You Are the Tabernacle of God

Last week we celebrated Sukkot with our small community in Brenham, Texas. If you aren’t familiar with Sukkot, you might know it better by the name Feast of Tabernacles. (See Lev 23:34-43.) “Sukkot” is Hebrew for “tabernacles”. “Sukkah” is the singular form.

The themes of Sukkot appear over and over in the writings of the prophets. I suspect there might be more end-times prophecy surrounding Sukkot than any other single, biblical holy day.

  • The repentance, restoration, and reunification of the tribes of Israel (Isa 27, Jer 23:7-8, Zec 12:10-13:2, etc.)
  • The calling out of those from among the nations who have been grafted into Israel (Isa 27, Isa 54:1-3, etc.)
  • The destruction of the nations who attacked God’s people (Isa 27, Isa 54:4-17, Zec 12:1-9, etc.)
  • The establishment of the Messianic Era with God Himself tabernacling among His people (Isa 4:2-6, Zec 14:5-9, Eze 37:27, etc.)
  • The celebration of the feast by all nations (Zec 14:16-19)

All holidays come with their traditions. You’re probably familiar with the Thanksgiving turkey, but have you heard about the Sukkot gumbo? It’s actually a pretty recent innovation, but it’s one of my favorites. My wife is an outstanding cook and every year she puts together a giant pot of this amazing stuff–made with chicken and all beef sausage, of course. No shellfish or pork in our gumbo!

Another tradition–one more widespread and well established–is the building of a sukkah from tree branches, palm fronds, and other natural materials. A sukkah is a temporary dwelling place with three walls and a roof that is good enough to provide shade, but loose enough to be able to see the sky through it. This tradition goes back to at least the time of Nehemiah (Neh 8:13-18) and possibly all the way back to the Hebrews wandering in the wilderness.

Here’s the original command from Torah:

“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. You shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths [sukkot] for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths [sukkot], that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths [sukkot] when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
(Lev 23:39-43)

Technically, Torah only says to celebrate with the fruit and branches and also to live in sukkot for seven days, but Nehemiah interpreted this to mean they were to build their sukkot from the branches, and this is still how it’s done today.

A Sukkot etrog and lulav.

A Sukkot etrog and lulav.

By the first century AD, a completely different idea had taken root, that the fruit must be an etrog (also known as a citron) and the branches of three specific kinds of trees must be bound together in a “lulav” and waved a certain way. While it’s not strictly biblical, there’s nothing wrong with this practice, and the rabbis draw an interesting and valuable lesson from it. Each of the four species (etrog, palm, myrtle, and willow) represent a different kind of person, and all of them are bound together at Sukkot because it takes all kinds of individuals to make a whole nation.

It’s a little like our gumbo in that way. You put all of these different ingredients together in a pot, turn up the heat, and they make a single, magical dish that draws the whole community together. (And I do mean magical. You should try it sometime!)

You’ve probably read this passage before, but read it again now with the image of a divine Tabernacle made from the natural and wild branches of God’s people:

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely separate me from his people”; and let not the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” For thus says the LORD: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. “And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant–these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
(Isa 56:3-7)

Maybe you’re a palm tree or maybe you’re a willow of the brook. Whatever your race or personality type or skill set, God has called you out to be a part of His people, to be one of the branches used to build the Tabernacle of Messiah.

The Tabernacle of Messiah is made up of branches from many different trees, both domestic and wild.

Who Can You Trust?

When faced with a choice between Assyria & Egypt, which one should you trust? Neither!

When faced with a choice between Assyria & Egypt, which one should you trust? Neither!

You can’t get on the Internet or turn on television without hearing the names Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. “Clinton is a liar and a traitor!” “Trump is a racist and misogynist!” Both candidates appear to be seriously flawed. Maybe all the accusations are true and maybe they aren’t, but we can be certain of one thing: This is the most important election ever!

Just like all the elections that came before it.

Don’t misunderstand me. I fully realize that the United States is in a precarious position due to multiple and prolonged errors, and the two major party candidates are saying (and might even do) very different things concerning some of those issues. There is a lot at stake.

And just like every other election, it still doesn’t matter. Here’s what I mean by that…

More than 2500 years ago, little Judah was caught between two powerful empires, Assyria to the north and Egypt to the south. They were bound to fight each other sooner or later, but the only road between them led right through Judah, and they weren’t simply going to pass through. They were going to conquer and pillage on the way. Israel had a long history with Egypt, so rather than try to fight two superpowers, the king tried to make an alliance with Pharaoh.

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses and chariots, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the LORD! The Egyptians are mere men, and not gods, and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and you will fall with him. You will all perish together. Return to Him from whom the people have rebelled! (Isaiah 31:1-6 Paraphrased)

That was written to Israel and not to America, but the principle still applies. If we are trusting in men, guns, or votes instead of in God, then our trust is misplaced. It didn’t matter if Israel made an alliance with Assyria or Egypt because they had abandoned their alliance with God. And it doesn’t matter today if we vote for Clinton or Trump if we aren’t trusting in God for the outcome.

By all means, vote your conscience. Support the candidate that you believe most represents the best interests of America. But if America’s interests don’t align with God’s, then America is doomed and there is nothing that anyone can do about it. Clinton won’t protect women because she can’t. Trump won’t save America because he can’t. God will decide our fate, not politicians, and as long as we fear men rather than God and hold our own law above God’s, we will never amount to anything more than Assyria and Egypt.

Where are Sennacherib of Assyria and Shebitku of Egypt today? Exactly where Trump and Clinton will be 2500 years from today.

The Trees, the Fields, and You

God's Word is never silent. He is always speaking to us even when we can't hear Him.The further we are from God, the more He hides Himself from us for our own protection.

Now and then, He sends revival, and everyone is excited and on fire for a few days or weeks–a few years at best. But the glow inevitably wanes. When the traveling evangelist has gone on his way and the nightly prayer meetings have ended, our desire for the things of God dies away too, like the flames of a fire with no air flow. This falling away is no surprise to God; after all, He knows us better than we do.

When Israel was standing at the edge of the Promised Land, God warned Moses about this phenomenon.

Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. (Deuteronomy 31:16)

He also told them what would happen when they stopped following God’s instructions.

Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil that they have done, because they have turned to other gods. (Deuteronomy 31:17-18)

Fortunately, God didn’t leave it at that. He also gave Moses & Israel a tool to bring them back again:

Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel…And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness… (Deuteronomy 31:19,21)

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

For our own protection, for the preservation of our nation and our families, God wants us to read His instructions aloud for everyone to hear. He wants us to teach them to our children, talk about them regularly, surround ourselves with reminders of them. He wants us to sing them, because there are few mnemonics as powerful as song.

Always remember that God is One. He is never divided, and His Word always speaks in unison with His Spirit. When you feel like God is too far away, like you can no longer hear His Spirit, return to His Word.

We don’t read, study, and sing together just for fun or camaraderie, but to ensure that when we are ready, His words will be all around us. At that time, we will find that His Spirit and His written Word have been speaking to us all along. God is never silent, even if we can’t always hear Him. Not only that, but His creation always responds to Him. When we aren’t listening, even the rocks and trees are singing His praise.

How much better is the world when all of God’s creation, man, animal, plant, and mineral, sing in unison!

Happy New Year

L'shana tova from Brenham, Texas!Why is the Feast of Trumpets (aka Yom Teruah or Yom ha-Zikkaron) also called Head of the Year (Rosh Hashanah) when God specifically said that Nisan is the first month of the year? Every calendar has multiple years. We have fiscal years, school years, birth years, tax years, etc. The ancient Hebrews were no different. But what, specifically, makes this day a “new year” day?

There are two reasons, one mystical and one practical. Traditionally, the Creation of the world began on Rosh Hashanah, so we blow the horns in honor of the world’s birthday and in remembrance of the Voice of God that caused the world to come into being. More scripturally, the year of Jubilee begins in the seventh month (this month, now called Tishrei). Every seventh year in the seventh month, debts were forgiven, Hebrew slaves set free, and the land given one year of rest from active agriculture. Every fiftieth year in the seventh month, all land returned to the original owners, the families to whom the land was granted in the time of Joshua. (See Leviticus 25)

Technically, the release of slaves and land begins at Yom Kippur, which is the 10th day of the month, making it simultaneously the most solemn and the most joyful day on God’s calendar. Regardless, the month of Tishrei is still the first month of the year for the purposes of the Jubilee, so the first day of Tishrei is considered the first day of the year.

L’shana Tova! Happy New Year! May you find freedom in Yeshua this year and every year.

Be Ye Perfect Right Now or Else!

Keeping Torah teaches us the meaning of Grace and MercyGod wants us to keep His law, but He doesn’t expect perfection. He never did or else Torah1 wouldn’t include instructions for handling missteps. You will fail, but it will be OK in the end if you trust in God. That doesn’t mean obedience is optional. Knowingly disregarding what God has told you to do is the same as rejecting God himself. Either He is King or He isn’t.

Studying and living Torah helps a person to develop a better understanding of God’s character. It teaches us what mercy and grace really mean, and it should give one great hope in God’s goodness. Consider that the blessings & curses of Torah are guaranteed to the nation of Israel2, of which we have been made citizens, but the curses are temporary. If you repent, God is eager to forgive. According to Torah, all of Israel will repent. Whatever she has done in the intervening eras, she will return to Torah and to her Husband, and she will be restored in full.

See Deuteronomy 30:1-5 & Romans 7:25-8:4.

I talk a lot about “Law”. Keep the Sabbath. Keep the commandments. Study Torah. Et cetera. Sometimes I’m afraid that I give the wrong impression.

Recently I had a conversation with a man who couldn’t understand why I say that followers of Jesus should be keeping Torah. I explained from Scripture how Paul fought a persistent battle against Jewish teachers who taught that new converts must keep the whole Torah plus all of the rules that men had added to it (the “burden that neither we nor our fathers were able to bear”) in order to be saved. The Jerusalem Council refuted this false teaching, instead giving new converts four simple rules to start with, expecting that they would continue to study the Word and grow in maturity and righteous behavior. Obedience to God’s Law has never been a requirement for salvation, but it has always been a standard of behavior for God’s people.

When I had answered all of the man’s questions, he was in a near panic. He said he would pray about this because, if he had unrepented sin in his life, he needed to fix it right NOW! The next morning he said that the Spirit had told him that I was wrong and that Jesus cancelled all of the old laws and gave us new ones.

To be honest, I was relieved. This man clearly had an unbalanced perspective on sin, believing that any error would endanger his salvation. He was already a legalist. If he had been convinced that it’s a sin to work on the Sabbath or eat bacon, I’m afraid he would have become what’s known in Messianic Jewish circles as a Torah terrorist. I think you probably can guess what that means. A new set of rules to obsess over was the last thing he needed.

Long after Paul became a disciple of Jesus, he admitted that he still sinned. He didn’t like it, but he had to be honest.

For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. (Romans 7:19-20)

The Apostles didn’t tell new converts to stop all sin immediately. That would just be replacing one unbearable yoke with another one. They gave them just four things:

For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. (Acts 15:28-29)

But that didn’t mean that it was now okay to steal and kill. This list was never intended to be the sum total of righteous behavior. It was just a place to start. “For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” (Acts 15:21)

The fact is–and we all need to face this–nobody in this life will ever be sinless. It is completely beyond our power to be perfect. As a much greater man than I once said, If we could be saved by good behavior, then Christ would have died for nothing. Thank God for His grace and mercy!

I’m not excusing anybody’s sin. God hates it and wants us to keep working it out of our lives. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” Paul said. What he didn’t say was, “Do it right now or you’re going to hell.”

I’m going to give you the same advice that I gave to my friend, the same advice that James and the Jerusalem Council gave to the new converts at Antioch: Start with the big stuff, the things that cause you and your community and God the most grief. Next, work on those behaviors that the Holy Spirit convicts you of personally. Finally, keep studying, praying, worshiping, and fellowshipping.

Trust me. If you follow this plan, you will find no end of sins to work on.


1 Torah is God’s Law as written in the books of Moses. Extra-Biblical Jewish writings are the work of men. Some of it’s good–some isn’t–but it isn’t Torah. The same thing goes for extra-Biblical Christian writings.
2 The “nation of Israel” is not the modern state of Israel, although there must certainly be significant overlap.

God’s Timing and the Greater Exodus

God’s timing rarely aligns with ours. When God decides it’s time to move, it’s never what we think is the right time. Allow me to explain by way of an example.

God told Abraham that his descendants would live as foreigners for 400 years and that they would be mistreated and enslaved during that time. God promised to punish the nation that mistreated them and to rescue the people. (Genesis 15:16) Certainly the wise men of Israel living in Egypt prior to the Exodus knew of this promise and they probably put on prophecy conferences and published endless pamphlets claiming that “This is the year. Surely this is the year that God will rescue us!”

And the same thing the next year and the year after that. Some bright individual must have thought, “Well, God said ‘in the fourth generation.’ He didn’t mean the fourth from the promise, so maybe it’s the fourth from our enslavement. And how long is a generation, anyway? Forty years? One hundred years? Is it four hundred years from when we were first enslaved, when we entered Egypt, when Joseph was enslaved, when we were enslaved, when God made the promise to Abraham, or when Abraham first came to Egypt? Oy vey!”

Sound familiar? I’ve heard the same kinds of thing about the establishment of modern Israel and the Second Coming for as long as I can remember. Talk of blood moons and Russian tanks in Lebanon will get little more from me than a skeptically raised eyebrow.

We know from Exodus 12:41 that it was precisely 430 years from the day God gave Abraham the promise until the day the promise was fulfilled, but God told him it would be 400 years. If “400 years” was ever meant to be taken literally, then the clock didn’t start ticking until some unspecified date later, and God didn’t tell anyone when that day was. At least it’s not recorded in Scripture. Prophecy is always this way. If it’s from God, then you can count on it being true, but you can’t necessarily count on this or that day. God does this deliberately, I believe to keep us from thinking we can get away with anything we want so long as we straighten up before the deadline. He gives us signs to watch for, but not a specific date.

Stephen told us in Acts 7:17 that, when the time grew near for God to fulfill His promise, the people multiplied, and only then were they enslaved. The Hebrews lived free and prosperous lives in Egypt until after Joseph died. In fact, when God decided it was time to rescue them, they didn’t even need to be rescued. The fulfillment of God’s promise began when he made them to prosper beyond all expectations so that the Egyptians would become jealous and turn against them. By that time, they had probably decided they didn’t need God’s promise after all. Who would want to leave such a great setup? Sometimes God turns the world against us to remind us of who we are or so that we will be able to appreciate the greater things He has in store for us down the road.

When the time was right, the Hebrews multiplied. The Egyptians grew jealous and enslaved them. The Hebrews cried out to God. Then God destroyed the Egyptians and rescued Israel.

There was nothing any of them could do to stop or even slow the inexorable approach of God’s day of redemption. When God decides that He needs to teach the nations a lesson, He will make sure the lesson is delivered and learned. There are no snow days in this school. The Hebrews could not have failed to multiply, the Egyptians could not have set them free ahead of schedule, and they could not have kept them past the due date.

So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. -Deuteronomy 26:8

As with everything else that happened to the patriarchs, the Exodus was a prophecy of an even Greater Exodus yet to come. Jeremiah and Isaiah (among others) write of this future Exodus as a time of great suffering followed by great revival and restoration. As a mixed multitude left Egypt and was absorbed into Israel (Exodus 12:38), so will a vast mixed multitude leave the world and be absorbed into Israel in the last days (Isaiah 60:4-9). As Egypt practically begged the Hebrews to leave and to take as much gold and silver as they could carry with them, so will the world send the throngs of returning Israelites, both natural and adopted, back to the Land along with whatever financial, material, and technical resources might be required to accommodate the massive numbers of new Israelites. (Isaiah 60:9-16) Just as Egypt suffered even more for refusing to let the Hebrews go, so will those nations who refuse to cooperate in the Greater Exodus suffer more than others. (Isaiah 60:12)

When will all this happen? I’m sure that nobody alive today knows. We have been told to watch for signs, but the signs are ambiguous. Wars and rumors of wars have been with us since long before Nimrod built his cities. Will it be one generation from the establishment of the modern state of Israel? How should we count a generation? How do we know that this Israel isn’t just another Maccabean revolt destined fade away or to be crushed by the next iteration of the Roman Empire? I don’t know the answer to these questions and I am suspect of anyone who claims they do.

Here is something I do know, however: Our God lives and His promises are sure. He never fails and even if He waits longer than we would prefer, He never forgets.

Here is another thing you can count on: God’s promises concerning the New Covenant and the Greater Exodus were made only to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. (Jeremiah 31:31-32) There is no “church” in that equation. God’s promises were not made to Rome or Babylon or Washington, D.C. If you want to be a party to the New Covenant, then you must become a Hebrew. (Notice that I did not say you must become a Jew!) You must cross over from Egypt to the Wilderness, from then from the Wilderness to the Promised Land.

What does this mean in practical terms? It means acknowledging your personal failure to live up to God’s standards and throwing yourself on His mercy. Ask His forgiveness and commit to keeping His commandments.

Obedience to God’s Law is not required to leave Egypt. Remember that the Law wasn’t given to Israel until three months after they had crossed the Red Sea and arrived at Sinai. But also remember that God still expected them to keep it. Nobody would be cut off from the nation for an occasional lapse, but total rejection of God’s commandments did bring either death or being “cut off from the people.” We don’t obey to be saved from sin (Egypt). We obey because we are grateful for God’s salvation and because we love Him.

I strongly recommend reading all of Jeremiah 31 and Isaiah 56 for some perspective on God’s covenant with Israel and what He requires of gentiles who wish to be made party to it. “Let no foreigner who is bound to Adonai say, ‘Adonai will surely exclude me from His people.’ …And foreigners who bind themselves to Adonai to minister to him, to love the name of Adonai, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—-these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.”

With freedom and citizenship comes responsibility. We are no longer slaves to sin (Egypt), but we have voluntarily made ourselves slaves to our Creator and Messiah Yeshua. If we serve Him faithfully, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments.

The first Exodus was merely a dress rehearsal for the Greater Exodus described in Isaiah 60.

You Will Go Out in Joy

You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.

Isaiah 55:12-13

There is no escaping pain. To one degree or another, everyone hurts, everyone suffers. No one can say why one person suffers in one way and another suffers in some other way, but pain and trouble are part of living. Without strain, our bones and muscles would never grow strong. Without sickness, our immune systems would never learn. Without conflict, our hearts would never learn what it means to love.

In the midst of our struggle, it can be easy to forget that God still sees us, but never believe that He has abandoned you. Your pain is real. Your scars might never fade. But God has promised that He will reward those who remain faithful and that reward will be greater than anything you might have lost. He will exchange your thorns for firs, your iron for silver, your bronze for gold. (Is 55 & 60)

And He will do this because fulfillment of promises and rewards for faithfulness are an intrinsic part of His name. It is simply who He is.

In place of thorns, God will grow firs. In place of briers, He will grow myrtle. For the sake of His name.

Authority and Change

Do not remove a boundary stone. Proverbs 22:28

Do not remove a boundary stone.


Deuteronomy 19:14
Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.

Ecclesiastes 10:5-9
There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the ruler:
Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place.
I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.
He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.
Whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby.

Proverbs 24:21 My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change.

Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not…

Have you noticed that, every time you get a new CEO or vice president of whatever, he wants to turn everything on its head even before he really understands the culture of his new business home? Reorganize, restructure, reinvent. It seems to me that it’s just a lot of wasted time. He should see if he can get the job done with the current structure first, and then only change the things that really need to be changed. Otherwise, he might just reorg himself right out of a job.

The same thing goes for everything else in life. Some change is good: growth and improvement, course corrections, repentance, etc. But don’t go moving boundaries that don’t need to be moved. If God said to do things in such-and-such a way, then do them that way until God says otherwise. Don’t move life’s boundaries just because you don’t like them or don’t know their purpose.

God’s Get Rich Slow Scheme

This week’s Torah reading (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17, aka “Re’eh”) talks about how to get rich. Fantastic! The best part is that you get to pick between blessings and curses. Who wouldn’t choose blessings over curses?

Here’s how you make your choice known to God:

  1. Worship God His way, not your way, and not in any pagan ways. Whether you are native-born Israelite or grafted in, no paganism allowed. Destroy every trace & burn all the bridges that lead back that way.
  2. Be careful what you eat. Don’t eat blood. Don’t eat creepy crawlies. Don’t eat pigs and other forbidden animals. Don’t eat blood. And especially don’t eat blood as part of any religious rituals. Got that? No blood.
  3. Don’t listen to false prophets.
  4. Have 3 big parties every year, paid for by the tithes of what you’ve produced from your land in 2 out of 3 years.
  5. In the third year, gather up all your tithes and share them with the landless, orphans, and widows of your own town. This is on the honor system, but don’t be stingy.
  6. You have to give to get. The secret to being blessed is in blessing others.Forgive all debts to fellow believers/Hebrews (whether native-born Israelites or grafted in) at the end of every 7th year. Don’t be stingy. Lend to your poor neighbors at zero percent interest with the full expectation that they will pay you back no matter how much time is left. If they don’t pay you back on time, don’t hold it against them.
  7. Release all Hebrew slaves–not that there’s a lot of explicit slavery in America these days, but the principle still counts–at the end of the 6th year in the 7 year cycle. Don’t be stingy here either. Since they weren’t able to work for themselves, send them out with a year’s worth of supplies. They can live off that until they get themselves back on their feet or they can use it to pay off debt before the end of the 7th year.
  8. In whatever way God blesses you, be sure to bless others.
  9. Rejoice! Especially during Sukkot in the Fall. Throw a party and invite everyone: native, grafted-in, orphans, widows, Levites, servants, family, and neighbors. And don’t be stingy!

You probably noticed a trend. Here’s the short version: Fear God and be generous.

Whatever you’ve heard on television or Facebook, this is a principle that every filthy rich person will tell you: give, give, and give some more. Wealth is never a zero-sum operation. There’s always more where it came from. Blessings flow from God like water through a pipe. What happens if a pipe is capped? The water stops flowing. You are a pipe. Let your wealth flow out to keep God’s wealth flowing in.

But wait! There’s more…

If I only wanted to make myself or you feel good, I’d stop there. But I’m not.

These blessings aren’t necessarily directed at individuals. They’re directed at the nation of Israel, the native-born and the grafted-in. (Not the State of Israel. That’s something else altogether.)

I’m not saying this won’t work for individuals. It clearly does! The principal of “Give-to-Get” is the very foundation of the wealth-building wisdom of Zig Ziglar and many other famous teachers of personal economics. (You can have as much as you want if you only help as many others as possible to get what they want first.) After all, you can’t have a wealthy nation without wealthy individuals.

This is just another layer of the selflessness required to be an effective conduit of God’s blessings. Do you want to be blessed? Then bless everyone around you with no expectation of getting anything back, either from them or God. I guarantee you will be blessed abundantly, but I can’t guarantee exactly what form that blessing will take. Even so, if you make wise financial decisions in addition to being generous with your resources, the chances are very good that your resources will continue to multiply.

If you want God’s continued blessings, keep the pipe straight (obey God’s Law) and don’t cap it off (be generous).

The Faith and Prayers of America’s Founding Fathers

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’ve had something of an obsession with both prayer and American history for some years now. I have lots of questions for God about prayer and faith, so I spend a lot of time reading and studying about it. It can be tough, because frequently I don’t “feel” a lot of faith. I try to keep praying anyway and I encourage you to do to the same. That’s one reason that I’m giving away the Family Prayers ebook to all subscribers this and next month. (Subscribe here.)

I’m working on another project now, and I could really use your help!

Do you read a lot of American history, especially contemporary works and autobiographies? I’m collecting the prayers of America’s founding fathers (and mothers!). I would really love to hear about any that you’ve come across. Do you have any favorites?

I know there is much controversy over the religious beliefs of some of the Founders too. Were they deists? Were some of them even atheists? If some of these questions are bothering you, leave your thoughts, comments, and questions below. I’ll see what I can find out.

Thank you!!!