The Light Has Come

On Friday 29th November, Steph Cottam was invited to speak to Shofar, a meeting in the heart of Nottinghamshire. As it was the time of Chanukah, this provided the perfect opportunity to speak about the hope of the Jewish people one day recognising the Light of the world, Yeshua.

It’s the third day of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights when, around the world, Jewish people celebrate the miracle of the Menorah which stayed alight for eight days on just one day’s oil, following the defeat of the Antiochus the IV’s by the Maccabees.

Brief History Lesson:
Antiochus IV took control of Jerusalem following a revolt by a small army of 1,000 soldiers, led by the deposed High Priest, Jason who had bribed Antiochus to give him the position, and was usurped by Menelaus who bribed the King with a higher price.

The Book of Maccabees says this about it:
“Raging like a wild animal, he set out from Egypt and took Jerusalem by storm. He ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy those whom they met and to slay those who took refuge in their houses. There was a massacre of young and old, a killing of women and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants. In the space of three days, eighty thousand were lost, forty thousand meeting a violent death, and the same number being sold into slavery.”

Following his victory, Antiochus outlawed Jewish religious rites and traditions and ordered the worship of Zeus – who he thought he was the incarnation of. He desecrated the Temple of God, stealing many of the gold articles for his own collection, sacrificing pigs on the Holy Altar of God, and erecting a statue of Zeus inside, dedicating the Temple to Zeus. Many Jews who refused to worship him as a god were murdered.

In this setting, a group of men led by the five sons of Mattathias, who were known as the Maccabees (Hebrew for hammer”), fought against the Syrian army, and in 164 BC reclaimed Jerusalem, and set about purifying the Temple once again, for God’s glory.

This is where we get the celebration of Chanukah, the eight day celebration, which was known as the Feast of Dedication in Jesus’ day, following the re-dedication of the Temple and the great rejoicing of victory against the enemies of Israel.

The miracle of the oil is where we get the tradition of scoffing doughnuts, and all things which are deep fried…

The Oil
As Believers, we have an understanding of Who the oil in Scripture represents. If you have read my book, you will have already know how the Menorah represents the relationship we have with the Holy Spirit. If you haven’t yet read Ready or Not – He is Coming… it is highly recommended!

Proverbs 20:27: The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord…
Psalm 18:28: For You [Lord] will light my lamp; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.

The wick is the conduit through which the oil is drawn up to keep the flame burning, and we are the wick through whom God works. Just as the Priests had to keep the wicks of the Tabernacle / Temple Menorah trimmed, so that it wouldn’t go out, we have to spend time in His presence, drawing upon the Holy Spirit, in order to keep the Light of Yeshua burning through us, so that the world may see.

We may not even be aware of the effect of the work of God in us, just as Moses wasn’t aware when he first came down the mountain, having spent time with God, how his face was literally glowing with God’s glory!

Oil and water cannot mix… something to do with the science molecules which make up the substances being packed differently. Water is denser, meaning it has more molecules, and so in equal measures water is heavier than oil… hence the oil rising to the top of the jar! There’s also the whole thingy of water being positively charged and oil has no charge… opposites attract, so there is nothing in the oil which attracts the water to it… so they will always remain separate… So whenever we put oil and water into the same container, even if we shake up the jar, the water and oil will consistently separate!

This represents the body of Believers in Yeshua, although we live “in the world”, we have been called out through Yeshua, to live as a consecrated people to God.

John 15:19: If you belonged to the world, the world would have loved its own. But because you do not belong to the world — on the contrary, I have picked you out of the world — therefore the world hates you.
Romans 12:2: And do not be conformed to this world.
1 John 2:15: The way we interact with the world should always be as people who understand that our citizenship is not of this world, but that we belong to the Kingdom of God… even as we wait for the arrival of Yeshua to take us to the home He is preparing for us.

This means that our interaction with the world should be as a representative of God, pouring out His love, His aroma of life, His oil into the hearts and lives of people we encounter. When people come into our lives, they should receive a “coating” of the oil through how we behave with them… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control… oh wait… I didn’t come up with that list! These are the fruit of the Spirit, and through our interaction with the world, even if it is someone who bashes the back of our legs with their supermarket trolley; we need to allow them to leave our presence, having been in the presence of God.

We know the world is a dark place. Sometimes it might seem as though the world is overpowering the Church. It’s interesting that to the Jewish people, Chanukah is known as the “Festival of Lights”, and yet many Jewish people haven’t yet recognised the Light of the world. Christmas, for us as Believers, is the recognition of the Light of the world… our Festival of THE Light. It may not be the “right time of year”, or the world may have taken in pagan elements within the festivities… but for the majority of those who do not know Yeshua, they recognise Christmas as being the one where Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Christmas, for us, is the celebration of the Light Who stepped into our world, although the world did not know Him, and the world tried to hide Him, and the world tried to extinguish Him. But the Light cannot ever be extinguished or hidden. And through His body of Believers, the Light of Yeshua continues to shine. Like a city on a hill, Yeshua’s light shines bright, drawing people out of darkness and into the promise of His eternal, abundant life.

It is so important that the world is given the chance to see Yeshua, for at the heart of Who He is and what He did, is His passion for people, and His desire that none of us should perish. It can be so hard, at times for us to wonder how on earth we can make a difference, because people are so against anything “religious” right now. But when Jesus came to Israel, people were so against the religiousness of the day back then too. And so is God!

We are called to be authentic in our following of Him. And to let our light shine before men. God does the rest! We don’t have to be the one to talk through the sinners prayer, but we do have to be the one who can be used by the Holy Spirit to plant a seed, or to water a seed which has already been planted… who can know what God is doing in a person’s life, except the Spirit of God at work in him or her… we should never underestimate the role we can play in a someone’s life, nor in God’s plan! And we should never underestimate how much God can use us for His Kingdom purposes!

Happy Chanukah

Happy Festival of Lights

Happy Christmas


The Bride Is a New Creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; 

old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Introduction
New Creation – it’s one of those Christian jargon words which is thrown around…

We many have, at the back of our minds, a sense of what it means… or maybe, we have never actually looked that closely at it, having heard about it once in a song, or in a sermon and accepted what we heard. Or maybe, you’re new to the faith, and have come across the idea of being a new creation, but don’t actually understand what this means.

Understanding the concept of being a “New Creation
It is of utmost importance to realise that none of us can forge for ourselves a new identity.For our becoming “new” can only be found “in Christ” alone! Jesus says, in John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you.”

So for us to “be in Christ” is an open invitation for anyone of us to “abide” in Him. To “abide” means:

  • To remain, continue, stay
  • To have one’s abode, dwelling, residence.
  • To continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship.

As the Bride of Yeshua, we are to abide in Him; a daily decision part to remain in Him, to actually live in Him, to continually develop our relationship with Him in prayer, study, worship and obedience, and to not become swayed by the things of this world. It is our obedience to His word and commands as we follow His example for living life. This is our part in the process of becoming a new creation – our obedience to His word allows the rest of the work to be carried out by the Holy Spirit.

The large majority of us becoming a new creation happens as a definitive response of the outworking of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we are transformed from our “old self” into the new creation, which is to become more like Jesus. For “clearly you are an epistle of Christ… written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” (2 Corinthians 3:3)

So what are we being transformed into?
Romans 8:29: For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

As the Spirit of God works in us, He removes the old man, the first man Adam, the natural body which is subject to the law of sin and death (Romans 5:12-21; Romans 8:2), and replaces us with a new man, the life-giving Spirit of the last Adam, a spiritual body, giving us the freedom to live a life no longer cursed by sin or death. We are a NEW CREATION!!

Romans 8:5-11: For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally-minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.  And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

So what does this idea of a “new creation” replacing the old, or living by the Spirit and not be the flesh actually mean? An in-depth study of what Paul says in his letters to many of the Churches he wrote to, will shed light on what we can do, much more than I can cover in this posting!

Ephesians 4:17-5:21: This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest ofthe Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:  that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbour,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.  Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labour, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;  neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.  For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.  But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light… See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.

It is in this letter to the Ephesians we find Paul’s most comprehensive guideline for what it means to “put off the old” and to live in the way of the “new man”, as wise people, not in foolishness. And not independently, but encouraging one another to seek to live according to the Spirit of God, and not according to our flesh.

In Galatians 5:16-26, also, we find details of what Paul would like to see, as we “walk in the Spirit” rather than fulfilling “the lust of the flesh” – that is the old man,
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

The old has gone. Completely! God promised that when we turn to Him in full repentance, He will remove our sins, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). The old version of ourselves we can’t just “stumble upon” one day, because God has removed the old nature far away from us. We become His. As the Bride-to-be, according to the Jewish customs of the first century Israel which Yeshua would have known, we are already called by His name (Isaiah 43:7) and because of the character of God, the very essence of Who He is, He creates in us a new heart, softened to His direction and leading, softened to hear His voice, softened toward Him. God can’t leave the old man to take root in our lives, because what place does light have with darkness, or death with life (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)?

God changes ALL things, not just one or two areas of our lives, as He prepares the Bride for the Groom’s return.

So, how do we “put off” our old man, if God has sent His Holy Spirit to renew and cleanse us from him, and is transforming us into the image of His Son?

Colossians 3:1-10: If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 

This means that we are walking a very different walk to those who are in the world. We have been called out of the world,

John 15:19: “Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Ephesians 5:8: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.

 

Transformed From Glory To Glory

If we are to understand the “why” behind being a “New Creation”, we need to follow Paul’s train of thought in 2 Corinthians 5:17 back to some kind of starting place, which I would argue is right back at 2 Corinthians 4:8:

2 Corinthians 4:8 – 5: 19:We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—  always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  So then death is working in us, but life in you. And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

I want to focus specifically on what Paul is saying regarding our future hope, here:

For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.”

The whole purpose of our being made new is for that day when Jesus will return for His Bride, and will take us to be with Him in eternity, that we should not be found “naked” ie… the new spiritual self. In being made new, we are being prepared for His return, clothed in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), and adorned, like a bride ready to receive her Groom.

In 1 Corinthians 15:42-50, Paul gives us a distinct process of transformation, which also carries that sense of being spiritually ready for the coming of our Saviour,

The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption

We have so much to gain, in living in accordance with the Spirit, but for our humanity, our old man, which demands instant gratification, the rewards of life in the Spirit seem a long time coming. Paul understood this, which is why he often encourages his readers to “continue in the faith”, “Don’t lose heart”, “Don’t become worry”, “Fight the good fight”, “Run with endurance” “Stand fast in the Lord” and so on…!

At the end of the day, when all is said and done, our works are nothing in and of themselves, our works are made perfect in the faith that God has done a good work in us and will complete it until the day of Jesus return (Philippians 1:6). It is an ongoing process we live out day by day, recognising that our citizenship is in heaven, and as such,

Colossians 3:4: When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

What a great day of rejoicing that will be, when Jesus returns and finds us ready in our spiritual garments, reflecting His glory!

Philippians 3:20-21:  For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

For on that day, we truly will be a “new creation”!!

May we always walk worthy of God, who calls us into His own Kingdom and glory.
(1 Thessalonians 2:12)


Third Print Run!

Ready or Not - Front Cover CMYK

The debut book, Ready or Not – He is Coming, by Stephanie Cottam is now in it’s third print run!!! This is great news and we are really excited to see that so many people are choosing to invest in this book for themselves.

If you haven’t ordered your copy yet, now is the time to buy one!


Prayer Request

On Wednesday 9th October, author Steph Cottam will be joining Maria Rodrigues on the Premier Christian Radio Woman to Woman show. She will be joining Maria for an online Bible Study.

Pray for her as takes this step into unknown areas, and that the Lord will give her wisdom as she joins the Bible study with listeners. This is an exciting step for Steph, and we hope the Lord will continue to open doors for her.


Sukkot Sermon

On Sunday 22nd September, Stephanie Cottam author of Ready or Not – He is Coming, spoke from under a sukkah she had built in Junction 28 Church. The atmosphere for the evening service was both intimate and full of excited anticipation.

A podcast of her talk will be available in due course, but in the meantime – here is a little of what she spoke on.

The J28 Worship Leader, leads the congregation in acoustic worship from within the J28 sukkah

“…so that generation after generation of you will know that I made the people of Isra’el live in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am Adonai your God.”

During the time the Israelites were led out of Egypt, God literally dwelt amongst His people… He “tabernacled” with them, as He led them out of slavery.

Exodus 40: 1, 18, 34-38:Adonai said to Moshe, ‘On the first day of the first month, you are to set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting’… Moshe erected the tabernacle… Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of Adonai filled the tabernacle. Moshe was unable to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud remained on it, and the glory of Adonai filled the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Isra’el continued with all their travels. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not travel onward until the day when it was taken up.  For the cloud of Adonai was above the tabernacle during the day, and fire was in [the cloud] at night, so that all the house of Isra’el could see it throughout all their travels.”

So in celebrating Sukkot each year, generation after generation are reminded of God’s salvation of His people, and of His dwelling among them… For He is their God, and they are His people (Exodus 6:7).

In building their sukkah, there is a reminder of the times when God inhabited the Tabernacle, around which the children of Israel set up camp, as they wandered around the wilderness. When the Lord moved, the whole camp would pack up and move with Him; when He stopped, they would once again set up camp around Him. God was the very centre of His people, and they were the only nation among whom the Almighty Creator of the world dwelt.  They lived in His presence constantly.

The Messianic Context:

There is another point in history, when God literally dwelt among His people; this is when Yeshua was born!

John 1: 1-14:In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it… 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Let’s look at that last verse a little more closely:

John 1:14:

NKJ: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Orthodox Jewish Bible: “And the Dvar Hashem took on gufaniyut (corporeality) and made his sukkah, his Mishkan (Tabernacle) among us, and we gazed upon his Kavod, the Shechinah of the Ben Yachid from Elohim HaAv, full of Hashem’s Chesed v’Emes.” 

What we see here, is that just as during the time when the children of Israel were wandering around the wilderness, God “made His sukkah, His tabernacle, His dwelling among us”. So when Messianic Jewish People celebrate Sukkot, there is the depth of revelation that God made His sukkah among us when Yeshua was born…salvation for all mankind out of slavery to sin, and the wages of sin, which is death.

Within the Hallel Prayer, (Psalms 113-118), people proclaim:

Psalm 118:25-26: “Please, Adonai! Save us! Please, Adonai! Rescue us! Blessed is he who comes in the name of Adonai. We bless you from the house of Adonai.”

The Hebrew word for, “Please, Adonai! Save us” is Hoshana. Today, we use the anglicised version “hosanna” as an expression of worship, “Hosanna to the Son of David”, but in reality, the writer of the Psalm is literally imploring God to stretch out His hand of mercy and save! As they were enslaved in Egypt God’s people would have cried out daily, Hoshana!

The week before He was crucified (which was at Passover), Jesus arrived at Jerusalem in style. Prophetic style. He entered Jerusalem on a donkey amidst the shouts of:

John 12:12-13: “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!”

The Israelites lived under harsh Roman rule, and were looking for a Saviour to rescue them, to deliver them. They saw something in Yeshua which caused them to proclaim “Hoshana… Please, Adonai! Save us! Please, Adonai! Rescue us!” – The Sukkot Hallel!!!

Not only were they proclaiming the Messianic hope, but look at what they were doing at the same time: John 12: 12-13: “a great multitude …took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him.”

This would have looked exactly the same as the Lulav wave offering we looked at earlier! This was a hugely significant moment – actions from the Sukkot celebration, being carried out at Passover. Some of the Pharisees recognised the significance of what the crowds were doing and tried to silence them, telling Jesus to “rebuke Your disciples”!

But God’s plan of salvation through Yeshua was much bigger than making a political rescue of His people from the oppressive regime of their Roman rulers. God had a plan to deliver humanity from the grasp of sin and its wages – death. God, through Yeshua, saved the very soul of humanity, through His Son.

But why is this relevant to Christians, today?

For many Messianic Believers, the celebration of Sukkot is about more than looking back at the past deliverance of God, as he led us out of Egypt. We look to the Messianic hope we have in Yeshua, knowing that He will return to dwell amongst us once again.

Zechariah 14: 16-19 (CJB):  “Finally, everyone remaining from all the nations that came to attack Yerushalayim will go up every year to worship the king, Adonai-Tzva’ot, and to keep the festival of Sukkot. If any of the families of the earth does not go up to Yerushalayim to worship the king, Adonai-Tzva’ot, no rain will fall on them. If the family of Egypt doesn’t go up, if they refuse to come, they will have no [annual] overflow [from the Nile]; moreover, there will be the plague with which Adonai will strike the nations that don’t go up to keep the festival of Sukkot.  This will be Egypt’s punishment and the punishment of all the nations that don’t go up to keep the festival of Sukkot.”

This passage is a prophecy yet to be fulfilled; it relates to the time after the Day of the Lord, once Jesus has returned in all His glory, and will reign from His holy throne in Jerusalem. At that time, Sukkot will be celebrated by all the nations of the world, not just by the Jewish people, with a stark warning for those who refuse!

I don’t see the harm in starting to celebrate something which will continue for eternity anyway!! But I think the key for me, is to celebrate the very hope of God dwelling among His people. When Yeshua was born, He was given the name, “Emmanuel” which means, “God with us”. Since He ascended into heaven for an ordained time, He has left the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, His holy temple. But one day, we shall see our God in all His holy glory!!! What a day of rejoicing that will be!! What a hope we have for our future!!!

Revelation 21:3: “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.’”


Snippet from New Book!

Stephanie Cottam, author of Ready or Not – He is Coming, is currently working on a follow-up book looking in more detail at how the Bride of Yeshua can make herself ready for her Heavenly Bridegroom’s return.

Here is a little snippet from it, a sentence which will give you a flavour of what to expect when the new book is finished. Throughout the coming months, we will add small extracts for you as Steph works on it; please keep the author and her new project in prayer.

Shalom.

“It is time for the Bride of Yeshua to open her eyes… to be open about what is really happening, and to stop trying to hide the dirt under the carpet; for after a while, that speck of dirt becomes a bump under the carpet which can cause many to stumble – and has in fact caused many, over the years, to stumble back into the trap and the snare of the world. By not dealing with sin, we allow the root of the sin to embed itself within the Bride of Yeshua. It’s time to get clean. It’s time to be ready for Yeshua’s return.”


The Night Appears Long

Sometimes, life feels like you are standing the very centre of the eye of the storm – as though you are standing still, isolated, alone among the mad rush of the world around you. As the society spins faster and faster, blurred with the speed at which it falls further and further away from God. And there you are in the middle of it all thinking, “How on earth am I supposed to remain standing in all this.” 

From the moment we wake up when the alarm goes off, until the moment we lay our head back down on our pillow at the end of the night, we wrestle “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12) constantly, throughout the day. Bombarded with evil, sin and all things contrary to the Word of God, is it little wonder that so many Christians end up falling away, enticed into obeying “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).

We are surrounded by sin in every aspect of life – social, political, religious, scientific… Violence, aggression, sex, adultery, witchcraft, the occult, rape, murder, fraud, identity theft… Not just in real life, but in films, on TV, readily available for “escapism”. But where is God’s place amidst the blur of our world?

The Bible states that there is “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). And if we stop for a moment, and look to see the world prior to our existence, we note how rife sin was, even in the ancient days of our Scripture: promiscuous sex in the Temple of Ephesus, as people openly worshiped Diana/Artemis/Ishtar (depending on which language you spoke, these are different names for the same goddess). Human sacrifices were made to appease Molech/Baal (see 2 Kings 16:2-3 re: Ahaz, and 2 Kings 21: 6 re: Manasseh for just two examples, who also practiced witchcraft), adultery (King David in 2 Samuel 11 and the woman in John 8:1-11), murder (The woman in Gibeah, in Judges 20, Naboth in 1 Kings 20 and John the Baptist in Matthew 14), witchcraft (Simon in Acts 9 and Bar-Jesus in Acts 13), rape (Dinah in Genesis 34 and Tamar in 2 Samuel 13) and so many other things which we can also witness today.  and where was God’s place at that time?

It is so easy for the Bride of Yeshua to become overwhelmed by what she sees happening around her, with each new breaking story of another law suit being thrown against the Church/Christians/God, each new music video showing that “pop princess” kissing this “pop princess”, each gossip columnists explosive leak of that affair, this pregnancy, that drug-induced action, this arrest, that abortion, or the shock of the death of another beloved icon in “suspicious circumstances”. It is so easy for us to look around us and think, “Lord, how much worse can it possibly get? How long before You rescue us and send back Your Son?” But it is also so easy for us to get lost in the blur of the world around us.

Yeshua’s Bride, if there is nothing new under the sun, then this is an indication that as hard as our world becomes to the things of God, as far as society distances itself from the Truth, this is not an excuse for us to fall, to give up, throw in the towel, or call it quits. As we see how wicked our forefathers and fore-mothers were, the Bible holds up examples of those who stood firm, just as we are called to do. People like Noah, Deborah, Elijah – who though he was the only prophet left in the whole land, Samuel, Joseph, Esther – just a few examples of people who held firm to God in the blur of wickedness.

We are to prepare for Yeshua’s return, this means we need to buckle down, strap ourselves in, and stand firm against every flaming dart which is fired at us. For it is in standing firm, bedding down our roots deeper into our Saviour Messiah,  lifting up our heads and our eyes to see the world through God’s eyes, from behind the security of the shield He has given to protect us, that we are able to resist the schemes of the evil one. It is through standing on the rock we are able to handle the blur of society as it spins out of control. It is in finding refuge in our Messiah, Yeshua, that we will be able to find our way on the narrow path against the tidal wave of destruction. Through the Holy Spirit, we will each find the way for us to remain holy in an unholy world. Through the discipline of faith in Yeshua, and our faithful Father, we will know what it means for us to remain pure, in a world which scorns purity, in every aspect of the word.

Holiness. What an politically incorrect word. And yet, there is a sense of how desperately the world needs to see the reality of God’s holiness, the truth of God’s holiness at work in the lives of ordinary men and women, like you and me. For there are many ordinary men and women, who are also bombarded with the evil which permeates our culture, but they long for another way.

The days are dark, the night is long, but Yeshua is coming, and He will bring Light with Him. In the meantime, oh precious Bride-to-be, may you allow His light to shine through you, so that the ordinary men and women around you who are desperate for light in their scary dark places, may be shown a way out – the way of escape. May we all as Yeshua’s Bride, readily reflect His light, and represent the hope found only in Him. Our Jesus. Our Lord. Our Messiah. The Way, the Truth and the Life.

 


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