Tarry in Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on highLk. 24:49

As Jewish believers in Messiah, when we think of the Festival of Weeks (called Pentecost in the Church) we primarily think of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit two thousand years ago on the first Jewish believers gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate this biblical first fruits holiday. This day nearly two-thousand years ago was indeed the beginning of the Holy Spirit ministry in the New Testament context which jump started the gospel from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

When considering the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we tend to first think of the gifts, the power and anointing which the Holy Spirit imparts. While that is an incredibly exciting and important element of Holy Spirit’s ministry, I believe that the Spirit is asking us to first spend time meditating on the word that defines the Spirit – Holy.

Be Holy for I am Holy (1 Peter 1:15-16)

It is natural that our attention tends to stay on the dramatic and outward manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s ministry, but the ministry of Holy Spirit should first and foremost empower us to live holy lives. We all discover sooner or later that when someone operates in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit, it does not mean that the person’s personal walk with God is in good standing. In fact, someone can be living in egregious sin and still minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. If that minister does not repent, eventually the sin will be revealed, and it brings shame on the name of Messiah and places a stumbling block before young and immature believers. Therefore, to focus on ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit without living a life of holiness through the Holy Spirit is damaging and dangerous.

Religious Holiness

At the same time, some believers emphasize holiness without the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit. A holiness emphasis without the power of the Holy Spirit is equally damaging and dangerous because it can lead people into a religious mindset and an attempt to struggle against sin without the help of the Holy Spirit. We also cannot experience God’s love for us without the Holy Spirit. In fact, we cannot truly know God and have an intimate relationship with Him without the Holy Spirit because the God reveals Himself to us through the agency of the Holy Spirit.

What does it mean to live holy lives?

Like many basic spiritual truths, there is quite a bit of misunderstanding about what it means to live a holy life. Most would describe living “holy” as hardly ever stumbling in sin. That definition makes “living holy” seem like a near impossibility. But the fact is, that is not what it means to live holy! Living holy is first and foremost the mere desire to do what is right in God’s eyes, repenting when we fail, and continuing to desire to do God’s will. That is the standard of holiness for us. The more we desire to do God’s will, the more the Holy Spirit fills our souls with grace, strength and conviction to choose the good and reject the evil. Over time, we will experience more victory in our struggles with sin. But it doesn’t mean we become immune to sin and live perfect lives. There is only One Righteous Man who did that!

The End-Time Bride: holy and endowed with Power from on high

This year as we celebrate the Festival of Weeks, I am filled with the urgency for the need of the Body of Messiah to step into the full calling God has given us – to live holy lives and to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit. Not one on the account of the other. In these end times, the Spirit is calling all of us to desire to experience God’s love poured out in our hearts, to live lives of holiness, and to earnestly desire and operate in the power of the Holy Spirit.


When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. ” -Luke 22:14-16


Right before His suffering and crucifixion, Yeshua expressed something extraordinary to His disciples: He told them that He fervently desired to eat that last Passover with them.

Just thinking that Yeshua expressed fervent desire for that moment is amazing to me. He knew full well what was waiting for him—the shame and ridicule, the pain and torture—and He was not indifferent to it. Quite the opposite. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He tells His disciples that His “soul is consumed with sorrow to the point of death” and, falling facedown, He pleads with the Father to let the cup of His suffering pass from Him (Matt. 26:38-39). Despite that, Yeshua expressed His fervent desire for that Passover meal, and the question is What is it? What is it that the Lord desired so much that dwarfed even the terrible darkness that was about to come immediately after this Passover meal?

Jeremiah’s prophecy of a New Covenant realized (Jer. 31:31-34)

The first part of the answer is explained by the Lord: “For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God”. Yeshua knows that this is His last Passover meal, after which He will serve as the complete and eternal Passover sacrifice which will usher His followers into the new covenant that Jeremiah prophesied over 500 years earlier. The moment He has so fervently desired is the beginning of this new covenant which will allow all His followers to have a close, intimate relationship with God the Father through Him. But His fervent desire is for even more than that: Yeshua tells His disciples that He has fervently desired to eat His last Passover specifically with them. Something special and unprecedented happened between Yeshua and His disciples during that extraordinary Passover meal.

Messiah’s Extraordinary Last Passover

During His last Passover meal, Yeshua forges a deep, intimate connection with His disciples on the highest level. This amazing and unprecedented fellowship is described in the Gospel of John in chapters 13-17. After Judah Iscariot, who was about to betray the Lord, left the meal, Yeshua shared with His loyal disciples some of the deepest, most amazing revelations found in Scripture, revelations which are given to us from a heart of profound intimacy. After finishing their meal, Yeshua told His disciples that He no longer considered them servants but  “friends” and that He loved them with the love which the Father loves Him –perfect, all-powerful, absolute love. When I pause to ponder what these revelations mean, I realize that they are beyond my understanding: we need divine revelation to begin to comprehend the breadth, length, depth, and height of this divine love, just as the Apostle Paul prays in Ephesians 5:18-21.

Entering into the Holy of Holies – John 17

In chapter 17, Yeshua takes His disciples into the Holy of Holies by allowing them to be witnesses of His intimate, personal prayer to the Father. By doing so, He essentially brings them into the perfect, holy relationship between the Father and the Son, allowing them to witness the deep, personal connection they have as the One God. Yeshua loved His disciples so completely (He loved them to the end) that He allowed them to be in the most intimate place of love and connection between Him and the Father:

Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. -John 13:1

As Yeshua said, there is no greater love than laying one’s life down for another, and that is the expression of God’s complete love through Yeshua’s ultimate sacrifice. The goal of that love, however, is His fervent desire: allowing His disciples and all of us to come into the intimate place of communion of the Father and the Son, to come into God’s house. We understand then that when Yeshua expressed His fervent desire, it was the desire to include us and bring us into the intimate relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This inclusion, this special relationship, happens only within the context of the New Covenant. We are adopted as God’s own sons and daughters (Rm. 8:14-15) and not as “second class” children: The Father loves us with the same love He has for His Son:

I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me. -John 17:23

Not only are we now in God’s family, but the Father is also preparing us to be a bride for His Son (Eph. 5:22-33) – the marriage relationship being the pinnacle of intimacy and partnership. Furthermore, Yeshua loves us in the same way the Father loves Him:

As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. -John. 15:9

God has not withheld anything from us. He loved us until the end (perfectly), He has brought us into His house, into his family, into the special, intimate relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who are united in perfect love which flows from the Father to us through the Son. He has filled us with the Holy Spirit. Yeshua, who is forever God and forever human, is the connection point between us and God. Through our communion with Yeshua as the Son of Man, we are able to be in a relationship with the perfect God. We are able to enter God’s house and family.

So much of this is hard to fathom, and may we never let ourselves take for granted the fact that the holy, majestic God of the universe has opened His house to us, where everything is perfect, pure love, and invited us in to be a part of His family – with all our sin and darkness—through the purification and sanctification in Yeshua the Messiah.

The Goal of Creation Realized

I believe that this was the goal of creation: God created us to become part of His family. Therefore, when Yeshua says, “I have fervently desired” this moment, He is expressing the deep desire of God from creation culminating at that point. Yeshua’s intimate fellowship with His disciples during that last Passover meal is the moment that the goal of creation began to be realized. It will be fully realized when the Body of Messiah attains to the full stature of Messiah and ultimately connects to God in the perfect way He desires. (Eph. 4:13, Rev. 21:3-4)

John 17 – Invitation into the Holy of Holies

During this Passover season, I would like to encourage all of us to devote time to the immensely powerful chapters of John 13 through 17, most especially John 17. When you spend time reading these chapters, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the power and depth of what Yeshua so fervently desires for us. If this is indeed the goal of creation, that means that this is our ultimate and highest identity and destiny. Today Yeshua is saying to all of us: “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you”. This is also the end-time invitation to all of us: in Revelation Yeshua makes this same desire known to us – although we do not usually hear the fervent desire in His voice the way we hear it in the gospel of John, the same passion is there when He says to us:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me. -Revelation 3:20






My country is facing an internal crisis, the likes of which I have never seen. On Wednesday evening, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog delivered a serious address to the nation in which he soberly warned about the possibility of civil war. For two months, demonstrations across Israel have been increasing in frequency and intensity, and the rhetoric on both sides of the divide is becoming extreme. We all have said or heard someone say, “Our nation is being torn apart.”

Civil war over what?

In February, the far-right government led by Benjamin Netanyahu has been furiously pushing a sweeping judicial reform though the government: it seeks to reform the power of Israel’s Supreme Court and High Court of Justice which have become increasingly liberal and activist over the last decades.

Everyone agrees that there needs to be judicial reform which will restore the balance of power between the judiciary and legislative (lawmaking) branches of government. However, the ruling government’s reform proposal includes an element which will allow the ruling party lawmakers to pass laws that will be “immune” from Supreme Court review or revoke.

What this means is: any ruling party could pass laws that limit the civil rights of minorities in Israel. Minority rights in Israel are protected by Israel’s Basic Laws (like a Bill of Rights). If this extreme clause in the Netanyahu government judicial reform passes, minorities in Israel, including religious minorities like Messianic Jews, could have their basic rights taken away.

Civil rights of Israel’s minorities at serious risk

Right now there are religious parties in Netanyahu’s coalition who would love to pass laws seriously limiting the ability of Jewish believers to share their faith. Last week when associate pastor Moti Cohen was opening our service with prayer, he said, “We do not take for granted that we are able to gather here and openly declare our faith in Yeshua. There may come a time when we are no longer able to do it.”

How do we pray in this situation?

This situation does not surprise us. In fact, Yeshua prepared us for this situation already:

They will put you out of the synagogues. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.

-John 16:2

On the fast of Esther, we held a prayer and worship evening at Tiferet Yeshua during which we interceded for our nation at this critical moment. We sang and declared God’s prophetic promises for Israel and prayed that He would have mercy on His people, that He would use the current crisis to cause many to seek Him, that He would pour out His Spirit on this nation so that many from all walks of life would experience powerful revelations of God’s love and truth.

Yes, we hope that our civil rights will not be taken away so that we can continue declaring Messiah’s message to His people. Democracy is the best form of human government, but it is not our savior. In fact, we know that the gospel is spreading like fire in places like Iran despite the repressive religious dictatorship there.

Dear friends, during this time, we ask that you join us in lifting the nation of Israel in prayer that all of God’s plans and purposes for this nation would be done and that He would be glorified in the eyes of all nations as the Keeper of covenants!

(In 2021, Tiferet Yeshua won a victory in the Supreme Court against political religious oppression. You can read all about it here.)

As we begin 2023, this is the perfect time to revisit our congregational vision, to see where we have been, how much we have grown in God’s grace, and where He is leading us in this coming new year.

About ten years ago, the congregational leadership sat together to put down our vision as a congregation. After prayer and discussion, our elders came up with a three essential points which encapsulate who we are as a ministry.


Loving God – we desire to be a congregation filled with the love of God, seeking His face and His presence. There are several ways we express our love of God.

I. Fear of the Lord and Holiness

The fear of the Lord (the Hebrew term is most accurately translated as trembling awe\respect) is the first essential step in loving God. Growing in holiness is an expression of our love for God. Love is our motivator to change and choose the good:

“If you love me, keep my commandments.”

-John 14:15

When we are born again, our spirits are sanctified (made holy) and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. But that’s just the beginning: we then embark on a life-long journey to bring God’s holiness to our souls (thoughts, words and actions). The essential expression of love for God is the desire for real change in ourselves in order to please Him, which then results in a closer relationship with Him! It is also not based on success: God sees our heart’s desire for change and our attempts, even failed ones, are very precious to Him.   

II. Seeking His Presence

The first thing we seek in every service and meeting here at Tiferet Yeshua is God and His presence, especially in worship. God blesses corporate worship with a special anointing of His love and presence. We see one of the most powerful biblical illustrations of this when King Solomon and the children of Israel gathered together to worship God in one accord at the dedication of the Temple and the glory cloud of the Lord filled the Temple so powerfully that no one could stand as a result (2 Chron. 5:13-14).

III. Prayer and Intercession

“Pray without ceasing”

-Thessalonians 5:17

Prayer is our communication with God: you could say that our relationship with Him is based on spending time in His Word and time in prayer. This is our spiritual fuel—the oil in our lamps—for all that He calls us to do in His name.

The Spirit of the Lord comes to act through us and on our behalf when we are engaged in prayer. Doing anything in service for God without prayer, without asking for His grace, mercy and power through prayer, is at least a gamble and may even be arrogance.

Loving Each Other

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

-Philippians 2:4

I. Being a close-knit family community

We want to break the mind-set of coming to the congregation to get blessed by good worship and a good message and then going home. By striving to be close-knit, family community that looks out for one another, spends time with one another, helps one another, we are putting the focus on becoming the expression of God’s love. Beyond our main Friday service, congregation members meet during the week for prayer, worship and studying the Word together.

II. Service and gifts of the Holy Spirit

The vast majority of gifts of the Spirit are meant to serve and edify others, not to lift us up in prestige or position because we move in those gifts. 1 Corinthians 14:1exhorts us to actively go after love and to desire the gifts of the Spirit, especially to prophesy because it edifies the Body.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

-1 Peter 4:10

The local congregation should be a place people can serve in the gifts and callings that God has given them. And a healthy spiritual community is where everyone serves in one capacity or another. When new believers come to faith, an important part of their spiritual growth is to become connected in the congregation, to discover their God-given gifts and calling and to begin serving in then.

III. Strategic Giving Fund

Ten percent of our congregational budget is designated to a strategic giving fund from which we help believers in need in our congregation and in the Body of Messiah in Israel. Whether an expensive medical procedure, counseling for those who don’t have the finances, emergency financial help, grants for studies or supporting those who are going on outreach trips, our strategic giving fund is there to be immediate help for those in need. We also support other ministries in Israel from this fund, such as a drug rehabilitation center in Netanya, an outreach for prostitutes in Tel Aviv and a Messianic kindergarten in Jerusalem.

Loving our City 


We have a calling to be in Tel Aviv –the secular center of Israel which also happens to be one of the most expensive cities in the world. So, renting a building and maintaining a congregation in this city is a calling indeed! In this place that is called Israel’s sin city, we are called to be light, to be witnesses, to share the gospel, and to draw people to Him.

When we asked ourselves, “How do we show love to Tel Aviv?” We didn’t have to look very far. Just a few blocks away from our congregation is Israel’s skid row, the worst area in Israel for drugs, homelessness and prostitution.  Each week, Associate Pastor Moti leads a team of volunteers who prepare 450 healthy, home-cooked meals for the homeless in south Tel Aviv.  In addition to a warm meal and first aid for those who need it, Moti and his team offer prayer and the Word of hope to whomever is open. Whomever is willing, they offer to bring directly to a drug rehab center run by believers. God is touching countless lives through this ministry!


Active sharing of the gospel in an important aspect of who we are, and congregation members live a lifestyle of sharing their faith on a daily basis. Additionally, we lead organized street and city outreach with small groups from the congregation. On the digital front, we have an active media outreach in Hebrew through our weekly livestreams, Facebook page and Hebrew website. God has blessed these efforts greatly: most of the new believers at Tiferet Yeshua have come through these outreach efforts.

At our congregation, we see first-hand how important it is to be connected to a local body of believers. The story of Maya, a woman who went through discipleship with us over the summer, encapsulates how essential it is. During covid, Maya found us online and joined our online services. Over fifteen years earlier, she had come to faith after Christian friends from Europe had witnessed to her. However, she never got connected with other believers here in Israel and, as a result, never grew in her faith. Eventually, Maya returned to her life in the world.

When we finally resumed in-person services at Tiferet Yeshua in January of 2022, Maya began attending regularly. After hearing her story, we invited her to bible study meetings during the week, which she attended regularly, and to one on one discipleship. This last summer, she committed her life to the Lord in water immersion. The Lord touched Maya in a powerful way during her immersion: she prayed to be set free from a nicotine addiction she’s struggled with for years, and God set her free completely! She was also healed from complications she was experiencing due to a recent difficult glaucoma surgery.

Maya’s immersion this summer with the pastoral team Gil and Kosta

Coming Alive in the Body

We always stress to people how important it is to be connected to a local body of believers: unfortunately many believers in Israel, particularly young believers, do not belong to a congregation or small group. Not only is the local body the place where believers are discipled, supported, encouraged and strengthened in their faith, but it is also the place where they can begin serving in the gifts God has given them. That is exactly what has happened with Maya.

The Chef in the Streets

Several weeks ago, Maya started volunteering with Associate Pastor Moti Cohen at our weekly Feed Tel Aviv outreach to the homeless in the streets of south Tel Aviv. It turns out that Maya used to work as a chef: according to Moti, Maya is doing wonders in the kitchen preparing the food for the street outreach and helping manage the food preparation and distribution.

Maya also has a special approach and connection with the women we minister to on the streets (women who are addicted to drugs and working in the sex industry to fund their addiction). Many people volunteer with us at Feed Tel Aviv, and Moti has come to recognize when someone has a special calling to minister to the homeless. Maya is one of them: she knows how to talk to them, to put them at ease and how to communicate the love of God to them in a genuine way. That ability is rare and special.

A Living Testimony

Maya is a testimony of God’s desires for all believers: Maya attends services and bible studies regularly and, within weeks of committing her life to the Lord, is on the streets sharing the love of God, sharing the wisdom He has given her through life experiences and through the gifts He has entrusted to her. Maya’s journey is a witness to all of us to continue in whole-hearted devotion to the Lord, to not forsake the gathering together as believers (Hebrews 10:25) and to serve in the gits that the Lord has entrusted to each of us! (I Timothy 4:14)

Sinai Covenant and New Covenant – what changed and what is the same?

For the last several weeks, I have been giving this series of messages at Tiferet Yeshua with the intention to explore the important elements of the Sinai Covenant and how they have changed, or not changed, in the framework of the New Covenant. Understanding both gives us a deeper understanding of God’s perfect plan for all of us – to dwell with us and bring us on a journey deeper into His heart and His presence. In this article I would like to share one of those messages.

Defilement in the Sinai Covenant

In the framework of the Sinai covenant the bible relates extensively to the subject of physical or bodily defilement. When reading through the somewhat exhausting verses on bodily defilements, particularly in the book of Leviticus, you may find yourself asking, “What is the point of all this?” Quite a bit, actually!

It is important that we first answer this question: what are these defilements that the Sinai Covenant speaks about? First of all, they are not sins. Defilements relate to situations in the human existence which connect to death. For instance: touching a corpse or a dead animal, illnesses (which are an expression of death), a flow of blood, even when semen leaves a man’s body, the potential of life has left the physical body causes defilement. Even birth causes a woman’s body to become “defiled”, something which at first seems very surprising, but it is because the life of her baby has “left” her body.

The Torah (the Law or first five books of Moses) reveals to us the basic spiritual principle that nothing which is connected to death can enter into the presence of God because:

  He is not the God of the dead but of the living.

-Matthew 22:32

Defilement Denies Access

In the framework of the Sinai Covenant, anyone who was in a state of “defilement” was not allowed to enter the Temple – the physical building which housed the presence of God. The life of the Jewish believer under the Sinai Covenant revolved around worship in the Temple, and being denied access into the Temple was a serious thing.

In order to be purified from “defilement”, a person had to go through a process which always involved cleansing with water and the passage of time:

But if a person who is unclean does not purify himself, he will be cut off from the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD. The water of purification has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean

-Numbers 19:20

Defilement in the New Covenant Framework – different but the same

In the framework of the New Covenant, the Holy Temple, God’s physical sanctuary on earth, no longer exists. The sanctuary of God’s presence now resides in the spirits of all redeemed believers. In practice, the issue of defilement under the New Covenant is very different from the Sinai Covenant because we no longer enter into a physical earthly temple and therefore bodily defilement is no longer relevant.

However, the principle of “defilement” in the New Covenant is actually the same, but it is just expressed in a different way. Instead of physical defilement, now there is soul defilement. What is defilement of the soul? First of all, if we are talking about the soul, we have to clarify that we are talking about the realm of our thoughts, desires and emotions. Soul defilement in the context of the New Covenant relates to thoughts, emotions and desires in us which are not pleasing to God –in essence, they can be described as thoughts, emotions and desires which produce death instead of life.

When Yeshua first announced a change in the focus from bodily defilements to soul defilements, it was considered radical:

Yeshua called the crowd to Him and said, “Listen and understand. A man is not defiled by what enters his mouth, but by what comes out of it.”…

Matthew 15:10

When the Pharisees heard this, they were shocked! And of course they were shocked: they knew that the Law taught that even touching an unclean animal would defile you, how much more defiling it would be to eat one. Yeshua clarified this further for those who were still open to hear about this groundbreaking shift:

 …the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. 20 These are what defile a man, but eating with unwashed hands does not defile him.

-Matthew 15:18-20

Soul Defilement in the New Covenant – a deeper level

In the framework of the Sinai Covenant, there was a physical Tabernacle (the Temple) and the Jewish believer would enter into it with his or her physical body. Therefore, they needed to be pure in the physical sense.

In the framework of the New Covenant, the Tabernacle of God is in the spirit of the redeemed believer and we enter into God’s presence with our souls. Therefore, New Covenant believers need purity in their souls in order to enter into the Tabernacle of God in the spirit. Why is that? Just as physical defilements limited the entry into the presence of God in the Holy Temple during the Sinai Covenant, so do soul defilements (evil thoughts, emotions and desires) limit our access to the Tabernacle of God’s presence in our spirits.

God calls us to purify ourselves from soul defilements because He wants us to be closer to Him, to enter deeper into His presence.

Purification – not an instant process

Of course, changing unhealthy ways of thinking, negative character traits or ungodly desires does not happen overnight. Our lives are essentially a journey the Lord takes us on, and the major point of that journey is internal change, i.e., the purification of our souls. God is drawing us on that process because He wants to take us to ever deeper and higher places in His Presence.

The Journey and the Process

Through life’s experiences, challenges and obstacles we face, God exposes or reveals our issues, unhealthy tendencies, emotions or ways of thinking. He then calls us to pay attention to them and to act in order to change and cleanse ourselves from them.

So how can we cleanse ourselves from soul defilements? It’s a process, but it’s not complicated. First, we must recognize the problem area (the defilement). Once we have recognized the problem, we must first desire to be purified from it—we have to want to change. Then we bring it before the Lord in prayer to ask Him to purify (change) us, because we cannot purify ourselves. Only God can do that work in our hearts.

  1. Desire to change.
  2. Seek the Lord’s grace and mercy each day to change
  3. God acts: He washes us with the water of the Holy Spirit (remember cleansing from defilement in the Sinai Covenant involved washing and sprinkling with special water).

Patience and Persistence

If I want to experience serious change within thoughts, desires and emotions, I can’t just pray one prayer and expect transformation. Just like being purified from bodily defilements in the Sinai covenant required a period of time, being purified from soul defilements in the New Covenant also takes time. Usually it is a process of weeks, months, and maybe even more than that, of bringing it before the Lord in prayer. But if I desire change, then I ask God sincerely in prayer to change me, and God acts.

There is nothing in us that God cannot change if we desire it and ask Him to change it!

A Lesson we can take from the Sinai Covenant to our New Covenant lives:

In the Sinai Covenant, there is also an element of being extremely careful and cautious about coming into contact with things that defile. In the same way, God wants us to exercise the same care and caution about the things that defile our souls. For example, listening to music or consuming entertainment with negative messages, listening to gossip or spending an abundance of time in the company of worldly people.

For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 17“Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”…

2 Corinthians 6:16-17

by Gil Afriat






Born of the Spirit…Baptized in the Spirit…the Indwelling of the Spirit…Filled with the Spirit…These are terms most of us are familiar with as believers. Whether we fully understand the differences between them and their function is another matter. I have personally had confusion about them. We recently celebratecd the Festival of Weeks (Shavuot), the biblical holiday during which the Lord poured out His Spirit on the believers who were gathered in Jerusalem as described in the first two chapters of Acts. In this season we feel that God is calling us to seek even more to be “clothed with power from on high” as Yeshua exhorted His followers in Luke 24:49. The kingdom of God is not of persuasive words but of power (I Cor. 4:20), and to bring in the final harvest, we need the power of Spirit just as much as those who were stewards of the First Fruits harvest two-thousand years ago! Therefore, understanding the role and ministry of the Holy Spirit is essential.


Born of the Spirit  – A New Creation – God’s Living Temple

Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born againno one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

John 3:3,5-6

Being “born again” has become a Christian catchword for a person who has accepted Yeshua as their savior. The concept comes from Yeshua’s discussion with the Pharisee Nicodemus in John 3 during which He explained that a man must be “born from above” or “born of the Spirit. When an individual accepts Yeshua’s atoning sacrifice for their sins and submits to Him as Lord, their own spirits are purified and reborn from above, and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the sanctified born-again spirit of the believer. This is the “new creation” that the Apostle Paul speaks about in 2 Corinthians 5:17. So what in us has become a new creation exactly? Our spirits.

“Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”

-Corinthians 3:16

Our physical bodies and souls have not yet been made a new creation, as Paul points out earlier in the chapter, stating that our mortal “bodies groan” to be clothed with immortality (2 Cor. 5:2-5). The “indwelling” of the Holy Spirit in our spirits is therefore the “seal of our salvation” (Eph. 1:13-14) and a “guarantee” for the day that death will be swallowed up by life when we are raised in glory to receive spiritual bodies (1Cor. 15:44).

Though we continue to struggle against sin in our souls and physical bodies, we do so with increasing victory, thanks to God’s grace and promise that rivers of living waters will flow from within us by the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39) which water the “dry land” of our souls and bodies, allowing us to produce the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). This is what Ezekiel prophesied!

And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

-Ezekiel 36:27

The Holy Spirit dwelling within us convicts, guides, teaches, helps, encourages, imparts revelation and understanding of God and His love for us, helps us in our weakness and empowers us in the struggles of the flesh. That is amazing! But God has another special Holy Spirit gift for us, one so important that He does not want us to try to do anything for His kingdom without it.

Baptism in the Spirit – Outpouring of the Spirit  

Before He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of His Father, Yeshua told the believers to wait in Jerusalem for the gift promised by the Father:

“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with  the Holy Spirit.”

-Acts 1:4-5

This “baptism” or “filling” by the Spirit was something different from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit they had received as born-again believers in Yeshua. This was something that they experienced with their souls and intellect in a direct way. When the Holy Spirit came upon them during Pentecost, they received supernatural power which manifested in their physical bodies (speaking in tongues) and their souls (receiving wisdom to witness with boldness and power):

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

-Acts 2:1-4

From that point on, the followers in Yeshua went forth proclaiming the gospel in power, signs and wonders. On the first day of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Peter proclaimed the gospel in the Temple and “3,000 were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:41). After that, the numbers continued to grow. Thus began the harvest of souls—and how fitting that God commissioned it on the biblical holiday of First Fruits!


Not a One-time Thing

Many have a powerful experience when they are first baptized in the Holy Spirit, like with my wife: when she was a college student there was a call in her congregation to come forward for prayer to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, something she had determined she would absolutely not do. But she felt like someone pushed her out of the chair, and before she knew it, she was up front receiving prayer. Her experience was powerful and she was surrounded with a strong feeling of God’s presence that stayed with her for days on end. For me and others I know, it was a much less dramatic experience, something that came during personal prayer when I was asking for the baptism in the Spirit. However, the baptism or filling with the Spirit is not a one-time event. How do we know that? Yeshua exhorts us to ask, seek and knock in order to receive more of the Holy Spirit:

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened…If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

-Luke 11:9-10, 13

The Apostle Paul tells us to pursue love and desire more of the gifts of the Spirit, particularly those that bless and encourage others:

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.

-1 Corinthians 14:1-4

The Holy Spirit is an incredible gift that God wants to give us. Can you imagine letting someone know that you have prepared a precious and wonderful gift for them, but they never ask for it? Even worse, they don’t even want it? The gift of the Spirit fills us empowers us to witness to others, fills us with the goodness of God, draws us closer to Him, and leads us to glorify Him (Eph. 5:18-19). We cannot worship God without the Spirit.

Once only for the few, now for everyone who believes

During the Old Testament period, the Holy Spirit would “fall” on or “fill” certain individuals, as was the case with the Old Testament prophets. During the time of Yeshua’s birth and life there were prophets, like Anna and Simon on whom the Holy Spirit rested (Luke 2:25), and Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, was “filled” by the Holy Spirit when she saw Mary the mother of Yeshua and prophesied. However, that all changed with Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell on all the believers in Jerusalem, just as the prophet Joel foretold when he wrote that God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh, not just a select few.

This year as we celebrated Shavuot (Pentecost) at Tiferet Yeshua, we feel God encouraging us to ask for more us His Spirit, more of the gifts, because the harvest is great and He wants to send us out “clothed with power from above” just like the first century believers who stewarded the greatest revival in history!

Nothing leavened may be found among you, nor shall leaven be found anywhere within your borders.

Exodus 13:7

Passover cleaning – most Jewish mothers start thinking about it with dread a couple months before Passover. On top of getting rid of all leaven products in the home, it means washing out kitchen cupboards and drawers, scrubbing down the refrigerator and the freezer, and vacuuming under furniture and between sofa cushions. Passover cleaning is a thorough process which we manage to turn into arduous one!

The Bible, however, does not command us to do “Passover cleaning” in the way that we do it today. Exodus 12:19 simply says that there should be no leaven found in our houses for the seven days of Passover. It doesn’t say to search out every last crumb in the furthest corner of your house. God commanded the children of Israel to eat only unleavened bread during Passover as a remembrance because it is, as Deuteronomy 16:3 says, the bread of affliction they ate when they fled Egypt in haste. God commands us to remember in many places in the Bible because all of us humans so easily forget what God has done in our own lives, let alone in the lives of our forefathers.

Biblical Holidays – a spiritual meaning beyond the literal

As New Covenant Jewish believers, we know that beyond the literal meaning of the biblical holidays in the Hebrew Bible, there are also symbolic, prophetic meanings for all of us today which the New Testament makes clear to us. Passover, the seven-day feast God commands the children of Israel to observe as a remembrance of their exodus from Egypt, pointed to the ultimate Passover which would happen many years later when God provided His perfect Passover lamb so that we all may be set free from bondage to sin. In that symbolic context, many elements of the Passover feast take on new and deeper spiritual meanings. One of those elements is leaven.


The gospels tell of Yeshua’s warning His disciples of the “leaven” of the Pharisees. At the time, they were confused about His use of the term “leaven” in a symbolic sense because they were still in the “literal” mindset, and He had to explain it to them. By warning of the Pharisees’ leaven, Yeshua was warning them of falling into a particular sin they excelled at—hypocrisy. Later, when Yeshua took the unleavened bread on the night of the Passover before His crucifixion, He made another powerful correlation to leaven, or the lack thereof:

And He took bread (unleavened matza), gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

-Luke 22:19

What a powerful image of Yeshua’s sinless (free from leaven) life, pierced and broken for us! The unleavened bread of affliction now symbolized the great affliction that He would endure on our behalf. Later on, the Apostle Paul would give us even more clarity about the spiritual meaning of leaven and what it symbolizes in our lives:

Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

-1 Corinthians 5:6-9

Clean out that leaven!

God’s original command to the children of Israel to remove all the leaven from their homes turns into a command for all of us to remove the sin in our lives. Passover, along with the holy Day of Atonement, are biblically appointed times that direct our hearts towards repentance. Even though our spirits have been born again, a purified new creation, and filled with the Holy Spirit thanks to Yeshua’s atoning sacrifice for sin, we must still live lives of repentance because we are still at war with sin in our souls and physical bodies—with increasing victory thanks to God’s abundant grace!

The New Testament is filled with countless warnings and exhortations to beware of allowing ourselves to fall into sinful behavior, to repent when we do and to continue fighting the good fight.  Another way to think of fighting the good fight is Passover cleaning!

B’deekat Chametz – Checking for Leaven

On the night before Passover when all the cleaning and removing of leaven has been completed in orthodox Jewish families, the father takes a candle and a feather to search for leaven in the house, looking in all the nooks and crannies where it might have been missed and using the feather to sweep out any remaining crumbs he finds. The following morning, the family gathers together and the father burns whatever leaven he found in his search together with the rest of the leaven that was removed from the house.

The Father’s Candle and Feather

While the strenuous religious lifestyle of the orthodox is burdensome with constant attention to rigorous rules and regulations, we can possibly learn something from their ardent attention to searching out leaven in our lives if our motivation is love for God. Some feel burdened by the idea of repentance, and some may avoid it altogether due to feelings of shame from the enemy or because they have been wrongly taught that there is no need to repent after accepting Yeshua as Lord. Whatever the reason, God is gently calling each of us to seek out the leaven in our lives.

Now imagine God the Father as the Father of your household: invite Him to come with His candle to help you find the leaven with the gentlest of tools—a feather. He is the only one you should let in to join your search because He is motived only by love, and He is the only one with the authority to burn the leaven—completely removing it from your life!

Wishing you all a meaningful holiday season, filled with the blessings and wonder of God’s amazing love for us!

by Gil Afriat

“Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, the time came for the king’s command and his decree to be executed. On the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them.”

-Esther 9:1

The central narrative of Purim is summed up in a Hebrew phrase from the book of Esther – v’nahafoch hu – “and the opposite occured” or “it was turned upside down”.  The Purim principle of V’Nahafoch Hu highlights the dramatic reversals in the story: what Israel’s enemy planned for destruction was suddenly turned into their own destrction and Israel’s salvation.

The theme of the “dramatic reversals” in the story of Esther begins with Haman and Mordechai the Jew – Haman desired praise and the king’s favor, but he was forced by the king to give it publicly to Mordechai, the Jew he despised. Haman then concocted a plan to get Mordechai sentenced to death for his faithfulness to worship only the God of Israel and had a large gallows constructed for that purpose, where, ultimately, he was hanged instead of Mordechai.

The Purim story of dramatic reversals prophetically points to the most dramatic reversal in all history. But, before we get into that, understanding the roots of the conflict will show us how deep they are and how determined God is to remove them.

The Roots of the Struggle – Mordechai and Haman

First let’s look at what the Bible says about Mordechai. Ester 2:5 describes him as “…a Jewish man from the tribe of Benjamin…son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish.” The fact that Mordechai is described as the son of Kish should make us think of another biblical character: Saul, the son of Kish:

“Now there was a Benjamite, a powerful man, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. And he had a son named Saul, choice and handsome, without equal among the Israelites—a head taller than any of the people.…”

1 Sam 9:1-2

The Bible shows us that Mordechai is from the family of King Saul, either descended from the same forefather or perhaps even a direct descendant.

Now let’s look at the personal identification that the book of Esther gives of the villain, Haman. Ester 3:1 describes him as the “… son of Hammedatha, the Agagite.”  This title given to Haman points us to another place in the Bible where we get more information about his background:

“Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. He captured Agag king of Amalek alive, but devoted all the others to destruction with the sword.…”

1 Samuel 15:7-8

Here we discover that Haman is a descendant of Agag king of Amalek. Saul, from whose family Mordechai is descended, and Agag king of Amakek had serious issues with each other. The prophet Samuel had sent King Saul into battle against the Amalekites, because, as 1 Samuel 15:1-3 describes, the time had come to destroy Amalek, the ancient enemy of the children of Israel.

Who is Amalek?

The Amalekites were the first nation to attack the children of Israel in the desert after their exodus from Egypt. Unprovoked, the Amalekites ruthlessly attacked the weak and the weary Israelites who were at the back of the procession. Ultimately, the children of Israel defeated Amalek in battle, but God commanded Moses to record their treacherous attack for posterity.

Israel had many enemies – so why was God so adamant about wiping out Amalek specifically? As a people, the Amalekites had most likely become completely corrupted by darkness, and for that they received God’s judgment to be wiped out entirely. In Exodus 17:16, God promised to wage war against Amalek in every generation and ultimately to wipe out the memory of Amalek from the earth. Clearly, God did not mean he would be fighting the Amalekites throughout the generations, because they no longer exist as a people. However, God uses Amalek to represent Israel’s spiritual arch-enemy: Satan.  The struggle against “Amalek”, in the symbolic sense, is the ultimate battle for the hearts of mankind: God created us with a free will to choose between good and evil, to choose the ways of God or of Satan, i.e., Amalek. When God told Saul that he rejected him as king, it was because he had kept the Amalekite king Agag alive – essentially, Saul had compromised with Israel’s most deadly spiritual enemy – Satan.

Israel’s Battle against Amalek and a Picture of the Cross

A day before Israel’s battle against Amalek, Moses said to Joshua: “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” The next day, when Moses stood on a hill overlooking the battle and raised his staff over his head, with Aaron and Hur holding up his arms on either side, Joshua and the Israelites succeed in overcoming Amalek. The image of Moses holding his staff over his head, shows us a very literal picture of the cross. The figure of Joshua, (Hebrew Yehoshua) who is the leader of Israel’s armies fighting Amalek, is also a picture of Yeshua, Commander of the amies of Heaven.


A Hand upon the throne of the LORD—Yad al kes Yah

Exodus 17:16 makes an interesting and somewhat puzzling statement, one that is translated in multiple ways.

“And Moses built an altar and named it The LORD Is My Banner. He said, ‘A hand upon the throne of the LORD. The LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.’”

Exodus 17:15-16

The most literal translation of the words is: “A hand upon the throne of the LORD.” While translators of the Bible have given this phrase different meanings, I see this verse as speaking of the future Messiah who would wage the ultimate war against Amalek for the hearts of mankind. Yeshua the Messiah is described as Yemin Adonai – the right hand of God. We know that the Messiah sits at the right hand of the Father’s throne –the Messiah is the Hand upon the throne of the LORD.


The battle against Amalek in the book of Esther and the Grand Reversal

Saul’s compromise with Amalek, essentially with sin, fell to his descendant, Mordechai, about six hundred years later. Mordechai was not a king with an army to fight Amalek: though just a lowly Jewish subject to the Persian king, he was humble, faithful and uncompromising. Mordechai’s battle begins when he refuses to bow to Haman:

All the royal servants at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, because the king had commanded that this be done for him. But Mordecai would not bow down or pay homage.

-Esther 3:2

This enraged Haman so much that he came up with a scheme to destroy Mordechai and his people, building a grand gallows especially for Mordechai. Eventually, Haman is hanged on his own gallows. Haman is publicly humiliated and Mordechai is praised. The king could not nullify His own decree to kill the Jews that Haman had legislated, but he decreed a new law that gave “the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies.” (Esther 8:11)

Purim’s dramatic reversal foreshadows the most dramatic reversal in history

The most dramatic reversal in history is accomplished by Yeshua on the cross: from seeming defeat by the forces of darkness with His death on the cross and descent into Sheol, Yeshua reversed it in His resurrection, overcoming death and the powers of darkness:

I was dead, and behold, now I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of Death and of Hades.

Rev. 1:18

Yeshua’s earthly ministry began after he was tempted as a man and refused to bow down and pay homage to Satan. Mordechai refused to bow down and pay homage to Haman. There was a death sentence and a gallows waiting for Mordechai. Satan thought he overcame Yeshua by seeing Him crucified on the cross. But it was not Yeshua who was ultimately put to death there on the cross: sin, Satan’s power, was put to death on the cross.

…having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

-Colossian 2:14-15

Haman had to make a public spectacle of himself by leading his hated enemy, Mordechai, through the streets on the king’s horse, wearing the king’s robe and proclaiming, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’” (Es. 6:9). After Haman is hanged on the gallows he had prepared for Mordechai, Mordechai rises to become the king’s chief advisor. After Satan is defeated on the cross that he thought would defeat Yeshua, Yeshua rises to be above all power and principality and sits to the right hand of the throne of God the Father. That is the most dramatic reversal in all human history. The story of Esther and the “dramatic reversals” in it encourage us and point to the ultimate reversal that the Messiah would bring about on the cross.

Though we are saved – the battle continues!

In the Spirit, the “Nahafoch hu” was completed for us when our spirits were born again, made holy, and we are seated in heavenly places with Yeshua above every power and principality of darkness. But in the realm of our souls and our bodies, the situation is different – there we are still engaged in a process to battle against our spiritual enemy to attain that “great reversal” in ourselves, another way of describing the process of sacntification and victory over the enemy.  Just like the Jews in Esther were empowered and backed up by the king to “destroy, kill and annihilate” their enemies, we have been empowered by the High King of heaven to battle our ancient enemy in our hearts and minds unto victory!

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

by Gil Afriat

Growing up in Israel in the seventies and eighties, Christmas was a far-off Christian holiday that I had no idea about other than the images of the beautiful lights, Christmas trees and decorations we saw in pictures and movies from America and Europe. Today, many Israelis visit Arab Christian villages and neighborhoods during the Christmas season to enjoy the lights and the Christmas cheer. But, for the most part, no one would know it is Christmas in Israel on December 25th—it’s just like any other day.

Experiencing Christmas for the First Time

In my early twenties, after I came to faith in Yeshua, my wife and I moved to the United States. It was then that I had my first taste of this Christmas holiday that I as a Jew had never personally seen or celebrated. I have to say that the beautiful lights and decorations, the holiday parties and get-togethers made that dark and cold time of the year truly joyful and beautiful —which is saying a lot for me as an Israeli who loves sunshine and has a hard time with the cold. It was special being together with fellow believers during Christmas church services worshiping the “King of Israel”, and the words of many Christmas songs celebrating the birth of the Jewish Messiah in my homeland, Israel, touched me deeply.

Little Baby Jesus

Of course, beyond the secular consumerism and materialism that infiltrates much of the Christmas season in the US—there was one thing about the holiday that felt a little strange to me: the widespread Christmas focus on Yeshua as a baby. I was already a believer, but I had not spent time thinking of Him as a baby. Other than His birth, the New Testament offers no information about Yeshua’s infancy or childhood before his 12th year. However, as I thought more about this “baby Jesus” focus during Christmas, I realized that Isaiah the prophet spoke of the child Messiah and described Him in terms that we rarely, if at all, hear during Christmas. The terms Isaiah uses to describe this special Child are a majestic description of His mighty and awesome character and calling.

What Child is This?

Isaiah 9:6 describes the Child who will carry the government on His shoulders: God’s juxtaposing the smallness and weakness of a human child with the weight of this mighty calling on His shoulders highlights the incomprehensible plan of salvation in such an astounding way.

Next come the heavy titles this Child carries: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God , Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  If we focus on each title, it reveals who Yeshua is, His calling and identity. Usually knowledge of Hebrew does not give any “hands up” in understanding the Bible—the Spirit of God ensured that there are accurate and true translations in every language. There are times, however, where nuances in the Hebrew open up different levels of meaning and connections which are otherwise lost in translation.

Pele Yoetz (Wonderful Counselor) – if we allow Yeshua to be our personal counselor, He will do wonders in our lives! “Pele” is the Hebrew word for “wonder”, and Messiah’s name as “Wonderful” recalls a scene in the Torah where the “Man God” in the form of the Angel of YHVH describes Himself to the father of Samson in Judges 13:18, saying: “My name is wonderful (pelee)”.

El Geebor (Mighty God) – this title makes absolutely clear that the Messiah who is born a human child is the Mighty God himself!

Avi Ad (Everlasting Father, or…?) – this title can be a little confusing because Yeshua is God the Son, but He is not God the Father. So, what does this mean? Here, understanding the Hebrew can be helpful; looking at the Hebrew grammar, “Avi Ad’ can just as easily be translated as “Father of Eternity” which makes much more sense: it is only through Yeshua that we have eternal life. He is the Father of our eternal life.

Sar Shalom (Prince of Peace) – this Child is the bringer of peace: first in our hearts in this age, and, in the Messianic age, He will be the one who brings global peace—a great task indeed!


To all of those who are celebrating the birth of our Messiah this Christmas season, I pray that the deep and awesome revelation of the Child who is Mighty God fills yours hearts with wonder and light!