Friday, December 16, 2016

Bethlehem Shepherds Revisited

This article from the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem’s website is so good I have contracted/summarized it below. It shows the unique aspect of the shepherds on that glorious day of our dear Savior’s birth. Here is the full article if you prefer (http://us.icej.org/news/commentary/tower-flock)

The first public declaration of the Good News of the redemption in Messiah Yeshua is made to shepherds, common people of Israel, not to the religious or political rulers. 

“The shepherds’ fields outside Bethlehem, to this day, play a central role in the Christmas celebrations in the Holy Land. Countless tourists have visited the fields between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The church historian Eusebius linked these fields to a unique biblical location called Migdal Eder, which translated means the “tower of the flock”. (See Gen. 35:21)

“This area on the outskirts of Bethlehem is also mentioned in the Talmudic writings. According to the Talmud, all cattle found in the area surrounding Jerusalem ‘as far as Migdal Eder’ were deemed to be holy and consecrated and could only be used for sacrifices in the Temple, in particular for the peace and Passover sacrifices. There was thus a special, consecrated circle around the city of Jerusalem.”

“This means the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem who first heard the Good News from the angels were not ordinary shepherds but served the sacrificial system of the Temple.” 

They were facilitating a very necessary reality of obedience to G-d in order for Israel to maintain fidelity to the Mosaic Covenant. And the shepherds who took care of these sacrificial sheep were the first to hear of the birth of the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world, Who is also the great Shepherd. 

“The Hebrew prophet Micah also refers to Migdal Eder. ‘And you, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, even the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.’ (Micah 4:8)”

“Based on that prophecy, prominent Jewish writers [who did not follow Yeshua] concluded in the Midrash that from all of the places in Israel, it would be the Migdal Eder where the arrival of the Messiah would be declared first.

“That means when the angels appeared that night to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem, it was not just a declaration of the Good News to simple shepherds. It was a powerful prophetic sign to all of Israel. The news of that night must have spread like wildfire through the surrounding villages.”

Luke records: “Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” (Luke 2:17-18)

What does this all mean for us?

“First, it is always beneficial for the Church to see that Jesus did not arrive into a vacuum, but was born into an entirely Jewish context. When Christ came in the flesh, he was born first-and-foremost to the Jewish people but would then also bring his favour and good pleasure to all men. Even though the celebration of Christ’s birth has become a feast marked almost exclusively by the gentile Church, it is important for us to see it in its historic and biblical context – as a message intended to give hope to Israel. As Zacharias prophesies at the birth of John the Baptist, this all happened to “perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham…” (Luke 1:72f).”

“The angelic announcement gave these simple shepherds a profound revelation of who this Messiah would be. He was proclaimed to be both King (born in the city of David) and Priest. That he was both Christ and Lord, the son of man but also the son of God. He would be the saviour of humanity but also the shepherd of all those who would follow his voice.”
By taking care of the sheep that are used in the sacrificial system, these shepherds were participating in the very context of our redemption. They were then chosen as the first people to publically hear the declaration of the Good News that the Mosaic Covenant was foreshadowing. “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you Good News of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12) 

He does everything for a reason and every detail brings Him glory.

Merry Christmas  

Monday, December 12, 2016

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Tour the Land of Israel with Tom


Ride on a boat on the Sea of Galilee, visit a 1st century recreation of the village of Nazareth, experience ancient Shiloh (the resting place of the Tabernacle for almost 400 years), participate in an archeological excavation (the Temple Mount Sifting Project), worship with local Messianic Jews, put your feet on the Mount of Olives like Yeshua will upon His return, 
and so much more! 

This is a 12 day trip, with 10 days of professional touring including a local Messianic Jewish guide. 

Cost is approximately $4,000 including airfare. 

For more details contact Tom ASAP.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Building a Spirit-Empowered Hebraic Worldview: A New Class This Fall

Starting Monday, October 5th Tom will teach a class focused on setting the foundation for a Spirit-Empowered Hebraic Worldview by looking at covenantal continuity. It's an 8-week session held on Monday evenings, from 6:30-9pm at Crossroads Church in Overland Park. He will teach on a new topic each week and also facilitate classroom discussion. Unlike the classes he offered last year there is no video instruction -- this class is built upon his own study and research in the Covenants throughout the Word.

Here's a more detailed explanation of what you can look forward to in this new class:

8-Week Session: October 5th - November 23rd
Building a Spirit-Empowered Hebraic Worldview: Covenantal Continuity & Foundation
     6:30 - 9:00pm
 

This class will construct a Biblical worldview that emphasizes the holistic necessity of Holy Spirit empowerment along with the equally necessary Biblically Hebraic realities of the Kingdom of G-d. The emphasis will be on the cumulative progressive nature of the Biblical covenants and the continuity between them. We will explore the Spirit-Empowered Hebraic Worldview by looking at principles from the Biblical feast of Shavuot (Pentecost), including:

  • Continuous Covenantal Thread: A look at the continuous and foundational thread of covenant throughout Scripture focusing on the New Covenant & the Davidic Covenant.
  • People & Land: An Israel-Centric Perspective presented with a focus on the Jewish people, and the Land of Israel as understood through the Abrahamic Covenant, while also addressing the role of the Nations in relationship to Israel by looking at the Adamic and Noachic Covenants.
  • G-d's Holy Law: A look at the Mosaic Covenant and its continued relevance for Jews & Gentiles.
We hope to see you there!
The cost of the class is $20.
Please register by contacting Tom Blake at

tom@remember-jerusalem.org  OR 913-645-8814

Classes are located at:
Crossroads Church RCA,
10551 Quivira Road, Lenexa, KS 66215

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Growing Pains & Blessings!

His Spirit keeps moving, and hopefully we are too!

Our lives have been filled with the Father's blessings these last few months. We are encountering Him in new and amazing ways as we experience Jew and Gentile coming together in deep relationship. Tom taught two classes this semester, and the latest class -- Israel, the Church and the Last Days -- shed light on concepts that are confusing without a Spirit-Empowered Hebraic Worldview. This summer he hopes to teach his first in-depth class focused on his passion: the continuity of the Biblical covenants. The class is titled "Yeshua in the Covenants: Building a Spirit-Empowered Hebraic Worldview." Whether teaching Monday night classes, leading our small groups, preaching at our congregation, or through one-on-one conversations, the L-RD continues to emphasize the importance of understanding covenant for right relationship with Him and others. Stay tuned for exact dates and times.

We are sad to say that the Jerusalem Pilgrimage Tour has been postponed. Stay tuned for more information on the rescheduling and please let us know if you're interested in attending!
Before we moved to Israel, we "sold everything" including our home, car, and furnishings to supplement the high cost of living in Jerusalem. After we moved back, the L-RD generously supplied us with a van (which is paid off!) and a good friend has given Tom a car to "borrow" for a very extended amount of time! Tom's parents have graciously allowed us to stay in their home since we have returned. But we are confident that the L-RD's timing is here for us to find a home of our own as a base for our ministry. It's currently a 'seller's market' which is a challenge for us in our house hunt, but we continue to trust in His goodness and His provision. Please join us in prayer for the financing and purchasing of the right home in Kansas. Baby #5 comes in September and we'd love to be settled before then.
O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of G-d!
How unsearchable are His judgements and how incomprehensible are His ways!

 
We are constantly reminded of this Scripture, not just because of our personal testimony but from the experiences of our friends and family. We take comfort in knowing that He is incomprehensible, and so when we visited the sonographer to check on our newest little addition, we were prepared for whatever the Father had for us. Then she revealed that Baby #5 is a BOY! Perhaps we weren't quite prepared for that! He is healthy and growing well and, L-RD willing, he will join our family in September!
 
 
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory fovever! Amen!
Romans 11:33, 36

Not only are we expecting a baby in the fall, but Tom will formally continue his doctoral studies that began in Jerusalem by entering the doctoral program at The King's University in Southlake, Texas. He'll travel south three times a year to attend modular classes for the Messianic Jewish Studies Program, the only accredited Messianic Doctoral program in America.