Blessed With New Blessings to Come

My apologies for not posting. I have good news: my health is improving, bless the Lord! It has been 9 years coming so I am rejoicing that constant migraine pain has ended.

The not brilliant, but OK… news is that this means I have a long period of withdrawal from heavy painkillers to endure which will take a long time – it’s going well, I am reducing, but it’s knocking me sideways. I will be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, this blog and our Wix web site has masses and masses of content to keep you meditating on God’s Word.

The Lord bless and keep you all in His abundant love and provision.

Welcome to the King David Project

fblogodaviydMy name is Cate Russell-Cole and I am a Christian an author, and a social worker. As a person with serious life-long health problems, I have drawn a great deal of strength and encouragement from David’s story. Being part Jewish, I also feel a special connection with him.

As my health has gotten to the point where I can no longer work full-time, I have invested my energy into researching David from a cultural, Scriptural and psychological viewpoint. My findings are contained in this project, which is free for anyone to use and re-use.

For more information, please explore the blog. There is a search facility you can use in the sidebar, or you can visit the project’s web site to browse all the article titles. Those links will lead you to Faithwriters, where they are available free for any use. The Masada Rain blog acts as a Faithwriters content back up and holds additional video and short pieces of information which don’t fit on Faithwriters, and aren’t suitable for a book format. It slowly releases all the content which is on Faithwriters.

Because of my health, comments are not always switched on. Please accept my apologies. I’m not being anti-social, I often find blogging and social media too much to deal with when in pain. You can contact me via the Project’s Facebook page, or my Phoenix Project Blog which has a contact form on the About page.

May the Lord bless you as You continue to seek Him.
Cate Russell-Cole
combomagendovid2

Why Christians Still Need the Laws Set Down Through Moses ~ Simchat Torah 2019

Simchat Torah, or Shemini Atzeret, marks the conclusion and then renewal of the Jewish annual Torah reading cycle. It is welcomed with great celebration and is one of the highlights of the Jewish calendar. This article has been scheduled for this day, to celebrate the blessing the Torah brings to us all. Read more here.

MosesFangirl“Show me the right path, O LORD;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by Your truth and teach me,
for You are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in You.” Psalm 25:4-5

With the exception of the ten commandments, we tend to see most of the laws God gave through Moses as irrelevant, as we are justified by grace. I have needed to study the Torah (the first five books of the Bible,) to understand David’s actions and mindset; to my surprise, I have found that they make me feel more secure. I don’t need the Old Testament for just the feel-good Scriptures about how much God loves me, and what He wants to give me, I need the hazard warnings too. They are making how I relate to the world easier.

Western society in 2015, even for Christians, is very permissive. We live under the pressures of anti-discrimination and tolerance philosophies, and most of the time, they are excellent attitudes which do serve society well. However, as we were warned when political correctness began to become a societal standard, our willingness to include and accept everyone as they are, has indeed subtly eroded our understanding of what is sinful.

It’s become harder and harder to know where the lines should be drawn. I know what is wrong and right, but the part of my brain which has been taught by society to be empathetic, worries too much about offending, when instead, it should be identifying where the Word of God stands, and being brave enough to publicly say, “no.”

When the Lord bought Israel out of slavery in Egypt, He was dealing with a nation who had lost their sense of right and wrong. They were Hebrews living as Egyptians, in the same way that we are Christians, living as westerners. They took on the local foods, manner of dress, customs, social standards and culture, just as we have… and they had to be delivered from it. Not only that, but when you look at the masses of rules set down, they also had to be re-taught how to live as God’s people, with Godly attitudes and proper morals.

The Lord taught the ‘young’ Israelites everything they needed to know, right down to how to handle disease, how to avoid the risks of food poisoning and parasites in food, acceptable moral standards etc. They are  sometimes referred to as the ‘children of Israel,’ as they were the same as small children, who need to be bought up to know what was safe, and what was not. The young Isra’el also underwent hard training regarding the consequences of their actions, and had to learn obedience in small steps. Even then, they failed, as their sinful natures took over.

Even when Israel had grown into a mighty nation, and to this day, for our protection, we still need a loving Father to say, “no!” When the world starts to overwhelm our Godly mindsets, we must go back to the Word to be set on the right path again. The Torah is as relevant now in 2015, as it ever has been, and David relied on it heavily, to determine how to rule God’s people.

“Your regulations remain true to this day,
for everything serves Your plans.
If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy,
I would have died in my misery.”  Psalm 119:91-92  (This Psalm is thought to belong to David, because the wording matches his style.)

For many controversial moral situations, the Torah has a simple answer, which often is an outright no, for reasons which are best known to the Lord. Like the ten commandments, some rules were made for all time periods, and hot topics such as the sexual morality (not purification) laws are included in that. [Ref. Leviticus 18] I don’t have to know and understand absolutely every reason why God has forbidden some things, in order to decide what stand I should take on those issues.
“The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” Psalm 32:8-9

10438365_sWhere areas appear grey or discriminatory, I have to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing. Just because I don’t understand every factor behind why the Lord made any moral or ethical decision, should not make it questionable, or open to being changed and compromised by current ideas.

I don’t understand how quarks work or behave, but I trust God that He made physics to perform perfectly, and that the building blocks of the universe work to His design. So why have we stopped trusting His moral wisdom, when the rest of His plan for creation works so well? We’re fine with the natural systems and don’t question His wisdom there. (Except maybe for mosquitoes, fleas and snakes, but they do have their place. So I am reliably told.)

As pressure and stress bear down on me,
I find joy in Your commands.
Your laws are always right;
help me to understand them so I may live.” Psalm 119:143-144

Standards on stealing, murder, lies, social responsibility and fairness have also stayed the same. Even though we are made right with God through grace, the baselines of our faith have not changed. [See also Romans 1:8 to 2:16.] As Paul discusses the issue of sin in Romans 3, he quotes parts of Psalms 14, 5, 10 and 36, This demonstrates the New Testament relevance of the principles found in the Torah.

We need to go back to the Torah more, and allow the Lord to take Egypt out of us.

“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9


kdpcpyrght

Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. While some images are made by me, Creative Commons or Public Domain, many are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.If you need to check the origin of an image, please use the free service at Tineye.com

Is Sukkot the Time of the Real Birthday of Jesus?

sukkot titleThis may be a controversial topic for some, especially if you don’t appreciate December 25’s history as a mashup of various pagan rituals and beliefs. I find the whole topic interesting, and it doesn’t affect my love of Christmas and how I relate it to Scripture. Any time the Lord is given public focus of any kind or duration, that is a blessing for putting forward the word of God.

The Lord is patient with us. Whenever we reach out to Him and worship, say thank you or focus on His provision and goodness, He reaches back to us with love. There is no shade and no condemnation.

Sukkot is a weeklong Jewish holiday that comes five days after Yom Kippur (The day of Atonement).” It is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles and Feast of Booths. “It is an agricultural festival that originally was considered a thanksgiving for the fruit harvest. Sukkot are hut-like structures that the Jews lived in during the 40 years of travel through the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt. As a temporary dwelling, the sukkah also represents the fact that all existence is fragile, and therefore Sukkot is a time to appreciate the shelter of our homes and our bodies.”

During this week it is still traditional to live in a tent for the week, a reminder of what the children of Isra’el had to endure as they wandered through the desert between Egypt and the Promised Land. Tents or Booths are set up inside or on balconies, if the residents live in an apartment, or in an outdoor setting and are decorated with branches. It’s a fun celebration.

Read the full post the second quote comes from. The first quote comes from Chabad.org. The page wouldn’t open, however that part was visible in Google.

 

Isaiah 9: Hope in the Messiah

Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.
The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest
and like warriors dividing the plunder.
For you will break the yoke of their slavery
and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
You will break the oppressor’s rod,
just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
The boots of the warrior
and the uniforms bloodstained by war
will all be burned.
They will be fuel for the fire.
For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!


copyright image

All copyright and ownership of the text and logo images for any quoted websites belong to them. However, while some images are made by me, Creative Commons or Public Domain, many are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you. If you need to check the origin of an image, please use the free service at Tineye.com

Tu B’av: Is This Ancient Valentine’s Day Still Relevant?

heart tree growingAccording to the web site Aish: “On the 15th of the summer month of Av, under a full moon, young Jewish men and women dressed in white would go out and dance in the vineyards of ancient Judea.
That is practically all we know about this most ancient of holidays.”

While Valentine’s Day is popular worldwide, every summer in Isra’el, this day attracts attention and some Rabbis want to see it become as integral part of the culture as the other holidays, removing the commercialised Valentines Day from the locus of attention.

The Jewish references for this mini holiday come from the Talmud, however there is a Scriptural base to back it up. Elon Gilad writes in the Haaretz Newspaper: “the holiday was an annual celebration of the day the prohibition was lifted on intermarriage among the 12 tribes, which is described in the story of the Daughters of Zelophehad, Numbers 36. Intermarriage among the ancient Israelite tribes was forbidden: “This is the thing which the LORD doth command concerning the daughters of Zelophehad…only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry: So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe.”
Read the full article: here.

Women dancing in a vineyard

Women dancing in a vineyard in Kibbutz Ein HaShofet in 1944, celebrating the harvest, as has been done for thousands of years. Source: Ein Hashofet archive

“Tu B’Av marks the Summer Equinox, the point of which the days start getting shorter and the dry season nears its end. According to Bar Acha, Rabbi Yissa said that Tu B’Av was the last day to chop down firewood for the Temple. This tradition – of celebrating the end of the wood-cutting season with song and dance – was still being observed by Syrian peasants in some towns in Syria in the 20th century.

If this is in fact the case, it seems that Tu B’Av predates Judaism itself, preserving an ancient form of sun worship, possibly coupled with an agricultural holiday celebrating the grape harvest that coincides with the Summer Equinox. We have no direct evidence for this ancient celebration.”


Sources:

Related Articles from My Jewish Learning:

heart imagePlease note that I do not follow Jewish cultural practices and am slowly learning about them. I may or may not disagree with the facts presented in these articles, and am not aware of how widespread this version of the beliefs are, so if you have an issue with this topic, I am not the person to attack and flammable comments will be deleted. Let’s show each other courtesy and patience. We are all learning life’s lessons one step at a time and each is entitled to their own view based on what the Lord / Hashem has placed in their spirit (not the inclinations of their flesh.)
Thank you!


copyright image

All copyright and ownership of the text and logo images for the quoted websites belong to them. However, while some images are made by me, Creative Commons or Public Domain, many are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you. If you need to check the origin of an image, please use the free service at Tineye.com

The Longest Lived Legacy: The Love of a Father

imageA kiss, a word of thanks, away
They’re gone, and you forsaken learn
The blessedness of giving; they
(So Nature bids) forget, nor turn
To where you sit, and watch, and yearn.

And you (so Nature bids) would go
Through fire and water for their sake;
Rise early, late take rest, to sow
Their wealth, and lie all night awake
If but their little finger ache.

The storied prince with wondrous hair
Which stole men’s hearts and wrought his bale,
Rebelling, since he had no heir,
Built him a pillar in the vale,
–Absalom’s–lest his name should fail.

It fails not, though the pillar lies
In dust, because the outraged one,
His father, with strong agonies
Cried it until the day was done–
‘O Absalom, my son, my son!’

So Nature bade; or might it be
God, who in Jewry once (they say)
Cried with a great cry, ‘Come to me,
Children,’ who still held on their way,
Though He spread out His hands all day?

 

This public domain poem was written by Charles Henry Beeching, a British clergyman who died in 1919. As this Sunday is Father’s Day in Australia, I was looking for something that spoke of the power of the love of a father. This poem is rather dark, but it makes a point I hadn’t considered, and thought was worth sharing. The art works are also public domain. The name of the artist features just above this note is Albert Weisgerber.

King David as a Romantic Figure – Disempowering the Word of God

Hemingway's_writing_desk_in_Key_WestThe Old Testament is a tough book to study. There are details missing, we don’t always understand the culture and it’s hard to get the hang of what its all about. So sometimes it’s easier to turn to movies or books which explain the story in a way we relate to. One option is to read novels, and I have read a few on David which have concerned me. As both a fiction writer and a student of David’s life, I would like to share how novels can negatively influence our understanding of the Word of God.

We’re not specifically told in the Bible that novelising the Word of God is wrong, but it creates practical problems by the power of suggestion. When we read fiction, as we become engrossed in the story which is presented to us, it gets harder to identify what facts are real, and which are embellished. Studies have now shown that memories are altered each time we recall them and that adds to the problem. If we remember what we’ve learned about King David as we read a novel about him, those memories of what the Scriptures actually say can easily be changed by the text we’re been exposed to, and we may not realise it.

When an author works on a historical novel, they have to deal with masses of details being missing and unobtainable. To counter that problem, they devise character traits, motivations, scenes and most of the aspects needed to turn what, in David’s case, is a summary of selected facts, into a story which flows. This is where the main danger comes in. When you assign emotions, thoughts and motivations to someone, you can unintentionally, completely misrepresent them. If, like David, their story comes from the Old Testament, you are also grappling with a radically different moral and cultural mindset, which is extremely hard for a Westerner to understand, (even with extensive research.) This hampers the work, and can easily result in an incorrect analysis of why and how David acted, which can then affect the benefit his life gives us through the Bible, as we’re less willing to listen to his words.

I have seen book and movie authors try and make David a combined romantic figure and power crazed villain as they simply don’t understand his culture. We expect people in the Old Testament to think like us, hold exactly the same values and live much the same way. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One series of books I read quoted the Psalms and make King David a God-fearing good guy, then added fictional circumstances and motivations to known facts, to create scenarios to move her storyline and it’s themes along. While the work is sold as fiction and should only be taken as such, the problem is that her own thoughts and biases against polygamy, plus her misunderstanding of the laws handed down through Moses, dominated her storyline and in the end, David came out looking evil in a manner which contradicts Scripture. (Please see my article on polygamy.)

“For David had done what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and had obeyed the Lord’s commands throughout his life, except in the affair concerning Uriah the Hittite.” 1 Kings 15:5 David wasn’t an angel and if he had been, few could relate to him. However, to villainise someone because issues such as polygamy, the role of an ancient Israeli King and the status of women aren’t well understood by our Western culture, isn’t to do the Word of God justice. David’s actions appeared as sin or made no sense. It extended to more than David. His wives were all treated as powerless victims, as life in David’s time was approached from a modern viewpoint, which has no relevance on a culture which existed nearly three thousand years ago. There were masses of negative comments online which reflected my own feelings about this author, and I approached the Publisher, defending God’s Word. Sadly, they did not want to listen.

1280px-Buchblätter_001For me, reading this series illustrated the pitfalls of embellishing a partial storyline, and thankfully, has made me very cautious about what I read, and especially, what I write, regardless of whether it’s fiction or not. Incidents such as David’s sin with Bathsheba are there to teach us the consequences of our actions. They are not meant to be romanticised and to do so, is to disrespect the intention the Word of God has in telling us about Bathsheba.

The book of Revelation gives a stern warning that anyone who adds to that book will be punished. Perhaps that should make us pause and consider how we handle all of God’s Word? “And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.” Revelation 22:19 In Deuteronomy 4:2, Moses tells Isra’el: “Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you.”

The Word is the inspired truth, written by many authors, but compiled as God the Father has determined it should be. There are historical writings and Psalms that were never included in our Scriptures. Why not? They are not writings that the Lord wishes to include. We need to be careful about what we do. Paul tells us that teachers of the Word are subject to more severe judgement as they can lead so many astray. [Ref. James 3:1] If you novelise, whether it is intentional or not, you are teaching, as you are planting ideas in people’s heads. Caution has to be taken.

If you are going to read a novel based on the Bible or watch a movie, please approach it with your Bible open beside you, and take the time to ask the Lord if He wants you to read it (and wait for an answer.) I love novels, I love movies which make the Word of God come alive, but I don’t want to approach Bible study with an attitude which may shut out what the Lord wants to teach me.

29200701_mr3x3xrrr

Additional Helpful Reading


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you. The images in this post are CC4.0 from Wikimedia Commons.

Tishah B’av: Fast for the Destruction of the Temples

One of the gates of the city of Jerusalem, pock marked by mortar shells.

One of the gates of the city of Jerusalem, pock marked by mortar shells.

Tishah B’av is a day of communal mourning for Isra’el as it commemorates the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem, and may also include other events which have left the Jewish nation scarred. Tishah appears to have multiple spellings, depending on where you look. I have found three.

During the day, the book of Lamentations is read, accompanied by a traditional song only used on this day. “Traditional Jews do not eat meat, cut their hair, or wash their clothes unless they are to be worn again during the nine days. All these actions are considered signs of joy or luxury inappropriate for this time of mourning. Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative Jews adopt a varied range of these practices.” Source link. They are also encouraged to visit cemeteries to heighten the mourning.

“The meal ending the fast traditionally omits meat and wine, in acknowledgment of the fact that the burning of the Temple continued until the next day. Finally, the sorrow that began on the 17th of Tammuz comes to a halt and the Shabbat immediately following Tishah B’Av is called Shabbat Nahamu (Shabbat of comfort) because the Haftarah begins with the words “nahamu nahamu ami” (“comfort, comfort my people”). This begins a period of consolation and comfort leading up to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.” For more information, please read the page these quotes come from. The dating and practices around Tishah B’Av get complex. (Page link.)

Other related articles:

copyright image

All copyright and ownership of the text and logo images for the quoted websites belong to them. However, while some images are made by me, Creative Commons or Public Domain, many are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you. If you need to check the origin of an image, please use the free service at Tineye.com