The first and the head of the year

Today is Rosh HaShanah, Jewish New Year.

Because my current employer (close to London) is made up of a lot of Jewish staff.   I have two days off, yay!

I was looking at some interesting similarities in Hebrew.

Rosh is Hebrew for head.
רֹאשׁ

Rishon is Hebrew for first.
ראשון

In Hebrew text, they look more similar than they do written phonetically in English.

There is a city in Israel called “First of Zion” as you can see here.

Also, days of the week in the English speaking words use various pagan god names, ie: Thor is in Thursday, etc.  Hebrew simply uses “first days” or Yom Rishon for Sunday.  Please note, I don’t get all uppity about the religious meaning of holidays like Christmas or Jewish holidays, this gets my goat, and I avoid those sorts of people that do!

Switching to another ancient language, Jesus said he would be the first and the last.

Revelation 22 : 12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

I’m hoping that 5779 will be a year that more Jewish people will move to the land of Israel, but more importantly that more Jewish people in Israel and around the world will find their Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) as their Lord and Saviour.    Chag Semeach.

 

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A few words of faith in Christ can be the best witness

People of faith including believers in Jesus can make trying to explain what they believe overly complex.

Before I did ministry work in Israel (2009-2013) I worked for Israel hi-tech company in 2007 as a contractor. One day after work I was reading an article in an IT magazine called “elevator pitch” – what do you do if you get into the lift with the MD of your company and what do you say to him, so I pondered on this. This was a great company to work for with some very smart people producing products for banks and financial institutions around the world, whereas I was just doing simple work of helpdesk and preparing PCs and laptops ready for the engineers.

Well whaddya know – a week after I read this article I got into a lift, with the big boss, I am going to call him G, he is a secular Israeli businessman.

Me: Morning G hows you sir, business going well?
G: Yes our business just produced its best sales figures this year, half a billion dollars.
Me: Erm, ah that’s nice
<door open after approx 15 seconds in lift>

In 2017 I was traveling to different schools to fix their computers. One school which was a really nice place to be but with kids with challenging behaviour, I got quite chatty with one of the teachers I’ll call “A” who was just curious why I go to church, and why I have visited places like Israel and Turkey.   I like A.  He’s about 40ish like me, has a real passion for young people, fun to be around, yet firm.   Him and his wife like to travel during the school summer holidays.   When he asked me why I visited those places, I just said I’m curious about the places of the bible and the events that happened there as a Christian.

I only visited this site every two weeks as to be honest, their IT systems were modern and ran like clockwork and issues were minor.   Whilst replacing a cracked LCD screen in a laptop which had been dropped,

A month later I saw A again, after just asking how he was over the Easter (2017) holidays, he told me him and his wife were going to a church and an Alpha course, as he felt his life had gone the wrong direction and wanted to get back into a life with Christ, after only going to church a few time when he was very young.

I praise God how in my secular job I get opportunities to see people find the Lord in different unexpected ways.

China trip – 28. Roof top strongholds

Since I visited China in 2017, recent news about the persecution of Christians in China is disturbing.   First, crosses were ordered to be removed from churches, and now entire churches have been destroyed by the government.

https://www.charismanews.com/politics/72518-chinese-christians-there-is-no-freedom-at-all

Where this greatly saddens me, for Christians like churches are defined as the body of people rather than the building, so I hope followers of Jesus in this part of the world can quickly find another location to meet and continue to worship their saviour.   This shouldn’t be a surprise to Bible-believing Christians of any nation, seeing as the scriptures would predict this kind of trouble would happen.

Something I noticed about decorations of roofs of buildings;

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I’ve not properly researched this, but every single ancient building in China and modern buildings used for government or religious use has ornamental statues on the corners of the roofs here.

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The awkward moment when you realise a famous leader has a similar receding hairline to my own!

DSCF9468 1024This is also true of when I saw of some sort of strange Islamic temple on top of an office building.

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Catholic Church in Shanghai

I believe that flags, motifs and other things can be used for good and bad, and historically churches have a cross on the roof to be seen from far away, and to give glory to Christ.   It’s also natural to assume that other religious systems have a need to proudly proclaim their own importance as well.

27. Unusual street food in China

29.

The rapid obsolescence of Islam in some communities like Iran

The other day I was working late for several days in a row, so decided to get a takeout on the way home.

This is a street near my house which is a mostly Islamic community, there is a mosque which looks like a normal building with a big Crayola attached to it.

I went to an Iranian restaurant which is another 200 yards down the road and got a chicken kebab with rice.   On the way out, I picked up this magazine.

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There’s actually an English/Hebrew magazine for Israelis in London given away free in Jewish businesses here in London.    Similarly, there is a free magazine for Iranians in Farsi.

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Not Arabic, but Farsi, similar looking curly right to left script

The interesting this about this magazine.   There is absolutely no mention of Islam whatsoever.   There is mostly ads and no editorial content.  I used to work a free ad magazine back in 2000/2001 and magazines can do well to sell businesses to a specific audience, and there are ads from Farsi speaking Iranians selling restaurants, money changers, legal services and car rentals amongst other products here to the Iranian community in London.

Articles like this:-
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/11776241/Friday-prayers-in-the-Islamic-Republic-of-Iran-but-where-are-the-worshippers.html
Despite the harsh regime of the Ayatollahs show that the attendance of mosques and Muslims holidays in Iran have dropped dramatically and that Iranian people in Iran and living in Europe have absolutely no interest in Islam.    The incredible thing is for a Christian lover of Israel, is that Iran has the largest number of people with a Muslim background coming to Christ in the world.

That’s right – the God of Israel wants to save the Jewish people’s enemies by loving them and showing them mercy through his son Jesus.

When I traveled to Turkey in 2016, that nation is about 50/50 religious and secular, so much so its easy to buy beer or a pepperoni pizza, the new mosques being built in relatively secular Tarsus (birthplace of apostle Paul in Christianity)   Turkey is going in the wrong direction.

Let’s pray many more people from Muslim nations to leave Islam and secularism to find true satisfaction in Christ.

China trip – 27. Unusual street food in China

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Scorpions and other insects.   I’d love to know if non-locals ever buy these.

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Pigeons on sticks

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These men are Chinese Muslims selling their traditional bread, these come hot from the hole in the oven.

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Ok, this is more down to earth.   Standard Chinese fare.   Roast Duck, usually with the head still on.

These are sold everywhere.   Not just in street food places, but also sealed in bags in tourist shops.    Just like a Chinese restaurant in a western country, the meat is quite salty and the skin and flesh have this caramel kind of colour.     The sealed in bag jobs aren’t actually refrigerated and just available pre-cooked but at room temperature.   I’m guessing that these are treated just like beef jerky which you can casually buy in the US.

26. My visit Buddhist temple as an evangelical Christian

28. Roof top strongholds

Finding the Messiah in Hebrew dictionaries – 1.

I’ll carry on with more about my trip round China shortly.   My blog follows a sort of ‘Reader’s Digest’ pattern of stories that start and stop mainly on themes of my faith in Christ, travel in places of the bible and other countries that interest me.

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This week I was really blessed to get this set of 4 volume Hebrew dictionaries, these used to belong to a library, I know that the Hebrew language actually gets ‘updated’ with new words for modern things, these books are from 2000.   So I don’t know how out of date they have to be to be retired!

I’m not a biblical scholar.  I have no Jewish background in my family as far as I know.  I’m a Christian who did some volunteering in Jerusalem, and I learned some Hebrew out there.   Not very much, not enough to be much useful.   I can’t remember many words, but I can read and pronounce things (badly) probably about 75% accuracy.    This is sufficient for me to understand some of this book.

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This evening I quickly skimmed through looking a few words that interest me, the first being Yeshua or ( יֵשׁוּעַ ) which is the Hebrew word for Jesus, which comes from the root word for salvation in Hebrew.

But wait, theres something else that’s caught my eye, why does the page title show ישוע הבן which is translated to Yeshua Ha Ben / Jesus the son….

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The same four Hebrew letters can be found inside these other words referring to ‘salvation’

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Ok, this last phrase interests me.   I’m assuming this book is unlikely to be written by someone who knows Jesus/Yeshua, but I’m thinking this phrase “ceremony of redemption of the first son” is used in conventional Judaism.    This isn’t Gamatria or any clever random looking for words in words, its subtle clues of Jesus being the Messiah of Israel.

I’m pretty sure I’ll write a follow up to this with more words that interest me from this.

Update – I spoke to a couple of Messianic Jewish friends in UK – these words are used for money offered to Rabbis when doing a Bris (circumcision) of a new baby boy.    Sadly not seen in the context of the Jewish Messiah Jesus/Yeshua – yet… 🙂

New signage up for Jerusalem’s new US embassy.

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Today is a bank holiday in the UK, so probably more people are watching the news and folks are excited about the signs going up for the forthcoming new US embassy.   This is a good thing, this is a landmark event, as it shows the first of many nations (the US) is making Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and recognition of God’s holy city.

So years ago, when I lived and volunteered in Jerusalem, I saw another sign that excites me.   Its this one.

This is the East part of Jerusalem.   Many people, the Islamic world, and much of the western world which wants to appease the Islamic world think it would be a good idea to make this part of the city into the capital of a Palestine state.   Two issues with this.   Cutting a city in two for capitals of a couple of nations has and would never work.   Look at how that worked out in Berlin for instance.   The other significant issue is that bible believing Jews and Christians believe that Jerusalem should never be divided.    The scriptures warn of catastrophic consequences for any authority that tries to do this.

On the Google Street view, you can spin to the left and see the Mount of Olives or to the right and see the walls of Jerusalem’s old city.

This sign to me show “The last path”  as its the place where Messiah Jesus returns.

China trip – 26. My visit Buddhist temple as an evangelical Christian

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Why did I come here? 1. I was with two other men from my youth hostel 2. I wanted to see various historical sites, and 3. I visited this place as a Christian to try and get some understanding of what makes up Buddhism so I am in a better place to tell explain the gospel of Jesus with people from other faiths.  I’m not a liberal.

The tall vase thing on the right is there for people to throw coins up in the air and if it lands in the centre section that I think you get good luck.

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All faith systems prosletyze, usually through people visiting a religious building jsut for curiosity, and therefore information on that belief is available for visitors to take away.

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This wooden structure contains incense sticks which visitors are encouraged to burn.   So of course, foreigners and non-practising Buddhists take part in this, including two men I was visiting with.   I preferred to just observe what was going on.

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So the big rooms in the temple have these very large deity statues in them.   People offer fruit and flowers.   I’m not sure if people are discouraged when the offerings just rot when the people that oversee the site do the cleaning up every so often.

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The temple is a nice design with attractive wooden balcony all the way around it.

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This 7 tonne bell continues to ring for 3 minutes!

It was during my time here, one night I had this really dreadful dream.   Something demonic, a picture or face of a ‘thing’ that had a representation of death and torture.I am a Christian of 40 years old, I am still trying to get better at responding to prompting by the Holy Spirit, and it would seem that visiting this place was unwise on my part, and I think setting foot in a temple of a foreign god isn’t recommended for followers of Jesus.  Talking to friends back in the UK who are Chinese and missionaries to China have confirmed this.

This verse came to mind today.   Psalm 135 : 13 Your name, Lord, endures forever, your renown, Lord, through all generations. 14For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants. 15The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by human hands. 16They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. 17They have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. 18Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.

25. Chinese Dragons and the bible

27. Unusual street food in China

Israeli Messianic band Miqedem release album no.2

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Horaay! The new album from Messianic Jewish band MIQEDEM from Israel is out!!

If you are a Christian lover of Israel you will definitely like this, but if you want to try worship music with a slightly exotic middle east flavour you really should get their Volume II album.

The formula of this music is simple.   All lyrics are pure chunks of scripture from the Tanakh (what’s commonly known as the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament)  in the original Hebrew.

One of the members Jamie Hilsden was the worship leader of King of Kings Jerusalem which was my main church when I lived in Israel 2009-2013.

Ahavti is my favourite track on this one.

https://miqedem.bandcamp.com/ 

 

China trip – 25. Chinese Dragons and the bible

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Every building of significance, actually most hotels, and some restaurants and my hostel have these dragons either side of the doorway.   Seems the bigger the better.   All these dragons have one with one paw on a ball, and the other one has a paw on baby dragon turned upside down.   I’m still trying to figure out the meaning of this.

Being a language geek and also knowing that Dragons are mentioned in the bible I decided to look this word up using Google translator (using VPN app, as everything Google is banned in China) on my phone:-

דְרָקוֹן

This is the Hebrew word for Dragon, which is transliterated as “Drakon”

תַּנִּין

This word is from the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible, aka the Old Testament) which is pronounced “Tanin”  you can see the meaning of the Strongs link here.

δράκων

This is the Greek word for Dragon I just looked up that appears at various times in Revelation, this is also pronounced “Drakon” in Strong’s.

I listened to a recording of one of my favourite Christian teachers Derek Prince.   Derek liked Chinese art and had some hanging fabrics with Chinese dragons on them, and he reluctantly threw them out as the Lord prompted him to.   Revelation shows the dragon to be a representation of Satan.

I am not asking all my Christian readers to throw out all things with dragons or Chinese art, but I think its necessary if you are a follower of Christ to make sure you don’t have anything in your house that could be a representation of evil.   I think its important when you buy souvenirs that you are not promoting another deity in your house.   I’ve started to really like oriental art, a pastor friend in Israel had lots of interesting pictures brought back from China.   I’d ask and pray to the Lord of anything you are not sure about if it has a place in your home.  One example of this is people often have Buddha statues in the UK, as you can buy them from any garden centre!

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Dragons and other mythical creatures, also appear on the corners of these characteristically Chinese roofs on buildings everywhere I have seen in this country.

24. Staying healthy in China

26. My visit Buddhist temple as an evangelical Christian