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A Year of Crisis

Insights from the Hebrew Language

Him Who Dwells—Shekinah

{image_1}It is almost impossible for our modern minds to imagine what it must have been like to actually see the manifest presence of God as His glory rested on the Tabernacle or filled the Temple. When His manifest presence appeared on Mount Sinai, it is described in the book of Exodus as fire, cloud, and thick darkness accompanied by earthquakes, thunder, and lightening. Exodus 24:17 calls the sight of Him a “devouring fire” in the eyes of the Children of Israel.

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Drawing Near to God—Korban

{image_1}Although myriads of scholars have studied it, hundreds of authors have written about it, and generations of Bible believers have tried to make sense of it, few things in Scripture remain as misunderstood as the sacrificial system. The Torah (Gen.–Deut.) spends a great deal of time instructing the Israelites in the parameters of animal sacrifice to be performed in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. Whether in dealing with various minor sins, the birth of a child, or celebrating the deliverance of the Lord, sacrifice was an integral part of the everyday life of ancient Israel.

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The Lord Our Refuge

{image_1}2011 has been a year when the world has experienced great difficulties in many spheres—from natural disasters, to wars, to financial instability. World leaders are clearly confused in this time of instability, and even chaos, around the world. Natural disasters alone have been devastating.

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{image_1}Fear seems to grip the hearts of modern-day men and women. Certainly the headlines give much cause for fear and trembling. Everywhere we turn, we hear predictions of disaster. Some say that a double dip recession is inevitable. Others draw our attention to the dangers of globalism.

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Attributes for Challenging Times

{image_1} In the book of Daniel there is a startling example of God communicating in a highly unusual way. Suddenly in the midst of a feast, a hand appears and begins writing on the wall. One morning as I was lying in bed, I had a similar experience. I can’t say if I had drifted back to sleep and was dreaming or if I had a mini-vision. I saw a hand writing on a whiteboard. Four words appeared: wisdom, courage, faithfulness, and love. Immediately, I sensed that it was a significant message for me and Bridges for Peace. Our board was meeting in Jerusalem that week, and as a board, we prayed into this message. We understood that we were going to need these attributes and prayed that God would strengthen us in these areas.

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{image_1} I frequently pray for wisdom, as I am sure all leaders do. Often, only the most difficult problems reach my desk since everything that can be solved by others has already been dealt with. I simply could not do my job without wisdom from the Lord. When King Solomon became king, he also recognized his need for wisdom. The Lord appeared to him one night and said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” Solomon responded, “Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?” (2 Chron. 1:7, 10).

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The Breath of Life—Naphash

{image_1} A cool drink on a hot afternoon…a comfortable bed after a long, tiring day…a home-cooked meal  for a hungry stomach…these are but a few of the ways that we can experience the phenomenon called “refreshment.” The Bible is full of such references and even names some foods, such as bread mentioned in Genesis or apples mentioned in Song of Solomon, as specific refreshers. The Scriptures take the concept even further, however, indicating that real refreshing means more than water for the thirsty or rest for the weary.

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Faith: Belief or Action?—Emunah

{image_1} I’ll never forget the conversation I had with Dr. Bernard Resnikov, who at the time was the Director Emeritus of the American Jewish Committee. I knew him as Bernie, a warm grandfatherly man, who had an incredible way of communicating. Bernie was talking with me about the importance of interfaith dialog between Christians and Jews. I knew that he participated in many such gatherings, even sponsoring some of them.

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Watchman, Keeper, Guardian, Guard—Shomer


“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. The LORD has sworn by Hs right hand and by His strong arm, ‘I will never again give your grain as food for your enemies; nor will foreigners drink your new wine for which you have labored.’” (Isaiah 62:6–8, NASB).

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Jesus and the “Holy Tongue”


Did the historical Jesus speak Hebrew? The supposition of New Testament scholars—indeed the virtually unchallenged assumption in Bible dictionaries and Gospel commentaries for well over a century—is that the native tongue of Jesus was Aramaic, not Hebrew. That is beginning to change. The cumulative research of a generation of scholars living in the Land of Israel, both Jews and Christians, strongly challenges this conventional conviction as outmoded and misleading.

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