Articles by D. Thomas Lancaster

D. Thomas Lancaster is Director of Education at First Fruits of Zion, the author of the Torah Club programs and several books and study programs. He is also the pastor of Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship in Hudson, WI.


The Story of Hanukkah

The eight-day festival of Hanukkah is celebrated in Jewish homes each year. The eight-branched candelabra (called a chanukkiah or Hanukkah menorah) is lit. Friends and family gather for festive meals of delicious potato pancakes and pastries. There are entertaining games for children, storytelling, songs, and prayers. Most of all, there is gladness, joy, and light.

11-minute read

Finding Your Soul Mate

The search for a soul mate sounds romantic, but how do you know if the person you are with is really your soul mate? Isn’t it possible that you missed your true soul mate or might still encounter him or her? What if you were married previously and are now on your second marriage?

5-minute read

Do You Remember the Sabbath?

Sabbath happens, whether we remember it or not. By choosing to forget the Sabbath or by electing not to keep the Sabbath, we do not in any way diminish the Sabbath; we only exclude ourselves from it. The banquet is still set out on the table whether or not we accept the invitation.

4-minute read

The Only Bad Thing in the Universe

The only thing in creation that God declared to be "not good" was man's loneliness. It's not good for man to be alone because a married man receives extra favor and grace from the LORD: "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD" (Proverbs 18:22).

5-minute read

Letting out Water

How much is that argument worth to you? Does winning the argument and convincing your spouse justify denying God’s providence, engaging in the works of the flesh, giving opportunity to the devil, grieving the Holy Spirit, and forfeiting the kingdom of heaven?

6-minute read

Better Than the World to Come

When we enter the World to Come we will be like the angels who behold the infinite light of God. We will be like the Messiah who beholds the glory of the Father. That’s why repentance and choosing to do right is something that only has real meaning now.

6-minute read

Glen Campbell and Messianic Judaism

The Campbell family conducted a private funeral for Glenn. The interment took place the day after his death in accordance with Jewish funerary custom. A Messianic Jewish rabbi conducted the rites and recited the Kaddish. Glen Campbell will be missed by his family, by his fans, and by the Messianic community.

5-minute read

Comforting Words

When something traumatic or emotionally painful happens to someone we care about, we try to comfort the person, offering words of consolation and sympathy. We try to point out the bright side, and we try to lift the person’s spirits by invoking future hopes. That’s what the Sabbath of Consolation tries to do for Israel.

4-minute read

A Time to Pray for the Redemption

The seventeenth of Tammuz begins a three-week period of mourning which culminate with the ninth of Av, the fast day that commemorates the destruction of the Temple. The Three Weeks should be a time of increased Torah study and giving of charity—in keeping with the verse, “Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by charity” (Isaiah 1:27).

4-minute read

Crowded Together in the "Upper Room"

Traditional interpretations typically denigrate the Temple and attempt to disassociate the believers from any association with it. That’s balderdash. The book of Acts shows us that the Temple was the geographical locus of the Yeshua-movement, and it portrays the first-century believers as a Temple-based sect of Jerusalem Judaism.

7-minute read

Miracles of the Six-Day War

Israel’s War for Independence had concluded with a ceasefire that had left Jerusalem divided in two. For nearly two decades afterward, Jews were not allowed to enter Jerusalem’s walls or pray inside the city. All that changed in June 1967, when God unleashed a miracle of biblical proportions in the form of the Six-Day War.

10-minute read

In Our Hands – A New Film about the Six-Day War

It’s been fifty years since the Six-Day War, the conflict that changed the face of the Middle East, liberated Jerusalem, and announced to the world that the God of Israel is alive and well. In celebration of the anniversary, Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) has prepared a dramatized documentary film.

3-minute read

Yom Ha’Atzma’ut

Today, sixty-nine years ago, a great miracle took place. After enduring thousands of years of foreign domination and exile which culminated in the cruel evil of genocide, God’s chosen people witnessed the sudden and miraculous fulfillment of ancient prophecies, hopes, and prayers: the rebirth of a sovereign Jewish state in the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

7-minute read

Shabbat HaGadol

Judaism considers the Festivals of Passover and Unleavened Bread as the prototype for the final redemption. The tradition of setting a place at the seder table for Elijah the prophet reflects the ardent belief that Messiah will bring redemption at Passover. As the anticipated herald of the Messiah, Elijah will need to be present as the festival begins.

5-minute read

Be Happy! It’s Purim!

Adar is the month of the happy holiday of Purim, the celebration of the miracle of the story of Esther. The Sages say that in the month of Adar, joy increases. As the days grow longer and warmer and we sense the approach of springtime, our hearts begin to rise.

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3-minute read

The Money Sabbath

By collecting the half-shekel one month in advance, the Sanhedrin ensured that the new flock of animals sacrificed from the beginning of the month of Nisan would be paid for with the new shekels. This system allowed everyone to have a share in the daily sacrifices.

4-minute read

The Old Rebbe: Yechiel Tzvi Lichtenstein

The great nineteenth-century Messianic Jewish luminary and scholar, Rabbi Yechiel Tzvi Lichtenstein, left this world and entered the world of truth on February 20, 1912. Today his words still inspire the Messianic Jewish movement, even if we sometimes conflate him with the other Rabbi Lichtenstein.

10-minute read

Conversation on Paul: An Interview with Mark D. Nanos

Every month, all our FFOZ Friends receive a special newsletter and an exclusive teaching of the month. The January newsletter recounts an exciting close to 2016 for the ministry, and the teaching of the month introduces our FFOZ Friends to Jewish scholar Mark D. Nanos, an expert in Pauline studies.

3-minute read

Are We Gods?

According to the teaching about Psalm 82, if the people of Israel had not sinned, they would have retained the status of “gods” and “sons of God.” How much more so should the one without sin deserve to assume those same titles?

6-minute read

The Incense Altar and the Menorah

Imagine, if you will, the interior of the Sanctuary. Your eyes are on the veil of the holy of holies and the altar in front of it. Rising from that altar is a cloud of incense that fills the air. In no time, the veil is concealed behind the fragrant cloud. As you look into the cloud, the only thing visible is the illumination of seven flames.

8-minute read

The Burma Road

Under the moonlit sky of May 30, 1948, three soldiers of the new Jewish state scouted the wadis and imposing slopes that climb up into the Judean hills southwest of Latrun. Following a footpath worn by centuries of shepherds, their jeep barely crawled up the steep side of a ravine; they had to get out and push it up the last few yards.

6-minute read

A Sanctuary in the Fourth Dimension

A sanctuary consists of defined holy space. In the days of Moses, as soon as a person set foot within the Tabernacle he had entered into holy space. Levitical guards watched over the boundaries and guarded the gates of the Sanctuary to prevent people from inadvertently profaning the holy space. Like the Tabernacle, specific defined limits demarcate the holiness of the Sabbath.

4-minute read

A Bible from Heaven

As they circled the settlement, she dropped a special parcel to the men who once served under her husband. The parcel contained her late husband’s Bible. The men of Ramot Naftali retrieved the parcel, opened it up, and recognized the Bible. It was the same Bible they had seen their late commander so often consult before leading them into battle.

9-minute read

The New Christian Zionism

McDermott, who is best known as a historian of theology, offers us a quick overview of the history of Christian Zionism, demonstrating that its roots are in the Bible, not a recent post-1948 innovation and not merely a product of modern dispensationalism.

7-minute read

Lucky Day for Messianic Judaism

Rosh Chodesh Kislev this year should be declared Messianic Judaism’s “Lucky Day.” Not only does it invoke the happy Festival of Hanukkah, this year it marks one hundred years since the death of Messianic Jewish pioneer, Chaim Yedidiah Pollak, aka, Theophilus Lucky (1854-1916).

7-minute read

The Rabbi and the Messiah

As we peer through the window at the Torah movement, it is useful to take a look back at some of those who walked the path of discipleship before us. Among these heroes is Rabbi Isaac Lichtenstein. Like the apostles, like the first century believers, he never turned his back on Torah or on the traditions of his people.

8-minute read

Between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur

On Shabbat Shuvah, the gates of prayer are still open. We still have time to repent. Until the verdict is sealed on Yom Kippur, we still have time to sway the heavenly court toward a good verdict, so we make extra efforts in prayer, charity, and repentance.

5-minute read

Is the Jewish Calendar Wrong?

Some teachers in the Hebrew Roots movement attempt to persuade people to abandon the Jewish reckoning of the biblical calendar and adopt an alternative calendar. They perceive their interpretation of the calendar and how to reckon the lunar year to be more biblically correct. But is it?

12-minute read

World Vision and Hamas

According to the allegations, funds designated for civilian projects, more than a million dollars a year, were "given in cash" to Hamas combat units. Shin Bet claims that money raised to support children allegedly injured by conflict with Israel was diverted to Hamas families by “fraudulently listing their children as wounded.”

6-minute read

The Yahrzeit of Paul Phillip Levertoff

Paul Phillip Levertoff, born Feivel Levertoff, was raised in an Chassidic home. His family was Sephardic and was a descendent of Rabbi Schneur Zalman. As a child he attended cheder (Hebrew primary school) and later the prominent Volozhin Yeshiva.

5-minute read

Anointing with Oil

In the days of the Bible, olive oil was a precious commodity. It was used for fueling lamps; it was used in cooking and even personal grooming. Olive oil had multiple uses, and anointing with olive oil had many different applications. Does anointing the sick with oil have an intrinsic, spiritual benefit?

7-minute read

Fire on the Mountain

Jewish tradition hails the Festival of Weeks as the anniversary of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. In Exodus 20:18 the Hebrew really says, “They saw the voices and the torches.” What does it mean, “the people saw voices”? How does one see a sound? How does one see a voice?

11-minute read

Messianic Mythology and Passover

In the Messianic Jewish movement, great truths are being restored to the body of Messiah. However, the same movement is also generating an inordinate amount of balderdash. Balderdash (בלדרדש) is an English word of unknown origin meaning “nonsensical, foolish talk.” Let's learn to separate fact from fiction. Let's not be fooled.

7-minute read

The Collapse of the Tomb of Jesus

The tomb of Jesus is on the verge of collapse, and the imminent danger has inspired rival sects of Christianity to set aside their differences at least long enough to do something about it. The hostility preventing the repairs seems to me like an apt metaphor for Christian conflict.

5-minute read

The Red Heifer in the Epistle of Barnabas

In Temple times, the special reading of Numbers 19 reminded those in attendance at the synagogue that they needed to prepare for Passover. They needed to undergo the ritual purification with the ashes of the red heifer prior to Passover. Otherwise they would not be ritually fit to eat the Passover sacrifice.

16-minute read

The Sabbath of the Cow

In Temple times, the special reading of Numbers 19 reminded those in attendance at the synagogue that they needed to prepare for Passover. They needed to undergo the ritual purification with the ashes of the red heifer prior to Passover. Otherwise they would not be ritually fit to eat the Passover sacrifice.

5-minute read

New Wineskins: Tell It to the Next Generation

Young people are becoming conspicuously absent in the Messianic Jewish movement. The Bible instructs us to teach the Torah to the next generation and to recount the works of the LORD from generation to generation. How can we insure that the revelation of Messianic Jewish teaching will survive us? This will be the theme at our 2016 National Shavuot Conference. Join us this year!

3-minute read

Place the Bible on the Land of the Bible

There are lots of ways to experience the land of Israel, but FFOZ’s historical-geography study tour is primarily about placing the stories and events of the Bible onto the land of Israel. It’s a tour for serious students and for everyone who loves the Bible.

7-minute read

When Adar Enters, Joy Increases

The month of Adar offers evidence that, no matter how bad things may seem to be, they are going to get better. The same God who transformed the month of Adar from a month of mourning into a month of joy will surely transform our sorrows into joys.

6-minute read

Youth Seminar: Decoding the Parables of Yeshua

This June (God willing), First Fruits of Zion will host a special three-day seminar for Messianic students ages 15-20 titled “Decoding the Parables of Yeshua.” First Fruits of Zion teachers will present a crash-course on ten parables with emphasis on learning how rabbinic parables function, their role in Jewish teaching, and the tools necessary for interpreting them.

4-minute read

Jesus Was Not A Rebel

The rebel image of Jesus that became popular with the 1960s baby-boom generation might be responsible for a lot of today’s instability in Christian lives and congregations. Drawing insights from Torah Club and the teachings of First Fruits of Zion, Pastor Rudoski demonstrates that the anarchist and anti-religious Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible.

6-minute read

The Ghosts of Auschwitz

In 1985 I visited the Jerusalem Holocaust museum, Yad V'Shem. It was my first indication that God had not disposed of his people. I had grown up with that closed-box worldview where only people who believed like me were actually God's people. What I saw at Yad V'Shem forced me to revisit my theology. It forced me to challenge the assumptions.

8-minute read

What I Did on My Winter Vacation: FFOZ Canada in January

“How was your vacation?” Every time I return from a teaching trip with First Fruits of Zion, someone from my home community will ask, “How was your vacation.” A teaching trip with First Fruits of Zion is always a great adventure, but it is never a vacation.

8-minute read

This Year in Jerusalem!

In 2016, First Fruits of Zion will be hosting two tours to Israel, and our annual Shavu’ot conference will be held at Beth Immanuel in Hudson, Wisconsin. Now is a good time to make a decision to join us. Get the dates on your calendar.

3-minute read

The End of Christian Zionism

As the new generation takes positions of leadership in the Evangelical Churches of America, Christian Zionism and support for Israel is vanishing. Today’s Millennial Christians who have already bought into the notion that blanket condemnation of the state of Israel is a moral obligation incumbent upon every thinking, ethical human being.

7-minute read

The Vatican’s New Perspective on the Jewish People

Two new theological statements, one from the Vatican and one from the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding & Dialogue (CJCUC), call for a theological “cease fire” to the interfaith conflict that has characterized the relationship between the church and the Jewish people for most of the last two thousand years.

5-minute read

Hanukkah and the Birth Pains of Messiah

At Hanukkah we celebrate the ultimate future defeat of the antichrist. Recent world events and phenomenon seem to suggest that the birth pains of Messiah are increasing in frequency and the signs point toward Armageddon. We should use Hanukkah as an opportunity renew our commitment to Yeshua as the day of his coming draws near.

7-minute read

Hanukkah and the Abomination of Desolation

Antiochus Epiphanes, the villain of the Hanukkah story, was the king of Syria and an early forerunner of the antichrist. He erected an idol in the Temple that the Prophet Daniel referred to as the “abomination of desolation.” Yeshua of Nazareth warned us to expect history to repeat itself.

7-minute read

The Sacred Light of Hanukkah

Jewish law prohibits using the light of a chanukiah for ordinary purposes such as lighting up a darkened room or light for reading. It might sound hyper-litigious, but the rule has a real basis in the meaning the Hanukkah menorah, its connection to the Temple, and the meaning of holiness.

7-minute read

Messianic Jewish Victim of San Bernadino Terrorism

One of the victims has been identified as Nicholas Thalasinos, a Messianic Jew. Thalasinos enjoyed arguing religion with his coworkers and, only two weeks before the shooting, he and Farook had engaged in a debate over Israel and the nature of Islam.

3-minute read

The Torah Club Smuggler

Chinese Christians have a lot to offer us and the future of Christianity, and we have a lot to offer them as they shape that future. Teaching resources from First Fruits of Zion could potentially help stabilize Chinese Christians in the Bible and keep them from repeating mistakes made by the church in the past.

7-minute read

Torah and Touring in the People’s Republic of China

First Fruits of Zion teachers Boaz Michael and Daniel Lancaster take a high speed train into the interior of China for a few days of extraordinary “sight-seeing” and contact with extended family members in the People’s Republic of China. In the process, they meet a few unexpected visitors and make new friends.

8-minute read

First Fruits Not First in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Christians are ready to learn about the Jewishness of their faith. FFOZ Teachers Boaz Michael and D. T. Lancaster visit Hong Kong to support the release of the Chinese edition of First Fruits of Zion resources, and in the process, they encounter the work of others laboring in the same field, some friendly, some not so much.

7-minute read

‘First Fruits’ in China

First Fruits of Zion teachers Boaz Michael and Daniel Lancaster visit Hong Kong to support the release of the Chinese edition of HaYesod and Holy Epistle to the Galatians. We are pleased to be working in close association with the Hong Kong representatives of Christian Mission to the Jews and HaDavar Yeshivah.

5-minute read

A Rabbi for the Whole Messianic Movement

Rabbi Isaac Lichtenstein, of most blessed memory, left this earth on Hoshana Rabbah, the year of 5669 (1908), during the happy season of Sukkot. Hoshana Rabbah is the seventh day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, the 21st day of Tishrei. His Yahrzeit this year will fall on Sunday, October 4.

5-minute read

Birth of Jesus at Sukkot

If John the Immerser was “the Elijah who is to come” (Matthew 11:14), is it not reasonable to assume that his birth took place at the “appointed time” of Passover? And if John the Immerser was born on Passover, then the Master should have been born six months later at the onset of the Festival of Sukkot.

15-minute read

Four Blood Moons and a Tetrad

The tetrad of four lunar eclipses (blood moons) falling on four biblical holy days has generated enormous amounts of excitement, speculation, and enthusiasm about the potential prophetic implications. Do the blood moons really indicate that the final redemption is close at hand, or is it all just hot air?

7-minute read

The King in Disguise

In Jewish tradition, the High Holidays of the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) are regarded as days of judgment. Rosh Hashanah, the civil New Year, is comparable to the end of the heavenly fiscal year, so the tradition arose that God reviews the books at the end of each year.

26-minute read

The Principle of Forgiveness

The principle of forgiveness at work in Yeshua's parable of the unmerciful servant operates on the biblical concept of “measure for measure.” With the same measure we use, it will be measured to us. Just as the indebted servant did not forgive the small debt of his fellow servant, the king refused to forgive his great debt.

8-minute read

Fall of the Temple

The rebels were slain and defeated everywhere they turned. A great number of them were weak and unarmed. They had their throats cut wherever they were caught. All around the altar lay dead bodies heaped one upon another. The ramp going up the altar ran with their blood. The dead bodies that were slain above slid down the ramp. (Josephus)

15-minute read

In the Shadow of the Almighty

In the Gospels, the Master tells His disciples that "some will not taste death" before seeing Him come in His glory. This is a problem. Assuredly, all twelve of the disciples tasted death, and the Master has not yet come in His glory. So what did Yeshua exactly mean?

14-minute read

The Mighty Wind and Tongues of Fire

Most Christians know the story of Pentecost in Acts chapter two: the mighty wind, the tongues of fire, Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) and the speaking in every language. Very few, however, are aware of the Torah background behind this event.

11-minute read

Elementary Principles

Elementary Principles is a book about the six principles of Hebrew 6:1-2 which the author of Hebrews refers to as “milk” and “the elementary doctrine of Messiah. The book takes the time to examine each of those six points of elementary doctrine.

6-minute read