A Deeper Look at Psalm 122: Verses 2-3

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A song of ascent, Psalm 122 was recited (or sung) by the Jewish people as they made the trek to Jerusalem three times a year for the feasts.  They were anxious to go “up to Jerusalem” for those special times of fellowship with God.

We’re studying Psalm 122 this week and focus on verses 2-3 today:

Our feet are standing
Within your gates, O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, that is built
As a city that is compact together

“…a city that is compact together” is an interesting phrase, translated many different ways: “joined together,” “bound together,” “knitted together,” “compact together,” and “solidly joined.” But a literal translation is: “joined to itself together.”  The Hebrew word “חֻבְּרָה” appears only once in the entire Bible – here.

It is a word that means “friend,” and has the connotation of joining together.  Just as Exodus 26:11 indicates the curtains in the tabernacle were joined together as a single unit, so Jerusalem is joined together.  Not to something else, but to itself!

If Jerusalem is joined or compacted together, there must be two parts! Jerusalem must have a “friend” or “companion!”  Might that companion be another Jerusalem in heaven?

There is basis for that in the Hebrew language.  Transliterated, YerushalAYIM = Jerusalem.  Notice the suffix “AYIM.”  It is plural!  There is a Jerusalem here on earth, but also a new Jerusalem to come (Revelation 21:2).  Two Jerusalems…”friends/companions!”

But here is another interesting tidbit regarding the joining together of Jerusalem to itself.  The UN designated Jerusalem an international city in 1947.  Yet, the war of 1948 resulted in Jordan taking control of East Jerusalem, leaving only West Jerusalem to the Jews.  In 1967, however, Jerusalem was reunited when Israel won the Six Day War!  Once again joining Jerusalem to itself!

Today, the battle continues to rage over Jerusalem.  There is a constant “tearing” of the city, yet it is God’s Holy City and will ultimately not only be joined to itself on earth, but will be joined together spiritually with the new Jerusalem!

Pray for that city, dear friends!

See you tomorrow when we look at the next portion of Psalm 122!

The Second Great Covenant: Mosaic Covenant

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Welcome back, study friends!  We’re digging into three great covenants that all must function together, lest they lose their power!  Scripture reveals several more covenants, but we are focusing on:

  • Abrahamic Covenant
  • Mosaic Covenant
  • New Covenant

Each is backed by the character of God, and cannot accomplish God’s purpose if left to stand alone.  Therefore, the three work in conjunction with one another.

Yesterday, we examined the Abrahamic Covenant, identifying it as the covenant of DECISION.  God (not Abraham) decided the parameters of the Abrahamic Covenant and, more importantly, He decided to preach the gospel to Abraham in order for his descendants to become the vehicle of world redemption!

Thus, we see the importance of the Abrahamic Covenant…yet it isn’t enough!  God decided to provide salvation, but the world doesn’t recognize the need!  Therefore, we need instruction and ability.

The Mosaic Covenant is the covenant of INSTRUCTION.  God tells the Israelites, in Exodus 19:5-6, they must obey His voice and keep His covenant.  He laid a foundation of law and gave the Jewish people 613 specific laws to follow.

Why?  He knew they would not be able to fulfill the law.  Is this some sort of evil trick?

Of course not!  He gave the law via the Mosaic Covenant to reveal the need for the Abrahamic Covenant!  We’ll hang out in Galatians 3 today, so I encourage you to open your Bible there.  First, notice verses 19, 21 and 24, where we learn:

  • Law was added because of transgressions.
  • If the law could impart life, righteousness would be based on law.
  • Law is a tutor that leads us to Christ!

By itself, the Mosaic Covenant doesn’t do the trick.  It can INSTRUCT us about sin, but it can’t save us!  However, let’s couple it with the Abrahamic Covenant.  Again, in Galatians 3, we learn:

  • Verse 8: All nations are blessed through Abraham
  • Verse 11: Law will not save us
  • Verse 19: Law was given to show us our need
  • Verse 24: Law is a tutor
  • Verse 26: We are children of God by faith
  • Verse 19: It is the Abrahamic Covenant (not the Mosaic Covenant) that makes us God’s children!

Thus, you see, the Mosaic Covenant is vital to helping us understand the need for the Abrahamic Covenant!  But, God’s DECISION and INSTRUCTION are still not enough!  We need the third leg of the stool: ABILITY.

That is the New Covenant, and we’ll take a look at it tomorrow.  This is great stuff, so I hope you’ll stick with us.  The study gets better and better from here!  See you tomorrow.

Israel at 70: A View from the Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy and a Jewish Author

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At the ICEJ/ACLI Conference in Washington DC, we were privileged to hear from Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy, Yaron Gamburg, gave an exciting speech about the history of Israel.  In regard to Israel today, he mentioned three key things of which everyone should know:

  • Land – As we know, God’s covenant with Abraham promised Israel a land.  (See Genesis 12 and 15, as well as other references.)  When God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, He referenced a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3, Ezekiel 20).  Yet, when Israel was reborn in 1948, Israel was far from a land flowing with milk and honey.  Yet, Isaiah 35:1-2 tells us that the desert will blossom.  That is happening!  You see, the land blossoms only when Jews are in it!  God keeps His promises to His people.
  • People – God’s covenant with Abraham also involved people.  Abraham would be the father of the Jewish people.  Since Israel’s rebirth, 3.5 million Jews have made aliyah (return to the homeland)!  Israel has now overtaken the United States as the most Jewish-populated country in the world…as they should be!  God is bringing His people back to their land, just as He promised.
  • Purpose – The Jewish people have a purpose: to make the world a better place.  Avi Jorisch, author of Thou Shalt Innovate, also spoke at the conference, concurring that tikkun olam (making the world a better place) is part of the Jewish DNA.  It is ingrained.  Ganburg referred to the Jews as “lights unto the world,” and strive to leave a positive impact.

Jorisch spent considerable time describing innovation in Israel, including all the ways in which inventions are helping people all around the world.  We previewed CBN’s latest release entitled, To Life, which documents the worldwide relief work done by Israelis.

It is so important that we share the truth about Israel.  Here’s a great way to learn (then tell) about Israel’s efforts to be “lights unto the world.”  To see To Life for free, click the link.  Check it out, then spread the word!

Similarities of Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Welcome back friends!  Yesterday we discovered that the Jewish observance of Passover coincides with the Christian observances of Good Friday and Resurrection Day.  Indeed, the Christian and Jewish events share some similarities, though it is rare that the holidays are observed simultaneously.

Let’s consider some similarities.  The very essence of the Christian celebration of Good Friday and Resurrection Day are deeply rooted in the Jewish feast of Passover, so let’s start there.

Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23:5-14 actually lay out the requirements of the 8-day Jewish commemoration of Passover (which also includes the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits).  However, the Passover account played out as the Israelites escaped bondage from Egypt.  Moses was sent by God to deliver the people, but the Egyptian pharaoh did not heed Moses’ appeal.  Thus, God took action on behalf of His people!

A plague would descend upon Egypt that would take the lives of every first born unless families sacrificed an unblemished lamb and smeared blood on their doorposts.  Hebrew families complied with God’s command and thus, their first borns were spared.

Ultimately, the pharaoh relented, the Israelites were set free, and annually Jews the world over celebrate that release from bondage as prescribed in Leviticus 23.  Passover commemorates their release, the Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds them they had no time to allow their bread to rise prior to escaping Egyptian bondage, and the Feast of First Fruits celebrates giving the first fruits of the harvest as an offering of thanks to the Lord.

In the Christian narrative, Jesus Himself fulfills each of those Jewish feasts!  Jesus was the Passover Lamb, the one sacrificed for your sins and mine.  (John 1:29)  It was the blood of the lamb that caused the angel of death to “passover” their house on that fateful night in Egypt.  It is the blood of the Lamb of God that causes Him to “passover” (forgive) our sins.  Jesus, our Passover Lamb, was crucified on Good Friday, which we commemorate tomorrow.

Jesus also fulfills the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  When leaving Egypt, there was no time for the yeast to cause bread to rise, so they were commanded to remove the leaven (yeast).  Throughout Scripture, leaven is representative of sin.  We are to “leave out” the sin in our lives, and fortunately, that is what Jesus’ forgiveness does for us!  It removes sin as far as the east is from the west!  (Psalm 103:12)  Jesus fulfills the Feast of Unleavened Bread on our behalf!

Finally, Jesus also fulfills the Feast of First Fruits.  The Israelites presented the first of their harvest as an offering of thanks to God.  Miraculously, the resurrection of Jesus makes Him the first fruit of those who will ultimately be resurrected:

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
~1 Corinthians 15:20

That is our guarantee that, as believers, we will follow our First Fruit (Jesus) in resurrection.  We will be raised from the dead to live with Him forever!

For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.
~1 Corinthians 15:21-23

Indeed, Jesus is our Passover Lamb, our Unleavened Bread and our First Fruits!  All that, we celebrate in the coming week, beginning tomorrow!  Meanwhile, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Jewish people, as it was through them that Jesus was revealed to us!  As you celebrate, why not thank the Lord for His people and ask special blessings upon them as they celebrate their feasts!