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Tishri/Cheshvan 5774    October 2013



Shema’s Evangelism

Evangelism is so important! The Son of God came to this world to save fallen human beings. When He left, He entrusted His followers with that great, ongoing mission. Shema has been doing a lot of evangelism this summer: outreaches at the Ann Arbor Art Fair, Woodward Dream Cruise and Arts, Beats and Eats festival; mailing 18,000 evangelistic postcards to mostly Jewish homes; reaching tens of thousands of Jews and Gentiles through Facebook; and conducting High Holiday services that point to the salvation made possible by Messiah.



Blessed are You, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the Earth is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all. In Your hand is power and might, and in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank You, our God, and praise Your glorious name. These were the words of King David (1 Chronicles 29:10-13) at the culmination of the freewill offering the people brought for the construction of the Temple. Though it would not be built in their generation, David and the people of Israel clearly understood the opportunity before them: to build a holy place that honored the Living God. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter, the great Emissary of Messiah wrote: You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Messiah Yeshua (1 Peter 2:5). That is the work we are called to as Yeshua’s followers – bringing people to the Faith and helping them to grow to maturity. And we thank you so much for helping support this endeavor!



God is a great mathematician. Numerical relationships and mathematical equations are embedded throughout creation. Numbers are also found in the Jewish holidays. Sukkot (Tabernacles, Booths) is the seventh holiday in the seventh month, the holiday and the month of completion and fulfillment. This holiday begins on the 15th day of the month, when the moon is at its fullness. It is the fullness of the year, exactly dividing the year in two – six months before Passover, the beginning of the year, and six months after Passover. According to the Torah, for the third and final time of the year, the Jewish people were required to go up Jerusalem, to appear before God, and to celebrate His goodness and the fullness of the harvest. We were to give thanks to the God of Israel for blessing us during the year, for providing for us, for giving us land to grow things, seeds to plant, sun to shine on them, rain to water them, strength to harvest them. We were commanded to build booths and live in them for seven days. We were required to take willow, palm and myrtle branches and fruit and wave them and rejoice before our God. These impermanent booths that go up one week and come down the next week remind us of the Exodus from Egypt and the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. They remind us of salvation by grace out of Egypt. They also remind us of the consequences of sin and disobedience. They remind us that life in this world is temporary. Here we have no permanent home. These tabernacles also remind us of the mercy and salvation of God; and they help us to look forward to a greater Exodus that is to come, an Exodus from those ages of disobedience and sorrow, centuries of domination by the very real forces of Satan, sin and death. These shacks point us to the golden age of mankind, the Millennial Kingdom, when Messiah Yeshua returns to Planet Earth, to the city of the great king, to Jerusalem His capital, to Zion His dwelling place, and gathers the harvest of the fruit of redeemed humanity into His kingdom, where we will celebrate with Him first for 1,000 years and then forever and ever!Sukkot reminds us that the God of Israel is the kind of God who is not distant from human beings, who were made in His image. The Creator wants to gather us into His very real and eternal kingdom. He wants to be close to us, to be with us, to make His home with us, to pitch His tent among us, to build His sukkah with us, to tabernacle among us! That’s one of the reasons why immediately after saving us from Egypt, while we were in the wilderness, the Lord instructed us to build the Mishkan (the Tabernacle). That was why He commanded us to build the more permanent Temple in Jerusalem. That’s why God manifested His presence once again on Planet Earth, and in the greatest way. Immanuel, the One who is truly God With Us, the Son of God who lived with His Father from eternity, came to Earth. Through the Incarnation, He took on a human body. He became the embodiment of the Dwelling Presence of God. In Him the fullness of God dwelt in human form. He became incarnate, which means He took on a body, became flesh, and lived among us. He built a sukkah and tabernacled among us. That’s why 50 days after Messiah rose from the dead, on another Jewish holiday, Shavuot, the Father and the Risen Son poured out their Spirit into those first Messianic Jews; and they became the dwelling place of God on Earth! The Father and the Son, by means of the Spirit, have taken up residence in us! Sukkot is about nearness to God – God living with us and us living with God.

There are so many benefits that come from nearness to God!
Getting close to God and staying close to God brings intimacy with our wonderful Creator, like the loving relationship of husband and wife that enriches their lives in so many ways.Getting close to God and staying close to God enables us to hear from the Good Shepherd, so He can lead us safely through this dangerous world. My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me, the Son of God promised – enabling us get guidance and direction.

Getting close to God and staying close to God enables us to draw strength from God. Those who wait on the Lord, by staying close to Him and focused on Him, will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired; they will walk and not become weary.

Getting close to God and staying close to God enables us to have a fruitful life. I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who lives in Me and I live in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. This is talking about closeness to Messiah that produces good results in us – holy living, and a life that is characterized by the right priorities – living for God, not for self; living for God, not for the world; a life that is driven to complete the mission of the Messiah – evangelism, teaching and good deeds. To have a genuinely successful life, that is useful and productive, we need to be united to the Son of God, who is united to the Father and the Spirit.

Getting close to God and staying close to God enables us to be satisfied. Messiah promised: Everyone who drinks water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. So many people today are unhappy, bored, depressed, discontent, never satisfied because they are drinking only ordinary water. Our need for God, for truth, for purpose, for meaning, for eternal life, for contentment, for satisfaction can only be quenched when we have the Spirit of the Messiah living in us.

Getting close to God and staying close to God enables us to have purpose, joy even in the midst of life’s troubles, peace in the midst of life’s storms. From closeness to God comes abundant life, wisdom, holiness. Closeness to God provides power for victorious living, the ability to resist temptation, and strength to endure. When we are close to the Creator we are able to understand the plan of God, the mind of God, the Word of God, the priorities of God. It is so important, so beneficial, to get close to and stay close to God!

How can we get close to God 
and stay close to God?
Come to God on His terms. Don’t assume that you are close to the Lord if you haven’t come to Him on His terms – which include faith in, confidence in, and loyalty to the Three-In-One God.Obedience, righteousness, doing the right things creates intimacy with God. Disobedience interferes with closeness to the Holy God. Just as our relationships with people are damaged when we hurt or disappoint them, or they hurt or disappoint us, so our relationship with God is damaged when we sin and strengthened when do the right things. Messiah promised: If anyone loves Me,he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 

Resist temptation. Don’t sin. Don’t do the wrong things. Find out what Messiah wants from you and do those things. Do what is right. That will bring you close to God and keep you close to God. Three thousand years ago King David understood that being close to God can’t be separated from righteous, holy, moral living. Lord, who may dwell in Your sacred tent? Who may live on Your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from the heart.

Have the right priorities. Just as you enjoy spending time with those who share your interests, I think God is closer to those who share His interests and passions – living for God, not for self; living for God, not for the world; having the same mission that the Messiah had that He passed on to us – evangelism, teaching and doing good deeds.

Practice the spiritual disciplines. Build good spiritual habits and practices into your life that will help you maintain closeness to God. Practice the discipline of taking in God’s Word by hearing it taught by a qualified teacher, and by reading and studying God’s Word on your own.

Learn how to see God in creation. As you become a better observer of nature, you will learn more about the greatness and the power and the wisdom and the love of God, and be drawn closer to your great Creator.

Pray without ceasing. Train yourself to talk to God all the time, but try to cultivate special periods of time alone talking to the Lord.

The disciplines of fasting, silence and solitude can help us get closer to God. When we are alone and silent, and when we are not focused on food, we may be able to hear the still small voice of God speaking to us.

Regular worship, giving and serving the Lord within your New Covenant community can help you stay close to God.

Witnessing, evangelizing, sharing the Good News about salvation with those outside the Community of Salvation, and teaching those who are interested will help keep you close to God.

Sukkot is about God living with us, and us developing a close, personal relationship with the Living God that will last forever! Come to God on His terms, be obedient, practice your spiritual disciplines, and you will enjoy the presence of the living God – now and forever and ever!


Rabbi Loren