The TTIP and TPP Trade Deals Secrecy


Why all the secrecy?

Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters 

Two of the largest

US-negotiated trade deals in recent history

are both being hidden from public view.

If they remain that way

we must reject them outright

The trade Agreements TPP and TTIP cover virtually 100% of the world’s GDP, and are the regulatory morass that will ‘legalize’ sustainable development and the Green Economy.

They harmonize regulations between all the countries involved, effectively breaking down national sovereignty. 

It’s no wonder that they have keep negotiations secret.

It’s amazing how just a little transparency forced onto the free trade deals the Obama administration been negotiating in secret totally turns the public against them.

After the contents of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and the European Union was leaked and published by Greenpeace a few days ago, the negotiations – already in turmoil – have been thrown into further doubt now that the public has actually gotten to see what is being proposed by both sides.

As usual with US-negotiated trade deals, the contents were kept completely secret from both ordinary Europeans and Americans, yet was easily accessible if you’re a giant corporation.

So naturally, the terms are heavily tilted toward big business at the expense of the environment, health and safety standards.

The Guardian reported on a lot of controversial provisions in detail on Sunday, but the Independent summed it up nicely:

“The documents show that US corporations will be granted unprecedented powers over any new public health or safety regulations to be introduced in future.

If any European government does dare to bring in laws to raise social or environmental standards, TTIP will grant US investors the right to sue for loss of profits.”


Despite the Obama administration’s concerted push to finish both TTIP and its Asian counterpart, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), before the presidential election in November, support for trade deals are plummeting in the US:

a recent poll showed that only 18% of the public support TTIP, compared to 53% in 2014.

One can only assume that the presidential race has drastically increased the number of people with a negative opinion of free trade deals. Both parties’ potential nominees actively campaigning against them, after all.

Republican nominee Donald Trump has been vocal in his opposition to TPP since the start of his candidacy, and Democratic contender Bernie Sanders hit frontrunner Hillary Clinton so hard on supporting past trade deals for costing the US manufacturing jobs and weakening environment standards that she came out against TPP as well – despite supporting it while at the state department.

But what has mattered more is merely the ability for the public to see what’s in these agreements.

While there were many civil society groups protesting the deals from the start, it wasn’t until WikiLeaks published draft versions of TPP that public sentiment turned against it.

The US trade representative even admitted at the time that the administration knew if the public found out what is in these trade deals, public opposition would be significant.

What progressive champion Senator Elizabeth Warren said then is even more true now:

“If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States.”

Yet that doesn’t seem to be the position of the,

“most transparent administration ever”.

While lobbyists are given a free hand to help write the deals, even members of legislative bodies have to jump through absurd hoops just to lay eyes on the document.

Draconian restrictions were put on US members of Congress if they wanted to view TPP while it was in negotiation, so much so that they were even threatened with prosecution if they talked about it.

And Time magazine just reported on what Katja Kipping, a member of German parliament, had to do to see the latest version of TTIP.

This included agreeing to a restricted reading time of just two hours, having a guard breathing down her neck the entire time and not sharing the contents of the agreement with anyone.

If the Obama administration wants to publicly push for free trade deals despite the growing public opposition to them, that’s their prerogative.

But Congress and the public should have full access to their contents when they’re being negotiated and the Obama administration should stop treating decisions that affect the jobs of millions of Americans as if they are some sort of national security secret.

But since they refused to be transparent, the deals should be rejected entirely…

Britain Roadmap After Brexit

is pictured in front of an European Union flag in this

photo illustration taken in Brussels, Belgium, June 20, 2016.

Reuters/Francois Lenoir/Illustration

This is a rough outline of the steps Europe plans to take after Britain’s referendum on Thursday on whether to leave the European Union (BREXIT), based on public and private comments by officials:

DAY 1 – FRIDAY, JUNE 24 – THE THREE R’S – OR MORE

Polls close at 10 p.m. (2100 GMT).

No mainstream exit polls are planned but overnight counts should give a result by around the time the midsummer sun comes up over Brussels.

Aside from the result itself, there are already several big imponderables. Cameron says he will notify the European Union “immediately” if Britain is leaving. But he may take some time. If he has lost he will be under huge pressure from his divided Conservative party to resign. He might also be, even if he wins.

Money markets will be volatile. The Bank of England and European Central Bank have contingency plans to deal with a “Brexit shock” to sterling and the euro.

Leaders of the main parties in the European Parliament plan to meet at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) in Brussels followed by a broader meeting of all party chiefs with the speaker at 8 a.m.

Some want British MEPs excluded very swiftly if Britain votes to leave.

If it is Brexit, European Council President Donald Tusk, who will chair an EU summit next week and will have spoken to all the leaders in the days before the vote, may deliver a brief statement in the name of the Council, the EU’s governing body, possibly soon after Cameron has confirmed the result.

However Britons vote, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU chief executive, will host Tusk and European Parliament President Martin Schulz at his Berlaymont headquarters in Brussels at 10:30 a.m. (0830 GMT).

Also present will be Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose government holds the rotating EU presidency, to take stock and deliver a message.

If Britain votes to leave, look for a mantra of Three Rs:

Regret – at losing nearly a fifth of the EU economy and more of its military and global clout

Respect – for the will of the British people

Resolve – to forge ahead with European integration

“The show must go on,” one senior EU official said.

There may be a fourth message.

Call it Reprisal, perhaps, though Britons should not take it personally; warnings of woe for those leaving will aim to discourage others from following suit.

“Don’t try this at home,” as a senior EU diplomat put it.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as other key EU leaders, are expected to make statements once the result is in.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will meet counterparts from the other five EU founders – France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg – ahead of a routine meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg.

All 28 ministers will discuss the result over lunch from 1 p.m. and speak afterwards.

If it is Brexit, Tusk may fly to key capitals, such as Rome, Berlin and Paris, EU sources say, though it is not confirmed.

DAY 2 – SATURDAY, JUNE 25 – NO, MINISTER?

Foreign ministers from the six founders of the bloc,

Germany

France

Italy

Belgium

the Netherlands

Luxembourg,

… may meet again in Berlin on Saturday after Friday’s talks.

Some euro zone finance ministers have suggested their Eurogroup might hold an emergency meeting but senior officials call that unlikely; managing banking and market turbulence will be up to the ECB and other regulators.

DAY 3 – SUNDAY, JUNE 26 – RALLYING ROUND THE EU FLAG

Member states’ ambassadors and leaders’ “sherpa” advisers are expected to meet in Brussels in the event of a Brexit vote.

DAY 4 – MONDAY, JUNE 27 – KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

Commission President Juncker will chair a meeting of the executive’s 28 commissioners.

A meeting could be brought forward to Sunday, particular if there is turmoil after a Brexit vote.

EU officials insist there is no “Plan B” for Brexit. But, recalling the same denials during last summer’s near departure of debt-laden Greece, one speaks of a “Room B”, where a fire-fighting team of EU lawyers and experts will be ready.

French President Francois Hollande says he will meet Merkel in Berlin to discuss EU initiatives “next week”. As they will be in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday, he may go on Monday.

The start of a new week on global financial markets will see investors and voters demanding answers on where Britain and the EU are heading.

Expect both to offer assurances of orderly talks, while nothing changes immediately, for firms or citizens.

DAY 5 – TUESDAY, JUNE 28 – “DAVID, ARE YOU LEAVING NOW?”

A 24-hour EU summit is scheduled.

After any Brexit vote, his political career may be over but Cameron would likely stay on until his deeply divided party elects a successor. He would be expected to appear for dinner in Brussels.

Big question:

Would he notify summit chair Tusk that he is triggering Article 50 of the EU treaty, the legal basis for Britain to leave?

In London, pro-Brexit would-be successors may try to play for time.

EU officials and diplomats say they would want Britain to launch the process right away and rule out any new negotiations, though for now they see no legal way to force London’s hand.

 The EU treaty does not allow for expulsion but there would be fierce political pressure, urging London to respect voters’ wish to leave, and the other 27 could start discussions without Britain.

If Cameron secures a referendum win, the summit will discuss enacting the reform package he won from fellow leaders in March to give Britain a special deal to stem EU immigration.

The Commission has seven legislative proposals to enact the deal.

DAY 6 – WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29 – “PLEASE WAIT OUTSIDE, DAVID”

Day Two of the summit and, if it is to be Brexit, leaders of the 27 other states will confer without Cameron in the room – a pattern Britons will have to get used to. 

Article 50 sets a two-year limit on divorce talks. 

The EU must fill a Britain-sized hole in its budget and reassure millions of EU citizens living in Britain and Britons on the continent of their future rights.

EU leaders may push for a quick show of unity on more integration. Divisions between Berlin and Paris on managing the euro zone probably rule out a big move on that front before both hold elections in 2017. Closer EU defense cooperation, without skeptical Britain, may be revived.

A major EU security policy review is already on the summit agenda.

Other initiatives, aimed at blunting Marine Le Pen’s far-right, euro-skeptic bid for the French presidency in 2017, could include a push to create more jobs, especially for the young.

However, others, including Polish chairman Tusk, caution against alienating voters by moving ahead too fast. Tusk argues British voters have shown many in Europe are reluctant.

EU leaders should give the Commission a negotiating mandate.

Some in Britain see exit discussions lasting longer than two years to include talks on new trade terms. But an extension requires an EU unanimity that few in Brussels expect.

Some suggest talks with Britain on its future trade terms can run in parallel.

Juncker has said the EU’s priority would be a two-year divorce, then talks starting “with a blank slate”.

FROM DAY 7 – NOTHING (AND EVERYTHING) CHANGES; HELLO ESTONIA

After a Brexit vote, all EU laws would apply in Britain until two years after London starts the process to leave.

 Then none would apply. Meanwhile, British lawmakers sit in the EU parliament and thousands of Britons would go on working as EU civil servants and British ministers sit in EU councils. But they will have no real voice. 

There would be pressure to exclude MEPs and Britain’s commissioner, Jonathan Hill, might leave before being stripped by Juncker of his strategic portfolio overseeing the EU financial sector; Britain would be expected to renounce its EU presidency in the second half of 2017; Estonia might come forward to start its first stint in the chair six months early.

Other solutions include new member Croatia being slotted in or Malta extending its presidency, which starts in January.

There could be another summit in July if there is Brexit.

Whatever the referendum’s outcome, a host of other EU plans, shelved for fear of alienating British voters, will come out of cold storage, including energy-saving rules to limit the power of toasters and kettles. 

Dealing with the fallout from a Swiss referendum on EU migration and a Dutch rejection of the EU trade deal with Ukraine will get back on track, as will a review of the EU’s seven-year budget, which covers a period out to 2020.

If Britain votes to stay in, some, notably in France, fear a new British-led push to free up EU markets and rein in regulation.

Some British officials see a mandate to do just that after a referendum win, though others doubt that Cameron, if he survives at all, would have much appetite for deeper EU engagement amid post-campaign Conservative blood-letting.

A post-Brexit relationship between Britain and the EU is the great unknown.

Many EU leaders, wary of euro-skeptic voters at home, are determined Britain cannot have access to EU trade and financial markets if it wants to keep out EU workers and refuse to contribute to the EU budget.

“Out means out,” they say.

New trade barriers would hurt both sides’ economies.

But the EU fears a political “domino effect” would cost more long-term.

END OF THE ROAD?

Leaders have much else on their plates to distract them from negotiating with Britain, including Russia, the euro, jobs and refugees.

London may have other priorities, too, not least the likelihood europhile Scotland would bid again to break away.

There is a “Brussels consensus” that Britain would face a chilly future, cast out to perhaps talk its way back later into some kind of trade access in return for concessions such as free migration from inside the bloc and contributions to the EU budget – things which Brexit voters want to end.

But cautious diplomats do not rule out surprise turns.

EU law may seem clear but EU leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel included, are loath to see Britain go and may yet seek a way to keep it in, whatever the vote on June 23.

“Will Merkel really shut the door?” a senior EU diplomat said. “It may seem clear-cut in Brussels. But in politics, never say never.”

This Week’s Torah Portion | June 19 – June 25, 2016 – 13 Sivan – 19 Sivan, 5776

BeHa’alotcha (When You Raise the Candles) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion
image

Beha’alotcha (בהעלותך | When you set up)

Torah: Numbers 8:1-12:16-15:41

Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7
Joshua 2:1-24

Gospel: Luke 17:11-18:14

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage. An illustration of this practice appears to have been recorded in Luke 4:16 where Yeshua (Jesus) arrived in the synagogue in Nazareth and was asked to read the portion (Isaiah 61) from the Prophets.

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in thekii context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will illumine specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel. The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world. The references for all texts are those found in English translations of the Scriptures.

NOTE: Below are the texts for the Parashah read in Jerusalem. Because in the Diaspora (i.e. communities of Jews outside of Israel) an extra day is celebrated at Passover (and this year, that day came on a Sabbath), the readings read outside of Israel are now behind one week from those read here. On August 6th, through the use of a special “double reading” covering the final chapters of the Book of Numbers, the readings both inside and outside of Israel will once again coincide.

The Parashah for this week June 19-25, 2016 is called Sh’lach L’cha—“Send for Yourself!” (i.e. Men to spy out the land of Canaan).

TORAH: Numbers 13:1—15:41

HAFTARAH: Joshua 2:1-24

This week’s reading focuses on the 12 scouts sent out by Moses at the command of the LORD to spy out the land of Canaan soon after Israel left Mt Sinai. It relates the differing reports which were brought back and the spirits behind those reports. It then recounts the judgment released over the entire adult generation of those who followed the spirit of fear and unbelief released by ten of the spies. In the Haftarah, it is almost 40 years later and spies are once again being dispatched, this time from the next generation and from a different border.

*Numbers 13:16: “These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.”

Hoshea means “Salvation”. Joshua (in Hebrew pronounced YehoSHUah), is a contraction for “YEHOVAH SAVES.” Over 1500 years later a still-shorter form of that name Yeshua, would be given by the angel to Joseph (and in Luke 1:31 to Miriam—“Mary”, his wife), “…and you shall call His name Yeshua, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

*Numbers 13:30; 14:6-9: “Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.’” “Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh…spoke to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them.’”

It is remarkable that the Hebrew root for the word “war” and that for “bread” are identical (The two-edged sword in the hands of God’s warriors (Psalm 149:6) is literally a “many mouthed” sword to devour His enemies, while the mouths of the warriors themselves are filled with His praise!

*Numbers 13.33. “There we saw the nephilim—the sons of Anak came from the nephilim—and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Nephilim are mentioned by name only one other place in the Bible, Genesis 6:4. It is by no means certain that the spies saw nephilim—nor in fact that these fearful beings have ever existed on earth since the Flood. II Peter 2:4 appears to be referring to them as having been cast into a place “below the earth” where they were delivered “into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.” The “parentheses” placed around the statement “the sons of Anak [giants] came from the nephilim” in many English translations are not in the Hebrew. We believe it likely that this statement was itself a spur-of-the-moment amplification made by the terrified spies, allowing stories from antiquity about the monstrous pre-Flood beings to color their perception of the large people they had actually seen. The author of the Biblical narrative itself only mentions the “children of Anak” (13:22) as had the spies themselves earlier (13:28).

*Numbers 14:24 “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.”

PLEASE PRAY against Israelis responding to the giants we face in a spirit of fear…that we realize that if we trust in God, he will not allow the land to devour us. Pray against cynical conversation amongst older believers in the Land about the land devouring those within it; this only serves to discourage and dishearten the generation God wishes to raise up for strength, victory and governance here. Please pray that men and women of “a different spirit,” who “know their God” and have heavenly insight (Daniel 11:32) would rise up in Israel, not focusing on the giants but trusting in the God who made the heavens, and Who has promised to give us a land flowing with milk and honey in which righteousness dwells.

*Numbers 15:37-40: “Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy your God.”

The “blue” thread in these tassels or fringes (Hebrew: tzitzit) was not mere coloring, but tekhelet—a sky-blue pigment derived from the secretions of a particular species of snail. This rare and costly dye was among the treasures given to the children of Israel when they left Egypt. When the LORD gave building instructions for the mishkan (tabernacle) in which He would dwell (Exodus 25:4), this was among the offerings received from the people for its preparation. Tekhelet was to be woven skillfully into the curtains, the screen and the veil (Ch. 26), and into the holy garments of the High Priest who ministered before it (28:5,15,28,31, 33,37).

When the camp moved out, the Table of Showbread, the Menorah, and the Golden Altar of the Holy Place were covered first in tekhelet, then lastly with skins before being carried away (Numbers 4:7-11). But the Ark of the Covenant was covered by Aaron and his sons, first with the veil, then with a covering of skins and lastly, with “a cloth entirely of tekhelet.” (Numbers 4:5-6). When the Israel was on the move, what was visible in front on the shoulders of the priests was not the Ark with the Cherubim (no one was allowed to see that; even the High Priest filled the Holy of Holies with smoke when he visited there once a year). What was seen proclaiming the dwelling among men of the Presence of YHVH was the “form” of the Holy Ark beneath a covering of sky-blue.

So why were the sons of Israel commanded to wear fringes on the corners of their garments, with a thread of tekhelet among them? We cannot say with certainty, the Scriptures are silent. The context here seems to be the human dilemma of an inherited nature to sin, the “harlotry to which our hearts and our own eyes are inclined” (15:39). Might the sky blue thread among the fringes point to our inability, even with our best efforts to overcome that nature on our own? Might looking at this thread have served as a reminder of man’s need to look beyond to the Presence (signified here by the techelet-covered Mercy Seat) for victory? Perhaps even the sky-blue of the color itself pointed towards the habitat of the One whose mercies are in the heavens where He has placed His throne (Psalm 36:5; 57:10; 103:19).

“Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens!” (Psalm 123:1). Yeshua Himself, whose eyes were continually upon the Father and who only did what His Father told him, chose obediently to wear the fringes during His time on earth. It was these tzitzit which the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:25, Luke 8:43) touched and “power went out of Him” and healed her.

In recent years the particular crustacean from which the dye was extracted has been scientifically identified—along with discovery of how to bring it into the sky-blue color (exposing it to sunlight after extraction and dying of the cloth). Now many Jews once again are wearing the tekhelet string in their tzit-tzit!

*Joshua 2:12; 2:18: RAHAB: “Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token.” SPIES: “We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home.”

There is a wonderful picture here. Rahab requests that the spies show her and her family “loving kindness” (Hebrew: hesed) and give her a token of “truth” (Hebrew: emet). The token of loving kindness and truth (hesed and emet) is a scarlet thread which, when seen, will protect them from a destruction of judgment soon to come upon all of her wicked nation. When God the Father sent His Light into the world, we are told that although the Torah had been given through Moses, “Loving kindness and Truth (Hebrew translation: hesed and emet) came through Yeshua the Messiah” (John 1:17)—”in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of God’s Loving kindness (Hebrew: hesed) (Ephesians 1:7). Please pray for revelation in Israel regarding the urgent necessity of being saved from the wrath to come—and of the loving kindness and Truth which are offered to those who will put their trust in the finished work of the Messiah! Psalm 33:18-19 says that “the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him and whose yearning hope is in His hesed—to deliver them from death and to keep them alive in famine!”

The Torah and Haftarah portions for next week (June 26—July 2, 2016) are called Korach—

“Korah”:
TORAH: Numbers 16:1—18:32
HAFTARAH: I Samuel 11:14—12:22

In A Nutshell
The portion, BeHa’alotcha (When You Raise the Candles), takes place a year after the reception of the Torah. The people of Israel is getting ready to journey and holds a special ceremony for the inauguration of the altar. The portion details the laws concerning making the offering of Second Passover for those who were far and could take part in Passover.

The portion speaks of the tabernacle, on which there was constantly a cloud. It is an indication to the children of Israel when they must rise and journey, and when they must settle down. The portion also tells of the two silver trumpets that were used to assemble the people at times of war, when making an offerings, on Sabbaths, festivals, and special occasions.

Toward the end of the portion, several events take place that point to the heightening of the ego. The wicked in the nation complain about Moses and the Creator, and a consuming fire is sent to the wicked at the camp’s edge. The rabble, who is a group of proselytes that joined the children of Israel upon their exit from Egypt, complains about their condition, and the Creator showers quails on the camp. Anyone who jumps on the quails voluptuously is put to death. This is why the place is called “the graves of voluptuousness.”

The end of the portion talks about Miriam—Moses’ and Aaron’s sister—slandering Moses. She says to Aaron, “The Creator appeared to me, as well as to you, so why is Moses the leader? Why are we listening only to him?” She is punished for it with leprosy, and the nation waits for seven days until she returns.

Commentary

All the events are spiritual states within us. Each person needs to correct him or her self and achieve equivalence of form with the Creator, as it is written, “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God” (Hosea 14:2). The text speaks only about correction. It is not about having to cross the desert and reach the Jordan River, cross it, and reach the land of Israel. Rather, it is about ascending, as in BeHaalotcha (When You Raise).

Ascending refers to building the soul. Each of us builds his or her soul. We gradually build the soul—called “a portion of God from above” (Job 31:2). One begins the spiritual work, wanting to build oneself and achieve bestowal and love of others, connection with everyone, because by these acts one becomes similar to the Creator, as it is written, “From the love of man to the love of God,”[1] from loving of people to loving the Creator.

We achieve the love in stages, although we hate it because we are the complete opposite of it. These are the stages described in all the portions. To begin with, the Torah speaks only about a person receiving the spark called the “point in the heart.” With that spark we begin to correct ourselves. The Torah describes the way we go until the end of correction, through what is called “in the sight of all Israel” (Deuteronomy 34:12), through the end of the Torah (Pentateuch).

Therefore, when we begin to work and correct ourselves we immediately find all kinds of problems within us. It is written in the portion that a year after all the preparations, when the children of Israel began to move, problems began to arise in the camp. A person begins to find the problems only after all the preparations, when it seems that we are ready for the spiritual ascent. We begin to encounter many obstructions such as thoughts and desires that go against spiritual ascents.

The obstructions that appear are actually revelations of the desires and the thoughts, the mind and the heart we must correct. It is precisely by correcting them that we ascend. Hence, we need not see them as obstructions, but as a means for ascent, a springboard. We can see on ourselves and on groups in Israel and elsewhere in the world that problems begin the moment everything is organized and everyone is ready, eager, and must begin to act in the center of the group, begin to correct the connections. This is when trouble starts. But this is the right way, the only way to ascend.

The problems that appear reveal different desires and layers of desire in us. Our general desire is divided into many layers, so it is no surprise that “people” suddenly appear, meaning those desires within us. The whole of Israel is called Adam. He includes everything, even the nations of the world within us. However, Israel is the desires with which we can advance for the time being, while the nations of the world are kept “frozen” so as to not deal with them.

When we want to go only with desires with which we can go up to spirituality, we discover that even with them it is not that easy. There are desires that have not sanctified themselves, and this is the purpose of Second Passover. All those who did not do it during the exodus from Egypt can now be corrected, so now we sanctify them. “Sanctifying” means that we bring the desires to the quality of bestowal, which is called Kodesh (holiness), bestowal, or love of others.

We should learn how to sort the desires that are ready to be corrected in a person, and those that are not ready. The same goes for thoughts, working in the tent of meeting, and in the tabernacle. These are works of scrutiny and correction.

The work of the sacrifices or the Mitzvot (commandments) connected to the offerings are the most important because they entail instructions how to separate each desire from the rest of the desires, how to process it and understand it, what it is, and how possible or impossible it is to advance with it.

Our only way to advance is by turning our egoistic desires into desires of bestowal and love. There are always problems in this process, such as leprosy or plagues, as described about Miriam or the people who wanted meat. It happens because our desire divides into still, vegetative, animate, and speaking. “Speaking” refers to different kinds of people that the Torah mentions: priest, Levite, and Israel. Yet, we find that there are also strangers, proselytes, mixed multitudes, and kinds that seemingly do not belong to Israel yet joined it.

The sorting and the scrutiny are not done all at once upon the exodus from Egypt, but later, when it turns out that there is more to correct. We need to separate the sanctified part from the rest of our desires, which we temporarily “put on hold.” Some of these desires can be corrected, and through them it is possible to be sanctified and advance. It is possible to bestow with them, to ascend on the ladder. But with some desires it is impossible to do so.

The parts that can already be in bestowal and receive in order to bestow have already awakened. The light shines in them, as it is written, “When you raise the candles” (Numbers 8:2). There are clear signs in the scrutinies, which indicate when to take certain actions. If we are under a cloud, sitting, it is preparation. If the cloud wakes up, the heaviness and scrutinies awaken in us and we can start moving. The whole Torah is only about how to correct the will to receive, which parts, and how it becomes scrutinized.

Questions and Answers

What is Second Passover? Do desires we have not brought out suddenly make a higher discernment and discover that they, too, deserve to come out?

It is not a higher discernment, but a more accurate, finer one. We discover that desires with which we thought we could come out of Egypt and continue toward the reception of the Torah and the land of Israel do not really support bestowal. Eretz (land) means Ratzon (desire), and Ysrael (Israel) means Yashar El (straight to God). After taking a few steps forward we discover some “uncleanness” within us that we previously did not notice. Only now that we advanced we discern desires with which we cannot advance, so we sort and correct them.

We sort and correct our desires in stages. It is possible to ruin the desires, to kill them, separate them, or some how mend them, as with the work of the offerings. We divide our desires into still, vegetative, animate, and speaking, and we sort the desires at the level of speaking into priest, Levite, and Israel. We should also remember the mixed multitude, the proselytes, and the nations of the world, the various gentiles that awaken within us.

There are primary desires on the animate level because the soul consists of Shoresh (root), Neshama (soul), Guf (body), Levush (clothing), and Heichal (house/hall), or Moach (marrow), Atzamot (bones), Gidin (tendons), Bassar (flesh), and Or (skin), depending on how we divided. When referring to Moach, Atzamot, Gidin, Bassar, and Or, we cannot correct the Or. The correction of the Or is making parchment out of it, on which to write the book of Torah. The Or is divided into two—the outside, and the Duchsustus (inner part). This is how it achieves correction.

Before that, we correct a Kli (vessel) of Bassar, on the animate degree. This is our main work at the altar. While there are salt, water, and other elements at the altar, the main one is the flesh. This is the Kli by which we correct our will to receive, which is the most important. The flesh is red; its structure is the great will to receive, hence the work of the offerings, as the Torah describes, is primarily in the Kli (vessel) of Bassar (flesh).

Before that, a person does not know or thinks there is a need to perform these corrections. A person understands it only as one advances at each stage, parks at the stops, prepares all the camps, each with its own banner, and each in its place in the division. If we take the entire people of Israel that is divided into camps, tribes, according to location and form, we either advance or stand still. Instead of finding the tent of meeting, all the desires stand around the tent. The Levites, the priests, and the whole camp is only describing the structure of the soul.

Bigger problems surface each time in the camp—whether it is external thoughts and desires that want to join the ranks, tribes along the way that attack them, or people in the desert who have not corrected themselves from their desires into a desire that is entirely Yashar El, which is the land that is full of milk and honey. That is, there are light of Hassadim and light of Hochma, while in the desert everything is dry; there is no water, no light of Hassadim; hence everything is only scrutinies.

There are many “physical” descriptions, such as the cloud going in front of the camp, and when the children of Israel rest, it rests, too.

This is the concealment: we only see our measure of concealment from the revelation of the Creator. If the cloud, meaning concealment, departs from us, we advance. If the concealment descends on us, we lower our heads, sit, and scrutinize. Indeed, most of the forty years in the desert were spent sitting and making scrutinies, only to move a little forward and stop again for scrutiny.

Why is it written that the cloud is going before the camp?

We follow the concealment because we want to accept it, since according to the concealment we discover the process by which we are going.

What is the concealment in relation to us?

Concealment is when a person receives it from the will to receive, when one wants to be in it, as it is written, “wisdom is with the humble” (Proverbs 11:2), or Safra de Tzniuta (Book of Humbleness, part of The Zohar), meaning disclosures. Safra means book (in Aramaic), and a book is disclosure, a Megillah (scroll), from the word Gilui (disclosure). When one hides oneself, agreeing to receive concealment from the Creator, this is when one advances.

True, it contradicts commonsense, since what does it mean to walk in bestowal? It is when a person does not want any disclosure, seemingly rejecting it. That person advances with Ohr Hozer (Reflected Light) because we are in the forty years in the desert.

What does it give us?

This is how Malchut rises to Bina. We acquire the qualities Bina’s qualities of bestowal in our Kli of Malchut. With the qualities of bestowal we walk with our eyes shut because we are following the concealment, the cloud, until we reach the entrance to the land of Israel. Upon entering the land of Israel, the light of Hochma begins to appear through the light of Bina acquired during the forty years in the desert. This is when we begin to see.

The land of Israel is a land where the Creator is present, a desire filled by the Creator, when one has already discovered Him. But before that, when Malchut only rises to Bina, one acquires the concealment and consents to work only in bestowal without anything in return.

From where is the strength to walk in such concealment?

The strength is given from above. It is the strength of the light when receiving the quality of bestowal. The whole problem is that spirituality is not like corporeality, where everything is in our hands, in our vessels of reception and this is how we advance. It is not hard to advance this way because this way we remain in the ego. But in spirituality we do not advance egoistically. Rather, we have to receive from above additional strengths, the added desire, a new desire called “a new land,” “a new heaven.” Everything is new. “Through the desert” means that we cannot find any answers in our will to receive, any fulfillment.

So what motivates us? Why do we advance?

The motive comes from beginning to feel that we are following the upper force. It is good to feel it, but only if we are willing to follow the cloud, the concealment, with our eyes shut.

What does it mean to walk “with our eyes shut”?

Walking with our shut means that we do not receive any justification to advance in bestowal, neither in our minds nor in our hearts. Our hands, namely our corporeal, egoistic Kelim (vessels), is where we feel in the heart and understand in the mind. Here we do not feel or understand anything. All we want is the chance to go above these worldly Kelim and rise to another, higher dimension. We exist there in completely different Kelim from the ones we understand and feel.

How do we know that we are even making any progress there?

The cloud, concealment, is showing us the way, but only to the extent that we are willing to make constant sacrifices. That is a person sacrifices parts of the flesh, of the various desires. If a person sacrifices and does not want to engage in them, and is also willing to leave them with no rhyme or reason, as a result of these sacrifices that person will draw closer. Korban (sacrifice/offering) comes from the word Karov (near/close). In this way we draw closer to the quality of the Creator, to pure bestowal, Bina.

What is the meaning of what happens to Miriam the prophetess? She makes a just complaint regarding Moses’ leadership. If a person wants to lead, then why only Moses?

Moses’ quality of Bina is perfect, complete, GAR of Bina. It is not so with any other desire.

How does the Creator speak to Moses, and how did Moses speak to Him?

This is the revelation. In spirituality we have no sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Rather, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalms 34:9). A person does not taste in the mouth, but in the new Kelim that appear.

Does a person taste beyond the five physical senses?

There are Hochma, Bina, Zeir Anpin, and Malchut, Yod–Hey–Vav–Hey. Hochma is vision, Bina is hearing. Some prophets said, “I saw,” and some said, “I heard.” The Creator spoke to Moses. Moses is the degree of Bina, GAR of Bina, pure, faithful Bina. He was faithful, at the degree of faith. He heard; he was primarily at the degree of hearing, which is the degree of Bina. This is how the Creator appeared to him.

Did Miriam not know this? What is the punishment she got? We know that there are no punishments, so how come after the leprosy she understood?

All punishments are corrections. When Miriam is made ill and sits for seven days outside the camp, the whole camp waits for her return, and only then do they advance in the desert. “As they walked” speaks of corrections. The Nukva (female) is a deficiency that stands opposite Moses. She does not speak at the degree of GAR of Bina, as does Moses, but from the degree of VAK of Bina. That is, the whole degree is connected to that hearing. The Creator speaks to everyone; but Moses also knows because he is in the part of Bina where the light of Hochma (wisdom) dresses, in GAR of Bina.

Aaron and Miriam are not in GAR of Bina.

No; this is why Moses is considered the Creator’s house trustee, as it is written, “He is faithful in all My house” (Numbers 12:7).

Miriam is a woman, and almost everywhere in the Torah it is men who lead.

Not quite. Women exist in every stage and every action, but they are not mentioned. For example, Abraham begot Isaac, but he also had daughters.

Where it writes Et (the) in the Torah, does that refer to a female?

Yes, of course. The woman is the primary part of the Torah; she carries the deficiency that the man corrects. The reason why we talk more about men than about women is that the male part is the Masach (screen) that brings Ohr Hozer (Reflected Light) that discloses the Zivug de Hakaa (coupling) on the deficiency of the woman. In this portion it is quite clear that without Prophetess Miriam it would not be possible to draw near. In other words, she is at the degree of Bina, the degree of revealing the Creator.

[1] Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), The Writings of Baal HaSulam, “The Love of God and the Love of Man,” p 482.

Did Jesus Claim To Be God


Did Jesus Claim to be God?

Did Jesus really claim to be God, or is that belief a misunderstanding of his words?

Some words Jesus spoke reflect his humility as a servant and his limitations as a man. However, on other occasions Jesus made claims that only God could make.
Jesus didn’t parade around the hills of Judea shouting, “Hey everybody, look at me – I’m God!” On the other hand, neither did he go around proclaiming, “I am a teacher,” I am a prophet,” or, “I am the Messiah.” Yet his followers called him by each of those names. They also called him, “Lord.”
After the apostles died, several first and second century church leaders wrote of Jesus’ deity. In fact, early church historian Larry Hurtado states, that from the very beginning of the church Jesus was worshipped as Lord along with God the Father.[1]
But what did Jesus Christ say about himself? What did Jesus mean by the terms, “Son of Man,” and “Son of God?” If Jesus wasn’t God, why did his enemies accuse him of “blasphemy?” More importantly, if Jesus wasn’t God, why did he accept worship?
From Creator To Carpenter?
According to the New Testament, God came to earth in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ.[2] The Bible teaches that Jesus is not a created being like the angels, but is the very Creator of the universe.[3] As theologian J. I. Packer writes, “The gospel tells us that our Creator has become our Redeemer.”[4]
The New Testament reveals that, in accordance with his Father’s will, Jesus temporarily set aside his power and glory to become a tiny helpless baby. As he grew, Jesus worked in a carpenter shop, experienced hunger, got tired, and suffered pain and death like us. Then at age 30 he began his public ministry.
One God
The Bible reveals God as the Creator of the universe. He is infinite, eternal, all powerful, all-knowing, personal, righteous, loving, just, and holy. He created us in His image, and for His pleasure. According to the Bible, God made us to have an eternal relationship with Himself.
When God spoke to Moses at the burning bush 1500 years before Christ, He reaffirmed that He is the only God. God told Moses His name is Yahweh, (I AM). (Most of us are more familiar with the English translation, Jehovah or LORD.)[5] At the time of Christ, each worship service began with a recitation of the Shema.[6]
“Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)
It is in this world of monotheistic belief that Jesus entered into, ministered in, and began making claims that astounded all who heard them.
And according to Ray Stedman, Jesus is the central theme of the Hebrew Scriptures.
“Here, in the form of a living, breathing human being, is the one who satisfies and fulfills all the symbols and prophecies of Genesis through Malachi. As we move from the Old Testament to the New, we find that one person, Jesus of Nazareth, is the focal point of both Testaments.”[7]
But if Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, his claims should confirm that “God is one LORD,” beginning with what he called himself. Let’s look further.
God’s Sacred Name

When Jesus began his ministry, his miracles and radical teaching immediately drew huge crowds, creating a frenzy of excitement. As his popularity swelled with the masses, the Jewish leaders (Pharisees, Sadducees, & Scribes) began to see Jesus as a threat. Suddenly they began looking for ways to trap him.
One day Jesus was debating some Pharisees at the Temple, when suddenly he told them he is “the light of the world.” It is almost bizarre to picture this scene, where a traveling carpenter from the lowlands of Galilee tells these PhDs in religion that he is “the light of the world?” Believing that Yahweh is the light of the world, they replied indignantly:
“You are making false claims about yourself” (John 8:13 NLT).
Then Jesus told them that, 2,000 years earlier, Abraham had foreseen him. Their response was incredulous:
“You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham? ” (John 8:57 NLT)
Then Jesus shocked them even more:
“The truth is, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58 NLT)
Out of the blue, this maverick carpenter with no degree in religion claimed to eternal existence. Furthermore, he had used the I AM title (ego eimi),[8] the sacred Name of God for Himself! These religious experts lived and breathed the Old Testament Scriptures declaring Yahweh alone as God. They knew the Scripture spoken through Isaiah:
“I alone am God. There is no other God; there never has been and never will be. I am the Lord, and there is no other Savior.” Isaiah 43:10, 11 NLT)
Since the penalty for blasphemy was death by stoning, the Jewish leaders angrily picked up stones to kill Jesus. They thought Jesus was calling himself, “God.” At that point Jesus could have said, “Wait! You misunderstood me—I am not Yahweh.” But Jesus didn’t alter his statement, even at the risk of being killed.
C.S. Lewis explains their anger:
“He says…’I am begotten of the One God, before Abraham was, I am,’ and remember what the words ‘I am’ were in Hebrew. They were the name of God, which must not be spoken by any human being, the name which it was death to utter.”[9]
Some may argue that this was an isolated instance. But Jesus also used “I AM” for himself on several other occasions. Let’s look at some of these, trying to imagine our reactions upon hearing Jesus’ radical claims:
“I am the light of the world” (John 8:12)
“I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6) “I am the only way to the Father” (John 14:6)
“I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11)
“I am the door” (John 10:9)
“I am the living bread” (John 6:51)
“I am the true vine” (John 15:1)
“I am the Alpha and Omega” Rev.1:7,8)
As Lewis observes, if these claims were not from God Himself, Jesus would have been deemed a loony. But what made Jesus credible to those who heard him were the creative miracles he performed, and his wise authoritative teaching.

Son of Man

Some say that Jesus didn’t intend the name I AM to mean he is God. They argue that Jesus’ reference to himself as the “Son of Man,” proves he didn’t claim divinity. So what is the context of the title, “Son of Man,” and what does it mean?”
Packer writes that the name, “Son of Man” referred to Jesus’ role as Savior-King, fulfilling the messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53.[10] Isaiah 53 is the most comprehensive prophetic passage of the coming Messiah, and clearly depicts him as the suffering Savior. Isaiah had also referred to the Messiah as “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6).
Additionally, many scholars say Jesus was referring to himself as the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy about the “son of man.” Daniel prophesies that the “son of man” will be given authority over mankind and receive worship:
“I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him.” (Daniel 7:13, 14)
So who is this “son of man,” and why is he being worshipped, when God alone is to be worshipped. Jesus told his disciples that when he returns to earth, ”Then everyone will see the Son of man arrive on the clouds with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). Is Jesus saying here that he is the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy?

Son of God

Jesus also claimed to be the, “Son of God.” This title does not mean Jesus is God’s biological Son. Neither does the term “Son” imply inferiority anymore than a human son is inferior in essence to his father. A son shares his father’s DNA, and although he is different, they are both men. Scholars say that the term “Son of God” in the original languages refers to likeness, or “of the same order.” Jesus meant by it that he has divine essence, or in 21st century terms, the “DNA of God”. Professor Peter Kreeft explains.
“What did Jesus mean when he called himself the ‘Son of God’? The son of a man is a man. (Both ‘son’ and ‘man,’ in the traditional language, mean males and females equally.) The son of an ape is an ape. The son of a dog is a dog. The son of a shark is a shark. And so the Son of God is God. ‘Son of God’ is a divine title.”[11]
In John 17, Jesus speaks about the glory he and his Father shared before the world began. But by calling himself the “Son of God” is Jesus claiming equality with God? Packer answers:
When, therefore, the Bible proclaims Jesus as the Son of God, the statement is meant as an assertion of his distinct personal deity.”[12]
Thus, the names Jesus used for himself point to the fact that he was claiming equality with God. But did Jesus speak and act with the authority of God?

Forgiving Sin

In the Jewish religion, forgiveness of sin was reserved for God alone. Forgiveness is always personal; someone else cannot do the forgiving for the person offended, especially if the Person offended is God. But on several occasions Jesus acted as if he was God by forgiving sinners. The simmering religious leaders finally erupted at Jesus when he forgave the sins of a man with palsy right in front of them.
“The scribes who heard him said blasphemy! Who but God can forgive sins!” (Mark 2:7)
Lewis imagines the stunned reactions of all those who heard Jesus:
‘Then comes the real shock,’ wrote Lewis: ‘Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God … But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.’[13] 

Claiming Oneness with God 

Those who listened to Jesus, observed his moral perfection, and saw him perform miracles, wondered if he was the long-promised Messiah. Finally his opponents surrounded him at the Temple, asking:
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered,
“The proof is what I do in the name of my Father.” He compared his followers with sheep saying, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.” He then revealed to them that “the Father is greater than all,” and that his deeds were “at the Father’s direction.” Jesus’ humility must have been disarming. But then Jesus dropped a bombshell, telling them, (John 10:25-30)
“The Father and I are one.”
If Jesus had meant that he was merely in agreement with God, there would have been no strong reaction. But, the Jews again picked up stones to kill him. Jesus then asked them, “At my Father’s direction I have done many things to help the people. For which one of these good deeds are you killing me?”
They replied,
“Not for any good work; but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, have made yourself God” (John 10:33).
As Jesus was preparing his disciples for his upcoming death on the cross and departure, Thomas wanted to know where he was going and the way there. Jesus answered Thomas:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had known who I am, then you would have known who my Father is. From now on you know him and have seen him.” (John 14:5-9)
They were confused. Philip then speaks up, asking Jesus to “show us the Father.” Jesus’ answers Philip with these shocking words:
“Philip, don’t you even yet know who I am, even after all the time I have been with you? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!”
In effect Jesus was saying, “Philip if you want to see the Father, look at me!” In John 17 Jesus reveals that this oneness with his Father had existed in eternity past, “before the world began.” According to Jesus, there has never been a time when he did not share God’s very glory and essence.

God’s Authority

The Jews always regarded God as the ultimate authority. Authority was a well understood term in Roman-occupied Israel. At that time, Caesar’s edict could instantly launch legions into war, condemn or exoner- ate criminals, and establish laws and rules of government. In fact, Caesar’s authority was such that he himself claimed divinity.
Prior to leaving earth, Jesus explained the scope of his authority:
“Jesus said, ‘I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth’” (Matthew 28:18, NLT).
In these remarkable words, Jesus is claiming to be the supreme authority, not just on earth, but in heaven also. John Piper observes,
“This is why Jesus’ friends and enemies were staggered again and again by what he said and did. He would be walking down the road, seemingly like any other man, then turn and say something like, ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’ Or, ‘If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.’ Or, very calmly, after being accused of blasphemy, he would say, ‘The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ To the dead he might simply say, ‘Come forth,’ or, ‘Rise up.’ And they would obey. To the storms on the sea he would say, ‘Be still.’ And to a loaf of bread he would say, ‘Become a thousand meals.’ And it was done immediately.”[14]
Some might argue that since the authority came from his Father, it has nothing to do with Jesus being God. But God never gives His authority to a created being in order that they are to be worshipped. To do so would be to violate His Command.
Accepting Worship
Nothing is more fundamental to the Hebrew Scriptures than the fact that God alone is to be worshipped. In fact, the first of the Ten Commandments is,
“Do not worship any other gods besides me” (Exodus 20:3 NLT).
Thus, the most terrible sin a Jew could commit was to either worship another creature as God, or to receive worship. So if Jesus is not God, it would be blasphemy to receive worship.
After Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples told Thomas they had seen the Lord alive (John 20:24-29). Thomas scoffed, telling them he would only believe if he could put his fingers on the nail wounds of Jesus’ hands and into his pierced side. Eight days later the disciples were all together in a locked room when Jesus suddenly appeared in front of them. Jesus looked at Thomas and told him to “Put your finger here and see my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side.”

Thomas needed no more proof. He instantly believed, exclaiming to Jesus:
“My Lord and my God!”
Thomas worshipped Jesus as God! If Jesus is not God, he certainly should have reprimanded Thomas right there. But instead of reprimanding Thomas for worshipping him as God, Jesus commended him, saying:
“You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway.”
Jesus accepted worship on nine recorded occasions. In context of Jewish belief, Jesus’ acceptance of worship speaks volumes about his claim to divinity. But it wasn’t until after Jesus ascended to heaven that his disciples fully understood. Before Jesus left earth, he told his apostles to “baptize new disciples in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19), putting both the Holy Spirit and himself on the same level as the Father.[15]

Alpha and Omega

“And I saw a great white throne, and I saw the one who was sitting on it … And the one sitting on the throne said … ’I am the Alpha and the Omega – the Beginning and the End.’” (Revelation 20:11; 21:6)
It is the Lord Jesus Christ who rules from the great white throne. Jesus had already told his disciples that he would be the final judge of men. He promised that those who put their trust in him would be saved from the judgment of sin, but those who reject him will be judged.

Conclusion

So did Jesus claim to be God, or was he simply misunderstood. Let’s take another look at Jesus’ claims and ask: would Jesus have made such radical claims if he was not God?
Jesus used God’s Name for himself Jesus called himself “Son of Man” Jesus called himself “Son of God” Jesus claimed to forgive sin
Jesus claimed oneness with God
Jesus claimed all authority
Jesus accepted worship
Jesus called himself the “The Alpha and Omega” Jesus called himself “God”
Some might say, “how can we believe Jesus’ claims? What proof did he leave?” Three days after his crucifixion, his disciples claimed they saw him alive. If their story was a hoax, it would have died out as the Romans submitted them
“What is beyond all space and time, what is uncreated, eternal, came into nature, descended into His own universe, and rose again.”[16]
This brilliant scholar had originally thought of Jesus as a myth, much like the man-made gods of Ancient Greece and Rome. But as he began to look at the evidence for Jesus Christ, he realized that the New Testament accounts of Jesus Christ are based upon solid, historical
facts. (See http://www.y-jesus.com/wwrj/4-are-the-gospels-true.php) This former skeptic concludes his investigation of the evidence for Jesus Christ with these thoughts:
“You must make your choice: Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse … But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”[17]
Lewis discovered that a personal relationship with Jesus gave his life meaning, purpose, and joy that surpassed all his dreams. He never regretted his choice and became a leading spokesman for Jesus Christ. What about you? Have you made your choice?

Endnotes

  1. Larry W. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ (Cambridge, UK, Eerdmans, 2003), 650.
  2. John 1:1-14.
  3. Hebrews 1:1-13.
  4. J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993), 189.
  5. The Hebrew Scriptures sometimes join Yahweh (Jehovah) with an additional word to emphasize God’s dealing with man. “Yahweh Elohim” and “Adonai Yahweh” are translated “Lord God,” and “Yahweh Sabaoth” is translated “Lord of hosts.” (C.I. Scofield, The Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 6, 983.
  6. George A. Barton, Jesus of Nazareth (New York: Macmillan, 1931), 39.
  7. Ray C. Stedman, Adventuring Through the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House, 1997), 479.
  8. Ego eimi is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Isaiah used to describe God in Isaiah 43:10, 11. Dr.
    James White notes, “The closest and most logical connection between John’s usage of ego eimi and the Old Testament is to be found in the Septuagint rendering of a particular Hebrew phrase, ani hu in the writings (primarily) of Isaiah. The Septuagint translates the Hebrew phrase ani hu as ego eimi in Isaiah 41:4, 43:10 and 46:4” (http://www.aomin.org/EGO.html).
  9. C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2,000), 157.
  10. Packer, 198.
  11. Peter Kreeft, Why I am a Christian, Norman L. Geisler, Paul K. Hoffman, eds, “Why I Believe Jesus is the
    Son of God” (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001), 223.
  12. Packer, 57.
  13. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1972), 51.
  14. John Piper, The Pleasures of God (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2000), 35.
  15. The Scriptures teach that God is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal and infinite. Although one
    in essence, He exists in three distinct, equal Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (trinity). Two examples in nature illustrate how one entity can exist in multiple forms. 1. Light appears in nature as a wave, a particle, and a visible spectrum. 2. Water is one its molecular essence (H2O), yet exists as steam, water, and ice. The God of the Bible, however, is beyond any natural analogy.
  16. Lewis, God in the Dock, 80.
  17. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 52.
    Permission to reproduce this article: Publisher grants permission to reproduce this material without written approval, but only in its entirety and only for non-profit use. No part of this material may be altered or used out of context without publisher’s written permission. Printed copies of this article and Y-Origins and Y-Jesus magazine may be ordered at: http://jesusonlineministries.com/resources/products/
    © 2012 JesusOnline Ministries. This article is a supplement to Y-Jesus magazine by Bright Media Foundation & B&L Publications: Larry Chapman, Chief Editor.

Questions and Answers Regarding Prophecy from Ezekiel 36 and Temple of God

Is the prophecy of the dry bones (Ezekiel 36:35-37) specifically about Israel, or does it also pertain to the church? How is this linked if at all??? How do we choose Christ and the gift of Salvation? Do we choose or does He do all the choosing for us?

Lets take all in context, The prophecy of Ezekiel 36 applies to Israel alone, and the passage clearly says so. Some allegorize it to describe the process of being born again, but in order to use this prophecy in this way, you have to believe that you had no part in choosing your salvation, that God did it all. The problem with this view is that since not everyone gets saved it means that there are some that God has refused to save. That idea is totally against Scripture. (2 Peter 3:9)

John 3:16 clearly tells us that Jesus died so that whoever chose to believe in Him could be saved. Romans 10:13 says that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

The Doctrine of Election, as the idea that God chooses us is called, comes partly from a misinterpretation of Scriptures meant for Israel, by applying them to the Church.

So anybody who asked God for your salvation because at some level that person concluded that needed Him in that person life, either to help that person through this one or guarantee that person a place in the next one. And because that person asked, that person received. (Matt. 7:7-8) Had that person not asked that person would not have received.

The Seven Deadly Sins

What is Sin?
Sin is separation from God and thus separation from source of Life. That is why death is a consequence of sin. Only through Jesus we understand the abysmal dimension of sin [Youcat 67]. Anything that takes you away from your prayer life, your communication with God and reverts your priority, is a sin.

What is your priority?

Our priority should follow this order:

  1. God

  2. Family

  3. Career

  4. Ministry

  5. Charity and Outreach

When these priorities get shuffled, it leads to chaos, a messy life, an uncontrolled chain reaction I should say! A series of sin and disaster follows. The Devil comes to ‘KILL, STEAL, DESTROY’. He kills the presence of God in you, steals your peace of mind and destroys your soul to mortality. This is the abysmal dimension of sin. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” [John 10:10]

The Seven Deadly Sins

Classifying sins based on their roots of cardinal nature, we have Lust, Pride, Greed, Gluttony, Anger, Sloth and Envy. All other sins will fall under one of these categories.

Vice and Virtue: St.Ignatian spirituality on virtues and vices, gives us a practical exercise to overcome the vices through virtues. All we have to do is just march opposite to the direction of vice, towards virtue, towards God…our way, truth and life.

A VIRTUE is something we do with PASSION. A VICE is something which we cannot stop because of PASSION. So both are habit-forming. Nobody is a born smoker or a daily mass goer. The passion makes them pursue. Therefore once we master our habits and replace vices with virtues we win. For every vice, there is a virtue. We must take a 180 degree turn and march in the opposite direction literally, towards the virtue.

Seven Deadly Sins In Detail

  1. Lust: This desire comes as lust of eyes or flesh, nobody is in exception to it and no age limit too. It’s just like placing food before a hungry person. This can be overcome by filling ourselves with true unconditional, pure love of a Mother (whatever gender we may be) and passing this love to that person in abundance without getting annoyed. This would build an everlasting relationship pure and dependable. Even pornography can be overcome by looking with the eyes of a Mother with the grace from above.

  2. Pride: Just humble yourself before God and others, following Jesus who is the masterpiece of Humility. ‘But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men and being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.’ [Philippians 2:7,8]

  3. Greed: Avarice or craving for material perishable things can be overcome by realizing that nothing is precious before our IMMORTAL and INVISIBLE God. Once this is well understood, generosity flows like a fountain as in the life of Zacchaeus. Now to the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. [1 Timothy 1:17]

  4. Gluttony: Practice fasting following Lord Jesus. “Feeding the crowd, fasting alone” goes the song. When you skip meals due to work schedule it can cause fatigue. But proper fasting, backed up with long hours of prayers, silence and light work, will energize you and heal many sickness.

  5. Anger: Jesus says ‘You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgement. But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgement’ [Matthew 5:21,22]. So anger is as grave as murder. The word of God is 100% true to the core. We must overcome anger by building the fruits of the spirit viz : self-control and patience.

  6. Sloth: Wasting away time. Lack of prayer can slowly remove God’s presence in us. God’s path is a narrow door full of sacrifices and self denials. If your alarm rings at 5am and you are unable to get up, next day keep it at 4.50am and force yourself to get up. As days go by, even without alarm you will get up. This is what habit-forming is all about. ‘Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.’ [Luke 13:24]

  7. Envy: Jealousy is as cruel as the grave. It’s flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame. [Song of Solomon 8:6] Jealousy, anger and killing go together. They not only destroy others, but much more the person who harbors them. Developing motherly love and compassion is the only way to overcome them.

Jesus was no exception to these temptations, he overcame them by fixing his eyes on God the Father, winning every battle one by one. So lets march ahead from vice towards virtue, towards Holiness, towards one and only true God.

Turn back to God. About turn…mark time…march.

– – – written by Cecilia Francis

The Secret Agreement Signed to Devide ISRAEL

Credits to: Arutz Sheva Staff and Jewish Press

Herzog signed secret agreement to divide Jerusalem

Zionist Union leader also accepted ‘right of return’ for Palestinian Arabs into Israel, surrender of Judea and Samaria.

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Isaac Herzog meets with Mahmoud Abbas Flash90
Opposition leader and Zionist Union chief Isaac Herzog agreed to far reaching concessions on the eve of the 2015 election, a report by Channel 10 on Sunday revealed.

Herzog, who prior to the election was seen as a viable candidate for Prime Minister, signed a secret letter of understanding with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, agreeing to a number of long-standing Arab demands.

Among the subjects covered in the letter are the division of Jerusalem, the future disposition of Judea and Samaria, and the so-called “right of return” for Arabs who left the country in 1948.

According to the agreement, Herzog conceded all of Judea and Samaria and accepted the partition of Jerusalem, surrendering portions of the capital to a new Palestinian state.

In addition, Herzog agreed to accept Palestinian “refugees” into Israel under the framework of a “right of return”.

Some technical details were included in the document, including a unique arrangement for Jerusalem, which would be the shared capital of both states and under split sovereignty, yet would be managed by a single municipality.

Even the Old City itself would be divided under the framework agreed upon in the Herzog-Abbas letter, with the Western Wall kept under Israeli control, while the Temple Mount would be placed under international control.

In exchange for Herzog’s concessions, Abbas accepted a “symbolic” Israeli presence in the strategically critical Jordan Valley region along Israel’s eastern border.

The agreement also dealt with anti-terror operations following the establishment of a Palestinian state. According to the document, a joint security ‘mechanism’ bringing together Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian forces would be charged with fighting terror.

Herzog responded to the revelation on Sunday, saying “In my contacts with the Palestinian Authority chief during 2014 I made efforts with the goal of reaching an understanding that would have prevented the wave of terror which I saw coming; [efforts] just like the work I am doing now to prevent this radical right-wing government’s abandonment of the regional conference plan from bringing upon us a new war.”

Jewish Press:

A paper of understanding that was exposed Sunday night by Channel 10 News shows that MK Isaac Herzog, chairman of the Zionist Camp, who conducted extensive meetings with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas before the March 2015 elections, agreed to hand over all of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem to a Palestinian State, and reached a deal on letting Arab refugees come back to live inside 1967 Israel. The negotiations with Abbas were conducted in secret between retired Brigadier General and former MK and Minister Ephraim Sneh and a senior PA official. It should be noted that during the weeks just before the March 17 elections, the polls showed the Zionist Camp edging out Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party, and the plan back then was seen as the shape of things to come in the most realistic way.
On the issue of the borders between Israel and Palestine, Herzog agreed to giving up 100% of the post 1967 territories, with an allowance for a mere 4% of Israeli settlements staying put in exchange for comparable land in pre-1967 Israel to be handed to the Palestinians. Eastern Jerusalem was going to become the capital of Palestine, but the two halves of the city would share municipal responsibilities. Temple Mount would be turned over to an international monitoring force, but Israel would have retained its hold on the Western Wall.

The Arab refugees were going to be taken care of based on UN resolution 194, with some being allowed back into Israel and the rest receiving financial compensation for the lands they left behind.

Israel was going to maintain a symbolic presence in the Jordan Valley, including two armored bases, and terrorism would be handled by a combined force made up of Jordanians, Palestinians and Israelis.

In response to the revelation, MK Herzog’s office released a statement saying, “In my contacts with the Palestinian Authority Chairman in 2014 I made an effort to reach understandings that would have prevented the wave of terror which I predicted, just as I am working now to prevent a situation where the abandoning of a regional conference on the part of the extreme right-wing government won’t bring on us the next war. After the rounds of the almost annual wars and funerals of the past decade I am no longer prepared to listen to the mantra that says we can defeat every threat with only military force.”

Just extraordinary. The Jewish Press calls it the “end of Israel as we know it.” You can’t argue with that.

Fortunately, Mr. Herzog lost the election, keeping him from implementing a plan that would have likely torn the country apart. Neither should we be surprised. This is an interview he gave Fathom magazine in 2014:

I speak in a very frank and open manner. I believe that Israel must move for peace. We must move towards the division of the land between the Palestinians and us in order to maintain the future of Israel as a Jewish democratic state. I say this very bluntly.
For example, on the issue of Jerusalem, I don’t rule out the possibility that as part of a political solution there will be government institutions of the Palestinian state in one of the Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. I don’t think that violates our loyalty, love and affection for Jerusalem. In the eastern Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem there reside over 300,000 Palestinians. They are not seen as part of Israel, and rightly so. I think that we need to be innovative and bold and tell the truth to the people. Part of the truth is that in order for Zionism to prevail and to succeed we must make sure that Gush Etzion and Maaleh Adumim will be part of Israel for ever. This needs to be done by way of a swap of land with the Palestinians. If we reach an agreement to separate from the Palestinians, this will be a victory for Zionism.

No, this will be the death of Zionism. Israelis like Herzog are besotted with the notion of peace to the exclusion of reality. How much evidence do you need that the Palestinians are uninterested in any kind of “peace” except the annihilation of the Jewish state and a return by Palestinians to land currently inhabited by Jews?

There may be a few Palestinians who have rejected that dream, but not the PA leadership and certainly not Hamas.

Poor, deluded fool. It’s a good thing Labor lost that election. Otherwise, Israel would almost certainly exist with indefensible borders and bloodthirsty Palestinian terrorists targeting innocents.