Birth of Y’shua (Jesus) …

When was Y’shua REALLY born?

Most scholars have now concluded that Y’shua (Jesus) was NOT born on December 25th. Even so the “church” continues to celebrate it then – no matter what. So when WAS He born? It is a little known fact but one that can easily be found right in the Bible.

1. We can start with Zachariah the priest. It was his lot that was picked to burn incense in the Holy of Holies when the angel Gabriel appeared to him, informing him of the coming birth of his son and that he was to name him John. (Luke 1:8-13) We know what time of year he was there. We learn from the Book that his son, Yochanan the Immercer (John the Baptist,) was six months older than Y’shua. (Luke 1:26– 33) So when was John (Yochanan) born? Zachariah was a priest, a Levite of the course of Abijah – the eighth course. (Luke !:5) I Chronicles chapter 24, tells us about the courses or groups into which King David had divided the priests. Each course served in the Temple for one week in the beginning of the year, (Ex 12 says the beginning of the year is at Pesach in the Spring) one week in the last half of the year, and all priests served for one week during each of the three Pilgrimage Festivals, which are: Pesach, (Passover) Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) as shown in Lev. 23 . He would have served the 10th week. (He would have served the eighth week, but we need to add the two weeks for Pesach and Shavuot, making it the 10th week) It can be determined that he served in June/July. Counting for the two weeks of separation, (Lev) John would have been born at Pesach (Passover) in March or April. Y’shua, being six months younger, would have been conceived on Chanukah (November or December), and counting the nine months of pregnancy, been born in September or October. Remember, the Jewish calendar counts the months by the moon, each new month beginning on the new moon, whereas the Gregorian (Catholic) calendar month is calculated by the sun. It can be determined that Y’shua was born on the first day of Sukkot in the Fall. Sukkot is called “the season of our joy” and all are commanded to be joyful! Why not!? The Saviour of all mankind was born and the world needs to rejoice at that! Since Sukkot is an eight day celebration – it would be natural to assume that He was circumcised on the eighth day. A must for all Jewish males who kept G-d’s law.

2. The only time the sheep were kept out in the fields in Beit Lechem, would have been at Sukkot. They were kept there in readiness for the sacrifice of Simhat Torah at the conclusion of Sukkot. Angels were said to proclaim, “Glory to God in the heavens and on the earth peace and good will toward the earth.” Sound familiar? This is recorded in the Talmud. (Hallel Five) Incidentally, all sheep raised for sacrifice at the Temple had to be raised within five miles of the Temple. Migdal Eder (Tower of the Flock) was in Beit LeChem. The shepherds there were not unlearned men, they were Levitical priests who would have known about the Messiah being born there. They would have heard this proclamation every year! But this time it was said by a host of angels. No wonder they readily accepted the angelic message. He only comes where He is expected ….

3. Then there is King Herod. We know that “wise men” from the “east” came to him in Jerusalem, asking about the birth of the new King. The “wise men” were Jewish scholars who came from Babylon. Babylon is always referred to as “the east”. Remember when Daniel and many others were exiled to Babylon when Israel was conquered by the Babylonians? When the Jews were allowed to return to Israel, most chose to stay in Babylon, where they had jobs, families, houses and lands and had grown very comfortable. Why would they give it all up to go back to desolate Israel and start over? The “wise men” were their descendents. Who but a Jew would know the Jewish Scriptures and know enough to look for the Jewish Messiah coming out of Bethlehem? Another thing – we don’t know how many there were and certainly not their names. Some guess three because there were three gifts, but my guess is there were many more. Why travel all that long way unless you were in a larger, safer group? At any rate, they came and inquired of King Herod and you know the rest of the story. In those days a child was counted to be one year old at birth and so Herod really commanded all baby boys in Bethlehem one year and under be killed. History tells us that Herod died after a transgression against the Jews. Josephus, the Jewish historian, records the death of Herod around September, of 4 BCE (B.C.) So we are still in the right time frame. Put all that together and you have to know that Y’shua was born on the first day of Sukkot!

Whenever He was born, it wasn’t in December. We can chose not to believe a lie and celebrate His birth at Sukkot. We can keep the day focused on Him and not all this crass commercialism that we see in December. However, let’s be patient and kind to those still blinded to the truth and let the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) do His work. One day when Messiah comes, He will bring us all truth! And I think ALL of us will be surprised!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

How to use this site:

Welcome to “Sharaka Shares”. Notice the list of entries on the right.
“Archives” and “Categories”. Click on the one you wish to see.

I suggest you choose the category “Chanukah” and you will see a short except from each of the 11 articles. To read the whole article, click on the title and it will come up.

I hope you will enjoy this website and use it for your prayerful consideration. Don’t take everything I say as absolute truth. Check it out with your Bible and ask G-d to speak to your heart about it. Only He has absolute truth on anything. We humans just keep searching for it and doing the best we can with what we’ve got!

Happy Chanukah !
Shalom, Sharaka

Migdal Eder

The Watchtower of the Flock

Many of you celebrate the birth of Christ at “Christmas”. Literally “Christ Mass“. Most scholars today agree that He was NOT born in the winter, but in mid-Autumn. Most Messianics believe that He was born on the first day of Sukkot. (Sept – Oct) Our family celebrates His birth at that time. We believe He was born in a sukkah (temporary dwelling, hut or stable). We can celebrate His birth without all the trappings of Saturnalia (the ancient Roman celebration of their god by bringing in evergreen trees, holly, mistletoe and other greenery, feasting, drinking, the giving of gifts and time off work to party – all happening on December 25th). At Sukkot we can focus on Y’shua and the real meaning of His birth without all these distractions and the taint of pagan Saturnalia. But that’s another article!

Scripture tells us that Y’shua was born in Bethlehem (Beit l’chem – or house of bread). He lived there only a short time. His family soon went to Egypt and then returned to their hometown of Nazareth, where He was raised. When He started His ministry, He left home, and moved to Kfar Nahum (Capernaum).

So what was Bethlehem all about?

Scripture tells us that the Messiah, G-d’s anointed One, would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem, the town of His ancestor, King David. Scripture also says the lambs for sacrifice must not have any blemishes. With that in mind, Rabbinical law said that all Passover sacrifices (sheep/lambs) must be raised within five miles of Jerusalem, which Bethlehem is. A group of Levites were appointed to raise these sheep just outside of Bethlehem near Migdal Eder. They were the shepherds to whom the angels appeared. They were not lowly, uneducated men. They were Torah-trained Levites. They should have made the connection to the Messiah, the Lamb of G-d. Perhaps some did.

A watchtower was built to aid the shepherds in watching for predators, human or animal. These watchtowers were common all over the land. They were also found in vineyards for the same reason. The watchtowers were built of stones and had a covered platform on top where a guard could be posted.

The watchtower of Bethlehem was called Migdal Eder – Watchtower of the Flock. Isn’t it wonderful to know how very accurate our G-d is and that He caused Miriam and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem so Y’shua could be born as predicted and within the limits of the sacrificial lambs? Y’shua is our Passover Lamb and had He NOT been born there, He would not have been eligible as a sacrifice. Every letter of the Law was followed though out His whole life.

G-d thinks of everything and you can be sure He thinks of everything in your life. There are no coincidences. G-d has a reason and a purpose for everything that happens. We can trust Him to take care of us in all situations.

Think of Noah’s ark. It was dimly lit; the inhabitants were most likely sea-sick many times and it must have smelled pretty bad. As bad as it must have been, G-d preserved their lives and we are here because of them and their faith. For Noah and his family, it must have been a terrible year and yet they were the only ones that made it through alive.

Let’s take heart, no matter how bad it gets, G-d has a plan. Let’s trust in Him and keep His commandments. The Word says if we love Him, we will. And it will be worth it all!

See you next time!
Shabbat Shalom,
Sharaka
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The Ketubah – An Official Marriage Document

The Ketubah – An Official Marriage Document
By the late Rev. Polly Perkins

The ketubah is the official Jewish marriage certificate. The word means, literally, “written”. The origin of the ketubah is quite ancient, going back to Biblical times. The oldest existing copy is written on papyrus and dates back to the 5th century, BC.

A Jewish bridegroom at the time of Y’shua (Jesus) as well as today, would have a Ketubah drawn up and read at the marriage ceremony. This document becomes the property of the bride at the time of the wedding. Included in it would be the groom’s obligations to work for and maintain his wife as well as to lovingly care for and honor her. The ketubah was a legal document that guaranteed her care and provision in case of divorce or widowhood.”

My friend, Polly, a well known speaker, author and Messianic teacher, wrote this in her book, “Christ the Bridegroom and Jewish Wedding Customs”. Copyright 1989.

I see that this is a great idea – too bad we in today’s world don’t have this custom! If I were a young bride starting out today, I would certainly choose a Jewish wedding, complete with a Ketubah, and the covenant-making wine ceremony. Wouldn’t you? If you had a Ketubah, what would you want it to say?

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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ANTI-SEMITISM AND THE CHURCH

By Randy Felton

This lesson was prepared by the Randy Felton for use by him and his students in lecture classes. Randy simplifies what the scholars say, and writes simply and easily. This lesson was included in a book called The Jewish Roots of Christianity by Rev. Felton

The first century contained a Judaism with many sects. Today is not much different. There may be different names but sects still exist and operate. During the first century, there were five primary groups.

PHARISEES – Ruling sect, clung steadfast to tradition

SADDUCEES – They drew their inspiration primarily from Temple worship

ESSENES – They withdrew to the wilderness to await the Messiah. Qumran is believed by many to be one of their communities.

NAZARENES – Also known as “Followers of the Way” or “The Way.” Led by Paul after Jesus ascension.

ZEALOTS – Nationalists seeking to free Israel from Roman control
The Zealots ceased to be around the years 66-70 A.D. This was the group that Judas Iscariot belonged to and that met it’s end when the first Jewish revolt was put down. This is the time the Temple was destroyed and has yet to be rebuilt. The Jewish Revolt also led to the end of the Sadducees… no Temple to worship at, and the Essenes also disappeared at this time. This left, primarily, the Pharisees and the Nazarenes.

The church began within Judaism as an all Jewish sect. Very few Gentiles converted but with the sending forth of Peter and Paul, this began to change rapidly. After the destruction of the Temple there was a great dispersion. The Pharisees had basically rejected “The Way” and the Gospel was sent to the Gentiles. Romans, chapter eleven explains how the Gentile was grafted into the roots of Judaism. During these trying times, Jews often hid Christians from persecution. The ties were very close and followers of “The Way” were seen as family.

A second Jewish revolt occurred during the years 132 to 135 A.D. This is also known as the Bar Kokaba Revolt led by the man of the same name. Bar Kokaba proclaimed himself to be the Messiah and shortly thereafter, Rabbi Akida confirmed his claim, thus adding validity to the revolt. This left Jewish Christians with a dilemma; join the revolt and deny Jesus as Messiah or withhold support and be seen as traitors by the brethren. They chose to stay out of the revolt. This caused a breach within the two communities and further separated the Christians from the Jews. The hostilities that developed were the beginning of Anti-Judaism which is still with us. This separation partly aided in the outreach to the Gentile nations but caused a very wide chasm between the church and it’s roots.
The Church begins to define itself apart from Judaism beginning about 160 A.D., the time of Justin Martyr. The Church began to turn arrogant and, during the second, third and fourth centuries, Greek thought swept into the Church like a flood. A whole series of events led to the de- Judaising of the Church. Unfortunately, Christian hostility toward Judaism also developed hostility toward the Jews. There were scattered occurrences of Jews and Christians shielding one another from persecution, but it was the exception and not the rule.

Hostilities and persecutions grew and the Jews rapidly became the minority wherever they were. In 1879 the term Anti-Semitism was coined by Wilheim Marr. Marr was a German political agitator describing Jews as a different “race.” This was the first recorded time this concept was expressed. Anti-Semitism is a 19th-20th century phenomenon. The hostility from ancient times is best described as Anti-Judaism. What seems to be Anti-Jewish in scripture is an “Intra-Family” device used to win Jews by Jews. In the second century, it became Anti-Jewish to win Gentiles by Gentiles. In the first place, we have Jews against Jews; in the second, we have Gentiles against Jews. The loss of Jerusalem was seen as evidence of God’s rejection of the Jew. The early church fathers saw the suffering of the Jewish people as directly related to their “sin” of rejecting Jesus as Messiah. In the fourth century, the Church began to read the scripture designating all blessings to the Church and all curses to the Jews.
After the second Jewish Revolt, Judaism lost it’s status as a legal religion in Rome. Jews were subsequently banned from Jerusalem. It was later, in the fourth century that Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Jews lost many rights with this edict. Jews were no longer permitted to dwell in Jerusalem and by 339 A.D., it was considered a criminal offense to convert to Judaism. Later, in 380 A.D., the bishop of Milan caused the burning of a Synagogue and referred to it as “an act pleasing to God.” In their zealousness to keep Gentiles from being drawn into Jewish worship and law, early Church fathers began to attack Jews and Judaism from their pulpits and in their writings.

To deal with Old Testament scriptures, New Testament thought was read “into” rather than “out of” the Biblical text. This rendered the Tanach little more than allegory. As Christians began to “spiritualize” the scriptures, they tended to treat unconverted Jews with more hostility.

During the Middle Ages, the Jews created separate lives due to the community, i.e. dress, habits, social restrictions, etc. The Church viewed them as useful primarily as money lenders. The scriptures forbade lending with usuary, Christians did not consider this applicable to the Jews. The Jews found this offensive, but were pressed into this service and later despised for the positions they held as a result. The Jews were also required to wear distinctive hats or sew on patches. Isolated from larger society, accusations were soon to follow. Jews were said to have a peculiar smell, not the “odor of sanctity.” They were said to be the sucklers of sows and called Christ killers. The Jews were accused of being “desecrators of the host,” they were presumed to secretly enter Churches to pierce the Holy Wafer and let the “real blood” of Jesus flow out. They were also accused of killing Christian infants and using their blood for their Passover wine. Jews were accused of poisoning the wells and causing the Black Plague which killed one-third of Europe’s population. . . All False.

In the year 1096 A.D., Pope Urban II called for the liberation of the Holy Land from the Muslims and the Crusades were born. On the way to wage war against the Infidels, many began to wonder why they should wait until they reached the Holy Land. They could rid the world of the Christ killers as they went. The Jews suffered greatly. Meanwhile, the rabble and ne’er- do-wells, who were unfit as soldiers, fulfilled their imaginary duty by falling on nearby Jewish villages. This was done all across Europe, killing and raping hapless Jews, leaving Synagogues burning in their wake. Just as at Massada, many Jews chose suicide rather than forced conversions. Death or conversion was the only choice given those caught. One form of trial to test the converted Jews was the “Trial by Water” or “Water Test.” After the suspect was bound he/she was cast into a body of water, either a lake, stream or pond. The liars were said to float, whereby they were executed. The truthful sank and promptly drowned…how convenient!

One of the first waves of Crusaders to arrive in the Holy Land began to search for the infidels. Upon approaching a village, they were met by a party of men, well dressed in flowing robes and armed for battle. The Crusaders fell upon them and killed them all with little resistance.

Upon entering the village, they learned from the women that they were Christians coming out to join with them. The only excuse offered was the question, What right do Christians have to wear turbans?
In the year 1099 A.D., the Crusaders besieged Jerusalem. During this time, the Crusaders herded the Jews into a central Synagogue and set it on fire. The soldiers formed a ring around the Synagogue holding their shields emblazoned with the Cross and singing hymns. Anyone who tried to escape was prodded back inside by the lances of the brave and noble knights. Can it be any wonder that the Jew finds it offensive when he sees a banner proclaiming a crusade coming to his city? Christians need to rethink some of their terms and their origins.

The next event of note was the European expulsion of Jews. England began to expel Jews in 1306, followed by Spain, Germany and Austria. Later, in 1492, the Inquisition began. This occurred the same year the “New World” was found by Christopher Columbus. Our home was being discovered while the European Jews were losing theirs! Thousands of Jews were tortured and burned at the stake. Finally, the Jews were ordered to convert to Christianity or leave Spain; more than 150,000 fled. They became wandering nomads, finally settling in North Africa and around the Mediterranean. Many converted openly, but secretly remained Jews and became known as Marranos.
In the year 1523, Martin Luther issued a tract, “That Jesus Was Born a Jew,” with high hopes of converting the Jews. They did not respond as desired and his attitude changed toward them. Twenty years later, in 1543, Luther was writing such tracts as “On Jews and Their Lies.” Luther called for Jews to be permanently driven out of the land.

In the later part of the nineteenth century, there were six million Jews in Czarist Russia, the largest Jewish population in the world. With the onslaught of vicious pogroms, thousands died and many more fled. Between 1880 and 1910, more than two million immigrated to America. The year 1894 saw the “Dreyfus Affair.” Alfred Dreyfus, a Jew serving in the French Military, was accused of giving secret documents to the Germans and was convicted for being a traitor. After being imprisoned, he was finally exonerated and drew the world’s attention to the problem of Anti- Semitism. A few years later there are again pogroms in Europe and Russia followed with World War II and the Nazis.

Could these things have been avoided if the Church remembered it’s Jewish roots? It is sad to think that we do not teach our history in our churches, rather it is taught in the Synagogue.

Potter’s Clay Ministries
417 NW 42nd Street
OKC, OK 73118

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Thoughts for Kids …

Blessings/Prayers and Scriptures for Children

It’s important to teach your children about G-d from the day they are born. I remember telling our firstborn son that “Jesus loves you” when he was still in the womb. (That was in my pre-Messianic days!)
Books are so important and you can never start too early reading to your children and getting them involved in your local library. If you can read – you can do anything! My four children were born within a 4 and a half year period, and I still made time to read to them and teach them about our heavenly Father. A two-year old can learn how to fold their hands at the table. Consistency counts!!!

Begin to treat your children like the young adults they will soon become and expect them to understand. As time goes on, they soon will. I don’t mean expect more of them than they can handle, but most people expect too little.

Here are some paraphrased teachings that they can understand:


    The Ten Most Important Instructions for Children:

(Exodus 20:1-17)

1. Worship only G-d
2. Don’t build anything to worship
3. Use G-d’s name respectfully.
4. Worship G-d on the Sabbath and don’t do other stuff.
5. Always treat your Mom and Dad well.
6. Don’t murder anybody.
7. When you get married, stay true to your wife.
8. Don’t take stuff that isn’t yours.
9. Don’t tell lies.
10. Don’t think about wanting other people’s stuff.

    Aaron’s Blessing

(Numbers 6:24-26)

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord look at you with joy and be good to you.
May the Lord smile at you and give you peace.

Proverbs 3:1-8

My son, don’t forget My teaching,
Keep My commandments in your heart,
for they will add many days to your life.
Don’t let Grace and Truth leave you,
Hang them around your neck and write them on your heart.
Then you will be honored by G-d and by man.
Trust in G-d with all your heart
And don’t try to figure things out on your own.
Ask Him about everything you do,
And He will help you walk a straight path.
Don’t think you’re so smart, but honor G-d
And keep away from evil.
Then you will be healthy and strong.

You can find other Scriptures for them and put them in your own words for the little ones. Soon they will want to learn to read and have their very own Bible. I still recommend the New King James Version…

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Stress Management

A lecturer was giving a lecture to his students on stress management. He raised a glass of water and asked the audience, “How heavy do you think this glass of water is?” The students’ answers ranged from 20g to 500gm.

“It does not matter on the absolute weight. It depends on how long you hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it is OK. If I hold it for an hour, I will have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you will have to call an ambulance.

It is the exact same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, we will not be able to carry on, the burden becoming increasingly heavier. What you have to do is to put the glass down, rest for a while before holding it up again.

We have to put down the burden periodically, so that we can be refreshed and are able to carry on.

So before you return home from work tonight, put the burden of work down. Don’t carry it back home. You can pick it up tomorrow.

Whatever burdens you are having now on your shoulders, let it down for a moment if you can.

Pick it up again later when you have rested.

Rest and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!

~Author Unknown~

A better way to handle stress, is to give it to the LORD! He tells us to lay our burdens at His feet and leave them there. That, sometimes, is the hardest thing to do. We need to keep trying!
Most of us bring our problems to Him and then when we leave, we pick them back up again.

In one sense, it is a sin to worry, because when we do, we are not trusting that He is able to deliver us, keep us, and do what is best for us. We MUST rely on the Lord to know what is best for us and to relax in His care and let Him do it….

PS Happy 57th Birthday, Baby Sis!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Oct 31st —– Part Three

Last of this Series …

The late 1800′s brought a boom in immigration from Europe, many being from Ireland. These Irish immigrants (predominatly Catholic) brought their long held tradition of Halloween with them. They found pumpkins more plentiful than turnips, and turned them into Jack-o-lanterns.

Those who celebrated Halloween pushed for it to be a recognized holiday, and when it finally showed up on the calendars it took off in popularity. In 1921 the first all-city Halloween celebration took place in Anoka, MN with New York and Los Angeles shortly following suite. By the mid-part of the twentieth century advertising marketers had caught on to the craze, and Halloween became a major money maker. The demand for costumes, candy, decorations, greeting cards and pumpkins gave it a niche in the business world to be taken advantage of.

To this day Halloween is celebrated voluntarily. The U.S. government does not recognize it. There is no national observance. It is not a paid holiday. It is kept alive through retail marketing, local school districts, city governments, and houses of worship. People just do it.

Since the 1960′s there has been a tremendous revival in the occult, satanism, witchcraft, New-Age groups and neo-paganism, all of which hold Halloween night in high regards. Satanic ritual abuse, animal sacrifices, arsons, poisoned candy, cruel tricks, graffiti, etc. all get attention around Halloween due to their increase. So then, how should the Christian respond? Traditionally there are three options:

(1.) TOLERANCE – Do nothing differently than an unbeliever would. dsecorating the house with images of the occult, witches, skeletons, etc. and dressing your children in costumes does not negatively affect your faith. You pass out candy to visitors, wish others a happy holiday, and enjoy the spookiness of the occasion. Even if you don’t care to celebrate it, you enjoy seeing children having fun. The images or history of the day mean nothing to you and you don’t believe there’s anything wrong with observing it.

(2.) ABSTINENCE
– Total rejection of anything associated with Halloween. Do nothing differently than on any other night. You find Halloween to be satanic or at least offensive. You believe it is spiritually wrong to celebrate it, and want others to know about its dark history. You see it as a poor Christian witness to be associated with such darkness.

(3.) COMPLIANCE
– You are uncomfortable with Halloween’s dark history, but question how something as simple and innocent as giving out or taking candy could be wrong. You recognize the difficulties of raising your children against the holiday while having to face public school carnivals or at the very least, any retail store. You accept Halloween as just a day, and make what you want of it. You avoid scary costumes, treat it as a fall festival, offer thanks to God for the year’s crops, and maybe even use it as an opportunity to share your faith.

Which one are you?

Aren’t you getting tired of having to defend your faith – especially from CHRISTIANS??? Can’t we just all realize that Hallowe’en and all the other man-made traditional holidays are not pleasing to the Lord and once and for all be done with them? After being Messianic for over 20 years, I think it’s time!!!

Did I ever tell you about the best Hallowe’en I ever had?
I was in Israel in October and November and there was never a clue that such a day existed! I wasn’t bombarded with pumpkins with faces or any other sign that America is so plagued with. What a beautiful day it was!

Have a great week-end.
See you next time!
Shabbat Shalom, Sharaka
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October 31st – more ….

Hallowe’en: The Dark Night of the Soul
The celebration of Hallowe’en holds a far greater mystery, a much darker side, than what would normally appear on the surface. Who better to explain its ancient customs and practices other than with the literary assistance of one formerly “enticed by the craft?”
· The name, by choice, will remain anonymous……

The history of the ancient Druids is shaded in mystery and originates thousands of years ago from the practices of the Babylonians. Although later history traces much of the customs through the early Brits and Gauls, the ancient religious’ practices remain somewhat of a mystery. The predominant forms of worship were derived from the elements of the seasons through the Solstice and Equinox, and the two predominant elements of nature, “fire” and “air.”

Interestingly, when the first pilgrims arrived on the shores of America, pagan festivals were forbidden.—It wasn’t customary to honor the Festival of the Dead nor the Feast of Saturnalia. The pilgrims followed a strict, unyielding adherence to their ancestral forms of worship, but they gave no opening to the ancient paganistic celebrations that were later introduced into Church society. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages, when the ancient Druidic and Celtic customs saw a revival in America through the celebration of Halloween. The Celtic immigrants from the British isles brought their folk customs and pagan superstitions with them, including Samhain the Festival of Death. This occurred simultaneously with a resurgence of witchcraft and Satanism in America.

Superstition helped to clothe the practice with astounding supernatural manifestations such as in the belief that on All Hallows’ Eve, witches flew threw the sky on brooms with black cats poised delicately on the broom-tip as lookouts to guide them through the night.

Eventually, the church, weakened by complacency, no longer fought against the practice of witchcraft but more or less tolerated its existence. And as remains to this day, the time near the Autumnal Equinox was by far the most important night of the year.

Thousands of years have come and gone, yet Hallowe’en still remains today as the official celebration of Summers’ end and beginning of the Fall festivals. Halloween marks the seasonal worship of the Autumnal Equinox, the setting of the Pleiades, and an alternative for the Jewish New Year (Rosh HaShanah) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) during the month of Tishri.

Ancient civilizations’ associated the seven stars of Pleiades (constellation of Taurus) with immortality of the soul and the star Alcyone representative of the sun-god, the center of the universe by which all things in the heaven revolved. The Pleiades held the future (through divination), death, endings (with the setting of the Pleiades celebrated in the fall; November/December), new birth and beginnings (the rising of the Pleiades celebrated in the spring;
March/June). A good example of the rising and setting of the Pleiades can be found directly in Scripture in Amos (5:8): “Seek him [seek the Creator - not the creation] that maketh the seven stars [the Pleiades] and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death [setting] into the morning [rising], and maketh the day dark with night….”
The future fortune of the village, through good or bad omens, came through the rising and setting of the stars of the Pleiades and the gods of the night. During the dark night of the soul, a great festival occurred near the Autumnal Equinox, an eerie counterpart to the modern-day Harvest Festival, where huge “bone fires” surrounded the villages illuminating the night sky with a bright, reddish orange glow—the familiar colors of the harvest. Bone fires originated far earlier than the celebration of Samhain, but were carried over into the Hallowe’en night of festivities later by the Druids and Celts. The element of “fire” acted as the altar of sacrifice and the blood of the sacrificial victims (both human and animal) fueled the inferno (similar to the High Priest sprinkling blood on the Ark of the Covenant during the Day of Atonement). The bone fires’ two-fold purpose was to both appease and drive away the bad spirits that wandered the earth during the dark night of the soul.

The sacrificial victims were led through the streets of the village by the priests who ceremonially offered them to the Lord of Death, Satan. From the death agonies of the “living” victim placed on the altar of sacrifice, the priests divined the future of the village from the way the soul departed the body. This custom originated in Babylon where the Babylonian priests’ prayed to the symbolic deities (Nimrod) to inquire (divine) the will of the gods:

O Great ones, gods of the night…O Pleiades.…” The victims were furiously consumed by the roaring flames, and in the morning, all that was left were the bones and ashes. Today without realizing it, people everywhere practice a similar ritual (hopefully, nix the sacrifice) during the Harvest Festival, not as “bone fires,” but as “bon fires.”

Another custom was the marking of the body with strange, ritualistic markings especially carved near the stomach area (if female). It was the ancient Druidic “TAU” symbol of fertility, death, reincarnation, and written with the letter “T” or the “tau cross,” an ancient symbol for Tammuz, the dying and rising divinity associated with fertility cults. This same shape can be found in the Hermetic use of the “ouroboros” representative of the “tree of life.” The primeval representation of the renewal of life processes within its own substance; i.e., the rebirth from its own ashes — both living forever — thus representing eternity. It also depends on the direction of the “T-cross” (i.e., towards the head or towards the feet).

In fertility cults, this symbol would appear over the womb area or near the heart. Today, some might wear it in the form of a cross on a chain which hangs near the heart.—Usually, the shape would be over the womb area (crux ansata – a symbol of life), and not as a perfect circle. Sometimes a point, or a comma, is used to form the shape of the “T” representative of the tongue of fire, placed for the symbol representing a spirit-being or messenger, to signify his (the spirit’s) more than human character. In alchemy the practical solution for the use of the ouroboros was a representation of the “dissolution of the body by fermentation; ie, death” (Berthelott).

Initially, the ancient priests carried a hollowed turnip with a lighted candle made with the fat of an animal or human. The symbol of the hollowed turnip carried the “Jock (or Jack) of the Lantern” whose likeness (image) was carved into the outer core of the turnip. The Jock (or Jack) was the guiding spirit of the lantern who dwelled in the light of the burning fat. Wearing a symbolic mask and dressed in a black, hooded robe and skins of sacrificed animals (sometimes a human body-part was also used as a token), the priests carried the Jock spirit on a dangling rope before them to guide the soul of its carrier through the darkness of night (replicated from a similar procession occurring during the Jewish festival of lights). This procession was of special significance when lighted on the eve of October 31st, to celebrate the ending of the seasons through the setting of the Pleiades. The Jock O’Lantern provided the light, the spirit-guide for the souls of the walking undead. Later, in America, pumpkins replaced turnips because they were harvested during the Fall, readily available, and easier to carve than turnips.

During the dark night of the soul, the hooded priests walked through the streets passing from house to house with a special demand of food, drink, or an added bonus, the virgin sons and daughters of the villagers to offer as sacrifice to the spirits of the night.

Sometimes the villagers would also dress in costume to hide (mask) their identity from the evil spirits especially in efforts to protect their children. In this way, the evil spirits were fooled into thinking the villagers to be evil spirits also and not harm them. The villagers created special amulets for good luck. The sweet taste of the “apple” became the favorite because it pleased the evil spirits and brought good luck to the villagers (bobbing of apples evolved from this belief). The ancient Druids’ believed that witches, demons, and spirits of the dead roamed the earth on the eve of November 1st. If the village willingly complied with their demands, the priests passed by, but if the village failed to produce something of value, the priests placed the “Jack O’Lantern” outside the door post of the house to be released as a curse upon the dwellers. If this be the case, the village is cursed and the spirits left to wander the streets to ravage homes and bring destruction upon its residence. This custom has been passed down to us in the form of “Trick or Treat.”

In today’s paper, there is quite an article about how the Europeans are “preaching against” “the American evil Hallowe’en”! They are encouraging their citizens to abstain from “this wicked American so-called holiday”. Shouldn’t the Believers be the ones to educate the world on evil – not another secular country? Let’s do our part!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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October 31st

The Devil’s Holiday

Every year it happens! I try to find a good program on TV and all I find is “ghost stories”, murder and terror on the tube! This seems to go on for at least the last half of October. Why? It all has to do with “Hallowe’en” or All Hallows Eve which comes on the last day of this month.

For years I have hated this day. We used to go to friends homes to visit or go with them to a restaurant just to get away from the “trick or treaters” The last few years I have taken a different turn. We now buy little candy bars and attach a note to each one. It says:

We don’t like Hallowe’en!
This day is a religious holiday – but it’s not about our God ~
it’s about the devil and we don’t celebrate it.
We DO like kids
Here is some candy for you.
God bless you ~ He loves you!

Have you ever looked into the real meaning of Oct 31st? Here’s part of an old document I got from The Lampholder Newsletter in 1999.

Halloween: Trick or Treat?

“Howbeit then, when ye knew not G-d, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known G-d, or rather are known of G-d, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years” (Galatians 4:8-10).

Well, it’s that time of year again! People rush to find that special orange pumpkin, search for the scariest costume, clothe the outside of the house in an eerie arrangement of glowing monsters, sticky spider webs, and a vast array of haunting, seasonal decor. All of this effort for the innocent fun of Halloween—perhaps? We certainly don’t want to take away anyone’s fun, but hundreds of years have totally changed the real truth behind the masked disguise of Halloween.

Many people are not even aware of Halloween’s historical origins, nor do they care. Whether or not you choose to participate in the celebration, you still might consider reading some historical highlights on how it all began—the story behind the celebration —-And yes, Halloween is a seasonal celebration connected to the movements of the heavens!—

Long ago, the festivals of the L-rd were changed into Church “holy days” (holidays). The changes began with Constantine (around the year A.D. 325), when Christianity and Paganism united. It was Constantine’s efforts to appease the masses. A unification, of sorts, that united all people of various backgrounds and beliefs into one system that appeared to make everyone happy. The Christians were no longer persecuted but accepted, the Jews tolerated but ignored, and the Pagans? Well, they had their god(s), too, and so, in the name of peace, followed the blending of all types of beliefs, religions, philosophies, and cultures into one harmonious union that was intended for the good of all.

Festivals and Holy Days
One of the ways to achieve harmony among religions was to “correct” the festivals of the Lord by reinterpreting them into “acceptable” days for worship. One way of doing this was to revise the Jewish Calendar system by converting the Hebrew festivals. Now, this wasn’t easy because the Hebrew calendar aligned most precisely with the movement of the heavens. This was G-d’s calendar given to mankind, and this calendar aligned exactly with the Precession of the Equinox (PE). The best way to describe the PE is to look at the “hands” on a clock. The hands on a clock move from East to West, right to left, and this is the same way the PE move in the heavens. Interestingly, it is also the way to read Hebrew, from right to left.—

The reason? Because G-d ordained the heavens and time according to His time-line.

This new calendar consisted of a blending of the old with the new, and had four cardinal days (time-periods) set aside for “holy days.” They were fall (Autumnal Equinox), winter (Winter Solstice), spring (Vernal Equinox), and summer (Summer Solstice), and determined the four major festivals celebrated throughout the year.

The Autumn Equinox - day and night are equal in length. It is a time for celebrating the harvest, endings, the dying of nature, and the dark night of the soul. The Autumnal Equinox also marked the beginning of the pagan year. This was the celebration that came to be known as Halloween.

The Winter Solstice - shorter days and longer nights
It is the time period representing the Feast of Saturnalia (by the Romans) honoring the god/planet Saturn. The Feast of Saturnalia occurred from December 17 to the 24th. This was a time of debauchery, orgy, and drunkenness. On December 25th, the Romans celebrated the birthday of the “sun god.” They believed that the sun died during the winter months and after the Winter Solstice, when the sun reclaimed the lengthening of the day, it was “born” anew.

The Vernal Equinox - day and night are equal in length
It was a time to celebrate the joys of spring, new life, and the resurrection of nature over death. The Vernal Equinox is an ancient festival celebrating the death and rebirth of the gods Tammuz and Damuzi. This was time to celebrate the rites of fertility done through orgies and lasciviousness, and worship to the gods/goddesses of fertility in human/animal sacrifices. (Ishtar) The use of colored eggs, “May Poles,” rabbits, etc., were prominently used in festival worship.

The Summer Solstice – longer days and shorter nights
The Britains called this a “Midsummer Night.” It was a time of great abundance revealed in celebrations of drunken abandonment.

A Celebration of Death
From the earliest of times, as far back as B.C.E. 400, the ancient Celtic civilization gathered to celebrate the festival of the god of death, “Samhain,” during the dark night of the soul, October 31st, where the souls of the wandering dead were thought to manifest themselves to the living. This was a celebration of the Autumnal Equinox as a time of harvest, the culmination of Summer, and the dying of nature. It was a festival to bring FEAR over the minds of the unenlightened.

At the stroke of midnight, the Celts offered human sacrifices to the god of death. It was during this night, the soul passed from death to a new birth just as the clock sounded the midnight call ushering in a new day. — A time of death to the old year and birth to the new, and so began the ancient Celtic New Year.

In AD 834, Pope Boniface IV moved the celebration of “All Saints Day” from May to the 1st of November. The day before became All Hallows’ Evening, or Halloween. You may also remember that October 31st is Reformation Day in celebration of Martin Luther posting his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the church (this action, among others, essentially began the Reformation). All Saints Day was an attempt to rid the people of the festival of Samhain along with its sorcery and occult divination. All Saints Day was a time to honor those martyred by Rome, but not recognized (by the Reformers) as a scriptural holy day.

Pope Boniface IV failed in his attempts to replace the festival of death with All Saints Day, because today Halloween is more popular than ever before. In fact, many people begin Halloween as “the holiday” season leading up to Christmas. This is evidenced on many neatly landscaped lawns in the form of a Santa Claus dressed as a witch or as black cats dressed in reindeer formation pulling a sleigh.
The name “Halloween” came to us by way of the British Isles. All Saints Day was known as “All Halloweds” honoring Christian martyrs. The festival of Samhain always occurred the night before All Saints Day or, as it came to be known, All Hallows Eve (or All Hallow’s E’en). All Hallows Eve passed down to us today as the name of Halloween.

Pagan Practices Forbidden in the Old Testament

“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire [human sacrifice to god(s);
[Satan], or that useth divination [fortune-telling; calling upon the spirit world to know the future; one who interprets omens], or an observer of times [astrologer], or an enchanter [power gained from evil spirits to control the mind or will of another; one who casts spells, evil omens, or curses], or a witch [witchcraft], Or a charmer [one who uses sorcery or magic; one who manipulates the elements and unseen forces; a medium or spiritist], or a consulter with familiar spirits [one who seeks advice, wisdom, or council from evil spirits], or a wizard [male witch; warlock], or a necromancer [one who seeks council from the dead]. …For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord…” (Deut. 18:10-11).

JACK-O-LANTERNS
Jack-O-Lanterns, what is their significance? The World Book Encyclopedia, 1977 edition, volume 9, page 24-26 says, “The apparently harmless lighted pumpkin face of `Jack-O-Lantern’ is an ancient symbol of a damned soul.” According to an article I read by Dr. John MacArthur, Jr. according to folklore “Jack-O-Lanterns were named for a man called Jack, who could not enter heaven or hell. As a result, he was doomed to wander in darkness with his lantern until judgment day.” With this in mind, people began to hollow out pumpkins and turnips, placing candles inside to scare evil spirits from their houses. What a tragedy. John 3:16 makes it clear that no one has to be outside of heaven…”For God so loved the world (mankind), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should NOT perish, but have everlasting life.” It is also clear that if any individual refuses to trust Christ as Savior he is condemned already (John 3:18 & 36). There is no wandering. It is either Heaven or Hell depending on whether you have trusted Christ as your Savior (John 14:6; Romans 10:9-13; Ephesians 2:8-9). There was another purpose for Jack-O-Lanterns according to author Owen Rachleff. “The candlelit pumpkin or skull… served as a beacon for the sabbat and as a signal to mark those farms and homes that were sympathetic to the Satanists and thus deserving of mercy when the terror of the night (Halloween)
began.” (The Occult Conceit; page 190).

Be careful how you observe Oct 31st and don’t give satan any place in your schedule! What will you do on this day?

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Think You Got it Hard?

Wash Day

Today is a Monday and in “the old days”, Monday was wash day. Do you remember that? Or hearing about that? With today’s modern washing machines, and easy appliances, we can wash any or every day with the push of a button! This was not always the case. Here is an except from an old letter to a new bride from her grandmother in Appalachia in the early 1900‘s:

How to do your weekly wash:
1. Bild fire in backyard to heet kettle of rain water.
2. Set tubs so smoke won’t blow in eyes if wind is pert.
3. Shave one hold of lye soap in bilin water.
4. Sort things to make 3 piles – 1 pile white, 1 pile colored, 1 pile work britches and rags.
5. Stir flour in cold water to smooth, then thin down with bilin water.
6. Rub dirty spots on wash board, scrub hard, then bile.
Rub colored, don’t bile, just rinch in starch (flour mixture)
7. Take white things out of kettle with broomstick handle, then rinch and starch.
8. Hang old rags on fince.
9. Spread tee towels on grass
10. Pore rinch water in flower bed.
11. Scrub porch with hot soapy water.
12. Turn tubs upside down.
13. Go put on fresh dress, smooth hair with side combs, brew cup of tea, sit and rest and rock a spell. Count your blessings!

Look how the first 12 have changed!!!! I guess we can still do Number 13! It sure pays to keep a good attitude. Let’s count our blessings instead of complaining about how hard life is for us. It’s all in the attitude, after all.

Remember, the pessimist has no starter, an optimist has no brakes.

Optimism is having three teenaged sons and only one car!

You have to face the music before you can lead the band.

Dr. Charles Swindoll once said, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. We cannot change the inevitable, all we can change is our attitude.” A good attitude, is the best thing you can show the world.

So next time you start to feeling like you have it so bad – think of what your grandparents went through and be thankful that we no longer have to live that way. We have so much!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Shalom –

The word “shalom” is probably the most easily recognized word in the Hebrew language. One thinks of it as a greeting – “hello” and/or “good-bye”. It is so much more than that.

When one meets a friend, he says, “Shalom aleichem” (ah – LE – khem), meaning peace to you.
The response is – “Aleichem shalom” (and to you – peace)

Most people don’t understand what this word really means. It is not simply a greeting (hello/good-bye) it means, according to page 371 of David Stern’s “Jewish New Testament”:


“peace, tranquillity,
safety, well-being,
welfare, health,
contentment, success,
comfort, wholeness,
and integrity.”

Y’shua says in Matt 10:12, “When you enter someone’s household, say ‘shalom aleichem’ if the home deserves it, let your shalom rest on it, if not, let your shalom return to you.”

If Y’shua said to do this – it must be important and we would do well to practice it.

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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The Ushpizin, the Guests


The Patriarchs or Shepherds of Israel

It is said a father has no greater joy than to see his sons walk in his ways. The seven great men of Israel all wandered from place to place at one time or another in their lives. They knew the hardships of the nomadic life. It is said they come, in spirit, as special guests to every sukkah to rejoice in the fact that we are still following in ‘their ways’.
(old Jewish tradition…) One after the other taking the lead each night and the others following. It is traditional to welcome the “guest of the evening” by recalling his life and how we may learn from it.
You may want to give them a chair of honor in your sukkah.
They are:

Avraham, who was told to “Go to the place I will show you.”
He represents love and kindness.
Itzchak, (Isaac)”There was a famine in the land and Itzchak went…”
He represents restraint and personal strength.
Ya’acov, (Jacob) “Arise and go…” (when he fled from Esav)
He represents beauty and truth.
Moshe, “(Moses) …and He caused His people to journey like sheep.”
He represents eternality and dominance through Torah.
Aharon, (Aaron) “…and He caused His people to journey like sheep.”
He represents empathy and receptivity to divine splendor.
Yosef, (Joseph) was sold for a slave and went to Egypt..
He represents holiness and the spiritual foundation.
David Hamelech, King David) “…when he was in the wilderness.”
… the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth.
It is a good thing to speak of the good qualities of our fathers. Perhaps this would be a good time to recall the good deeds of your own ancestors and how you can strive to be like them. If nothing else, let us follow in the footsteps of our Messiah and strive, above all, to be like Him. It is good to call in the poor to share in your joy and your bounty at this season. Sukkot was the origin of the first Thanksgiving Day. We are to be thankful and share what we have. In this way, we are following our heroes of old and better yet, we are pleasing our G-d as we recall the good things of the past and look forward to what G-d has promised us in the future.
fjc- ’01

For those of you following the Hillel or traditional Jewish calender –
Chag Sameach! Enjoy your holiday!!! It’s the Season of our joy! “Eat the fat and the sweet and send portions to your friends and family!”

See you nect time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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I Just Don’t Get it!

“I just don’t get it!”, my friend whined to me the other day, “they haven’t been attending our Congregation a year yet, and she’s making announcements and he’s teaching a Yeshiva Class!” “I just don’t understand that!. We’ve been there five years and we haven’t been asked to do anything!”

Sound familiar? Have you had these kind of thoughts? Are you finding yourself in this same position?

You need to ask yourself these kind of questions…..

1) Am I on time or a little bit early for meetings?
or do I drag in 10, 15 or even 30 minutes late, interrupting the teacher/pastor/leader and others around me?

2) Do I offer my help in setting up?
or do I just take for granted that “somebody else will do it.”

3) Do I attend ALL services unless I am sick? (then you SHOULD stay home!)
or do I skip around looking for “a better place” or come in coughing and sneezing over everyone.

4) Do I offer good commentary when it is appropriate?
or do I monopolize the sharing time or never utter a word. – until I get home, then complain about the remarks of others.

5) Do I stay after meetings to help clean up and to fellowship with others?
or do I bolt out the door without a thought.

6) Do I reach out to visitors and new members and make them feel at home?
or do I wait for someone to come to me and then be mad when they don’t.

7) Am I friendly to children and compliment them when I see good in them?
or do I ignore anyone under the age of 20 and complain if a child accidentally bumps into me.

These things are very important and bring good will or brand you as insincere or a ‘grump’.

Even more important is the Scripture where Y’shua is telling Kefa (Peter) something to do and he, evidentially feeling he was being treated unfairly, says of Yochanan (John) “But what about him????” Y’shua said (to paraphrase) “That’s none of your business, you do what I ask YOU to do.”

Let’s not worry about the other guy —– let’s focus on what we know WE are do for the Lord. When you do that, you never know what you’ll be asked to do!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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America, Israel and Money

“Echad” – “One”

All Hebrew letters have a number value. Add these numbers up and you get 13
alef = 1 (one)
chet = 8 (eight)
dalet = 4 (four)
13

Spell them and you get e / cha / d “echad”, which means “one”.
alef + chet + dalet = echad

Therefore in the Hebrew mindset – thirteen is connected with one.

There are only two countries in the world who were built on an idea rather than on real estate. These two countries are Ancient Israel and Modern America. Did you know that both these countries have great influence on the other? If America had not helped Israel over the years – especially in 1948, she probably would not have survived. If America had not been built on the Judao/Christian beliefs, God would not have blessed her and made her who she is today.

We just learned that one – “echad” is connected to thirteen.

Look at the back of a one dollar bill and notice how much Israeli influence there is!

1. Notice that there are 13 stars over the eagle’s head in the shape of a Mogan David. (star of David)
They are surrounded by what is meant to portray as the shekinah or glory of G-d.

2. One of the eagle’s claws holds 13 arrows – the other holds an olive branch. You will need a magnifying glass to see it but there are 13 olives on it.

2. Notice the pryamid on The Great Seal – it has 13 layers of stone.

3. There are 13 letters in the Latin words “ANNUIT CÆTPIS” which means “God favors our undertakings”.

4. The motto of the United States is “e pluribis unum” which contains 13 letters and is Latin for “one out of many”. See it on both sides of the eagle’s head. Echad.

“These 13 things appear ONLY on a ONE dollar bill – not any other. There is a reflexion of Judaism in the soul of America.”

This is a quote from my second favorite rabbi – Seattle’s own Rabbi Daniel Lapin whom I have been privileged to hear on many occasions. He has spoken several times at Messianic gatherings.

Turn your dollar upside down. There is a menorah between the eagle’s face and tail so that the main body of the eagle – the American symbol becomes God’s symbol for Israel.

Pastor John Hagee has also preached about this on television.

God bless America and bring Peace to Jerusalem!

This will only happen as America blesses Israel and continues to support them. Let’s each one do our part as best we can to make sure this happens. Compare the evacuation from Gaza and the evacuation from New Orlean, Houston, etc. Makes ya think, doesn’t it?

OK – go get out a dollar and see what you can find!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Letter from a Friend

A friend wrote:

“………Do you have any advice for me? Is there anyway you can think of that I can show or say what I really mean, in a way that will get them to trust that they should drop everything and get into God’s Word, rather then just assume that what they already know is all that they need to?”

This friend also asked if I thought they should go to Disneyland. They had planned on it and then changed their minds because of Disneyland’s support and acceptance of homosexuality, magic and fairytale adventures, etc.

My answer:

There is nothing worse than a reformed smoker — you know? One who quits and then jumps on everybody else to quit, too? I know this – been there, done that! I’m not saying YOU have, ————,
I’m just saying — there is NOTHING you can say to anybody to make them “…to trust that they should drop everything and get into G-d’s Word…” Remember, G-d commands us to be witnesses….

WITNESSES!

We are the Bible that everyone reads. What we DO means so much more than what we say. NO ONE comes to the Lord because of what we say. Yes, we are to tell — but they will be watching us and sometimes we “tell” more by the way we live, than by what we say.

ONLY the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) can bring conviction on people. ONLY G-d can call a person to salvation. WE are to witness to them. Live the Life in front of them and trust G-d to bring them in by His Ruach. We can’t get anybody saved and we can’t get anybody to “become Messianic”. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. Sometimes I think we try too hard.

We must pray for our friends and loved ones, ask the Lord to lead us into a spiritual conversation with them and then tell how G-d has made changes for the better in our lives. That’s so much better than just demanding people listen to us and do what we do. Do you see what I’m saying? WE only can do OUR part and trust G-d to do His.

Even G-d can’t FORCE anyone to live a Torah-observant life. He can sure make you wish you WOULD have —— but He is a Gentleman and only calls to each of us to hear His voice and obey. You can’t take it personally if people don’t listen to you. Just do your best and leave the rest up to G-d.

I am so pleased at your growth and desire to please the Lord by your service. You just have to remember – each of us is only one little cog in the wheel. We do our part, others do theirs and G-d will get the job done. Keep your eyes on Him and His word and do like the Sh’ma says, “….keep (my commandments) in your heart, talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.” That’s pretty much ALL the time! That’s our job. What happens after that is His business.

About Disneyland. I strongly respect your decision and your desire to please the Lord. Perhaps this is His will for you. Only you can know that. However I do not agree with it. We are in this world but we are not a part of it.

Say Disneyland is the world. What do we do? Stay in our houses and never come out? No, we see the unG-dly things out there and stay away from them, just like we do in our cities and communities. Y’shua
went to the homes of publicans and sinners and ate with them. I have a family member who goes into taverns and bars (always taking another Christian buddy) and witnesses to the people in there. I am not called to do that, but some are.

There are lots of things at Disneyland that you CAN do and many you wouldn’t want to. Life is made up of choices. Most restaurants sell treif (non-kosher food). Shall we not eat there? Many department stores give some of our money to unG-dly projects, abortion rights, homosexual endeavors, etc. Shall we not patronize those stores? The fact is WE JUST DON’T KNOW which stores are which or exactly where our money goes. We just have to do what we can, when we can and where we can.

I’m not trying to discourage you from your decision, I’m only trying to help you understand that we must make choices to live G-dly lives in a sinful, sinful world.

G-d bless you as you continue to strive to please Him in the best way you know how! Wherever you go, have a wonderful vacation. I know you will take G-d with you and witness as you are prompted to!

With love and Shalom, Sharaka
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Chanukah – Light the Chanukiah

Blessings for Chanukah Lighting
The blessings to be said after lighting the shamesh every night are these:

Traditional:
“Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu melech haolam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzvivanu l‘hadlik ner shel Chanukah”. Blessed art Thou O Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Thy commandments and commanded us to light the Chanukah lights.” (G-d did NOT actually command us to light candles …ever… so we substitute this prayer instead.)

Messianic:
“Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu melech haolam, asher kidshanu b’divaro anachnu madlikim haneyrot ner shel Chunukah. Blessed art Thou O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Thy command ments and in whose name we kindle the Chanukah lights.”

“Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu melech h’olam, assher natan lanu chagim, min h’gim, oomo’adim, l’simcha, l’chgdil et da’at Adonai, v’livnot o tan lanu b’emunah kidosha v’na’ahlah.
Blessed art Thou, oh Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has given us holy days, customs and times of happiness, to increase knowledge of G-d and to build us up in our most holy faith.

“Blessed art Thou, oh Lord our G-d, King of the universe, didst perform miracles for our fathers in those days at this season. We kindle these lights to commemorate the miracles and wonders, the victorious battles that that Thou hast achieved for our fathers in those days at this season, through Thy Holy Priest, Y’shua. During all the eight days of Chanukah, these lights are sacred and we are not permitted to make use of them; but are only to look upon them in order to give thanks and to praise Thy Name for Thy miracles, wonders and Thy salvation.”

Light the candles after dark and sing songs of your choice which bring glory to G-d. You may want to have a theme for each night. Your candles should burn for at least a half hour. They should be in a window facing the street to be a witness to passers by. Otherwise a table will do.

Chanukah is the time for family, community, education and thankfulness to G-d for His miracles! Be sure to spend time in the Word and in Prayer.

How To Light the Chanukiah

First night: Well after sunset, place your chanukiah in a front window where it can be seen from the street.

If this is not safe – use your fireplace mantle, dining room table or other suitable place. I put an electric chanukiah in my front window and the “real” one on my dining room table.

Place a special chanukah candle in the far right holder.

Say the Shehechianu (first night only) and the other blessing.

Light the candle with the shamish (the center (or tallest) candle.

Other nights: Place the candles, starting on the right side and moving to the left, adding one new candle each night.

Say the blessing. Use the shamish and light from the left to the right.

On the eighth night – they will all be lit.

Do not use the light for reading or any other practical function.
It is lit only to honor G-d.

Before Lighting Blessings

1)The “Shehechianu” to be said on first night only = “Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu melech ha’olam, shehecheyanu, vekiyemanu vehigi’anu lazman hazeh.” (Blessed art Thou, O L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, Who has given us life, and sustained us, and brought us to this season.)
2) “Baruch atah Adonai, Elohenu melech ha’olam, she’asah nisim la’avotenu, bayamim hahem bazeman hazeh.” (Blessed art Thou, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, Who has done miracles for our fathers in days gone by, at this season.)

Let the candles burn out, do not extinquish them and do not use them for reading or any other purpose. They are only to be used as a memorial.

Enjoy the holiday!
See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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How To Prepare for a Festive Meal:

Article from Aish.com:

Author Biography:
Chef Herschel prepares hundreds of meals a day at Aish HaTorah’s World Center in Jerusalem. He caters the five star meals for the Jerusalem Fund missions as well as the daily food for the Yeshiva students. Here are his suggestions for preparing for a dinner. You can use this for any meal, not just for the High Holy Days.

Rosh Hashana is fast approaching. As the chef for the yeshiva, I need to be ready to serve four holiday meals for 200 people and they need to be good. And I don’t mean maybe. Here is how I get ready. (This plan works for any holiday —–)

1. Deadline and commitment.

2. Plan. I take some time and look at what I did last year. Decide what I will keep on the menu and decide what new dishes I’m going to prepare. Only one or two new dishes so preparation doesn’t become unmanageable.

3. Discuss the menu with family or friends. See how they like it, consider their suggestions.

4. Make a list of everything that I will need. Shop early.

5. Make a plan. Do a little bit each day. Make a schedule. Be realistic. Get help. You can’t do it alone. Finish early, allow for the unexpected.

6. Put it into action. Don’t procrastinate.

7. Evaluate. Take a step back. Make adjustments if necessary.

8. Serve it. Tablecloths, china, silverware, crystal and flowers. Take pleasure and enjoy.

You can follow my plan for your own personal preparations for Rosh Hashana — not just for preparing the food, but spiritual preparation — and you’ll be ready for the High Holidays.

This article can also be read at:

http://www.aish.com/family/cooking/Complete_Rosh_Hashana_Menu.asp

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Elul – the Month of Teshuvah (Repentance) II

At Sunset, on the last night before the last month of the year, one of the most important months begins. It is the month called Elul. There are 30 days in it to turn your eyes and your heart toward God. To repent of those things you do which are NOT pleasing to Him. There are 10 more days, The Days of Awe, in the month of Tishrei to make sure you are right with your Maker. Any day of the year is, of course, the best day to do this but in the Jewish tradition, the month of Elul is used to illustrate repentance. The shofar blows every morning to call to repentance. Will you hear the call? Use it to turn to God and make Him the center and focus of your life. Below are some lines from Eddie Chumney’s book on the Festivals. (If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you check it out or buy a copy.)

Chaper Seven: The Season of Teshuvah
A special season known as Teshuvah, which in Hebrew means “to return or repent,” begins on the first day of the month of Elul and continues 40 days, ending with Yom Kippur. Thirty days into Teshuvah, on Tishrei l, comes Rosh HaShanah. This begins a final ten-day period beginning on Rosh HaShanah and ending on Yom Kippur. These are known as the High Holy Days and as the Awesome Days (Yamim Nora’im, the days of awe). The sabbath that falls within this ten-day period is called Shabbat Shuvah, the Sabbath of Return. Five days after Yom Kippur is Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. Teshuvah begins on Elul 1 and concludes on Tishrei 10, Yom Kippur. Each morning during the 30 days of the month of Elul, the trumpet (shofar) or ram’s horn is blown to warn the people to repent and return to G-d.

Teshuvah (repentance) speaks to all people. Those who believe in the Messiah are called to examine their lives and see where they have departed from G-d. It is a call to examine the Scriptures and the evidence that the Messiah was who He said He was.

G-d has always had a heart to warn people before He proclaims judgment. G-d warned the people before the flood, and He warned Nineveh before it was ruined. He does not want anyone to receive the wrath of His judgment (Ezekiel [Yechezekel] 18:21-23,30-32; Zephaniah 2:1-3; 33:1-7; 2 Peter 3:9).

The whole month of Elul is a 30-day process of preparation through personal examination and repentance for the coming High Holy Days. The shofar is blown after every morning service. Psalm 27, which begins with “The Lord is my light and my salvation,” is also recited at the end of the morning and evening liturgy. The message from Elul 1 to Rosh HaShanah is clear: Repent before Rosh HaShanah. Don’t wait until after Rosh HaShanah, or you will find yourself in the Days of Awe.

There are idioms or phrases that help us identify the days in the season of Teshuvah (repentance). Just as unfamiliar foreigners may be confused when they hear Americans call Thanksgiving Day, “Turkey Day” or “Pilgrims’ Day,” non-Jewish believers in Yeshua can be confused by the different terms for the major feasts of the L-rd.

Rosh HaShanah: Names, Themes, and Idioms

Teshuvah (repentance)
Rosh HaShanah (Head of the Year, Birthday of the World)
Yom Teruah (the Day of the Awakening Blast [Feast of Trumpets)
Yom HaDin (the Day of Judgment)
HaMelech (the Coronation of the Messiah)
Yom HaZikkaron (the Day of Remembrance or memorial)
The time of Jacob’s (Ya’akov) trouble (the birthpangs of the Messiah, Chevlai shel Mashiach)
The opening of the gates
Kiddushin/Nesu’in (the wedding ceremony)
The resurrection of the dead (rapture, natza1)
The last trump (shofar)
Yom Hakeseh (the hidden day) “The day that no man knows”

From Eddie Chumney’s book – “The Seven Festivals of Messiah”

http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/2175/chap7.html#CHAP7

If you’ve never seen this book, go to Eddie Chumney’s site and check it out!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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Sukkot – Feast of Tabernacles

Sukkot (sue – COAT)
The Festival of Booths/Feast of Tabernacles


Exodus 12:37 tells us that:

When G-d’s people left Egypt with Moses, they camped and put their animals into a shelter called a “SUKKAH”, which means “booth”, “stable”, “hut”, “shelter”, or “tabernacle” in the Hebrew language . “SUKKOT” is the plural of the word. Moses called that place “Sukkot”.

Leviticus 23:
G-d gave the Children of Israel Seven Feasts. He called them “Holy Days” – “holy unto the Lord”, but we have changed the word to “holidays” and most Christians do not celebrate them. We have chosen to honor other days instead. Now many have once again begun to celebrate these Feasts or Festivals. They are not “Jewish” Feasts – the Bible calls them “the Feasts of the Lord”. Starting at sunset, (G-d’s day starts at sunset – Genesis says “the evening and the morning were the first day”) on the 15th day of the seventh month, which begins at sunset the night before, Jews all over the world and many Christians will celebrate this Special Holy Day.

SUKKOT – is given by G-d Himself, and lasts for eight days. God gave us a special calendar and it is not the same as the one we use, so we find SUKKOT comes on a different day every year on our Gregorian calendar. On the Jewish calendar, each month starts on the first day of the new moon. In 2004, Sukkot began on the evening of the full moon, September 29th (Tishrei 15). Next year it will be on another day on our calendar but still the 15th of Tishrei.

II Timothy 2: 15
You might be thinking, “OK, so G-d gave all this to the Jews – what does it have to do with me? Why should I care?” G-d loves all of His people, Jews and Gentiles alike. He chose Jews to write His Book and it was written to them. But every thing in His Book is for everyone who loves G-d and wants to read His Word. We ALL can learn something from EVERY THING in the Bible if we will only ask G-d to show us what He has in mind. He is trying to teach us. Let’s open our hearts to Him and learn all He has for us. “Study to be approved..”

Nehemiah 8
Notice that the sukkah (sue-kah) is only a temporary shelter – built to last only one week. It is not very sturdy. A strong wind could blow it all over. It is not built to last at all. Every year, the Jewish people build a sukkah wherever they live. It’s funny to look up at apartment buildings in Jerusalem and see sukkot on the balconies! In our State, it’s too cold and usually too wet to sleep out, so Jews and Messianic Believers here just eat in them. The Jews in Israel and warmer countries also sleep there.

Psalms 91:1-5
Sometimes it has a door – but there is no lock. People eat and sleep in this place for a whole week. This is the way they lived all the years of their wanderings through the desert. They had to rely on G-d alone for their needs. We can learn from this that it isn’t the lock that protects us – it is G-d! It is always G-d! We all really live in a house of sticks and the “big bad wolf” could blow it down if it wasn’t for G-d, our Mighty Protector. We should remember how G-d’s people lived all those years in tents and flimsy shelters. We can understand that He took care of them then and believe He will take care of us now! Our protection is from Him and Him alone! We must never forget to thank Him for His love and care.

Deuteronomy 16:13-15
It is to be built after the crops are gathered in. The people were to gather together and rejoice and be thankful. They were to share with others, especially the poor. Sound familiar? This was really the first Thanksgiving! When the Puritans came to America, they only continued what God started way back in the Brit Chadasha (Older Covenant or Testament). It is still a time to rejoice and be thankful. Why not write a `thank you’ note now to Someone Special in your life? We need to be thankful to people and to G-d.

Zachariah 14:16 -17
The sukkah is to be re-built every year – generation after generation for all time. We will celebrate this festival during the Millennium. Our family decided not to wait, we celebrate it now! We have some of our meals in it and sometimes we invite friends. We sing songs, listen to beautiful music and read the Scriptures. We try to think about the beautiful place that our G-d is preparing for us. Our bodies are like a sukkah – an earth-suit – a temporary dwelling until we get the real one.

Building a sukkah is one way He helps us remember. It is said we retain 10% of what we hear, 50% of what we see and 90% of what we “do” or act out. G-d knew this and I believe this is why He asked us to “do” these things. He wants to make sure we remember His teachings and apply them to our daily lives as well as show us what’s coming up ahead in the future.
Another interesting thing about a sukkah – remember that the word can also mean “stable”? It is written that Y’shua, the Hebrew name for Jesus, was born in a stable. Was this stable really a sukkah? After all, this is the Feast of Tabernacles and we know that Y’shua was sent to “tabernacle” with us. What better time for Him to appear? All Feasts of the Lord have a New Covenant (Testament) fulfillment. The actual date of His birth has been lost. In Biblical times birthdays were not celebrated by the Hebrews. We were to remember the death and resurrection of Y’shua, but never actually told to celebrate His birth.

I believe He was probably born on the first day of Sukkot – 15 Tishrei, 04 BC. If we note the time of Zachariah’s service in the Temple, we can pinpoint the time of the birth of his son, John the Baptist which was about the time of Passover in the Spring. His cousin, Y’shua, was born six months later. That would make it during Sukkot. If He was born the first day and circumcised the eighth day, that would take care of the whole eight day Festival time.

Whenever it was, we know He was born, He did die and die for you and me in our stead. We have only to accept His sacrificial death, give our hearts to Him and make Him Lord of our lives. Then this `sukkah’ or temporary earth suit – this body of clay – will be changed forever into an eternal one that we might live forever with Him…
Baruch HaShem! Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
In the meantime — get ready to rejoice and be glad!

Chag Sameach! – Happy Festival! © 1994

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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