessings but you also take on the same burdens and responsibilities (Numbers 15:30–31).

For a native Israelite be “cut off” from the people means he is no longer a part of the people of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He no longer has any rights to those promises. You can not mock God and expect for it to end well. 

The latter part of this chapter is an example of a presumptuous person. This story is not inserted randomly. 

“Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation; and they put him in custody because it had not been declared what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.’ So all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.” (Numbers 15:32–36 NASB)

This man had been in the community for at least three years. He knew when the Sabbath was, he knew what resting meant, yet he didn’t care to rest. This stoning took place outside the camp, “cut off” from the community. 

What we see and do really does matter to God. We ignore the Word of God and do what we want to do at our peril.

Tassels on garments

“The LORD also spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God. I am the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the LORD your God.’” (Numbers 15:37–41 NASB)

This tassels, or ציציתות tzitzitot (H6734), are made from multiple strands of thread. The more strands woven together, the stronger the tzitzit. That shows the strength and power of God’s word. 

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. 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.

Jonah 4: God does not desire the death of the wicked

The primary lesson of the book of Jonah is this: God is willing to hear to remove sin, even for people you don’t like. God doesn’t want to kill anyone: Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, whatever. God wants all these groups to be saved. When Yeshua (Jesus) said that the sign of His being the Messiah was the “sign of Jonah” (Matt. 12:39; 16:4; Luke 11:29), it was not only about the three days in the fish representing his three days in the grave. The entire book of Jonah is the “sign of Jonah” Yeshua references.

Continue reading Jonah 4: God does not desire the death of the wicked

Jonah 3: Contrasting contriteness of Nineveh and Israel

Studies in Prophets and WritingsJonah 3 is a short chapter, but there is a lot in there. We are shown how the individual Ninevites responded to the message of Jonah. The repentance of the people grabbed the attention of the king of Nineveh who encouraged their repentance. The people of Nineveh believed God, and “it was credited to them as righteousness” (cf. Gen. 15:6), just as it was for Abraham. 

Jonah was a reluctant prophet. Assyrians were a cruel people, an enemy of Israel. It was not in the nation of Israel’s interest for the people of Nineveh to repent. 

“Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.'” (Jonah 3:1–2 NASB)

God does not correct Jonah’s previous behavior any further. He doesn’t hold it against him. This is a do-over of Jonah’s call to mission to Nineveh.

Nineveh is a large city with several smaller suburbs that are collectively referred to as the “Great City of Nineveh.” It took about 3 days to walk through the entire city. 

“Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” (Jonah 3:4 NASB)

Jonah’s three days journey included a message of death. Yeshua’s message included His death.

Yeshua gave warnings of repentance to the generation of His day. Jonah gives a message of repentance. 

Jonah did not go to the king, he went to the people. Most of the prophets were sent to speak with the king. There’s no indication that Jonah ever met the king of Nineveh. His message was to the people, just as Yeshua’s mission was to the people. 

It was the people who believed Jonah first and it worked up to the king. The people repented first, then the king. 

In Nineveh, change came from the bottom up, while in Israel, the prophets spoke to the kings because in Israel, the kings were appointed by God. The people and the kings of Israel had some of idea of what was right and wrong and purposefully chose to ignore God’s rules. 

The people and king of Nineveh had no clue about what was right and wrong in God’s eyes. They were ignorant of His rules. 

After one days journey, Jonah begins preaching his message and he warned the people that judgement would happen in 40 days. The 40 day time frame is a traditional time of trial. The people of Nineveh are being offered 40 days to hear the message, and respond with repentance. 

“Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.” (Jonah 3:5 NASB)

The people of Nineveh believed in God, not Jonah. It was the people who initially responded and proclaimed a fast. Everyone is fasting, they are all equally miserable from the highest to the lowest. God is not a respecter of persons.

Ash is used for cleaning, it’s a traditional ingredient in soap. It’s a symbolic way of saying that “I need cleaning.” 

The king of Nineveh became aware of Jonah’s message and he followed the course that his people were following. God used the people to change the leadership’s course. 

“He issued a proclamation and it said, ‘In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing.'” (Jonah 3:7 NASB)

Why did the king of Nineveh care about the animals? What do animals know? Can they sin? What is the king trying to say? All of God’s creation know Him. 

Including animals in fasts is not uncommon in the Ancient Near East, it was common in Persia during times of national fasting that man and beasts were to fast. Animals will be miserable without food and water and will cause misery to those responsible for their care. Imagine cattle being deprived of water for a day or so. They will trample over other animals in their herd, even their human caregivers to get to water. 

When you are responsible for animals and you have to deprive them of food and water for a time, it’s a sorry feeling to see their suffering. 

A king’s job is to care for their citizens, they are to respond to their needs. The king is supposed to have compassion on their citizens. If they suffer, the king is supposed to alleviate. 

When the king calls a fast for citizens and animals, it’s to teach the people that just as their depravation of food and water to the animals hurts them, the suffering of the people hurts the king. 

What does the king call on the people to give up? 

“But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands.” (Jonah 3:8 NASB)

The king is asking the people to look at themselves and how their actions are causing their fellow citizens to suffer and the nation to incur judgement.

The sackcloth and ashes are not repentance. Fasting is not repentance. When they saw their animals and their children suffering, it turned their hearts to compassion and repentance.

“Yet even now,”declares the LORD, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent And leave a blessing behind Him, Even a grain offering and a drink offering For the LORD your God?” (Joel 2:12–14 NASB)

Their repentance was to stop their culture of violence. When they repented, and stopped acting in violence, the hearts of the people of Nineveh were stirred with compassion, not only for their animals but for each other, too.

“When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.” (Jonah 3:10 NASB)

By day 41, enough of the people of Nineveh had repented of their violence that God did not destroy them. 

This is different from what the people of Judah did in Joel’s day. The people of Judah went through the outward show but their hearts never repented. It’s God’s job to draw the heart, not the Messiah’s. It was not Jonah’s job to change the hearts of the people, it was his God-given job to tell the people of Nineveh what they needed to do to repent and the consequence of ignoring the message. 

Speaker: Daniel Agee. Summary: Tammy. 

Luke 18:18-19:28: Eyes to see what God really values

JeffThese seemingly randomly inserted passages do fit the previous theme of learning to see people how God sees them: Few rich people in heaven, a camel through the eye of a needle, a warning about the restoration of Yeshua three days after humiliation and suffering, healing of a blind man, repentance of Zakkai (Zaccheus) the tax collector, parable of 10 coins for servants of a king.

Continue reading Luke 18:18-19:28: Eyes to see what God really values