Praying alone with our Father and talking to him from our heart can do nothing but strengthen our walk with him. In the daily hustle and bustle of life we need time alone with HaShem. What better method of attaching ourselves to God is there than the one that Yeshua has shown us in his life of prayer?
Israel was, at least from a theological perspective, still in exile. Israel was still suffering the consequences of covenant failure. But all this was now about to change. The shame and humiliation of exile was over.
As the summer month of Tammuz begins, we look to the fruit trees expecting an ample harvest. Yeshua instructed us to see the growth of new fig branches as a prophetic sign of apocalyptic events, but this seems like a strange comparison. Insights from Ezekiel and first-century Hebrew provide a new interpretation of Yeshua’s parable.
When we shrug our shoulders and say “Jesus is just weird,” it keeps us from asking any more questions. And if we don’t ask, we won’t get answers. If we don’t dig any deeper, we miss the chance to learn something. If we don’t dig down and find out why Jesus refers to himself as “the Son of Man” it becomes a barrier.
The concept that all Pharisees are evil is so ingrained that people often completely ignore or dismiss passages that present Pharisees in a positive light. The Gospels provide both positive and negative depictions of Pharisees. They also assume a cultural setting that esteemed Pharisees, and this fact should mitigate and contextualize the criticisms leveled against them.
Unsavory caricatures of the Pharisees leave people confused about what Yeshua might have meant when he instructed his followers to follow Pharisaic teaching. Was he being sarcastic? Rather than employing a convoluted hermeneutic to resolve this puzzle, it is more straightforward and consistent with history to accept that Yeshua upheld a theory of life and practice that aligned with Pharisaic norms.