There is  a storm coming. And not many are prepared. Not a physical storm like what we’ve seen lately with rain and hail and tornados and floods; but a spiritual storm. One that will be more devastating than any tornado or flood.

The people of Judah had rebelled against the principles upon which their nation had been founded on. Judah had turned its back upon God and rejected any attempt by those sent to call her back. As promised, God withdrew His protection from her. He had warned that if His people became faithless that He would employ a pagan power to conquer them and lead them back into captivity. He had led them from Egyptian bondage 800 years before, and now, because of their infidelity, He would allow them to return to bondage—this time in Babylon.

They had refused to believe it could ever happen to them. They found their own false prophets to tell them that everything was fine. They ridiculed Jeremiah and others who warned of the devastation to come. The Lord spoke through Jeremiah and put it this way; “Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north…and I will send Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon…against this land and against its inhabitants…and this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jeremiah 25:9-11)

But the false prophets told them that God would never allow this to happen because they were God’s chosen people. They were insisting that God loved them and that He only wanted to bless them. But it wasn’t true!

Today we have the modern counterparts of these false prophets. Some promise that God will bless you if you send them money. Some say that God will not bring judgment against Christians because they are God’s chosen people. They say that God loves them and that He only wants to bless them. They claim that the world’s problems are a direct result of sinfulness in the “world”—But if we elect someone with “Christian values”,  America will be great again.

They have forgotten that God is the one who exalts leaders into office: (Psalm 75:7; Daniel 2:21) So what if, because we have turned our back on God and instead placed our trust in man and rejected any attempt by those He sent to call us back, God also removes His protection from us?

There are many today who cry out, “God bless America!” But how can God bless America when we allow children to be beaten, raped and killed? How can God bless America when we refuse to allow our children to pray and criminalize those who do? How can God bless America when we ignore the suffering of the poor and destitute while we indulge ourselves on the luxuries we have accumulated for ourselves.

William Booth embarked upon his ministerial career in 1852, desiring to win the lost multitudes of England to Christ. He walked the streets of London to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute. Booth abandoned the conventional concept of a church and a pulpit, instead taking his message to the people.

He once related a vision he had concerning the lost. He saw a dark and stormy ocean. In that ocean he saw myriads of poor human beings plunging and floating, shouting and shrieking, cursing and struggling and drowning. But what puzzled him most was the fact that although all of them had been rescued at one time or another from the ocean, nearly everyone no longer seemed troubled by those who were downing—nor did they even seem to care about the poor perishing ones who were struggling and drowning right before their very eyes—many of whom were their own husbands and wives, brothers and sisters and even their own children!

The primary aim of the Salvation Army was not to provide charity, but to win souls from the devil. Booth stated that “what was important was not whether a man died in the poorhouse but if his soul was saved.” (‘The Salvationist in a Secular Society’— p29)

And yet today the Salvation Army is a human organization more interested in the needs of the flesh, rather than the needs of the soul. Is it possible that God had given William Booth a vision of the “future” Salvation Army and Christianity as a whole?

The Church today reminds me of a poem I read years ago written by Howard Clinebell:

The Little Lifesaving Station

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occurred, there was once a crude lifesaving station. The building wasn’t much more than a small hut, and there was only one boat. But the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought of themselves, went out night and day tirelessly searching for the lost.

Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station. So much so that it became famous for its rescue efforts. Some of those who were saved and various others in the surrounding area wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money for the support of its work. New boats were purchased and donated to the station and crews were trained to improve the rescue operations of the station.

As the little lifesaving station grew some of the members were unhappy that the building itself was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided for those who were rescued from the sea. So the members raised funds for the station and replaced the emergency cots with beds and placed better furniture in an enlarged building.

Soon the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members. They decorated it beautifully and furnished it so exquisitely that it became sort of a club. The lifesaving station’s logo still prevailed on the wall above the fireplace and its name was still used to raise funds,  but  fewer members were now interested in going out to sea on lifesaving missions. They even hired lifeboat crews to do the work that they used to do themselves.

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half drowned people. These people were dirty and sick. And some of them were foreigners who couldn’t speak English. The beautiful club was thrown into chaos. The property committee immediately had a shower built outside the club building with an attached closet filled with clean clothes so that the victims of shipwrecks could be cleaned up and dressed properly before coming inside.

At the next club meeting there was a split in the membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities because it was unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social structure of the club. Some members insisted that the lifesaving operations were the primary reason for them being there and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. The latter were finally voted down and were told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters they could start their own lifesaving station further down the coast. That’s exactly what they did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old one. It evolved into a club and later another lifesaving station was founded.

History continues to repeat itself and if you visit that seacoast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along its shores.  Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but sadly, most of the people there drown.

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth…But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:1-7, 14-15)

There has been a national outrage recently about people using public bathrooms according to the sex that they identify with as a transgender person. (Just in case you’re unfamiliar with this transgender issue, it involves biological transgender males using a woman’s bathroom and biological transgender females using a men’s bathroom)

Many have even gone so far as to consider a boycott of Target Stores and other businesses who have publicly adopted policies that accommodate their transgender customers.

What these boycotters don’t realize is that these policies have been in place for years— they just haven’t been made public until now. There has probably been times when you have shared a public bathroom with a transgender person and didn’t even know it. (Because there are partitions between bathroom stalls in the larger public bathrooms)

Use the common sense approach

One common sense approach to this problem would be to design smaller unisex bathrooms with locking doors rather than sex-specific ones. (These are already employed in many hospitals and department stores) http://americanrestroom.org/code/index.htm

That being said, with all of the talk about the fear of pedophiles and rapists disguising themselves as transgenders in order to molest a child or female in a public restroom, I wonder where the outrage is about the 1 out of 5 children that are being sexually abused by someone they know in their own home! Mention that to the same people that protest “transgender-friendly” bathrooms and all you hear is silence.

A more complicated issue

The transgender issue becomes more complicated when it comes to gym locker rooms and showers in public schools. I believe that the current situation in many schools violates the privacy rights of other non-transgender students. Some students already have insecurity problems of getting undressed in front of other students of their own sex as it is, much less having to get undressed in front of a biological boy or girl who are transgender.

I believe everyone has a right to education and dignity. But not at the expense of the majority of our students who would feel uncomfortable getting undressed in front of someone of the opposite sex. This isn’t about discriminating against particular students; this is about putting rules in place that EVERYONE can live with. It’s about allowing everyone a right to privacy. That’s why I think we need a compromise—Like possibly cordoning off a section of the student’s locker room or designating a portion of the showers as “transgender-friendly” so students know what to expect.

Look, I believe that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the creator of everything in this world; that Jesus is the only begotten son of God and our Messiah who will one day return and rule here on earth. And I believe that as a Christian, I am responsible to obey God’s commandments—including observing God’s holy feasts mentioned in the Bible. And it is my right to continue to believe these things without restraint. Now there are many who would disagree with my beliefs. (Including most Christians) But that does not give me the right to force others to conform to my beliefs.

In the same way that I have no right to make people who do not share my beliefs feel uncomfortable by forcing them to accommodate me, transgender people also have no right to make others feel uncomfortable by forcing them to accommodate their beliefs.

God did not make clones. He views every individual as he made them—males and females with certain unique sexual characteristics. Along with those traits, God has provided direction on how we are to relate to one another. There is no prohibition regarding a slightly more “masculine” female or a slightly more “feminine” male. God views them as he does anyone else, with love and delight, and he desires that they experience all the freedom that he designed them to have.

The more important question we should ask is, why do Christians spend so much time and effort judging and condemning the ways of the world, when there is so much sin within the modern Church today?

The apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth on this very issue: “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5: 9-13)

The apostle appeals to our own conduct, that we only reprove and judge those within the Church. Nor did he pretend to exercise a power over others outside the Church. Not only that, but he admonished the Church that it would have been better if they had made use of the power they had over their own members, by admonishing and reproving those who continued to sin.

When this world comes to an end the Lord will not ask us how much effort we put into protesting the LGBT community, or Muslim refugees, or illegal immigrants. But he will ask, “Did you help one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine? Did you give them food and drink? Did you share what you had? Did you visit them when they were sick or in prison?” (Matthew 25:31-46)

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1: 26-27)

It is very important for every student of the Bible, in fact, it is absolutely necessary for every Christian, to see the distinction the Bible makes between the Jews (The House of Judah) and the other Tribes of Israel. (The House of Israel)

Many people today suppose that where Israel is mentioned in the Bible, it means the Jews. We read articles and hear sermons today in which the writers and speakers refer to Abraham as a Jew. Isaac and Jacob are often called Jews. But that is an impossible thing as we shall see from the Scriptures.

Thousands of Christians use the terms Israel, Jew, The House of Israel, and The House of Judah, as if the Bible always refers to the same people. But according to Biblical history, there were no people known as Jews until about 15 centuries AFTER Abraham was born, and until 600 years after the death of Moses!

Most Hebrews are not Jews

Beginning with Adam, we have not only the chronology, but the genealogical tables of the Bible. There are ten generations from Adam to Noah, and ten generations from Shem, Noah’s son, to Abraham. Eber or Heber (or descendants of Heber) was the fourth in the generation from Shem. All of the descendants of Heber were Hebrews. Abraham wasn’t born until six generations later. He, therefore, was a Hebrew. The Hebrews were not Jews, because Judah, from whom the Jews descended, was not yet born! When that time came, there were a very small portion of Jews on the earth. And the great mass of Hebrews were not Jews then, and are not today. Let us closely follow the facts.

Sons of Abraham

Abraham had eight sons. One son was Ishmael whose mother was Hagar. One son was Isaac, whose mother was Sarah. After Sarah’s death, Abraham married Keturah, and she bore unto him six sons. Abraham, being a Hebrew, his descendants would of course be Hebrews; and their descendants would also be Hebrews. But their descendants are not Jews. If they were, that would make the Arabs Jews!

Now Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. If Isaac was a Jew, then both Esau and Jacob would be Jews. This would make the descendants of Esau also Jews, but the descendants of Esau became the Edomites, and later the Turks. Also the Pharaohs who oppressed the Hebrews were of the line of Esau, but none of these people were Jews.

To call Abraham a Jew would make him a descendant of Isaac’s yet unborn grandson Judah! The Tribe of Judah had no existence on earth during the time of Abraham and Isaac. If Isaac was a Jew, then surely his twin sons, Jacob and Esau would be Jews. We all know that Esau, Jacob’s twin brother, became the father of the Arab nations as they are known today. If Jacob was a Jew, how could it be that his twin brother would not also be a Jew, since they were both born of the same father and mother?

Descendants do not name their ancestors 

Jacob, one of these twin brothers had 12 sons, which came from four different mothers. None of these 12 sons were Jews. One of his 12 sons was Judah, but this racial type or remnant we know as the Jews is only a small portion of the descendants of Judah. There are no Jews among any of the descendants of Jacob’s other 11 sons.

Now Judah had three sons. The descendants of one son, Zarah, peopled the shores of the Mediterranean, leaving Egypt before the exodus of the children of Israel. Pharez, the twin brother of Zarah, became the father of the tribe of Judah. The tribe of Judah descending from Pharez was divided by the Lord into two Houses—the “House of David” and the “House of Judah.”

Abraham was the father of Isaac; Isaac was the father of Jacob; Jacob, who was later named “Israel,” and became the father of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphthali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin. The 12 sons each became the head of a Tribe called after his own personal name. From Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, are descended the Jews. The word “Jew” being simply an abbreviation of the name “Judah.” A glance at the genealogy will show that it is impossible for Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob to have been Jews.

Only the descendants of Judah—those coming after him—could be called by his name, not his ancestors. No one had ever been named Judah until more than 200 years after Abraham was named! Many parents give their sons the same name as a great grandfather or other ancestors. Your ancestor who lived two hundred years before you would not be named after you, but you would be named after your ancestor. So naming Jacob’s fourth son Judah would not make Abraham, his great grandfather, a Jew.

Israel and Judah are separate nations

The 12 Tribes of Israel became two nations, with widely different destinies, until the time when they will be united in the coming age. (Ezekiel 37:22) The distinction or separation between Judah and Israel was foreshadowed at an early date. We read in Psalm 114:1, 2 “When Israel went out of Egypt…Judah became His sanctuary and Israel His dominion.” In Samuel’s day, the two Houses, Judah and Israel, were numbered separately. In I Samuel 11:8 we read “And when he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousands and the men of Judah thirty thousand.” Notice that Israel and Judah were numbered separately. And even at this early date, Israel numbered ten times more than Judah. The contrast today is even greater. The Bible tells us that the Jews would be “few in number,” (Jeremiah 44:28) but it tells us that Israel would become a multitude as the sands of the sea. (Hosea 1:10)

The Scriptures tell us that David reigned seven years over Judah before he was made King over Israel. If Judah and Israel are the same, how could David be king for seven years over Judah before he was made King over Israel? Until the year 975 B.C. the descendants of Jacob formed one nation. But they are spoken of as “the two families which the Lord hath chosen”. (Jeremiah 33:24)

In the year 975 B.C. at the death of King Solomon, the nation was divided into two nations. In I Samuel 18:16 Israel and Judah are separated in this passage: “But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.” In II Chronicles 10:12-14 we are told that when Solomon died, and his son Rehoboam came to the throne, the ten tribes rebelled, and under Jereboam, formed the Northern Nation; while Judah, along with Benjamin and certain Levites, formed the Southern Nation.

The ten tribes of Israel are never called Jews

The Northern Nation, which consisted of the Ten Tribes of Israel were not Jews and nothing can be more unscriptural than to call all Israelites Jews; it is as absurd as calling all Americans Californians! Most Israelites are not Jews because they are the descendants of the other tribes of Israel. The term “Jew” is never used until more than a thousand years after Abraham. It appears for the first time in II Kings 16:6, where we are told that the King of Israel, together with the King of Assyria, made war against the King of Judah. Now if the Israelites and the Jews are one and the same, how could it wage war against itself? The Scriptures never once refer to the Ten-Tribed House of Israel as “The Jews;” neither past, present, nor future.

The ten lost tribes of Israel

The subject of the lost tribes of Israel is a study of great interest. Yet it is remarkable to me that there is little or no serious enquiry in Christian circles regarding the fate of the ten tribes. Two perplexing questions continue to captivate Bible scholars and students alike: How is it that so little is known of the ten tribes of Israel, and why has so little enquiry taken place concerning them? This may well be because the devil has succeeded in frustrating any serious research into the matter.

The distinction between the two nations of Judah and Israel began before their final separation under Jeroboam, and Rehoboam. You will find in 2 Samuel 2, that David was anointed king over Judah only, while Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was made king over all Israel. Immediately after the death of Solomon, and from that time to the present Judah and Israel have remained absolutely distinct. They were carried into captivity separately, at different times and by different nations: Israel was taken in captivity by the Assyrians B.C. 721 (2 Kings 17:6), while Judah was carried into captivity by the Babylonians B.C. 588 (2 Kings 25:21). A portion of Judah was permitted to return after seventy years, as had been predicted (Ezra 2:1), but Israel never returned nor was there any prediction that they should return until the final glorious restoration at the return of Messiah.

The descendants of the tribes of Israel certainly exist, the question is, Where? The Jews we know, but where is Israel? Some people assert that God has cut Israel out of His divine program, and replaced Israel with the Church. But in Jeremiah 31:35-36 we read:

“Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar: The Lord of Hosts is His name: If those ordinances (that is the sun and moon and stars) depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.”

This passage distinctly declares that while sun and moon and stars exist the nation of Israel will remain before God. Where are the ten tribes? Where is the nation of Israel? Which nation on earth today represents them? I have learned that if we really want to know about God’s people, the Bible is the book in which to look; let us, therefore, go to the Bible for the history of God’s chosen people Israel. Unless God’s promises have failed, Israel must still be in existence today.

It is perfectly clear that Israel, who had been dispersed for more than 700 years, was much in Jesus’ mind during His three years’ ministry upon earth. Because many references to Israel were made by Him. Christ Himself declared in Matthew 15:24 regarding His own mission: “He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Again our Lord says in Matthew 21:43: “Therefore say I unto you (He was speaking to the Jews), the kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation (the Jews had long since ceased to be a nation) bringing forth the fruits thereof.”

The Jews themselves evidently understood His statements, for in John 7:35 we read: “Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will He go, that we shall not find Him? Will He go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?” (The word “Gentile” is derived from the Hebrew word “Goyim” and means non-Jew i.e.; not from the tribe of Judah)

Israel was evidently in the minds of the apostles themselves. On the day of the ascension they asked Him: “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)

Scripture appears to me to furnish strong evidence that the Anglo-Saxon race today are the physical descendants of the house of Israel. If this be true, it adds tremendously to our responsibilities—spiritual responsibilities as well as temporal responsibilities, and will open to us possibilities that no human tongue can describe.

Let none of us, however, be so taken up with the literal fulfillment of prophecy that we forget the spiritual interpretation of it. For this reason it is extremely important that those who study this subject should be filled with the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and the fullness of spiritual blessings that goes with it.

Remember what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 11:16-18: “…if the root is holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you…”

Therefore, as we learn day by day to see more evidences of the fulfillment of these prophecies, may God possess in us individually and collectively, and in the thousands of others who in one body of men and women, the ability to yield to Him in heart and life and learn to do His will, proclaim His truth, and glorify His name.

“These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL in mount Sinai.” (Leviticus 27:34)

“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that YOU CAN DO IT!” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)   (Emphasis mine)

The title may seem counterproductive and even in opposition to what Jesus said in Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:19-20. In Mark 16:15 Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all of creation. The Greek word used for “preach” is kēryssō, and means to publish or proclaim openly something which has been done. And in Matthew 28 the Greek word used for “make disciples” is mathēteuō, and means to teach. (Notice Jesus did not say to make converts, but disciples)

And yet in all cases where the apostles “preached” the gospel or made “disciples” there is not one instance of any of them inviting an unbeliever into the Temple or a “Home Church” in order to hear the gospel preached by others so they could be saved.

We are commanded to—openly proclaim something which has been done for us; AND to make disciples—teach others about the Jesus we know and who saved us. WE—not the preacher or minister at our church—WE are to go.

I have heard many say that they invite unbelievers to church services so that they can hear the gospel. I say that they need to repent of their laziness and proclaim the gospel themselves.

The role of the pastor is to to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12)  And also to give instruction in sound doctrine. (Titus 1:9) Nowhere does the Bible teach or even allude to the pastor having the responsibility of preaching the gospel to unbelievers—-that’s our job. The pastor’s job is to equip US; so that WE can go into the world and proclaim the gospel and make disciples.

In Haggai 2: 12-14 we read, ’If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?’” The priests answered and said, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The priests answered and said, “It does become unclean.” Then Haggai answered and said, “So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the Lord, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean. (Haggai 2:12-14)

Let me put it this way: If you were recently showered and smelled fresh and clean, and attempted to hug a skunk—would the skunk smell fresh because of you, or would you begin to stink from the skunk? And if you were healthy and went to visit someone who had a contagious disease—would your healthiness make the sick person well, or would you become sick from the disease?

Christians today have this idea that if they invite an unbelieving friend to a church service and at the end of the service, their friend walks down in front of the congregation and parrots some prayer, that they have done their part. But the actions of some can sometimes be deceiving.

In Acts 8:13-24 Simon Magus professed to believe, and was baptized, yet he was declared to be in the bonds of iniquity. In Matthew 7:21 we read, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Many complain about how weak the Church has become. The reason is simple. First we invited unbelievers to worship with us a God that they don’t believe in; Then we wanted to make them feel more like part of us and accepted, so we invited them to join the choir, or teach Sunday school, or work in the nursery; And before we knew it, they were preaching doctrines of demons from our own pulpits!

In 1Corinthians 15:33 we read, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” And that is exactly what has happened in many congregations after inviting unbelievers into their church services.

I don’t know of any parent who would allow someone they don’t know anything about to care for their child—and yet, many people drop off their children to the church nursery or Sunday school class without knowing anything about the person watching over their children, or what they’re teaching them.

By now I know that there are many reading this who are shouting at their computer screen about the many people who were saved because they invited them to a church service.

I do believe that God can draw unbelievers into a church service by His spirit and get them saved right then and there. But I also believe that God’s spirit is not limited to only reaching people in a church service. I know of people who were saved at rock concerts—one at a Led Zeppelin concert, the other at a Black Sabbath concert! Many more have been saved from talking to Christians on the street, at work and at homeless shelters.

I am not suggesting that we post guards at the doors of our churches to test people for salvation. For even the apostle Paul was sensitive to the unbeliever who may be in the midst of the believing congregation:

“Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’” – 1 Corinthians 14:22-25

Paul assumes that there exists a possibility of unbelievers in the midst of our church services, but nowhere does he advocate believers inviting them.

So how should we behave toward unbelievers? 

Should we like them? Hate them? Tolerate them? Do we act like them when we aren’t in Christian company? Or do we snub them if we don’t agree with their lifestyle?

Some Christians think that being kind to unbelievers is like throwing pearls before swine and declare how sinful unbelievers are. Others just don’t care one way or another…But shouldn’t we still be concerned about their salvation?

The Bible is very specific about how we as Christians, are to conduct ourselves toward the unbeliever: “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:5-6)

God wants us to conduct ourselves with wisdom toward unbelievers. First and foremost, we need to keep focus on the cross of Christ. Because the sacrifice of Christ has cleansed us from our sins, forgiven us our trespasses, and enabled us to be gracious and kind by changing us. As we were once against God in our unbelief, God was gracious and kind to us. Because of that, we are able to be kind to others who don’t yet know Him.

It seems to me that the apostle Paul was more concerned about the sinfulness inside the Church than he was about unbelievers:

“But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13)

Yes, we want to reach out to the world. Yes, we want to touch the world. Yes, we want to lead them to Christ. But we have to stop short of a full acceptance of their lifestyle which could lead to a spiritual disaster—for them and for us.

So let us go beyond the church walls, go out quickly to the streets of the city—to the “poor and crippled and blind and lame”, and  proclaim to them the gospel. THEN invite them to your church so that they can be discipled. Do this, and you will fulfill the great commission of our Lord.

Most Christians think of the “Last Supper” as more of a symbolic communion than a feast meal. Because of this, many often miss out on the full meaning of the Passover and the additional meaning Jesus gave to it.

Jesus kept Passover as a child and an adult. (Luke 2:41-43; Mark 14:12-26; John 12:12) Mark 14:12 shows that the last supper was not a memorial observance, but a Passover meal. “his disciples said to him, where do you want us to go and prepare, that you may eat the Passover.” (cf. Matthew 26; Luke 22)

If Passover was replaced with the Last Supper, shouldn’t it also be commemorated once a year? Because once a year on the anniversary date of Jesus’ death would be more consistent with the belief that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper at the time of the Jewish Passover.

Many believe that Passover is a Jewish festival made only for Jews. And some even teach that every Jew who has become a Christian, should no longer celebrate these very important festivals. Because they believe that the Lord’s Supper replaced the annual feast days, they say that no Christian should observe the Jewish Passover and that the death of Jesus Christ is the only event, which Christians should memorialize.

But Scripture states that Passover, and ALL the feasts that are celebrated once a year are God’s feasts. In Leviticus 23 we read, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.’ “ (Emphasis mine)

These are God’s feasts, NOT just Jewish feasts!

“And a mixed multitude went up also with them…” (Exodus 12:38) Some of these “mixed multitude” were Egyptians, and some of other nations that had resided in Egypt, and who, for various reasons, chose to go along with the children of Israel. In doing so, the mixed multitude became part of the children of Israel—And were recognized as such by Moses and by God.

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)

“If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” (Exodus 12:48-49)

“You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners residing among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.” (Ezekiel 47:22)

“Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:11-13)

Did Jesus and his disciples observe Passover or the Last Supper?

Passover associates 4 or 5 cups of wine, not just one. In Luke’s account of this supper the wine is taken at least twice; at the beginning and end of the meal. It is most likely that the ‘last cup of wine’ is associated with the third Passover cup, the cup of  redemption, (Exodus 6.6) associated with the coming of Elijah and the expectation of the coming of the Messiah. The fourth cup—the cup of consummation, Jesus declined to drink (Matthew 26.29; Mark 14.25; because between the third and fourth cups he would not drink until his return and consummation of his kingdom.

‘Dipping in the bowl’ in Matthew 26:23 and in Mark 14:20 may refer to the dipping of bitter herbs in either water or wine during the Passover Seder.

The meal concluded with the singing of hymns (Matthew 26.30; Mark 14:26), possibly the second half of the Hallel, (Psalms 113-118) traditionally associated with Passover.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church these words: “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.” (I Corinthians 5:7-8)

Notice, Paul said plainly enough, “Let us KEEP THE FESTIVAL” Not only did Paul in this verse exhort the Corinthians—many of whom were Gentile believers—to observe this Passover festival season, but he himself did so, setting them an example. Keeping the festival of Passover and Matzah symbolizes living the Christian life in holy dedication to God. That is why Paul uses the illustration of leaven when writing to the Corinthian Church.

What other scholars say about this:

“The construction of the Greek verb translated “let us keep the feast” is called horatory subjunctive, which is commonly used to exhort or command oneself and one’s associates. This use of the subjunctive is used to urge someone to unite with the speaker in a course of action upon which he has already decided.” (Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 464)

“Some go to great lengths to attempt to sidestep this clear command to “keep the feast” by alleging that the expression is in some way figurative, since he uses other figurative language in this section of Scripture. But the reason he gives to “keep the Feast” is because “Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us.” Christ’s sacrifice was a literal event; so is keeping the festival that relates to His sacrifice. And a cardinal rule of interpreting the Bible is to prefer the simple, obvious meaning.” ( Edward W. Goodrick, Do It Yourself Hebrew and Greek, p. 12:1 )

Jehovah Witnesses claim to know exactly the date when Jesus Christ introduced the Last Supper.

According the Jehovah Witness website, “Jesus Christ instituted the Memorial of his death (the Lord’s evening meal or Supper) on Nisan 14, according to the biblical Jewish calendar that was common in the first century. Jesus Christ also died on Nisan 14 (in the afternoon about three o’clock). Why that? Because in the first century the Jewish day began at sundown and extended until the following sundown. So Jesus Christ died exactly on the same Jewish calendar day. Jesus instituted the Memorial of his death after sundown on Nisan 14, at the beginning of this day.”

But when is Nisan 14 in our calendar? Jehovah Witnesses claim it was March 23, 2016. But the14th of Nisan in 2016, (Hebrew calendar 5776) begins at sundown on April 22, 2016 not March 23rd. March 23, 2016 is the 13th of Adar II and is the date that Purim begins. (http://www.hebcal.com/hebcal/?year=2016&v=1&month=x&yt=G&nx=on&o=on&vis=on&d=on&c=off&maj=on&min=on&mod=on)

It is interesting that Hebrews 11:28 regards Moses’ keeping of the Passover as an act of faith, not ritual. It was observed in direct trust in God’s means of salvation from Egypt—however illogical it may have seemed at the time.

Thus, the “last supper” was not a memorial symbolized with just the breaking of bread and drinking wine, but a full feast meal—not only looking back on the exodus, but also looking forward to the crucifixion and ultimately towards the second coming of Jesus and the consummation of the messianic kingdom. (cf. Isaiah 25:6-9)

As such, the early church continued to observe it, but eventually exchanging God’s Agape (love) feast for the more symbolic last supper/eucharist. (Perhaps because of the kind of excess mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:17-22)

In the end, the Agape was forgotten and the eucharist became more formal, central and even ‘magical’ in the later doctrine of transubstantiation. The Passover symbolism is mostly lost on gentile believers. Jesus was the ultimate Passover lamb, (1 Corinthians 5:7) and as such died with all his bones intact. (cf. Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; Psalm 34:20)

God’s Passover feast is considered by some to be outdated history. But the treasuring of our freedom through education and enactment is a joyful occasion.

Why does the Church emphasize the morbid death of Christ through the symbolic last supper/eucharist more than his joyous resurrection or return? Indeed, the purpose of Passover is a way of proclaiming our redemption and freedom from the bondage of sin through the sacrificial blood of the Lamb of God!

NEXT YEAR IN THE NEW JERUSALEM!

Judges constantly hand down light sentences and probation to repeat offenders and place the public in danger.

When criminals are brought before judges for sentencing, judges should weigh factors including the severity of the crime, public safety, losses to the victims and their family and a defendant’s efforts to change—But all too often judges hand down light sentences to repeat offenders who often go on to commit even more violent crimes.

Consider the case of Marcus Wheeler-Cop Killer

In 2008, Marcus Wheeler was sentenced to five years in federal prison for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Wheeler was also charged as an accessory in a June 2007 slaying and was accused of shooting at an inhabited home, attempting to cause serious bodily injury to Ashley Bordeaux. Charges in both shooting cases were dismissed and Wheeler got out of prison on supervised release in 2013, but that was later revoked (For unpublished reasons) and he was returned to prison.

Wheeler was again released in February 2014. On May 20, 2015 officer Kerrie Orozco was shot and killed by Wheeler who was being served a warrant by the Omaha police department’s Fugitive Task Force. Officer Orozco left behind a husband and his two children as well as their newborn baby. The woman who was an accomplice in Kerrie Orozco’s murder by purchasing the gun for Wheeler, was sentenced by the Alabama judge to only probation!

The case of Eswin Mejia

Police say he was drunk, his blood-alcohol content more than three times the legal limit, when he was street racing near 33rd and L streets last month. Eswin Mejia was driving with a suspended license and was in the country illegally when he crashed into an SUV and killed 21-year-old Sarah Root. Mejia was allegedly street racing and driving drunk before crashing into the back of Sara’s SUV. The loss has left the 21-year-old’s friends and family with profound grief.

To make matters worse, Mejia was scheduled for a preliminary hearing, but never made it to court after the judge set Mejia’s bond at only $50,000! The judge revoked Mejia’s $50,000 bond when he failed to appear. (A little too late for that now)

Cases like this happen all too often. And as disturbing as cases like these are, it has become even more common for judges to hand down probation to those convicted of sexual child abuse.

Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. An estimated 60% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are known to the child. (family friends, care givers or neighbors) Out of those, at least half of the perpetrators are family members or step parents.

Sadly, only a fraction of these perpetrators who are apprehended and convicted of their crimes are sentenced to jail. Most convicted child sex offenders are only sentenced to probation and ordered to register as a sex offender.

Let me make myself clear: I don’t believe that the Sex Offender Registry Law should be applied to curious children or hormonal teens that get caught sexting to their boyfriends or girlfriends. (This can be corrected with training, discipline and therapy) This is about adults who knowingly sexually victimize under age children.

The police do their job and arrest these criminals; the prosecutors do their job and convict them, but then the judges hand down light sentences or probation that allows them to re-offend.

Why? Because crimes, whether they are against children or other adults, do not personally affect judges. It’s the same reason that people are not too concerned with the first four of the Ten Commandments.

It doesn’t personally affect me if you:

  1. worship other gods.
  2. make for yourself an idol.
  3. take the name of the Lord in vain.
  4. don’t remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.

But notice what happens with the last 5 commandments:

5. Honor your father and mother

6. You shall not murder

7. You shall not commit adultery

8. You shall not steal

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

These are things that we don’t want happening to us, (They personally affect us) so we tend to place more importance on them and expect harsher punishment for those who disobey them.

Judges need to realize the risk that they pose to the public when they give offenders light sentences and be more concerned that the person they release back on the street will be the next one they read about in the newspaper.

We can send a strong message to the court system when we go to the polls to vote by voting “NO” to retain judges.

“Woe to those who enact evil statutes And to those who constantly record unjust decisions, So as to deprive the needy of justice And rob the poor of My people of their rights.” (Isaiah 10:1-2)

“Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.” (Esther 9:1)

Ancient Persia of biblical times is today known as Iran.It is now more than two millennia since the Purim story took place there and an attempted genocide against the Jewish people was miraculously aborted. Haman of old had a plan. “Death to the Jews” was his program. Celebrating Purim is our commemoration of his failure. But history has a remarkable way of repeating itself. Jew-haters still live on, renewing Haman’s efforts with even greater dedication and perseverance—not only from Iran, the biblical home of Haman, but also from ISIS and many other countries where sympathy  for Islamic radicals is on the rise.

Although celebrating Purim is not a commandment from God, it continues to be celebrated because its message needs to be remembered. Those who seek destruction of the Jewish people are evil. Their evil must be acknowledged. Their words must be taken seriously. Their goal must be prevented.

And how do we celebrate Purim today in light of modern day Haman’s seemingly rise to power, strength and wealth? Perhaps the most important words of the Megillat Esther, the Scroll of Esther are V’Nahafoch Hu – “it was reversed”. (Esther 10:1) Tragedy was turned around at the last moment, and all the plans that Haman tried to implement in order to destroy the Jews were used in the end to save the Jews.

Today, we celebrate Purim with costumes, noisemakers, and a feast that includes wine and Hamantashen, special filled cookies that resemble Haman’s three cornered hat. We give gifts of food to our friends, and money to the poor.

“…as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor.” (Esther 9:22)

We also read from the book of Esther and use a special noisemaker every time Haman’s name is mentioned as a sign of disrespect and make our hearts glad with wine.

“A person should drink on Purim until the point where he can’t tell the difference between “Blessed is Mordechai” and “Cursed is Haman. (Talmud – Megillah 7b; Code of Jewish Law 695:2)

Some think that just as the Irish have a springtime drinking holiday called St. Patrick’s Day, the Sages instituted Purim as Judaism’s springtime drinking holiday. This is absurd!

To begin, we first need to define the Bible’s concept of feasting and gladness. Throughout Scripture feasting is always associated with drinking and rejoicing. Rejoicing often includes laughter. Laughter occurs when the unexpected happens. A toddler puts on her father’s big shoes—and we laugh. Someone forgets their lines in a play—and we laugh. The sudden surprise catches us off guard. And the more unexpected it is, the funnier it is.

The story of Haman’s downfall and Mordechai’s rise teaches us that even at a time when we’re powerless to think and respond logically, God continues to protect us and shield us. On Purim, we drink to life (“L’chaim”) with the knowledge that all of our troubles are temporary. We capture the joy that just as God redeemed us from previous dangers, sins and problems, He will do so again. Because God is always here, running the world for our ultimate benefit.

Many people drink to forget their problems—and for a while, it works. But if we were on a higher spiritual level, we wouldn’t need to drink. But since we’re not on such a high spiritual level, we drink in order to loosen up, laugh at our troubles and forget our anxieties. If we were truly clear on the idea that the only real power operating in the world is God, we wouldn’t have nearly as much worry and anxiety as we normally do. If we trusted in God, we would be fully relaxed. Then we could really see that God has everything under control, and in spite of us, everything will work out.

The message of Purim is that even though it’s hard to see Him, God is here in the world. Even when things look bad, even if we’re suffering, in some way it has got to be all for the best, because there’s a benevolent God behind everything, manipulating events for our good. This is what is means to “drink until you can’t tell the difference between Blessed is Mordechai and Cursed is Haman.” It is only because of our limited perceptions that we see a difference. But in God’s infinite reality, there is no difference between the two. It is all ultimately for the good. (This does not mean that we are to drink to the excess where we cannot walk or talk at all, but just to the point of not being able to use our logic)

A fun fact on this theme: In Hebrew, the numerical value (gematria) of “Cursed is Haman” is 502. The numerical value of “Blessed is Mordechai” is also 502. On Purim we drink to the point that we can no longer compute the mathematics.

A final word on drinking:

Let us use good judgement on Purim. We should set a model for our children by not drinking to excess and by supervising adolescents and teenagers to make sure that they do not drink. In this way we can all enjoy a safe, respectable Purim. There have been far too many teenagers as well as adults who require emergency attention after becoming too drunk. Drinking and driving is not only against Halacha, but obviously against common sense. Rabbis, teachers and parents should be encouraged to discuss this issue with all children and adults not only before Purim, but throughout the year.