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Julie Ferwerda Christian Blog and Commentary

OYB March 16

  • Julie Ferwerda
    Are you ready for change in 2009? Grab a One Year Bible (NLT), commit to reading it daily, and join Julie Ferwerda on an extraordinary adventure that will transform your life as you experience its relevance in a fresh, understandable way. In addition to 20+ years in Bible teaching ministry, Julie is a professional speaker and writer. Her works have appeared in publications such as Focus on the Family, Discipleship Journal, Christianity Today, Marriage Partnership, Brio, and Revolve Biblezines & Devotional Bible (for teens). She's also the author of "The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love," and also the upcoming book, "One Million Arrows for God: Raising Your Children to Change the World." Learn more at www.JulieFerwerda.com.
  • 2009 Mar 16
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Today's One Year Bible Reading

Who is Balaam (World Encyclopedia )?

In rabbinical tradition, Balaam is seen both as a true prophet of God for the Gentiles and as a heathen sorcerer who ranks among the most evil men in history. Modern scholarship accounts the mixed biblical portrait of Balaam by explaining that the Book of Numbers preserves stories about him from two separate sources, one of which views him positively, while the other sees him as evil. Contained within the legend of Balaam are prophetic poems considered to be more ancient than most other biblical literature. While he remains an enigmatic figure, Balaam is certainly one of the most intriguing characters in the Bible.

When Balaam saw that he could not curse the children of Israel, he advised Balak to tempt the Hebrew nation to immoral acts and, through these, to the worship the Baal of Peor. Thus, Balaam is held responsible for the Israelites' behavior during the "heresy of Peor," indirectly causing the death of 24,000 victims of the plague which God sent as punishment (San. 106a). The first century C.E. Jewish historian Josephus speaks of Balaam as the best prophet of his time, but adds that he had a weakness in resisting temptation.

In Rev. 2:14 we read of false teachers at Pergamum who adhered to the "teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication."

Balaam also figures as an example of a false teacher in both 2 Peter 2:15 and in Jude 1:11. In both of these verses, Balaam is cited as an example of a false prophet motivated by greed or avarice. These references hearken to King Balak's attempt to pay Balaam to curse his enemies (Israel). The implication is that, although God intervenes and makes Balaam deliver blessings instead of curses, Balaam was normally a prophet for hire, specializing in curses. The verses in 2 Peter and Jude are warnings to the early Christians to beware of prophets who ask for money.

Significant times in April...

Birchat Hachammah: "Blessing of the Sun" refers to a Jewish blessing that is recited on the Sun once every twenty-eight years. According to the Babylonian Talmud, the Sun makes a 28-year cycle to return to the position that it was in when the Universe was first created.

According to Jewish tradition, the Sun was created on the fourth day of the week of Creation. The 28 year cycle therefore begins and ends at the point in time when the Sun was created, this being sundown on Tuesday. The Sun only returns to this exact position at sundown on a Tuesday once every 28 years.

A solar year is 365.25 days long and the "Blessing of the Sun", being said at the beginning of this cycle, is therefore recited every 10,227 (28 X 365.25) days. The next time that it will be recited will be on April 8, 2009 (14 Nisan 5769). The Sun, moon, and planets will be back in the same positions and same order as they appeared at creation. This is their order at creation, on the fourth day of the week.

The text of the blessing itself is as follows: "Blessed are You, LORD, our God, King of the Universe who makes the works of Creation."

What is so significant in 2009?

From the Jewish Press in 2008: On April 8, 2009, we will recite Birkas haChama, the Blessing on the Sun. Our rabbis have instituted this prayer to be said every twenty-eight years when the sun returns to the exact position it occupied relative to the earth at the moment of original Creation.

Occasionally, a few times throughout history, Birkas haChama has fallen on the 14th of Nissan, the day of Passover. One of those times was directly before Yetzias Mitzraim, the Exodus from Egypt. Another time was directly before the original miracle of Purim (when Esther delivered her people from annihilation).

The next time will be ... next year.

According to the Kadosh Elyon, the Ostrovster Admor, this will be the very last time in history that Birkas haChama can fall on the day before Passover and that, "shortly afterward, the Redemption must come."

That's right - the cosmic event that preceded the two greatest Salvations in the history of the world will take place again next year.

From other sources:

"Birchat HaChamah represents the power of renewal, and therefore, of redemption. Thus, in 5769 (2009), on [Passover], the very night that we are doing our bedikat chametz (searching for leaven), we will experience a double portion of the power of renewal, and during the eighth year of a [Sabbatical] cycle that has its own power of redemption built in."

"Also Avraham Moskowitz, in his book Tehilim Cards (Book of Psalms Cards), refers to the coming Messianic times in relation to Adam (the first being on earth), King David, and our times today. If you take the name ADAM, numerologically it stands for Aleph, Dalet, Mem (A,D,M). Adam, David, and Messiah. King David lived 2,884 years after the creation of the world and Adam; we are now in the year 5768 (Jewish calendar). If you multiple 2,884 by 2, you get 5768. This Year!"

End notes for this entry:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birkat_HaHammah

http://dreamingofmoshiach.blogspot.com/2007_07_01_archive.html

http://www.fivedoves.com/letters/feb2009/texl223.htm

http://www.betemunah.org/hachama.html

Find out even more interesting end times possible connections to this special event.