Jacob Ben Avraham

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About Jacob Ben Avraham

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  1. Preview PARASHA “Matot” (tribes) and Masei (Journeys of) Numbers 30:1-32:42, 33:1-36:13………….Jeremiah 1:1-2:3…………John 1:1-51 …..I am not feeling very well now, intestinal cramps, so I will have to make this parasha a little short, so if anyone out there has a natural remedy for intestinal cramps, (without chemicals) leave me a comment. …..Making vows, promises, etc. We need to be careful upon making “vows” Adonai takes serious “promises” that we make, especially using “His” Holy Name (YHVH). We might have said in times before words like; “I sware to God that I’ll____________, or “I promise that I’ll______” or “Next week by this time, I’ll________! But how do you know that you will still be in the land of the living by next week to fulfill your promise? We take “making promises too lightly”. …..If we remember the Israelie “Yeptah” who, upon winning a war against Israel’s enemies, “vowed” a vow and said, “Whatever comes out first from my house to meet me, I will offer it up as a burnt offering”. I am sure that he was probably thinking of some animal, be it a lamb or a goat, yet when he got home, his only “daughter” came out to meet him. The WORD of God says he “kept” his vow, yet how can we imagine that God would accept a human sacrifice? The WORD does not say, but there is a possibility that he DID offer up his daughter, yet not as a burnt offering, but perhaps a servant to the Levites in the tabernacle, …..What did Yeshua say about vows? “Let our YES be YES, and NO, be NO” without more words. We might have good intentions, yet only the LORD manages our time on earth. If we say that we will do something, and we use God’s name, and we end up NOT doing it, we will have taken HIS HOLY NAME in vain. So, what words can we say when we want to do something, without “vowing”. …..”If God permits, I will try to____________” or “I am not sure if I can, but, I will try to________” these words seem better, because it leaves the option “if God permits” . We can make plans for the future, but the future is always in the hands of Adonai JEREMIAH 1:1-2:3 …..The calling of Navi YirimYahu (the prophet Jeremiah) As we see in the beginning, God says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you!” A great statement, a great truth that flies in the face of abortionists, those that say, “a fetus in not yet human”. If God is saying that EVEN BEFORE” being formed in the womb, He had Jeremiah in mind. …..Where are we before being formed in the womb of our mothers. No one seems to know; the WORD does not say. Some believe that we are in Spirit form and that we await bodies to go into, and that when a man and woman unite together in love making, when the sperm meets the egg, there is a guardian angel that is sent to be with that person, and either God or the angel takes the spirit and puts it inside the tiny microscopic body. Well, who knows if this is true, but it might just be that way. …..Everyone has a calling in life, we just have to find out what it is. Our first calling is to “get right with God” and accept Yeshua as our Messiah, LORD and Savior, that act of faith will secure our eternity in Heaven. Then we must search out hearts and ask the LORD what our calling will be. It may be full time ministry, it may be a secular job joined with ministry. The gifts of the Holy Spirit will enable us to do many things. Jeremiah was called to a difficult task, to “wake up” the nation of Israel that was seeded deep in sin, his calling as “Prophet” (or spokesman) was for him, he accepted it, and we have his book to prove it. …..Prophets declared the words of Adonai to the nations, today we have the complete written word of God. Everything we need to know is written in the Bible. His entire WORD is in 66 books. Can God speak through individuals today with “special words?” Sure, but those words will NOT contradict what is already written in the Torah. …..If you are called to teach and expound God’s WORD, (which was the mission of the prophets of old in a general way) STUDY to show thyself WORTHY, a WORKMAN that needeth not be ashamed, but rightfully dividing the WORD of TRUTH! JOHN 1:1-51 …..”In the beginning, was the WORD, and the WORD was with God and GOD was the WORD” This opening statement clarifies that YESHUA was part of the creation in the beginning, Yeshua has many names; Son of David, The Second Adam, Son of Man, the WAY, the TRUTH, the LIFE, the LIVING WORD, and many more. …..WORDS are alive, and with words, Elohim created the heavens and the earth, bringing into being all that is in existence today. There are the things that were “created” (Bara) and those things (such as man) that were “Made” (Asah) “Asah” is used when things are “made” from pre-existing material, such as Adam (man) from earth, dust, water, and the spirit was put inside the body. …..In time, GOD was manifested in human form as YESHUA, who is the “Living WORD” to pay the price of sin, to crush the head of HaSatan, to teach the Torah, heal the sick, We as followers of Yeshua are called to share and teach his WORD to all who will listen. Are you fulfilling YOUR CALLING? Shabbat Shalom………Ben Avraham
  2. PARASHA: “Pinchas” (being zealous for God) NUMBERS 25:10-29:40…………………I KINGS 18:46-19:21…………………….LUKE 23:1-24:53 …..This Torah portion starts with somewhat a surprise, a promotion in rank for an execution committed, and rather suddenly. Pinchas, the grandson of Aaron was a Levite, and during the time of the “weakness and falling away of the men of Israel, He took matters into his own hands, and slew Zimri and Cozby, who were commtting fornication in the sight of all Israel, yet Adonai rewarded him for this and gave him an “everlasting covenant of peace and an everlasting priesthood” because he was “Zealous” for his God, because he made an “atonement” for “b’nei Israel”. …..to understand this, we must go back to Parasha Balak. King Balak wanted Balaam to curse Israel, yet Adonai did not do this, as Adonai prohibited this. Israel was already blessed by Adonai, and who Adonai has blessed, no man can curse. However, as many past rabbis and sages believe, what happened afterwards was indeed a tragedy. Even though the Torah does not record this, because of the events that followed, we can conclude that this is what might have happened afterwards. …..Perhaps, Balaam went to Balak and told him that even though he could not curse Israel, the children of Israel could bring a curse among themselves by disobeying God’s commandments and going after other gods. The Torah says that b’nei Israel went after the Moabite prostitutes and went to worship their god “Baal-Peor” thus bring down the wrath of YHVH. The result was a plague that killed 24,000 Israelites until Pinchas took action and took a lance and thrusted it through the bellies of Zimri and Cozbi, thus “staying” the plague. As Adonai called it, “making an atonement for the children of Israel’ “Blood” for “blood” …..We find this a very “rash” thing to do, yet, we need to understand that Israel was under a “theocracy” and not a “democracy”. Their ruler, King, commander-in-chief was YHVH himself. God calls the shots, makes the rules, and decides outcomes. Under our “democracy” we have presidents, kings, senate, governors, etc who make rules and vote on rules and outcomes. Try being “zealous” for God today the same way Pinchas did would land us in prison very quickly. …..There are other ways one can show “zeal” for YHVH today; Loving his Torah, obeying his commandments, teaching his Word to those who would listen, loving our neighbors, supporting our local body of believers, voting for government officials who also uphold biblical standards. Pointing out sinful ways to sinners (in a loving, not condemning way) and pointing them to a personal relationship with Yeshua our Messiah. …..Chapters 28 and 29 deal with the review of the sacrifices and offerings that the Israelites would offer to YHVH. Remember that they are about to cross over the Jordan to possess the promised land. There they would be “permanent residents” and the fight would continue to cast out the Canaanites (another reason for the census) to see how many “fighting men” the nation consisted of. Each and every element of the offerings and sacrifices illustrates who YESHUA is and what he stands for; …..2 lambs per day, fine flour with oil; Yeshua who is the Lamb of God, who is the BREAD of Life, who has the Ruach HaKodesh (The Holy Spirit) within him. The oil symbolizes the Spirit of Elohim, and the “anointing by the Spirit on ALL believers. Wine was also used to pour over the sacrifices, the “wine” symbolizes the blood of Yeshua that ran down the cross, out of his veins for an atonement for all who believe and accept his sacrifice for sin. Bullocks were also sacrificed, the bullock symbolizes “strength” as the ancient symbol of the letter “Alef” was in the form of a bull. Adonai is “strength” yet he allowed himself to become “lower than the angels” to walk as man and be a willing sacrifice for sin. The goats remind us of Yom Kippur, one was set free and the other sacrificed, reminding us that our sins were “cast away” from us as well as dealt with on the cross. The sacrificed rams remind us of the “ram” that was in the thicket when Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice. That ram was sacrificed instead of Isaac, just as Yeshua was offered as a blood sacrifice in our place. I KINGS 18:46-19:21 …..In this study, we see a second example of “zeal” for Adonai. Israel was again, bowing down and worshipping baal, and Eliyahu really had enough and decided to do something about it. He initiated a contest between YHVH and baal. Whoever answers the prayers and brings down fire to devour the animal sacrifices, that “god” would be GOD, who the Israelites would worship from then on. …..Of course we know who won the contest. Yet as soon as Jezebel, the queen and wicked wife of king Ahab, heard this, and was told that Eliyahu had the 450 priests of baal slain, she sent a “death threat” to Elihayu. Well, he head for the hills! Ran all the way to Mt Horeb in Saudi Arabia, hundreds and hundreds of miles away. There he hid out for a while. …..There are times when a “man of God” or a “woman of God” can pretty much tired out, exhausted, and they really need a rest. Eliyahu was no different. Adonai understood that. He allowed him to rest, he sent an angel to cook for him, and reassured him that there were 7000 Israelites that did not bow the knee to baal! Elihayu’s mission wasn’t quite over yet, he still had a job to do before being taken up to Heaven in a chariot of fire. Now that was quite a hot exit! …..When we serve the LORD we work to the best of our anointed abilities, yet we need to know when to rest. Not quit mind you. Quitting and resting are too different things. Serving Adonai in ministry is a life calling, ending only at death! So, continue to serve YHVH, in this way we show our zeal. LUKE 23:1-24:53 …..We have seen in the above cases, “zeal” for YHVH, yet in this case, we see YESHUA himself, who the zeal was directed to, in his case, he was the “lamb to the slaughter”. Remained silent in front of his accusers, before Pilatus and Herodus. There is a time for a believer to protest, to speak out, and there is a time to remain silent. For this reason, Yeshua came into the world. Not to claim kingship then, yet the whole earth was his to rule. His mission was to teach Torah, heal the sick, and to die for our sins. …..Yes, there were times when he got incensed, angry, there were times when he showed his power, yet on the final day of his earthly life, it was a time to be silent, yet a time to forgive his accusers, to accept the nails, and to say; “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do!’ “Aba, Sh’vook l’hoon la ge’ir yadeen mana av’deen” (Aramaic) and “It is finished” “ha m’shalam” (Aramaic) seems like the translation is saying “the peace’ (is restored) …..Zeal can come in two forms, aggressive, and passive, we need to know when to use them. Shabbat Shalom Ben Avraham pic: lighting the Sabbath candles at Congregation Beth Chesed, Kendall, FL
  3. Parashat: “Balak” Israel gets blessed thrice and a donkey talks! NUMBERS 22:2-25:9……………….MICAH 5:6-6:8……………….LUKE 22:1-71 …..This is the famous story of Bilam, who was asked to “curse” Israel, and instead, “Blessed” Israel, yet before this, his donkey spoke to him. The name “Bilam” or Baalam” might be a shorten version of the name “Baal-haAm” (lord of the people). Some believe that he was a true prophet of G-d, others believe he was a false prophet or a corrupt prophet. Seems like he was the later, yet YHVH used him for the purpose of blessing HaAm Israel …..The princes of Balak, king of Moab, offered money to Balaam to curse Israel, so, Balaam consults Adonai as to what he should do. Elohim gives the answer; “Thou shalt not go with them, thou shalt not curse them for they are blessed” (Num 22:12) What the LORD has blessed, stays blessed, what the LORD has cursed, stays cursed UNLESS the LORD himself lifts the curse and changes the curse to a blessing. …..Balaam tells the princes, “I can not go with you” yet Balak is stubborn, and wants Israel cursed, he offers more money, and fame, re-sends his princes and asked them again to propose to Balaam; “Stay here tonight and I will see what the LORD will tell me” says Balaam. …..But hey, didn’t Adonai already say NO? what more is there to ask again?...or…is there a hidden reason? Maybe a money reason? We can see perhaps a greedy prophet trying to see if “God will change his mind”. Just a little curse for a lot of money? However, Adonai says; “Go with them, but only say what I tell you to say”. So, the word of God says that in the morning, Balaam saddled his *** and went with the princes of Moab, BUT…God was angry because he WENT! …..There is a problem here, didn’t Adonai already give his permission for Balaam to GO, yet he was angry because he WENT! What is the root of interpretation here? Adonai gave his permission for Balaam to go PHYSICALLY with the princes of Moab, Yet, Balaam in his heart was GOING ALONG WITH THE IDEA, to curse for money, greed was in his heart. One thing is to GO, another is GO ALONG WITH THE IDEA, or be in unison to do evil. This is why the anger of the LORD was kindled, Balaam had in his heart the IDEA or the DESIRE to GO CURSE ISRAEL for riches. …..Now Adonai used Balaam’s donkey to “wake him up” as to what is happening. Then, “Malach-YHVH” the (Angel of the LORD) stands in the way, the *** avoids him, three times, until Balaam strikes his donkey three times for going off the road. Finally, the LORD opens the mouth of the donkey and the donkey is made to speak; “Why have you smitten me these three times?” Wouldn’t you wonder that Balaam would have been impressed that an animal would speak? Hebrew at that? Even the Angel spoke; “Why have you smitten your donkey these three times?” …..Some wonder about the number “3” does it have meaning? There are “3” entities in Elohim, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Yeshua was in the ground for 3 days, there are 3 parts of the Bible, the Torah, the Prophets and Hebrew poetry, and the Brit HaDasha (New Testament) Yeshua asked Kefa 3 times “Do you love me?” The Angel of Elohim gave “3” warning to Balaam, yet he did not SEE, or perhaps, did not WANT to see or heed the warnings, until his donkey, “alerted him” ……Another thing we can see is that God is concerned for the treatment of animals. Those who have pets should treat them with love and tender care, not mistreat them, for if the angel saw the donkey being struck and called Balaam’s attention on that, the LORD sees how YOU are treating your pet, (hopefully no one has a pet crocodile running around the house, yet there was a case of a family that DID have indeed a PET CROC in the house) …..Balaam meets Balak, and again, they go to “3” separate places to view Israel, and Balaam orders “7” altars to be built. 7 bulls and 7 rams would be sacrificed. “7” is the perfect number, yet all three times, Balaam opens his mouth to BLESS Israel, Whom YHVH has blessed, no man can curse. Even in the third blessing, Balaam echoes the blessing of Abraham; “Blessed be everyone that blesseth thee, and cursed be everyone that curseth thee!” …..What can we learn from all this? We must always support and bless Israel, bless our brothers and sisters in our congregations, do not let money be the main interest in our doing “good” if we wish to bless our neighbor, with our prayers, labor, favors, etc, let it not be guided by monetary gain, but but our sincere desire to bless and be a witness to Yeshua our Messiah. Oh yes, and treat your cats, dogs, birds, tropical fish, etc with TLC! Adonai is watching! MICAH 5:6-6:8 …..”and the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples…..” thus begins the Prophet Micah’s message. We can witness this account today. In every nation of this modern world we see the Jewish people. In almost every large city, there are Jewish neighborhoods, communities, Jewish Community Centers, ….The mission of Israel in the diaspora was to be a “light unto the nations” the nations thousands of years ago were dwelling in idolatry, the worship of pagan deities permeated their lives. Israel’s mission was to “introduce the worship and love of “One God” Adonai-Elohim, yet even in Israel idolatry was to be found, Elohim would have to “cut off” the worship of graven images, witchcrafts, Asherim, etc, …..”Oh my people, what have I done to thee?” (6:3) Adonai has a right to ask this question. Did HE not take them out of Egypt? Bring them into a new land, He was to be their king, yet they fell into idol worship. …..”and what does the LORD require of thee? only to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God” (6:8) And that is what it is all about, If Yeshua loved mercy, did what was just and right, and lived a humble lifestyle, shouldn’t we do the same. Following in HIS footsteps is a meaningful goal in our lives. LUKE 22:1-71 …..The final and last day of Yeshua on earth is here. He is celebrating the Pesach with his Talmidim. This is very meaningful as it illustrates what the “bread and the wine” symbolize. …”This is my body which is being given to you” “the cup is the New Covenant ratified by my blood which is being poured out for you”. During the time of Pesach, and every time we take communion, which is like a “mini Pesach” we are reminded of our Messiah, who was beaten, whipped, torn apart, spat upon, and nailed to a cross, all because HE loved us SO MUCH. He, God in the flesh, loved his creation, a creation that was once sinless, became flawed by sin, wanted a new relationship once again. The Matzah which is marked by little holes, illustrates the nail holes, and he hung by those nails until his life paid our sin debt in full. …..The New Covenant is ratified, by HIS BLOOD, the blood of bulls, sheep, and goats did NOT, and NEVER did have the power to remove sin, the animal sacrifices only SYMBOLIZED what Yeshua would do in the future. That is why the New Covenant is a better covenant, because the blood of Yeshua, symbolized by the wine we drink, had and has the power to forgive, atone for the sin of mankind. Man only has to ACCEPT this sacrifice in a personal way, only then, can Messiah’s death on the cross benefit the person. So, if you have never accepted Yeshua as Messiah and LORD, do it now! Shabbat Shalom……….Rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: As a lighthouse guides a ship to shore, so the Torah guides a person to a saving knowledge of Yeshua the Messiah, Lighthouse at Cape Florida Nat. Park
  4. PARASHA: “Chukat” (ordinance of) Numbers 19:1-22:1…………………Judges 11:1-33………………Luke 21:1-38 …..I’m back. South Florida had both rain and sun shine. Enjoyed the time with my kids, and grandkids, went fishing, diving, spent worship time with Beth Chesed Congregation as well as with Miami Baptist, It was a real blessing to be with all the family once more. Returning was of “mixed-emotions” …..There are several themes in this Torah study. Number one is the “Red Heifer” This was for members of ‘B’nei Israel” that came into contact with the dead. We need to be reasonable since death was a common experience with Israel, as with all of us, it is part of life, it is the twilight of our existence, if death is our twilight, then our “sunrise” will be in the “World of Come” the “Eternal Heavenly Kingdom. If Yeshua is our Messiah and LORD and Savior, death is just a passage to eternal life with our king, Master, LORD, friend, husband, and Redeemer. …..The priest had to sacrifice and burn up completely a cow, converted to ashes. With this sacrifice there were very important ingredients to be mixed with the ashes; Cedar wood, hyssop, and crimson. So, we now have cow ashes, cedar wood, hyssop, and crimson. These would be mixed with water and this mixture would be applied on a person who had to touch a dead person, (for reason of preparation and burial). After that, the person would be “tahor” (clean) and could re-enter the camp, since the person had to be outside for seven days. It is interesting to note that the priest applying the mixture would be considered “tamei” (unclean) until the evening! How does this illustrate Yeshua HaMashiach? …..We have the animal sacrifice, which always symbolizes our Messiah, then the cedar wood, symbolizing the cross of Calvary, HE was our sacrifice for sin and was nailed to a wooden cross. The hyssop reminds us of the first Passover, when lamb’s blood was applied on the doors of the dwellings in Egypt. Without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sin. The “crimson stuff” reminds us of the blood, which was shed on cross, His sinless blood was applied to our sins. There, there was an exchange, our “unrighteousness” for His “righteousness” Just as the priest remained “unclean” until the evening, so our Messiah became “unclean” for those few hours on the cross, because He bore our sins, past, present, and future. Our “uncleanness” was exchanged for “cleanness” through Yeshua. …..Chapter 20 deals with the death of Miriam. A leader, some say, can only take so much until tempers explode. He (Moshe) has lost his beloved sister, the people are complaining “again” they want water, understandable, we all need water to live. Adonai understands, and speaks to Moshe “Take Aaron and your staff, go to “The” Rock and speak to it, and it shall bring forth water.” Seems like it was not just any rock, it was “THE” Rock. Oral tradition says that this rock followed the congregation where ever they went and water flowed from “The Rock” It is interesting that the Hebrew word is not the usual word “Tzur” or “Aven” used for “Rock” or “stone” but the word “Cela” is used, this word means a “large stone or rock fortress or stronghold”. …..In the area of Mt Sinai, in North East Saudi Arabia, one can see a “large strong, rugged Rock” with a crack down the middle of it. It seems like it is at least 30 feet tall. It is believed that “This” is “The Rock” (HaCela) Moshe, however, in his anger, did NOT obey the voice of HaShem. Instead, he said to the people; …..”Listen you rebels, shall WE get water for you out of this rock?” and then struck the rock TWICE, with his staff. Water still came out, God still had compassion for His people, YET…Moshe and Aaron were in deep trouble! This spill of anger cost Moshe his entrance into the promised land. The ROCK, symbolized YESHUA who is our SOLID ROCK, our FORTRESS! (cela) who was struck only ONCE, for our sins. He died ONCE, was crucified ONCE! For ALL of our sins, past, present, and future. Moshe misrepresented YHVH, he said, “are WE to get water for you…” The people saw “Moshe and Aaron” so, they probably thought’ ‘Moshe and Aaron got water for us’ Let’s hear it for Moshe and Aaron, nice going guys!” so they got the glory instead of Adonai. …..However, we know that Moshe DID enter the promised land, 1500 years later, at the Mt. of Transfiguration He appeared with Eliyahu, Moshe represented the Torah, and Eliyahu the “Naviim” (The Prophets) and of course, Yeshua represented the New Covenant, All three symbolize the “Whole complete WORD of God” with nothing lacking! …..Chapter 21 talks about the “fiery serpents” in the desert, that were sent as punishment by God to bite the people who were “again” complaining. (Oi vey, when will they stop already?!) As soon as the people repented, God told Moshe to make a “bronze serpent” and place it on a pole, and erect it so that ALL could see. In all places in scripture, the “serpent” symbolizes HaSatan, with exception of this ONE time, this time, the bronze or copper serpent (seraph) symbolizes Yeshua, as he said in John; “As the serpent was lifted up in the desert, so the Son of Man will be lifted up” He was both “lifted up” on the Cross of Calvary, and “lifted up” into the Heavenlies in his ascension. …..Interesting to note that probably not all the Congregation of Israel could visibly “see” the serpent, being the encampment perhaps 4 or 5 miles square do to the number of people and cattle, so, even “looking in the direction “ of the serpent would have served the purpose of receiving healing from the snake bites (my thought) . Today, our faith is our “healing” to receive salvation through trusting in Yeshua/Jesus who was “lifted up” and bore our sins. JUDGES 11:1-33 …..This lesson is about “Yephtah” who was bullied and mistreated by his brothers and was excluded from his father’s inheritance, he ran away and got together with a gang of thugs and became like the “Jessie James gang” However, when trouble started back home, who did the brothers look for? Yes, Yephtah! In spite of the fact that he was mistreated, he didn’t let a negative attitude take control, he returned and became their commander. …..Then he “vows and vow” “If you deliver the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house I will offer up to you as a burnt offering” the Israelites won the war, and when Yephtah returned home and his “only daughter came out to greet him”. There are mixed emotions and opinions over this. Some suggest that He DID offer his daughter as a burnt offering, he killed her and burned her body on the altar. BUT… would the Holy GOD of Israel accept this kind of abomination? A human sacrifice? I would say NO! (my opinion) …..So, what MIGHT have happened? Some believe that he did “offer up” his daughter, but to serve as a servant in the tabernacle of YHVH, perhaps helping the Levites or something similar. Again, just an idea, but no one knows for sure, we’ll find out the truth in Heaven! …..What does this teach us? Be careful of what we “vow” we might end up “swallowing” our words, best not to promise anything, and again, not to hold a grudge against those who have mistreated us, forgive them who have mistreated us. LUKE 21:1-38 ….Yeshua talks about the “end times” “Watch out” he warns, things will be getting worse before it gets better. Many think that we will be looking forward to better times, yet Yeshua says just the opposite! Wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, etc, The world is going downhill fast, not only physically, but morality is taking a tailspin downward, …..We need to take heed and be faithful, await the coming of Messiah Yeshua, AFTER He returns, the world will enter a thousand year time of real SHALOM. Yeshua taught all of this in the temple in Yerushalayim, and would camp out on the Mt. of Olives during the night. What an interesting life! I think it would have been great to have seen and heard Yeshua in person back then. Yet we can still hear his voice through HIS WORD. Shabbat Shalom…………….rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: Lighthouse keeper's house, Cape Florida Nat. Park, Key Biscayne, FL A lamp in the window, a light for all to see. If the window represents our soul, and the lamp, the WORD of God, then, the lamp should ALWAYS be lit
  5. I'll be in South Florida for a month (June) hope we can meet up for fellowship

  6. PARASHA: “Nasso” (Elevate) NUMBERS 4:21-7:89……JUDGES 13:2-25…………LUKE 13:1-14:35 …..We will see various themes in this Parasha study. In Chapter 4, the duties of some of the important Levite families; “B’nei Kohat” “B’nei Gershon” “B’nei Merari” (sons of). Their jobs consisted in taking down, transporting, and the setting up of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) throughout the wilderness journeys. Each family member had an important task to do within the Tabernacle and its furnishings. Interesting note that all the furnishings had to be covered by blue cloth. Blue symbolizes “HaShamayim” (The Heavenlies) …..In the service to Adonai, we each have different jobs and ministries to perform. The Body of Messiah consists of many members, some preachers/pastors/rabbis, teachers of Torah, of Hebrew, Youth ministers, musicians, praise and worship members and leaders, finance personnel, maintenance personnel, prayer warriors, intercessors’, counselors, and the list could go on, HaShem has put his Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) on each and every born-again believer, and has given each member different gifts and jobs to do in the body of Mashiach. There should be no laziness in the body. We were not appointed just to show up on the sabbath and/or on Sundays just to sit in the pews, listen to the message, drop some money in the box, and leave. It is much, much more than that, anyone can do just that, what are you doing with YOUR gifts of the spirit? …..It is interesting to note that service in the Mishkan started at 30 years old and ended at 50. (4:29) Each Levite family member had a twenty year commitment to serve. When did Yeshua begin his ministry? When he was 30 years old! Coincidence? Or obedience to Torah? …..Chapter 5; Unclean persons isolated! Anyone who was physically unclean had to be put outside the camp, until the uncleanliness had passed. When we sin, can we consider ourselves spiritually “outside the camp?” out of fellowship with YHVH? I would say yes, our spiritual condition is much more important than our physical condition, as Adonai looks upon the heart and not upon the flesh. But once we repent and get right again with our LORD, we are back in fellowship and in right standing. We could be physically inside the synagogue or church, going through the “praise” motions, yet spiritually miles away, yet through true confession and “teshuvah” when we “Shoov” (return) to Adonai, He accepts us again. He never leaves us, we leave HIM! …..(5:5) Confession and Restitution; Part of our lives is “confession and restitution” if we have wronged our brother or sister in Messiah, we must confess that “wrong” and if possible, make up the “wrong” if it is possible. If not, when all we can offer is a sincere “I am sorry for what I did” then, it is up to the person wronged to be mature enough to accept that and leave the event in the past, and not mention it at all, for evermore. …..(5:11) Concerning unfaithful wives; it the days of old in Israel, if a wife was accused by her husband of adultery, she had to either confess or take an oath of “not guilty” a prayer was written with the name YHVH on it, and washed off into a bit of muddy water, if the woman told the truth, nothing would happen to her and the husband would have to accept her and HE would have to confess his “jealous spirit” BUT If the woman were guilty, then, her thigh would rot and her belly would s swell, that would be a horrible punishment, sounds like her womb would never again harbor a child. A lesson to all marriages to be faithful one to the other. Not that the same thing would happen, but where there is adultery, there is the spirit of jealousy, the spirit of HaSatan, and many times, broken marriages and lives, marriage is a covenant, and a broken covenant leads to the curse. …..Chap 6. The Law of the Nazarite. After reading this chapter, we ask ourselves, are there Nazarites today? Is there any prohibition of undergoing a Nazarite vow? Torah does not prohibit it, if a person feels compelled to take a Nazarite vow, then, that person should honor that vow and stay away from raisins and grape juice, and grape wine. If one could remember the 1960s, in the “hippie era” one could think; “a lot of Nazarites, everyone has long hair” but not so, I don’t think that hippies had long hair because they were Nazarites. One can take an “oath” to serve HaShem completely for “X” amount of years, perhaps on the mission field, without undertaking a Nazarite vow, remember it is the heart that matters, not so much the “hair” …..The Priestly Blessing; a very important blessing that says a lot: MAY YHVH BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU This is written in the Hebrew “singular” YOU not the plural YOU, because Israel, and all believers today are as ONE (Echad) in unity and ONE in fellowship, Adoani KEEPS us by “guarding us against curses and calamity, against sickness, poverty, He delivered our souls from the curse of sin, through Yeshua HaMashiach. HOWEVER, we can, through rebellion, bring on to ourselves these curses! MAY YHVH MAKE HIS FACE SHINE UPON YOU AND BE GRACIOUS UNTO YOU. The idea of “shine” is happiness, purity, and friendship so, May “P’nei Adonai” bring happiness to you and keep you pure “tahor” and bring to you many friends, also GRACIOUS is from the Hebrew “Chen” (grace) something that is not merited, by GRACE we are saved, not by our own merit, He showed us the “Face of Grace” in YESHUA HaMASHIACH who is our YESHUAH (salvation) LIFT UP HIS COUNTENANCE UPON YOU AND GIVE YOU PEACE. May YHVH give his “attention” to you and directed to you, and may you rest in HIS SHALOM! When we have Yeshua as Mashiach, we have that internal shalom, inspite of the world around us being in a lot of “unrest” So THEY SHALL PUT MY NAME ON THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL AND I WILL BLESS THEM. We can see that one of the names of God which is EL, is part of the name “YisraEL” and the most sacred name; YHVH is part of “Y’HUdaH (Judah) …..Chap 7 “The offerings of the leaders” The leaders of the Tribes of Israel brought offerings to the Mishkan, great offerings of silver, gold, and other items, for the maintenance of the Tabernacle. Today, we bring tithes, and offerings, yet our offerings can also be the offering up of our Time and Talent as well as our finances, it all goes back to using our spiritual gifts to edify the body of Messiah. JUDGES 13:2-25 The story of Shimshon (Samson) starts here, it is full of promise, but Samson chooses the flesh and not the spirit. He was a Nazarite who broke all the Nazarite vows, in the end, lost his sight and his physical strength, yet, He was still used by Adonai to take vengeance upon the Philistines, which cost him his life. We see a God of mercy who showed mercy again unto this wayward judge, returned to him his strength, punished the Philistines, then took him home to glory. Perhaps he would have lived many more years had he honored his Nazarite vows, and had honored God. When we look at our own lives, are we bent more toward the flesh or toward the Spirit? LUKE 13:1-14:35 ….Among the themes in this chapter, the parable of the fig tree is enlightening, A fig tree is supposed to bear fruit in the right season. In the month of May, June, and July, are the months that fig trees bear fruit, at least here in South East Texas. there is one right across the fence line where we live, on the property of an African church, and we have been blessed by so much fruit. Did you know that boiling fig leaves into tea lowers blood sugar? Among other health benefits? …..Yet the fig tree in this story had been planted three years ago, and still no fruit! Yet the keeper of the vineyard told the owner, “let’s use some fertilizer, then see what happens” All believers in a way are like fruit trees, we must bear fruit, by sharing, teaching God’s word to others, using our spiritual gifts, yet at times, we might need some “fertilizer” perhaps some more individual study in the WORD, a “pep” talk through a counselor or a pastor/rabbi, or just an encouraging word by another brother or sister in Messiah Yeshua. I will be away for the month of June on vacation to South Florida, I might not be near a PC, so, I might get back to the Parashat again in July. Shalom Shabbat. Rabbi J Ben Avraham PIC: a peaceful day at a small lake, (El Salvador)
  7. PARASHA: “B’Midbar” (in the wilderness) NUMBERS 1:1-4:20………………HOSEAS 2:1-22…………….LUKE 11:1-12:59 …..We start the new Torah Sefer called “Numbers” in English because it talks about “numbering” the tribes of Israel. We wonder why the reason of “numbering the people?” for this reason, we need to go back to the beginning to see. …..In Egypt, Israel was a hodge-podge of undisciplined slaves working for Pharaoh, In Adonai’s timing, He sent Moshe, a “Messiah Type” to lead the people out of slavery to freedom. Once out of Egypt, came the task of taking Egypt out of the Israelites. They came to Har Sinai, ready to become a nation united under YHVH. The Ten Commandments served as the document in stone, a “Ketuba” to solidify the covenant. Now, the United Tribes of Israel under YHVH is established. But this is only the first part. Each Shavuot, we remember the giving of the “Torah in Stone” in the midst of thunder and fire. …..Now that the nation is established, YHVH takes a count, why the count? As a nation, as every nation in the world has, the Nation of Israel needs an army! So, the count is taken to form the very first IDF (Israel Defense Force). I am sure that many of you that are reading this have served in one of the branches of the Armed Forces of the USA, or of other countries. I myself served in the US Army from 1972-1984. I met many people, and learned many things. It was a great experience and a special time in my life. Quite a few of my family members also served in the Armed Forces, the first being an ancestor of mine, Richard Ellis, who served in the Massachusetts Militia in 1640. …..YHVH takes up the count and “enlists” every man who is 20 years old and older. They will serve in the armies of Israel. All those who are …”20 years old and upward who are able to go to war.” After the numbering, part of the daily life would have been practicing and learning how to use different combat weapons, back then would have been swords, spears, bows and arrows, and slingshots. …..Every soldier has a job to do. Today we call these jobs MOS, (Military Occupation Specialties) One of mine was that of chaplain assistant. I was to assist a catholic chaplain who everyone called; “Father McCarthy” who had a bulldog named “Gus” who also went to chapel with him. 11 of the 12 tribes were called to be fighting men yet the tribe of Levi, was called to be the “chaplain tribe” They were exempt from combat duty, they would attend the Tabernacle and services. There were the cohenim (the priests) who would be the “chaplains” and the “levites” who would serve as the “chaplain assistants” sort of speaking. …..So you are thinking, what does this numbering have to do with us as born-again believers in Messiah Yeshua? We need to again, go back and look at our lives before and after Messiah Yeshua. Before, we were just a bunch of “hodge-podge lost sinners in the camp of HaSatan, until Yeshua took us out of that camp by shedding his blood on the cross of Calvary, When we accepted his sacrifice, we were officially “out” of the camp. Yet, there would still be a lot of “haSatan and worldly influence” still in us, so, like the Israelites, “Egypt” was still in us. When we accepted Messiah Yeshua as our Mashiach and Goel (Redeemer) we were added to the Commonwealth of Israel, now part of the Community, the “Adat” which began at Sinai 3500 years ago. We are the “olive branches” that have been “grafted into” the Olive Tree. …..Now that we are members and citizens of “HIS People” we also are considered “soldiers” and in the LORD’s Army. However, we fight a different type of war. In this world, armies fight with RPGs, M-16s, Kalashnikovs, Berrettas, M-60s, etc.. We fight against, “spirits and principalities of darkness” it is a spiritual war against HaSatan and his demons. Only through the Ruach HaKodesh (The Holy Spirit) and the power of His WORD can we overcome the onslaughts of the enemy. He realizes he has lost the war, yet still continues to fight a losing battle, which was won at the cross 2000 years ago. …..As the Cohenim ministered and had jobs to do, and also the soldiers had their jobs to do, we believers also have jobs within our “Kehilot” and “Adat” (congregations). That is why the Holy Spirit has given gifts of the Spirit, so that we might all serve in different capacities in the body of Messiah. In this way, the body grows and prospers. Some of us are rabbis, pastors, who also serve as teachers, also we have ministers in music and praise, finances, maintenance, prayer intercessors, counselors, and the list can go on. …..The twelve tribes of Israel encircled the Tabernacle, with the tribe of Levi next to it. The “Mishkan” was at the center of the People. So also YHVH should be the “Center” of our life. The whole purpose of our life is to serve our God and Creator, while loving and supporting our brothers and sisters in the faith, reaching out to others who are lost, and teaching Torah to those who have ears to hear and learn. We are “numbered” in the eyes of Elohim, HE knows who we are, He has numbered the hairs on our head, and there is no such thing as “retirement” in the work of YHVH, well, there is…. It is called d-e-a-t-h. HOSEA 2:1-22 …. How would you react if God spoke to you in a dream or vision, and you knew that is was really HIM, and he told you, “Hey_________ I want you to marry a prostitute!” Weeelll, you would think, was it really God who spoke to me, or was it the pizza I ate last night giving me nightmares? Hosea was told to marry a prostitute, a “wife of harlotry” and…he obeys! Even though he knows that she will be unfaithful to him. He still loves her, in spite of her unfaithfulness. …..This mirrors the love of God toward his people. Israel was unfaithful to YHVH. They went after false gods and committed “spiritual adultery” yet…the love of our LORD and Savior is beyond measure, and he forgave them, Yes, there was punishment, as all fathers will chastise and punish their sons and daughters, so Israel suffered captivity, banishment from the land, dispersion among the nations, yet we have not been forgotten, we are being gathered together and being brought back to the roots of our faith. …..Will be unfaithful to our God? Every time we break the commandments, we are in a way, being unfaithful, we are being disobedient sons and daughters, but we have a forgiving Father, King, Savior. If we wonder away, let us return to the bridegroom, who awaits the return of his bride. LUKE 11:1-12:59 …..This portion has quite a few themes. One of the most important is the “LORD’s prayer”. Many people “pray” this in a robotic way, a series of words in repetition, many “pray” this without really thinking, “What am I saying really?” Yeshua wanted his talmidim to do more than just “pray” the words, but to “think and meditate on what the words are saying; …..OUR FATHER…only believers can call God “Father” it is special relationship, to a lost person, God is their creator and will be their judge in the future, to a born-again believer, there is a “father-son/daughter” relationship….IN HEAVEN…He lives in the heavens (plural) in Hebrew it is always plural “HaShamayim” He is in the New Jerusalem, in outer Space, in our atmosphere, in our back yard, in our front yard, in our living room, and living inside of us. KADOSH BE YOUR NAME. His name “YHVH” is HOLY, and being Holy, His name should be spoken with reverence, whether we call him Yod Hey Vav Hey, or Adonai, or HaShem, or Adonai-Yeshua, Is our comportment as believers reflecting the holiness of HIS name? YOUR KINGDOM COME. His kingdom is already here! His kingdom is his activity on earth. His activity began with creation. There will be a political Kingdom that WILL COME down to earth in the future, and we will all be part of it….YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN… We should always ask for and expect his PEFECT will for our lives. There is his “permissive will” and his “perfect will” We want to be in his “perfect will” as He wants the best for us All the time. GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD… We ask for our daily needs be met, and when we are in his will, our needs will be met, and many times, our wants as well. HOWEVER, be careful for what we ask for, since sometimes “He will give us want we want, but we won’t want what we get! If you catch the drift! Sometimes, when we don’t ask for much, he gives us that, and much more, and sometimes, he gives us just a “little at a time” to keep us humble. FORGIVE US OUR SINS AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO SIN AGAINST US. How can our Heavenly father forgive us if we hold grudges against others who have offended us. Sometimes, forgiveness is hard, but our Father commands it, and only through the Holy Spirit can we do it Hosea forgave Gomer, his harlot wife, just like YHVH forgives us, LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION BUT DELIVER US FROM THE EVIL ONE. But wasn’t Yeshua tempted? Yes, and he called upon the Father for strength. When temptations come our way, and they will, we should ask that we not succumb to the temptation, and pray for an escape route. The enemy preys on our weaknesses, our eyes, our mind, our ears, however, if we have our sight on Yeshua, our mind tuned to HIM, and our ears to hear his WORD, we will overcome temptation. Shabbat Shalom………….rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: "SHABBAT SHALOM" getting ready for a Sabbath's day celebration
  8. PARASHA: “B’Har” (on the Mountain) LEVITICUS 25:1-26:2……………..JEREMIAH 32:6-27…………………LUKE 7:1-8:56 …..This parasha deals with the giving the land a rest after six years of planting and harvesting, on the seventh year the land shall rest. This, agriculturally, is very sound and comes from the mouth of the creator of all the earth. The reason is quite simple to understand. Crops, such as corn, wheat, barley, vegetables, etc, when they grow in the soil, take in nutrients, quite like us, when we eat, we absorb nutrients from the food we eat. Imagine the land after 6 years of planting and harvesting, all those nutrients, minerals, chemicals from the soil, are being absorbed by the crops sown, if the land does not have a chance to rest and renew itself, it will soon become useless, quite void of nutrients…so… a year’s rest will give the soil enough time to replenish itself. …..We can apply this commandment today, to allow the land to rest after six years of planting and harvesting, even families that have little vegetable gardens in the back of their houses. May they enjoy six years of vegetables and then in the seventh year, just dump compost in the soil, food that goes bad, moldy bread, etc., don’t put it in the garbage, bury it in the garden, do that in that seventh year, and then the next year, plant and harvest again. …..We can look at ourselves in a similar way. How do we count our lives? By a 365-day year? Or by sabbaticals? If we were to count our years by the day, we could say we have many days and years ahead of us! Really? Do we know tomorrow? (didn’t think so). However, if we were to count our years on earth by counting by sevens? How many “sabbaticals” have we lived? How many “might” be left? If I were to count my sabbaticals, I would have to count starting in 1954. 1954-1960 first seven years, 1961-67, the second sabbatical. I would have to ask myself, What have I done or accomplished in each of these periods of seven years? Anything of importance? Have I influenced other lives? If we count by sabbaticals, we will find that we really don’t have many sabbaticals to live. …..What do we do in our “seventh year?” wouldn’t it be wonderful to “rest” a whole year? Or just dedicate that “seventh year” to full time ministry work? That would be quite hard to do for those of us that work for a living Who depend on a salary. Don’t think the boss would be very happy to hear us say; “Boss, I want to take off for this year, it is my “sabbatical” I’ll come back next year at the same time!” (Yeah, u-huh, weeelll, you might not find your job waiting for you after a year) but we do have the summers to rest. If we could divide the year into seven parts, we would end up with more or less 1.7 months of time. Why not minister during 1.7 months? Share God’s Word, teach the WORD to others, for those who can take off a year without compromising their jobs, take every seventh year and just take that time to rest, travel, minister, hike, walk, leave behind gospel tracts, visit different churches and/or Messianic synagogues, and may ADONAI supply ALL of your needs. 26:2 “YE SHALL KEEP MY SABBATHS! AND VENERATE MY SANCTUARY. B’CHUKOTAI (in my statutes) LEVITICUS 26:3-27:34 ….This double Parasha week brings the book of Leviticus to an end. When we read these final chapters, what YHVH is saying is; IF…you follow my torat (teachings, laws) and faithfully observe my mitzvoth (commandments) I WILL….. It is ALL CONDITIONAL, there is nothing without a condition. If we want Elohim’s blessings and good favor, we will follow HIS WORD, accept HIS LIVING WORD (Yeshua) into our life. Yeshua said; “If you love me, ye will obey my commandments” not only the commandments that he spoke about during his life on earth, but also, the ones which he gave to Moshe when HE was with the FATHER as part of ELOHIM. …..Blessings and curses are a part of life. The world calls them as “good luck and bad luck” there is no such animal! All things that happen in our lives are a result of blessings, curses, and testing’s. Do we want to best of our Mashiach? Then, follow HIS Word, follow HIS mitzvoth, not to bring us salvation, that we already have, but as a RESULT OF our salvation (Yeshuah) And if you haven’t accepted Yeshua (Jesus) as your LORD and Savior, and Messiah, NOW is the perfect time, remember, we are NOT promised tomorrow, we are only one HEART BEAT away from eternity. JEREMIAH 32:6-27; 16:19-17:14 ….The prophet, before his people went into exile in Babylon, buys a piece of property, Why? Because Adonai has promised him that he will, to buy and sell again, build houses, plant vineyards, AFTER a period of 10 periods of 7 years each. Israel did not honor the sabbatical years, and now, the land will rest for 70 years. HOWEVER…The prophet was promised that Israel would return and repossess the land. …..We see in reading this parasha that Adonai is a God of judgment, but at the same time, a God of forgiveness Many times, we break HIS commandments, and many times, suffer the consequences for our actions, but there is forgiveness, after the time of suffering and tears, YHVH will never forget HIS PEOPLE. We might go under, but we will never be annihilated. ISRAEL is 4-ever. In chapters 16 to 17, the same thing is being said, YHVH sees all , “For my eyes are on all their ways, they are not hidden from my presence” …..Who can hide from a Holy God? Yet the prophet says; “O YHVH, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in a day of trouble” He continues to trust in Adonai, even though the rest of Israel goes into captivity. We might live in the midst of idolaters, lovers of the world, yet still we must trust HIM. LUKE 7:1-8:56 …..We read about the miracles of Yeshua, Even the faith of a Roman Army officer whose servant was sick unto death, and the servant was healed. What is required of receiving a miracle? Faith! Not blind faith, but faith in the healing powers of Adonai, The Roman believed being far away, yet his servant was healed. He did not see Yeshua, yet he believed. Yeshua said, “blessed are those who do not see, yet believe. …..Yochanan the Baptizer was recognized by Yeshua, as one of the best “talmidim” since he endured imprisonment, and even death, for the sake of the truth. Could we do that? Do we even dare to answer? Time will tell. Shabbat Shalom…………rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: Greeting the Sabbath with sweet things
  9. GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS FROM A JEWISH PERSPECTIVE …..It was around noon time when Goldilocks left her Brooklyn apartment on the corner of Court Street and Atlantic Ave. She would finally spend a Sabbath Eve with her grandma “Zaide” Sarah who lived in a small retirement village apartment on the corner of 9th Street and 7th Ave. She was in her late 80s now, and really didn’t get around much anymore, at least that was what Goldilocks thought. So she thought it might be a good idea to visit her and spend a Sabbath Eve with her. Mamma thought it was a good idea too. …..So Mamma baked a fresh loaf of Challah, wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it inside of Goldilocks’ back-pack. She went to the corner of 9th and 7th and waited for the bus. Once she boarded, Goldilocks settled down in a seat in the middle of the bus, leaned her head against the window and closed her eyes. Her memories took her back to the times when grandma and grandpa had spent more time together with her. …..In past years, they had taken her to Prospect Park which was near the grandparents place. They would walk together, throw nuts to the squirrels and bread crumbs to the birds. Goldilocks would swing on one of the many swing-sets in the park. A few years ago, grandpa had given up the ghost, and now it was only grandma “Zaide” Sarah. These thoughts had slowly lulled Goldilocks to sleep. She wasn’t planning a nap on the bus, it just happened that way. …..When she awoke, the bus had stopped for a few minutes because the bus driver had gone into a store for a snack and a restroom break. She looked around and saw the street sign, “New York Ave”, quite a way from where she had planned to get off. She had plainly slept through her stop at 7th and 9th Ave. ….”Have a nice day” said the driver as he got back on. ….”Yeah, you too” replied Goldilocks as she rushed down the aisle and jumped down the steps and passed the open door. A few more passengers got on and the driver closed the door and drove away. …..So there she stood there at the corner of Midwood and New York Ave thinking that, ‘somehow, I have to get back to where Grandma lives’. She opened her purse and fumbled around looking for another bus token, but all she found was some loose change, an old grocery receipt, some paperclips and an old folded up homework assignment from Mr. Stein’s Social Studies class. …..’Great’ she thought, ‘so this is where it was, two weeks too late. I’ll turn it in anyway, better late than never.’ …..The loose change amounted to twenty-two cents, not even enough for a cup of coffee. …..’Well, she thought, I could “schnor” myself back to grandma’s place.’ …..She remembered the stories that grandma and grandpa had told her about “schnorers” back in the old country, destitute beggars asking pedestrians for a few Kopeks or even a Ruble or two near the great city of Kiev. …..But, ‘No’ she thought, ‘there’s no way I’m going to schnor for bus fare, I’ll just walk it out.’ …..So Goldilocks began her trek back towards grandma’s place at 9th and 7th. Sure, it was a long way off, but if she walked fast, she ought to be there in time for Sabbath. With the loaf of challah in her backpack, she hurried along New York Ave as fast as she could walk. A little ways up ahead she noticed a sign that pointed to Prospect Park. …..’Well’ she thought, ‘I could go around the park or cut through it. If I cut through it, I’ll save some time, yeah, cut through it.’ she decided finally. So Goldilocks started through Prospect Park with backpack and challah loaf inside. Soon she noticed a trail that led to Brooklyn’s only forest. …..This somewhat intrigued her. She remembered grandma “Zaide” telling her about this small forest in Brooklyn, yet she never took her along one of these quaint forest paths. …..’Guess I can make a detour’ thought Goldilocks, ‘ten or fifteen minutes won’t matter. I’ll still make it back to grandma’s before the Sabbath begins.’ …..So Goldilocks started to walk along the main trail that lead to towering trees and bushes. She was enthralled by such greenery in the middle of the city, she was captivated by the tweeting of the birds, and the scurrying squirrels that paused for a second to stare at her before disappearing into the thickets and trees. …..Soon, she came upon a small log cabin house that was nestled between a clump of trees. It was off the beaten trail but nevertheless, curiosity got the better of her. She went over to investigate. She made her way to this small, strange house in the middle of this vast Brooklyn forest. She read the sign that was nailed to the front of the door which read; “BEARkowitz Family”. There were also three mail boxes near the front door with the names; Papa Bearkowitz, Mama Bearkowitz, and Baby Bearkowitz. …..Goldilocks went closer for a better look and noticed that the front door was opened a crack, so she went up and knocked. …..”Hello, anyone at home?” …..Her knocking opened the door a bit more. No one answered, so she pushed open the door and went inside the BEARkowitz residence. Upon entering she noticed a small, cozy kitchen to the left and around the corner was a combination dining and living room. On the dining room table, she noticed three bowls of porridge. The aroma of the porridge stirred up her appetite, so her went over and sat down in a large chair in front of the larger bowl of porridge. She tasted it but, alas, it was much too hot. …..She moved over to the medium sized chair in front of a smaller bowl and tasted the porridge. But “oi” it was too cold and bland. Then she saw the smallest bowl of porridge in front of the smallest chair. The chair looked comfortable so she sat down and tasted the porridge. …..”Yes” she exclaimed, “just right” …..So she ate it all up. After eating, Goldilocks felt a little tired so she went into the living room and saw two cushioned chairs and a small rocking chair. She sat down in the first chair, but it was much too hard for her comfort. She then tried the next chair, but the cushion was too soft for her comfort. Finally, she sat down in the rocking chair and started rocking back and forth. Yes, it seemed just right. …..After about ten minutes of rocking back and forth in the small rocking chair, Goldilocks began to feel sleepy so she went into the master bedroom and found two beds. She lay down in the first bed which was pretty large, but the mattress was too hard and firm. She went to the other bed and lay down, but the mattress was much too soft. Then she went into the adjoining bedroom and found baby bear’s bed, (who wasn’t really a baby anymore on account that he was already 13 and bar-mitzvahed). She lay down on the bed and she felt that it was just right. Soon, she fell fast asleep. …..In the meanwhile, Papa bear, Mama Bear, and Baby bear (who wasn’t a baby anymore since he was already 13 and bar-mitzvahed) returned home from shopping. They saw that the door was already open a jar, so Papa Bear said; ……”Honey, did you forget to lock the door again?” ….. “Oi Vey” responded Mama Bear, “Seems like I am getting to be a bit absent minded these days, my bad!” …..”That’s OK” replied Papa Bear, “We don’t have anything worth stealing anyway.” …..So the three BEARkowitz bears entered and Mama Bear put the groceries on the kitchen table for the Sabbath Eve dinner. It was then that Papa Bear noticed the bowls of porridge on the table. …..”Someone has been eating my porridge!” said Papa bear a little annoyed. …..Mama Bear went over to the table and looked at her bowl of porridge and exclaimed; …..”Oi, someone has been eating from my bowl of porridge too!” …..The baby Bear (who wasn’t such a baby anymore since….well…you know) went over to his bowl of porridge and cried out; …..”Someone ate all of my porridge, and I am really hungry now!” …..”Do you suppose that someone came in here while we were out shopping?” asked Mama Bear a bit surprised. …..”Well”, replied Papa Bear, “you did leave the door unlocked didn’t you? We’ll just look around and see. If someone is here, we’ll soon find out.” …..So the three bears went into the living room and went over to their chairs. …..”Someone has been sitting in my chair” exclaimed Papa Bear, noticing that his chair had been moved slightly. …..”Someone has been sitting in my chair too” exclaimed Mama Bear, noticing that the cushion had been moved. Then Baby Bear (who wasn’t a baby…..you know the rest) went over to his rocking chair and said; …..”Someone has been rocking in my chair, look, my comic book that was on my chair is on the floor!” and he went over and placed the comic book on the rocking chair seat again. …..”Good observation son” replied Papa Bear, nodding his head. “we’re getting closer to the truth of the matter, let’s check out the bedrooms.” …..So the BEARkowitz bears went into the master bedroom. Papa Bear noticed that the bedspreads were a bit out of place. …..”Someone has been sleeping in my bed” he exclaimed, shaking his head!’ …..”Someone has also been sleeping in my bed” replied Mama bear, noticing that the sheets were pulled back a bit. …..”Mama, Papa” cried out Baby (well, you know the story) Bear, “someone is sleeping in my bed, and here she is!” …..Mama and Papa Bear rushed into their son’s bedroom and were very much surprised to see the young girl asleep in the bed. For a minute, they just stood there staring at Goldilocks. …..”Is she a friend of yours son?” asked Papa Bear. …..”Never seen her in my life Papa!” replied (well, we have call baby Bear something else). …..Then Mama Bear, very gently, reached over and shook Goldilocks’ feet. …..”wake up, wake up little girl” she said softly. …..Goldilocks stirred a little and awoke from her sleep. She rubbed her eyes a bit and sat up. When she opened her eyes and saw the three bears standing at her bedside, out of her mouth came.. …..Ayyyyy! Yahhh, Yahhhh, yahhh…. screaming at the top of her lungs, terrified to see the bears. …..”Oi, little girl, stop screaming so, you act as though we’re going to eat you alive” responded Mama Bear, a little surprised to see the girl act so. …..”Well Bears are bad, and evil” replied Goldilocks still a little distraught, “They attack and eat people and tear them limb from limb!” …..”I think wolves do that” said baby bear, “it was a big bad wolf that ate little Red Riding Hood’s grannie!” …..”Oi Vey” groaned Papa Bear shaking his head, “She must have gotten a hold of last month’s Field and Stream magazine, you know, the one that had the article about the hikers in the Rockies getting attacked by a grizzly.” …..Mama Bear just smiled at Goldilocks and sat down in the bed beside her. “Not all bears are bad dear” she said, trying to calm the young girl, “but grizzlies, well, they’re bears with an attitude” …..”So what kind of bears are you?” asked Goldilocks, now a bit more composed. …..”Well” began Papa Bear, “To be perfectly honest, we do have some grizzlies in our family. My great, great aunt and uncle; Sasha and Tatyana BEARkovich lived in the forests of Siberia near Yakutsk. Now those were two bears with an attitude, why they took on 4 Cossacks at once and tore them apart. But the Cossacks were the ones looking for trouble mind you!” …..”Yeah, but they’re probably a pair of rugs now in the Tsar’s palace” responded Baby (but not so baby any more) Bear, a little excited to join the conversation. …..”Son” growled Papa Bear, “what did I tell you about saying that kind of thing. They aren’t rugs, they just...well… vanished one day. …..”sorry” sighed baby Bear, a little embarrassed now, especially in front of this unexpected visitor. …..”Well dear” replied Mama Bear, remembering the question, “What kind of bears are we? Well? We’re…ah…”Brooklyn bears!” Mama bear didn’t quite know what else to say. …..”Yeah” added baby Bear, “like the Brooklyn Dodgers” …..Goldilocks just looked at the three bears wide eyed, just looking for a chance to escape. She still had her back pack on and she slowly got off the bed. “Weeell” she began, “I’m not really into baseball, I’m a tennis fan…soooo….gotta go now…bye…” and she quickly headed toward the bedroom door. Papa bear, though, moved quickly in front of her. …..”Just a minute young lady, you haven’t told us why you’re here” he said, standing in front of the door, blocking Goldilock’s getaway. Goldilocks stopped, threw the backpack on the bed and sat down again. …..”First of all, my name is Goldilocks, and well…this is how it went.” So she told the story of how she left her apartment and headed towards grandma “Zaide” Sarah’s place, fell asleep on the bus, got off at the wrong stop, ran out of bus tokens, head back to grandma’s place, took a short cut through the park and then…ended up at the Bear’s house. Now, the Bear family’s interest was really sparked, …..”So you see sir” continued Goldilocks. …..”I’m Mr. BEARkowitz, and this is my family” interrupted Papa bear. …..”OK, nice to meet you…as I was saying…I came across your house, the door was open a crack, I came in, I was a bit hungry and I still am, and well…I saw your porridge and well…you know the rest.” Goldilocks stopped talking and waited for the Bear’s response. …..”So you say you’re on your way back to your grandma’s place near 9th and 7th Street, right?” Asked Papa Bear. “what’s her name if I may ask?” …..”Sarah” answered Goldilocks, “Zaide” Sarah. …..”Grandma “Zaide” Sarah is YOUR grandmother?” questioned papa Bear a bit surprised. “Zaide” Sarah Goldstein?” …..”You know her?” questioned Goldilocks, wondering how in the world he could know her grandma. …..”Why everyone around here knows Grandma “Zaide” Sarah Goldstein” replied Mama Bear, “She is so friendly, always comes to the park, feeds the birds, the squirrels, tells the children in the park Bible stories, why, we just saw her today when we were on our way home from shopping. She was at Temple Beth Shalom. I believe that Rabbi Stein and his wife invited her to their place to spend Sabbath Eve, such a nice old lady” smiled Mama Bear looking at Goldilocks with all serenity. …..”You mean to tell me that I came all this way and she isn’t even home!? Answered Goldilocks, quite annoyed now, upon hearing this unexpected news. …..”Well, you could have called her on the phone” replied Mama Bear quietly. …..”She never answers the stupid phone” cried Goldilocks, “and mama baked this Challah especially for her!” she added, taking the paper wrapped loaf of Challah bread out of her backpack, showing it to the bears. …..”The challah” cried out Mama Bear, slapping herself on the side of her head. “That’s what we forgot dear husband, the Challah bread at Aaron’s bakery!” …..Papa bear just stood there, stroking his chin, deep in thought. “You know” he began, “This is a very interesting situation. We have a Sabbath Eve chicken dinner in the oven, and Goldilocks here has the Challah. Young lady, how would you like to be our Sabbath Eve dinner guest this evening?” …..”Yes” added Mama Bear, “it would be an honor to have you!” …..Goldilocks didn’t quite know how to respond. Then she smiled a big smile, and nodded “Thank you so much, I accept, I’m as hungry as a bear….Oh…sorry, no pun intended, my bad.” …..”Well” replied Mama Bear, “It’s settled, let’s go into the dining room and wash up, the Sabbath is almost upon us”. So the three bears and Goldilocks left baby bear’s bedroom and went into the dining room. …..”Now, you two go to the sink and wash your hands and don’t forget the hand washing blessing. Papa bear and I will get the dinner on the table, and get the candles and wine out to greet the Sabbath. …..So baby bear and Goldilocks washed their hands, recited the blessing, and went over to the dining room table. …..”Goldilocks, you sit over there” said Mama Bear, pointing to one of the chairs, “and Baby bear, you sit next to Goldilocks.” …..”Come on Mama” cried out baby bear, “Cut it out with the ‘baby bear bit’ I’m already 13 years old, remember my Bar mitzvah last month?” …..”Well” began Mama Bear, “You know how the story goes, the author named you…” …..”I know, I know” interrupted baby bear, “but you can change my name…Pleeeeeaase!! He cried. …..”Go ahead, change the name” responded Papa Bear, as he set the candles in place on the table. …..”How about, YOUNG BEAR?” asked Mama, looking inquisitively at her son. …..”Sounds native American” replied her son bluntly. …..”I like it” replied Goldilocks, smiling from ear to ear. …..”YES” shouted Young Bear, pumping his fist in the air, “Young Bear, Young Bear, Yes, Yes!” …..”OK, it’s settled, YOUNG BEAR, you sit with Goldilocks, the Sabbath is almost among us” replied Mama Bear as she put on her white scarf. Papa Bear put the roast chicken, mashed potatoes and corn in the middle of the table. The table already had a beautiful white linen table cloth, especially for the Sabbath. He poured some wine in the four wine glasses which was in front of each family member and the surprise visitor. He then set the Challah bread next to the chicken and sprinkled some salt on it. Papa put on his Yarmulke and looked at his wife and nodded to her to begin. …..Mama bear lit the candles and waved her hands, as if drawing in the light of the Sabbath candles, then recited the prayer; …..”Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech HaOlam……..” Then Papa Bear took the Challah and cut it, and recited the Sabbath prayer for the bread, then gave a piece of Challah to those at the table. Then came the blessing over the wine, and the wine was shared as well. …..After all had partaken of the bread and the wine, Papa Bear said, “Aumein” and the rest responded, “Aumein” …..”OK, so let’s eat” replied Mama Bear, as she served the chicken, the mashed potatoes and the corn to everyone at the table. …..”Gut Shabbos everyone” said Papa Bear, nodding at Goldilocks. …..”Gut Shabbos” replied Goldilocks, “Gut Shabbos to all of you and thank you.” …..”You are so welcome young lady” said Mama Bear, very happy to have a Shabbos guest. …..Goldilocks was really enjoying the BEARkowitz’s Shabbos meal, and then she noticed that “Young Bear” was looking at her, and seemed to have something on his mind. He finally got enough nerve and lifted up his voice saying; “…..Uh…uh…Goldilocks?...uh…I wanted to, kinda, like, ask you something?” …..”Yeah, what?” replied Goldilocks, a bit curious as to the nature of the question. …..Young bear swallowed a piece of chicken with a bit more wine and then responded; …..”OK, are you…well…kinda like…uh…going with someone? I mean…do you…like have a boyfriend?” …..Goldilocks just smiled and rolled her eyes; “Oi” she said, “what next?” Now it came to pass that an old rabbi with a long white beard, a bekishe, and a black hat just happened to come across this story written on several sheets of lined notebook paper. He just happened to be walking in Prospect park in early Spring. He sat down on one of the park benches to meditate on the creation of HaShem. He looked and saw the 5 pieces of notebook paper stapled together and folded. They were right at the end of the bench weighted down by a small rock. He read through the story, smiled and said within himself; ‘Yes, this would be perfect for next Sabbath’s message.’ So, the rabbi went home and made some notes with the help of the rebbetzin. Upon the arrival of the next Sabbath, the rabbi went up to the Bema and began his discourse. God has given us all the spirit of curiosity, began the rebbe, We are curious about new things, new situations, our nature is to be inquisitive, so we venture off-course a bit to explore new terrains. What lies behind closed doors you might ask? Sometimes, the doors are open just a bit to invite you to ‘push it open and take a look inside.’ Life is full of new experiences and opportunities that we might wish to tackle. Some of them might be just “too hot” to handle. We might not be prepared just yet. Other tasks may be, in our opinion, “too cold” “too bland” or just “too boring” for us to handle, or accept. However, if there is a job that needs to be done, a “mitzvah” needing to be performed, a person in need of your help, no matter how “bland” or “how boring” it may seem to you, God has put you there for a reason. Never think that a “mitzvah” is beneath your dignity, God will bless and reward many “humble floor sweepers.” Then there are the situations and “mitzvoth” that seem “just right” right up your alley you may think. “This is just what I was hoping for.” Or “expecting” or “waiting for.” Then there is “sit down” time, “down time” a time for a rest, a personal “shabos” time. You may rest in an easy chair, or take a long snooze in a “b.b.b.” (baby-bear bed). Many will take their long-awaited summer vacation, some will just be satisfied with a weekend Sabbath rest. Some will take a yearlong “sabbatical” that is if it can be afforded. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. He worked and then rested. We should take his example. There is a time for work, to do mitzvoth (good deeds), and a time for rest. There is a time and a season for everything and everything has its time and its season. There is a time and a season to repent of wrong doing, a time for teshuvah, to get right with God, that time is now. There is a time, a place, a season just right for you. Take advantage of it, because there is no promise of tomorrow. As the Prophet Isaiah said; “Seek the L-RD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near!” (55:6) By rabbi Jacob Ben Avraham PIC: Meditation and walking along the long path, life is like that too! (Brazoria County nature trail)
  10. PARASHA: “Emor” (say..) LEVITICUS 21:1-24:23…………….EZEKIEL 44:15-31……………..LUKE 5:1-6:49 …..In this parashah study we see more details on the sanctity, Holiness, and comportment of priests. When we read in chapter 21, we read that YHVH is very particular and pays much attention to the physical. We might think that God only looks upon the heart, but thousands of years ago, the physical appearance was important, some with any kind of imperfection; like a broken foot, blind in one eye, hunchback, dwarf…It doesn’t say that they could not serve in the tabernacle or later on, the temple, but they couldn’t offer sacrifices. …..We must remember that the priest was a kind of mediator between the people and YHVH, Today, YESHUA the Messiah is our mediator, between us and the Father, and Yeshua was/IS without sin, perfect in all ways, both inside and outside. We may not know what he looked like physically, but we can know that he didn’t have any physical deformities, being God in the flesh. …..We also see regulations on marriage, touching dead things, etc…the priest was in a class of his own. The priest was “God’s man” his “representative” on earth, so, as the priests had a higher calling, their expectations were much higher than the regular “Joe Israelite” There is a repeated phrase: “You shall not profane my Holy Name, I am YHVH (Yod Hey Vav Hey) “ when we act contrary to His commandments, expectations as “b’nei Elohim” (children of God) we ARE profaning HIS Holy name, be it in words, or deeds. If the Israelites were observed by God through a looking glass, then the priests were observed by God through a microscope! If you get my drift! How are WE seen by our HOLY, SINLESS, GOD? Our standards are based on the Torah of Adonai. HIS standards should be OURS as well, yet we always come up lacking, because of our inborn sin nature. …..Thank Adonai for YESHUA, who bridged the gap caused by sin, to be our “high priest” before a Holy God, although our sin in dark and ugly, and we should see ourselves as such, because it is reality, through YESHUA, Our Heavenly Father sees us as “white as snow” or “white a wool” and now, under the new covenant, we are all “high priests” in his eyes, should not our expectations be as a “higher calling” just like the priests of old? …..Chap 23: “HaMoedim of YHVH” (The feasts of the LORD). Here the special days of worship and assembly are mentioned, the first being the “Sabbath Day” it is a “day of Rest” a time of worship and coming together to worship Adonai and learn from HIS Word through His teachers, pastors, rabbis, evangelists, etc. The Sabbath day was NEVER changed to Sunday. Not that it was bad to come together on Sundays, any day of the week is a good time to come together. It just became customary for the believers in the first century to come together on the “first day of the week” like it is mentioned in Acts, to fellowship and eat together, but the believers ALWAYS considered Saturday, the Sabbath, the special and the official appointed day for rest, worship, and Bible study. For me, the sabbath and Sunday are both special days to worship God and study his word with other believers. …..The Passover and days of unleavened bread, symbolize Messiah Yeshua in our lives as the “Lamb of God” who took away the sin of the world, and who is also, the “Bread of Life”, who was “roasted in the fires of judgment for our sins, whose blood was shed for our sins, once and for ever. The “matzah” bread without leaven symbolizes Yeshua as the Bread of Life, without sin (leaven). And his blood is symbolized by the wine. …..The Feast of First Fruits and Shavuot; counting 50 days from the time of Passover, to celebrate the blessing of a good and fruitful harvest of grains, (wheat and barley, the main crops). On Shavuot or “Pentecost” two leavened loaves of bread were made, each weighed about 5 pounds, were “waved” by the priest before the LORD in a special ceremony. These loaves symbolize the blessings of YHVH, they could also represent Israel and the Nations, “2” is the number of “unity” and “division” we are all “united” to YHVH by Messiah Yeshua, and have been “divided” or “separated” from the lost world of sin, YET, we still have our sin nature, noted by the leaven in the loaves of bread. It was also on “Shavuot” that the Torah was given on Mt. Sinai …..The Feast of Trumpets, “Yom Teruah” symbolizes the start of the “days of Awe” when we reflect on our own relationship with Adonai. How do we measure up to God’s standards? Lacking? Fall short? I would say YES. 10 days later, comes “Yom Kippur” the day of “covering” or “Atonement” which was when the high priest came into the Holy of Holies, once a year, to commune with Adonai. This day points to Calvary, when Yeshua’s blood “atoned” for our sins, past, present, and future. It is a day of fasting, repentance, and soul searching. It is a day when we are accustomed to dress in white. …..Feast of Tabernacles, or “Sukkot” is a joyous festival, when the “harvest” is in, kind of like “Thanksgiving” in the US of A. The time when God came to earth in human form as Yeshua, born in Beit Lechem, being raised learning carpentry and Torah, a teacher of Torah, healer of diseases, a raiser of the dead, and a sacrifice for our sins. This festivity was for 7 days, “7” the perfect number, and a special “8th” day “Hoshana Raba” when the customary reading of the Torah starts over again from Genesis. It also symbolizes when the Israelites lived in tents, “temporary dwellings” as our bodies are “temporary dwellings” for our souls and for the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. …..Chaper 24: The Menorah, the lamps were lit from dusk to morning, the menorah was made of gold, which symbolizes perfection. The flame/light symbolizing Yeshua who is the “Light of the World” and the “all-consuming fire” and also, all believers are the “lights of the world” reflecting the SON light! “Table of Shewbread” which was in the Holy place across from the Menorah. Has 12 loaves of unleavened bread, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, again, Yeshua the “Bread of Life” Hey, maybe that was where the idea of the “bagel” came from, bread with a hole in middle, who knows! Maybe! This bread was for Aaron and his sons. EZEKIEL 44:15-31 …..In this prophetic book, the Prophets sees into the future, the future priests of the third temple, (to be built in the near future) the descendants of “Zadok” will be the priests in the millennium, the same high standards are for these priests as well. It also states the job of the priest: “And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean” This should also be the goal of every Torah teacher, rabbi, minister, pastor, etc.. to teach the WHOLE TORAH in their place of worship and study, so that their sheep might follow their shepherd whole heartedly and secure. LUKE 5:1-6:49 …..Yeshua speaks to the people, from a boat. After teaching, He and Kefa go out a ways and the result is a boat-load of fish. Kefa hears, yet protests, “We fished all night and caught nothing” yet still obeys and “reaps the harvest” many fish, the take home to sell and eat. …..With simple obedience through faith, we can all reap the blessings that YHVH has instore for us. A little bit of faith, trust, and obedience, will bring in a big catch. Now, Kefa is promoted to be a “fisher-of-MEN” rescuing men’s souls from the grasp of haSatan, and bringing them into the Kingdom. Are you a fisher of men (and women) or are you still content with the small “fishy” things of life? You decide! Shabbat Shalom…Rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: One night of Hanukkah, many years ago
  11. PARASHA: “Achrei Mot” (after the death) and “K’doshim” (holy ones) LEV 16:1-20:27 Amos 9:7-15; Luke 2:1-52 Entering into a KADOSH (Holy) Relationship with Adonai …..This Parasha speaks of the solemn Moed (appointed day) of Yom Kippur. The “Day of Redemption” also known as the “day of Coverings” (Yom HaKipurim). It was the only day of the year when the High Priest could enter into the “Most Holy Place” (K’dosh haK’doshim) the “Holy of Holies”. This is where the “Aron HaKodesh” (Ark of the Covenant) was kept and where the “Shekinah” (Glory of YHVH) hovered over the “Kaporet” (the covering of the Ark of the Covenant, looking down upon the Mercy Seat. ….The Parasha starts out with; “”Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the Ark, lest he die” Was this perhaps the reason why Nadab and Abihu died? Because the went into the Holy of Holies with their own fire? That is another thought. The high priest had to put on a special tunic, all white, of fine linen. Thus today it is customary during Yom Kippur to wear all white, symbolic of how YHVH views us through Yeshua our Messiah, but ONLY through Yeshua, can we be viewed as “Holy unto the LORD” …..The High Priest had to sacrifice a bull and a ram for the sin and burnt offering. The bull could signify the “strength” of G-d, representing also Aaron and his family. and the ram, the reminder of the ram sacrificed instead of Isaac on “Mt. Moriah”. The ram symbolizes YESHUA who took our place on the cross of “Mt. Calvary” …..Two goats were also present; one served as a “scape goat” and the other the “sacrificial goat”. We see Yeshua symbolized in both goats. One was sacrificed as a sin offering, symbolizing Yeshua as our “sacrifice of sin” because we are sinners. The other goat, carried symbolically our sins, and was sent off into the desert, (Azazel) as “Yeshua took our sins away from us”, and as far as the East is from the West, so our sins will be separated from us. …..Aaron then took a censor of hot coals from the brazen altar, and he took incense and put the incense on the hot coals, then, with the smoking incense, he went into the Holy of Holies and put blood on the Mercy Seat. We see our Messiah Yeshua in all of this. To have fellowship with our creator, we need to start at the cross, where our sins were judged. This is the brazen altar. The incense symbolizes our prayers that go up before our Heavenly Father, through our prayers, we have fellowship with HIM. The blood that is sprinkled on the mercy seat symbolizes the blood of Messiah, that was shed for all of our sins. Under the mercy seat are the commandments that were given on Sinai. These were broken by our rebellion, and the blood of Messiah “covers” the sins of us all, BUT, more than that, they have been REMOVED, once and for ever. …..Chapter 17 speaks on the “HaDam Kodesh” The sanctity of blood. Since blood symbolizes life, then, YHVH has prohibited the drinking of blood. One of the reasons that carnivorous animals are not kosher to eat is because they eat flesh, and flesh contains blood. “You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood” 17:14 …..Chapter 18 deals with sexual sins, there is no need to go over them since they are self-explanatory, much is common sense, yet in today’s societies, there is a perverse sexual expression, and philosophy of “if it feels good, do it” this is a lie straight from the pit of hell, straight from HaSatan! Sex should be expressed in the bond of matrimony and in this sense, it is entirely holy and sacred, because there is a commitment between the husband and wife, which (should) last a lifetime. And this is where the enemy attacks, Satan hates families, that’s a fact. …..chapter 19 deals with quite a variety of commandments; “You shall not profane the name of the LORD thy YHVH; You shall love thy neighbor as thyself, I AM YHVH”. All of the 613 commandments of HaShem have to do with honoring YHVH and our relationship with our fellow man. When we honor and love the LORD with all of our heart, we are honoring and not profaning the Name YHVH, and when we honor and treat our fellow man well, and try to establish a good relationship with him or her, we are, in a matter of sense, keeping the whole Torah, (in a general sense). When we are a bad witness before our fellow man, when we are an embarrassment because our sins are brought into the light, then, we are profaning the name of YHVH. …..”you shall not curse the deaf nor put a stumbling block before the blind” (19:14) When one talks about another in a negative sense or spreading an “untruth” the “other” cannot hear what is being said, it is as if that person is “deaf”. When we misrepresent the Truth of God, teach or spread false teaching whether on purpose or by error, we are in a way a “stumbling block” before someone that does not know Yeshua “The blind” (spiritually). “You shall not sow your field with mixed seed” ( 19:19) because each plant takes away from the soil nutrients, planting a mixture of crops will very soon deplete the soil of all of its nutrients, making the soil useless. “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor TATTOO any marks on you I AM YHVH! That is quite a statement. I am of the opinion that if God wanted us to have tattoos on our bodies, we would have been born with them. Why can’t people be happy with the bodies God gave them? Why do they have to alter them with drawings and markings? But such was the custom of the pagan cultures like the Canaanites, Moabites, etc, and it continues today. However, the blood of Yeshua covers, cleanses, forgives ALL sin, even the sin of tattooing, yet tattooing is one sin that will leave its mark forever! (unless it is somehow removed) …..”uncovering the nakedness of ….” Is another way of saying, “having sex” chapter 20 takes up that topic again along with other topics. Adultery, under Torah command, resulted in the death penalty, If this were effective today, how many couples would be true to each other, really? Perhaps many more than we imagine. It seems like sexuality is a serious issue with our creator. If it is serious with Him, it should be with us as well. When we follow the Torah of Adonai, and put his commandments into practice with all of our heart, we are consecrating ourselves to Him, as “Kedoshim and Tzadikim” (holy and righteous ones) however always remember, that “SAVING” k’doshim and tzadikim comes ONLY through FAITH IN YESHUA! It is our faith in HIM that makes us Holy and Righteous, and this relationships leads us to Holy and Righteous works, which are obedience to his mitzvoth (commandments) AMOS 9:7-15 …..Amos Ha Navi (Amos the Prophet) speaks through the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) saying that Yes, Adonai will seek out and punish Israel for their sins, and will search out the kingdoms of the earth where they are at, many will and have been destroyed because of their rebellion, HOWEVER, not all, there is always a remnant which is faithful, and true to the God of creation. …..Amos looks into the future, and sees that Israel, and all of God’s children, both born as Israelis, and born in the Gentile nations will come together as ONE, (echad), …”Behold, the day is coming says YHVH…” we look into the future millennium and see “paradise restored” and real and eternal peace, and Yeshua will be on the throne as KING and LORD of all the world, what a time that will be for ALL of us. LUKE 2:1-52 …..Do we forward to the future return of Yeshua? In this chapter, Simeon and Anna looked forward and greatly rejoiced to see Mashiach, even as a baby. He was presented at the Temple and was circumcised, Simeon and Anna recognized him as Mashiach, even before he grew up and performed miracles. Simeon said ; “My eyes have seen YESHUAH! Who is a LIGHT (HaOr) to bring revelation to the Gentiles. It is God’s perfect will that Yeshua be revealed to ALL PEOPLES, both those of Israel and those outside of Israel, so that HIS BODY might be complete, a “Kehilah Kadosh, Kol HaAm” (A holy congregation of all people) Shabbat Shalom………….Rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: The Sabbath lights lit, the day of Rest has begun
  12. It was probably back in 1961 or 62, well anyway, back in "those ancient years" was when I was just a small kid, who played in my back yard in a sandbox, or on my swing set. Some times "Herman" the crow would come "cawing" and would sit on top of the swing set and "caw" at me, it was our back yard neighbor's pet. When it came time to cut the grass, dad would take out his "toro" lawn mower, pull the cord and it would start. I would run up to dad and follow him along, across the yard which was on a hill. I would pull out the blades of grass that hid inside the folds of his jeans. After mowing, came the raking of the grass cuttings, then he would bundle them up in a bag and we would put them in the wheel barrel, down the street we would go, daddy and me, past Mr. Canzianni's house, he smoked smelly cigars, we would enter the woods and follow a path then dump the grass cuttings in special place, then return home again. Our Heavenly Father is busy doing many things for the Kingdom, Are we following HIM, or do we expect HIM to follow us. No matter what the job is, if it is going up hill or down, in winter or in summer, If He is busy with Kingdom business, THEN, if WE are HIS kids, let's follow HIM, where ever HE goes, what EVER he does, we might learn a thing or two, PIC: Morning sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico, near Surfside, TX, summer camping trip, Let the "SON" shine on YOU!
  13. PARASHIOT: “Tazriah” (she bears seed) and “Metsora” (infected ones). Lev 12:1-13:59......................................... Lev 14:1-15:33 Prophets:....... 2 Kings 4:42-5:19..... Brit HaDasha:..... Luke 17:11-17 …..This week we have a double Torah portion; “Tazriah” which talks about when a woman gives childbirth, and “Metsora” which talks about “Tzara-at” which most Bibles interpret as “leprosy” but in actuality, the word “Tzara-at” covers ALL skin afflictions and diseases, including the dreaded disease called leprosy, medically known as “Hanson’s disease. Go to google “images” and see it, but be sure you don’t eat anything before hand, it is quite horrible. …..Leviticus Chapter 12 covers childbirth, and YHVH deems “unclean” a woman after giving birth, and she has to stay put in her tent, 7 days plus 33 days. All together, “40” days, “40” is the number for testings’ and trials. Why, we might wonder, should a woman be rendered “Tamei” or “Unclean” because of giving birth? Only YHVH has the pure and true answer. It isn’t that she has sinned by giving birth, on the contrary, she has given life! Some rabbinical midrashim (commentaries) state that there is both “death” and “life” during childhood. “Life” is the new baby, yet “death” because the woman loses fluids (blood) which symbolizes life. Not that the woman actually dies, but the “lost blood” however much or little, still symbolizes life. …..For a female child, the purification time is longer, 2 weeks plus 66 days, altogther, “80” days, the number “8” is the number of “new beginning” If we remember when Yeshua was born, Miryam and Yosef brought two turtle doves to be sacrificed after she went through her ritual cleansing, Yosef brought Yeshua to be circumcised on the 8th day. …..Chapter 13 deals with two kinds of “Tzara-at” skin diseases (all kinds, both major and minor) and “mold & mildew on clothing. In ancient times, the person with a skin disease had to be isolated outside the camp until he or she got better, and was “healed” there were probably some ointments available then, probaby primitive, the priests were not doctors, but acted as “judges” who would “judge” the person “healed” if the disease was temporary, today we have many kinds of skin ailments, Psoraisis, Escema, simple rashes caused by allergies, scabies, ringworm, etc, were all based under the word “tzara-at” when the person was well and the disease was no more, the person would offer a sacrifice and return to the camp. Here again, we see a form of “death” (cast out, rejected) and “rebirth” entering into the body of Israel once again after healing. …..Clothing also had to be checked, God knew about the dangers of mold and mildew long before man found out. People had to carefully check the fabric of their clothing, the sewing together of the yard was called “woofs” and “warps” and if there was a red or green discoloration, it was “mold and mildew” (also called “tsara-at”) …..A person’s house could also be affected with “tsara-at” with mold and mildew, if it was, the walls had to be scraped and the affected stones removed and replaced. …..How does this affect us spiritually? There is a “spiritual leprosy” that is rebellion against YHVH, living in contrary to His Word, doing what is “right in our own eyes” disregarding the commandments as if they were “only for the past” claiming that “Now we are under grace” and not guided by the Torah. Grace and Torah always co-existed, and they still do! Abraham was saved by grace, and this was before the written Torah. Even though many commandments can not be followed today, there are still many that CAN BE followed, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater! …..If we were to analyize our spiritual lives and maturity honestly, how many of us would have to cry out “Tamei” (unclean) and go run and hide? Yet there is forgiveness and a new beginning in our Messiah Yeshua, who paid our sin price and penalty on Calvary’s cross once and for ever. We can “come in the camp again” when we confess of sins before a Holy God, and accept His forgiveness, and accept his inner “healing”. …..Some rabbinical commentaries claim that “tzara-at” came upon people’s skin, clothing, and houses because of ‘Leshon Hara” (evil tongue) because of spreading lies, slander, gossip, backbiting, backstabbing, etc. Take in account “Miriam” who was struck with “Tzara-at” when she spoke against Moshe! Yet Moshe interceeded on her behalf, and she was healed. The same way Yeshua heals us when he goes on our behalf before the Father. …..We should be careful when speaking and only speak positive things about others, if another is in error, go to that person personally and confront the person in love, not talk about what he or she is doing wrong with others. No wonder we have only ONE mouth, yet two EARS. Listen carefully, yet speak little. 2 KINGS 4:42-5:19 …..We read about “Naaman” the Syrian who was healed of his Tzara-at, whatever kind he had, He was healed, not because of anything he could pay Elisha, but what he did in OBEDIENCE and FAITH. He went and bathed in the River Jordan, when down 7 times, again, “7” is YHVH’s perfect number, it kind of symbolizes baptism in a way. When we came up the seventh time, he was healed of his disease. …..We can became clean inside when we obey God’s Word, and accept Yeshua as Savior and LORD, Yeshua is the “Living Water” and when we “bathe in Him” we become clean, our “tamei” becomes “tahor” LUKE 17:11-17 …Not the official Parasha reading, but this deals also with the healing of 10 who suffered with some sort of skin ailment, which made them “tamei” and “outcasts”. Yeshua healed them all, only for the asking, YET only ONE returned to say “thanks”. Do we take our Salvation for granted? Do we think we deserve it? Remember that only through the grace of YHVH does he allow us into HIS family. Do we really live like “B’nei Malach?” (children of the King) or….do we succume to the deceiver and lair of all times? Do we praise and thank Him for so great a gift such as YESHUAH (Salvation) ? do we thank and praise YESHUA for YESHUAH? Something to think about …………..Shabbat Shalom………………rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: Sea of Galilee, from a distant mountain park site, July/2015
  14. 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
  15. 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