Category Archives: Divine Enocunter

Prophetic Promises of #Abundance and #Prosperity!

HIS PRESENCE IS MORE SIGNIFICANT

“It is high and magnificent; the whole earth rejoices to see it!  Mount Zion, the holy mountain, is the city of the great King!”  (Psalm 48:2)
King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel almost 3,000 years ago.  Ever since, the city has played a central role in Jewish life, even after the city was sacked and the Temple was destroyed in AD 70 by the Romans.
Jewish prayers underline this central role and the holiness of Jerusalem.  For instance, the Amidah, which is recited three times every weekday, is prayed facing Jerusalem.
These lines are part of the Amidah:

Continue reading HIS PRESENCE IS MORE SIGNIFICANT

One of the Prophetic Promises of 2016 - #Divineprotection

HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE PROPHETS

Malachi (מַלְאָכִיMal’akhiy) meaning my messenger or my angel is one of the most mysterious Bible prophets.  Though a revered spokesperson of God, there are few details about him outside of Scripture.
He is the last of the Minor Prophets in the Tanakh (Jewish Bible), placed in that position because Judaism traditionally believes that prophecy ceased with him and will only be renewed in the Messianic age.

Continue reading HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE PROPHETS

RESURRECTION OF JESUS

Blessings to you on this day as we celebrate Yeshua’s (Jesus)

resurrection and victory over the power of sin and death on Passover!

The resurrection of Jesus is the Christian religious belief that, after being to death, Jesus rose again from the dead. it is the central tenet of Christian theology and past of the Nicene creed

Rev Samuel F Sarpong

The amazing grace

DELIVERANCE

Tonight and tomorrow, we celebrate one of the most joyous and fun-filled holidays on the Jewish calendarPurim (Feast of Lots).
This festive day commemorates God’s victory and deliverance of the Jewish People from their enemies in ancient Persia.

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Jesus is the restoration of your family :)

JESUS

Does Yeshua (Jesus) pass the first test of Messiahship?

Rabbis have taught us through the millennia that Messiah would come as the Son of David.  God personally made that promise to David in the Scriptures, such as 1 Chronicles 17:11:

“And it shall come to pass, when your days be expired that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will raise up your seed after you, which shall be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom.”

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MINITRY

As a Ministry, Bible For Israel believes that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah.  
We have such assurance because of prophecies like Micah 5:2 (5:1 in the Hebrew Bible), which seems to clearly identify Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah.
For 2,000 years, Christians have pointed to and relied on this prophecy as one piece of evidence to prove Yeshua’s true spiritual identity.

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THE LORD SAID

This is the portion of Torah that will be read in synagogues around the world during the Shabbat (Saturday) service.  Please read it along with us.  We know you will be blessed!
Parasha Bo (Come!)
Exodus 10:1–13:16; Jeremiah 46:13–28; Revelation 9:1–21
“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go [Bo / come] to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them.’”  (Exodus 10:1)

Moses and Aaron with Pharaoh, by Marc Chagall
In last week’s Parasha, we read of the first seven calamities (makot) that God inflicted upon Egypt to persuade Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery.
This week in Parasha Bo, God sends the most devastating and final three plagues:  locust, darkness and death of the firstborn.
After the final plague, Pharaoh finally acquiesces, triggering the Exodus of the Hebrews.
But what were the purposes of the Ten Plagues?  To pressure Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free?  Perhaps, but God is fully capable of setting His people free without a king’s permission.
We see in this Parasha and the last that God does not see the Egyptians simply as an enemy to be overcome; rather, He is committed to communicating something vital to them:
“I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt.  I am the LORD.”  (Exodus 12:12)

A 13-year-old Jewish boy gets a little help carrying the Torah scroll.  The
average weight of a Torah scroll is 20 to 25 pounds, not including the
protective case called a Torah tik.
The plagues demonstrate God’s supremacy over and judgment on all the false gods of Egypt.
When Moses first asked Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, he responded, ”Who is YHVH, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?”  (Exodus 5:2)
The God of Israel wants everyone to know who He is.  And He wanted to make sure that Pharaoh and all of Egypt knew Him, too.
He even told Pharaoh that He was sending the powerful plague of hail, “so that you [Pharaoh] may know that there is none like Me in all the earth.”  (Exodus 9:14)
Pharaoh Notes the Importance of the Jewish People, by James Tissot
In the end, Pharaoh did come to realize the power of the God of Israel.
But God was not only concerned about the beliefs of the Egyptians.  The Torah indicates that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order to demonstrate His power to all the nations as well as the powerlessness of their false gods.
God does not want to be known only to this one nation of Israel, either.  He wants His name to be proclaimed in every nation on earth:
“For this purpose I have raised you [Pharaoh] up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”  (Exodus 9:16)
And God certainly did make Himself known to Pharaoh through the final three plagues.

An Orthodox Jewish man prays at the Western (Wailing)
Wall in Jerusalem.
The Eighth Plague: Locusts (Arbeh אַרְבֶּה)
“If you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory.  And they shall cover the face of the earth, so that no one will be able to see the earth; and they shall eat the residue of what is left, which remains to you from the hail, and they shall eat every tree which grows up for you out of the field.”  (Exodus 10:4–5)
Parasha Bo begins with the eighth plague upon Egypt—locusts.  They devoured all the crops and vegetation of Egypt that remained after the hail.
Even though locusts are driven by the wind, a plague of locusts is so devastating that it cuts off the light of the sun and wipes out the food supply of the affected area.
In the Book of Joel, this plague makes another appearance, ravaging the land.  The Prophet Joel links it to sin and the Last Days, exhorting Israel to repent and return to the Lord.
God promises Israel that He will make up for all the years that the swarming locusts have devoured:
“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—My great army that I sent among you.  You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will My people be shamed.”  (Joel 2:25–26)

Swarm of locusts in Madagascar
Locusts are also mentioned in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) as one of the end-time plagues upon the earth.
With the sounding of the fifth shofar in the Last Days, locusts emerge from the bottomless pit.
They will not harm the vegetation, but they will have the power to sting like a scorpion and torment men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
“Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth.  And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.  They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.”  (Revelation 9:3–4)

In the ninth plague, God revealed to the Egyptians that
their sun god Ra was nothing but stone and that the God
of Israel is the One True God.
The Ninth Plague: Darkness (Hosek חוֹשֶך)
“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.’  So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days.  No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days.”  (Exodus 10:21–23)
With the ninth plague of darkness, Adonai delivered a crushing blow to the worship of the Egyptian sun god, Ra, demonstrating the folly of believing in idols and mythical deities.
Although the Egyptians were plunged into total darkness, the Israelites enjoyed light in their dwellings in the land of Goshen.
While everyone outside the shelter of God’s covenant live in ever deepening darkness, especially as the end of the age approaches, the light of Believers in Yeshua shines ever more brightly.  (Proverbs 4:18)
Today, there are so many reports of evil, and many are fearful of what may come upon us.  Nevertheless, even when there is total, paralyzing darkness in the world, we can still have light in our dwellings, just as the Israelites had in Goshen.

Shabbat candles
It is time for us to stop cursing the darkness and, instead, start living in the light.
Instead of complaining, murmuring and fault finding over the darkness of “Egypt” (the world), we can be all that God has made us to be, shining as lights in the midst of a dark and perverse generation.  (Philippians 2:14–15)
And if we think that we do not know the Word enough to be a bright light, we must remember that even the smallest of lights shine brilliantly in the darkest of places.
The Bible says that the wicked stumble in the darkness and do not even know what makes them trip.  (Proverbs 4:19)
When people are in complete darkness, they cannot perceive anything outside of themselves.  In this state of darkness, it is easy to live in a completely self-centered, miserable world.  Often a symptom of this darkness is using people for self-benefit.
But God’s presence in our lives promotes a kind of love that is giving, not self-seeking.  (1 Corinthians 13:5)

Torah scroll and yad (Torah pointer)
We need Yeshua, the Light of the World to set us free from our own preoccupation with ourselves so that we may truly love our neighbor.
Sadly, far too many of us who have been set free from darkness to live in the light still willfully stumble in the darkness of unforgiveness, bitterness, and resentment.  We must determine to let these go and walk in God’s holy Light.
Just as paralyzing darkness fell on Egypt, many in the world will one day experience a great, devastating darkness, which is one of the end-time plagues mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
When the angel pours out the fifth bowl of God’s wrath, the kingdom of the beast will be plunged into total darkness.  This foreshadows the state of people who descend into Sheol (hell), where there is a complete absence of all light.  Revelation tells us that even this will not convince the servants of Satan to repent and turn to the Maker of All.
“Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.  They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.”  (Revelation 16:10–11)

Ultra-Orthodox teens walk together at the Kotel (Western Wall) Plaza
in Jerusalem.
The Tenth Plague: The Striking of the Firstborn (Macat B’Chorot מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת)
“This is what the LORD says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt.  Every firstborn in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well.  There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again.”  (Exodus 11:4–6)
When Pharaoh still refused to repent and relent after the Plague of Darkness, God sent the tenth and most devastating plague—the Striking of the Firstborn of Egypt.
Egypt’s king refused to let God’s firstborn (Israel) go, so God took Pharaoh’s firstborn and those of his loyal subjects.  The word is clear—God will treat the nations (and individuals) as they have treated Israel!
God acts on behalf of His people and judgment will fall on the enemies of Israel.
While Pharaoh was perhaps unmoved, remaining stubborn and proud as the rest of the land suffered under God’s hand, when God struck down his firstborn son, the hardness of his heart was broken through.
How tragic that it took the death of Pharaoh’s own child to bring him to the place of humility and submission where he was willing to let God’s people go.

Women pray at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem.
May our hearts be soft toward the leading of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) so that God will never need to use ever increasingly painful disciplinary measures to break through our stubborn and willful pride and bring us into a holy place before Him.
Moses prepared the people of Israel for this final judgment on Egypt by instructing them to sacrifice a lamb and to put its blood on the tops and sides of their doors.
“And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.”  (Exodus 12:7)
The blood of the Passover lamb served as the sign that caused the judgment to “pass over” the Israelites, sparing them from suffering the wrath of God that fell upon the Egyptians.
“Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are.  And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”  (Exodus 12:13)

Lamb
At the conclusion of this Parasha, Moses leads the children of Israel out of Egypt, and the Lord gives them the ordinances of the Passover.
Thus the Lord did all He had promised; not one Word that the Lord had spoken was left unfulfilled.  Reminding ourselves of this helps us to also trust in God’s faithfulness, power and mercy now and in the days to come.
Today, the Jewish People still celebrate this miraculous Passover each year.
“So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations.  You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.”  (Exodus 12:14)
Individual Believers and entire churches are increasingly commemorating Passover as well, since it foreshadows Yeshua the Messiah, the Lamb of God who was sacrificed in order to spare us from the judgment of God.
A man reads from the Passover Haggadah (Telling / Order) as everyone
raises a glass of wine, a custom during the Passover Seder (traditional dinner). 
Redeeming the Firstborn
Because God spared the firstborn Jewish sons from the 10th plague, we find in this Torah portion the command to consecrate or set apart for Him every firstborn male.  (Exodus 13:1–2)
As well, because they were spared, the firstborn traditionally fasts on the day before Passover to commemorate this miracle.
However, the firstborn sons ended up worshiping the Golden Calf along with most of Israel, so they forfeited their right to serve God in the Temple.
God, instead, gave that right to the tribe who did not worship the Calf—the Levites.
Jewish parents, therefore, redeem their firstborn sons in a special ceremony called the Pidyon HaBen (Redemption of the Firstborn Son).  (Numbers 3:45–47)
In this ceremony the firstborn is fully absolved from the duty to perform Temple Service.

The Pidyon HaBen (redemption of the firstborn son) is a
traditional Jewish ritual that has been practiced since
ancient times.
This symbolic ritual of redeeming the firstborn son out of Temple Service continues today with the payment of five silver shekels (or about 4.4 ounces of pure silver) to a man of Cohen descent, according to the command given by Moses:
“Take the Levites in place of all the firstborn of Israel, and the livestock of the Levites in place of their livestock.  The Levites are to be mine.  I am the Lord.  To redeem the 273 firstborn Israelites who exceed the number of the Levites, collect five shekels for each one, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs.  Give the money for the redemption of the additional Israelites to Aaron and his sons.”  (Numbers 3:45–48)
The Israeli Mint has created special edition silver commemorative coins
for Pidyon HaBen (Redemption of the Firstborn) services.  The weight of
the five coins corresponds to the weight of the five silver sheqalim given
to the Cohen in Temple times for the Redemption of the Firstborn.
Another custom in Judaism arises from the Exodus story—the custom of wearing tefillin.
Tefillin (phylacteries) are a set of little black boxes containing Scriptures connected by straps.  The boxes are worn on the forehead and arm, and straps are wound around the arm and fingers.  This custom serves as a reminder to submit one’s head (thoughts), heart (feelings) and hands (actions) to the Lord.
This practice arises from the following command:
“This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips.  For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”  (Exodus 13:9, see also verse 16)
A Jewish man at the Western (Wailing) Wall helps a young man, perhaps
his son, to wrap tefillin (phylacteries).
According to Scripture, in the last days, the anti-Messiah will attempt to force all people to put his mark, rather than the Word of God, on their hand or foreheads, thereby usurping the mark of the rightful place of God in our lives.  (Revelation 13:16–17)
Nevertheless, those who love God will resist evil and glorify His name till the end.
It is because of God’s enduring mercy that He brought each one of us out of the darkness that held us captive.  Baruch HaShem (Praise the Lord)!
Samuel, you can help Bibles For Israel shine the Light of Yeshua into the darkness and proclaim freedom to the captives!
“To Him who struck down the firstborn in Egypt
    His love endures forever
and brought Israel out from among them
    His love endures forever;
With a mighty hand and an outstretched arm
    His love endures forever.”  (Psalm 136:10–12)Rev Samuel F Sarpong

JESUS

Then Yeshua came from Galilee to the Yarden (Jordan) to be baptized by Yohannan.”  (Matthew 3:13)

Many Believers seeking to deepen their understanding of the Bible and follow in the footsteps of Yeshua (Jesus) visit Israel’s Jordan River, a river of rich historical and spiritual significance for both Jews and Christians.
Nehar haYarden (הירדן נהר, Jordan River) played a central role in the ministry of Yeshua (Jesus).
Luke 3:23 reveals that at about the age of 30, Yeshua began His public ministry here by being mikvahed (immersed) by Yohannan (John).
Upon Yeshua’s immersion, Yohannan witnessed a physical manifestation of the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) descend on Him:
“As soon as Yeshua was immersed, He went up out of the water.  At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him.  And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.’”  (Matthew 3:16–17)

The Mikvah of Yeshua (Bapteme de Jesus),
by James Tissot
While the word “baptism” is the term commonly used today, mikvah is the Jewish term for what Yohannan was performing on the banks of the Jordan, or Yarden in Hebrew.  In fact, the practice of the mikvah was instituted by God through Moses in the Torah, so this was a necessary and regular part of the Biblical Jewish lifestyle.
“The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him [Yohannan].  Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.”  (Mark 1:5)
Yeshua, as God’s Son, had nothing to confess of His own.  Yet, He bore our sins in Himself and carried them all the way to His execution.  (Isaiah 53:4; 1 Peter 2:24)
For Believers in Yeshua who are miikvahed, the event represents much more than a symbolic cleansing of sins.
Being totally immersed under the water is a symbol of death to one’s old life, and rising up from the water symbolizes the birth of a brand new life in Yeshua:
“We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”  (Romans 6:4)

A Christian pilgrim wearing a robe dips into the
banks of the Jordan River at Qasr el Yahud.

Samuel, Bless the Jewish People with New Life, click here

Ritual Purity in the Tanakh
Many Believers are surprised to learn that God instituted the practice of the mikvah in the Torah.  It is the specified means for restoring ritual purity, and it was regularly performed in natural bodies of water, such as springs or rivers.
The Torah mandated ritual cleansing through the mikvah for the following:
  • After tzaraat (certain skin conditions), commonly translated today as leprosy (Leviticus 14:69)
  • After the discharge of abnormal body fluids (Leviticus 15:13)
  • After seminal emissions following sex or related to nocturnal emissions (Leviticus 15:16)
  • Following the monthly menstrual cycle by a woman to regain her purity
  • After contact with a dead body (Numbers 19:19)


Second Temple era mikvah

  • After the ritual of the Red Heifer by the kohen (priest) who performs the ritual (Numbers 19:7–8)
  • By the kohanim (priests) during consecration (Exodus 29:4, 40:12)
  • After the scapegoat (Azazel) has been sent away on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) by the High Priest and by the one who leads the goat away (Leviticus 16:24, 16:26, 16:28)
Today the waters of the mikvah pools throughout the world still cleanse women after menstruation or childbirth and men after emission of bodily fluids.
It is also traditional for a bride and groom to use it before their wedding and for men to visit it on Erev or Eve of Yom Kippur and Erev Rosh HaShanah (New Year’s Eve).
The mikvah is also part of the conversion to Judaism process.

Taking the Bride to the Mikvah, by Shalom Koboshvili
Qasr el Yahud
The traditional location of the spot where Yeshua was mikvahed is Qasr el Yahud or Kasser Al Yahud, Arabic for the Castle of the Jews.
The local ruins of a 4th–5th century Byzantine monastery and church are evidence that this location has been a place of Christian pilgrimages for centuries.
The stability and safety of the British Mandate period from 1920–1948 allowed for the construction of many churches, chapels, and monasteries, which stretch about three kilometers (two miles) south of the site.
However, an earthquake in 1956 seriously damaged the buildings.  More importantly, Jordan, whose border runs along the east bank of the river, attacked Israel after it became a nation in 1948 and occupied the west bank of the Jordan—Israel’s ancient heartland of Judea and Samaria—where Qasr el Yahud is located.

Christian pilgrims visit Qasr el Yahud.
After Arab forces gathered against Israel again in 1967, Israel captured the territory back from Jordan.  Although Jordan has since renounced its claim to the land, the Palestinians now demand this land for an independent Palestinian state.
Security with our neighbor to the east, Jordan, continued to be problematic until Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994.  Over those tenuous years before the treaty, the monks gradually abandoned the churches and monasteries and, today, these ruins are inaccessible due to risk of landmines that Israel laid during that period.
Qasr el Yehud, however, has been recently rehabilitated and the immediate area has been cleared of mines.
After 44 years of essentially being closed, this historic site reopened to the public in 2011 and is now administered by the Israeli Civil Administration and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.
Located in the wilderness of the Jordan River Valley, east of Jericho and north of the Dead Sea, it isn’t easy to get here; but once you arrive, it offers parking, wheelchair access, showers, and prayer facilities, as well as decking and marble stairs leading into the Jordan.

The Ark Passes Over the Jordan, by James Tissot
The Rich History of the Jordan
The excitement and significance of this special place is amplified by other historical events that tradition says took place here at Qasr el Yahud.
After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, Joshua led the Israelites over the Jordan into the Promised Land, presumably in this spot.  This would be the place then that the waters parted as the priests carrying the Ark stepped into the Jordan, and the Israelites crossed on dry ground.  (Joshua 3)
This spot may also be where Elijah rolled up his cloak and struck the waters so that they parted.  He crossed with Elisha before ascending to heaven on a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2).  After this, Elisha took Elijah’s cloak and crossed the Jordan, once again striking it so that the waters parted.
Because this traditional site was closed for so long, a second site called Yardenit (Little Jordan) was opened in 1981 further north on the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee.  This location may have been used by Yeshua to mikvah His talmidim (disciples).
Many Believers come to Israel especially to be baptized in the Jordan, and Yardenit’s location gives visitors safe and easy access.
Each year, it is visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, and many of them either get baptized for the first time or they rededicate their lives to Adonai here.

Christian pilgrims are baptized at Yardenit (Little Jordan).
The Jordan: A Source of Life
“It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.  For there the LORD bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.”  (Psalm 133:3)
The Jordan (Yarden), which means descender, is Israel’s prime source of water for drinking and agriculture.
Most of its water originates approximately 200 meters (650 feet) above sea level in the rain and snow that fall on Mount Hermon in the far north.
From Mount Hermon, the river flows south into the Sea of Galilee (also called Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, and Lake Tiberias), but it doesn’t stop there.  At the southern tip of the Galilee, the Jordan exits and descends south to 420 meters (1,378 feet) below sea level where it empties into the Dead Sea.
Upstream of the Sea of Galilee, three main tributaries form the head of the Jordan River:
  • The Hermon or Banias, which begins as a spring at the foot of Mount Hermon;
  • The Dan, whose source is also at the base of Mount Hermon; and
  • The Snir or Hasbani, which also flows from Mount Lebanon.
Below the Sea of Galilee are other tributaries:
  • The Jalud in the Beth Shean valley;
  • The Yarmouk River;
  • The Zarqa River, the Biblical Jabbok; and
  • Jabesh (Wadi Yabis) named after Jabesh-Gilead, a town mentioned in the Torah.
As the river flows through the Jordan valley below the Galilee, it becomes progressively more saline, picking up about 850,000 tons of salt, as well as debris, so that by the time it empties into the Dead Sea, there is no life left in the water, at least not for drinking or agriculture.
Some environmentalists say that the river itself is in danger of dying in the Jordan Valley.

The Yarmouk River, which originates on the south-eastern slopes of
Mount Hermon and the Hauran Plateau, flows into the Jordan River.
It forms the southern limit of the Golan Heights in Israel’s north and
also defines a short portion of the border between Jordan and Israel.
The Jordan Valley
“In the future He will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan.  The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.”  (Isaiah 9:1–2)
The Tanakh (Old Testament) mentions this important river about 175 times.  The Brit Chadashah (New Testament) mentions it 15 times.
It first appears in Genesis 13:10 when Abraham told Lot to choose which land he would inhabit.
“Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt.”
The entire valley between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea along the Jordan River seemed to Lot like the Garden of Eden, or at least a lush oasis.
So, Lot chose the fertile cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in the southern Jordan Valley as his new homeland.

The Jordan Valley overlooking the Sea of Galilee
Today, the Jordan Valley still attracts people.  The northern part of the valley, which includes the Jordan River, is several degrees warmer than adjacent areas.  It has a year-round agricultural climate, fertile soils and water supply that make it a key agricultural area.
Yet we know from Scripture that a section of the lush, southern region that Lot chose was devastated when, due to sin, God “overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.”  (Genesis 19:25)
A land that once thrived from the river’s pure, life-giving water, now cried out for it, and still does.  This perhaps is a visible reminder of what unrepentant sin does to our own life, spiritually and physically.
But God is a God of restoration, and He does not only renew spiritually, He also renews physically.
The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, by John Martin
Healing Waters from the Temple
Although the Jordan is polluted, and its resources severely stretched and fought over by the nations in its vicinity, the prophet Ezekiel describes a new river of life that will begin at the Temple threshold, flowing into and restoring the Dead Sea, which is fed by the Jordan.
“When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh.  Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. … Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. …  Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. …  Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them.  Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”  (Ezekiel 47:8–12)
The Book of Revelation describes it as a new river of life “clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.”  (Revelation 22:1–2)

Accumulations of salt in the Dead Sea.

The Talmud (Jewish Oral tradition) teaches that these waters will heal not only the Dead Sea, but presumably the waters that flow into it from the Sea of Galilee, which would also include the connecting Jordan River.

“To where do they flow?  To the Sea of Tiberias [Sea of Galilee, Kinnereth] and then to the Sea of Sodom [Dead Sea], and then to the Great Sea [Mediterranean] to heal the salty waters and to sweeten them.”  (Jerusalem Talmud 3:9)

This restoration of the River Jordan and the bodies of water it feeds is exactly what Yeshua does with our own spirits.
Yeshua says to all of us, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink.  Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  (John 7:37)

Jacob Wrestles with the Angel, by Gustav Dore
The River of Miracles
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”  (Joshua 3:5)
In Genesis 32:11, Jacob crossed the Jordan and its eastern tributary, the Jabbok River (Zarqa River) situated east of Shechem, which is in present-day Samaria.
Here, Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord to receive a blessing, which he received along with a new name—Israel (Genesis 32:23–24).
Perhaps the most dramatic moment on the Jordan occurred when Joshua redeemed Israel from their desert existence by leading them across the Jordan to the Promised Land.  Miraculously, the river dammed up even though it was flood season, and the people crossed a dry riverbed (Joshua 3).
Although all of Israel entered the Promised Land, not everyone lived on the west side of the Jordan.  The river became the demarcation line between two groups of the tribes of Israel, with “nine tribes and the half tribe of Manasseh” settling on the west side.  The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh settled on the east side (Numbers 34:13–15; Joshua 13:7–8).

Naaman cleanses in the Jordan River to be healed of tzaraat, a Biblical
skin disease that is traditionally thought to be caused by gossip, murder,
perjury, forbidden sexual relationships, arrogance, theft, and envy.
In 2 Kings 5:14, Elisha sent Naaman the Aramean to bathe in the Jordan’s waters, and he was miraculously healed of leprosy.
In yet another miracle in 2 Kings 6:6, Elisha reclaimed a borrowed axe head that had sunk in the waters by causing it to float to the surface.
At the Jordan, Yohannan the Immerser announced the identity of Yeshua as “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
The Jordan is also mentioned in connection with the coming of the Messiah “by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.”  (Isaiah 9:1–2)

The Sea of Galilee, which is located in the Jordan Valley, is 19 kilometers
(12 miles) long and from 5–10 kilometers (3–6 miles) wide.
Yeshua is soon coming again and, in the meantime, He has given His followers a spiritual source of water that wells up within them.
“Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
This spring of spiritual renewal brings everlasting life and is available now by believing in the One the Hebrew prophets spoke of—Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).
If you wish to drink of His waters of life, or wish to rededicate your life to Him, why not follow in His footsteps and be mikvahed in Israel’s Jordan River.
Samuel, the fact that Israel has once again become an independent nation and the Jewish People are being drawn back to their ancient land is evidence that God’s Spirit is moving in the midst of His people.
You can be a part of this end-time move of God by helping us bring Yeshua to Israel and the World.
Time is short.  He is soon returning.
“For I am ready to set things right, not in the distant future, but right now!  I am ready to save Jerusalem and show My glory to Israel.”  (Isaiah 46:13)
Rev Samuel F Sarpong
Divine Encounter

IN THE BEINNING

Welcome to Shemot (Names), this week’s Parasha (Torah Portion).
This is the portion of Scripture that will be read in synagogues around the world during this week’s Shabbat (Saturday) service.  May you be blessed, refreshed, and inspired as you study God’s word with us at the start of the new year.
SHEMOT (Names)
Exodus 1:1–6:1; Isaiah 27:6–28:13, 29:22–23; Jeremiah 1:1–2:3; Romans 12:1–21
“These are the names [ve’eleh shemot] of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family.”  (Exodus 1:1)
In last week’s Torah portion (Parasha), the first of the five books of Moses, Genesis (Bereisheet—In the Beginning), ended with the deaths of Jacob and Joseph.
This week, we begin the second book of the Torah, Exodus, called Shemot in Hebrew, which means names.
This Parasha describes the suffering of the Israelites under bondage to the Egyptians, the birth of Moses and his miraculous salvation from out of the Nile River.  It also describes his calling to deliver Israel and his encounter with Pharaoh.

The Finding of Moses, by Lawrence Alma Tadema
Like Moses, Like Yeshua
“The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.”  (Exodus 1:5)
Although only 70 descendants of Jacob (whom God renamed Israel) came into the Land of Egypt at Joseph’s invitation, they soon multiplied into such a great and mighty people that the new pharaoh, who did not know Joseph, felt threatened by them.  He feared that the Israelites might join Egypt’s enemies in battles against them.
“The Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.”  (Exodus 1:7)
To counter the growing strength of the Israelites, the Egyptians forced them into bitter labor, building store cities for Pharaoh and working the fields.

Morning prayer (shacharit) at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem.
When they continued to multiply, Pharaoh ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill all newborn males.  But at least two, Shifrah and Puah, did not comply.  God, therefore, supernaturally protected their lives, blessing them with families and multiplying the Israelites even more (Exodus 1:16–21).
So Pharaoh turned to the Egyptians, commanding them to throw all male newborn Hebrews into the Nile River (Exodus 1:22).

The Levite parents of Moses had such great faith that, in order to save their son, they defied Pharaoh’s order and hid him for the first few months of his life.

But babies grow and, eventually, he could no longer be hidden, so they put him in a basket and set him afloat on the Nile among the reeds.
Even in this desperate circumstance, the protective hand of God was on this boy of destiny.  Pharaoh’s daughter spotted the basket.  When she saw the Hebrew baby inside, she had pity on him and took him as her own.
Instead of drowning in the Nile or dying at the hands of the Egyptians as the other newborn boys did, Moses was raised in Pharaoh’s palace as a prince of Egypt.

Reading from a Torah scroll using a yad (literally, hand) to follow the text
without obstructing the view of others who are following along.
This dramatic account of the infant Moses parallels the life of the infant Yeshua (Jesus), who was sentenced to death by the order of King Herod, among all the other Jewish male infants in Bethlehem.
“When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.”  (Matthew 2:16)
Just as Moses was saved by his mother, so was Yeshua saved by the obedience and faith of His earthly father, Joseph, who was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt.
“Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.’  So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt.”  (Matthew 2:13–14) 
What irony that the very place of danger and death for the Hebrew babies in the days of Moses became a place of refuge for Yeshua when He was but a baby!
Jewish mother pushes a stroller in Jerusalem.  (Photo by opalpeterliu)
Egyptian Prince Moses Becomes a Shepherd
Because Pharaoh’s daughter drew the baby from the Nile, she called him Moshe (מֹשֶׁה) from the word moshech, meaning pull or draw.
Moses grew up in the royal Egyptian palace, but it seems that the burdens of his fellow Israelites troubled him.
One day, he saw an Egyptian slave master beating a Hebrew.  Even as a young man, Moses felt the calling to deliver his people, but he stepped ahead of God’s timing.
In the process of defending this Israelite slave, Moses killed the Egyptian and fled to Midian to escape Pharaoh’s death decree over him.  (Exodus 2:15)
Again in Midian, Moses expressed his calling as a deliverer by saving the daughters of the Priest of Midian who had come to the well where he sat.  They wanted to draw water for their flock, but shepherds tried to drive them away.  Moses intervened and watered their flocks for them.

Moses Defending the Daughters of Jethro, by Sebastiano Ricci
The Priest of Midian welcomed Moses to live with him and even gave Moses his daughter, Zipporah, as a wife.
Moses spent the next 40 years shepherding sheep in the land of Midian, a period of time that God used to prepare him to shepherd His people Israel out of Egypt.
Only when the children of Israel cried out to God, did the time come for God to make His move:  “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.”  (Exodus 2:24)
The Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses from out of the flame of a bush that burned but was not consumed.
From the midst of this burning bush at the foot of Mount Sinai, God told Moses he had heard the cries of His People and was sending Moses back to Pharaoh in His name and His power on His behalf.

Moses and the Burning Bush, by Gebhard Fugel
By this point, this prince of Egypt had been so humbled by his lengthy wilderness experience that he seemed to lack confidence when it came to his role as a leader of a nation.
First, Moses asked for the name of the One sending him.
God answered with His name, Ehyeh Asher Ehyehאֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה.  Widely translated as I Am That I Am, the Hebrew grammatical form is actually in the future tense.
Therefore, God’s name is more accurately translated as I Will Be What I Will Be.
The message to Moses is perhaps that God can look after the details of the future.  He will be to us whoever and whatever He chooses to be—father, friend, comforter, counselor, or even disciplinarian.  We can trust in God’s infinite wisdom to be who we need in our lives at each moment in time.
Even with this assurance, Moses still feels unqualified for the task, especially since he is slow in speech.  He begs God to send someone else; therefore, He allowed Aaron, Moses’ brother, to accompany him and act as Moses’ spokesperson.
Yet, it is Moses to whom God first revealed His personal name in Scripture.
Moses grabbed hold of the trust placed in him and delivered a command to Pharaoh with the full authority of I AM:   “Thus says the Lord, ‘Israel is My firstborn son, and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve Me.”’”  (Exodus 4:22–23)

Jewish men pray at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem.
Like Israel, Like Us
There is much we can take from this story of Moses’ progression in becoming a leader.
He was not ready for leadership overnight.  Likewise, we may understand that we have a calling on our lives, and this might become evident time and time again.  Still, we must wait for that time when the Lord chooses to release us into the fullness of our destiny.
As well, we might also feel incapable of accomplishing anything for the Lord, having lost much of our self-confidence through the trials and tribulations of life.
Whatever our experience, it still remains true that submitting to God’s presence and following His direction is all we need to fulfill the destiny He has assigned to us.

A Jewish woman shops in Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market (Photo by Dana
Friedlander / Go Israel)
We can also learn from the suffering of the Israelites.  Despite the tyranny forced on them by the Egyptians, the People of Israel still grew mighty in number.
Oppressive circumstances cannot prevent God from carrying out His purposes and fulfilling His promises.
We might suffer under some sort of bondage or pain for what seems like a very long time, but we can rest assured that God hears our cries.
He remembers the covenant we have with Him through our Messiah Yeshua, which provides a way out of our spiritual bondage and into our inheritance—if only we accept it.
Though God is true to His promises, we still need to keep crying out to Him for deliverance and waiting in faith and hopeful expectation to move on our behalf in our spiritual and our earthly afflictions.
God is not deaf, nor aloof to our suffering.  His arm is not too short to save:  “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.”  (Psalm 34:17)

A husband helps his wife navigate the stairs at Masada in Israel.
Let My People Go
Though Moses entered Egypt and delivered God’s message to Pharaoh, nothing changed immediately.
Pharaoh refused to let the Hebrews go.
Moses might have felt like he failed God, but God has a greater plan for even our failures, and they end in glorifying His name.
Through plagues and judgments (called makot in Hebrew, which can also mean beatings), God proved His position as the One True God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that the gods of the Egyptians had no power over Him.
Through these judgments, we also see that whatever a nation or even an individual does to Israel, for good or for evil, God will return it unto them:
“For the day of the LORD upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head.”  (Obadiah 1:15; see also Genesis 12:3)
Temple of Rameses II: As the Israelites grew in number, the Egyptians
began to fear them, so they forced them into labor to build Pithom and
Rameses as supply cities for Pharaoh.
Parasha Shemot does not end with a mighty deliverance but, rather, with the situation becoming worse—if that were even possible.  Pharaoh made the Israelites’ labor more difficult by demanding that they find their own straw while also maintaining the same quota of production (Exodus 5:18).
In their bitterness, the Hebrew people turned on Moses and Aaron.  Moses responded by turning to the Lord.  With raw honesty, Moses asked why He had not delivered His people as He promised.
“Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people?  Why is it You have sent me?  For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.”  (Exodus 5:22–23)

A Torah scroll is honored by kissing the tzitzit (fringes)
and then touching it to the place where the reading
begins.  In Judaism, the Torah must be treated with
the utmost respect.  It is taught that whoever honors
the Torah will himself be honored.  
(Photo by
Francisco Martins)
We might also feel this way when it seems we are doing what God has asked us to do, and things get worse, not better.
How did God respond to Moses?
“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh.  For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.’”  (Exodus 6:1)
Sometimes, when God is preparing to do something great and mighty in our lives, the situation can worsen for a time.  As we move toward our destiny, pharaoh represents those who oppress us—even Satan, the spiritual enemy of our souls, who resists our freedom with all his might.
In such circumstances, we should not give up our faith, for in due time we will see God’s mighty hand and outstretched arm deliver us in His perfect way and time.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  (Romans 12:12) 
In these last days as Israel is beset with those who desire to destroy her, it may seem to them that peace and deliverance is lost.
Samuel, please pray that they will open their hearts and eyes to receive the free gift of eternal peace and salvation that Messiah Yeshua longs to give them.
You can make a difference by helping us bring the Good News of Yeshua throughout the Holy Land by supporting the development of the Messianic Prophecy Bible.
“In this way all Israel will be saved.  As it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.'”  (Romans 11:26)
Rev Samuel F Sarpong

NUMBERS

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  (Psalm 90:12)
In our study of Scripture, we might notice the frequency with which certain numbers occur.  Their appearance does not seem coincidental.
Although numbers for the most part are considered mundane, in Judaism numbers are linked with the universal truths of the Torah (first five books of the Bible).  Still, the pattern of numbers in the Torah continues in the writings of the Prophets and the Brit Chadashah (New Testament).

Continue reading NUMBERS