Sunday, September 11, 2011

They ran the wrong way...

There is no image more overwhelming in my memory of 9/11 then that of thousands of people running FROM the towers and handfuls of firemen and policemen running TO the unfolding disaster.  I have asked it hundreds of times, where do such men and women come from?  Even after the first tower fell and it was obvious that it was only a matter of time before the second collapsed, rescuers ran INTO the danger...

My pastor asked the question this morning, "Do you think the rescuers went in looking only for a certain skin color, believing one race more worthy of a second chance than another?  Did they look for Christians who needed help over Muslims?  Did they push toward the upper floors because that was where all the 6 figure income folks were?"  Or...did they rescue indiscriminately?  The question is absurd, it was meant to be, the answer obvious.

I wonder...

The lost are dying all around us.  Oh, they walk and talk or even laugh...but they are dying.  They are dying without Christ and at least some...maybe even many, are dying without Christ because no one has ever bothered to share with them God's unconditional love manifested in His Son Jesus Christ.  Is it possible they've not heard because we are reluctant to share with those who are different than we, or we imagine them to be not quite so worthy as someone else?

I pray it will be said of me one day that I ran in while others ran out.  I pray that the church, the Bride of Christ will be known for "indiscriminate rescues"  I pray we are running the "wrong way".  Toward the dead and dying no matter their race, beliefs or financial status.  I pray we will be found worthy.  May we be driven to action by the example of unselfish sacrifice of New York's finest 10 years ago today.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Feast of Booths or Tabernacles

It has been quite a journey.  Seven annual festivals or holidays, each one, by way of it's rehearsal, meant to remind Israel of a significant event in their relationship with Yahweh, the God of Israel.

The Spring Festivals:
     Passover or Pesach - Angel of Death passed over Israel because of the lamb's blood
     Unleavened Bread or HagHaMatzot - No leaven in the bread as it represents sin
     First Fruits or Yom HaBikkurim - Bringing in as offering, the first part of a harvest
     Pentecost or Shavuot - The giving of the Law to Moses and Israel
The Fall Festivals
     Trumpets or Rosh HaShanah - New Year, time of repentance and the start of God's judgment
     Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur - The completion of God's judgment, sealing Man's fate
and finally:
     Feast of Booths/Tabernacles or Sukkot...

A booth or tabernacle is just another name for a tent.  A sukkot was a four walled temporary shelter covered with flora.  The Feast of Booths was to remind Israel of their 40 years of wondering in the desert, of God's sheltering hand as they moved closer and closer to the Promised Land.  Still today, religious Jews construct a small shelter and take their meals and even sleep there during the Feast of Booths.

In the course of our discussion on the seven annual holidays we've learned that each festival also had a FUTURE significance for Israel, for ALL men.  Passover, the shed blood of Jesus.  Unleavened Bread, the sinless broken body of Jesus. First Fruits, His resurrection, the first of many.  Pentecost, the giving of the Holy Spirit.  Each of these Spring Festivals have already been fulfilled in Jesus, while the Fall Festivals have yet to be fulfilled.  Festival of Trumpets, His return for the believer.  Day of Atonement, His judgment of all men.  Finally, the Feast of Booths, Sukkot, a future time when Jesus shall rule from Jerusalem and we shall find rest in His shelter.  Zechariah 14:16-19 makes clear that there is a day coming when ALL nations, not just Israel, will celebrate the Feast of Booths, as they find perfect rest, perfect shelter in the Lord of Hosts and King of Kings!

There is only one way to be assured a place of rest in His care on that day, have you been covered by the blood of The Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Only two to go!

Looking back we started this journey in Leviticus chapter 23 and discovered that God had given the infant nation of Israel holidays that they were to celebrate or "rehearse" before the nations that God might be revealed to all men.  The King James called these "holy convocations".  The first was the Sabbath, a weekly remembrance but the other seven were annual festivals or feasts.

We have already looked at Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Pentecost, the four Spring Festivals.  We noted that while each pointed back and reminded Israel of something God had already done, each also was a picture of what the coming Messiah WOULD do and now has done.

Several days ago we looked at Rosh HaShanah, the first of the three fall festivals.  Also called the Festival of Trumpets, Rosh HaShanah was a call to individual and national repentance.  The Festival was announced with the blowing of the shofar horn and initiated a period of 10 days of seeking forgiveness, both from God and man.  This 10 day period is known as Yamin Norim or Days of Awe.  The last day of Yamin Norim ushers in Yom Kippur.

It is believed that on Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement, God considers the repentance that has been made during Yamin Norim and makes final judgment on a man's life for the coming year.  His name will either be sealed in the "Book of Life" or the "Book of Death" until a new Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur the following year.

Just as Rosh HaShana or Festival of Trumpets is a picture of the time when Christ will return for his believers "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet..." Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement points forward to that time that we shall be judged, and that judgment will determine our eternity.  Fortunately, for the believer that judgment is not based on our sin, but instead on Christ's blood.  Our sin has been atoned for.  Our repentance and acceptance of Christ's death on the cross for our sins has made us righteous before a Holy God, and thus our eternity with Him is secured in Christ.

The Festival of Trumpets points forward to Christ's return for his church.  The Day of Atonement foreshadows our being judged...innocent by the blood of the lamb, Jesus Christ.  The seventh and final festival is the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles.  Now what do you suppose that is all about?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

9/11 Ten years later...

Below is the White House press release which tells Americans how we ought to remember the events and players of September 11, 2001.

“A chief goal of our communications is to present a positive, forward-looking narrative,” 

“As we commemorate the citizens of over 90 countries who perished in the 9/11 attacks, we honor all victims of terrorism, in every nation around the world. We honor and celebrate the resilience of individuals, families, and communities on every continent, whether in New York or Nairobi, Bali or Belfast, Mumbai or Manila, or Lahore or London.”

Just a few random thoughts:

1.  Al Qaeda and Muslims fueled by hate are empowered by "peaceful" Muslims worldwide who do not take a stand against attacks like this.  We need to wise up and acknowledge once and for all, Islam is NOT a peaceful religion.  The Qur'an is filled with hate and the Muslims of 9/11 were simply following it's teachings.

2.  Al Qaeda and Muslim extremists, empowered by the silent Muslim masses, where not aiming at the "citizens of over 90 countries".  They were aiming at Americans and ONLY Americans.  Now they got a whole lot more than that, but they were only after us. 

3.  "Perished"...that seems so sterile doesn't it?  They were and then they were not, all just kinda peaceful.  Let's be certain of this, some, in the jets, once they figured out what was happening, died terrified.  Some died by a horrific explosion and fire...some instantly, many slowly.  Many, with no way out, died on impact with the ground after a 700 foot or higher terror filled plunge.  Some died a slow excruciating death under tons of rubble.  I'm sorry, "perished" just doesn't cut it for me.

4.  "Resilient"...I wonder if the thousands who lost a husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, sister, brother or good friend would describe themselves as resilient?  I'll bet there are a hundred other words they would use first.  heartbroken, grieved, lonely, sorrow filled, unconsolable, empty, distraught, angry, confused, lost...shall I go on?

It seems the whole plan is that we all just be happy friends with the world and forget what happened and move on.  Do not miss my point, we do need to move on, but we should never, NEVER forget or we will be doomed to fall prey to hate filled evil again and again.  The truth is there are those out there who will do ANYTHING to attack and destroy our way of life...if we forget that...they may succeed.