Part 1

When I turned the page (actually, I clicked to go to the next chapter), I found something interesting in chapter 36. There are these two guys, Bezalel and Oholiab, and they are super gifted in craftsmanship and engraving. It says that the Spirit of God had anointed them for this task.

That is not the big deal. The big deal is that Moses takes all the money—all the gold and silver—and he gives to these guys and their team. They are tasked with building a tabernacle.

‘Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary.’ (Ex. 36:2-3)

Several years ago, I met a pastor who pledged to support our congregation. I never saw a penny. However, he communicated to me as if we were buds. Now I am friends with many people who don’t support us financially, but it was weird—it was as if he thought he was supporting us. Money is a touchy subject, so I just continued in relationship with him and never said anything.

After more than a year, I received a message from this pastor. He was so apologetic. Apparently, someone was stealing money. He thought they were supporting us, while a staff member was siphoning off cash. Since then, he has been one of our biggest supporters and cheerleaders.

My point is that in the midst of this great move of God, these men, Bezalel and Oholiab, were completely trusted with the funds. How do we know that they weren’t stealing from the kitty? Maybe good ole Oholiab stuck a few gold coins in his tunic every day. We know he didn’t nor did the other because of what we read next.

‘And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.”

Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.’

According to Exodus 38:24, they gave about one metric ton of gold. That alone—forget the silver, bronze and other elements—would be worth $40,000,000 today!

Now, that is biblical giving and accountability.

  1. The people gave with such zeal and joyfulness that Moses had to give an order for them to stop giving.
  2. And the men receiving the funds were so honest in the fear of the Lord, that instead of giving into the temptation to let the people keep giving, they told Moses about the problem of “over-giving.”

The New Testament equivalent of this can be seen in the book of Acts. In the Hebrew scriptures, God uses elements from the earth to build His Tabernacle and then His Temple. Both times the glory of God comes:

‘Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Ex. 40:34-35)

When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.’ (1 Kings 8:10-11)

This, too, came after supernatural giving:

‘King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.’ (1 Kings 8:5)

Wow! What I would give to be able to have experienced that. But we see the same thing in the New Covenant. This time God doesn’t need gold and silver, but he builds His house with people. In Acts 2, we see the Holy Spirit fall on the 120 in a similar fashion in Jerusalem, causing a revival that would shake the Roman Empire!

And one of the first hallmarks of this revival is… sacrificial giving.

‘They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…’ (Acts 2:45-46)

‘There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.’ (Acts 4:34-35)

The first thing that jumps out at me is similar to what we see in the time of Moses. There was no IRS. No one was checking up on them to make sure the money was spent right. In fact, when two of them in the chapter five lied about how much money they received for a property they sold, they died! The fear of the Lord in the midst of revival caused the people to live in integrity when it came to funds.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in accountability. We are a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) and have received their highest rating. Accountability has saved many from giving into temptation. What I am saying is that in the absence of the ECFA, the people were honest.

We can’t get away from it. Revival and supernatural, generous giving go hand in hand. We see it when the tabernacle is dedicated, when the temple is dedicated and when the New Covenant community is birthed and commissioned.

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This week Christianity Today published an article by two rabbis claiming the Last Supper was no Passover Seder. Here are the facts!

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Three Reasons we Give

Revival, Giving and the Tabernacle

This week’s Torah reading starts in Exodus 35. The tabernacle, which will become the central meeting and worship site for the Israelites, is going to be built. There is excitement. They have seen the miracles of God—the plagues, the Red Sea, and now Moses coming down from the mountain, shining from the glory of God. He brings them the Ten Commandments.

Moses speaks:

“Take from among you an offering for Adonai. Whoever has a willing heart, let him bring Adonai’s offering: gold, silver and bronze…” (Ex. 35:5 TLV)

The people respond enthusiastically.

“Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit was willing came and brought Adonai’s offering for the work of the Tent of Meeting and for all its service as well as for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women, everyone whose heart compelled him, and brought nose rings, earrings, signet rings, bracelets, and all kinds of golden jewels—everyone who brought a wave offering of gold to Adonai.” (Ex. 35:21-22)

We live in a day and age where we are reluctant to respond to such calls. And rightly so. There is so much corruption in ministries today that people are afraid that their gifts are not going to enrich the kingdom, but enrich some would-be king.

Not long ago, a media pastor asked people to buy him a luxurious jet—for the Kingdom. A few years ago he may have gotten his plane. But one of the beautiful things about social media is that it has given the regular guy a voice. And regular guys all over the internet said, “WHAT? Why in the world do you need a $65,000,000 jet?” Donors were encouraged to give at least $300 a piece towards the luxury jet, but the social media backlash was so intense, they abandoned the project (only to take it up again later).

By and large, believers want to be generous. But they don’t want to be abused. They want to give to the Kingdom of God. But they also want to make sure their giving is going to result in genuine fruit.

In Exodus 35, the people gave freely and liberally. Why? Three Reasons:

Generosity is a fruit of revival

By revival, I mean a visitation by the presence of God. In His presence, it is hard to be selfish. I saw this when I served in Pensacola at the historic Brownsville Revival. Not only did people give, but also they sacrificed in ways they would not have before the move of God, in order to be there. People quit good jobs and took lower paying ones to be in the revival. People moved from beautiful cities to the deep south, so they could go four nights a week to revival meetings. They were so hungry for God, and generous giving was a fruit of that hunger.

They trusted Moses

Because of the lack of accountability, the abuse of funds given by hardworking people and the lavish lifestyles that some in ministry live, many believers do not trust their leaders. Even though the vast majority of leaders in local congregations are accountable and want to do the will of God, we often only hear about the $65,000,000 jets.

The Israelites were a fickle bunch—my ancestors. One moment Moses was a hero; the next, they are talking about killing him. But at that special moment—after the golden calf incident and after Moses had gone back up on Sinai and came down glowing with the tablets—they knew Yahweh was their deliverer. And they gave. They knew that God was doing something special in the earth through them. And “everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit was willing came” and gave cheerfully.

We give to Local Projects

I made a mistake a few years back. We built a beautiful Coffee House at Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv. I didn’t want to be a burden on our people, so I raised all the funds outside the congregation. As a result, even though the project was a great success and we now have regular outreach concerts, the people did not own it initially. I never gave them the chance to. It was Ron’s project. Once it was built, they loved it, but I didn’t give them the chance to be part of the building.

People love to invest in their home congregation—especially if it is the consequence of growth. We are getting ready to embark on a $200,000 renovation so we can double our capacity from 150 to 300, and begin to livestream our meetings in Hebrew to the whole country—and Israelis around the world. Many in our congregation are barely surviving financially, but they will want to give to this. Yes, most of the funds will come from outside of Israel, but they will be a part of it—whether in giving or some other way. They will own it.

The people were excited to give to their tabernacle. This would be akin to their local congregation—except it would be mobile. They lived in a very religious world. They had to learn the hard way that there would no idols, no marking of their bodies in worship, or prostitution and no boiling of kids in their mother’s milk. There would be no child sacrifice. They were eager to worship their God, but they were steeped in pagan traditions. Now, with Moses’ guidance, they would give of their most precious possessions to see a beautiful tabernacle arise.

Take some time and read Exodus 35. It will encourage you.

Part 2

To read more about Tiferet Yeshua enlarging our congregation, click here.

 

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A recent report on RT News, reveals scores of former Muslims converting to Christianity in Europe. I recently met with a missionary to Europe who told me of one evangelist from a Muslim background who goes into refugee camps every day. Because of the danger, he asks the Lord to lead him to those refugees who are ready. The results of have been astounding.

One church has grown from 150 to 700 mostly from refugee converts. Last week 80 refugees from Iran and Afghanistan were baptized. In Austria, since January 1st there have been more than 300 applications for baptism and 70% are Muslim background refugees. And a church in Liverpool is attracting over 100 in their Farsi service (language spoken in Iran).

Furthermore, many of these have followed Yeshua into the waters of immersion—making it official to all their friends and family that they have left Islam and now serve Yeshua. One young lady says in the video, “Since I became a Christian, I fear no one.”

Why Now?

One of the reasons for the mass conversations is ISIS. Many of these refugees have witnessed the most horrible atrocities in the name of Islam at the hands of ISIS members. They want nothing to do with that religion.

Another reason is that in Muslim countries the penalty for converting is usually death. In Europe no such laws exist.

Additionally, it is rare that someone can hear the true message of Yeshua in countries like Syria and Saudi Arabia. However, in Europe, they can freely go to a church.

In their home countries, even if they are not killed, they will suffer complete rejection from their families and communities. There is no where else to go. In Europe they are finding new friends, who embrace them fully in the love of Yeshua.

Let’s keep praying for eyes to be opened and more Muslims to find freedom in Yeshua.

“Truly I tell you,” Yeshua replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:29-31)

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Israel is the lowest ranked team at the World Baseball Classic, 200-1 underdogs! They have been compared to the Jamaican Bobsled Team. And, as I am typing, they are in the ninth inning at 8:19 AM, Sunday morning (Israel time) and are about to defeat baseball powerhouse, Cuba. This is after going undefeated in their first round against third-ranked Korea, fourth-ranked Taiwan and ninth-ranked Holland.

This is nothing short of a miracle…well, just short of a miracle. After all, we are talking baseball, not Red Sea partitions.

Yawning, not Fawning

Now you would expect that the nation is just overwhelmed with excitement and pride. The truth is, most Israelis could not explain the rules of baseball and are unaware of our success at the #WBC. When our Sports Minister was asked if she was going to South Korea, (where Israel is playing), she was clueless that the event was even taking place.

Players and coaches read the book of Esther for Purim before going out and being Cuba (@Yair_Rosenberg, Twitter)

Nevertheless, to see sluggers wearing the kippah and singing (or at least listening) the Israeli national anthem is moving. In addition, according to Jewish tradition, the players read from the book of Esther (known as the Megillah) from the dugout.

“The Finger of God!”

So, why isn’t the nation more excited? Let’s go back to 2004. When Maccabi Tel Aviv scored six quick points, they were still trailing by three with two seconds left in the Euroleague basketball game that would decide if they made the playoffs or not. They fouled the other team’s best shooter. He hadn’t missed a foul shot in his last 18 Euroleague games! He missed them both. Tel Aviv got the rebound and Gur Shelif quickly passed the ball to Derek Sharpe, who swished a three-pointer, as time ran out. We won in overtime!

The headline read the next morning, “The Finger of God!”

“Maccabi’s coach, Pini Gershon, declared the shot a Passover miracle. “You have witnessed a miracle. I am a believer. And if this is not a miracle, I don’t know what a miracle is.”

As a new immigrant, I watched the ending on a beach in Eilat with about 500 people. It was truly the greatest comeback I’d ever seen. We went on to win the Euroleague Championship that year.

You see, being the people of the book, rebirthed after 2,000 years of wandering around nationless, we view every victory as God-inspired. When Israel won just two medals—a bronze and silver—in last summer’s Olympics, the bronze medal winner, Or Sasson said, “We did something amazing. Israel is a judo empire.”

Well, not quite. But we overcame a lot to get those medals. First, a Saudi opponent forfeited her match to avoid going up against an Israeli. Then, the Lebanese Judo team would not let the Israeli team on the bus they were supposed to ride together. Finally, after the aforementioned Sasson, defeated his Egyptian opponent, the Egyptian refused to shake his hands. So, with the world against us, we tend to see the finger of God, not only in theology and war, but also in sports.

Why not Baseball?

And yet, when I just told my very Israeli wife of Israel’s heroics in the World Baseball Classic, she had no idea what I was talking about. Let me explain why.

  1. First, Israelis don’t play baseball. We play soccer and basketball. In schools, there are no baseball teams.
  2. Secondly, Israelis don’t watch baseball. Your average Israeli could not tell you what a bunt is. A sacrificed fly might be mistaken for doves being sacrificed at the Temple, before connecting it to baseball.
  3. And, thirdly, our “Israeli” team doesn’t have many Israelis—two, to be exact—and my guess is they immigrated.

“Support has also suffered because the team is, well, not very Israeli. Thanks to the WBC’s “heritage rule,” its players are almost all Americans with major or minor league experiences and varying degrees of ties to Judaism and Israel.”

So the only way for Israelis to truly get excited about this “Purim Miracle” is for our team to keep winning.

Mensch on the Bench

A mensch is a Yiddish word for “stand-up guy” and some are crediting Israel’s miraculous success with their mascot, who actually can’t stand up. The Mensch on the Bench, as he is known, resembles a rabbinic Jew; he is 5ft tall and was the idea of infielder Cody Decker.

“[The Mensch has been a] big hit in South Korea and with pictures of him wearing a t-shirt making the rounds on social media, he’s also been involved with generating the hashtag #JewCrew.”

Is Baseball the new Judo?

After Israel’s Olympic success in judo, it became all the rage for younger Israelis. However, the problem with baseball is that you need 18 people, a field and equipment. Nevertheless, if the Israeli team continues on this tear, the larger population will rally behind our sort-of-Israeli team. The good news is that it slowly catching on. After today’s win, I noticed that it was on the front page of, not just our English news sites here in Israel, but our most popular Hebrew site had a story about it as well.

If Israel somehow reaches the finals in Dodger Stadium, they will arrive too soon for us to connect it to Passover, and Purim is just now ending. We might just have to event another Jewish holiday. Maybe this one will be celebrated with hotdogs, peanuts and crackerjacks.