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Episode One of Grafted: Jewish Roots of Christianity.
Introduction: Are you a Christian who wants to go deeper into the roots of your faith? In this weekly podcast, your host Stephanie Pavlantos will explore the Hebraic significance of Scripture with teachers and scholars while providing a deeper understanding of Jesus, the Torah, and the Old and New Testaments. We will help you understand Scripture’s meaning through the Hebrew language, culture, and history.
Are you on Twitter or heard of #Healthyfaith Twitter chat?
You can find it when you click on Explore and enter #Healthyfaith.
The topics on #Healthyfaith vary from night to night, but each leader has a different topic for at least 8 weeks. Recently, on Thursday nights, we led our #Healthyfaith chat on the Beatitudes. For me, it was fun to gather research on Matthew 5:3-12 and come up with questions based on these scriptures.
Since the Twitter chat topic changed to the Names of God, I’d like to share what I’ve learned through my study of the Beatitudes over the next nine weeks on this blog.
I hope you find it encouraging, educating, and even life-changing.
Here we go!
And you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth. Revelation 5:10 ESV
Biology was and is my favorite subject. I loved learning about the different plants, animals, cells, and fungi in the world, especially how we as humans fit into it all. This world belongs to our Creator and everything in it He made it with a purpose—except mosquitos….I’m not sure of their purpose other than to feed bats and dragonflies…but that’s another subject.
As a biologist, I have taught many classes on the six different kingdoms of biology. Starting from the smallest single-cell kingdoms like Archaebacteria and Eubacteria up to the largest multi-celled kingdoms of plants and animals—from the mosquito to the Blue whale. These kingdoms represent every life form on this planet.
The largest is the animal kingdom, which includes humans.
Amongst all the kingdoms we learn about, the most important one we will ever know is God’s. He created His Kingdom, and appointed Jesus as King, to represent and usher all humans into it.
Because we can’t see this awesome place God has for us, many people decide to build their own out of their dissatisfaction.
One way the enemy entices us is through our profession. We may be a secular business, a Christian ministry, or even an author—trying to build a personal kingdom of followers to buy our products and embrace our vision. Our kingdom and brand adopt our name.
You are the customer. Everyone we know—from people we worship with to friends and family becomes potential clients and/or purchasers.
We become the king of our kingdom.
This is what others teach us to do.
Now, I’m not saying we are trying to usurp God’s Kingdom and authority. But, it is easy to get caught up in our own kingdom-building.
Even the Pharisees had problems with this. They weren’t all bad either. We see in Luke 17:20:
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.Luke 17:20
The Kingdom of Heaven
What does that mean?
One rabbi said, “When a person committed himself daily to love God with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength, (by saying the Shema) he had “received upon himself the kingdom of heaven.” (https://engediresourcecenter.com/2019/09/04/what-is-the-kingdom-of-heaven/)
For us, the Kingdom of Heaven/God is in our hearts when we make the Lord- King of all we are and do. The Kingdom of Heaven lives in us!
In Matthew 5, we learn what type of people make up His kingdom.
The Poor in Spirit
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The phrase Blessed are translates from the Hebrew as O the blessedness of or The gladness of. This is not a condition of the person who is poor in spirit, but the reality of the person.
What does it mean to be poor in spirit?
The Hebrew term means to “crouch like a helpless beggar.” (https://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Brit_Chadashah/Beatitudes/beatitudes.html)
This represents a person in absolute need of God to take care of them. This is humility at its best.
A person who is poor in spirit is the opposite of worldly thinking—independent, proud, with an “I have it all-I need nothing” attitude.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus begins with the poor in spirit in the Beatitudes?
Without the knowledge and understanding that we are nothing more than helpless beggars, we will never be peacemakers, we will never mourn, never be humble, or hunger and thirst for His righteousness….get the picture?
But that is only in this world. In the Heavenly places, God will esteem the humble, poor in spirit, peacemakers, persecuted, and the compassionate. God loves these traits in us.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10
O the gladness of being poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.Matt. 5:3
It is a blessing as well as a state of gladness to recognize we are poor in spirit. We will have the Kingdom of Heaven living within us until the day Jesus takes us to Heaven to live with Him forever!
A few years ago, I had some genetic testing done through 23 and Me, a branch of ancestry.com.
In addition to finding out I have a few enzymes missing, I found out I am 87% Irish/English. My great-grandfather came from Ireland to the United States, but I had no idea I had that much Irish in me.
Throughout my adulthood, I have been told by complete strangers how “Irish” I look. I have even been asked where I’m from because of my “accent.” When I said Ohio, they laughed and said, “No, it’s not an Ohio accent I hear.”
I have never been to Ireland, but I am dying to go!
I read more about Ireland and things to do there. One interesting article I read had to do with the Blarney Stone found near the top of an old castle. You must hang upside down and kiss it to receive the gift of gab.
The gift of gab is defined as the ability to speak with eloquence and wit.
I need to kiss that rock!
The Irish American Mom, whose website you can visit here, quotes John O’Connor Power, an Irish politician.
“Blarney is something more than mere flattery.
It is flattery sweetened by humor and flavored by wit.
Those who mix with Irish folk have many
examples of it in their everyday experience”
~ John O’Connor Power (1846 – 1919)
I really love to talk but write, uh, not so much.
I want to speak with eloquence and wit. But, I’m not sure that is me.
Sometimes I write like I talk, too. Ugh!
So, when God called me to write I felt obligated to explain to Him that I was NOT a writer. He seemed unconvinced.
I wrote and taught a Bible study twelve years ago on Revelation. It was okay and my class liked it. Soon after that I felt led to write a Bible study on the book of Ephesians. I included Spiritual warfare since it is covered in Ephesians 6 and I titled it The Few, the Humble, the Church; A Study in the Book of Ephesians and Spiritual Warfare. (You can purchase yours at the bottom of my web site.)
I self-published it eleven years ago. Since I was inexperienced in marketing, I did my best to get it into churches and bookstores. I got very discouraged when it proved to be difficult.
I knew I was to keep writing, but I really had no interest in it. I avoided it for many years until 2017.
The Lord led me through the book of Hebrews during my quiet time. When I wanted to move past it, I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to write a Bible study on it.
I didn’t want to!
“Who will read it?” I asked. “What’s the purpose?”
He replied, “I can’t do anything with it if you don’t write it.”
It has been quite a ride writing this study. I have learned so much from Him and His Word. I began small Bible studies as well as attending writers conferences, and I have recently become a chapter president for a critique group called Word Weavers, International. My sister was an immense help reading and working through it as I wrote each chapter.
Its title is: The Jewels of Hebrews
Each chapter is named after a beautiful gemstone like, like amethyst, ruby, emerald, oe sapphire, plus many more.
You will also STUDY the Bible!
I take you through the Torah, or Law, the Prophets, and the New Testament as we study Hebrews. It is a mixture of reflection, teaching, and fill-in. I pray God will use it to set people free and reveal His Son to everyone who reads it.
Here is the “back cover” for the book:
You are a treasure hunter on a mission to find hidden jewels. Your guide Stephanie Pavlantos has gone before you and now joins you on an expedition to unearth a hidden gem from each chapter of Hebrews. When you open your beloved Bible and dive deep into the book, you will find a rare diamond, ruby, sapphire, and other gems. You will explore the rich history of the early church and the connections the book of Hebrews has to the Old Testament. The supremacy of Yeshua and his royalty will be revealed as the Jewels of Hebrews are discovered one chapter at a time. Learn about these jewels and the meaning of their color as you find relatable and practical applications for modern times. Get ready for a life-changing journey! Yeshua is eager to reveal the Jewels of Hebrews to you and crown you his prince or princess. Jewels of Hebrews
It is not published, yet. That’s my next step.
But someday, Lord willing, I will be able to gab with you through my book while you read and study God’s Word.
I may not be the most eloquent or witty, but my desire is to teach you about Yeshua through my studies.
Be on the lookout for it!
Do you know the meaning of your name? My name, Stephanie, comes from the Greek word, stephanos which means crowned. Revelation 19:12 (ESV) says of Jesus:
“His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems [stephanos], and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.”
I really don’t like to be called anything but Stephanie, meaning I don’t like my name shortened. It ends up sounding like stuff or staph…who wants to be called staph?
In English we call the Son of God, Jesus. Messianic Jews call him Yeshua. In Matthew 1:21, an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him the name for her son.
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Yeshua means salvation. In Hebrew, we find his name written as Yeshuah. It is the word for salvation. We see this word many times in Scripture.
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation [yeshuah, Jesus].” Psalm 13:5 ESV.
“Behold, God is my salvation [yeshuah, Jesus]; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation [yeshuah, Jesus]. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation [yeshuah, Jesus].” Isaiah 12:2-3 ESV.
There are many more: Exodus 15:2, Psalm 27:1, 62:1-2, Isaiah 49:6, 49:8, 62:11 Jonah 2:9…(Read this in a book called, The Rabbi, the Secret Message, and the Identity of the Messiah, by Carl Gallups, 2018.)
We often refer to the Father as God or Lord. God can be god as well when we are referring to a false god or idol. But, the Father has many names.
Jewish people call him Adonai, which means my Lords or Masters (yes, it is plural). They refuse (out of reverence) to call him Yahweh, which is a four-letter word in Hebrew: Yod Hey Vav Hey = YHVH. Our Bible translates this as LORD. Here is a cool video which explains this better. Please watch it.
Yahweh is also known as Jehovah. Jehovah means (I AM). In her book, To Know Him by Name, Kay Author explains Yahweh or Jehovah means, “I am that I am. I am the self-existent one. I am everything and anything you will ever need.” ( Multnomah Books, 1995, pg. 61).
Then there is his name, Elohim. This is a masculine, plural name as well. From my Bible study The Jewels of Hebrews, I wrote:
God is referred to as Elohim in Genesis 1–the account of creation. This name for God in the Hebrew language is אֱלֹהִים, and it consist of five consonants (read right to left). Hebrew is both a written and pictorial language. Each letter represents a picture or symbol adding to its meaning. The first letter of Elohim is an Aleph, or א. It illustrates an ox and stands for leader or father. The next consonant, depicted by a shepherd’s crook, is a Lamed or ל, and it symbolizes the Son or shepherd. The third character is a Hey or ה, and it portrays a man with his arms raised. It represents the Holy Spirit or revealer. The fourth consonant, signifying a mighty deed or life, is a Yod, or י, while the last letter is a Mem or מ, and suggests separation of the waters. This name for God is a plural, masculine word, and this one name contains the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit pictured as the mighty Creator. [i]
Names are important.
Try calling on Him by his name.
[i] Rock Island Books, C.J. Lovik, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7MpzFLbWLo
I am almost finished writing my Bible study called The Jewels of Hebrews. It is a study covering the New Testament book of Hebrews while helping Christians understand the Hebraic roots of our faith.
It’s called The Jewels of Hebrews (JOH for short) because each chapter is named after a gemstone such as a sapphire, ruby, pearl, opal, or diamond which have a biblical meaning based on their color. These colors correspond to the theme of each chapter.
Here is an excerpt from Chapter 8 of my study which correlates to Hebrews 8:
In his book, The Jewish Gospel of John, Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg explains the Greek word for “his own people” from John 1:11, is better translated to mean Yeshua’s tribe, or the Judeans. [i] It was the tribe of Judah who did not receive him. Overall, many Israelites accepted Yeshua. He came first for the Jews. In Matthew 15:24, Yeshua told the Canaanite woman, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He came for Israel, and he sent Israel to the Gentile world (Matt 28:19-20).
Yeshua may have come first for the Jew, but he came for the entire world. The Jewish people were the first evangelists. Just think what would have happened had they not shared the good news of the Messiah with the world.
In Joshua 13-21, God had Joshua place the twelve Tribes throughout Israel. Judah was south of Jerusalem, between the Dead and Mediterranean Seas. If you lived at the time of Yeshua, you entered the Temple from the land of Judah.
As you crossed the threshold, you came to the square, bronze altar where the priest waited to offer your lamb as a sacrifice. He laid it on the altar, and you “crushed” its head with your hands to transfer your sin to the perfect, white lamb.
We can now see this altar as our sacrifice of praise, or where we surrender our hopes, dreams, future, spouse, children, or job to God in prayer.
Next, you came to the bronze basin for washing. Before entering the Holy Place, you washed your hands and feet; you must be clean. Exodus 30:21 says, “They shall wash their hands and their feet, so they may not die. It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him [Aaron] and his offspring throughout their generations.” Yeshua washed us clean once and for all as our Lamb.
As we enter this place in our imperfection, we wash by confessing and repenting for our sin each day as we spend time with the Father. Now we are clean to enter the Holy Place.
As you walked through the veil into the Holy Place, you saw the menorah on your left with its seven lamps lighting your way to the Holy of Holies. We will never again walk in darkness because Yeshua is the Light of the World (John 8:12).
On your right, the gold table held the steaming bread of the Presence. The warm, moist air from the fresh, baked artisan bread surrounded you. It’s the true Bread from Heaven; the Bread of Life. You will never hunger once you have eaten this Bread (John 7:32-35).
Ahead was the altar of incense
before the veil which led to the Holy of Holies. This golden table held a
fragrance of sweet and spicy licorice. We are a sweet aroma to the Lord as
Yeshua leads us into God’s presence.
A thick veil made of blue, purple and scarlet yarn with cherubim woven into it separated all but the high priest from the Most Holy Place. YHWH (YaHWeY) descended onto the gold-plated Ark of the Covenant and mercy seat. Never to be closed again, God ripped this veil from top to bottom so we have access to him (Luke 23:45).
When we pray, we approach God starting from the outside courts making our way to the innermost Holy of Holies. When God deals with us, he starts in our Holy of Holies out to our courts. When God addresses our needs, desires, or problems, he goes straight to our Holy of Holies (our heart and spirit) then out to our courts (physical body). But, we approach God starting from the outside (praise and worship) to his intimate presence, (his desires and will for us).
In prayer, I take my time getting to the heart of God. I worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by reciting scriptural descriptions of them: You are a good Father, worthy of praise, Faithful and True, rich in mercy, loving, kind, compassionate, my Savior, Redeemer, teacher, Helper… I praise him, reminding and thanking him for answered prayers. Next, I confess and repent for my sins, as Yeshua washes off the grime of my sin so I can move toward intimacy with him.
As I step closer into his presence, I lift loved ones, my needs, my questions, my desires. I ask for truth, discernment, wisdom, and peace to know his will. I seek his heart for me and for those I love.
When God responds he goes right to my spirit. He takes care of my heart problems first. Sometimes, he reveals a motive behind my questions or hurt. The Lord may bring Scripture to my mind to answer my need or fill me with his love. He fills me with peace, calming my fears or distress. God cares for my physical needs (or my court).
What ways can you add to or change how you approach God in prayer? Ask him to inspire you to come to him daily. Renew your commitment to seek him.
That’s all for now.
Please share your thoughts about this short excerpt. I would love to know what you think! Thank you.
[i] Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, The Jewish Gospel of John, (Tel Mond, Israel: Israel Study Center, 2015) xi-xiii
Picture is from my trip to Israel. It was a microscale representation of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple at the time of Jesus.