Signs of the end of the age

Signs of the end of the age

In our readings last Shabbat we read of our Holy Master’s response to His disciples question, “Tell us, when will these things (the destruction of the Holy Temple) be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”  Matthew 24:3. Our Holy Master responds to all of these questions and as I was pondering His words this week I realized something that I’ve never thought of before. signs_of_the_times_graphic Traditionally many of us have been taught to look for the disasters, the terror, the plague, and the famine to tell us when the Messianic Age was about to begin.  But when I read this passage this week I realized that this makes very little sense.  Yes, our Master spoke of the troubled times to come when Jerusalem would be destroyed and the Jewish Revolt would devastate both the people and the land so deeply.  That was the answer to the first question about when the predicted destruction of the Holy Temple would be.  Even the answers to the next question can seem somewhat ominous, but I don’t think that it needs to be interpreted that way.  The parables He told were a warning for some and a symbol of hope for others. Continue reading

When you hear…

Talking-to-FamilyyWhen someone tells a story about their experience that sounds fantastic to you, or maybe it sounds a little “over the top”, do you immediately suspect that they’re trying to show off by embellishing their story a bit?  Or maybe you immediately feel like there’s some sort of contest to see who has had a more difficult time or a more tragic past or has been rescued from a more terrible event.  It’s easy to tell when someone is boasting foolishly, but what about when it doesn’t seem like they are?  Maybe you even feel a little uncomfortable and wonder, “Should I even trust this person?”  It’s easy to walk away from such a situation and think less of the speaker, suspecting them of some strange motive.

I’ve been thinking about this for a little while now, how often the reason for sharing these bits of information is usually misunderstood.  I’ve been guilty of misunderstanding others.  How do I give the speaker the benefit of the doubt in situations like this?  Why on earth are they telling me these things anyway? Continue reading

Camping Along The Way

HaShem has created a journey of life for each of us, uniquely crafted just for each one of us.  The goal of our journey is to bring us to Himself and to refine us into something beautiful.  We have a Guide and a Helper along the way that will help keep us on course, if we’re willing to listen.  And even when we’re not so willing, they aren’t ever too far away that they can quickly direct us when we’re ready to hear again.   We also have fellow travelers along The Way and they play a vital role in our journey.  Our journeys may be similar but each one is ultimately unique, crafted specifically just for each of us and the tasks we were created for.

iStock_000017773700SmallLife’s journey takes us through many camps as we are walking along the way.  These camps are designed to mold us into the people we are becoming.  It’s as if the path we’re on is dotted with exits leading to specific camps, some close together and some farther apart.  These camps are intended to broaden our knowledge and to give us experiences, but all of them leave their mark on our lives in one way or another.  We don’t always have a roadmap of our path, most often our walk is revealed a step or two at a time.  Sometimes we find that our path splits into different directions and we get to choose which direction to take.  We will always make it to our desired destination when we follow our Guide and when we keep our focus on that desired destination, even if we can’t always see it up ahead.  I’ve learned that when I come to a fork in the road it’s one of two types – one path is good and the other is not, or both paths look equally good. If both paths look good and are heading in the right direction, then just pick one – both will take you to where you need to go but each path will have its own unique camps along the way.   Continue reading

Gentile Inclusion – thinking out loud

Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice.  Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.

~ Isaiah 32:1-2  ESV

If our tradition tells us that Yeshua of Nazareth is the promised Messiah and He will return to complete His Messianic mission, and if our tradition tells us that He will reign as King from Jerusalem and all the earth will worship G-d at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, if in the Messianic Age the Torah will go out from Jerusalem to all nations, and if Messiah will appoint leaders (some say the resurrected Apostles will fill this role, others say men selected the age when Messiah comes – who knows) ….

Then this verse is super awesome because it says those who are chosen to lead – the princes – are the kind of people that bring such rest, such peace, such assurance, such blessing.  No wonder the nations will flock to Messiah, if His princes are this way!  Isn’t this the way Yeshua was as He walked the earth so long ago?  Isn’t this how we’ve encountered Him along our journey?  Oh that we should be more like Him!

Hhmm – with the MG-MJ thing and my recent shared ruminations, I think you may see where I’m going.

We need to be those people now, prepare for the coming Messiah.  Though we MGs may not be selected as princes, our MJ brothers certainly may and doesn’t a wife rejoice when her husband is known in the city gates and respected among his peers?  Doesn’t the wife benefit from her husband’s honorable success?  But as many of us know, a wise and honorable husband has a wise and honorable wife standing beside him.

May we grow, as a people, into the wise and noble ones that Messiah is looking for – that pure and spotless bride.

Just thinking…  (and not getting much work done)

The Messiness of Gentile Inclusion, Pt 5

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves

~ Philipians 2:3

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment,

~Romans 12:3a

My ancestors in the early days were carefully observed by the religious leaders as they moved out of paganism and toward Judaism.  As they became G-d Fearers, their walks were scrutinized so that the leaders and teachers could get a better understanding of what was truly in their hearts. Yesterday I finished my thought for the day asking about our Holy Master’s example and our serving one another.  Isn’t this what we’re instructed to be striving toward, more than outward appearances and dietary restrictions?  I don’t know how things worked in the First and Second Centuries but today one doesn’t draw the ire of many people by being kind and considerate.  If it was illegal to worship outside of the prescribed Roman way, and Jews had a special waver but that it came with special discrimination and taxes, what was a non-Jew who worshiped the G-d of Israel to do?  My guess is that laying low and flying under the Roman religion radar was a common thing for my ancestors.  Remember when people came to the Jordan River to hear John and when people who weren’t super religious asked him what they should do, he instructed them to do their jobs in righteousness and purity rather than telling them to stop being tax collectors and such.  I imagine that this same idea was applied to my ancestors back in the day.  “You’ve already received the mark of acceptance.  Walk in righteousness and purity, treat others well, and be humble.  You don’t need to do more, just keep growing strong in this way.”

If your Roman neighbor is a jerk, be nice to him anyway.  When he has a need, help him.  If he woke up on the wrong side of the bed, be kind anyway.  If he lives on the wrong side of the bed, be kinder still.  Honor your word and walk with righteous deeds.  What will your neighbor find to hold against you?  And if you are hauled into court because he finds out that you are a Roman atheist, then consider your struggle as a sort of honor because you are being persecuted for the sake of the Kingdom.  G-d will not turn away from you.  To me, this seems to be the crux of much of the Apostolic Writings.

While it’s easy to say, it’s not so easy to do. Continue reading

The Messiness of Gentile Inclusion, Pt 4

In this series of thoughts about being a non-Jew who adheres to Messianic Judaism I’ve wanted to touch on the shocking acceptance of Cornelius, the history of Gentile inclusion from the Scriptures, and an illustration about why I personally think it’s important to address the subject of Gentile Inclusion in a careful manner.

Today I hope to share some of my thoughts about what we who are MGs could do to make life easier.

Part 2 of this short series included some descriptions and examples of non-Jews who were recorded to be somehow connected with or living on the fringes of Judaism.  There are some interesting observations about such people.  I think that we can learn a lot from the examples that these people left behind for us, but we have to do a little digging.

If the “ger” became the convert and son or daughter of Abraham, then the “nokrei” is the pre-convert, the G-d fearer.  There are many reasons why conversion may have been discouraged by Paul and other Apostles in the First Century.  Some people, like the Roman Centurion or later on, Cornelius, may have lost their livelihood and become destitute while others may have had different concerns.  In the First Century it was against Roman law to be an atheist, to refuse to worship the Roman Pantheon. Continue reading

The Messiness of Gentile Inclusion, pt 3

I’ve written twice about some thoughts I have on the subject of Gentile Inclusion – part 1 and part 2.  So far I’ve been thinking about Cornelius in Acts and the few times when my Master Yeshua interacted with non-Jews.  Let me tell you why this is a topic that matters a great deal to me.

We raise cattle, sheep, and goats.  What we have the most of is sheep, and that means this is where most of our learning and experience is too.  We have always named our animals whether they were born here or came to us later.  One friend often says to us, “Never name something you’re going to eat.”  The last time this friend made this statement to us our daughter replied, “We always name them.  They grow better.”  Her reply got me thinking.  What did she mean that they grew better, and why? Continue reading