Izzy here. So this is exciting - our friends at HaYovel are hosting an intensive six-week course at the HaYovel base in Missouri, from December 6th to January 14th! Watch their inspiring announcement video here and get email updates here.
Bradley is following Yeshua in a Hebrew way! Here's his story.
I was born into a religious Catholic family. I was an altar boy, I did the sacraments; I was a certifiable Roman. I learned the catechism, so while I knew of Jesus, I didn't know Him. I knew that He died, but I didn't know why He had to die. You see, I was taught what to believe, but not why. We were neither encouraged or discouraged from reading the Bible; we just didn't talk about it except for tidbits on Sundays.
However, we did know the holy days of obligation. We knew the Nicaen Creed. We knew the appropriate times to stand, to kneel, and the up-down-left-right pattern to make the sign of the cross. We kissed statues, we lit candles for the dead, we knelt before the blonde-haired white man on the crucifix.
I was definitely confused about God. I remember asking my Protestant friends "why did Jesus have to die?" but the answers they gave me didn't make any sense to me. "We put him on the cross", they said. "We did?" I replied. "Yes, because of our sins." "Couldn't he just forgive sins?" "No." "Why not?" "Well, because someone had to pay the penalty." "Why did Jesus have to pay the penalty?" "Well, because at the cross, God placed all of our sins on Him, so it's like He died in our place." As a Catholic teen, that sounded like Mongolian.
I still didn't understand why Jesus had to die, nor why God would create a son to do things He could just do. I knew I didn't want to go to Hell, so I tricked my mind into believing in God and Jesus, even without understanding.
When I was 15 I had a dream I'll never forget. I was walking through a kitchen-esque corridor. Before me were older grey-haired people dressed in white; they were opening cupboards searching for something, but all the cupboards were empty and bare. I walked past them onto a balcony outside, and began looking at a hilly skyline on a cloudy day. But the clouds assembled together, then shifted apart slightly to reveal a golden staircase. There were multitudes of people assembling on either side of the staircase. They looked triumphant, and they were chattering amongst each other happily.
I could see they were all from different cultures - they each wore a vibrant color. African women were bringing jars on their heads, and they were talking to European men who were tuning musical instruments. And then, on top of the staircase, appeared a brilliant blue light which I still can't describe adequately. I knew who it was though, and cried out "Jesus!" and flew off the balcony toward that light with an indescribable joy before I awoke (You see I almost made it, which turned out to be an omen for my youth).
You can imagine my surprise reading the Bible for the first time ever 2 years later -at age 17, seeing something similar to my dream inside it! Even before discovering that, I realized that what I was reading wasn't remotely close to what I'd experienced so far in life. So at age 18, I searched for "the right denomination" and eventually settled at a Charismatic church because they had physical "signs" and feelings. "Surely this is it," I thought. "They have the Spirit, which must mean it's OK, right?" But I couldn't shake what I had learned studying the Bible - the feast days and the Sabbath never changed.
That's when I went to a Messianic synagogue for the first time, while still attending the charismatic church. So on the one hand, I knew Messianics kept the real Sabbath and feasts, but on the other hand, I knew a group who stressed power and relationship, but with a kind of animosity to the Law. Looking back, I used the hypocrisy of the charismatic church and how Messianics seemed to resist the Spirit in certain ways as a scapegoat for a life of sinful pleasures.
About 7 years later I was in a place when I couldn't stand myself. I had to answer that nagging voice that kept telling me "this isn't truth, you're living a lie." So finally, I surrendered. In a U.S. Army barracks room (separation of church and state, right?)
I fell to my knees and told the Lord that I wanted Him back. I made a pile of anything I thought would be offensive to the Lord and just stomped on them - pouring out my liquor in the sink and slapping on a nicotine patch. Despite my new commitment, I still felt a tremendous sense of guilt. What if He wouldn't accept me? Would I be re-crucifying Christ?
About a week later I was reading Exodus 15 (and how Moses led Israel from Egypt) and was about to skip to Joshua 1 - because that's what I had always done. But God challenged me and said, "There are no contradictions in this book." So I read onward, and fell in love with Torah, seeing Yeshua throughout. The first time I read Leviticus 19:18 "you will love your neighbor as yourself" God spoke to me again. This time He said, "Brad, you cannot love your neighbor as yourself, because you do not love yourself. You have to let Me forgive you son- you have to let Me take the pain away."
That's the day that I understood the value of repentance, and His love and forgiveness in totality. Consequently, that was the first time I really understood why Yeshua had to die. He came to be THE NEIGHBOR, and demonstrated how to be "neighbors". That's the real reason why " you shall love YHVH with all your heart" and "you shall love your neighbor as yourself" are so similar - it's because Yeshua IS the original Neighbor! The Good Samaritan was parabled to the "neighbor" (in Luke 10:24-37) for a reason.
The "neighbor" had compassion for the robbed, paid the wages for healing first, and then said "I will come again." That's because Yeshua is the Neighbor who paid for us once, and will come for us again.
When I knew I had His forgiveness, that's when I let YHVH write His law on my heart, and that's when my life took off. Since then, God blessed me with a wife and two lovely children. He again speaks to my wife and I through dreams, but more than anything He teaches me His word, and who Yeshua is. I'm still a work in progress, but it's different every day. There isn't uncertainty or fear unlike before.
Part of that journey includes a hunger to know Him more and more. That's why I'm now studying Hebrew at Holy Language Institute.
I have learned that the original languages contain prose and insights that are easily missed in English, but Hebrew is the key to completely seeing what the Lord promised me years ago - "there is no contradictions in this book." I will be the first to admit that there are apparent contradictions in modern English translations, but I will also be the first to admit that the original languages - especially Hebrew - clear up the dissonance.
Hebrew also allows me to understand portions of Scripture that I never thought possible. For example, the Hebrew of "Not by might, nor by power, but My Spirit" underlines a military theme - certainly different when understood in context. Hebrew helps me to see the Word, so I may show myself approved in the day when God needs me to be a neighbor like Yeshua... which is every day!
Are you following Yeshua in a Hebrew way? If so, the Holy Language tribe would love to hear your story, and we would love to help you tell it! Here's how.
Hebrew Prayer with Yisrael Levitt this Sunday evening, watch here!
Modern Hebrew with Elihana Elia this Monday evening, watch here!
Biblical Hebrew with Rabbi Derek Leman this Thursday evening, watch here!
Live Shabbat services this Friday evening and Saturday morning, join us here!
Hats off to Zach Sullivan and Jaclyn James for this meme! Make your own Hebrew meme here or here and send it to email@example.com and we'll share yours too.
I'll leave you with this bit of good news. If you've enjoyed the stories and news lineup in these weekly emails, you have Chana to thank for that. She's the one who prepares those stories and puts the news lineup in the emails. And - don't ask me how she managed to do it - Chana managed to have her part of the email ready on Thursday, and have a baby, a little son named Darius, the day before that!
We love and appreciate our volunteers so much, and we're sure you do too. You can send your congratulations to Chana and her husband Hamani, and write a prayer for baby Darius, on our Facebook announcement here.
Shavua tov - have a good week!
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