Jacob Ben Avraham

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About Jacob Ben Avraham

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  1. PARASHA: “Shemini” (Eighth) LEVITICUS 9:1-11:47………………2 SAM 6:1-7:17……………..MARK 14:1-72 …..Aaron and his sons had been preparing for the priesthood for seven days. So we see a period of “7” days, that Aaron and his sons have been in the Mishkan, preparing, praying, being “ordained” by YHVH to take on the ministry of High Priest (Aaron) and “priests” Nadav, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Is it any surprise that we see the number “7” here, since it is God’s number of perfection? The Hebrew letter “Zayin” has the equivalent of the number “7” in gematria. “Zayin” symbolizes “weapon”. The Holiness of Yeshua is our “weapon” against HaSatan. …..On the “Eighth” day, the sacrifices begin, the whole ministry begins, and YHVH himself will ignite the first fire on the brazen altar, saying, “I AM HERE, in your presence” Chapter nine tells of the animal sacrifices that the priests offered. They symbolize “Yeshua” who took our place, and paid our sin debt. The brazen altar is the “Cross” upon which “Yeshua” was judged for our iniquities. The animals being sacrificed symbolized that. But wait a minute, something is about to go wrong! Inauguration day is about to smudged. The football is about to be fumbled. The waiter carrying the wedding cake is about to slip and fall. …..Vs 10, “Then Nadab and Abihu, “b’nei Aaron” (sons of Aaron) each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profain (tamei) fire before YHVH which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from YHVH and devoured them, and they died before YHVH” …..Many Bible students look for a meaning in all of this. What was the “Esh Tamei” (profain fire)? The Torah is not crystal clear on that, so we can only assume, or come to an educated guess taking into account “clues” Perhaps, Nadab and Abihu were not asked or commanded to offer incense PERIOD! Or at least at that time, perhaps they thought, “Yo bro, this might be a good idea! Let’s try this!” well, they got fried! Many believe that they can come to God “their own way” or might think; “there are many ways to get to God” YHVH has set the record straight, the ONLY way is through YESHUA, through simple FAITH. Yeshua said; “I AM the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE, NO ONE comes to the Father but by ME, (John 14:6) …..Another thought is that perhaps Nadav and Abihu had too much to drink, that they might have been drunk when they offered the incense, that they were not in their right minds, with clouded reason, so the “incense offering became “profane” their “holiness” was marred, so, being a God of Holiness, HE could not accept the sacrifice, and so, HE burned THEM up! We can understand this concept by Moshe’s words: …..”By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people, I must be glorified” …..We see that the LORD speaks and says; “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you when you go into the tabernacle of Meeting, lest you DIE”. …..The other thought is that they made their own “fire” instead of taking the fire from the brazen Altar and placing the incense on IT. This also could be “profane fire” that would symbolize that entrance to the Holiness of YHVH could be from OTHER sources, other than the Brazen Altar, remember, it symbolizes the cross and Yeshua was crucified on it to pay our sin debt. By making their own fire, they were in a way saying, “We can come to God by OUR OWN WAY. Not the “Yeshua” way. …..If this is indeed the meaning, perhaps they erred in their reasoning because they were not in their right mind, because of “strong drink?” so we are back to the “strong drink prohibition” Well, it makes sense, when ministers serve in the pulpit, behind the Bema, and they are teaching Torah, they need to be in their right mind, clear thinking and not have their reasoning clouded because of alcohol or other drugs. It isn’t that alcoholic beverages are prohibited to believers, they are prohibited when we are “Ministering” before the LORD and others. Wine helps the digestion of food; did you know that? But many are of the opinion that it is better to abstain at all times, so as “not to fall” into temptation of “overdoing it” by taking “one cup too many.” …..The other aspect of this Parasha is Chapter 11. It talks about the food we are to eat. This is where some believers get upset, start misinterpreting scripture, by saying; “God has cleansed ALL FOOD” so now we can eat “porky the pig” and dive into the seafood restaurants and indulge in lobster, crabs, oysters, clams, crawdads, shrimp, and other marine cockroaches, which God never intended for human consumption. “ALL FOODS” are what HE has ALREADY DEEMED as our FOOD! Which are the animals listed in Lev 11! Not what “man” has come up with to be “food” as if God’s menu is lacking! …..Many will go to Acts 10 to the vision of Sh’mon Kefa and say, “You see, God told him to eat all those creepy, crawly things!” but Adonai was using food as a “focal point” to get Kefa’s attention, it wasn’t about food at all. Kefa only ate “kosher’ food, from Lev 11, He knew it, God knew it, so, in a way, God is saying to Kefa, “The same way you feel about all these creepy crawly beasts in the sheet, you won’t touch them, you feel that way about the Gentiles! He says, “Don’t call unclean, what I call Clean” in other words, “I have “cleaned” the Gentiles! (it wasn’t about food at all). ALL PEOPLES from ALL OVER THE EARTH, are considered “Tahor” (clean) when we come to Yeshua as LORD and Savior, not just the Israelis from Israel. …..So why the prohibition of many of the popular “food” items we see today; like pork, pork sausage, ham, shellfish, catfish, shrimp, etc.? God made our bodies and our physical makeup, so as our creator, HE KNOWS what should go into our bodies and what needs to stay OUT. Those animals are “scavengers” and will eat almost ANYTHING dead or alive, many have toxins in their fatty flesh, high levels of cholesterol, etc, so, even though all that Italian prosciutto, and hard salami looks and smells great! Resist it! Chose turkey sausage and bacon rather than the pork sausage and bacon. Yeah, Yeah, it doesn’t taste the same, Yo dude, deal with it!! …..Yes, we are free to eat anything we want to, it is a free world, we are in a free society, and we have free choice So did Adam and Eve, and see where it got them, they ate something they weren’t supposed to have eaten! If we want optimum health, and feel good, stay with God’s diet, if we want something less than God’s best for our health, go for Porky P. Our LORD and God wants the best for our Spiritual health as well as for our physical health, that’s why he gave us his Torah. Read it, study it, and learn from it, put it into practice. 2 SAMUEL 6:1-7:17 …..We see another case of “good intentions” which ended up bad. The Aron Ha Kodesh (Ark of the Covenant) had been in the hands of the Philistines for some time, YHVH cursed them and caused them to return it to Israel. David received it with glory and honor, HOWEVER, He did not transport it CORRECTLY, to Yerushalayim. It should have been brought back on the shoulders of the Levites, bearing it on the appropriate staves. Instead, it was on an ox cart being driven by oxen. As we read the story, the oxen stumbled, and in order to keep the Ark from falling off the cart, Uzzah put out his hands and touched the ark, held it to keep it from falling. ….ZAP! Uzzah was fried! He meant well, he was sincere, but…he was sincerely WRONG. NO ONE was allowed to touch the Ark, NO ONE! Only the Levite priests, and they could only carry it on poles. Today, many might seem to want to come to the LORD on THEIR STANDARDS, doing THEIR OWN THING. If today’s times were like the times back in the old days, back in the old Bible days, we might all have been ZAPPED! Years ago Yet we serve a loving, forgiving God, who will put up with our issues, ways of doing things, our tongues, attitudes, etc, By the death of Yeshua our Mashiach, we have free access to the Throne of Grace. But “Kodesh” (Holiness) still comes ONLY through YESHUA. MARK 14:1-72 YESHUA and his talmidim celebrate Passover. The original Passover in Goshen consisted only of roasted lamb or goat, bitter herbs, and unleavened bread. But during this time of fellowship, the “last Supper” a few more elements had been added, the “sop” (charoset) which is a mix of apples, nuts, cinnamon, and honey, and wine. He has his twelve together, Y’hudah Ish Kariot, made his exit, the worse mistake a man can do, He lived and followed Messiah for three years and learned nothing. …The unleavened bread symbolized his body, which was/would be broken, for THEM and for ALL OF US. …The wine symbolized his Blood, which was shed/would be shed for THEM and for ALL OF US. The shepherd was struck, and the sheep were scattered! Yet 50 days later, the shepherd returned in Spirit form and HE is STILL WITH US. Yeshua rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and returned with his Holy Spirit. Indeed, the curse of sin and death had been conquered, Baruch HaShem!! …..As Yeshua submitted to the will of the FATHER, right there in the Garden, let us also be guided by the perfect will of YHVH, in ALL areas of our life. Shabbat Shalom………….Rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: Flowers-on-the-wall, Old Yaffa, Israel July/2015
  2. DREAMS OF FIRE by Jacob Ben Avraham Antonius Flavius Aquila sat down to breakfast at the large ornate wooden table in his Pompeii Villa. It was a villa of luxury built with the many denarii and aureii gained during his tenure in the senate of Rome. All, however, was not earned by honor, but by corruption and bribery, of turning a blind eye in the face of justice. For a few hundred denarii, another innocent Roman became another resident of the Mamertine (notorious prison in Rome), and the heart of Antonius was hardened even more. He was very much a part of the corruption of Rome, even though he tried to justify his actions with the desire to provide the best for his family. His wife and son, however, wanted none of it. He raised his hand and motioned for his household slaves to bring him his breakfast meal. They came to him with roasted fish, cereal, and some bread, with honey, figs, and dates. They also filled his silver goblet with wine and set it also before him on the table together with the breakfast food. The slaves then returned to do other household chores leaving Antonius to have breakfast alone. He lifted up his silver goblet and looked toward the mosaic image of his wife Julia. The tile image stared at him like a ghost from the past on the wall across from the table. The coal black eyes of the image reminded him of his blackened soul. “Hail Julia, the love of my life, I miss you so” cried Antonius as he lifted his silver goblet toward the image, and then sipped some wine from the cup. Julia was indeed a woman of Rome, a patrician of a noble family whose voice cried out for the needy, the indigent, and for justice. Her noble ideals clashed with those of Antonius. Many times, she lifted up her voice in protest to the injustices of Antonius, his voice rose above that of Julia so as to silence her protests. In the last few years, she became a shell of her once robust being, a shadow in the darkness instead of a light for justice. A light snuffed out by the injustices of Antonius, and others of the senate. Over the years, Antonius made a few enemies, so he thought the move to Pompeii would be good for his family. The villa and costly estate brought no change to Julia. Rome had taken its toll on Julia, wife of Antonius Flavius Aquila. She took refuge in the garden of the Villa, eating hardly anything. She just sat on one of the stone lectii lined with velvet cushions, surrounded by the beauty of flowers, a fountain, and a statue of the god Jupiter. Day by day she would look out toward the distant olive groves. Her eyes followed the birds, wishing that she too would have wings, to fly away from the memory of corruption. Her eyes would look past the olive groves to the mountain called Vesuvius, wishing she could somehow hide out in one of its many caves, never to be found. It was one March morning when Antonius came down to breakfast, that he went out into the garden. He found Julia lying down on the velvet cushions of a stone sofa, thinking her asleep, he went to awaken her only to find her cold corpse with a vial of poison in her outstretched hand. He would have to live with his “ides of March”, the price of Roman corruption had followed him to Pompeii. He would have rather faced an assassin’s dagger than see his beloved Julia dead, and by her own hand at that. Her once lively voice now silenced forever. Marcellus, son of Antonius lay asleep in his room on the second floor of his family’s Pompeian villa. Suddenly, the earth began to shake and rumble from below, there was a loud noise of an explosion of some sort. The sky turned dark and the air became hot, so hot that it was hard to breathe. Small white stones began to fall like heavy rain drops all around the villa; on the roof, in the garden, stones dropped and floated in the fountain. More stones began to fall, larger ones, stones glowing with red hot fire hit the roof, breaking off bits and pieces of tile. As the air became more and more heated, a hot white powder began to fall mixed with the falling stones. The hot air was now painful to breath in, the smoke and fire seemed to come from the mountain called Vesuvius. Marcellus clutched his throat as breathing became more and more painful. The white-powdery substance burned his eyes. Finally, he passed out. When he opened his eyes, it was day light. He was lying on his bed. The birds in the garden were chirping. He quickly got out of bed and ran to the window overlooking the garden. He gazed at the countryside beyond the garden and observed the mountain called Vesuvius in the distance. It was the same as ever, a tall monument of earth and stone overlooking the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. A few clouds covered the peak but there was neither fire nor smoke. Marcellus realized it was a dream, yes, a dream. But what could the dream mean? All dreams had meanings. Just as the dream of Jacob and the ladder had a meaning, so did this one, but what was the meaning? Marcellus got up from his bed, put on his tunic and sandals, and went down stairs to the dining area where his father was having breakfast. “Good morning father” greeted Marcellus with his usual smile. “Good morning son” replied his father rather coldly. Antonius had undergone a change since moving to Pompeii. Even though he retired from the senate of Rome, his thoughts still returned to the corrupt activities he had been a part of. He could not escape his own conscience, and it showed. “I am going to meet with Claudia father” replied Marcellus, “I would dine with you but she is waiting for me”. “Yes” said Antonius, getting up from the table, “go and meet with your Claudia Do you really take me for a blind fool?” Antonius walked slowly toward his son. Marcellus was surprised at his father’s response. “What do you mean father? I don’t understand?” “There have been rumors about secret meetings of Christians, Marcellus” said Antonius coldly, “you and Claudia have been seen with them”. Marcellus just stared at his father. So, he knew, somehow, he found out. He dare not deny his new found faith in Israel’s Messiah, knowing that many had already sacrificed their lives at the mere sport of previous emperors. “Have you nothing to say Marcellus?” asked his father “Yes father” replied Marcellus standing erect, “I am a Christian and Claudia too” “By the gods” roared Antonius “have you any idea how many denarii I’ve had to spend to keep certain people quiet by not sending a message to Rome saying; ‘The son of Antonius Flavius Aquila is part of the sect known as Christians’ “Who knows” he continued “we might lose all this” waving his hands around looking at the villa. “It’s always money and everything material, isn’t it father?” replied Marcellus more boldly, “did you ever think, father, that there is more to life than just money and power?” “Everything you see here I built for you and your mother” replied Antonius, “but your mother didn’t appreciate it” pointing to her tile image on the wall. “How could she?” replied Marcellus, “knowing how this place was built with blood money of innocent Romans, money that closed your eyes to justice and truth. She couldn’t live with that” “It was hard on your mother” said Antonius looking down at the ornate tile floor. “Rome took mother’s life” snapped Marcellus, “so many times she cried out for justice and your voice and actions always silenced hers. She couldn’t live with that anymore. “Your mother took her own life” Antonius said quietly “You were still young” “But not too young as not to remember the look in her eyes, of anguish and sadness, you and Rome drove her to her death” replied Marcellus. “Remember son, you too are a Roman” “Don’t remind me father” cried Marcellus as he turned his back to his father, walking quickly to the entrance of the Villa. Antonius just stood there watching his son leave the house. Marcellus turned once more to his father. He still loved his father, and his heart went out to him. “Father, why don’t you come with me and Claudia to our meeting and listen to what is said about the master?” said Marcellus hoping for the best. “Just go” yelled Antonius, “go follow your dead Jew and see where it gets you. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself in front of a gladiator’s sword. I can’t protect you forever”. Marcellus looked at his father sadly, if only he could understand the truth. “He isn’t dead father, he lives, he lives in the hearts of all those who follow him. His spirit lives in all who believe in him, even if it means facing the gladius (a roman short sword) or wild beasts. With those words, he left the house and went out into the street. He would look for Claudia in the usual place, at the forum in front of the temple of Apollo, right under the sun dial. As he made his way to the busy forum, he continued to think about his mother. Oh, how he missed her, if only she had not taken her own life. The move to Pompeii was somewhat sudden. Antonius sought peace and safety from the life of Rome, as there were those who sought his life for his misdeeds. Pompeii would be like a city of refuge he thought, not only for him but for his family. But Rome had taken its toll on Julia. Unable to help those who fell to the fate of the Mamertine, or to the jaws of beasts, she decided to join them by her own hand. The forum was just ahead. Marcellus looked toward the temple of Apollo and found the sundial, but Claudia wasn’t there. He noticed that there was a group of Pompeians gathered in the middle of the forum. He heard the voice of one crying out as if giving a speech, a speech of warning. As Marcellus approached the crowd, he saw Claudia on the outskirts listening attentively. He approached her and put his hand on her shoulder. “Oh Marcellus, I’m glad you’re here” she said with an anxious voice. “It’s Sostenes, the Greek. He is going to speak to our group today but he chooses first to speak to this crowd of mockers”. “Indeed” replied Marcellus, “he has valor and courage like a gladiator” Both Claudia and Marcellus continued to listen. They now formed part of the crowd which now pressed closely around this old, bearded stranger from Greece. “Oh people of Pompeii” continued the stranger, “Rome has sinned a great sin against the Almighty God. Rome has destroyed his holy temple in Jerusalem and has stolen its treasures”. “God, which god?” cried out one from the crowd. “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” answered the stranger. “The only one God who created the heavens and the earth. He has seen the corruption of Rome and the injustice toward man. He has seen the idolatry and sin of this city too. He will therefore come down and destroy Pompeii with fire, brimstone, smoke, and ash. Judgment will come from your mountain you call Vesuvius. Judgment will be swift for God will not be mocked. Your city will reap the whirlwind. Woe unto you people of Pompeii and Herculaneum, flee while you can, flee to the sea to escape judgment”. By this time, the people had started to laugh and mock the stranger. “Get out of here Greek” said one; “This city has too much life to die” said another. Just then, two burly gladiators pushed through the crowd grabbed the stranger by the arms and pushed him to the ground. “Go preach doom to another city old man” said one of the gladiators. “The gold, silver, wine, and women keep this city alive” said the other as he gave the stranger a hard kick to his ribs. “Sostenes” cried Claudia as she pushed through the crowd, falling by his side to protect him, “Leave him alone”. “A few rotten tomatoes and old fruit were cast a Sostenes as he lay on the ground, staining his beard and clothing. “Ah, the lady Claudia to the rescue, eh?” remarked one of the gladiators, “then see to it that this old man stays out of trouble, we don’t need any prophets of doom here.” The two gladiators then left the crowd which then also dispersed, continuing their routine business in and around the forum. Marcellus then came near and helped Claudia get Sostenes to his feet. After a few minutes they were alone, and no one else paid any attention to the three. “Sostenes” said Claudia somewhat upset, “were you not told to go straight to the house of Gaius the fisherman?” “Ah yes” replied Sostenes, shaking off the dust, dirt, and rotten fruit from his clothing, “but I couldn’t resist speaking to these Pompeians. They must be warned just as Noah warned the people of his time.” “And no one paid any attention to Noah did they?” replied Marcellus, helping the old man to remove the rest of the rotten fruit from his tunic. “This is my beloved Marcellus” said Claudia, “he is also a believer in our Messiah from Nazareth. “I am glad to meet you Marcellus” replied Sostenes, fully regaining his footing. “I am used to this my brother, these are the things one must endure for God. At least I have not been stoned like Paul” The three then made their way toward the house of Gaius the fisherman, whose house was near the sea port of Pompeii. “Sostenes, what happened to you” exclaimed Gaius as he opened the door to let the three in. “A little problem convincing the crowd of impending doom” replied Sostenes, sitting down in a rustic wooden chair near the kitchen area. The ordeal with the crowd and the walk to the sea port wore him out. “What are you talking about?” replied Gaius, rather bewildered. “I will explain my dear friend” said Sostenes rather calmly. “Will all the families arrive soon?” “Yes” said Gaius, “I have sent word to all of them that you would be here with a special message.” “That’s good. Now I would like to wash and have a little something to eat and drink” replied Sostenes, as he pulled his chair next to the wooden kitchen table, in the humble house of Gaius the fisherman. Gaius and his wife went to the kitchen and brought back some food for Sostenes. He then washed his hands in a small wooden bowl and enjoyed a meal of figs, dates, and some roasted fish with bread. Gaius then poured some wine in a little wooden cup and handed it to Sostenes. He broke the bread and lifted up the wine, reciting the blessing. As he was eating, the Christian families started to arrive. Before long, the humble house of Gaius was filled with men, women, and children who had placed their trust in the resurrected Yeshua, Messiah of Israel, and the hope of all mankind. As Sostenes got up from the table, Gaius motioned to the people to sit down on the floor. All eyes were now on Sostenes, the old Greek believer from Athens. He made his way to the front of the large room, which now seemed small on account of all the people. Gaius set a chair for him to sit down. Once seated, Sostenes started his discourse. “My dearly beloved brothers and sisters of Pompeii, I wish you peace and the believers of Athens also send greetings and peace” “Peace to you also, Amen” replied the crowd in unison. There were about 50 gathered together in the house of Gaius. “For those who don’t know me, my name is Sostenes” he began. “I am a devote Jew from Athens. I am also a follower of our Messiah Yeshua who was foretold by the prophets of old” “It was during the feast of Passover that I and some other Jews from Greece went to Jerusalem for the event. We had heard when we got there that a certain man named Lazarus was raised from the dead, and that the man “Yeshua” was the one who gave life unto him again. “Now, we asked ourselves, if this man Yeshua could possibly be the Messiah that the Torah speaks of, we would have to seek him out and meet him personally. We found his followers and spoke to one called Phillip and asked him if we could see Yeshua. He then went and told another named Andrew. They went and returned to us with Yeshua, who was very happy to meet us.” (John 12:20) “He then confirmed our hopes and the miracle with Lazarus. He revealed to us the prophecies from the Torah concerning himself. He also told us that now, his time was at an end, and that he would accomplish the purpose for which he came into the world. We could not understand his saying, but later we understood. It was when we saw this same Yeshua hanging from a Roman cross.” “Our souls were parted in pieces, but we also understood that the prophecies of the Torah concerning Him had to be fulfilled. “Now, almost 50 years later, Yeshua again spoke to me through his Holy Spirit. It was through a dream, a strange dream. It was a dream of fire, smoke, destruction, death, and judgment, the destruction, my dear brothers and sisters, of your city Pompeii and your neighbor Herculaneum. The fire of judgment will come from the mountain you call Vesuvius.” At that time, others from the group of believers stood up and spoke; “I too had a similar dream”. And another said “I too dreamed of fire coming from the mountain.” The Marcellus slowly stood up and said; “I have had that dream for the past three nights.” Claudia looked at him with wide, wondering eyes of awe. She pressed her hand in his and said; “I also had the dream”. Sostenes, with wide open eyes looked around the room slowly nodding his head. “Then it is confirmed among all of you. Judgment is indeed to fall upon this city. God is not mocked, for in destroying his holy house, now the house of Rome will fall.” “But when?” asked one, “When will this occur?” “The LORD has hidden this from me” answered Sostenes, “but I will enquire of the LORD right now.” Sostenes slowly turned and prostrated himself on the floor of the fisherman’s house. The believers in the room were all quiet, and waiting. All eyes were on Sostenes. The lips of Sostenes moved but no sound came out. Then, he was quiet, deathly still. After what seemed to be an eternity of tension, he slowly got to his feet. His eyes showed a mixture of fear and awe. Then he spoke his oracle. “Thus says the LORD of hosts, Hear ye people of Pompeii and Herculaneum, thou hast lived a life of ease, pride, and arrogance, praying to gods that are not. By the hands of your emperor Titus, my holy house in Jerusalem was laid waste, burned with the fire of hate. Now, your houses will be laid waste with my fire of judgment that will proceed from my chosen mountain called Vesuvius. My fire and ashes will cover your cities and they will lay forgotten for a season. “For on this day, the twenty and fourth day of this month of Augustus, will judgment fall. Run my children, run to the sea and sail away to safety. Tarry not for judgment is here.” Sostenes dropped his hands to his side. All the people in the room were deathly quiet, deep in thought, in unbelief. Then they started to talk among themselves. One spoke out “The twenty-fourth day of August, that’s today, we have no time to lose” Gaius the fisherman spoke next. “I have ready three fishing vessels outside tied to the docks; we need only water and provisions” Then yet another spoke; “I have two boats in the boat houses in Herculaneum. I will get them and bring them here; I need only a few men to help me.” At that he left quickly followed by four other men of the group. Another spoke up; “I am a close friend of Pliny the Elder. He is at Misenum in charge of the Roman fleet. I believe he will lend me a few vessels.” “Go quickly” cried Gaius, “all of you return to your homes and gather some food and vessels of water. We shall all meet back here at the docks. Sostenes, you shall stay here with me.” Sostenes, the old Greek nodded and sat down. “May the LORD delay his judgment until we are all gathered back together again!” “I shall return home and warn my father and the household slaves.” said Marcellus as he embraced Claudia. “I too will return home and warn my parents.” replied Claudia, “But I know that they will take me as a fool.” “We shall meet back at the boat docks as Gaius directed.” said Marcellus as they broke their embrace and took to the streets of Pompeii. The group of believers was soon headed back to their homes as fast as their feet would carry them. Marcellus passed the Forum, heading toward the street that lead up to his father’s villa. As he approached his home, he looked into the garden and saw that his father had some guests. The slaves were also busy serving some wine and food to them. He approached his father quietly and with due respect. “Salutat dear father” said Marcellus as he bowed in reverence. “Ah Marcellus my son” replied Antonius lifting a silver cup with wine, “I am sure you know my two friends from the senate at Rome, ex-senators Quintus and Marcus”. The two other men nodded at Marcellus, lifting their hands in greeting. “It is a pleasure to see you again, dear friends of my father” replied Marcellus. “The pleasure is ours” responded the two with a smile. “Father, I must warn you” began Marcellus, “we must leave Pompeii at once, there is danger.” “Danger?” questioned Antonius. “What sort of danger?” “The mountain called Vesuvius will rain down fire and ashes. This whole city will be covered. All will be destroyed, lost. This is the judgment of God.” ended Marcellus excitedly. Antonius just sat there on one of the garden’s stone lectus, hanging his head with a deep sigh. Marcus and Quintus looked at each other and then at Marcellus with looks of confusion and disbelief. “And just where did you hear that?” questioned Antonius, looking sternly at his son. “From Sostenes, an old man from Athens, and…” “A Greek” interrupted Marcus with a laugh, “so that was the commotion at the Forum early this morning.” “Those Greeks are all actors, always into drama” added Quintus, looking at Antonius and then to Marcellus. “But tell me dear son of Antonius” continued Quintus, “which god will bring this judgment?” With nerves of iron and a deep breath, Marcellus revealed his faith to the party of three there in the garden. “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who is also called Yeshua. The only One God who came to earth in human form to save all mankind from sin. It is he who will bring judgment to this city.” The three men just sat there at the ornate marble table in the middle of the garden, looking up a Marcellus. Their eyes spoke of wonder and disbelief, hearing the words that came out of the only son of Antonius. “Now my son speaks as a Jew as well as a Christian” responded Antonius rather angrily. “You see my dear friends” continued Antonius, “Marcellus my son belongs to this sect called “Christians.” Much to my disappointment he has abandoned the gods of Rome to worship this “Jesus of Nazareth” or as the Jews called him, “Yeshua” “But didn’t Rome put him to death under Pontius Pilate?” questioned Quintus “I believe I remember seeing that report which was sent to Tiberius so many years ago” “His followers claim he rose from the dead” said Marcus quietly. “Nonsense” replied Antonius loudly, “these Christians have caused nothing but trouble in Rome with their ridiculous teachings.” “Trouble?” questioned Quintus, “how?” “Why they burned Rome to the ground” replied Antonius, “when Nero was emperor…. “Oh Antonius” interrupted Quintus, “it was Nero himself who torched Rome, him and his praetorian guard. The Christians were only his scape goats, quite impossible for them to have done such a thing, what with their teachings of peace and love.” “You speak treason” replied Antonius, now standing erect before his friends, “I could have you arrested for speaking so about an emperor.” “Sit down Antonius” replied Quintus rather annoyed. “I know several Romans who would pay many aureii to have some Cacius or Brutus place a dagger in your gut dear friend. Hail Caesar!” he said mockingly, raising his almost empty silver cup toward Antonius. Antonius glared down at his friend and then slowly sat down, his eyes still flashing anger toward his friend. “But come now Antonius, we are good friends, are we not?” replied Quintus smiling. “I would never do such a thing. What are a few hundred aureii between you and me?” “Now about these Christians” continued Quintus, “Why don’t you ask Marcus here about them?” why he would know more about them, wouldn’t you Marcus?” now looking intensely at his other friend. Up to now, Marcus had almost nothing to say. He just sat there with a silver wine cup in his hand. He seemed though to be deep in thought. “I have nothing to say” replied Marcus quietly, not even looking at Quintus. “I think you do my friend” said Quintus, “your silence speaks for you. Tell Antonius about your son Flavius. Remember you are among friends.” Marcus finally looked up at his two friends, “My son Flavius is also a Christian” he said softly. “Flavius?” said Marcellus, “Yes, I believe I know him. He brings us the bread from the market place for our meetings. I deeply admire his devotion and his love for our LORD.” Marcus, upon hearing Marcellus, continued to speak, but now with more courage. “My son is a changed person since following the teachings of this Jesus. He is more polite, more helpful around the house. Why he even helps the slaves with their chores, something he never would have thought doing before…” “You see Antonius” interrupted Quintus, “much benefit could come from this sect called ‘Christianity’, or “the Way” as some of these people call themselves. Just imagine Rome with these Christians, more love, less corruption, more peace toward fellow man as they often times say. Rome would be a very different place if these Christians had their way, wouldn’t you say so my dear Antonius?” Antonius just sat there looking at Quintus, then at his son, but said nothing. He seemed to be pondering the words of Quintus, and the testimony of Marcus concerning his son Flavius. A Christian Rome! What would the world make of it? “Please, I beg you all” said Marcellus now with a worried look on his face, “We don’t have much time, we have boats at the docks and we are gathering provisions what with the city marked for destruction….” “Marcellus” interrupted Antonius, “My friends and I have business to discuss and we can’t be bothered with the tales of a fanatical old Greek.” “It was nice seeing you again Marcellus” said Quintus with a broad smile, lifting his silver cup toward one of the slaves to have it refilled with wine. With tears in his eyes, Marcellus turned quickly and left the garden. He hurried through the streets of Pompeii forgetting all about gathering provisions from his house. The attitude and disbelief of his father and his friends saddened him, but what more could he do? Noah also announced judgment in the time of the flood, But no one believed him. He made his way through the Forum and hurried in the direction of the docks. As he approached, he saw that there was a great crowd already loading provisions aboard the boats, with Claudia among them. He would do his part with the loading as well. Suddenly, he felt a rumbling sound beneath his feet. The sound grew louder, now the ground started to shake. Then he heard a loud noise like an explosion. He looked toward Mt. Vesuvius and saw that black smoke and fire were coming from the top. He observed a column of black and white smoke reaching far into the sky and then breaking off into what seemed to be branches. The sky slowly turned dark, blotting out the sun. Small white pebbles mixed with blacked stones started to fall from the sky, hitting roofs of houses and buildings. The noise was like a violent rainstorm, but worse. The pebbles and rocks brought with them a smell like sulfur. The air all around grew hotter and hotter. Then he heard a voice calling his name, it was Claudia. “Marcellus, hurry, we need to leave now!” she shouted from the boat she was near. Marcellus looked back in the direction of his home. His thoughts went to his father. He must, he thought, save him from this now evident judgment of fire from Vesuvius. “I must go back for my father” shouted Marcellus. “We haven’t the time” cried Claudia, “Please; I don’t want to lose you!” Marcellus didn’t think twice, he turned and ran back toward the city. When he reached the Forum, people were crying out to each other, hardly able to see amidst the falling ash which now blanketed the city. The citizens of Pompeii were running to and fro in mass confusion. The air was now hot and suffocating, being almost impossible to breathe and see ahead. Marcellus took a piece of cloth and covered his mouth hoping to filter out the deadly sulfur fumes which now poisoned the air. The volcano continued to throw out burning rocks and ash. Lava bombs were everywhere. Only the LORD could protect him from the falling fire. As he ran toward the direction of his house, he saw Lucius, one of his household slaves running towards him. “Marcellus, where are you going?” cried Lucius amidst the cries of the crowd around them. “I must rescue my father” cried Marcellus, with eyes wide with fear. “It’s too late master Marcellus” replied the slave with tears in his eyes, “the ground opened up under the house and garden, and the walls fell in. Your father and his friends were buried under the walls. I am sorry master, only I was able to escape alive.” “Oh father” cried Marcellus, burying his face in his hands, “why didn’t you listen? Oh why did you not heed the warning? Now it’s too late.” “We must hurry Master Marcellus, to the boat docks!” said Lucius, grabbing Marcellus by the arms. The two ran through the streets in the direction of the boat docks. The volcano was now in full force. It seemed like all hell had come to the surface of the earth. Fire and smoke shot high into the sky. The air was thick with choking gases and sulfur fumes. All around them burning rocks were falling, red hot with glowing fire. The lava bombs were hitting buildings and people all around. Marcellus and Lucius passed a poor dog in the agony of death, being slowly covered with hot ash. Many people now lay still in the ash covered streets, slowly being covered with the volcano’s blanket of death. As the two hurried along the streets towards the seaport, they passed a small girl about two years old crying and hugging her mother. The mother lay dead in the street, her head split open and a smoldering red hot rock lay beside her. Marcellus didn’t think twice. He rushed over and picked up the whimpering little girl and continued to run toward the boat docks with the house slave Lucius. Finally they could see the boats at the docks already sailing away. The air and wind were hot and there was a continuous rain of hot ash and burning rocks all around. People all around them were screaming and crying out for their loved ones. With each breath, the intense volcanic heat and ash scorched the throats of the dying citizens of Pompeii. It seemed like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra was being repeated. One boat was still tied to the dock. The people on board were shouting to the two who were running towards them. Marcellus noticed that Claudia was there, standing near the mooring. She caught sight of Marcellus as he ran alongside of Lucius “Marcellus, hurry, we need to leave now” cried Claudia. “Get in the boat,” shouted Marcellus, “I’ll untie the ropes.” and he handed the little girl to Claudia. Marcellus and Lucius both loosened the ropes that held the boat fast to the dock. They both pushed the boat away from the dock and jumped aboard. “Let’s go” cried Gaius the fisherman when he saw that the two were safe on board. A few men pulled hard on the oars while a few others pulled up the sail. The hot wind quickly filled the sail and the boat was off, sailing away from the docks of Pompeii. Burning rocks and ash continued to fall all around them. The water around the boat sizzled and boiled as the red hot lava bombs hit the surface. The men in the boat strained at the oars, pulling hard against the waves to catch up with the other boats which carried the believers. Finally, the five boats were together. Gaius looked around at the boats, and when he saw that they were all together, began thinking about a destination. The five boats kept up a swift pace, making distance from the burning inferno of Pompeii. When they were a good distance away, Gaius called out to get the attention of all. The people aboard the boats were talking amongst themselves, wondering about their destination. Gaius could sense that, and they were quite right to wonder. They had to have some place to go, but where to? With a loud voice which carried to all five sailing vessels, Gaius stood up and began to speak. “Dear brothers and sisters in the LORD, Today our God has saved us from the fire of his wrath against the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Yes, we will miss our homes, but we will find new homes where we shall begin anew. Now, where will we go? There is the city of Paestum which is South by South East within a day’s sailing. With fair winds we shall get there shortly.” Gaius then sat down and ordered the men at the oars to take the lead. He motioned with his hand for the other boats to follow him. All the people nodded their heads in agreement. Paestum would be their destination and their home for the time being. Sostenes got up and moved over to where Marcellus, Claudia, and Lucius were seated. “Paestum is a small city, but it does have some groups of believers. They will welcome us.” His voice was calm and assuring. There three sat there and smiled, embracing one another. Claudia now looked down at the little girl who was clinging tightly to her legs. “and this little girl?” she asked “Her mother was dead” responded Marcellus. “I picked her up on the way to the docks. I believe I did the right thing. I think the Master would have done the same.” “Yes” replied Claudia who picked up the little girl, now holding her against her breasts. “You did the right thing; this little girl has a new family now.” “Well then” said Marcellus, “since we are a family now, don’t you think it would be good to be united as man and wife, and receive the LORD’s blessing on our union?” Claudia looked up into the eyes of Marcellus, her own eyes filling with tears of joy. “With all my heart I will accept you, my dear Marcellus, as my husband.” The two then turned to Sostenes. “My dear brother Sostenes” began Marcellus “Would you be willing to join us in marriage when we reach Paestum?” Sostenes nodded and smiled. “It would be an honor to join the two of you as man and wife.” Marcellus then turned to Lucius who was sitting by his side; “and you my dear Lucius, are no longer a slave, but a free man, so don’t call me master any longer.” Lucius looked up at Marcellus, a broad smile of joy appearing on his face. He slowly got up and embraced Marcellus. “I would still like to be by your side. You, Claudia, and this little girl could be my family.” He said with happiness. “Then” answered Marcellus, “By our side you shall be, however, you shall receive wages for your services, we can discuss that later when we get to safety.” Upon mentioning wages, Lucius reached down and unrolled some clothing revealing a medium sized leather bag. He untied the top showing the contents of several hundred silver denarii and gold aureii coins. “I took these from your father’s house just before it collapsed Marcellus, I thought this money might come in useful in the future” said Lucius thoughtfully. Marcellus and Claudia looked into the bag. They could only imagine how many lives had been destroyed over the greed of silver and gold. But now, this silver and gold would have to be put to good use. “A heavy burden to bear” said Marcellus, now deep in thought. “Yes, this money will be useful. All these people in the boats have lost everything they owned. When we get to Paestum, we shall divide up the money and give each family an equal share. They will then have a little something to start their lives over again” Marcellus look into the eyes of Lucius, putting his hand on his shoulder he continued. “That will be your first duty as my accountant dear Lucius, to separate the silver and gold coins. Count all the coins and take a count of the people, then each family will receive an equal share of gold and silver.” “You are indeed generous Marcellus” said Lucius, “so unlike your father.” “My father did not know our LORD and Savior” replied Marcellus sadly. “I would like you to tell me more about Jesus” said Lucius, “I would so much like to be a part of this community of believers called “The Way”. “I will gladly tell you all that I know” replied Marcellus happily, “and Sostenes will tell you first hand of the Master of Nazareth.” “Yes” replied Sostenes, as he put his hand on Lucius’ shoulder, “I met Jesus many years ago, and it seems like only yesterday. I will tell you about him.” Behind the boats lay the city of Pompeii, now being covered by lava and ash. The four looked behind one more time at the city of doom, now just a faint orange glow in the distance, the fire, smoke, and ashes, all a reminder of God’s fierce judgment against the empire of Rome. PIC: Region of Galilee, Israel
  3. 4. SARAH Leah Holtz sat slumped in the dirty sofa in the living room of her dingy apartment; hair disheveled, eyes red from the effects of the previous night’s binge with alcohol. Out of her reddened eyes, she gazed around at the almost empty apartment. Around her were a sofa, a few chairs, and an old wooden table, all that remained of a short, failed marriage. She stared at a wedding picture on the wall where she stood beside her husband, who had recently run off with her best friend, leaving her only past bittersweet memories. Now, alone in the world she thought, she would try to drown out her sorrows with bottles of cheap wine. Her hopes for a long, happy marriage collapsed when she returned home from work one day and found half the furniture gone, an empty bedroom closet with only her clothes hanging, and a “good-bye” note left on the bed from her husband. What kind of “best friend” would steal your husband? She thought. Her best friend was now her bitter enemy, a home wrecker that deserved the worst. she suddenly screamed, hurtling the empty wine bottle she had in her hand toward the picture on the wall. The bottle exploded in a shower of broken glass against the picture on the wall; now shattered as well, lying on the floor amidst broken dreams of marital bliss. A sharp pain now came from her abdomen. It had been now a couple of days since the hospital clinic procedure, and she was still in pain, both physically and emotionally. Leah had taken upon herself to lash out at everyone. The hurt she felt would be felt by others. Anger and resentment overcame her being, and the world had better watch out. Her swollen, reddened eyes slowly closed as she slumped back into the old, worn sofa; the after effects of the alcohol still swimming in her head. All of a sudden, she heard voices and a knocking on the front door. “Leah, are you there?” A woman’s voice was heard together with the soft knocking. “It’s Angela and Robert from church, are you OK?” “Please answer Leah, we’re concerned about you” the knocking continued. “We’re praying for you, we all are, we miss you at church, please talk to us” “Go away!” please just leave me alone” shouted Leah “go pray for someone else!” “Leah, we love you, we just want to talk to you and be with you at this time” “I don’t need anybody right now……. leave ……. just leave OK?” sobbed Leah. “God loves you Leah” responded the voice on the other side of the door “and he always will, you need him now, especially at a time like this” “Then why did he give my husband away to someone else, to my ex-best friend even?” “God didn’t do that Leah, remember your husband isn’t a Christian, you knew that when you married him. He did that all on his own because he doesn’t live by God’s holy standards” the voice behind the door continued softly “the lost live according the world’s standards, not the LORD’s” Deep inside, Leah knew that. Her husband had never really accepted the LORD. He had been a high school football hero, with all the girls wanting to date him, and he dated a lot of them too. He always enjoyed flirting with Leah, even when he was with other girls. He finally asked her out. They went out a few times, then, after graduation, he popped the “will you marry me” question. Leah liked his body, his big muscles, the “Mr. Football” Look. He swore the “I’ll love you forever” oath. She brought him to church a few times. In the Sunday school class, he looked bored. He told her the “I believe in God, and that’s enough for me” line. They got married any way. The pastor warned her against being “unequally yoked” but she thought she could change him. The ceremony was quick in the downtown courthouse. Three months into the marriage, she returned home from work to find an almost empty apartment and the “dear Leah” note on the bed. What hurt most was the “thanks for your hubby” note at the end of the letter, signed by “Cindy”. She had been her best friend in high school, so she thought. Now, Leah was alone in the one-bedroom apartment; her mind filled with ghosts of the past, haunting memories, hurt, pain, remorse, and bitterness toward the world, and toward God. “Come on Angela” said a male voice outside the door “there’s nothing more we can do here”. Leah heard the sound of footsteps fading away, then the voice spoke again; “Leah, there’s a letter taped to the door, I’m pushing it under the door to you OK?” Leah heard the sounds of footsteps returning and she saw a small envelope being pushed under the front door. “remember, we’re praying for you Leah” said the female voice, Leah then heard the footsteps fading away for the second time. She was alone again, but this time, her interest was aroused by this strange letter under the door. Slowly, she got up off the sofa and walked over to the door. She picked up the envelope which had the hospital clinic logo in the corner, but her name was hand written on the front. It only had her first name “Leah” nothing more. She walked back to the sofa; her eyes glued to the envelope. Slowly, she opened the envelope and took out three hand written pages of notebook paper. There was also a map drawn on a piece of white bond paper. She saw a signature on the third sheet of paper with the words, “nurse Becky” Slowly, Leah’s eyes ran across the words on the first page. As she read, her eyes filled with tears. She read the second page and finally the last. She read the letter over and over again, allowing the words to sink into her embittered soul. She looked at the hand drawn map, and then looked back at the words of hope on the three pages of notebook paper. Little Sarah ran back and forth, marveling at the sights and sounds of this fascinating place of vivid colors, beautiful sounds, and fragrant smells. She ran through ankle deep lush green grass, with multicolored flowers everywhere. There were blue, red, orange, green, and violet flowers blooming as far as the eye could see, and the fragrance of them all was in the air. In the distance was a vast forest of trees, fruit bearing trees and flowering trees. As she looked here and there, she spotted a river, a river of crystal -clear water that branched out into streams that lead to the grassy meadows. The main part of the river seemed to melt into the vast forest of trees. As Sarah continued to look at the river, she saw that it emanated from beneath the walls of a great city. She stared at the walls that surrounded the city, walls that seemed to have no end. A golden glow was all about the walls. She heard music, lovely music, music of a multitude of choirs that came from the city. The beautiful singing voices filled the air and blended in with the fragrance of the flowers and the beauty of this wonderful place. Here and there, Sarah saw others like herself. They were all dressed in pure white tunics with golden belts around their waists, and feet shod with golden sandals. Sarah walked through the grass towards the river, she stopped before a bridge, a bridge made with vines entwined with flowers growing over the crystal-clear water. She looked down into the water and saw many pebbles and stones that shone with all sorts of vivid colors. All of a sudden, she felt a soft hand on her shoulder. She turned around and looked up into the smiling face of a tall, beautiful being that radiated a pure white light. “Hello Sarah” said the being with a soft voice “welcome to your home”. “Who are you?” asked Sarah, “and how do you know my name?” “My name is Angel, replied the shining being, “and I know everyone’s name here, and so does the king who lives in that city over there.” as he pointed toward the walled city that had the golden glow to it. “Wow” cried Sarah in amazement, “is the king nice like you?” asked Sarah as she continued looking up into the smiling face of this beautiful being called Angel. “Yes” replied Angel “the king is nice and he loves you so very much. He wants to meet you, but first, do you want to go over the bridge?” “Oh yes, of course” said Sarah taking a step forward to cross over the river. She looked down into the water to gaze at all the multicolored stones. The stones glittered with red, yellow, green, blue, and crystal transparencies. There were also multicolored fish that swam this way and that. “Would you like to see more?” asked Angel who was right behind her. “Oh yes” cried Sarah, clapping her hands together with glee. “fine” said Angel, “just take my hand and off we’ll go”. Sarah grabbed Angel’s hand. Then, all of a sudden, two enormous snow- white wings opened up from Angel’s back. The two soared skyward. Sarah was enthralled seeing all the sites of this strange, wonderful place. The two soared above green meadows, spread out with multicolored flowers, above vast forests with all kinds of trees From a distance, they could even see into the city of the king. The city was full of people and shining beings all walking, talking, laughing, and singing. There were musicians playing on all sorts of stringed instruments. Some sounded shofars, others sounded long, silvers trumpets. There were hundreds of buildings, large mansions with the shining beings inlaying all sorts of precious stones in their foundations. The whole city was aglow with a radiant golden light which was everywhere. In the far away distance, there was a long wall made of transparent crystal. The wall stretched as far as the eye could see. Sarah was curious about the wall. “What’s that long wall?” she asked Angel with wide, wondering eyes. “Well, let’s go see shall we?” replied Angel, and off they went towards the direction of the mysterious wall of crystal. As the two got closer, they could see many small children beside the wall, all dressed in white tunics with golden belts. All of them were accompanied by tall shining beings, standing by their side. Angel and Sarah landed in front of the wall, and she could see that there were moving images inside this very long wall of crystal. All the children and the shining beings were all observing the moving images that were inside the wall. Sarah stood wondering about all this. Angel seemed to know her thoughts. “This is the wall of sorrows” he said sadly. “ sorrows?” questioned Sarah. “what are sorrows?” “Sorrows are sad things that happen” replied Angel. “Would you like to have a closer look?” Sarah nodded her head, and the two approached a small area in front of the wall. Sarah looked back toward the city of the king, which was now just a tiny golden speck in the far away distance. “why is this wall so far away from the city of the king?” asked Sarah. “it is because there is no place for sorrows in the city, only happiness” replied Angel as he stepped forward and passed his hand in front of the crystal clear wall. All of a sudden, an image appeared. Leah walked along Oakland Street, map in hand. It was a crisp autumn day and multicolored leaves were falling here and there. The letter had indeed aroused Leah. She pulled her worn jacket around her body as the autumn wind picked up. She finally came to Old Oak Road. There weren’t many houses on this road. She followed the directions on the hand-drawn map. In the far distance, she could see that the road dead- ended near a wooded area. She looked to her left and passed Old Oak church which had been abandoned for years. Next to the church she saw the place marked by an “x” on the map. It was a small cemetery surrounded by a rusty, iron fence with the words “Old Oak Cemetery” above the entrance. She had heard about this cemetery from friends at school. It wasn’t in use any more. There were old graves here, going back hundreds of years. Leah passed under the sign and walked through the rows of old gravestones. The autumn leaves carpeted the grass which was now overgrown with weeds. Leah looked around with curiosity, reading the words carved on a tombstone; “Joshua Rogers, beloved husband, born 1714, died 1784 She went by some more grave markers, looking at the map and observing the old, worn words inscribed. She came to another one and read the inscription; “little Angelique Williams, beloved daughter of Jeremiah and Mary Williams Born August 9th, 1805 died of fever November 20th, 1805, departed but not forgotten, Comforted by Heaven's angels, in the presence of the LORD” Leah looked again at the map, the letter indicated to follow this grave marker to the end of the row of graves. Angel and Sarah both stared at the figure in the wall, going in and out among the tomb stones, as if looking for something, or someone. “What is that place Angel?” asked Sarah “What is that woman looking for?” Angel looked at Sarah with sort of a sad smile, “She’s……looking for someone” replied Angel, “someone she loves and misses.” “but there’s no one there” said Sarah, still looking a bit confused. “that’s the land of the dead” said Angel sadly. “People that are no longer alive lay under those stones with writing, even little people….. like you”. “like me?” asked Sarah “but I’m alive, I’m here with you” said Sarah with a smile. “Yes” said Angel, “you are alive indeed” “Are all those people who lie under those stones here too?” asked Sarah, looking up at Angel with wide, wondering eyes. “Not all” replied Angel sadly, “some are in the world of darkness, the nether world, A place called Hades. A world absent of love, laughter, and peace. It is a world of pain, torment, and suffering. A place where the presence of the king is not known” “Why are they there, and not here?” questioned Sarah. “because they refused the love of the king” replied Angel sadly. “the king made a big sacrifice, and many people rejected it, so, they could not come here.” “That’s so sad” replied Sarah. “Yes, it is” said Angel , “but it was their own choice.” Leah followed the row of grave markers from the one marked “little Angelique” At last, she found what she was looking for. There, in the corner of the cemetery, was a small mound of dirt covering a freshly dug grave. There were a few wild flowers on the mound and a small wooden cross with a wooden plaque nailed to the top of it. Slowly, Leah approached the grave. The autumn wind picked up again, blowing brown and yellow leaves here and there. Somewhere in the woods next to the grave yard a crow started to caw. Leah now stopped and stared at the grave marker. She held the hand written letter in her hand, reading the inscription on the plaque, then read the letter. As she read the name on the little wooden cross, she dropped the letter and fell down to her knees in front of the grave marker. Angel and Sarah continued to observe the woman inside the wall. She suddenly broke down and started to cry, grabbing hold of the little wooden cross. She released words of sorrow and grief; tears now streaming down her cheeks. “Oh my daughter, my little daughter, I am so, so, sorry. What did I do? I robbed you of life”. “I robbed you of the life that God gave you through me”. “Those people at the clinic, they lied to me”. “They told me that you weren’t…weren’t really alive, fully human yet, that you weren’t a real person. but you ARE…or you were” . “Oh please PLEASE forgive me.” Sarah and Angel watched as the woman continued to cry and let loose her feelings of sorrow and repentance. “Who is she” asked Sarah with a sad countenance. Angel looked down at Sarah, who shared the same look of sadness on his face. “She’s your mother Sarah” “My mother?” said Sarah with a bewildered look on her face. “Yes” replied Angel, “she listened to the wrong people, she received very bad counsel. “bad counsel?” asked Sarah looking up at Angel with a confused look on her face. “Sarah” replied Angel as he bent down and picked up little Sarah into his arms, “counselors are people who are supposed to speak the words of the King, speaking wisdom that promotes life, and not death, destruction, and the murder of the innocent. Some counselors serve and worship the King, and give wise and good counsel from his written WORD. But there are others that give bad and evil counsel. They do not serve or love the King. They serve the lord of darkness”. “The lord of darkness” asked Sarah, “who is he?” “He has many names” replied Angel. “Some call him Beelzebub, the devil, the father of lies, Mephistopheles, the prince and power of the air, the dragon, and Satan”. “Ohhhhh”….said Sarah slowly… “I don’t think I like him, he has scary names” “No one up here likes him” replied Angel, “once he lived up here with us, he was part of our family, but he rebelled against the King, and the King cast him out of here a long, long, Time ago. But you need not fear him Sarah, you’re here with me and are part of the King’s family” “I am glad I’m part of the King’s family” said Sarah smiling. Sarah and Angel continued to observe the woman inside the wall. She continued to sob and cry out, “forgive me”. There, prostrate on the ground, in front of the little grave marker she continued repeating; “forgive me daughter, forgive me, Oh God forgive me”. Sarah looked into the face of Angel. “What should I do?” “What would you like to do Sarah?” replied Angel. “Forgive my mother” replied Sarah. “Then tell her” said Angel softly, “Talk to her and tell her that you forgive her”. Angel put Sarah down and she went up to the wall. She was now face to face with the image of her mother. Her mother, whose image was inside this long, long wall of sorrows was right next to her now. Sarah placed her little hands down to where Leah’s head was. The wall felt warm, as if she was actually touching her mother’s head….then she spoke. “Mommy, don’t cry, I forgive you, I love you and I really miss being with you. Don’t worry, I’m well., I’m alive here in this wonderful place. I'm with Angel and the King. The King forgives you too, and someday soon, you’ll be here with us and we’ll be together. I don’t feel pain any more”. The mention of pain brought Sarah’s scant memory to a brief, short past. To a dark, watery place, a place of muffled sounds and voices, sometimes loud, sometimes soft. There was a sudden sharp pain, and then a burning sensation, then….she opened her eyes and found herself in this wonderful place of awe, beauty, and peace. Leah continued to sob, laying prostrate on the ground; her body covering the little grave marked only by a small wooden cross and a plaque nailed to the top. All of a sudden, she felt something, something warm and soft touching her. A warmth that penetrated the cool autumn breeze that now blew across the old, forgotten cemetery. It was as if two tiny hands were touching Leah’s head. Then, a strange feeling overcame her, a feeling of calm, of peace, a feeling that she had never felt before. Somehow, she knew that God had forgiven her. “My mommy feels better now!” said Sarah, looking up at Angel with a broad smile. “Yes” responded Angel, “you did the right thing” “Can I send my mommy a gift?” “sure” replied Angel, “go ahead and send her something nice”. Sarah looked around, then something caught her eye and it seemed to be just the right gift to send down. Leah’s sobs subsided as she continued to hold the base of the small, wooden cross. For the first time in what seemed to be an eternity, she felt that the burden of resentment and guilt was taken away. All of sudden, she heard a flutter of wings and a soft cooing sound. Leah looked up with her tear stained face to see a small, white dove cooing softly, perched on top of the cross. The dove looked down at her, continuing to coo ever so gently. Leah smiled. “Oh thank you for hearing me my precious, precious daughter”. “Nice touch” said Angel smiling down at Sarah. “You sent that” replied Sarah smiling up at Angel. “No, you sent it” said Angel smiling back. “We both did!” replied Sarah, grinning from ear to ear. “Yeah” said Angel, “I guess we both did”. Sarah and Angel continued watching Leah as she finally closed her eyes, falling into a deep, restful sleep, holding the base of the little cross in a lonely, almost forgotten cemetery. A cemetery amidst autumn leaves, and a little white dove still perched on top of a small, crude, wooden cross cooing its heaven sent lullaby. Sarah backed away from the wall, watching the image of Leah slowly vanishing away until only the crystal clarity of the wall was before her. “Well” said Angel, “how would you like to go inside the city of the king and look around?” “Wow” replied Sarah, “that would be great. Can I meet the king too?” “Sure” said Angel, “He wants to meet you too”. Angel then took Sarah by the hand, and opening his snow white wings the two started back towards the enormous golden city. “By the way” asked Sarah, “what’s the king’s name?” “He has many names” replied Angel, “but he goes mostly by King Messiah Yeshua which means Salvation is from God”. “That’s a pretty name” replied Sarah. “I hope he likes my name” “Your name means princess” said Angel. “The king has built you a special mansion, fit for a princess like you.” “Nice” replied Sarah, “I can’t wait to see it.” Angel and Sarah came to rest on a road, a road made of transparent, pure gold. Hand in hand, they started their walk together towards the gates of the City of the King.
  4. STANDING ON THE ROCK! (Exodus 33:12-23) .....Moshe asks YHVH a very interesting question; “You say bring this people up, but who is going with me?”Without guidance, we can go nowhere. It is like walking in the dark without a flashlight, or being in the middle of the ocean without a compass. Where will we go? Who will lead us? Adonai has the answer Moshe is searching for;.....“My presence goes, and I shall give you rest” (vs 14) The “Ruach Elohim” will go with the people, and they will receive “shalom”. There are two kinds of rest, “physical rest” from our labors, and “spiritual rest” that is from within us. Before, we were burdened down with the curse of sin, but once we accept Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Christ) as our LORD and Savior, we have his “presence” inside of us to give us “peace” (shalom)Moshe wants to experience the “essence” of YHVH, but who can know who He really is? Can we grasp the meaning of the universe? The mind of God? We are limited, to what we can fathom as fallen beings, but YHVH listens to Moshe and gives him an answer;.....“I shall cause all my goodness to pass before you, and I shall proclaim the Name of YHVH………See, there is a place with me, and you shall stand on the ROCK……. (vss 19,21).....There was a special place, a special ROCK, where Moshe was placed, he “Stood” upon the ROCK” (HaTzur)In the picturesque/symbolic ancient Hebrew, the letters can symbolize, “The first Tzadik to receive the nail”The ROCK symbolizes YESHUA, who IS the TZADIK (the righteous one) who received the Nail and paid our sin price in full, and thus…giving us SHALOM (rest) from our spiritual torment of being lost sinners. The name YHVH proclaimed is HAVAYAH, (the essence of existence) who is “Haya” (the past) Hoveh (the present) and “YiYah” (the future) and who is YESHUAH (salvation of YAH)Shalom……………rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: On a military base in El Salvador (GOD is THE ROCK of my life)
  5. ONE PASSOVER IN JERUSALEM I will tell about these events, how they happened as I best recall, so many years ago, although they seemed like they happened just yesterday. I am a merchant, as my father was before me, as my father’s father was. Buying and selling has been our trade for hundreds of years, every year following the same trade routes from my home port, to Alexandria. There I buy Egyptian cotton, flax, some turquoise, lapis, and amethyst stones to make into necklaces and rings. These would sell very well in Rome and in Athens among the wealthy Romans and Greeks. They would pay many denarii and drachma for these wares. From Alexandria, I’d go to Joppa and begin my journey to Jerusalem, stopping to rest in Emmaus for the night. Jerusalem was very busy around the time of Sukkot and Passover, with people being in a festive mood. They would spend their money for small luxuries . I would pick up a few more things to sell or trade in Judea and go north to Caesaria . From there, I would board ship to Athens, then Rome, and afterward, back home to my family. I am not a rich man mind you, but I am not poor either. I give thanks to God that I am a good provider and my family does not starve by any means. We try to follow the mitzvoth of the Torah and always attend our synagogue on the Sabbaths. This year started off as the last. It was during the reign of Tiberius Caesar when the iron hand of Rome held its grip on Judea. I paid my passage on the merchant ship and when we were filled with fellow merchants and their wares, we cast off anchor and headed toward Alexandria, the first stop. To pass the day, I listened to sailors’ talk which consisted of stories about high winds and rough seas, when Poseidon stirred up the sea bottom, and giant waves crushed ships against the pillars of Hercules. As a Jew, I do not believe in these pagan gods, but only in Adonai, who first spoke to father Abraham a few thousand years ago. On this trip, however, the talk was interesting since in concerned a certain Judean carpenter who taught torah in the synagogues. He also had special power to heal all those afflicted with illnesses. This was one person who I’d love to meet, as I had hurt my shoulder once in performing a mitzvah. I helped a man pull a cart from a ditch, but the cart was very heavy on my shoulder. Perhaps this man could heal it. Perhaps he would also buy some Egyptian cotton too. No telling if this man would be in Jerusalem at this Passover time. We made port in Alexandria in good time. I bought some merchandise and the next day, we set sail to Joppa. We had fair winds and calm seas during our short voyage. We disembarked at Joppa and I proceeded to unload my merchandise. As usual, I rented a donkey and a cart to transport my merchandise during the two day trip to Jerusalem. By the end of the first day, I reached Emmaus. There I spent the night at an inn. There I heard more talk about this carpenter, whose name was Yeshua. He used to build furniture, farm equipment, and mend wheels. But now, he traveled visiting different synagogues and taught from the Torah and from the prophets. This was all very interesting to me, but what amazed me the most was the talk that he healed all the sick that came unto him, he had even given sight to the blind and made crippled men walk, even, might I dare to say, even given life to dead men. I also heard it say that he had some followers, twelve, men from all walks of life. They just gave up everything to follow him. I went to sleep that night thinking of all these things, wondering how much truth there was in it all.. The next day, I started off again toward the city of Jerusalem. The city of the prophets. As usual, I expected great crowds of Passover observers. I reached the city late in the afternoon. I found the inn where I usually stayed, secured my merchandise with the inn keeper, who also provided feed for the donkey. I sat down for a meal of some bread, grapes, a bit of roasted lamb with lentils and wine. Afterward, I sold a few articles near the inn and settled down for a night’s rest. The next morning, I awoke to much excitement, seeing people running to and fro. I asked the inn- keeper about the excitement, and he told me that last night a trial had taken place in the middle of the night at that! The high priest Caiaphas had tried a man for blasphemy and that there were three other criminals to be executed by crucifixion by order of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. I had never seen a crucifixion, but it was said to be a horrible death, a slow death that only the Romans could come up with. Beheading was more merciful, reserved only for Roman citizens, not for Judeans. I went outside to see a crowd running toward the governor’s palace. Out of curiosity, I followed along. The crowd was very thick with all kinds of people, both Judeans and foreigners alike. Little by little, the crowd pushed more towards a narrow road. There were mixed emotions in that noisy crowd. Some were shouting curses, others were wailing and beating their breasts and crying for mercy, but mercy for who? For criminals? I was finally pushed by the crowd to the edge of this narrow road, which lead outside one of the gates of the city. Soon, I managed to see some movement on the road. There were some Roman soldiers marching behind a mounted centurion. Afterward, came two prisoners each carrying a roughly hewn cross-beam across their shoulders. The prisoner which got my attention was behind the other two. He was being whipped by two burly roman soldiers, each brandishing a short whip made of ropes. It was obvious to me that this man had already been beaten, very much so. As this gruesome parade of misery and human suffering moved more and more toward the city gate, I managed to have a better look at the third prisoner. I learned later that the fourth prisoner had been set free in honor of the festival of Passover. The third man was about 20 cubits from me, when I noticed that beside me was an old man with a long white beard. He was sobbing greatly and praying for mercy for this third man. He looked up at me with tears in his eyes, and then he spoke these words to me; “It was all foretold by the prophets of old, my son”, “by Isaiah, by Daniel, that the Son of David would be afflicted and carry the burden of our sins.” “he would also be born in the town of Bethlehem as foretold by the prophet Micah” “Who is he? I asked. The old man replied, “His name is Yeshua, raised in Nazareth, who worked as a carpenter, who came to fulfill the Torah and the Prophets. I heard him teach at the Mt. of Olives, I was there that day, and he also taught at my synagogue. He is full of the Spirit of Adonai my son. He is a righteous man indeed.” “But why” I asked “do they want to crucify him, why?” The old man did not get a chance to answer my question, for suddenly, there stood in front of me, a tall, rough looking roman soldier. “You” he barked, as he stepped nearer to me, his finger pointing directly at me, “carry that man’s cross” and he pointed to Yeshua, “he’s too weak to carry it any longer.” I felt uncomfortable with the soldier’s request, in fact, a little angry. “Why should I, a free man, carry the cross of a condemned man?” I protested. The soldier stepped nearer to me, his hand on the hilt of his sword. All of a sudden, I felt a hand on my arm. It was the old man. He looked up into my eyes which were still full of tears. “My son” he pleaded, “do not despise such an honor. You have been chosen by God to carry the burden of the Son of Man, as he is carrying yours, and the sins of the whole world.” I did not understand the complete meaning of his words until now. The roman soldier looked at the old man, and then to me, “You’d better take the old man’s advice if you know what is good for you” he growled as he continued to glare at me, his hand still on the hilt of his sword. I looked at Yeshua, who was now on his knees, with the heavy cross beam tied across his shoulders. Sweat and blood were pouring from his face. There was a large circle of thorns embedded on his head, buried deeply in his scalp. Blood was matted in his hair. When I saw him, my heart was filled with compassion. Never had I seen a human being so mutilated, in the midst of so much suffering and hate. I took a few steps toward Yeshua. The Roman soldier then gave an order and another soldier took his sword and cut the ropes that tied Yeshua’s arms to the cross beam. But even free of the ropes, Yeshua continued to hold the cross beam as if it were a part of his being. Little did I know that it would be so true. I was now beside this man Yeshua. What I saw horrified me. Pieces of flesh were hanging from all parts of his body. His eyes were swollen and chunks of his beard had been torn out. There were pieces of sharp metal and bone embedded in his back and legs. His body was broken and bloody, a mass of human carnage, a victim of hate and wrath. What ever did this man do to deserve such punishment I asked myself? Didn’t the old man say that he was a righteous man? I bent down to help him pick up the crossbeam. Then he looked at me with a look I’ll never forget. Under his swollen eye lids came a look of peacefulness and love, together with the physical weariness and pain. I spoke only these words to him; “Yeshua, I have been ordered to assist you, and I will do so to ease your suffering” He slowly nodded his head, and I put my head under one side of the crossbeam, with my arms over the top, and together, we both pushed up with our knees. The crossbeam felt heavy against my shoulder. All of a sudden, the pain hit me again. I remembered so many years ago, when I was helping a fellow merchant to lift a cart. I had hurt my shoulder and I had been in so much pain ever since. Lifting things would bring on this pain. Yeshua seemed to have sensed that I was in pain. I looked at his peaceful face and said; “It’s the pain, I hurt my shoulder many years ago” Then Yeshua did something that to my dying day I’ll never forget. He stretched forth his hand and ever so gently, touched mine squeezing it softly. Suddenly, strength and power surged through my arms, back, neck and entire body. The pain in my shoulder vanished. I lifted up the crossbeam without any pain whatsoever. I looked at Yeshua amazed. This man, Yeshua, had healed me. This Yeshua was more than just a man. Could he really be the Messiah of Israel that the prophets spoke of? Together, we walked slowly down the street, the other two criminals were ahead a ways. The crowd was full of mixed emotions. Some shouting and cursing, others weeping and beating their breasts, pleading for mercy. We went through one of the city’s gates. We followed the road out of the city, towards a hill that resembled a skull. Some of the crowd began to disperse, others followed our gruesome procession up the hill. Up and up the hill we went. The crowd was now sparse, with now only a few men and women. Some of the religious leaders were following behind. The Roman soldiers were also there, barking orders one to another. I looked up into the sky. In a few hours, the Passover lambs would be slaughtered. This time, instead stead of being a joyous occasion, it would be a Passover of sadness, of grief, of a righteous man being condemned to death. It just didn’t make any sense to me. All I knew was that I was there to help this man named Yeshua, and to help him bear this cross that he would soon embrace to meet the arms of death. We finally reached the top of the hill. A roman soldier directed us to a spot in front of a long pole, which would be the center beam for the piece we were carrying. He ordered me to drop it. I let go and the piece fell to the ground and Yeshua falling right next to it. The roman soldier then pushed me away, and proceeded to lift the cross beam and nail it to the center pole using four long iron nails. What followed would be something I’d never forget, the image still etched into my memory. It was an image of Intense suffering, pain, cruelty, and just plain madness. Two roman soldiers grabbed Yeshua by his arms and dragged him over to the cross. They then threw him down between the two crossed pieces of roughly hewn wood. They then proceeded to stretch out his arms across the crossbeam. One of the soldiers held Yeshua’s arm to the crossbeam as the other grabbed a mallet and a thick, long, spike nail. The nail seemed to be a hand span in length and as thick as a middle finger. He then placed the nail on Yeshua’s wrist and proceeded to bring the mallet down on the nail. The nail penetrated flesh and muscle quickly, and held fast to the roughly hewn wood. Blood poured out of the wounds and dripped onto the ground. But what amazed me more were the words that proceeded from Yeshua’s lips; “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” One would expect curses and not words of forgiveness to proceed from the mouth of a condemned man, but Yeshua was not just an ordinary man. I’d like to think that what the old man told me was true, the he indeed was the Messiah that all Israel hoped would come, to free this nation from this wretched Roman rule. But then, if he is the Messiah, then why allow all this to happen? He could have prevented it. Was there something I didn’t understand? A detail overlooked? A word of prophecy that the Torah teachers failed to mention? I watched now as the Roman soldiers took hold of the cross, pushing and pulling it upright, and then dropped it into a hole in the ground. I gazed once more at this Yeshua who was now suspended between heaven and earth, by two nails through his wrists and feet held fast to a block of wood. This Roman cross of suffering and affliction now stood erect with the beaten and bloodied body of Yeshua, who spoke not a curse, but words of forgiveness. Could he indeed be this long hoped for Messiah of Israel? I could not bear to watch any longer. I could no longer help him or do anything for him, so I started back down the hill. I turned to look once more. I saw a woman and a man by the cross, and Yeshua was looking down at them. He seemed to be talking to them. I wanted to stay, but my feelings of anger and grief were besides me. Anger toward this cruel Roman rule and injustice, and grief for this Yeshua who deserved none of this. Then he looked toward me, just for a brief moment, I felt something in my heart, which penetrated into the depth of my soul. I felt his thoughts which were saying; “thank you for showing me compassion, and for helping me with my burden. This burden I carry is for the whole world.” I then saw one of the criminals that was nailed to a cross beside him, say something to him. Yeshua turned and spoke some soft words to this man, I saw this criminal smile, in spite of the pain and agony. The words that Yeshua spoke also penetrated his heart and soul. My eyes welled up with tears, I couldn’t stand by any longer and see this suffering. I continued to walk back down the hill. I no longer wished to look back, but only to leave the city and leave behind me this scene of hate and pain, of suffering and grief. I reached the inn where I was staying at. I paid the inn keeper a few shekels of silver, then took the donkey and cart and headed north to Caesaria where I would continue on my journey. I just wanted to get away from this city, which now, only brought violence and hate to its Passover feast. As I traveled northward, I noticed that the sky was turning dark, thick black clouds hid the sun from view. It was a strange feeling. A day turned like night. This had never happened. Even he donkey acted strange. It stopped suddenly and started to bray, stomping the ground kicking up a cloud of dust. I do not remember how long I stood there in the road. With the donkey, the cart, and all my wares, trying to figure out these strange events. I felt bewildered, a bit confused. Who was this Yeshua really? Messiah? God made man? A man connected to God in a way I could not understand? Suddenly, I felt a rumble, from under the earth which grew louder. The ground under my feet began to shake. I heard a clap of thunder and saw a bolt of lightening which lit up the sky for one brief moment. The sun then came out from behind the clouds, and began to set toward the west. I turned once more to look towards the east, to gaze upon the city of Jerusalem, the Daughter of Zion, who murdered the prophets, whose inhabitants lay within the iron grasp of the Eagle of Rome. I am telling theses events the way I remember them. My name is Simon, a merchant from the city of Cyrene. This story is a legacy I have left to my two sons, Alexander and Rufus, who, like me, now follow in the footsteps of our Messiah, Yeshua. By Rabbi Jacob Ben Avraham copyright: 2014 Petersen-Barksdale publ. Story 3 from “God Tales” PIC: a small mother dove sits on her egg, in our backyard , as the mother cares for her children, so God also cares for us all
  6. MESSIAH YESHUA IN THE PASSOVER From EXODUS 12:1-13 Vs 2; “THIS MONTH SHALL BE THE BEGINNING OF MONTHS, IT SHALL BE THE THE FIRST MONTH OF THE YEAR TO YOU” So where does January 1st fit in? It doesn't!. This was an invention of man, to change the calendar that God had already given us. God operates on a lunar calendar, and the Gregorian calendar uses the sun. But if we are going to understand the events and dates that events occur in the Bible, we need to be familiar with the lunar calendar. The month of “Nisan” which usually starts in April or late March, is the “New Year” for us. This year, 2017, “New Year's day” was on March 27th Vss 3-5; ON THE TENTH OF THIS MONTH, EVERY MAN SHALL TAKE FOR HIMSELF A LAMB......................YOUR LAMB WILL BE WITHOUT BLEMISH...FROM THE SHEEP OR FROM THE GOATS. Something tremendous is about to happen, a joyous occasion, an event of “Thanksgiving” sort of speaking. In the USA we are accustomed to celebrate “Thanksgiving” in November, with turkeys, and we invite all family and relatives over to eat. In Egypt, the Israelites were slaves, and were about to be freed. This “Thanksgiving” occasion called for “lambs” perfect lambs without illness, or deformities, One of the names of “Yeshua” our Messiah is the “Lamb of God” who was also, and still is “without blemish” what happened on the 10th day of the month of Nisan two thousand years ago? Yeshua entered Jerusalem on a donkey, to be known as Messiah, to heal the sick, and teach the Torah, to be known by the people, everyone greeted him with palm branches and shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David” and five days later shouted “Crucify him” (well, not all shouted that) many wept and many understood Daniel's prophecy that the “Messiah would be “cut off” (crucified) in Daniel chapter 8. This date is commonly known as “Palm Sunday” in the christian communities. “Palm Sunday” was on the 9th of April this year. Vss 6-7; YOU SHALL KEEP IT UNTIL THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF THE SAME MONTH, THEN THE WHOLE ASSEMBLY OF THE CONGREGATION OF ISRAEL SHALL KILL IT AT TWILIGHT. AND THEY SHALL TAKE SOME OF THE BLOOD AND PUT IT ON THE TWO DOORPOSTS AND ON THE LINTEL OF THE HOUSES WHERE THEY EAT IT” A day begins at “twilight” when the sun goes down, it is the start of a new day. So, five days after the lamb was in the houses, being inspected to see if it had any blemishes, it was slaughtered at “twilight” and the blood was placed on the two side beams of the houses, and on the top beam. When we see Yeshua in this, we see him in Jerusalem, comes in on the tenth of Nisan, then on the 14th day of Nisan, five days later (ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, and fourteen) he is crucified on the cross of Calvary, for our sins, once and for all time, The blood on the doorposts and lintel form a “cross” we can imagine the head of Yeshua at the top, wet with the blood from his head where the crown of thorns was, and the two side posts where his hands were nailed, and the blood ran down to the base of the cross. Vs 8; AND THEY SHALL EAT THE FLESH ON THAT NIGHT, ROASTED WITH FIRE, AND WITH UNLEAVENED BREAD AND WITH BITTER HERBS, THEY SHALL EAT IT” We often see this done in parks, on BBQ pits, families bring hamburgers, hot dogs, fajitas, sausage, etc and roast them over an open fire, well in Goshen, the lambs were roasted over open fires on spits, we look at the symbolism of “fire” and we are reminded of “heat, light, destruction, purification, zeal, and judgment. Yeshua was “roasted” on Calvary's cross in the fire of judgment, being judged for all of our sins, past, present, and future. Yeshua is also known by the name “The Bread of Life” who was born in the “House of Bread” (Beit-Lechem) or in English “Bethlehem” it is only fitting that the “Bread of Life” would be born in the “House of Bread” Unleavened bread symbolizes “without sin” leaven symbolizes “sin” as “leaven or yeast” puffs up the dough, and so we get bread made with flour and yeast, sin often makes us “swell or puff up with false pride” . The “bitter herbs” remind us of the slavery that the Israelites went through in Egypt for 400 years. We are reminded of the “slavery to sin” being bound to Ha Satan. We don't know exactly what kind of bitter herbs were used back then, but today, we use horse radish. The bitterness of sin is passed when we come to Yeshua and accept Him as LORD and Savior. Vss 11-13: …...”YOU SHALL EAT IT IN HASTE, IT IS THE LORD'S PASSOVER, FOR I WILL PASS THROUGH THE LAND OF EGYPT ON THAT NIGHT AND WILL STRIKE ALL THE FIRST BORN OF EGYPT, BOTH MAN AND BEAST, AND AGAINST ALL THE GODS OF EGYPT, I WILL EXECUTE JUDGMENT, I AM YHVH. NOW THE BLOOD WILL BE A SIGN FOR YOU ON THE HOUSES WHERE YOU ARE, AND WHEN I SEE THE BLOOD, I WILL “PASS OVER” YOU, AND THE PLAGUE SHALL NOT BE ON YOU TO DESTROY YOU WHEN I STRIKE THE LAND OF EGYPT” This is the night when the Egyptians get paid back for all their abuse and cruelty. In one night, Egypt was ruined. And a few days later, Egypt's army found itself on the bottom of the Red Sea. Egypt never quite recovered from the blow. Adonai-Elohim was saying to Pharaoh “I AM the LORD God, and YOU are not ME!” nor were the gods, any kind of gods, if anything, demonic entities. Each plague was against one of the many gods. “darkness” came against “Ra” the sun god. The death of the cattle came against “Apis” a god with the head of a bull. The Nile turned to blood, against the Nile goddess, and so forth. But the “Blood Standard” would “save” all who found themselves behind the closed doors of the houses where the blood was. Even the Egyptians Many who “woke up and smelled the coffee” sort of speaking, who realized they were on the losing side, if they put blood on their doors, they would also be saved. This shows that we serve a just God who is not racist. He accepts ALL people of ALL NATIONS, and RACES. Who would trust in the shed blood of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus the Christ) that is why we see a “mixed multitude” that left Egypt together with the Israelites, it consisted of Egyptians and Nubians (people from Ethiopia and Sudan) who were living in Egypt at that time. The LORD would PASS OVER those houses where the blood of the lambs was placed. Today when we trust in the one-time sacrifice of Yeshua (Jesus) who shed his blood on Calvary's cross, we are saved from eternal destruction, eternal death, and separation from our creator. Just as the blood standard was in effect back then, it is still in effect NOW, and always will be. HAPPY PASSOVER SEASON………………….Rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: View of Jaffa-Tel Aviv
  7. 7. A STRANGE JOURNEY by J. Ben Avraham The young man found himself in some sort of tunnel. It was a swirling tunnel that seemed to be made up of radiant light. This radiant tunnel of light seemed to revolve around and around, pointing to some kind of distant vortex which seemed to grow nearer and nearer. At first, he felt himself being pulled through this strange tunnel rather slowly, then, the speed picked up. He managed to see through the sides of the tunnel the blackness of the night sky filled with an array of heavenly stars. These were the same stars he saw night after night, now; they seemed closer, even closer still. He thought back to the warm, summer nights when he often lay down in the grassy hills near the olive groves. He would look up into the sky and imagine he was father Abraham, seeing the same evening stars, those twinkling, tiny lamps that gave testimony to God’s splendid creation, the same God whose promise was fulfilled so many thousands of years ago, that through him, a nation would be born. Now these same stars became a white blur as they rushed passed him, or perhaps it was he who was rushing past them through this strange tunnel of light. As he looked to the far distant radiant vortex, he noticed a star which was brighter than all the others which were around him. The star grew in size as he moved through the tunnel, faster and faster. The star seemed to take on a certain shape as he got nearer. He saw that the shape took on the appearance took on the of a four-square city of a whitish-golden glow. He saw a wall, a wall that seemed to stretch for miles and miles and appeared to have no end. Beyond the walls lay the city itself in a dazzling array of multi-colors. The tunnel of light ended suddenly and the young man found himself suspended high above the city looking down. Gazing down upon the golden city he observed a multitude of heavenly hosts array in dazzling white tunics with golden belts around their waists. Their feet were shod with golden sandals encrusted with all sorts of precious stones. No doubt these beings were angels as they also had enormous white wings which were folded behind their backs. The angels were all busy at work, building and inlaying precious stones in mansions of all sorts and sizes. As far as his eyes could see, there was construction work going on. It seemed that this entire city was getting prepared, prepared for some event, a very special event. As the young man continued to look out over the golden celestial metropolis, he saw one of the angels looking up at him. The angel opened up his radiant white wings and flew upward towards him. In a matter of seconds, they were face to face, both suspended above the glowing city of golden white light. “Peace and blessings to you son of Adam” spoke the angel with a resounding voice. “And to you angel, blessings and peace” replied the young man at the wonder of this entire splendor. “Welcome to the Kingdom of Heaven, the great city of the King” continued the angel. “I’ve heard that name before” replied the young man, “I’ve heard it mentioned by a dear friend of mine. To whom does this city belong?” “It is the city of the King” spoke the angel with pride, “The KING of kings and LORD of lords, the creator of the universe and all that is in it. It also belongs to all who are HIS and to all who believe on HIS name.” “I see” spoke the young man, “I see all the heavenly hosts down there busy building all those glorious mansions. Are they not for you who believe on HIS name, you, who indeed belong to HIM?” “Indeed” replied the angel, “we do belong to HIM and we believe on HIS name who is HOLY, but this city is built for all redeemed man, for all men and women, great and small who have trusted and who will trust in the complete work of redemption of the LAMB” “Redemption?” questioned the young man, “Redemption from what?” “From the curse of sin” replied the angel, “the sin which all mankind has inherited from Adam, who is father of all who breathe the breath of life Oh Son of Man.” “And how” questioned the young man, “is this redemption to be fulfilled?” “The blood” replied the angel, “for without blood there can be no remission of sins.” “But that is the reason for the sacrifices” answered the young man, “We have daily sacrifices at the temple. The priests and Levites take bulls and goats and…” “They are but shadows, oh man” interrupted the angel. “Shadows?” questioned the young man. “Yes” replied the angel, “shadows of things to come, mere shadows of He who has come to fulfill all the prophesies of the Torah and the Prophets. It is He who walks among you this very day.” The young man stood there wondering, wondering and marveling at the words of the angel. Just who could this be he thought? Did he know him? The angel seemed to know his thoughts. “It is He who teaches in the synagogues, the essence of the Torah and of the Prophets. It is He who makes the words of Moses come to life and gives sight to blinds eyes and strengthens the legs of the lame. It is He who heals all sort of diseases and raises the dead. He is the one who comforts the sorrowful and who embraces the children.” The angel stood there gazing into the eyes of the young man, hoping that the words would enlighten his soul. The young man just stood there, suspended high above the holy city of God, thinking, contemplating over the words of the angel. As he was deep in thought, only one person came to mind. Only one person could meet that description. “Could it be my dear friend Yeshua?” asked the young man, looking deep into the eyes of the angel. “Indeed” replied the angel with joy, knowing now that understanding had reached and penetrated his soul. “Your heart has revealed the truth to you, and this same Yeshua will suffer at the hands of sinners. He will be mocked and stricken, he will be despised and chastised with whips, and by His stripes will all mankind receive healing.” “Those are the words of the Prophet Isaiah.” said the young man, still deep in thought. “Indeed” replied the angel, “and that prophecy will soon come to pass.” “But who would want to hurt my dear friend Yeshua?” asked the young man a little perplexed. “He has done no harm to anyone, only good has he done.” “Does a lamb offend so that a serpent will strike?” asked the angel, gazing intensely into the eyes of the young man. “Nay, yet the serpent will indeed strike the lamb and the shepherd will be slain, yet the shepherd-lamb will rise from the dead on the third day. Hear this oh man, the serpent’s head will then be crushed And only then will the captives that lie in Abraham’s bosom be set free. The Son of Man will take the key of life and open Heaven’s gate to receive the redeemed. All those who sleep in the dust of the earth, from righteous Abel to him that will be at the side of the lamb will inherit this same city which you now see.” The young man marveled at the angel’s words, taking in all this wonderful news. “And how do you come to know all this?” asked the young man “It has been revealed to me by the Father” answered the angel. “It is He who knows all that will come to pass, and as the Father thus wills all that is to come, so does the Son give testimony to the Father by His obedience, even unto death.” “When will all this occur?” asked the young man, his questioning eyes gazing into the angel’s. “Soon” answered the angel, “very soon, but I must now return unto my labors below as you must return to yours, as you are being called back. Soon, very soon we will meet again and this City of God will be your inheritance as one of the redeemed by the blood of the lamb.” The angel then opened his snow-white wings, aglow with the Shekinah light and flew back down to the streets of the City of God. There he rejoined the rest of the multitude of heavenly hosts, and continued to build inlaying precious stones in the mansions of the redeemed. The young man just stood there, hovering above the City of God. He watched the angel as he returned to his work with the others, becoming just a tiny speck amidst the vast multitude of heavenly beings. He stood in awe, taking in the glorious splendor of Heaven. How he wished he could stay, being a part of the heavenly host. All of a sudden, he heard a voice. It was a voice of thunder, a voice of command, of infinite authority. He felt the air vibrate around him; the resonating voice seemed to engulf him completely, seemingly to draw him away from this heavenly realm. Indeed, he felt now that he was being drawn away, entering the same tunnel of light which brought him to this city of peace. He felt himself being pulled away, faster and faster. As he looked back he saw the Kingdom of Heaven growing smaller and smaller until it looked like just another one of the bright stars of the heavens. Around and around he traveled, feeling an unseen force which he could not explain, a force which pulled him through this strange tunnel of glowing, pulsating light. He observed around him all the stars of heaven going past him, leaving behind them small tails of light. Up ahead, he noticed a small, round object of blue and white color. The object got bigger second by second. He then noticed brown and green mixed with the blue and white colors. The object then got so big that it seemed to engulf him completely. The he noticed familiar objects; trees, hills, and mountains. He noticed a familiar countryside of green meadows and date palms. He finally saw something very familiar, it was his own house. Behind his house was a small, rocky hill. He felt himself being drawn into that that hill, a hill that harbored an empty tomb. Suddenly, everything went dark. He felt confined, lying down on a hard, stone surface. He felt bound by cloth and a horrible stench of death permeated the pitch dark atmosphere. Then suddenly, a voice rang out, a voice that he recognized the voice of a friend, his master and teacher, the voice of God, saying.... …LAZARUS, COME FORTH!!! PIC: awaiting the flight crew, when I served as chaplain, "Fuerzas Armadas de El Salvador"
  8. So as not to copy word for word I will tell this story in my own words; There was once a heathen who had married a godly woman, and the husband often made light of religion, especially Judaism. Once he was so mad at his wife that he cast her out of the house and said: "I will not allow you to enter this house again until you have spit in the rabbi's eye 7 times" The unhappy and distraught wife roamed the streets and moaned her situation, she prayed to God to find a solution, she prayed in private but you know, there seems to always be someone listening, The story eventually got around to the rabbi and he thought and pondered the situation. Finally, when Sabbath came, and the godly woman was always at Shabbos service, the rabbi went up to the bema (the preacher's podium) and began his discourse; "I have a serious problem, I have a serious eye infection, and the Holy One (Blessed be his holy name)told me in a dream that the only cure for this eye infection was to have a pious woman's spittle fall into my eye, so, I can think of no one better than that woman in the back" and he pointed to the outcast woman. "I want you to come up and spit in my eye 7 times, since "7" is the number of G-d and I will be healed of this infirmity." The woman, very much surprised, obeyed, went up to the Bema, the rabbi bent down and looked up at the pious woman, she spit in his eye 7 times. Then the rabbi stood up and said, "Now return to your husband and tell him that you indeed spit 7 times in the rabbi's eye, and pray for him that he will come nigh unto God and the Torah" retold by J. Avraham PIC: The Sea of Galilee from a nearby mountain park overlooking Tiberius
  9. Shalom to all, thank you for reading the Parashiyot and thank you Willa for responding, and asking for an explanation of the festivals (Moedim) that follow Passover. As we know, PASSOVER starts , this year, on Monday Evening. This is when the majority of the synagogues and Jewish household will celebrate Passover, however, the festival consists of 7 days, so one has 7 days to celebrate it. Example, at our synagogue in Houston, TX we will go to a nearby hotel and hold the ceremony, then, on Friday, the 4th day of Passover, we will have a special Spanish language Passover service for the Sephardic members and guests. YESHUA is represented as the PASSOVER LAMB, who was "roasted" in the "fires of judgment" As the lambs and goats were roasted in the fires that the families of Goshen had in their dwellings, so was our Savior, Messiah and LORD judged for our sins on the first Passover day in Yerushalayim. One of my short stories is "One Passover in Jerusalem" which I will post on Passover Eve in this forum's literature section. THE 7 DAYS OF UNLEAVENED BREAD follow the first Evening of Passover, at that time, the only animals sacrificed were the lambs and goats. At our Spanish language Passover, we always serve roast lamb and goat meatballs, in memory of the first Passover. The unleavened bread is symbolic of "sinlessness" since "Leaven" (Chamtez) symbolizes sin, since this substance is a 'living organism' which when encounters warm water and sugar, it "puffs up" or "swells up" that is why bread rises. Sin is similar in that our "pride puffs up" and we are giving a message that says, "I am going to do what I want, I am a rebel". By not eating regular bread for 7 days, eating only "Matzah wafers" we are saying, "I am consciously rejecting sin in my life" and making an effort to live by Torah standards, but we must realize that this shouldn't be for only 7 days, it should by 24-7, 365 days a year life style. FIRST FRUITS/SHAVUOT/PENTECOST this celebration comes 50 days after the first day of Passover, this was when the Israelites gave thanks to YHVH for a good harvest and offered up a "Minchah" offering of 2 loaves of wheat bread, it is said that each loaf weighed 5 pounds. The loaves would be "waved" back and forth, sideways and from front to back, symbolizing the "North, South, East, and West" which symbolizes all of creation. the number "4" symbolizes "creation" . This is a "thank" offering to YHVH for the blessings of a good harvest, something like the pilgrims celebrated in November in 1621, but on a smaller scale. This also symbolizes "Yeshua" as the "Bread of Life" (Lechem Chayim) Shabbat Shalom............Rabbi J. Ben Avraham PIC: standing outside the ruins of the synagogue at Capernaum, July, 2015
  10. TZAV: (Command) LEV: 6:8-8:36…………JEREMIAH 7:21-8:3.............MARK 13:1-37……………………………… We continue to look at the "Korbanot Shel Mishkan" (the sacrifices of the tabernacle) "The Burnt offering" (korban Olah), "The grain offering" (Mincha) , "The Peace offering' (Zevah Shelamim) , "The sin offering" (Korban Chatat), "the trespass or guilt offering" (Korban Asham) . One thing about the burnt, sin, and guilt offerings, there had to be "Teshuvah" repentance, this had to come from the heart, a "turning away from sin" like Yeshua told the woman caught in the act of adultery, "Go and sin no more" she was forgiven and was told to go and sin no more The burnt offerings symbolized the recognition of our sin nature and a willingness to give one self to God... The sin and trespass/guilt offerings symbolized the offerer's recognition that "I have sinned" in a specific way, unintentionally, and forgiveness was sought. if the trespass was some property damage, item lost or stolen , the person offering the animal had to first "compensate" the lost, THEN, bring the offering, the grain and peace offering were to "give thanks to God" for blessings received, it could be a bumper crop of wheat, an increase in cattle or in the herds of sheep and goats. Every time we go to the park for a BBQ or host a Thanksgiving turkey for family and friends , we are in a way hosting a "Peace and/or grain offering" do we not have meat? bread? and drinks there? of course, can you in imagine fajitas without tortillas and soft drinks or juice? these offerings included "wine" and also olive oil and Frankincense were added to the meal/grain offerings. We can see Yeshua in all of these offerings, The clean animals symbolized Yeshua, the Sacrificed Lamb, the grain offering Yeshua the Bread of Life, the peace offering, Yeshua Prince of Peace. In this Parasha we see "Ner Tamid" or "Esh Tamid" (the eternal flame or fire) the burnt offering roasted all night and ashes were left in the morning, they were removed to a clean place outside the camp, and a new korban added to the flames, Fire symbolizes purification, destruction, heat, light, it also symbolizes our zeal and love for God and the things of HaShem and service to Adonai, you have heard the expression "Being on fire for God!" The things we did yesterday are gone, and the things of today remain to be done, we can take the "ashes" to be the things of yesterday, yet they will be remembered and not forgotten, and YHVH takes into account ALL the things we do for his name's sake, honor, and glory, we might look upon them as ashes from yesterday's service, yet HE looks at them as future rewards in the World to Come. YESHUA is our ETERNAL FIRE and LIGHT, HE will NEVER BURN OUT Chapter 8 is the highlight of the Torah, the Torah (Genesis - Deuteronomy) has 304,805 Hebrew letters. 79,977 words, and 5845 verses. Lev 8:15 is the "midpoint" the word "Yesod" (foundation) or "base" is the middle "Word" in the Torah. It talks about Aaron being anointed as high priest. He is symbolically a type of "Mashiach" (Messiah) since "to anoint" is "m sh k" in Hebrew letters, He was the mediator between the people and God, The blood of the animals used to anoint Aaron and his sons, was sprinkled on the horns of the brazen altar and poured out at the "base" or "foundation" of the altar, pointing us to Yeshua who is the "chief corner-stone, and the foundation stone" upon who our faith is based on. It is also interesting to see that the first word in the Torah is "B'reisheet" (In the beginning) the middle is, as we know "Yesod" (base or foundation) and the last word in Deuteronomy is "Israel" giving us the message that Yeshua is the Foundation stone of Israel from the beginning. If we take the last letters of the first three words in the first verse of Genesis we get the word "Emet" (truth) "alef" "mem" and "tav" which is one of Messiah's titles, Yeshua Ha Emet, from his statement "I AM the Way, the TRUTH (emet) and the life. Aaron and sons were anointed with blood on his right ear lobe, the right thumb, and the big toe on his right foot. This can symbolize our "HEARING " (Shema) and putting into action what we hear from his Word, our DOING, through mitzvoth (good deeds/ and per-forming commandments, and WALKING according to HIS direction, walking a "torah based lifestyle, or "Halacha" as some put it. This was the ministry of Aaron and his sons, and also, our ministry as well. __________________________________________________ ________ _____ ________________________________________________________________ JEREMIAH 7:21-8:3, 9:22,23 Adonai speaks through Yirimyahu telling Israel to repent and return to God, yet God told Jeremiah that Israel would not listen to him, sad, that was the case, sacrifices were performed without true repentance, kind of like the big bosses of the Mafia murdering and gunning down people, and then going to mass at the church and confessing before the priests, Israel was taken into slavery to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzer. We need to get back to God today, by true Teshuvah (repentance) from the heart, not just with words, God did not ask for sacrifices when HE took his people out of Egypt, he only asked for obedience, yet Israel failed to obey, the "Korbanot" was HIS way to point his people back to Him, through Yeshua, Ha Emet, the foundation stone, from the beginning. __________________________________________________ _____________ ______________________________________________________________________ MARK 13: 1-37 Yeshua tells his talmidim about the future. “The end is near” he tells them. But many will say; “Well, that was thousands of years ago, and the end is not here. But we need to realize that our perspective of time is not the same perspective of YHVH’s time. If “one thousand years are like a day, then, in reality, time isof no matter to YHVH. Yeshua is saying that; “Many will come in my name” and we see that is true, that there are many false “Messiahs” in this world, many are preaching and teaching “false doctrines” many religions that “seem” to be so called “Biblical” change verses here and there to support THEIR DOCTRINE. We must ask ourselves when listening to someone teach, “What this person is saying, does it support what the Bible teaches?” if it doesn’t, then, it is “Man’s opinion” nothing more . before Yeshua returns to the earth, the Gospel must be preached/taught to all nations, and that is happening as we write this . What can we do about all of this? Live and prepare our lives as if Yeshua will returns somewhere in the far future, …..yet….be ready as if He will come tomorrow. It is good to make plans, yet YHVH always has the final word! Shabbat Shalom…………Rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: youth studying Torah, La Herradura, El Salvador
  11. 6. TESTIMONIUM VERITATIS (True Testimony) by rabbi Ben Avraham I pace back and forth here on the patio. The fortress of Antonia is full of life and busy during the day, but at night, so quiet, ever so quiet. As I look out over the city of Jerusalem, there are faint lights here and there. Torches burning on the walls. Zealots waiting in hiding for an unwary Roman soldier, while the rest of the city sleeps. The moon has traveled across the sky , and a multitude of stars can be seen. It’s hard to believe that the same heavenly bodies that can be seen here are seen in Rome. It has been a season since I have been back to that city that was founded by Romulus, the city of the Tiber, where the mob cries out for justice, for crimes unsolved and the senate plays the role of gods. The senate is corrupt, always looking for a few denarii more. Tiberius has concerns for lands conquered, forever worrying about uprisings. Here in this land called Judea, the people hate us. The eagle of Rome is but an ugly reminder of the strong overpowering the weak. We are an intruder that offends their religion, and laws that oppose their own laws. My report is overdue to Tiberius. I should have written it two weeks ago. The criminals were tried and condemned, executed according to Roman law and justice. I could have written the report with ease, telling Tiberius that indeed, Roman justice was served. In every report, the crimes of the criminals are recorded. The first two were thieves and almost killed two of my officers in the attempt to rob them. Their punishment was just. But the other man’s punishment, now that I think back, seemed somewhat unjust. The man named Yeshua Ben Yosef, a carpenter by profession from the town of Nazareth. What crimes did he commit that warranted crucifixion? Crimes against Rome I think not. There was no proof. Crimes against his own people? Did not the leaders of his own people bring him to me for judgment? Why did they not judge him themselves? I am plagued for the wont of answers, for deeper understanding in this matter. It is also a matter of conscience. Tiberius will want a report, and a report he will get, but at what price? At the price of my position as procurator of Judea? For putting to death an innocent man? When I first heard of this man Yeshua I was awed. Unlike the other Judeans who are forever complaining about taxes, this man Yeshua said they should pay the taxes. When the mere presence of Rome embitters their souls, this man Yeshua befriended Romans. Even one of my best centurions abandoned his belief in the gods of Rome when this Yeshua healed his servant. I can’t hardly blame him, I can’t remember even one time when the gods of Rome did me or Claudia any favors. I wish I had met this Yeshua sooner, perhaps he would have healed our grandson. We asked the favor of the gods on him, yet he died of fever nonetheless. I was very curious about these miracles, so I assigned Decius, one of my trusted servants to follow this Yeshua, yet from a distance as not to arouse suspicion among his twelve followers. My servant came back and reported that this Yeshua indeed took five loaves of bread and a few fishes which he received from a lad, and fed five-thousand people. Now I ask myself, how could that be possible? Could anyone do that? I posed the question to my dear Claudia and she told me that indeed, it would be impossible if he were only a mere man. I felt that she had more to say, yet she contained herself. Later that night, before coming to bed she looked me deep in the eyes and I remember her words; “I do believe that this Yeshua is more than just a man!” Her words still echo in my ears, “more than just a man” but if that man is more than just a man, then what can he be? Only a god is higher than man. I ask myself, can this Yeshua be a god on this earth? A god that would be a king? Yet this Yeshua refused kingship, at least kingship here in Jerusalem. When he was before me that infamous day, I even asked him if he was a king, and I remember too well his words: “You say that I am, did you hear that from others?” Yes, I remember hearing rumors among the Judeans that this Yeshua was a king prophesied by the Jewish prophets of old. Then I remember his other words to me; “My reign is not of this world” But if not of this world, what other world is there? Decius did not leave out details when I questioned him more about Yeshua. The more he talked about Yeshua, the more excited he became. I had to continuously remind him of his position as servant and protocol. I have seen a change in my servant however, a change for the better, not to say that he is a bad servant, only now he asks if he might do extra things, saying, “I wouldn’t mind going the extra mile”. He has a strange peace about him, like all the others who have come into contact with this Yeshua. Decius also told me that once while he was following Yeshua and his followers from a distance, Yeshua just stopped walking, turned around and looked at him. Even from the distance, he could sense that Yeshua was looking straight at him. He slowly nodded his head, and then continued walking. It was if he knew why my servant was following him. Decius told me that on various occasions he had heard Yeshua mention “the Kingdom of Heaven”. Could this be the answer to his kingship? But then where is this place called “heaven?” if not on earth, could this be some sort of home for the gods? A place from whence the gods rule the earth? Would it be, I wonder, the same place where the gods of Rome live? Or…is it different? So many unanswered questions I have, and no easy answers. I heard it mentioned by the followers of Yeshua that “the truth would set men free” but free from what? And what is truth? Alas, the same question I posed to Yeshua when he was before me after having spoken these words to me; “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice” I hear myself thinking that the “truth” is opposite of falsehood. It is looking at the facts and acknowledging the facts no matter what. This I would have to do. Yes, I will report the facts about Yeshua to Tiberius. He would want nor expect no less. I will tell him who I really think he is. I will give my “Testimonium veritatis” my testimony of truth. Many call Yeshua a king, but he says that his kingdom is not here. With the reports and facts that I have received from Decius my servant, I can only conclude that he indeed has the makings of a king. He cares about his people, he feeds them bread and fish and teaches them about love. He discourages hate and rebellion. He shows compassion to the poor, he hates injustice and teaches honesty. Oh if only Rome were ruled by someone like him, how different it would be. My servant also told me that he talked about “his father”. His followers said that his father lives in Heaven, and that “he and his father were one”. I wonder if that means that both Yeshua and his father are both kings? What could be the truth about that I wonder? Again, questions without solid answers. I am glad I gave him the title, “King of the Jews”. I do believe he earned that title. Let Caiaphas and the rest of those religious leaders foam at the mouth like rabid dogs. The more I think about it, the more I believe Yeshua was delivered into my hands on account of jealousy, or jealousy with a lot of misunderstanding about this “Torah” as the Jews call their holy writ. The religious leaders teach it one way, and Yeshua teaches it another way, so who’s right? Can both be right? I wonder where this carpenter got so much understanding. The Jews also say that their “Torah” said something about a “coming Messiah” who would be a king. According to the records he was born around the time it was prophesied, during the Jew’s festival of Sukkot. Some of the Jews believed that this coming “king” would free Judea from Roman rule, but here we stand. Rome has not fallen and I am still governor of Judea. So where, I ask myself, does this Yeshua fit into all this? As I look over all the facts, I find myself wanting and guilty of condemning to death an innocent man, or maybe more than just a man, a god become man perhaps? So how can men kill a god? My head is still dizzy with still unanswered questions, and the moon is high above in the night sky. I have the parchment, quill , and ink on the table, but this letter will have to wait until morning. Tiberius will have to wait one more day for this report. Whatever happens, happens, by the will of the gods....or should I say....God? Pontius Pilatus Gubernator Iudeae AUTHOR'S ENDING COMMENTS: We might never know what went on inside the mind of Pontius Pilate. He was certaining aware of the miralces and teachings of Yeshua (Jesus). Did he really believe Yeshua was God? Only our Father in Heaven knows for sure. PIC: Bible study session in El Salvador at a barber shop "Jesus salva"
  12. SARAH (the sequel.....the story continues) by Jacob Ben Avraham Sarah stood in awe as she marveled at the beautiful sights and wonders of the city of the King. Angel stood by her side and pointed to the brilliant array of colors. “You see all those colors Sarah? They all emanate from the Throne of Grace of King Yeshua. They are all the colors of the rainbow” “How beautiful” replied Sarah looking here and there, completely enthralled with the marvelous sights and sounds of her new heavenly home. “This is your home Sarah” replied Angel with a happy smile, “and all these people are your family.” Sarah looked all around her. The city of the King was constant activity. There were people all around her, big people and small, all dressed in glowing white tunics. They were girded with golden belts around their waists and wore golden sandals. There was constant conversation with laughter; some were singing praises with up lifted hands. “These are the redeemed from all ages past” said Angel. “These are the ones who accepted the free gift of life from King Yeshua. Through his shed blood, their sins were blotted out and their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” “Wow” cried Sarah with joy, “Do they all have special names like me?” “Yes” replied Angel, “Their names are engraved on their golden head bands.” Sarah looked at all the redeemed that walked the streets of the Lamb’s holy city. She saw that everyone wore golden bands around their foreheads, engraved with special names. “But I don’t have one Angel!” said Sarah sadly, touching her own head, feeling only her soft, dark, curly hair. “Ah, but you will receive one. King Yeshua himself will give you your own headband with your name engraved,” replied Angel with a smile. “I’m going to take you to meet him right now. Are you ready to meet your king?” “Oh yes” exclaimed Sarah happily, “Let’s go!” “Alright” said Angel, opening up his radiant white wings, “Hold my hand and up we'll go. Sarah held on the Angel's hand as they both soared upward and few over the golden city of the king. Sarah gasped with wonder as she saw all the beautiful sights and sounds of Yeshua's kingdom. Fountains of pure, crystalline water shot high into the air, emanating from different geometric shapes of pure, transparent crystal. Above some fountains were suspended pyramids of crystal rotating around and around, reflecting the light that came from the Lamb’s Throne of Grace. The radiant light reflected by the prisms came forth in all sorts of dazzling colors. “What beautiful colors”, exclaimed Sarah. “Is the whole city like this?” “Yes” replied Angel. “The whole city reflects the beauty and majesty of King Yeshua, and look,” continued Angel, pointing ahead, “there’s the Lamb’s Throne of Grace and his holy temple.” Sarah looked ahead and saw a monumental throne of pure gold with a base of green emerald. The throne was aglow with radiant, golden light shining forth the glory of God in all directions. There was also a river of crystal clarity flowing from the base of the Throne of Grace. The river parted into four directions, flowing to the north, south, east, and west. “Let’s go up a little higher” said Angel, “We can get a better view from far, far above.” With these words, Angel and Sarah flew up and up, higher and higher above the City of God. Sarah looked down to see the river that flowed from the Lamb’s Throne of Grace divide into canals. “You see Sarah” spoke Angel, “The River of Life flows to the north, south, east and west. In each direction, it splits up into more canals so that every dwelling on every street here in the New Jerusalem has a canal.” Sarah looked with excitement and awe at the canals which flowed alongside the streets of gold. On each street stood mansions, great and small. Behind the mansions lay lush, green vegetation and all kinds of fruit trees that lined the canals from the River of Life. “How beautiful is everything here” exclaimed Sarah. “Is all the Kingdom of Heaven like this?” “Yes” replied Angel with a smile, “and you have only begun to see everything that the LORD has in store for those who love him, and for those he loves.” Sarah was enthralled by the wonderful sights and sounds of the New Jerusalem. There were so many beautiful buildings, mansions, and so many people from all ages going here and there. Some were laughing and conversing one with another with smiles of joy. Others were singing praises to the most high God, with uplifted hands with psalms of praise on their lips. “Come” said Angel, “let’s go over there” as he pointed out a beautiful temple with a throne bathed in glowing, radiant light standing right in front of it. “Angel and Sarah flew down to where the holy temple and the throne were. They were both dwarfed by the majesty and splendor of God’s Throne of Glory, engulfed by the lamb’s Shekinah light. Angel pointed towards the temple entrance from which came a chorus of heavenly voices of the redeemed, singing psalms of praises with the sounds of all sorts of stringed instruments. At different intervals, the sounds of trumpets and shofars were heard. “Now little Sarah” began Angel, “you will meet your king.” With these words, Angel stepped forward and shouted, “My LORD and my God Adonai-Elohim, Yeshua Ben David, I present to you Sarah, Princess and daughter of light.” At once, the whole entrance of the temple was filled with radiant, glowing light. The light was so bright that both Sarah and Angel fell to their knees and bowed their heads to the ground. All around them rang voices proclaiming; “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD God of hosts, May all Heaven and earth be filled with your glory.” When Angel and Sarah looked up, they saw the figure of a man clothed in dazzling white array. He wore a golden belt around his waist and wore golden sandals. Around his head was a golden crown which read; “KING of kings and LORD of lords.” He looked down at Sarah and opened his arms saying, “Welcome my dearest daughter, welcome to your home.” Sarah looked up at the man in dazzling white, knowing that he was more than just a man, he was indeed the LORD. “Yeshua?” Exclaimed Sarah with wonder, “You’re King Yeshua, aren’t you?” “Yes my dearest child” replied the king with a broad smile, “I AM who I AM, the KING of kings and LORD of lords, your father and your God.” Sarah went up close to King Yeshua. He then reached down and with all tenderness, picked little Sarah up and held her to his breast. Sarah looked into his eyes and noticed a few tear drops. In spite of Yeshua’s radiant countenance, she noticed a touch of sadness. “Why are you sad King Yeshua?” asked Sarah curiously, pointing to the tears in his eyes. “I had so many plans for you my dearest daughter” replied Yeshua. “You would have been the pride and joy of your mother Leah, a special gift of life. You would have excelled in many things.” “You know my mother?” questioned Sarah, still gazing into his eyes. “Yes”, replied Yeshua, “she is also my daughter. For a while, she was very angry and confused. “Well wouldn’t you know it” said Sarah, crossing her arms, “She sent me right back to you, guess she didn’t want me after all.” Yeshua looked at Sarah with eyes of tenderness, full of love and compassion “Like I said dearest one, your mother was angry and confused. She listened to bad and evil counsel.” “Yes, I know.” Sarah replied, “Angel told me all about counselors who follow this Beelzebub guy, he has other scary names too.” “Well” said Yeshua with a smile, “You won’t have to worry about him here. There is no place for evil in my kingdom.” “That’s good” said Sarah, “I wouldn’t want to meet him anyway. Oh by the way King Yeshua, do I get a place to live here?” asked Sarah with wondering eyes. “Indeed you do” replied Yeshua as he placed Sarah back on her feet. “But first, I must give you your little golden head band with your name.” “Wow “cried Sarah with glee, “my own headband, like all the others here have?” “Well” replied the LORD, “everyone has a distinct and unique headband.” And Yeshua reached into his long, white tunic and drew out a small, golden headband with the title “Sarah, little princess, daughter of Light” Yeshua reached down with all tenderness and gently placed the headband around Sarah’s head. “There” he said with joy, “this is yours for all eternity.” “Like forever and ever” questioned Sarah? “Yes” replied the king of glory, “forever and ever.” Sarah beamed with joy as she felt the golden headband around her head. “Angel” said Yeshua, “I believe my daughter Angelique was looking for a roommate.” “Yes my LORD” replied Angel, bowing his head. “Sarah would you like to share a mansion with your sister Angelique?” ask Yeshua. “Oh yes” replied Sarah, beaming with joy. “I think I saw her name written on a flat rock when I was in front of the Wall of Sorrows.” “Yes” replied Yeshua, “You saw her tomb stone, but she is alive and well here in the New Jerusalem. She is part of my holy choir, singing praises to my holy name while playing the ten stringed lyre.” “I would love to meet her” said Sarah with a broad smile. “You will indeed” replied Yeshua. At that, Yeshua turned towards the entrance of the holy temple and cried out with a loud voice, “Angelique, daughter of the most high God, come forth.” The voice of Yeshua echoed like thunder. It seemed as though all of Heaven shook at the sound of His voice. At the sound of King Yeshua’s voice, a beautiful young woman came out of the temple arrayed in a dazzling white tunic with a golden belt around her waist. Her feet were shod with golden sandals and she also wore a golden head band with her name engraved in it. “Yes my LORD” said Angelique, bowing her head and prostrating herself to the ground. “Arise my daughter of light” said Yeshua, reaching down and taking Angelique by the hand. “This is my daughter and your sister Sarah. She will share your mansion.” “Hello Sarah” said Angelique embracing her with heavenly love. “How do you like the Kingdom of Heaven, the New Jerusalem?” “It’s awesome” replied Sarah, looking around with wonder. “So many beautiful things to see and so many people.” “I’ll show Sarah around my LORD.” “Great, my daughter Angelique” said Yeshua smiling, “I’ll see you later.” “I too must take my leave” said Angel, “there are more children arriving here that I must meet. It was nice meeting you Sarah.” “It was nice meeting you too Angel” replied Sarah, waving her hand goodbye to her nice celestial guide. “Well” said Angelique, taking Sarah by the hand, “I’ll show you around. I’ll introduce you to some of the writers of the books.” “Books?” questioned Sarah, looking a bit confused. “Oh yes” replied Angelique, “King Yeshua has 66 books, and one special book called the ‘Book of Life’. That’s where all of our names are recorded.” “My name too?” questioned Sarah. “Your name too” answered Angelique with a smile. Angelique and Sarah walked along the streets of gold, stopping to speak with different people, people from different eras of time past on earth. Sarah was enthralled with all the different sights and sounds of the New Jerusalem. In just a short time, she met people from all time periods, some seemed young, and others a bit older. Then Angelique pointed out a man with an elderly face and a very long white beard. Angelique and Sarah walked over to this man who seemed to be deep in thought. “Shalom Moshe” greeted Angelique. The elderly man turned to look at Angelique and smiled. “Shalom to you too sister Angelique, and who is this pretty young lady?” asked Moshe, pointing to Sarah. “This is Sarah, she’s new here. I’m showing her around. Sarah, this is Moses who wrote the first five books of King Yeshua’s Torah.” “Nice to meet you Moses” said Sarah. “Nice to meet you too” replied Moses, embracing little Sarah with a warm hug. “And here are some things for you” said Moses, handing her 5 scrolls all rolled up and tied together with a scarlet colored strap. “These scrolls contain the words that King Yeshua told me to write many, many earth years ago. Many of the words talk about Him.” “I’ll make sure to read these” responded Sarah as she tucked the scrolls under her arm. “It was nice meeting you Moses” smiled Sarah happily. “It was nice meeting you too Sarah” nodded Moses with a smile. “See you later Angelique.” “Shalom to you too” replied Angelique. Both Sarah and Angelique continued to walk along the many streets of gold of the celestial city of the king. Angelique introduced Sarah to many of the writers of the Bible. She was especially happy to meet Jeremiah, who gave Sarah a beautifully embroidered silk shoulder bag to put all the scrolls she received from the king’s prophets. Sarah and Angelique continued to walk along the streets of Heaven, enjoying and taking in the beautiful sights and sounds of Heaven’s bliss. Finally, Angelique pointed out a huge, golden mansion, embedded with all sorts of precious stones. “That’s our home Sarah” “Wow” cried Sarah, “It’s so beautiful and so big!” “Yes” replied Angelique, “and I often invite people over. Moses has been my guest many times. Adam, Eve, and Enoch came over a while ago too. We really enjoy each others company” continued Angelique, walking towards the steps which lead to the mansion’s entrance. “They told what life was like when they lived on earth.” “Do you remember your life on earth?” asked Sarah. “Not really” replied Angelique sadly, “if you remember from my tomb stone, I died when I was three months old.” “Oh” said Sarah, nodding her head slowly, “I wasn’t even allowed to be born.” The two walked the remaining distance to the mansion’s front steps deep in thought. “Well” said Angelique, stopping in front of the twelve red-marble steps that lead up to the mansion’s ornate mother-of-pearl entrance, “This is home!” Sarah stared at the lovely, golden mansion with awe. It was made of solid gold bricks with twelve rectangular shaped windows framed with pure silver. Embedded in the silver frames were rubies and sapphires. The entrance of the mansion was framed roundabout with mother of pearl. Sarah and Angelique together walked up the twelve marble steps and passed through the entrance. Inside the mansion were all kinds of geometric shaped sculptures. Some were made of pure crystal and out of the crystal ran living water. The floor was made of red and black marble inlaid with twelve Lapis Lazuli stars of David. There was a large, marble table with twelve chairs of velvet cushions. On the table were dishes made of pure gold with crystal goblets by their side. In the center of the table were large plates also made of pure gold which held all kinds of nuts and fruit. There was a skylight made of pure, transparent crystal which allowed radiant light to come through. This light emanated from the Lamb’s Throne of Grace, which also illuminated the entire city of the king. “Let’s go upstairs and I’ll show you our room” said Angelique, pointing to a winding black marble and jasper staircase. The railing that was on either side of the staircase was made of pure gold embedded with rubies and emeralds. The two girls climbed the staircase and entered what appeared to be a large bedroom with two large beds made of shittim wood overlaid with pure gold. The mattresses were made of pure satin, stuffed with lamb’s wool. Covering the mattresses lay dazzling white satin sheets with matching satin pillows. On the wall beside the beds were bookshelves divided into 66 squares. The bookshelves were also made of shittim wood, overlaid with gold. “This is where you will put your scrolls Sarah” said Angelique, pointing to the squares. “One scroll for every square. When you read the scrolls, you will remember every word as our memories here are perfect.” “Wow” exclaimed Sarah, “I’ll start to read right now.” She placed the scrolls she had received in the wooden squares on the wall beside her bed. Sarah kept the first one she received. Sitting on her ornate bed, untied the scroll and began to read. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth……..” after a while she tied up the scroll and placed it in the first square. “Moshe wrote many wonderful things” Sarah remarked, “Too bad about Adam and Eve, that they listened to the serpent and lost fellowship with King Yeshua” said Sarah sadly. “Yes” replied Angelique, “but King Yeshua made it right again in that He loved the world so much that He went down to earth in human form. He died on a cross and His blood cleansed all mankind of sin. That is how we can all have a right fellowship with Him again. For all those that believe on Him, he has given everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Angelique’s face shone with radiant light as she explained the words of the Apostle John to Sarah. The girls embraced each other, overjoyed to be together forever in God’s holy eternal city. “Sarah” continued Angelique, “when people like us die as babies and young children, we don’t experience the spirit of rebellion caused by sin. This happens to older people, so the king looks on us as innocent and perfect in his eyes. When king Yeshua was on earth, he said once; ‘Let the little children come to me, for theirs is the Kingdom of God’ (Luke 18:16) He was talking about us.” “What’s out there?” asked Sarah, pointing to the doorway at the end of the bedroom. “That leads to the outside patio, come on, I’ll show you.” Angelique took Sarah by the hand and led her through the arched doorway which was also framed with mother of pearl. The two went out onto the patio which was supported by beautifully carved marble pillars. On the patio were flower pots made of red clay, from which grew many flowering plants giving the air a fragrance unlike anything on earth. “See out there?” said Angelique, pointing to the distance. “That is one of the tributaries of the River of Life which flows from the Lamb’s Throne of Grace. Those trees that grow next to the river give all manner of fruit.” Sarah was enthralled by the beautiful sight of the river and trees, the lush emerald green grass and flowering meadows all around. She was delighted with the aroma of flowers and the continuous music that was heard coming from the celestial temple. Sarah looked down from the upstairs patio and saw something that intrigued her. “What’s that?” she asked, pointing to a rectangular crystal framed in pure silver. “Oh” replied Angelique, “that’s the crystal of images. Everyone up here has one of those. Would you like to see it?” “Sure” said Sarah filled with curiosity. Angelique and Sarah went down stairs and out the back doorway which led to a ground level patio. It was like the upstairs patio, but this one was surrounded by flowering trees and shrubs. Twelve marble columns supported the upstairs patio, all carved with intricate designs. The base of the downstairs patio was made of red marble inlaid with all sorts of precious stones. Seven steps led from the patio to the lush carpet of green grass and flowers. In the near distance was the River of Life, adorned with the fruit bearing trees. Angelique and Sarah approached the crystal of images which made a soft humming noise. “This is powered by the Lamb’s Throne of Grace” said Angelique, allowing Sarah to observe it closely. The crystal was attached to a curved block of sculpted quartz, allowing the crystal to hang vertically, facing the viewer. “What does it do?” questioned Sarah, now intrigued by this strange object. “This allows us to see what is happening on earth” responded Angelique “Would you like to try it?” “Oh yes” cried Sarah, clapping her hands full of joy. “I’d like to see my mother again.” “OK” replied Angelique, “Just stand in front of it and pass your hand close to the crystal.” Sarah went up and passed her little hand in front of the crystal, all the while, thinking of her beloved mother Leah. All of a sudden, multicolored lights appeared inside the crystal followed by an image. It was the image of a woman laying down in a graveyard in front of a newly dug grave. Leah Holtz woke up from a deep sleep. It had been the first time in weeks that she had slept so soundly. She slowly got up; her body covered by newly fallen autumn leaves. She had spent the night in the cemetery in front of her daughter’s little grave marker. The air was crisp and fresh. She got up and brushed off the leaves which clung to her worn sweater. Her eyes filled with tears as she looked once more at the little wooden cross with the words “Sarah” inscribed on a small plaque which was nailed to the cross. Leah had made her peace with God, with herself and above all, with her little daughter Leah pulled her sweater around her body as she left Old Oak cemetery and headed home. There would be a lot to do in her apartment. She could take her time as today was her day off from work. In spite of not having eaten anything since the day before, she felt full of energy. She walked home quickly, arriving at her apartment in a matter of minutes. She put the key in the door lock and walked in. The sight she saw caused her to gasp. “Oh my God Leah” she said to herself out loud, “How could you have lived like this?” Looking around she saw a dirty apartment, with empty beer and wine bottles scattered here and there. Her wedding picture which once hung on the wall lay shattered on the floor amidst pieces of broken glass. There were piles of dirty dishes in the sink, and the carpet was dirty with bits and pieces of food particles everywhere. “Well”, Leah said to herself, “Time to clean up.” With those words, Leah went to work. She went to the closet and took out a vacuum cleaner, a mop, and a bucket. She went to the kitchen and looked for some liquid cleaner and rags. When she had gotten everything ready, she turned on the radio and looked for a Christian station that played popular praise and worship songs. After the music started playing, she began washing all the dirty dishes, pots, and pans. Little by little, the dirty, grubby looking apartment came to life again. Leah opened the windows to allow the fresh, crisp autumn air in. She danced and sang the words to the different songs and praise hymns she heard on the radio. She started up the vacuum cleaner, passing it back and forth across the living room floor. She was so involved with her cleaning that she almost didn’t hear a soft knocking at the door. Leah turned off the vacuum for a moment to be sure of the noise. The knocking at the front door repeated a few times more. Leah wondered who it could be as she had not received many visitors since her husband had left her. She went and opened the door to find a rather large man with a duffel bag by his feet. He looked rather old and dirty with disheveled hair and a small amount of beard growth. He hung his head down, not even lifting it when Leah opened the door. He was a pitiful sight to lay eyes on, a symbol of depression and utter failure. “Yes, may I help you sir?” asked Leah, trying to look into this man’s face. In the past, she had seen many homeless people sleeping under bridges. They were usually by the highways with painted signs asking for pennies. From time to time she had given a dollar or two or some change. She thought that perhaps this man was a homeless guy, coming to ask for a bit of change. The man finally lifted his head and looked Leah in the eyes. “Hello Leah”, he said rather sheepishly. Leah looked deeply into his face, a face she had known for years. “Roger?” she asked, backing away a few feet. But yes, it was him, the husband who had left her for another woman. Now he was back, humbled it seemed a sight of defeat. “Yes Leah, it’s me” responded a very different Roger Holtz, no longer the proud, arrogant flirt as before, but now a very humbled and meek man. “May I come in?” he asked, looking hopefully into Leah’s eyes. “Your name is still on the lease, so it’s still your place” said Leah rather quietly, turning her back to Roger. She went to the living room window leaving a rather meek Roger Holtz at the door. Roger entered and sat down on the living room sofa, leaving his duffel bag just inside the door. Leah continued to stare out the living room window, her mind being absorbed with memories, memories of a wedding day and a short lived relationship ending with deceit and unfaithfulness. “You have no idea how much you hurt me Roger” shouted Leah as she whirled around and walked quickly to the sofa to confront her husband. “I know I was wrong” said Roger, looking up at Leah, his eyes expressing sadness and remorse. “I can’t undo what I did, I can only ask for your forgiveness.” Leah looked at a very different Roger sitting there on the sofa. She knew in her heart that she had to forgive him since God forgave her for what she had done to her innocent unborn daughter. Was she any different than Roger? Roger had destroyed their marital relationship, but Leah had destroyed a life that was within her. Which was the worst sin? Leah knew what she had to do. “Roger” began Leah slowly, “I’ll forgive you for walking out on our relationship, but it isn’t easy. Wounds take time to heal, especially emotional wounds.” Leah now came over to the sofa and sat down beside her husband. Roger looked at Leah with all sincerity and tenderness. “Thank you Leah” he began, “I’m different than before, I know the LORD now, I really know Him. I accepted Jesus as my LORD and Savior.” “When did that happen?” asked Leah, looking at Roger with wonder and awe. “Just today” responded Roger. “Do you remember Eddie Williams from our high school football team?” “Sure” replied Leah, “Big Eddie the quarterback, all 250 pounds of him, who can forget all the touchdowns he made?” “Well” continued Roger, “I saw him on the football field at the city bible college. I went to the college to look for work. I waved to him and we started talking about old times. I told him how I had left you and that I was with Cindy.” Roger paused and hung his head. “I still can’t believe I did that.” “Go on Roger” said Leah, gently touching his hand, “Remember I forgive you.” “Well” continued Roger, “When he heard that I had left you for Cindy, he turned and walked away, then stopped and just turned around and charged me like a linebacker on the opposing team.” Roger paused for a few seconds, not knowing how to continue. “And then what happened” asked Leah rather quietly, her interest now aroused. Her soft voice encouraged Roger to continue. Taking a deep breath, he continued. “He tackled me, knocking me off my feet and when I hit the ground, he sat on my chest and opened up a bible and started reading it.” “Big Eddie with a Bible?” replied Leah with surprise. “I can’t believe it, but wow, that’s awesome.” “I tried to get up”, Roger continued, “but Eddie held me to the ground and told me that I was going to listen to him.” Roger paused and took another deep breath. “He told me that I did wrong in leaving you and that I should return to you and honor my commitment to our marriage.” “God works in mysterious ways Roger” said Leah quietly. “Then he started reading from the New Testament” continued Roger, “and told me how Jesus had died for my sins and that I needed to have a real relationship with him. You know what Leah? What he was saying really made sense to me for the first time.” As Roger looked into Leah’s eyes, she saw something different in him. He had that sincere look, a ray of hope, a sincere desire for a new beginning. “And….what did you do Roger?” asked Leah, her voice ever so gentle. “I accepted Jesus as my LORD and Savior; really I did, with all my heart. I felt a real change come over me.” Leah reached out and took his hands in hers. “You’re born again now Roger, now we both have a home in Heaven.” “Wow Angelique” said Sarah jumping up and down in front of the crystal of images, “did you hear that? Now both my mom and dad will be here some day with us and King Yeshua, and with all these people up here!” “Yes” replied Angelique with a smile, embracing Sarah, “It is so wonderful when the whole family is part of Yeshua’s family. We have so much reason to rejoice in the LORD.” The two continued to gaze into the crystal of images, observing the couple on the sofa, a couple now joined together in faith, through the covenant of the King. “As soon as Eddie let me up” Roger continued, “I embraced him and thanked him for sharing the love of God with me. I ran back to where I was living with Cindy. I didn’t even want to look at her. I just ran into the bedroom, threw all my clothes in this duffel bag and ran out the door.” “And Cindy?” asked Leah with questioning eyes, “What did she do?” “She just stood there with her mouth hanging open, wondering what was going on” replied Roger. “I told her quickly that I was going back to you.” “And what did she say?” asked Leah, now really intrigued. “Well” continued Roger, “she just threw out a string of cuss words and slammed the door behind me. I didn’t look back Leah, I just ran as fast as I could away from there. I belong here with you. Can I stay?” Leah looked into Roger’s pleading eyes. Yes, he had done wrong, but so had she. If the LORD had forgiven her, who was she to turn her husband away? The prodigal husband had returned, now, equally yoked. “Yes Roger” replied Leah lovingly, “You can stay, it’s your home, and it’s our home. Now we’re a family united in Christ. He heals all hurts.” Roger embraced Leah with all tenderness. “We’re a re-united family Leah” said Roger with tears in his eyes, “You, me, and our little one we’re expecting.” Roger gently touched Leah’s empty womb. At his touch, Leah recoiled and quickly got up from the sofa and went over to the window again. She tried to hold back the tears, but they still came. “I’m not pregnant any more” cried Leah, her voice echoing both anger and sadness. Roger just sat there rather shocked, his eyes wandering from her womb to her eyes. “You had a miscarriage?” he asked. “That’s OK; we can always have another child.” “It was an abortion Roger!” shouted Leah, her eyes flashing with hurt. “An abortion! Did you hear? I was angry at you for leaving me. I hated you and I struck out at our precious, innocent daughter to get even!” Roger couldn’t respond. He didn’t know what to say. He just continued to stare at Leah’s now angry countenance. “She’s dead Roger, do you hear? Dead!” cried Leah, with tears streaming from her eyes. “I killed her, I killed our unborn daughter, and she’s dead!” “No mommy, I’m not dead. I’m alive up here in Yeshua’s kingdom” shouted Sarah, jumping up and down in front of the crystal of images, waving her hands in the air trying to get her mother’s attention. “I’m alive up here with my friend Angelique and…” “She can’t hear you Sarah” interrupted Angelique, embracing Sarah, looking deep into her eyes. “People on earth can’t hear or see us up here.” “I wish my mom and dad could hear and see me” said Sarah, looking up at Angelique with wishful eyes. “I know that Sarah” replied Angelique lovingly, “but I think that deep in your mother’s heart she knows that you’re alive and well up here.” The two embraced each other with heavenly tenderness. Sarah and Angelique continued to gaze into the crystal of images observing the emotional scene back on earth. Husband and wife now reconciled, still needed to go through the healing process. Roger continued to look at Leah. Deep hurt now showed in his eyes, but amidst the hurt, there was the look of forgiveness and peace. He knew that he was partially to blame, but this would be a new beginning. There would have to be total forgiveness. “I forgive you Leah” said Roger, now embracing his wife. “God forgives you too. You of all people ought to know that. You have been a believer for many years and know more about God’s love than I do.” Roger cupped Leah’s face in his hands. His words were like honey, sweetening her sorrowful soul. “One thing I know,” continued Roger, “Our little girl is alive in God’s kingdom, and I am sure she’s looking down at us right now.” At these words, both Roger and Leah looked up toward the ceiling of their small apartment. “Angelique, look!” cried Sarah all excited, pointing to the figures in the crystal of images, “they’re looking at us, see? They’re looking right up at us, they can really see us.” “Yes” smiled Angelique, “it seems that way doesn’t it?” “Let this be a new beginning for both of us” said Roger, embracing his wife. Leah’s eyes filled with tears of joy as she accepted her husband’s embrace. Yes, she knew she had been forgiven. Her heart was filled with joy to know that both God and her husband had forgiven her. She would have to forgive herself now. “Pastor Anderson still needs a maintenance worker at the church, if you still need a job” said Leah, knowing that a new beginning with only one paycheck would be a little tight. “Do you think he would accept me?” asked Roger hopefully. “Now that you are a genuine member of the family of God, I don’t think he would have any problem accepting you,” said Leah, knowing that her “new Roger” would put his whole heart and soul into their renewed relationship, new job included. “Well” replied Roger, “why don’t we go visit Pastor Anderson now, I’d like to share our new beginning with him.” “Great idea” said Leah, her face aglow with joy. “It would be a great testimony and it’s almost time for the Wednesday evening service. The pastor will also be very surprised to see me again, after all this time away from church.” The two embraced each other again, two renewed hearts and lives ready to embrace a renewed relationship with the LORD’s guidance. Sarah and Angelique stood watching the couple in the crystal of images. Sarah sensed their love and renewed devotion to each other, and to King Yeshua. “I’m so happy that both my mom and dad will be with us here someday” said Sarah, beaming with joy. “Yes” replied Angelique, “They are both children of God now. They will have a home here in Heaven too, just like we do.” Sarah and Angelique stepped back from the crystal of images. The embraced couple slowly faded away until the crystal returned to its former transparency. “I have an idea, let’s go over to the River of Life and pick some fruit from the trees,” said Angelique, pointing to the row of fruit trees that grew by the river’s edge. There were all kinds of fruit bearing trees; including vines producing ripe green and purple grapes. Sarah looked around and found 3 wicker baskets at the foot of the mansion’s marble steps. She picked them up and handed two of them to Angelique. “Are we going to eat all the fruit ourselves?” questioned Sarah with wondering eyes. “Of course not,” laughed Angelique, “We’re going to invite Moses, Joshua, and Aaron over to enjoy the meal with us. Then they can tell you how life was like when they lived on earth.” “Wow!” exclaimed Sarah, full of excitement, “that would be great. I have so many questions to ask them.” “Well, shall we go?” “Yes” said Sarah with a smile, “Let’s go!” So both Angelique and Sarah, baskets in hand, walked down one of the many flowering paths that lead to the River of Life. PIC: Fuerza Aerea Salvadoreña, El Salvador Air Force, when I served as volunteer chaplain a few years ago, inside a Helicopter with the mechanic.
  13. PARASHA: “VaYIKRA” (and he called) LEVITICUS 1:1-6:7………………ISAIAH 43:21-44:23……………MARK 11:1-12:44 ……We start the book of Leviticus, this part of the Torah has to do with the Mishkan (the tabernacle) now ready to be used, and the sacrificial system that will be instituted within the Mishkan. All the sacrifices point to and illustrate MESIAH YESHUA (Jesus the Christ) who he is and what his one-time sacrifice means to us as believers. Even though the sacrificial system was completed with Messiahs’ death on Calvary, it is still worth while studying the meaning of it all, since it is a very integral part of the Torah. …..The first thing you must do is read over the scripture verses, from Chapter 1:1 through 6:7. Now we are ready for a discussion. The whole idea of a “Korban” (sacrifice) is to generate the idea of “substitution”. The sacrificial system involves; a gift, a death, a substitute, a renewed relationship. “The gift (haMatanah)” comes from the person offering, which is an animal. The animal, which would be a goat, a lamb, a bull, or a bird, would be killed and the blood splattered on the altar (mizbeach), the animal would be a “substitute” for the person who offers it. The sins of the person “transfer” to the animal. Through the sacrifice, the relationship between the offeror and YHVH is renewed. But remember that the “sacrifices” are just symbolic of what they really mean, Which is Messiah Yeshua taking on ALL of our sins and him being nailed to the cross, and shedding his blood for our sins, giving us a “renewed” relationship with Him, through a “born again” experience. …..There were 5 kinds of “korbanot” (sacrifices); 1. The burnt offering (Olah) 2. The sin offering, 3. The guilt or trespass offering; 4. The Peace offering (Korban Shelamim) 5. The grain or meat offering (Minchah). Each one identifies our relationship with Messiah Yeshua. …..THE BURNT OFFERING (Olah) This involved an animal sacrifice, the animal was completely burned on the altar and the ashes taken away and buried “outside the camp” the head, the inner organs, and the legs were burned as well. The pieces of the animal were arranged on the altar and burned. The head could symbolize our “thoughts” the inner organs could represent our “inner being, the heart, and the legs, our “walk” all of these were “offered up” to YHVH, thus symbolizing our “complete surrender to God in all that we are and have. The altar as you remember was made of hard wood overlaid with bronze and had a grill in the middle, and under the grill was earth and stones, Wood was laid on the grill and the animal was cut up and laid on the grill and burned. This reminds us of Yeshua who was “sacrificed” by his own free will on a WOODEN cross, and was consumed by the “fires of judgment” He was judged for OUR SINS. The animal’s throat was cut and the blood was poured out and splashed on the altar. The person offering the animal showed that he/his family was “offering themselves to the LORD”. It also symbolizes our awareness of our sin nature. This sacrifice originated in Genesis, with Adam and Eve, Abel offered an “Olah Korban” so did Abraham, when he offered up the ram instead of his son Isaac, so did Noah, when he left the ark. …..THE SIN OFFERING (korban chatat) This also involved an animal sacrifice. It symbolized our specific sins that we commit by mistake, (active) or something we do not do, or forget to do (passive). In this korban, the person would offer the animal as a sacrifice, the person would place his hands on the head of the animal, transferring his “sins” into the animal, which would be the “substitute. The animal’s throat would be cut and the blood splattered on the altar. The priest would offer on the altar the fat, the liver, and the kidneys of the animal. These could symbolize our inner being. In this, the person confessed their sins and they did it by free will, and the animal symbolized Yeshua who paid our sin price in full. …..THE TRESPASS OR GUILT OFFERING; This involved the same process, only that the person who committed an offense against another would also have to bring compensation for the wrong doing, either in payment in silver or gold, or payment with animals. When we offend another person, be the person a brother or sister in Messiah or an unbeliever, we need to “compensate” the sin, if we can do it, sometimes, we cannot, if the sin is against the person’s character, no amount of money can repay the damage done, only a sincere confession in humbleness. So, we need to watch our “walk”. …..THE PEACE OFFERING (Shelamim). The word “Shelamim” comes from “Shalom” (peace) this was an enjoyable sacrifice in which both the priest and the offeror and his family would enjoy “roast beef, goat, or lamb” This was a “thankfulness” offering for blessings received. The animal was offered in the same way, only the meat was shared between the priest and his family, and the offeror and his family. We see this kind of “korban” even today in the parks, when families go out and BBQ ribs (hopefully beef and not pork) chicken, beef sausage, steaks, etc, many times they invite friends and family to enjoy in the “grilling and BBQ” they also have bread, or tostadas, tortillas, drinks, salad, etc to accompany the meal. …..THE MEAL OR MEAT OFFERING (minchah) this was a non-blood offering on the altar, in this korban, fine flour was offered, mixed with olive oil, frankincense, and also, the flour was made into cakes, rolls of bread, or flat breads (tortillas) but made without leaven or honey. These usually accompanied the peace offerings, to make the meal a “feast”. The fine flour symbolizes “YESHUA THE BREAD OF LIFE” the oil THE RUACH HA KODESH (The holy Spirit) the frankincense, OUR FELLOWSHIP THROUGH PRAYER. The animal itself represented Yeshua who gave his life for us, and took upon himself ALL of our sins, past, present, and future. The word “KORBAN” (sacrifice) comes from the Hebrew verb KARAV which means; “to come near” …..We can only come near to YHVH through the shed blood of Messiah Yeshua, who was the “sacrificed lamb” the Bible says that “without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sins” Our sins were “atoned for once and forever. That is why the “new covenant” or “renewed” covenant is a BETTER covenant, because there is no more need for animal sacrifices, because YESHUA took their place. ISAIAH 43:21-44:23.......................................... .................................................. .................. .. …..YHVH speaks through the Prophet Yeshayahu and is complaining that Israel has forgotten about God, they no longer bring sacrifices, but are engrossed in sin, He explains that craftsmen will use their skill to make idols, that have no value, what a waste of craftsmanship! They can take iron and make a plowshare, swords, and even an idol. Is the fault in the iron? Or in the craftsman? Iron is just a material from the ground, the craftsman can turn it into something for usefulness or for idolatry. The worker in wood can cut down trees, make perhaps a plow, a wheel, use the wood for fuel for fire, or make a wooden idol. Is it the wood’s fault? or does the fault lie with the craftsman? Even today, we can use money either to buy food for our family, pay our bills, or buy and sell drugs! Does the fault lie in the money? Or the use of it? We can use money to honor or dishonor God and those around us, the choice is ours. God cries out to Israel; “I SHALL WIPE OUT YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS LIKE A CLOUD, AND YOUR SINS LIKE A MIST, RETURN TO ME AND I SHALL REDEEM YOU” (44:22)The promise still stands. If we “teshuv” to HIM, HE will save us! MARK 11:1-12:44.......................................... .................................................. ................... …..There are several themes in these verses. Yeshua is in all of them. One theme is that when he went into the temple in Yerushalayim, he threw over the money tables and chased out the money changers, saying “My house is a House of prayer but you have made it a den of thieves” there are many synagogues and some churches that refuse to conduct business on the Sabbath or on the day of worship because they are reminded of that verse. However, Yeshua called them “thieves” these money changers were exchanging foreign money such as Greek “drachmas” and Roman “Denarii” for Israel “Shekels” in order to buy sacrifice animals. Many times, the money changers would not honor the exchange rate, and would “cheat” the clients. If 12 Mexican pesos equaled 1 US dollar, it would be like accepting the 12 pesos and giving the person 75 cents! Perhaps these money changers were cheating in this way. …..In 12:29-31 Yeshua quotes the “Shema” Hear O Israel YHVH is our Elohim, YHVH is ONE (Echad) and he continues, Love Elohim with all your heart, being, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Yeshua just summed up all the 613 commandments in two verses! Because all the commandments have to do with our relationship with YHVH and our relationship with our fellow man. That is the purpose of Bible study, to learn of these commandments and put them into practice, so as to deepen our relationship with Messiah Yeshua and to be a good witness to our fellow man, and…bring lost mankind to a saving relationship with Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Christ) Shabbat Shalom………rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: me, between two Israeli IDF supervisors, (Madrichot) in Tel Aviv, at Medical supply base July/2015
  14. GOODMAN “J” (A tale from 17th Century New England) The evening was slowly making its appearance in the western sky. A few stars were already visible. A brisk autumn breeze was blowing, moving tree limbs back and forth, with brown, yellow, and red leaves falling gently to the ground. The afternoon Sunday service was now ended at the White wood meetinghouse. The congregation members were slowly making their way back to their humble homes. One by one, families all left the meeting house. Husbands with wives and children, single folk, all had received a good lesson from the Good Book today. Indeed, the reverend Williams had preached long and well over the plan of salvation, the joys of heaven, and the horrors of hell fire. Unrepentant sinners would have to answer to their indifference, and the saintly folks would have happiness and bliss to look forward too. Goodman “J” left the meeting house with the others, while walking towards the well trodden forest path that would lead him back to his humble house on the edge of Whitewood Township. “Yes” he thought, “the reverend Williams had indeed outdone himself today, a few people had stepped forward to repent of their sins and worldly ways, receiving a clear message from God’s holy writ.” These were days of tension, of confusion and bitterness climaxed by mass superstition. Judges and magistrates were lead on by a group of young, hysteric girls. It was only two weeks ago in Salem town that 19 innocent townsfolk were condemned as witches by the honorable judges Danforth and Hawthorne, questioning the title “honorable”. This group of restless young girls had been in the presence of Tituba, a negro servant woman, who perhaps being the only real witch had instigated wild and unruly thoughts in their minds. What could be worse than this group of wild girls lead on by the spirit of Beelzebub? “Yes”, thought Goodman J “the devil was indeed loose in Salem and in the gullible minds of persons everywhere who were not grounded on the solid Rock of God’s Holy Writ”. It was sad to think that educated magistrates would fall prey to the whims of those girls. That resulted in the innocent hanging at the end of a hangman’s noose. Hopefully, the Rev. Hale would clear things up in Boston, bring the wrongdoing into the light of justice. Goodman “J” continued to walk the forest path that would eventually lead to his humble home. He had often heard tales from the townsfolk about the forest being enchanted, wolves and other beasts howling at night. Even a bear or two pouncing on an unwary passerby, a disgruntled Wampanoag lurking behind a tree with a scalp in one hand and a bloodied tomahawk in the other. Goodman “J” however, paid no attention to the townsfolk tales. He had only encountered peace and tranquility during his many walks through the forest, going to and from the meetinghouse. He enjoyed watching and listening to the forest birds such as the crows, grackles, robins, jays, and cardinals. He would oftentimes leave behind bread crumbs and crushed corn. The squirrels and chipmunks would often follow him, expecting a morsel or two. Goodman “J” was also popular with the town’s children. He would often sit under a tree and the children would gather around. He would then tell these precious little ones stories from the Holy Writ, from the Old testament and the New. He would also explain the Psalms and Proverbs giving vivid illustrations. Sometimes, he would take them on the same forest path and tell them about the animals of the woods, the plants and trees, and how the rains fell and made them grow. “All good things come from above” he often said, opening his arms and stretching them up toward the heavens. As he walked along this late afternoon, the shadows grew longer as the evening slowly approached. About midway along the path, another path joined up bringing the two paths into one. One ran along side of Whitewood, the other leading to Salem. While Goodman “J” approached the spot where the two paths joined, he saw another figure walking on the other path. Soon, they were walking side by side. The other person was a man, clothed in the typical dark, puritan manner of dress. He also carried a walking staff that sported a skull carving on the handle. This strange figure seemed to blend in with the shadows of the forest, and a cold, icy wind seemed to kick up around him. The two walked side by side for a few minutes in silence. At last, Goodman “J” broke the silence. “The minister preached a good sermon today, wouldn’t you say? Many hearts and souls were affected to say the least”. “The minister is but a liar and a hypocrite, the town’s folk as well, the devil take them all”, replied the stranger with a scowl. “Callest thou the Holy Writ of the Almighty a lie”, responded Goodman? “For out of His holy book canst only proceed words of truth.” The stranger looked at Goodman, the evening shadows falling across the wrinkles of his brow. “And what is truth?” he responded with a sneer. “Ah”, replied Goodman, “thou recallest the words of Pontius Pilate spoken so many eons ago. “Ay” replied the stranger and it seemeth like only yesteryear that he thus gave the order to hold fast the Son of Man to the tree. “Thou knowest” replied Goodman, his voice calm and serene. “And knowest thou also that the Son of Man did indeed arise from the dead according to Holy Writ.” The stranger said nothing, but a heavy frown formed across his face, and the icy wind increased around him. The two continued to walk along the path together. Finally, the stranger spoke again, “For sure the stones would have been better as bread” “Yes” replied Goodman, “but only if thou value more the bread from the earth than the bread of life from above. That is the bread which givest real life unto man”. The stranger continued to frown, as the gust of icy wind increasing even more, now accompanied by a scent of something burning. “Had the Son of Man jumped from the roof of the temple, for sure the holy angels would have prevented Him from striking the ground, and thus, many would have seen and believed”, the stranger’s eyes were now glued to Goodman’s face. Throughout all of this Goodman remaining calm, not saying a word but continued to walk along the forest path with the stranger. Finally, Goodman spoke again, “Blessed art those who do not see, and yet believe”. The stranger seemed more irritated now, the icy wind blowing up leaves and dust around him, “imagine the fame and power bestoweth upon the Son of Man, ruling over all the towns and cities of the colonies of America, and he needeth only to render a little homage to the Son of perdition.” “Indeed” replied Goodman, “the whole world is of the Son of Man, but only in the Father’s perfect timing”. “But to do a little homage… began the stranger. “ENOUGH”, rebuked Goodman “J” looking straight into the eyes of the stranger. “Thou art an offense unto me. Depart from here father of lies”, he commanded. “Unto thy own way, and returneth not unto Salem nor set thy foot in Whitewood. Now go, for thou knowest thy time is limited.” The two stood on the path facing each other. The stranger was now trembling with rage as he looked into the piercing eyes of Goodman “J”… eyes which spoke with command and authority. Finally, the stranger turned, and with a gust of icy wind and a scent of burning sulfur, left the trodden path and disappeared into the forest. Goodman “J” continued on his way along the familiar path. The evening had settled in and the forest was now alive with the sounds of crickets, and an occasional hoot of an owl. The moon was still low in the evening sky when Goodman “J” arrived at his humble dwelling. It was a small log home with thatched roof. There was a small kitchen near the hearth, a small bedroom with bed, table, and chairs. Outside, next to the house was a small carpenter’s shed with a few simple woodworking tools. There were some planks of wood leaning against the shed, and a few projects that he was working on for some customers in Whitewood. Not far from the shed there was a “water well” with a bucket and rope. The long walk back to his house made Goodman thirsty. He was happy to be home, ready for a good night’s rest. But sadness was upon the spirit of Goodman “J” to think that there were so many people still given over to malice and deceit, and that they would follow the way of darkness instead of the light, following superstition instead of the truth. If only they would listen to the voice of God, through his chosen ministers and his Holy Writ, and thus, rightfully dividing the Word of Truth. In the humble heart of Goodman “J”, he knew that in the future, more and more folks would come to know the truth, and to believe in him who spoke the truth. “Yes” thought Goodman “J” as he stretched forth his hands to pull up a bucket of fresh, cool water, “the truth will for sure set people free.” And he cupped his hands to drink from the water, with the light of the moon shining upon the nail scars in his wrists. written by rabbi Jacob Ben Avraham. NOTES: This is the second short story that I wrote. The idea for this story came to me from one of my college literature courses, where all of us had to read the story "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The theme of "Young Goodman Brown" is the same, but we all know what the "J" symbolizes, and in Hebrew " PIC: Standing in the remains of the ancient synagogue of Capernaum, where Jesus once walked and visited
  15. “TANTE VEEPS” My parents didn't tell me much about Tante Veeps. I only remember her as a very old lady with short, white, curly hair. When she talked, it showed that she was missing a few teeth. I sat beside her once at a restaurant. I don't remember the occasion, but my mom and dad had invited her out. So there we sat at some elegant restaurant, me, mom, dad, and “Veeps”. When she talked to me, she would call me “Yimmy” since she couldn't pronounce the letter “J”. She must have been a relative on my paternal grandmother's side of the family since she was from Denmark, like grandmother “Gudrun”. I am thinking that perhaps she was my grandma's sister but I can't be sure. My father told me her story. She was a nurse for the danish Red Cross in Greenland. She was stationed at Godthaab (pronounced “Gut-Hub”) the main city in Greenland. According to dad's story, she had fallen in love with another worker, or it might have been a patient in the hospital. Well, either the patient died or worker died....or...the patient, or the worker didn't correspond with the same affection as Veeps. Whatever the story, she was broken hearted. She never married nor did she ever give up her Danish citizenship. She remained a Dane till the day she died. My memory of Veeps is limited to that specific day at that restaurant. I was sitting next to her I do remember that. I heard dad mention her name from time to time, and afterward, her name went into oblivion, yet the memory of her still stays within my mind and soul. When I think of Veeps, I often think of contrasts and comparisons with our Messiah Yeshua, Jesus the Christ. Unlike Veeps who never married, Our Messiah is now preparing a great wedding feast for his bride. He is the bridegroom, the Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world, is preparing a place for all of us, his called out “Kehilah” so that one day, where He is, We will also be. We will all partake of his wonderful marriage supper, accepting Him as our Husband, Redeemer, Savior, and King Messiah. Messiah was also broken hearted when he came to his own, yet his own received him not. It is sad to think what our Messiah did for us all, for all humankind, taking upon the sin of all mankind, yet many reject him as Savior and LORD, and do not esteem his sacrifice for sin and eternal death. Nothing else could break our Savior's heart, save only a Roman soldier's lance. Tante Veeps esteemed so much her Danish citizenship that she never gave it up. How much to believers esteem their citizenship in Heaven? In the New Jerusalem? It is more precious than gold, silver, and all the precious stones in the world. Our citizenship is “forever” What we do now, as believers on this earth, will determine what we will do “forever” in the LORD's service. Our future rewards will be determined by our works now, as “gold, silver, and precious stones.” How do we serve Him now? In which way or ways to we render service to King Messiah now? In what ever way or ways we serve him, let's serve Him with our whole heart, mind, soul, and spirit. By rabbi Jacob Ben Avraham PIC: Me, relaxing in the back yard of our Praise and Worship minister's house, Houston, TX