Tag Archives: Remember

The Trinity in Lev. 23?

unspecified-19-1Tonight begins Sukkoth.  Sukkoth, the Feast of Tabernacles (“Booths” in the ESV), is the third of three autumn pilgrimage festivals appointed by God in Leviticus 23.  This particular festival is the celebration festival of the autumn calendar.  The first two, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are solemn, but Sukkoth is festival of rejoicing.

I was on the radio this week, and the guy on the board was talking to me during a break and relating that he saw on Facebook the admonition to not wish Jewish people a “Happy Rosh HaShanah,” because Rosh HaShanah is anything but happy.  It is a solemn memorial.  But to wish Jewish people a Happy Sukkoth would not be untoward.  (Truthfully, I don’t know many Jewish people who would take offense at their friends wishing them a happy Rosh HaShanah, but the usual greeting is La Shana Tova, literally, “A Good Year,” referencing the greater greeting of “May your name be inscribed for a good year,” that inscription being in the Book of Life.)  In our Detroit branch we gave away many baskets of apples & honey with that greeting.  You can see those on the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ChaivShalom/?ref=bookmarks).  But as Sukkoth is a festival of rejoicing, rejoice!  Happy Sukkoth, or even better, Chag Sukkoth Sameach!

We built our booth, or Sukkah, on Sunday afternoon following our service.  (You can see a picture and video on our Facebook page too!)  The Sukkah is a relatively flimsy booth built with a roof of branches that do nothing to keep the rain or the sun out.  It is a reminder of the booths we lived in in the desert as we schlepped from Egypt to Israel following God’s deliverance of his people from bondage.  The message is that anything we build with our hands is flimsy indeed compared to the building that God is providing for us.  A time of remembrance and a time of rejoicing in God’s constant care and provision.

In many ways, and I preached this during Yom Kippur, the three autumn festivals are a picture of God himself and are very Trinitarian.  On Rosh HaShanah, God the Father blows a trumpet to get our attention off of ourselves and onto Him.  Then he shows us our deliverance on Yom Kippur as God the Son takes on flesh and blood and becomes the sacrifice for our atonement.  These are solemn acts indeed and our response is one of quiet solemnity.  But at Sukkoth we rejoice as God, the Holy Spirit, is poured out upon us and shows us His sacrifice, His love, and His provision.  All three persons of the Godhead are there in these three festivals!  What a joy to share this truth with those who cannot see.

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The Six-Day War, Nes Gadol Hayah Sham!

UntitledYom Yerushalayim was last month on May 23 in Israel.  Otherwise known as “Jerusalem Day,” it is an Israeli national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem, which happened following the Six-Day war.  Because of the differences between the Jewish calendar and the Gregorian calendar,  we mark the observance of Jerusalem Day in May (this year), but June 5-10 marks the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day war.  I can’t believe that it has been that long, and I remember it like it was yesterday. We, the American Jewish community, were sure that this was the end of Israel, and yet, much like our dreidel proclaims at Chanukkah, “a great miracle happened there!”

Many people debate about whether Israel has any historical right to the land that they are in.  Some make a biblical argument based on God’s promises to Abraham, others refute that and base their refutation on theological arguments and spiritualize Israel as only the Church and the promised land as “heaven.”  (Certainly Paul, uses Israel to refer to the Church, but also to the land and to the ethnic people…see Romans 9-11.)  Still others refute such a right because they see Israel as an oppressive government that has displaced an indigenous people, the “Palestinians.”  No matter what, Israel is a lightening rod that draws a lot of opinion, anger and attention.

While this is not an excursus on Israel, I just have to say that regardless of all the opinion out there,  there is a modern, historic foundation to Israel’s right to the land that is hard to refute.  It started on November 29, 1947 when the United Nations adopted a partition plan for Palestine following the British withdrawal from the region in 1948.  Effectively, the United Nations gave the area a “two-state solution” that we hear so much about today.  Israel and Palestine were created and the Jewish Agency for Palestine accepted the plan, despite the fact that the newly created Israel would have “indefensible” borders.  But the nations that surrounded Israel, Egypt, Transjordan, Iraq and Syria, along with the newly created “Palestinians,” rejected the plan and attacked Israel.  Anyone who believes a two-state solution would bring peace to the Middle East just needs to study history!

A dear friend of mine was an American military observer in Israel during the Six-Day war.  I remember him saying that the Israeli victory was nothing short of miraculous, that with God there is no such thing as “indefensible” borders, and clearly God is not done with His Jewish people.  These observations are also hard to refute.  Thank you for helping us share the Gospel here and in Israel!

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Remembering

imagesLast month there were four holidays on the Jewish calendar, beginning of course with Passover.  Passover is all about remembering, and it is unfortunate that most of our Jewish friends who celebrate Passover are merely remembering the tradition.  Very often, I am told that it is important to have a Seder for the sake of community, but faith in the actual events of Scripture is often faint.  Many Jews, perhaps most, really don’t believe that God separated the waters of the Red Sea and brought our people through it to freedom from bondage.  If they don’t believe that, then what hope is there in teaching the Sacrament of Baptism, that it doesn’t becomes a mere tradition without the power of salvation and the freedom from bondage to sin!

The other three holidays of the Jewish calendar are all modern holidays celebrated in Israel, and in the diaspora (the Jews living outside of Israel).  April 22 and 23 were Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’Atzmaut respectively.  Yom HaZikaron is Israel’s Veterans Day, remembering the Israelis who have fallen in service to their country, and Yom Ha’Atzmaut is Israel’s Independence Day, remembering the 1948 War of Independence that birthed the Jewish nation.  Both of these holidays were opportunities to remember people and events in the lives of the Jewish nation.  But the fourth of the four is a little different.  While two are about remembering, one is about never forgetting.  And there is a distinction.

April 16 was Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Yom HaShoah is perhaps the most misunderstood of the bunch, although the political implications of the other two can be contentious.  But it seems most just don’t understand Yom HaShoah.  A couple of days ago, a visitor to our ministry got into a heated argument about the Holocaust, and said that he doesn’t understand why Jews had to be so focused on the Holocaust.  It is a common query.  As time goes by, and fewer survivors of the Holocaust are sharing their stories, the Jewish community is less afraid of the Holocaust deniers in the world, and more afraid that the Jewish community will have a short memory and allow something like that to happen all over again.  Remembering, for them, is self-preservation.  So, we have museums, and days on the calendar.  In many ways, while the other two question Israel’s survival, Yom HaShoah is about the survival of the Jewish people as a whole.

A quick search of the ESV version of the Holy Scriptures reveals 162 times that “remember” is found.  Sometimes we are told to remember our sins, and sometimes we are told to remember God’s grace.  Needless to say, it is important to remember our sins.  And more importantly, once repentant, we must always remember God’s grace, the He would become incarnate as a man, Jesus, and take our sins to the cross, and the resurrection.  God remembers His children.  May we never forget.

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