Yom Kippur

This day is the most holy day the Hebrew/Jewish people celebrate every year. This article will share with you where it is in the Bible and how it is “celebrated” today. Having lived in Israel, I can share with you a personal experience. My prayer is that you understand WHY God established this day, and HOW it should influence your life.

Let us first look at verses from the Bible that show the beginning of when this day began.

Here are verses from Leviticus 16:29-31

“It is to be a permanent regulation for you that on the tenth day of the seventh month you are to deny yourselves and not do any kind of work, both the citizen and the foreigner living with you. 30 For on this day, atonement will be made for you to purify you; you will be clean before Adonai from all your sins. 31 It is a Shabbat of complete rest for you, and you are to deny yourselves. “This is a permanent regulation.” (CJB)

These verses share with us that this is a day that is a “high” Shabbat. What do I mean by “high?” It means that it is in essence “more holy” than a regular Shabbat. There is something different.

Verse 29 says it is a day to “deny yourselves.” It is a day that no work is done (which is like a Shabbat) for both the citizen and foreigner. The words, “deny yourselves” is what sets this day apart from other Shabbats. It says this twice in these verses. Jews have taken this to mean, “fast.” It has been understood that for 24 hours there is no food or drink. It does not specifically say this in the Word/Torah, but rabbi’s have said that denying food is the ultimate way to “deny” oneself.

Another important piece that sets this day apart from others is that an atonement will be made to purify the people. This sacrifice will make the Hebrews/Jews clean before Adonai. This sacrifice will purify them for the next year.

Also in these verses are the words (twice), this is to be a “permanent regulation.”

Some people might say that this is only one part of the Bible. Only a couple verses. Let us see if we can find other evidence of this day. In Leviticus 23:26-32 it says:

Adonai said to Moshe, 27 “The tenth day of this seventh month is Yom-Kippur; you are to have a holy convocation, you are to deny yourselves, and you are to bring an offering made by fire to Adonai. 28 You are not to do any kind of work on that day, because it is Yom-Kippur, to make atonement for you before Adonai your God. 29 Anyone who does not deny himself on that day is to be cut off from his people; 30 and anyone who does any kind of work on that day, I will destroy from among his people. 31 You are not to do any kind of work; it is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live. 32 It will be for you a Shabbat of complete rest, and you are to deny yourselves; you are to rest on your Shabbat from evening the ninth day of the month until the following evening.” (CJB)

These verses firmly establish what was stated several chapters earlier. It is a reinforcement of the Words already written.

On this day the priests would enter the Holy of Holies with a sacrifice. The first part of Leviticus chapter 16 explains in detail what God expected to have happen on this day. There are TWO goats. One goat was to be slaughtered and established as the sacrifice for ALL the people. This is Leviticus 16:5-19 –

5 “Next, he is to slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, bring its blood inside the curtain and do with its blood as he did with the bull’s blood, sprinkling it on the ark-cover and in front of the ark-cover. 16 He will make atonement for the Holy Place because of the uncleannesses of the people of Isra’el and because of their transgressions — all their sins; and he is to do the same for the tent of meeting which is there with them right in the middle of their uncleannesses. 17 No one is to be present in the tent of meeting from the time he enters the Holy Place to make atonement until the time he comes out, having made atonement for himself, for his household and for the entire community of Isra’el. 18 Then he is to go out to the altar that is before Adonai and make atonement for it; he is to take some of the bull’s blood and some of the goat’s blood and put it on all the horns of the altar. 19 He is to sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, thus purifying it and setting it apart from the uncleannesses of the people of Isra’el. (CJB)

The other goat had ALL the sins of the people placed on it and then it was sent out into the wilderness.  This goat was called the scapegoat. Leviticus 16:20-22 –

20 “When he has finished atoning for the Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he is to present the live goat. 21 Aharon is to lay both his hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the transgressions, crimes and sins of the people of Isra’el; he is to put them on the head of the goat and then send it away into the desert with a man appointed for the purpose. 22 The goat will bear all their transgressions away to some isolated place, and he is to let the goat go in the desert. (CJB)

As we can see, there are two ways that the sin is cleansed. One is through a slaughter. The other is a sending out into the wilderness.

How does this relate to the New Testament? For those who believe Jesus is the Messiah, we see that Jesus is our Passover Lamb, but we also know that He is the person established as atonement for ALL our transgressions. This day is when we can recognize that God sent Someone to be our atonement. That God sent Someone to be our scapegoat. That Someone is our Messiah.

This day is also the culmination of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish “New Year”). On Rosh Hashana the Jewish people ask God to write their name in the Book of Life. The next 10 days are the “Days of Awe” and they ask those around them for forgiveness of anything they did wrong in the past year. That way, when Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement” arrives, they have taken care of all their wrongs against others. They also ask forgiveness from God Himself so that when Yom Kippur arrives they are clean before God and He will “seal” their verdict for the coming year.

In the modern world, living in Israel, this day is definitely set apart. The whole country shuts down – literally. No one drives on the roads (more on that later), the airport even shuts down. No planes in or out for 24 hours.  There is truly a sense of quietness that enters the Land. It is different than a regular Shabbat. Instead of seeing some cars out on the roads, there are none.

This day is supposed to be where one is inside praying and reflecting, or at the synagogue praying. Since there is no Temple, no sacrifices can be made, so fasting is their affliction and they are “hoping” God will seal their name in the Book of Life. They “hope” that they have done enough mitzvot (good deeds) to secure a place with God.

If one doesn’t drive, how do I know what is, or is not, open?

Here is a personal way that I found out… One of our first Yom Kippur’s in the country we had a young woman who came to get baptized. We decided to invite her up for dinner. Thinking she would spend the night with us, we had our meal knowing that Yom Kippur was entering. After dinner she informs us that she wants to return to her hotel. All of a sudden we are in a dilemma. We told her no one drives. She really wants to go. I decided to take her.

The drive to the hotel was the most interesting I have ever experienced. We had to drive about 7 miles into Tiberias. The first village we went through was absolutely horrific. See, on Yom Kippur – because there are no cars in the streets – everyone heads outside to ride bikes and walk in the streets. These people were out, full force, when we drove through. We had people that were pushing on our vehicle as we drove by. People were yelling at us as we went through the village. It was the most tense situation I have ever been in. Once through that scenario it was not too bad. It was quiet roads until Tiberias, and Tiberias – strangely enough – no one was out.

I dropped the young woman off and returned to the house. I saw a few cars out, and who knows what they were doing. With my hazards on I drove slowly, acting like I was having an emergency. Thankfully, driving through the village on my return, the roads were empty.

Some may ask why I tell this story… As I was driving through the village and the people were “condemning” me for driving, I had to wonder why they were not in their homes spending time with God. Why were they finding time to cause problems for someone in the road, rather than talking with God? I found it strange that this is a day when they are supposed to be asking for forgiveness from God and praying that He would seal them in the Book of Life, and they were throwing accusations at someone else. They had no idea why I was driving, yet they were very angry with me. It seemed like a contradiction.

We are all on a journey. On that journey we need to ask God to show us His ways. He wants us to seek Him in Spirit and Truth. This day of Yom Kippur is a day that needs to be set apart. We should stop and reflect on His Atonement for us. We need to recognize that He has asked us to separate ourselves from others.

This day is not a time for us to judge others, rather a time for our personal reflection. There is something to be said about having a day that we set apart to understand God’s atonement for us. We must understand that God truly wants us to be repentant before Him and that we need to evaluate our lives and ask for forgiveness when He reveals things to us. We should be asking God to show us where we have wronged someone. We should be asking God to forgive us for what we have done that has gone against His Word.

As people who believe Jesus is our Atonement, we are blessed that we do not need to sacrifice or enter the Holy of Holies to have our sins removed.  Jesus took care of that when He died for us. Jesus is our answer. We have a freedom to walk knowing that our sins have been redeemed.

I encourage you to begin understanding the calendar that God gave Moses and the Children of Israel. I encourage you to look for the secrets of His Word that can bring a deeper understanding of who your Creator is. Yom Kippur is one day that was established for this reason.

Yom Kippur this year in 2020 begins Sunday at sundown and is celebrated until sundown Monday evening…

 — Rose Horton

Photo by Anton Mislawsky on Unsplash

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah… Also known as “head of the year.” Rosh is head. Ha is the. Shana is year.

This festival is considered one of the holiest in Judaism. This year it is considered a “high holy day” because it falls on a Friday/Saturday which is Shabbat. Any time that a festival falls on a Shabbat it becomes even more sacred and valued.

The festival was established in Torah.

Leviticus 23:23-25

23 Adonai said to Moshe, 24 “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘In the seventh month, the first of the month is to be for you a day of complete rest for remembering, a holy convocation announced with blasts on the shofar. 25 Do not do any kind of ordinary work, and bring an offering made by fire to Adonai.’”

Blasts on the shofar. This is the one holiday that it is encouraged to blow the shofar. It is the beginning of their new year. They are bringing praise to Adonai.

It is on the first day of the month of Tishrei. Yes, it is considered the “seventh month,” but this is due to a civil cycle and a spiritual cycle. That can be explained in another segment.

The reason this festival is considered “head of the year” is because this is when it is believed that God created the world. It becomes the “birthday of the world.”

The importance of this day continues for 10 more which are called the “Days of Awe.” During these ten days the Jewish people spend time in reflection and asking for forgiveness. They want to make sure that their hearts are clean so that on the Day of Atonement they can be made pure for another year.

For those who believe in Jesus as their Messiah, I believe this day could be the birthday of Jesus. Based on the times and seasons of when the priests served in the Temple, and we know that Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist when Mary came to visit her, pieces can be put together.

If we stop and think about this, it would make sense. Jesus is brought to earth as a baby on the day that the Jews consider to be the “beginning of the world.” He is going to return as King over all the earth” to a blast of the shofar.

These are great days of reflection. Passover is significant, because of what it represents as prophecies fulfilled. But, these are days that have happenings yet to come. Shofars blowing – then days of reflection about our lives – then the day of Atonement when we come before God – and then the ultimate celebration of Sukkot when we Feast together with Him.

How do I celebrate? Our family makes round challah bread with raisins which represent the crown for the coronation. We also eat apples dipped in honey to bring sweetness to the new year.

With all that is happening in the world, I believe that we should really stop and reflect this year on HIS times and seasons. TONIGHT (Friday the 18th) is when Rosh Hashana begins. As Shabbat enters, so does this joyous, and yet reflective festival. I urge you to prepare and be ready to spend time with your Father. Your Creator. The One Who made you in HIS image so you can be like Him.

Reflect on Psalm 81, known to be a Psalm for this day.

For the Leader. On the gittit. By Asaf:

Sing for joy to God our strength!

Shout to the God of Ya‘akov! Start the music! Beat the drum! Play the sweet lyre and the lute!

Sound the shofar at Rosh-Hodesh and at full moon for the pilgrim feast, because this is a law for Isra’el, a ruling of the God of Ya‘akov. He placed it as a testimony in Y’hosef when he went out against the land of Egypt. I heard an unfamiliar voice say, “I lifted the load from his shoulder; his hands were freed from the [laborer’s] basket.

You called out when you were in trouble,and I rescued you;

I answered you from the thundercloud; I tested you at the M’rivah Spring [by saying,] (Selah)

“‘Hear, my people, while I give you warning! Isra’el, if you would only listen to me! There is not to be with you any foreign god; you are not to worship an alien god.

I am Adonai your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth, and I will fill it.’

“But my people did not listen to my voice; Isra’el would have none of me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to live by their own plans.

How I wish my people would listen to me, that Isra’el would live by my ways! I would quickly subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes. Those who hate Adonai would cringe before him, while [Isra’el’s] time would last forever. They would be fed with the finest wheat, and I would satisfy you with honey from the rocks.”

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Semach!

Rose Horton

Photo by Igal Ness on Unsplash

Wrestle With God

I’m so excited I’m not sure where to begin. I wrote last week about “submit and surrender.” I mentioned that I was going to talk to Hebrew speaking friends to get their thoughts because the word “surrender” isn’t really in the Bible.

What I wrote last week is that “surrender is a willingness to give something up.” There is that element and concept in the Bible, yes, but as I have done a deeper study, I’m moving away from the idea of “surrendering to God.”

It started when I realized again (I had heard it before but it never truly resonated with me) that when Jacob’s name was changed to “Israel” it is because he “wrestled with God.” That is the meaning of Israel – “wrestle with God.” Therefore, because I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel), I need to understand what it means to “wrestle with God.”

My thoughts are going a mile a minute, but I was just talking to a friend and pieces are coming together. So, all I can do is start typing and pray that Holy Spirit writes through me and that the thoughts become fluid enough for others to understand.

Let me say that this post may rub some of you the wrong way. I pray that you just take what is written and ponder on it. I’m not saying I am “right,” but I have shared this with a few friends and it resonates with them.

My question is: What if, “I Surrender All” really should be, “I Will Wrestle with my God”?????

When I heard back from my Jewish, Hebrew speaking friends and contacts, they told me that there is NOT a Hebrew/Jewish thought of surrendering to God. This kind of blew me away. And my brain started to spin.

What if the idea of surrender to God isn’t really what we think? We say that because Jesus “gave His life” He surrendered to the Father. But, did He?

The definition of “I surrender” is:

What does I surrender mean?

(Entry 1 of 2) transitive verb. 1a : to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand surrendered the fort. b : to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another.

The definition of “surrender” according to the Cambridge dictionary is:

to stop fighting and admit defeat:

Hmmm… If Jesus “surrendered to God” than that means He felt defeat. And yet, in that moment He had more VICTORY than ever before. Satan THOUGHT He had won, but we know he did not. GOD DID.

So, if I surrender to God, that means I admit defeat. Does God really want me to admit defeat? He wants me to admit when I am wrong, but to feel defeat? He wants me to be victorious! An overcomer.

There is a New Testament Studies professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. I had the privilege of hearing her speak at a local synagogue when we lived in Nashville. Her name is Amy-Jill Levine and she is an Orthodox Jew. She has studied the New Testament in depth and brings to the table lots of Jewish History and understanding that Christians often miss. When I asked her about the idea/concept of “surrendering to God” her response was this:

“The Jewish tradition is sufficiently diverse that there may be a surrender idea somewhere, but I am not familiar with it. The tradition is more inclined to argue with the divine, as the Lament Psalms, Jeremiah, Moses, Abraham…. all indicate. “Israel” traditionally means “to wrestle with G-d” — that is not the image of surrender.”

Since this was not the first time I had heard that there is NOT a concept of “Surrender to God” in Jewish thought, my mind began to ponder things more.

What if we had it wrong? What if we have been teaching something the wrong way? And then I asked myself, What does it mean to “wrestle with God?”

I reached out to a friend in Florida tonight. We sent WhatsApp messages back and forth. She gave me the verse Matthew 16:24

Then Yeshua told his talmidim, “If anyone wants to come after me, let him say ‘No’ to himself, take up his execution-stake, and keep following me.

In this there is the idea of self-denial. It isn’t truly the concept of “surrender.” My friend used the words, “humble yourselves, deny yourselves, crucify…”

When she used those words, I immediately thought, “these are a form of wrestling.” We are “struggling against something.” When we “humble ourselves” we actively have to “lay something down.” When we “deny ourselves” we “give something up.” But, in NONE of these situations does it say we admit defeat, or that we are defeated.

Ephesians 6:12 For we are not struggling against human beings, but against the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.

We have to “wrestle the flesh” inside of us. Just like Jacob “wrestled with God” to get rid of his flesh, we are “wrestling with the flesh daily.” My friend in Florida quoted it this way:

“The spirit of God nature part of us wrestles with the non-God part of us, our flesh. So in a sense, we wrestle against the Spirit of God that lives in us.”

We all know that we wrestle our flesh often. Our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak.

Matthew 26:41 Stay awake, and pray that you will not be put to the test — the spirit indeed is eager, but human nature is weak.”

My thought is this: understanding the concept of following Jesus might make more sense to people if they do not feel like they are “losing control” by surrendering. Sometimes to “surrender” seems so overwhelming.

But, I can wrestle against something. It is difficult to feel like you are “losing control” when you wrestle. You “fight to win.” And when you are “fighting WITH God, how could you lose?

My friend responded with this:

“I feel like this is good – surrender you are giving up your will like as a prisoner, but Jesus never asks us to be His prisoners. He calls us friend, brother, beside, daughter etc…”

SO TRUE!!!!! I got chills when I read that message from her.

We are called to “fight the flesh” and “wrestle against our flesh.” We WANT to give it up and follow Him, but we don’t admit defeat to Him. We actually walk victorious WITH HIM when we yield to the Spirit.

Friends, take up your cross today and fight the flesh. Wrestle with God and His Spirit within you. When you do, you will RISE UP and find victory! This is what it means to FOLLOW HIM in Spirit and in Truth.

We admit our flesh is there, but we ACTIVELY fight it. We actively WRESTLE with it. HE is our friend and HE is our brother! HE walks beside us. That is NOT an attitude of surrender, but one of ACTIVELY working together to bring HIS KINGDOM on earth as it is in Heaven.

Friends, I pray this resonates with you. I pray that you take hold of knowing and understanding how to “wrestle with God” and LET HIM WIN. If we all take on this idea of “wrestling with God” seriously, can you imagine the VICTORY we could have????

Shabbat Shalom,

Rose Horton

PS – this picture is not of wrestling, but it is one of climbing and overcoming. Rising up to be victorious!

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

Submit And Surrender

Submit and Surrender…

There are lots of articles written about these two words. I even came across some that are not “Christian” that are well written with great ideas about how to apply these two concepts.

I won’t be able to cover everything in one blog. I’m sure you have read articles about these two words before. I’m writing about them because it is something I am learning more about.

I forget how these words came into my mind. When I began to study them, I soon realized that there is a difference between the two, and sometimes we confuse them. Then, as I did a little more study, I read that the word surrender is ONLY used in the Old Testament. I found this interesting. I have reached out to my Hebrew speaking friends to find out their thoughts on these two words and to discover if Hebrew has two different words. I will process their thoughts this week and maybe another blog will come out of their teachings.

What I do know is, the concept of surrendering to God is accurate, but it isn’t clearly discussed in the Word. We are often told to “submit” to Him, but not to “surrender.” The concept is there, but the actual word is not.

In my opinion, the idea of “submitting” is to do something because one “has to.” As a woman I am told to “submit to my husband.” Everyone is told to “submit to the governing authorities.” Husbands are told to “submit to God.” These are instructions we are expected to do.

Jeremiah 10:23 Adonai, I know that the way of humans is not in their control, humans are not able to direct their steps as they walk.

I Peter 2:13-17 For the sake of the Lord, submit yourselves to every human authority — whether to the emperor as being supreme, 14 or to governors as being sent by him to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do what is good. 15 For it is God’s will that your doing good should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Submit as people who are free, but not letting your freedom serve as an excuse for evil; rather, submit as God’s slaves. 17 Be respectful to all — keep loving the brotherhood, fearing God and honoring the emperor.

The idea of “surrendering” is doing something because we WANT to. If we truly love God we will surrender to His thoughts and ideas and let Him lead and guide. It is easy to surrender when we know and believe that the person we are surrendering to has our best interest in mind. It is not as easy to surrender when we do not know how things will play out or what will happen.

Because we do not always know how God is going to “handle a situation” we can often find it difficult to truly surrender. To “lay our lives down” and let Him lead and guide it without saying anything is challenging. We still want to have our say. We still want to get our way.

We can say the same in a marriage relationship. When we know our partner has our best interest in mind we find it easy to “move together and make things happen.” When we question the motive, or mindset, of the other person everything becomes difficult.

Even when we think of surrendering in war, as difficult as it is, there comes a point when one realizes that to surrender might be the best option. Sometimes giving your life willingly can bring the best outcome.

I know this can be argued both ways. One could say that a person should never surrender when standing for Truth. So then, I guess one can say that sometimes to surrender means to “give your life.” Jesus surrendered to the Father’s will when He took our sins and nailed them with His life on the cross. In a war, to surrender might mean to “give your life.”

When it comes to life today, there are times we need to submit, and times to surrender. It is time for us to pray and seek HIS will on when and how to respond. Sometimes we just need to say, “this is what I’m asked to do, so I will do it.” Other times we might need to stand up and be willing to surrender our lives for HIS cause.

People have all sorts of thoughts and opinions about what is “right” and what is Truth. Knowing when to do what is not always easy when we only listen to the world. It could be quite confusing. All of this means it is just another reason to LISTEN to the Father and Spirit and let HIS WORDS guide. They will be the lamp to your feet and light to your path.

This week seek HIM on how HE wants you to respond. When a situation arises, ask if you should “submit” because you know you need to, or surrender completely and let HIM be in control even if it means “laying your life on the line.”

Shabbat Shalom,

Rose Horton

Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

Walking In The Gorge

We overlook a gorge from our home here in Cyprus. I have been thinking about this word this past week. A gorge is technically like a valley, but usually seen as a bit more rocky and treacherous than a valley. Walking through a valley is usually pleasant. Hiking a gorge can be a tumultuous.

The word gorge is used in some translations for how animals eat. “Do not gorge yourself as animals do…” It doesn’t usually mean something pleasant. Often is is quite disgusting.

It is also used in one translation for Luke 3:4-6 It was just as had been written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Yesha’yahu (Isaiah), “The voice of someone crying out: ‘In the desert prepare the way for Adonai! Make straight paths for him! Every valley must be filled in, every mountain and hill leveled off; the winding roads must be straightened and the rough ways made smooth. Then all humanity will see God’s deliverance.’”

I did not use that translation for the verses above. These are from the CJB as I usually use. However, one could see how the word “gorge” could be used instead of valley. I don’t believe that the valley spoken of was a beautiful place. It was a rough place that needed to be smoothed out.

With all that is happening in our world, there is lots of turmoil. Rocky places and situations. Cities people don’t want to visit because of looting, rioting and other negative events. People “gorging” themselves on media lies and technology spins of opinions. There is a lot of “junk.”

The prophet Isaiah said the words above. John the Immerser repeated them. The people of the day, in both situations, were choosing to put man-made laws and traditions above the heart of God. They were choosing to follow other gods from the nations living around them. They were NOT following God’s intent.

Our world today is in the same position. We put our desires and needs above God’s. We hold to the selfishness of the world around us instead of listening to Him. We are walking through these rough places and don’t even notice that it is leading us astray. We think it is all “normal.”

The questions we need to ask ourselves, “Are we preparing the way for the Lord’s return?” “Are we ‘in the valley’ doing our best to fill it in so He can be glorified?” “Are we ‘straightening the winding road’ or just meandering along not really caring?”

I am not an outspoken person. I am considered quiet and gentle. However, I know that when asked, I do my best to speak Truth and make a clear path that is smooth. I don’t want friends wandering or stumbling. I want to see them KNOW the deliverance of God.

In these days and times, as the Coming of the Lord gets closer and closer, we need to be like John the Immerser. We need to be a “voice in the desert.” We need to help make the roads as smooth as we can. No stress. Just speaking the Truth with His love.

Then the valleys, hills, gorges and mountains will ALL give Him praise.

This coming week, take the opportunity to be His Light to those around you. We might be walking in tumultuous situations, but the gorge will not be difficult to walk through if we are walking with Him. As He leads and guides, you will find the rough places made smooth.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rose Horton

Photo by Thomas Tucker on Unsplash

Heat

Heat… Last week I wrote about the unexpected rain we experienced. August in our region is known for high temperatures. We always told people who wanted to travel to Israel to avoid August because it was miserable outside most days. Here in Cyprus it is almost always in the 90’s and often close to 100.

That is upper 30’s and low 40’s for those who follow the Celsius thermometer. In Israel it was more of a dry heat. The humidity here makes us sweat. At least here in Cyprus there are lots of swimming pools. Our current home does not have a pool, so we opted for a water park pass that has been our life saver this year. It helps to “beat the heat.”

But, enough on the joys of how to try and stay cool. What does heat have to do with the Word and our spiritual lives? We have all heard different teachings. Let’s look at a couple of verses.

Deuteronomy 28:22 Adonai will strike you down with wasting diseases, fever, inflammation, fiery heat, drought, blasting winds and mildew; and they will pursue you until you perish.

Why would God do this? We have to go back to verse 15:

“But if you refuse to pay attention to what Adonai your God says, and do not observe and obey all his mitzvot and regulations which I am giving you today, then all the following curses will be yours in abundance:

In between 15 and 22 are many curses that God will send, and they continue for many verses after. After reading them I don’t think that I want to disobey the commands of  Adonai.

As God brings Israel back to her glory, Isaiah 4 gives us insight into the beauty that will occur. Verse 6 says:

A sukkah will give shade by day from the heat; it will also provide refuge and cover from storm and rain.

God’s sukkah, which is a covering, will bring refreshment to the land. He will watch over them. A sukkah is the “tent” the Jewish people build during the festival of Sukkot. They eat in it every night and some sleep in it. It is a wonderful time to be in Israel. As you walk through Jerusalem (and drive through the land) you see these three sided additions to balconies and on the sides of homes. They have palm branches for their “roof” so they can see the greatness of God and be reminded of all that He has done for them.

A “sukkah” to provide refuge from the heat. What a blessing for those who choose to walk in His ways.

As we move into the New Testament, we see that Jesus used heat in some of His teachings. Matthew 20:12

These latecomers have worked only one hour, while we have borne the brunt of the day’s work in the hot sun, yet you have put them on an equal footing with us!’

The hot sun. The Israelites knew all about the heat of the day. The parable Jesus told spoke of workers hired to work in the field. Obviously those listening did not think it fair that someone who came halfway through the day received the same pay as someone who started the day and worked through.

The teaching of Jesus was clear, for those who wanted to understand. It doesn’t matter when you choose to follow Adonai, when you do the blessing is the same for all. The heat of the day will affect us all. But when we choose to follow the Master, He will give us all life eternal.

We cannot speak about heat without looking at the book of Revelation 7:16

They will never again be hungry, they will never again be thirsty, the sun will not beat down on them,nor will any burning heat.

The verses above are actually from the book of Isaiah. As John received his revelation and wrote his words, Adonai gave Him reminders from the Prophets. We all look forward to the day when those who will surround the throne of the King of kings will “never again be hungry or thirsty.”

The verse above once again tells us that those who choose to follow the commands of Adonai, believe in Him and His Words, they will be blessed. They will one day surround the Throne and no longer feel the beating sun.

We live in days of “global warming.” I know the atmosphere is changing. I can agree with some things that scientists say are happening. But, I also know that some of these changes are happening to wake us up and prepare us for what is coming.

The KING is coming and we need to be ready.

The heat we face is not just physical heat. We also have spiritual heat that comes at us. Words thrown out against us. Temptations placed in front of us. Decisions that must be made. We are getting hit from all sides and it is spiritually exhausting. Just like physical heat can drain us, spiritual battles will as well.

We must find our place of refuge in His Sukkah. We must find our place to rest in His Words. His promises are true. When we ground ourselves in His Truth, we will be blessed. He can prepare a table for us in the presence of our enemies and we won’t think twice. We will continue to enjoy His peace because He is our Shepherd.

Finding our place of rest in Him will prepare us for His coming. The heat will tire us, but His strength will get us through. We will continue to walk in His Truth so we are ready when the King comes.

Keep on grounding yourself in His Words. Let His Words bring you the peace and strength you need. Find ways to rest in Him so you are READY when He comes. Don’t get caught without your oil. Keep your lamp burning with His oil. The oil of gladness and the oil of joy.

So many thoughts about HEAT. Just prepare and be ready!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rose Horton

Photo by Cullan Smith on Unsplash

Rain

Rain… This word came to my mind because we were awakened at 6 am to the sound of raindrops. We scrambled a little to put a few items that were outside under the awning.

Rain in Cyprus in the month of August is unheard of. A friend at the grocery store said she has been here 24 years and has never seen rain in Cyprus in August. I read that Haifa had a rain shower yesterday. Having lived in Israel before here, we know how rare that is. Rain, even in September is highly unlikely. It wasn’t a hard rain this morning, but enough to “dampen” the ground.

Rain is important in the Word. There are several times that God tells the Children of Israel that He will withhold rain if they do not follow His Words.

Amos 4:7 “I withheld the rain from you three months before the harvest. I made it rain on one city and not on another —one field had rain, while another with no rain dried up;

There is an interesting story in Ezra 10:13-14 about when the Children of Israel sinned against God and married foreign women. They didn’t want to stand out in the rain during the “rainy season.” They sent the leaders to represent the community.

13 But there are many people, and it’s the rainy season — we can’t stay out here in the open. Also, it isn’t the work of a day or two; for there are many of us who have committed this crime. 14 Let our leaders represent the whole community; and let all those in our cities who have married foreign women appear at prearranged times, accompanied by the elders and judges of each city; until our God’s fierce anger over this has been turned away from us.”

In the book of Acts (chapter 14:15-17), right before the stoning of Paul this is what Paul and Barnabas told the people:

15 “Men! Why are you doing this? We’re just men, human like you! We are announcing Good News to you — turn from these worthless things to the living God who made heaven and earth and the sea and everything in them! 16 In times past, he allowed all peoples to walk in their own ways; 17 yet he did not leave himself without evidence of his nature; because he does good things, giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons, filling you with food and your hearts with happiness!”

God does allow people to “live in their sin” at times. Sometimes He will allow rain. Sometimes He will withhold rain. Sometimes He will do good things in spite of what people do. Other times He will allow their demise and have them struggle.

We should be in a season of seeking Him. We should be in a place of asking Him for His Truth. We should be focusing on Who He is and His greatness, while striving to let our lights shine for Him. Although I often struggle with complaining and become like the Children of Israel, I pray I am learning to strengthen my faith and trust in WHO my Father is and that HE knows what is best.

That as I seek Him and His TRUTH I will not be like Israelites who turned from His Promises and did their own thing.

If we are being a light and love to those around us, than we will make a difference. If we are showing those we come in contact with His grace, than we will be a blessing of rain to them. The song, “There shall be showers of blessing” comes to my mind.

There shall be showers of blessing:

This is the promise of love;

There shall be seasons refreshing,

Sent from the Savior above.

 Showers of blessing,

 Showers of blessing we need;

 Mercy-drops round us are falling,

 But for the showers we plead.

There shall be showers of blessing-

 Precious reviving again;

Over the hills and the valleys,

Sound of abundance of rain.

There shall be showers of blessing;

Send them upon us, O Lord!

Grant to us now a refreshing;

Come, and now honor Thy Word.

There shall be showers of blessing;

O that today they might fall,

Now as to God we’re confessing,

 Now as on Jesus we call!

There shall be showers of blessing,

 If we but trust and obey;

There shall be seasons refreshing,

 If we let God have His way.

source: https://www.lyricsondemand.com/miscellaneouslyrics/christianlyrics/thereshallbeshowersofblessinglyrics.html

When we are following His Truths, we will find ourselves refreshed and in abundance. We need His drops of mercy every day. We want HIS revival. The words “Now as to God we’re confessing, Now as on Jesus we call!” should be our hearts cry. And the last verse, “If we but trust and obey; There shall be seasons refreshing, If we let God have His way.”

Words we need to be reminded of as we walk out these crazy times and days. It isn’t going to get easier. God’s Word has made that clear.

Ground yourself in HIS Truth. Focus on what He is doing. Let Him bring you the refreshing.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rose Horton

Photo by reza shayestehpour on Unsplash

Laughter

I don’t want to be depressing, but there are days that life is hard. We have all faced them, and in these interesting times we live in, we probably have had them more. So, when the word “laughter” came to my mind, I kind of had to laugh! And then I saw this verse…

Proverbs 14:13 Even in laughter the heart can be sad,and joy may end in sorrow.

Not exactly the most pleasant verse I was looking for. The book of Ecclesiastes had some as well that were not too exciting. They were about how laughter is meaningless.

Then this verse is also there:

Psalm 37:12-13 The wicked plots against the righteous and grinds his teeth at him;but Adonai laughs at the wicked,knowing his day will come.

There are so many things going crazy in the world. The wicked are out to discourage, kill and destroy all that is positive. They might have their plots, but at some point Adonai actually laughs. He, as the Judge and King over all the earth will remove the evil.

Matthew 9:24 he said, “Everybody out! The girl isn’t dead, she’s only sleeping!” And they jeered at him.

Some versions use the word “laughed” instead of “jeered.” Jesus was laughed at.

Laughter is obviously not always the most uplifting word. The verses above are almost depressing. I think we need to understand them in order to truly get back to a GOOD laugh.

We are told that laughing is healthy. We are told that when we laugh it brings healing to our soul. I know that when I can laugh with a good belly laugh, almost to tears, I usually feel really well.

So, during these trying and difficult times, laughter can be sad and bring sorrow. We can remind ourselves that Adonai is “laughing” at what is happening and that He is in FULL control. We can know that Jesus was laughed at as well.

And then, we can learn how to bring healthy and positive laughter to our situation.

I believe that one thing we need to learn to do is laugh at ourselves. I used to hate that and thought it was not right. But, now that I have teenagers and they LOVE to laugh at me, I have learned that when I can laugh WITH them it is so much more enjoyable! They can make fun of my roots and gray hair as it grows, then we enjoy the “younger” look when I get it done again. They can laugh when I can’t keep up, but then we enjoy the water park and slides together, laughing as we bounce and get wet.

When we can truly STOP and know that God is in control, that He faced trying and difficult times, and that yes, sorrow will be there… THEN we can learn to LAUGH at ourselves. We can laugh with those around us. We can ENJOY the difficult and trying times.

I’m learning this. It isn’t easy. Life isn’t always easy. Laughing along the way will make it easier. I pray that you can find someone to laugh with this weekend. That you will find a peaceful and JOYFUL rest for your soul.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rose Horton

Photo by Sarah Noltner on Unsplash

Move

Move… I’m not sure why this word is on my mind this week. There are many different directions this word can be used. Let’s start with a few verses:

Deuteronomy 19:14 “You are not to move your neighbor’s boundary marker from the place where people put it long ago, in the inheritance soon to be yours in the land Adonai your God is giving you to possess.

Proverbs 22:28 Don’t move the ancient boundary stone set up by your ancestors.

Acts 17:28 ‘for in him we live and move and exist.’ Indeed, as some of the poets among you have said, ‘We are actually his children.’

Revelation 6:14 The sky receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved from its place.

The world is moving in a strange way right now. The verses above from the Old Testament show us that God does NOT want us to move our boundary markers. The instructions God gave us need to be our foundation. When He plants us, we do ALL that He requires us to do.

As we know from the teachings in Torah, the Children of Israel were moved when God moved them. They had the cloud to follow and when He needed them to go to a new area, the cloud moved. I’m sure there were times that the Children of Israel did not want to go to a new place, but when God said, “Go!” They needed to go.

When we are following Him, we do “live, move, and exist” in ALL that He asks us to do. As His children, we must LISTEN to Him and follow His lead. It isn’t always easy being as “flexible” as He requires us to be. And in the world we live in today, it becomes more challenging.

The verse in Revelation is the “finale.” There is an end coming. We do not know how everything will play out, but movement is happening. The mountains and islands will shake. We are beginning to see this happen. There are earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, wars etc… it is time to watch and observe what is happening around us.

I believe we need to be ready. I believe we need to live like the Children of Israel and MOVE when He says move. It is time to be on our guard and KNOW that He is God and that HE is in charge of ALL that is happening. Don’t “move” your foundation from His Word, but be ready to move yourself when He calls.

Thank HIM today that HE KNOWS the best plans for you. Give Him PRAISE that HE will only MOVE you to places that HE wants you. Prepare yourself the best you can and be READY at all times to GO when He says go.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rose Horton

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Clean

I started this blog with the word “clean” on my mind. We have been busy cleaning inside and out lately. Our house. A friend’s house. It is not easy work, especially when it is hot. However, the end product is definitely beneficial.

When I started looking for verses about clean, I found many. The list is quite long. Most of them we have probably heard before…

Psalm 51:12 (in most translations it is verse 10) Create in me a clean heart, God; renew in me a resolute spirit.

James 4:8 Come close to God, and he will come close to you. Clean your hands, sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded people!

The list could go on…

Then I read these verses in Ezekiel. Reading the prophets used to be difficult. When I began to understand Israel in a new light, they became more real to me. The verses listed below are amazing promises from Adonai to His people. They can become very real for us today too.

Ezekiel 36:24-27 For I will take you from among the nations, gather you from all the countries, and return you to your own soil. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit inside you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put my Spirit inside you and cause you to live by my laws, respect my rulings and obey them.

Read these words with a NEW heart and a RENEWED mind. When we TRUST Him we can KNOW that His Promises are REAL.

He is going to take care of His people. As I have been reading through Matthew (blogs are written almost daily), I realize more and more that He is going to send His angels to remove the evil. At some point, we will be clean. New bodies. The evil gone. The initial promise to this is from the prophets.

I know I am excited to be a part of ALL He has planned. I look forward to the day when He brings ALL His Promises to LIFE. Until then, I want to walk with a clean heart and new mind. I want to be so in touch with Him that I have His Spirit to walk with and lead me.

May we daily cleanse our minds, wills and emotions from any junk that doesn’t belong. May we find HIS peace in all that we do.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rose Horton