Now on this Sunday night before Thanksgiving Day… take your Bible and turn to the book of Thanksgiving and Praise. And of course… that would be the book of Psalms!
Once there… head straight to the 103rd Psalm. Now as you’re finding Psalm 103… let me tell you that the Hebrew word translated “Psalms” comes from the Hebrew word “Hallelujah” which means “praise the Lord.”
So… when somebody says, “Hallelujah”.. what are they saying? They are saying, “Praise the Lord!” And by the way… this word “hallelujah” cuts across the language barrier. It translates the same in every language!
Well… that’s what the book of Psalms is all about: Praising the Lord Jesus Christ! Do you know what that means to us? It means that if we are going to learn how to worship God in Spirit and in Truth… that we’ve got to invest some time in the book of Worship and Praise: the book of Psalms.
Think of the book of Psalms as God’s introduction to Worship: 101! And most of us need to enroll! I don’t believe there is a better time of the year to enroll than during the Thanksgiving Season.
Now I can hear some negative naysayer tonight saying, “Now Pastor, I know it’s Thanksgiving week and all… but I don’t have any reason to give thanks. My life is a disaster waiting to happen.”
Well… I want to say to you tonight that if you don’t have much to be thankful for… why not be thankful for some things you don’t have?
I mean… if you cannot muster up any thanks for what you do have… muster up some thanks for what you don’t have.
There is always something to be thankful for. You say, “Thankful? I cannot even pay my bills.” All right then… you can be thankful that you are not one of your creditors! You see… there is always something to be thankful for! Amen?
Now in our time together tonight… from Psalm 103… we read about The Soul Music of Thanksgiving! Psalm 103 is a psalm of praise to God that begins deep within the soul! That’s why I call it Soul Music!
Now let me say that this kind of Soul Music is not for everybody! This kind of Soul Music has nothing to do with the color of your skin… it has everything to do with the condition of your soul.
This kind of Soul Music comes from the saved soul! And the saved soul is the soul that’s been saved by the blood of the Lamb!
Now once you have a saved soul… you can sing this Soul Music of Thanksgiving every day! You say, “But what about those times of disaster and difficulty? Can I make music then? Can I give thanks to God then?”
Especially then! It is Soul Music that gets you through those times of disaster and difficulty.
Paul says in 1 Thess 5.18, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Do you remember Paul and Silas when they were in prison. The Bible says that around midnight that they …
God‘s great and incommunicable name Jehovah is always in the singular and is never used plurally; the reason of which is because it is expressive of his essence, which is but one. It is the same with “I AM that I AM.” But the first name of God we meet with in Scripture, and that in the first verse of it, is plural; “In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), and therefore must design more than one, at least two, and yet not precisely two, or two only; then it would have been dual. But it is plural, and cannot design fewer than three.
Now Moses might have made use of other names of God in his account of the creation; as his name Jehovah, by which he made himself known to Moses and to the people of Israel; or Eloah, the singular of Elohim, which is used by him (Deut. 32:15, 16) and in the book of Job frequently. So, it was not a lack of singular names of God, nor the barrenness of the Hebrew language, which obliged him to use a plural word. It was no doubt of choice and with design; and which will be more evident when it is observed that one end of the writings of Moses is to root out the polytheism of the heathens and to prevent the people of Israel from going into it. Therefore, it may seem strange that he should begin his history with a plural name of God. He must have some design in it, which could not be to inculcate a plurality of gods, for that would be directly contrary to what he had in view in writing and to what he asserts (Deut. 6:4).
And then the historian goes on to make mention of the Persons of the Trinity, who, besides the Father, included in this name, are the Spirit of God, that moved upon the face of the waters, and the Word of God (Gen. 1:2), which said, “Let there be light, and there was light”; and which spoke that, and all things, out of nothing; see (John 1:1-3). And it may be further observed, that this plural wordElohim is, in this passage, in construction with a singular verb, bara, rendered “created”; which some have thought is designed to point out a plurality of persons and the unity of the divine essence: but if this is not judged sufficient to build it upon, let it be further observed, that the word Elohim is sometimes in construction with a plural verb, as in Gen. 20:13; Gen. 35:7; 2 Sam. 7:23, where Elohim is said to cause Abraham to wander from his father’s house; to appear to Jacob; and to go forth to redeem Israel – all which are personal actions.
Adapted from A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, Book 1, Chapter 27, by John Gill.
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” -John 14:26
As we have been on the move as a ministry, I have taken great inspiration from one of my favorite stories about God‘s people on the move – when he brought the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt, then brings them into the middle of a wilderness, the desert, and puts them into a season of training. Every single day there was fire by night to light their way and a cloud by day to keep them cool and to provide manna to eat.
Here’s the catch, though. That cloud and that fire were constantly moving. God’s people would think, “Oh, I just got my camp set up, I’m preparing the manna, and now we have to move.” They were never allowed to get comfortable or feel settled. God trained them to know that, if this was what God wanted them to do, he was going to equip them to do it. As we all experience change in our lives, we do it best when know that God is in control and will equip us to follow him wherever he leads.
Prayer: Dear Lord, equip me for the changes I face in my life. I want to stay on the move, always depending on you to lead the way. Amen.
Reflection: When have you most depended on the Lord during a time of change in your life?
Psalm 100 is an extended command to worship the Lord, giving specific instructions to follow. The first three commands in 100:1–2 are directly related to cultivating a spirit of joy. The next four call for our response to the Lord’s identity and character. We’ll examine the first two of these commands.
Know that the LORD Himself is God (100:3). At first glance, this seems like an odd command. A close examination of the Hebrew terms will help clarify what the psalmist intends.
The Hebrew word rendered “know” is yada. When used in reference to a person, it denotes a personal, experiential knowledge, not mere recognition. It’s the same term biblical writers used as a euphemism for sexual intercourse (see Genesis 4:1; 19:8; Numbers 31:17, 35; Judges 11:39; 21:11; 1 Kings 1:4; 1 Samuel 1:19). Our knowledge of God should be personal and experiential, not merely theological.
The word “LORD” translates God’s personal name, represented in Hebrew by the four consonants YHWH, and considered too holy to pronounce audibly. You may recall it’s based on the verb “to be,” identifying Him as the deity who actually exists. The late Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer called Him “the God who is there” (as opposed to all the gods who are not!).
“Himself ” serves to single out YHWH as the subject of the verb, emphasizing that no other name qualifies for this distinction. The sentence might just as well be rendered, “Know that YHWH, He is God” or “He alone is God.” I like the additional qualification tacked on by one contemporary songwriter: “He is God (and I am not!)”
The English word “God” at the end of the verse translates the Hebrew term elohim, which emphasizes the grandeur of God, much like calling a king “His Royal Highness.” So, when you put the entire command together, it could be paraphrased, “Know by personal experience that YHWH alone is the sovereign God of all.”
I see two implications of practical importance here. First, God is sovereign over each of us, individually. He’s not merely the ruler of the universe, having dominion over galaxies and able to command the forces of nature. He’s my sovereign. He’s your king. He’s the boss; we answer to Him. When we surrender to that fact, life becomes much easier to understand and joy takes the place of frustration.
Second, our knowledge of God as our sovereign Lord must be gained through personal experience. That implies a personal relationship in which He leads and we follow. And through that ongoing interchange, the decision to trust Him becomes a settled, unshakable confidence. Confident people are joyful people.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise (100:4). What was in the psalmist’s mind? To what do the “gates” and “courts” refer? There are two possibilities. First, it could refer to the stronghold of a ruler, where he holds court, deciding cases and granting favors. If so, the invitation is to enter the great hall with praises and thanksgiving rather than seeking something from the Ruler.
The second possibility is a reference to the temple, the place where the people of God approached the Lord. In the Old Testament, the otherworldly glow of His glory—called the shekinah by the Hebrews—filled the Most Holy Place in the temple (2 Chronicles 5:14 and 1 Kings 8:10–11). The temple had gates and courts, both of which gave access to the presence of God.
Because Jesus Christ satisfied all the requirements of the temple rituals, we no longer go to a specific place to meet God. Today, we worship “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23). So, how do we enter His gates and His courts? What is our access to His presence today? The answer is prayer. Hebrews 4:16 invites us to “draw near” to God’s throne. Through prayer we come into the very presence of God. This psalm tells us to approach the Lord with thanksgiving and praise. Sometimes it’s good to save our petitions and requests for another time and seek an audience for the sole purpose of praise.
“If it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” –1 Corinthians 15:44
Something important to remember is that we live in a spiritual world. Did you know that the world we live in now is just as spiritual as heaven?
In Hebrew, which is the language of more than half of the Bible, there is no word for “spiritual.” There’s no word for spiritual because in a Hebrew or Jewish worldview something can’t be spiritual or not spiritual. That word is simply unnecessary.
The word “spirit,” which is “ru-ach” in Hebrew, exists because the spirits or the spiritual is always in play. Something can’t become spiritual in Hebrew because it already is. You can’t even say the word because in ancient Judaism, in a biblical worldview, everything is spiritual.
Prayer: Dear Lord, how blessed I am to live in your Kingdom of Heaven on earth. I awaken each day to a life wherein you are fully present. All I have to do is to welcome you into my life each and every day. Amen.
Reflection: How do you experience heaven on earth?
If you were tasked with reaching an unreached nation as God’s ambassador in Yeshua, how would you proceed?
My wife, Connie, and I became Israeli citizens and took up residence in this country over 20 years ago. A few years later, after getting a foundation in our new/old tongue of Hebrew, I faced that very question. I asked myself, “How can I best invest my life in order to draw our people to their Messiah?”
Since then, I’ve been privileged to establish humanitarian aid efforts and to assist in planting Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregations. These works are certainly relevant, and I’m grateful for them. But in all honesty, Israeli society as a whole has not yet been touched on a large scale by the pioneer ministries that have sprouted up in the past 25 to 30 years.
It was only when I got involved with teenagers—Messianic youth—that I saw a realistic possibility of influencing this chosen people, destined in Scripture to rediscover our Messiah King but blocked from knowing Him by history and spiritual blindness.
Back in the 1990s, I was invited to a youth event, sponsored by a dedicated ministry from abroad and conducted in English. I saw kids raising their hands high in surrender to the Lord. I saw the broad smiles on their faces and their tender tears of repentance. I knew that these young people needed this type of gathering in an Israeli, Hebrew-language format.
Naively, what I didn’t yet realize was how long it would take to create such a ministry. Thus was born Katzir, the Hebrew word for “harvest.” As a national service based on the volunteered time of young adult counselors and adult advisors, hundreds and hundreds of teens have been inspired and equipped through the 14 years of Katzir camps.
The vision of Katzir is to equip the Messianic youth of Israel to be the workers and leaders in the final harvest, leading to Yeshua’s return. Those who attended our initial equipping times years ago already have completed their compulsory military service and are entering professional careers, establishing young families and serving in local congregations.
They are the future of Israel. They are the key to transforming our society. They have grown up here in the land. They know the language, the culture, the institutions of Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel). I am convinced that the only way to truly impact this nation with the saving grace and power of Yeshua is through His young, dedicated Israeli disciples—integrated and developing relationships on the grassroots level.
This summer we will again spend a full week, night and day, with 90 teenagers and 30 volunteers, most of whom were once campers. Via small group interaction, biblical teaching, worship, prayer, outdoor activity, deep conversations and team-building experiences, we’ll watch them change before our eyes. Here are three of their own responses from past gatherings:
“To be real is hard, but it’s worth it. I passed through many things during this summer camp. Many prayed for me. It was really amazing. I don’t want to continue the way I was, but really to be real. I shared something with you that was very private. It was really hard for me. For the next two days many people talked to me and told me things that were helpful and who identified with me. I never had a lot of believing friends. Believing friends are not to be taken for granted. I’m so glad to spend time with you—to speak freely without expecting to be put down. It’s so important.”
“I felt a lot of love from all of you. I really enjoyed it. I know that God did something deep in my life. Now, I can choose, and not be afraid. Before I was afraid. I began to sing yesterday. I feel that you are now my family. I hope we can be together again.”
“Many of you feel alone where you are. As a counselor I am also facing challenges. I felt so bad that I couldn’t give all of you the answers you were seeking. But God told me ‘I want you to direct the kids to Me … and I will give them the answers.’ I yielded to God. I heard some stories about what some of you are going through. To hear that you are persevering – you brought me back to a better place. There is a LIE that you are alone and no one else is going through what you are. Keep on keeping on! I love you so much.”
I hope that with this brief introduction, you can feel some of the awesome sense of reward, challenge and anticipation of our team. Please join us in equipping the youth who will soon become Yeshua’s finest messengers in Israel.
Eitan Shiskoff made aliyah in 1992 and established Tents of Mercy Congregation and Humanitarian Aid Center in 1995. He and his wife, Connie, have been married 44 years and have four children and nine grandchildren. He is the author of a new book What About Us? The End-Calling of Gentiles in Israel’s Revival.
There are a lot of ridiculous myths that have become folk legends via the Internet, but the idea that the name Jesus is related to the Greek godZeus is one of the most ridiculous myths of all. It is high time that we put it to rest! In short, you might as well argue that Tiger Woods is the name of a tiger-infested jungle in India. It is that absurd, based on serious linguistic ignorance.
And while we’re putting some myths to rest, here’s another one that needs to bite the dust: namely, the myth that the original Hebrew-Aramaic name of Jesus was Yahshua. In reality, there is no such name in the Hebrew language, and those of us who deny that Yahshua was His name are not part of some secret conspiracy to suppress the divine name. The truth is, His name was Yeshua—not Yahshua, which, to repeat, is a fabricated, non-existent name—and we don’t glorify the Lord or help His people by manufacturing false and worthless claims.
Worse still, some believers even divide over this, claiming that if we call on the name Jesus, we are invoking the name of a pagan god (that is sick, to be blunt), or arguing that if we don’t say Yahshua, we are dishonoring the Lord (which is patently ridiculous, to put it lightly).
So, what are the facts?
The original Hebrew-Aramaic name of Jesus is Yeshua, which is short for Yehoshua (Joshua), just as Sammy is short for Samuel. (By the way, there is no such name as Yahushua, supposedly the original pronunciation for Joshua in Hebrew—again, not true!—and God’s name was never pronounced Yahua. Throw those myths in the trash bin as well.)
The name Yeshua occurs 27 times in the Hebrew Scriptures (or Old Testament), primarily referring to the high priest after the Babylonian exile, called both Yehoshua (see Zechariah 3:3) and, more frequently, Yeshua (see Ezra 3:2). So, Yeshua’s name was not unusual; in fact, as many as five different men had that name in the Old Testament, and it was a very common name in the first century of this era. Also, Syriac-Aramaic transcriptions of the name from the first centuries of this era confirm the pronunciation of Yeshua rather than the make-believe Yahshua.
About 200 years before the time of Jesus, when Greek-speaking Jewish scholars translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek (the translation was called the Septuagint), they transcribed the Hebrew Yeshua with the Greek name Iesou(s) (pronounced yeysoos), which is ultimately how we got the English nameJesus. (There was no “sh” sound in Greek, so Hebrew “sh” became Greek “s.”)
There’s nothing mysterious here, and this is just a matter of names in one language undergoing changes when they switch into another language, like Michael in English compared to Miguel in Spanish compared to Mikhael in Russian. There is no conspiracy and no cover-up.
Where, then, did the name Yahshua come from? Someone made it up!
My educated guess is that some zealous but linguistically ignorant people thought that Yahweh’s name must have been a more overt part of our Savior’s name, hence Yahshua rather than Yeshua—but again, there is no support of any kind for this theory.
What about the alleged connection between the name Jesus and the god Zeus? This is one of the more bizarre claims that have ever been made, going back in part to the Sacred Name cult.
According to the late A.B. Traina, in his Holy Name Bible, “The name of the Son, Yahshua, has been substituted by Jesus, Iesus, and Ea-Zeus (Healing Zeus).” According to the Institute for Scripture Research, the leading ancient Greek dictionaries connect the name Jesus with pagan healing deities, while another bogus website claims that, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “the name Ieusus(Jesus) is a combination of 2 mythical deities, IEU and SUS (ZEUS, a Greek god).”
All this, again, is complete nonsense, without a stitch of truth behind it. In point of fact, the major ancient Greek lexicons (all of which I own) say no such thing, nor does the Encyclopedia Britannica(which I also own). Either the people writing these articles simply fabricated their citations or else they misunderstood what they were reading.
The fact is, anyone with a sound knowledge of Greek would know that there is zero connection between the names Jesus and Zeus in Greek, as someone once said, “Jesus is as much related to Zeus as Moses is to mice.”
Unfortunately, some popular teachers continue to espouse the Jesus-Zeus connection, as well as insist on the Yahshua nonsense, and many believers follow the pseudo-scholarship in these fringe, “new revelation” teachings. Not only, though, are these teachings and practices filled with error, but they do not profit in the least, and every legitimate dictionary and lexicon and ancient manuscript in the world is against them.
So, to every English-speaking believer, I say: Do not be ashamed to use the name Jesus! That is the proper way to say His name in English—just as Michael is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name Mi-kha-el and Moses is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name Mo-sheh. Pray in Jesus’ name, worship in Jesus’ name and witness in Jesus’ name.
And for those who want to relate to our Messiah’s Jewishness, then refer to Him by His original name, Yeshua—not Yahshua and not Yahushua—remembering that the power of the name is not in its pronunciation but in the person to whom it refers, our Lord and Redeemer and King. (For more details, see my book 60 Questions Christians Ask About Jewish Beliefs and Practices.)