Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New Torah & Ark Arrive


Adonai has blessed our Congregation with a new Kosher Torah, Ark and Bema. This is espically exciting as Dee Dee is doing her Bat Mitzvah & Conversion to B'nai Israel this weekend. This Torah joins our Holocaust Survivor Torah and will be used for Holy Day, Conversion, and Bar / Bat Mitzvahs.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Succot and the Messianic Jewish Lifestyle

Succot and the Messianic Jewish Lifestyle.

Succot is the most joyous feast of the year. This feast remembers the 40 years in the wilderness when Adonai dwelt with His people and cared for them. It celebrates the Harvest and our Thanksgiving for all that G-d has provided. Succot also celebrates the Shekinah of G-d, Yeshua, coming to dwell with man. Finally, Succot celebrates G-d's final redemption of Man, and His coming to dwell with His people in the New Jerusalem.

As important as this Holy Day is; it is amazing that most believers in the Church will never celebrate it (during this lifetime).

What is more amazing, and frankly disturbing, is that many Messianics do not make attending Synagogue a priority during this time. If we as Messianic & Messianic Jewish Believers do not make keeping G-d's Appointed times (Mo'edim) a priority, how are we any different than other non-Messianic believers.

Keeping G-d's Mo'edim must be a priority in our walk, as it is commanded by G-d, were kept by the Master (Yeshua), were kept by His Talmidim, and are a sign of who we are.

Please pray about this and determine today to make G-d's Appointed Times a priority in our lives.

"L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem" (or to women, "L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi"), which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year." Rabbi Gavri'el

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The significance of Yom Kippur.

Why is Yom Kippur so important if Messiah has already come and made the sacrifice for us?

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year. It is the Shabbat of Shabbats. It was commanded to be kept forever (or until the end of the age depending on individual interpretation). It is about redemption and forgiveness.

Many non-Messianic believers think Yom Kippur has been nullified (done away with) by Messiah's sacrifice. This is not the case. Yom Kippur and the associated time of repentance (Elul and the Days of Awe) are still vibrant and meaningful events in the life of believers. As we wrote about last week (see newsletter Sept 15, 2007) repentance is still required for one to be in union with G-d. This repentance is not a one time act when a person accepts the ruler ship of G-d and His Messiah; but is continual and ongoing. 1st John chapter 3 makes this perfectly clear. Continued sin without repentance leads to death and separation from G-d.

Similarly Yom Kippur is still a totally valid Mo'ed (appointed time). Yom Kippur has many aspects which point to the sovereignty of G-d and the criticality of redemption from sin and Ha' Satan (the adversary). We will address this more fully in the Yom Kippur Synagogue teaching (if you cannot attend service, please visit after Sunday Sept 23rd to hear the teaching). Thus in Yom Kippur we see three aspects of Messiahs Ministry:

* To be the sacrificial goat to make peace with G-d (reconciliation, removing sin from between us and G-d).
* To be the scapegoat for Azazel (or Azazzel), on which the sins of the people have been placed. The scapegoat was lead outside the city to be shoved over a cliff so the sins of the people could not return.
* To be the High Priest (like King David, Messiah performs both Kingly and Priestly functions) to take the offering into the Most Holy Place to present to G-d.

As the sacrifice to G-d, most people can readily identify with this, as it is similar to Messiah being the Passover Lamb. Similarly, Messiah acting as both High Priest and King is a concept easy to grasp as it was seen in King David. It is the scapegoat for Azazel which we want to focus on for the moment.

The scapegoat is said to be for Azazel:

Lev 16:8-10 Then Aharon is to cast lots for the two goats, one lot for ADONAI and the other for 'Az'azel. Aharon is to present the goat whose lot fell to ADONAI and offer it as a sin offering. But the goat whose lot fell to 'Az'azel is to be presented alive to ADONAI to be used for making atonement over it by sending it away into the desert for 'Az'azel.

Our Traditional Rabbi's usually see this word (Azazel) as being "God strengthens", or according to the Talmud (Yoma 67b) the name of a cliff over which the goat was driven in the atonement ritual for Yom Kippur. This understanding was cited by Rashi, who took "azazel" to mean "rough ground" or "cliff,". This understanding was accepted by many Rabbis who wished to avoid contamination of the Torah by belief in demons.

There is, however, another possible meaning which seems to be supported by the context of the verses above. Azazel may not be a cliff, or a reference to G-d, but a reference to a Demon (or Satan). The book of Enoch (referred to in scripture but not included in the Hebrew or Christian canon) calls Azazel a Chief fallen angel:

1 Enoch 2:8, where God says, "On the day of the great judgement he {Azazel} shall be cast into the fire. [---] The whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin."

If Azazel were to actually be a Chief Demon, or even a Ha-Satan figure, the meaning of the scapegoat would have even greater meaning than normally attributed to it bearing our sin (and by type, Messiah bearing our sin). If Azazel is a Chief Demon than the scapegoat would have actually been a blood price redemption to cancel Ha'Satan's claim on man. This theme is exactly the setting seen in the book (and movie) Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis who wrote it as part of the Narnia series. In the book, the Messiah figure Aslan, must be turned over to the Witch (Ha'Satan figure) to be killed as a Blood price to redeemed the fallen boy (figure of fallen man).

In Summary

In Yom Kippur we clearly see 3 types of Messiahs role and sacrifice: High Priest, Sin / Peace offering, and scapegoat. In the scapegoat we can witness the blood redemption for each of us. As that redemption, Messiah bought us back, as a kinsman redeemer, from Ha'Satan. Ha'Satan who had legal claim to us because of our willful sin and rebellion from G-d.

Yes - Yom Kippur still has full meaning for believers in Messiah, as our High Priest took His own Blood as a Peace Offering to G-d and redeemed us by His sacrifice from the adversary.

"L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem" (or to women, "L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi"), which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year." Rabbi Gavri'el

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Yeshiva Graduation

Congratulations to Rabbi Gavri'el for completing his Masters in Messianic Theology from Yeshiva.

Messianic Jewish Rabbinic Council Halacha


I was very heartened to see the beginnings of a firm Messianic Jewish Halacha being agreed upon by the Messianic Jewish Rabbinic Council. This is badly needed and long over due.

The MJRC website url is Messianic Jewish Rabbinic Council

Our Congregation will be adopting this in large parts as our Halacha.


The Meaning of Rosh Hashanah

The Meaning of Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah (Yom Teruah) - The day of the Shofar sounding, the date we appear before the judge, the day of Messiah's return!

Rosh Hashanah was originally called Yom Teruah, the day of the Great Blast. On it we are commanded to assemble and hear the Shofar sound. The Shofar is customarily heard 30 times each at the early services, and a final 40 times at the final service, for a total of 100.

The notes sounded are:

* Tekkia - Long blast rising upward at the end
* Shavarim - sobbing sound
* Teruah - Alarm blast of 9 short notes
* Tekkia Ha'Gadol - All above blasts ending in a very long note with a final upward rise at the end

The command to hear the Shofar is directly related to two events. One Rabbinic tradition, the other firmly stated in scripture.

Rabbinic Tradition

The Rabbinic tradition says the Shofar sounds our appearing before the Judge of the world. It singles the Book of Life, The Book of Death, the Book of Words, and the Book of Deeds being open. Our fate for the coming year is then inscribed in either the Book of Life, or the Book of Death.

The 10 Days of Awe, from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur, give us space to repent and seek to have our names written in the Book of Life.

Scriptural Reference

In Scripture, Rabbi Sha'ul (Paul) clearly uses the Shofar as the sign of the L-rds regathering of His people to Himself and their being removed from the world. This event is commonly referred to as the Rapture (snatching away).

A Theory, based on the wedding customs our Messiah taught about, suggests the "snatching away" will occur the same way a Bride was claimed in Yeshua's time.

As the wedding party approached to claim the unaware bride, the "Best Man" (In this case probably the Angel Gavri'el), would sound a trumpet blast, the Teruah (Alarm Blast) to alert the bride her Betrothed was near and coming for her. This fits perfectly with the parable of the 10 virgins, other parables, and parallels taught by the Master (Messiah).

As Messianic Believers, we do not need to fear this time. The Book of Death has no power over us as we are inscribed in the greatest book of all, The Lambs Book of Life. There on those pages, written in blood, are our names.

May we live our lives following G-d's Torah, inscribed in the Lambs Book of Life, ready at any moment to hear the sound of the Shofar!

May we all respond to G-D's Word with our sincere repentance and supplications during these High Holy Days..

"L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem" (or to women, "L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi"), which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year." Rabbi Gavri'el

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Special Prayers and Special Offerings (Korban) for the High Holy Days

Why are Special Prayers and Special Offerings (Korban) given on the High Holy Days?

As we enter into the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Succot, it may not be clearly understood why both Special Prayers and Special Offerings (Korban) are given.

As Messianic Jewish Believers in Messiah, lets look at each of these and see how they relate to us today.

Special Prayers

As we can see from the full schedule over the next month, many additional services have been added to our normal Shabbat schedule. These services correspond directly to the additional services, sacrifices and offerings given during the High Holy Days in the Temple, as commanded by G-D.

Prayer was a key ingredient during the High Holy Days of the Temple and should still be for us today. These prayers glorify ADONAI and seek His presence amongst His people. Prayers of repentance, supplication, and intercession arise like the incense that was offered in the Temple.

The additional services will give us many opportunities to seek ADONAI's face and offer up our incense of prayer & praise. Thus we will fulfill the giving of additional prayers during this time by attending these additional services.

Special Offerings

One often mis-taught belief in Scripture was that Yeshua's death did away with all sacrifices. This comes from a very poor understanding of the difference types of sacrifices and their purpose. Only 20-25% of sacrifices were for sin; these were the ones that were directly replaced by Yeshua. The remaining sacrifices were Thanksgiving offerings, Peace offerings, etc.

It should be noted that the Apostles continued to sacrifice after Messiah was resurrected. Even Sha'ul (Paul) paid for sacrifices for a Nazarite vow in Acts 21. All text and historical sources show the Apostles still participated in Temple worship in Jerusalem.

Why would the very followers of Yeshua continue to offer sacrifice? There are several reasons: Identification with the people, fulfilling the commands of G-D, and remembering the sacrifice of Messiah. Interestingly, in the Millennium Kingdom, sacrifices are restored. Why? Identification with the people, fulfilling the commands of G-D, and remembering the sacrifice of Messiah. Thus, we see the same worship we saw historically by the first Believers in Messiah will return in the Kingdom to come.

So what does all that have to do with a Believer in Messiah today?

Quite a bit, for we are much like the early followers of the Messiah in that we worship Him in a 1st century manner as Messianic Believers (both Jew and grafted-in G-D Fearer's). But unlike then, we have no Temple, thus we cannot make animal sacrifices. Instead we bring our special offerings into His sanctuary of the synagogue. These offerings are replacing the Thanksgiving, Praise and Peace offerings made during this Holy Time.

May we all respond to G-D's Word with our sincere Special Prayer & Special Offerings for these High Holy Days.

Rabbi Gavri'el

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Purpose of Repentance, Elul, and the Days of Awe

What is the purpose of Repentance, Elul, and the Days of Awe?

As we enter this 40-day period in preparation for Yom Kippur, it may not be clear what the significance of Repentance, the month of Elul, and the Days of Awe are to a Messianic Jewish Believer in Messiah. Lets look at each of these and see how they relate to each other, and to belief in the Messiah.


Scripture says:
1Jn 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1Jn 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

Note carefully verse 9 - "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

This is key to understanding our relationship to G-D. David Jeremiah in his daily commentary says, "Just like a car battery must have a alternator to recharge it, or it will soon go dead, we must have the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh), or we too will be powerless." Thus the Holy Spirit keeps recharging us to do the works and live the Faith we are given.

David Jeremiah goes on to point out that one of the main causes for a car battery to die is not the battery itself, but that the alternator is not charging it. Spiritually, our "battery" can go out if the alternator (Holy Spirit) is unable to recharge us.

What can keep the Spirit from recharging us? Unrepentant sin.

Unrepentant sin acts like a short circuit or a broken connector to G-D's power. With that short circuit, we cannot be recharged. Saying it another way, by having unconfessed sin, we are breaking fellowship with Him, and not allowing Him to work through us.

The Cure:

Looking again at verse 9 - "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," we see the answer: confession and repentance. It should be noted in context that confession here includes turning away from the sin and, if possible, making it right.

So what does that have to do with Elul and the Days of Awe?

Elul is the Hebrew month preceding Rosh Hashanah; with the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur being referred to as "The Days of Awe." During this 40-day period, the shofar is sounded every morning to remind everyone to remember and confess their sins. It is a 40-day period of repentance (t'shuvah).

The Days of Awe are the final 10 days of repentance and are especially somber as we more diligently seek G-D's forgiveness, and our fellow man's forgiveness.

So what does all that have to do with a believer in Messiah?

Quite a bit, actually. Please note the passages quoted were from 1 John. Written by the Apostle Yochanan, "the one Yeshua loved," they are key to understanding how to maintain a right relationship with G-D. Please note verse 10 - "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His Word is not in us." The Word not being in us can mean two things: We are out of fellowship, or we are not saved. Either case is serious, with not being saved clearly being the most serious.

Thus, Elul and the Days of Awe provide a vivid, yearly reminder that we must repent and confess our sins, one to another, or the truth is not in us.

May we all heed G-D's Word and respond to it.

Rabbi Gavri'el