Monday, March 28, 2011

Jesus or Yeshua - What's In a Name?

Do names matter? More importantly, are names important to Elohim (G-d)? I am going to take you on a journey of discovery of sorts, and talk about names in general, but more specifically the name of the Messiah, the Word made flesh that came to dwell among us. This is pretty exciting stuff, so hold on to your proverbial hat!

Let me preface this with saying that I believe names DO matter and that they also very much matter to Elohim. I will attempt to point out a few examples of why I believe this, but I also want to point out first and foremost that I grew up learning, believing, calling and submitting to a Messiah whose name is Jesus.  Now, I realize people "get saved" by that name every day and to some extent it doesn't matter, yet for the purpose of continuity between the Old and New Testaments or Covenants, it does matter and more so I think it matters in witnessing to Jews.  You see, the name that most Christians know as "Jesus" appears in the Tanakh (Old Testament) over 200 times! Surprised? Yeah, I was too.

Without even digging too deeply into the scriptures, I can think of examples in which Elohim told parents to name their child a specific name or changed their names.  A few examples of name changes commanded and ordained by Yahweh are Avram (Abram) to Avraham (Abraham), Yaa'kov (Jacob) to  Yisra'el (Israel) and Sarai (Sara) to Sarah. Now I am going to make a very simple (and maybe too simple to some) observation here. If Elohim didn't think names were important, He would not have changed them or given people new names! Names are somehow tied to your destiny. I am not going to pretend I understand this fully, but I do recognize this as truth any way.  Names are important and precious to Elohim. The Word, the very alphabet and more specifically the Hebrew alphabet is powerful. There is something about the spoken Word, living and active. Words have power to tear down or build up! Elohim spoke the very universe and all that you see into existence by speaking words, His Word. So, it isn't hard to think that names are important to Him. In Genesis 17 we read that Avram (exalted father) had his name changed to Avraham (father of many) and that Sarai (mockery) was changed to Sarah (princess). He was changing their names to match their destiny!  Do you ever wonder about your name? Some believers have been given a new name from Adonai. Wouldn't that be a neat prayer request? "Give me a new name that matches my destiny and speaks to who I really am."

Okay, real quick, here is a short list of some of the names of G-d that I frequently use and their English equivalents or meanings. I prefer to use the Hebrew names for G-d and so here are a few of them:
  • Adonai = Lord which means "Master" (when you see this capitalized in your Bible, it is the tetragrammaton, the Hebrew name of G-d consisting of the four letters, Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh).
  • Elohim = G-d
  • Yahweh or YHWH = a most likely imperfect representation of the Name Elohim gave to Moshe (Moses) which is the Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh) but I use it anyway. Imperfect in that there is an ongoing mystery as to how to pronounce the tetragrammaton.
  • Mashiach = Messiah or annointed one. I prefer this over "Christ" for various reasons.
The third command prohibits taking G-d's name in vain. It seems clear to me that this command shows us the importance and sacredness of His name. David Stern in the Complete Jewish Bible explains, "Already by Yeshua's time, no one ever spoke G-d's name exept the cohen hagadol (high priest) when he entered the Most Holy Place in the temple to make atonement for the sins of Israel on Yom Kippur. So strictly was this rule enforced that when the Masoretes wrote down the vowel points for the Torah, they did not write the actual vowels to be used in pronouncing the tetragrammaton." Contrast this attitude of reverence for G-d's name today, which is used flippantly and frequently as a cuss word.

The first mention of the word Yeshua is in Genesis 49:18. In the Hebrew it says, "Liyshu'atekah quytiy YHWH" which is translated, "I wait for thy salvation O YHWH." The meaning behind Yeshua is SALVATION! So, right here where Jacob is blessing his sons, we have this scripture. The very definition of Yeshua's name is salvation. He IS salvation. Period. Let's just insert this Hebrew name Yeshua in place of the word salvation in Luke 2:29-30, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; For mine eyes have seen thy Yeshua!" Simeon's declaration of identifying the Messiah when he was just a little babe as "Yeshua" or salvation takes on new meaning when connected to the Tanakh, as again, this word is used over 200 times in these kind of salvation/Messianic passages! Let's go a little deeper into the word picture in the word Yeshua.

Behind each letter of the Hebrew alephbet is a word picture, that when put together, form the complete meaning of the word. Brad Scott explains in his book, The Tanakh: The Dictionary of the New Testament, "The word yeshua is formed from three consonants. These consonants are the yod, the shin and the ayin. Each of these letters has a primitive form and a primitive meaning behind each one. The primitive forms are not in use today. However, they formed the basis for the early round script which eventually became the modern, more square look. The early form of the yod looked like a hand, and its meaning was a deed or action. The early form of the shin was teeth, and its meaning was to consume or to destroy. The early form of the ayin was an eye, and its meaning was to cast our eyes or to look upon. To the Torah observant early Hebrews, this order of the letters helped to form their understanding of the meaning of the whole word. To be saved was to begin with a deed or action - a rescue- followed by the destruction of the thing you were rescued from, and ultimately concluded by a devotion, or casting your eyes upon, that which delivered you." That is the word picture behind the Hebrew letters for the Messiah - Yeshua! This kind of stuff amazes me! Yeshua came to destroy and rescue me from sin and death and now I am casting my eyes upon Him, in total devotion and love for saving me. In this definition, we not only see what Yeshua did, we also see our response which is the complete picture of salvation.

We casually throw words around and forget their meaning. Salvation is one of those words. We ask, "Are you saved?" or say, "I was saved in 1985." I don't want to get too sidetracked on this thought, but because it is the meaning of Yeshua's name and is a crucial concept to understand, I think it is important. How do we understand what this word means? We look to the source of course and not just the New Testament, but the other 39 books of the Word that defined it quite clearly. Why? Because when Mattityahu (Matthew) said that Yeshua would save us from our sins, the hearers of that message at the time were not told what save or sin meant, because they already had the Book and definitions. They already knew the meaning. Let's look at the first example of save in the Tanakh.

The first occurrence is in Sh'mot (Exodus) 2:16-17, "Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. And the shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock." I love Brad Scott's explanation, "Here is the first example of someone being saved. The daughters of the priest of Midian had come to water their flock, but the shepherds came not only to take their water, but to drive them away. Moshe takes action. He rises up against the shepherds and drives them away.  This is implied from the use of the word vayyaqam, which means to rise up, as in to rise up against. Moshe then gives the women what the thieves came to take. The result is that one of them is given to Moshe in marriage. Imagine, a Hebrew man goes into the territory of the nations, drives off thieves (see Yochanan or John 10:10), gives his future bride water from the well, and takes her as his own! He then has the chutzpah to go back to his own people with her, to a life contrary to her nature. Then he takes her out on a date to a Passover Seder. Hmmmm." Okay, are you seeing the pattern and description of salvation and how it matches what Messiah said and did?!! Yochanan 10:10 says, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." The thief is HaSatan, the enemy of our souls, that is who we have been rescued from and now we are "not our own", we have been bought with a price. We enter into this betrothal with Messiah Yeshua in a covenant/Ketubah and there will be a wedding banquet, a celebration, yet to come! Oh, and He is coming again on a white horse...soon! "And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!".  Are you longing for His return as much as I am? Long engagements or betrothal's are difficult, aren't they?!

From this and many other examples of salvation in the Tanakh, we see that salvation is made up of parts. And I am seeing three. Hmmm. Yet one. Hmmm. 1)rescue 2)destruction of enemies 3) dedication to the rescuer by the one being saved. It seems that modern Christian thinking is only concerned with this first part, being rescued. But is the enemy destroyed when we don't allow the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to sanctify us through obedience to His Word? We get the victory over sin and the consequences of it when we obey His Word! Believe, by the way is not just a "knowing"of something it is an ACTION word, much like love is an action word, not just a warm and fuzzy feeling. (But that is another post!) Is our dedication to Yeshua, our rescuer, a mere occasional "thanks a lot" but yet we go on living the same lives? It seems to me that the concept of salvation has been greatly watered down in our day. This word "save" in the Tanakh says Brad Scott, "involves a literal rescue from the circumstances, a deliverance from enemies, a return to Elohiym's word, a desire to be clean and not to depart from His word, gratitude and praise, and finally a casting of ones eyes upon YHWH for strength. Is it any coincidence that He is rescuing His people from all the lands in which He scattered them, that He will destroy their enemies, that they will look upon Him who they have pierced, and then all Israel will be saved?"

David Stern in his preface to the Complete Jewish Bible says this, "In Matthew 1:21 an angel of ADONAI tells Yosef (Joseph) that Miryam (Mary), his betrothed, will give birth to a son, 'and you are to name him Yeshua, because he will save his people from their sins.' In English the reason explains nothing - why not name him 'George, because he will save his people from their sins'? Likewise in Greek - the name Iesous has nothing to do with soter, the Greek word for 'save'. Only in Hebrew or Aramaic does the explanation explain. The Hebrew name Yeshua, which is the masculine form of the word yeshu'ah (salvation), is based on the same root (yod-shin-'ayin) as yoshia, which means 'he will save'."

Now, I am not a linguist or translator, but I do think it is interesting that the name Jesus is a transliteration of the Greek name Iesous, which is kinda funny because there is no "J" sound there at all and for the most part it seems to me a man-produced name. It is my understanding that translators added the j sound because they needed a consonant. The question I have is why translate a name so far from the original as to make it sound totally different?  Honestly, I don't get this! When McDonald's builds a restaurant in China, or Russia or Zimbabwe, they do not transliterate the name McDonalds into something else, it remains "McDonalds" because that is what the original owner named it. Why did His wonderful name get translated and obscured in the Word of G-d? Why not use the name Elohim gave the Messiah in the Hebrew and leave it at that? I can only guess at answering this question. My guess is because names are important and HaSatan knows that. I also think it takes the Jewishness OUT of the Jewish names! Crazy to even say it, but it does. When you read the scriptures using the names of all the people and places with their Hebrew names, it reminds you that it is a Jewish or Hebraic book! There seems to me a bit of (okay a lot of) antisemitism in this translation business, whether intentional or not. As I am fully embracing my Hebrew roots and heritage, I am  embracing these precious names.

After all the years of using the (poorly) transliterated name of my Messiah, I am very much enjoying using his given name, Yeshua. Do I still use the name Jesus? Well, after decades of using this name, yes, it slips out. Is it a big deal? No, it really isn't. Either way, I know who I am talking to or about. Yet, can you imagine if everyone around you kept calling you a name that wasn't your given name? I don't know about you, but it would bother me to be called Matilda (or whatever) instead of my given name, Gail.  No offence to the Matilda's of the world, but please don't call me Matilda!

Now I realize there are different spellings for Yeshua and I am not one of those people that insists it has to be spelled a certain way. I am just happy that it is much closer (than "Jesus" is) to the name He was born with and destined to be called. Ideally, yes, I would love to learn and read the actual Hebrew language (something I am very slowly doing), but for now, I am trying to get back to at least the original names and places (proper nouns) given in the Word because names are very important. Every time I use the name Yeshua, it reminds me of who He is and what He came to do. Save. He completely and perfectly fulfilled His destiny and His name testifies to just that. I LOVE IT!

So, there you go. A very imperfect explanation of why I love and now use the name Yeshua instead of Jesus!

NOTE: After reading more about translating versus transliterating, I have come to understand that proper nouns, such as names for G-d, places, etc, should not be translated but transliterated. Apparently the difference is translating will bring the word closest to the original meaning and transliterating will bring the word in the new language closest to it's original sound by using the available sounds in the other alphabet. Proper nouns should be transliterated not translated as it then keeps the word closest to the original sound of the name. Brad Scott on his Wildbranch website has a 4 part series on this if you want to read more, go to  With this in mind, I have changed a few things in this post! I am always learning...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Esther - A Much Needed Reminder of His Deliverance and Sovereignity

I love a good story. Especially when it has a happy ending. About now, with all that is going on in the world, there is such a spirit of heaviness all around, that the time to be reminded of Adonai's sovereignty could not be more timely. I don't know about you, but the feeling of heaviness, doom and gloom is palpable in the world. Now, I am a "doomer" and enjoy prophecy so I tend to immerse myself in world events to the point of (perhaps) being out of balance.  Yet, we are commanded to be watchful and discern the times. It seems prophecy is being fulfilled at break neck speed lately!  It takes all I have to keep up, and often I think, this is so surreal, someone needs to pinch me.

Amidst all the upheaval, the birth pangs, the earth's very axis being upset, the roaring of the seas, there is also a longing, intensifying in every part of my being to be restored to my homeland, Israel and to my King, Yeshua. Nearing the climax of our story in history and as the tension builds, all I want is resolve! Ah, perfect timing Adonai! Purim is upon us and it is time to celebrate that He is still (always!) on the throne and He has a plan for each one that is called and chosen by name during this time of sorrows we find ourselves in.

I love the story of Esther (Hadassah).  Her very name means "something hidden to be revealed".  The Hebrew spelling of Esther contains the word "satar" = to conceal. She certainly was concealed and hidden as a Jew until after a 3 day fast (this revealing of things on the 3rd day is a biblical theme by the way, pretty consistent throughout scripture) in which she then went before the King and revealed her true identity, leading to the salvation of the Jewish people. "It is the glory of YHWH to conceal a matter and the honor of kings to search it out." (Prov 25:2) Did you know that our Creator loves to conceal things, just for us to search them out as treasures to be found and discovered? He is masterful at orchestrating events for the purpose of deliverance. The good news is, He hasn't changed!

The story of Esther reminds me of the story of Joseph and of Moses. Joseph did not reveal himself to his brothers until the 3rd time they appeared before him (there is the principle of the 3rd day again). All three were hidden in their true identity, chosen for such a time until the time came for them to reveal themselves and serve Adonai's purposes in being an instrument of deliverance! In all three cases, the purpose of being hidden was so that all Israel might be saved. From the very beginning haSatan has been trying to extinguish the line of the seed of the woman which would bring Yeshua the Messiah to us. It is also interesting that in all these cases, Esther, Joseph and Moses, there was a life and death situation, a time of great trouble.

We have a new Haman rising, not yet revealed, but surely behind the scenes at this time in history. I am speaking of the antiMessiah. We are also, if we count from the time of Yeshua the Messiah, on the cusp of the THIRD DAY! It has been over 2000 years since Messiah was here on earth.  In scripture, we know that a day is as a thousand years, therefore 2000 years would be considered as 2 days. We are in the 3rd day! Does that excite you like it does me? The question is, is this our time? Is it time to come out of hiding and reveal who we really are? Are we part of Adonai's plan to be His servants and deliver those in bondage who are sentenced to death? I would answer an AMEN to these questions!

Haman (say "boo" here), an Amalekite, and the villain of the story who was trying to eradicate and kill all the Jews with his decree, was of the lineage of Esau. If you know your Bible history, you understand the significance here. Esau was not part of the seed of the promise, even though he was of the physical seed of Isaac, just as Ishmael was of Abraham. I have heard also that it is possible to trace the lineage of the nazi regime to Amalek. I can't substantiate that, but it would not surprise me at all. Truly there is nothing new under the sun. The same enemies keep battling and the story of Esther reminds us of that.

There is a very convicting part of the story for me. Many years before the story of Esther took place,  King Saul let King Agag, the Amalekite live, which was in direct disobedience to Elohim's command.  The consequence of this act came back to rear it's ugly head years later in Haman being part of that seed or lineage. Here comes the lesson. When we don't take our sin seriously and obey the commands of Adonai, they can, years later, rear their ugly heads in the form of generational sins and curses and all kinds of unpleasantries. I see this as a major Bible theme woven throughout scripture. This story provides a warning as we see the result of not taking His Word seriously enough to obey all of it, without any creative editing. King Saul, when confronted in his disobedient state by the prophet Samuel had the audacity to say he was being obedient, when he really wasn't. His definition of obedience certainly was different than Yahweh's.

Mordecai's response to this edict of Haman's was repentance as he realized it was due to the failings and consequences of the Jewish people, namely King Saul.  Exposing Haman could be symbolic of exposing sin. Yeshua triumphs over sin and death and once sin (Haman) was put to death, the Holy Spirit (Mordecai) is given authority to command. Oh, isn't that true in our own lives? When we die to self and sin and put our flesh on that cross with Yeshua, the Ruach HaKodesh can now take over. Interesting as well, that the Jews were again delivered on the 17th of Nisan, which is Firstfruits, the same day that deliverance for the Israelites in Egypt began and the same day Yeshua arose! Isn't Elohim amazing? Proof He keeps a calendar, right there!

Purim, which is the celebration of Elohim's deliverance in the story of Esther is March 19-20, in a few days. I am so looking forward to this time of celebration! This will be my first time formally celebrating this event of deliverance, attending a play and oneg (food and fellowship time). All of the times Yahweh delivered His people are worth celebrating and I can't think of a better time in history to be reminded that He is always in control and has a plan for deliverance, even in the bleakest of situations. Thank you for the reminder Yeshua! You always know just what I need right when I need it.

So there is your happy ending!

Happy Purim my friends!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Beauty of Sabbath and Resting in Him

Before I touch on the Sabbath, here is just a brief update.  I have not been diligent in posting, but have about 10 different subjects I would love to tackle! For now, I posted my personal testimony on a separate page which I hope you will find interesting. I also was working on putting descriptions and details regarding all the books listed on my favorites page, only for it to get deleted (I almost wanted to cry...but refrained!) I have 11 more books to add and I will give descriptions and comments in a few days....Adonai willing!

 For this busy homeschooling keeper at home Mom to 6, there are not enough hours in my day! So, please be patient....there is much more to come! Really. If I could download from my brain to the computer, it would simplify things greatly!! The Lord is telling me to rest at night instead of sneaking back up to this computer and staying up until the wee hours. My adrenals thank Him!

Alright...on to the topic of the Sabbath. Today is "preparation day". I never knew before what that really meant, but now I DO! So, as I get ready for the Sabbath which is fast approaching and it is 1:30 pm here...I must get off this computer and get busy, so I can rest in a clean home and enjoy this time. Emily is our Challah bread maker, and she is busy in the kitchen as we speak.  She is able to do this herself which is an incredible blessing! I will be starting a big pot of chili, which will be great to eat for the next 2 days, especially when you have sliced avocados, fresh diced jalapenos, sour cream, cheese and tortilla chips to dip into it with :) Thanks to my friend Heather who inspired these additions! We are also going to have strawberries and whipped cream over angel food cake. AH, a little taste of summer, which is coming, right? I have begun to make sure we have a special dessert for every Sabbath evening as it is a wonderful time of celebration. I want to create something the children will anticipate with excitement. This to me is also a foretaste of the Wedding banquet to come! I am reminded that Yeshua said  (see Matthew 26:29) that He will not "drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."  As I drink, I anticipate that day with great longing and excitement! I love all the symbols of the bread, wine (actually we use carbonated grape juice) and the candles. The Light of the world has come to be a light in our hearts so we can be a light in the darkness. I LOVE IT!

As we light the candles tonight I am hoping it will be more meaningful, because we just talked about the Menorah in the Tabernacle this morning and all the wonderful application to our lives. We read from Brad Scott's book about the Messiah in the Tabernacles (see my list!).  He is the Light and the Torah (which doesn't mean law as much as it means teaching and instruction) is also the Light. His Word is the light which guides me on the path of righteousness. Without His Torah, His Word, I wouldn't know His will, what direction to go or how to walk in His ways. I cannot BE a light unless I take IN the Light (His Word) daily and let it do it's work in my heart and mind. Men do NOT like the light, they like the darkness. They hate those who have the light because it exposes the sin/darkness in their lives. The enemy is called the Lawless one or the Torahless one! He has no light! He doesn't walk in Yahweh's ways, he walks in rebellion to His ways!  I don't want to imitate the Lawless one and think that my ways are higher than Elohim's ways. I love lighting those Sabbath candles as the sun is going down. It reminds me that no matter how dark this world gets, as long as I have the Light of His Word, I will not live in darkness. Oh, blessed Light! I hate the darkness. The world is coming into a very deep darkness and the only way to survive is to have that Light and let it light our path.

I am so thankful for my heritage and being a part of Israel and the Olive Tree!  So many wonderful traditions that are rich in meaning and symbolism, the Sabbath being a weekly reminder, a weekly communion and Passover of sorts, of what Yeshua has done for me and for everyone who calls on His name to be saved! I finally am embracing and being obedient to the 4th command to keep a 7th day Sabbath. To be honest that is the one command I always struggled with wondering how to obey it and doubting I really ever kept a true Sabbath as outlined in the Scriptures. Leviticus 23 starts out with the Sabbath before talking about the Feasts. The first Sabbath was kept by Adonai Himself in the creation week, again demonstrated as a command for those wandering in the wilderness (before Sinai) as they gathered the Manna from heaven (but not on the 7th day), given again at Sinai when Moses and the Hebrews along with the mixed mulititude (grafted in ones) received the marriage contract or the Ten Commandments and it will be kept in the Millenium reign of Yeshua when He comes again to rule and reign on the earth. Am I to honestly think that Adonai has rescinded his commands to be obeyed for 2,000 years of earth history only to be reinstated at the Millenium? I apologize to anyone reading who may subscribe to being a dispensationalist, but I am not and believe there was GRACE from the very beginning in the garden. I do not chop up the Word and create artificial barriers between Israel and the Church like most do, nor do I believe in the pretrib rapture, which all hinge on dispensationalism. If I have learned anything as a disciple of Yeshua who studies His Word diligently, I have learned that it is 100% consistent from the first verse to the very last.

Some friends haven't understood why our family is celebrating a 7th day Sabbath. Because I celebrate a literal physical rest as the command states (and it is a forever command to be kept throughout all of the BIG TEN!), does that mean I am not resting in Yeshua as my Sabbath rest in a spiritual sense? NO an emphatic and absolute NO! Even more so, because I am resting physically and incorporating rich traditions and symbols into this day of rest....they ALL point to Yeshua the Messiah as our Rest and bring even more meaning (not less!) and thankfulness for what He has accomplished on our behalf. There is no striving to be accepted, no works based salvation (there never was for the patriarchs by the way either!) as He has said "It is finished." Obedience to commands is not legalism! I'm going to say that again and let it sink in...Obedience to Yah's commands is not legalism! Legalism is trusting that your works or obedience to His commands will somehow earn your salvation. Obedience, on the other hand, is done out of love for being already redeemed and giving your life completely to walking in the ways of the Master! There are blessings to obedience, yes, always! We never know what blessings we miss out on sometimes, because we often see the Old Testament as old and done away with. Yeshua clearly said He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. We cannot define fulfill as "end" because Yeshua said He did not come to abolish it very clearly.

 As the sun sets, I rejoice as the Sabbath begins and I enter into that rest in a time of fellowship, blessing and prayer with my family. Rest. I love that word! Isn't that what we all long for? Rest and peace? In this busy world where we are so distracted and running in so many directions, trying to balance a myriad of responsibilities, I am reminded of the most important task, to seek His face and rest in HIM.  I am reminded of Yeshua's words which He spoke on the Sabbath, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30).

Yeshua is the Light and is my Rest. He is all sufficient to meet every need! Shabbat Shalom (Sabbath Peace) to you and your household and may you find the beauty of resting in Him!