We met together as believers in Christ. It was five o’clock on the evening of a Friday. I began reading God’s Holy Word.
Genesis 1:5, “And the evening and the day were the first day.”
Genesis 1:8, “And the evening and the day were the second day.”
Genesis 1:13, “And the evening and the day were the third day.”
Genesis 1:19, “And the evening and the day were the fourth day.”
Genesis 1:23, “And the evening and the day were the fifth day.”
Genesis 1:31, “And the evening and the day were the sixth day.”
Genesis 2:1-3, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it…”
On this particular day, darkness had turned into dawn, dawn had turned into daylight, daylight had turned into dusk, and as we were reading God’s Holy Word, dusk was turning into darkness, and in our presence Sabbath was beginning, and would continue until sundown on Saturday. We said, “Shabbat Shalom,” which means in Hebrew, “peaceful sabbath.” We had a “Hanukiah,” with us, which is also called a “Hanukkah Menorah.” We discussed the two Jewish Menorahs.
We explained the Temple Menorah, as follows:
The menorah (Hebrew: מְנוֹרָה [mənoːˈɾaː]) is described in the Bible as the seven-lamp (six branches) ancient Hebrew lamp stand made of pure gold and used in the portable sanctuary set up by Moses in the wilderness and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. Fresh olive oil of the purest quality was burned daily to light its lamps. The menorah has been a symbol of Judaism since ancient times and is the emblem on the coat of arms of the modern state of Israel.
We explained the Hanukkah Menorah, as follows:
Hanukkah (Hebrew: חנוכה, also spelled Chanukah), also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BC. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, and may occur from late November to late December on the Gregorian calendar. Hanukkah lasts this year from sunset of December 6 through sunset of December 14 (2015). The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a special candelabrum, the nine-branched Menorah or Hanukiah, one light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. An extra light called a shamash (Hebrew: “guard” or “servant”) is also lit each night for the purpose of lighting the others, and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest.
We discussed the significance of the “shamash” candle. It lit all of the other candles, and as “light” it represents Jesus, who is the light of the world (John 1:3-5). We related Haunkkah to John 10, vs 22-23, where Jesus was present for the Feast of Dedication, which was also known as the Festival Of Lights. It was during that particular Hanukkah that Jesus said some very important things to the Jews who were also present for the Feast Of Dedication. In vs 27, Jesus said that He would have an intimate relationship with Jews who would follow Him; they would ear His voice, He would know them, and they would follow Him. In vs 28/29 Jesus said that He would give eternal life to those Jews who would become intimate with Him (follow Him). He affirmed that promise by saying that no one could pluck them out of His hand: “neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Jesus had spoken to Nicodemus about this “new birth” in John 3:3-8. In John 10 vs 30 Jesus said to the Jews, “I and My Father are One.” So, Jesus was telling the Jews that they were seeing God, “who was with them.” (Isaiah 7:14/Matthew 1:23). It is important to understand that Jesus is talking to Jews. Specifically, He is talking to Jews who had not believed in Him. So, in this setting, it points out that it is important to address Jews as either believing Jews, or unbelieving Jews. The significance of this discourse is that it was between Jesus and Jews. (John 1:9, “He came to His own..”) The application is universal. It’s amazing how a discussion of Hanukkah led to a discussion of the new birth. So, we shall proceed to a deeper discussion of that which applies not only to Jews, but also to every person who has ever lived, or who will ever have life.
In a discussion of being born again, we should determine why it is necessary for us to be born again. We have to go back to the garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve sinned their action resulted in the fall, which we can easily see as being our fallen world. When we read the creation account we see its finished state God’s analysis of His finished work is found In Genesis 1: 31, where He said that it was “very good.” Everything was perfect. But, with the fall, imperfection rushed into the world. That is why we have death-causing weather, alligators that eat little dogs, and infants that die in their mothers’ wombs. The result of the fall is found in Romans 5:12: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” After Adam and Eve sinned, death attacked their total existence, “spirit, soul, body.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23 identifies those bodily components. Death did not occur in our world until after Adam’s sin. Every birth, from Adam and Eve forward, was that of a child who inherited a flawed body, soul, and spirit. The flawed sperm and egg of every conception resulted in the births of other flawed people who, in turn, would bring about the births of other flawed people. In order for us to have eternal life with God, who is Spirit and is not flawed, we must also have a spirit that is not flawed. There are no exceptions to this reality; it applies to everyone.
There are three passages of scripture which we studied that relate to our being born again, which is also called the new birth and the birth from above. The examples are from three sources of scriptural information, “the old testament, the gospels, and the epistles.” We’ll start right in the middle and take a look at the Gospel of John, Chapter 3, vs 1-8. Nicodemus went to see Jesus, He made very nice statements about Jesus, to Jesus. But, Jesus immediately put the discussion in the right direction. Jesus firmly to Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, and we can add, “an important Jew.” Jesus even said to Nicodemus in verse 10, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? (He was referring to writings of the Prophet Ezekiel that Nicodemus should have known.) So, Jesus commended Nicodemus, and then got his attention by questioning his understanding of scripture. So, with Nicodemus coming to Jesus, “with all his Jewishness, Jesus got straight to the point and said, “Nicodemus if you want to live in eternity with God, you must be born again. You must have a spirit that is as pure and clean as God’s Spirit, and that won’t happen by your own works.” In John 3:3, Jesus said, “unless you are born again, you can’t see the Kingdom of God.” In verse 5, Jesus said,”unless you are born of water and of the Spirit, you can not enter into the Kingdom of God.” Jesus was referring to a cleansing that is the result of the action of the Holy Spirit. In verse 6, Jesus said that Spirit can only be born of Spirit, so Nicodemus had to be born of the Holy Spirit. In verse 7, “Jesus said,again, “you must be born again.” To explain how the spiritual new birth happened,Jesus used verse 8 to relate the movement of the wind to the work of the Holy Spirit. We can’t see the wind, or know its direction or speed. But, we can know when it has been somewhere. The wind can go to the left, right, front, or rear of us, It can go fast, slow, or somewhere in between. It can turn in circles, and it can stand still. It is the same with the Spirit. And, after a spirit has been “born again” in someone, it can be known that the Holy Spirit has “been there – done that!” When we are filled with, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we have a spirit that is as pure and clean as the Holy Spirit Himself. He will be our comforter (John 14:16-17). The Holy Spirit will convict us of sin, righteousness, and Judgement (John 16:7-11).
The result of the new birth is explained by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:17. While under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” The old and the new refer to the old and new spirits of a person. The new creation, the newly born spirit, allows a person who has been born again to be able to enter into the kingdom of God; the newborn spirit has also begun to indwell the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We find that written in John 14:20, “On that day you will know that I am in my Father and that you are in me and that I am in you.” In Colossians 1:27, we read, “…. Christ in you, the hope of glory.” We will indwell Christ “literally,” by literally being, “in Christ.” And remember John 10:28: “no one can pluck them out of My hand,” and verse 29, “no one can pluck them out of My Father’s hand.”
The old testament discusses the new birth in the writing of the prophet Ezekiel. That is the point of Jesus when he was speaking to Nicodemus. Nicodemus is someone, above most others, who should have known the teachings of all of the prophets. In Ezekiel 36:24-29, we see a teaching of the new birth. It is given to Israel, as a nation, and to Jews, individually. We need to look at this passage of scripture very carefully. Read it with fresh eyes and mind. I will put the passage before you. but as you read it keep in mind the words of Jesus in His discussion with Nicodemus, and how He related the work of the Holy Spirit to the movement of the wind. Notice, also, that God is not saying to Ezekiel, “if you will, I will.” God is clearly saying, “I will;” Israel is not the “tail that wags the dog.” Also, remember the words of Psalm 103:19, “The Lord has prepared His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom rules over all.” Also remember the purpose of God the Father, through God the Son, as it is written in Luke 19:10, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” God has always been proactive in leading the world (John 3:16) to saving faith in Him through Jesus. Israel, as a nation and individually, was lost. Every person who has ever been conceived has also been lost and in need of the saving power of Jesus. Now, let’s look at how God intervenes in the needs of Israel, to include the nation and the individual Jews
Ezekiel 36:24-29, “24 “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean ; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers ; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. 29 “Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness ; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you.”
In verse 24, God says, “I will gather you.” In verse 25, He says, I will cleanse you. In verse 26, God says, I will put a new heart and new spirit within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from you and replace it with a heart of flesh. In verse 27, God says, I will put My Spirit within you. In verse 28, God says to the Jews, ” you will live in the land that I gave to you.” In verse 29, God says, “I will save you from your uncleanness.” In this passage, God is clearly in control, and is not acting in response to anything that the nation of Israel, or the individual Jews, have done, are doing, or will be doing. God is the potter, the Jews are the clay (Jeremiah 18:1-6). God’s saving work on the nation of Israel is also through individual Jews.
With our having Sabbath Worship, we discussed true worship. Our scripture text was taken from John’s Gospel, Chapter 4. We discussed the encounter of the Samaritan woman with Jesus, verses 19-24., The topic was worship. The woman pointed out the differences of worship between Jews and Samaritans. Jews worshiped at the temple in Jerusalem, but Samaritans worshiped elsewhere. So, the woman says, “what gives?” With such a clear opportunity for Jesus to put aside all of the questions and confusion that exists among the Christian world today, Jesus gave a simple answer to the woman. The woman had addressed times, days, and places of worship. (You can figure that one out?) Plain and simple, Jesus said in verse 24, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” In AD 70, the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed, so that would take care of the time, day, and place situation. So, He said that true worship is that of “spirit and truth.” It is a worship that includes, “all that we are,” for “all that He is.” .
During our Sabbath Worship, we discussed Matthew 5:17, as Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” The Law of the Old Testament was fulfilled in Jesus: “It is finished” (John 19:30). In Galatians 3:24, we see the purpose of the Law: “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.”
Before we go our separate ways, let us again consider worship. The video that was seen was at the beginning of this post was filmed live during the Feast Of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, Israel. This year, the Feast Of Tabernacles will last from the evening of September 27 through sunset of October 4, 2015. Sukkot is also a name that is used for this festival. The video that is shown in this blog is one of the best worship videos that you can find. The length of the video is fifty-seven minutes, so there is a lot of time for worship of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.