Friday, February 7, 2020

Faith's Works

Therefore by the deeds of YHVH’s instructions no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the Word of Elohim, in the Torah, we come to the knowledge of sin that is, in our flesh.  But now the righteousness of Elohim apart from the Torah is revealed, being actually witnessed by the Torah and the Prophets… “(Romans 3:20-21 my modifications and emphasis).

How is YHVH’s righteousness revealed in the Torah and the Prophets?

The answer is, “I will write My Torah on your heart”.  If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, you ‘shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ [and] you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:9 emphasis added). Paul raises a very important question: “What shall we say then? Are the Commandments of Elohim sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the Commandments in the Torah. Therefore the Torah is holy, and the commandments holy and just and good…” (Rom. 7: 2).  

 “Then He [Yeshua] said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Torah of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’  And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures (Torah and Prophets)…”  (Luke 24:44-45).  Why is it so important for us today that Yeshua has (also) been opening our understanding of the Torah and the Prophets?  There are religious voices in our midst which claim that the Word of Elohim, “Yeshua”, in the ‘Old Testament’ have very little relevance compared to ‘New Testament’ writings.  If the word of Elohim is the same yesterday today and forever, how can such a distinction be made?  Their favorite ‘proof text’ is:  “For Messiah is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).  The Greek word used there for “end” is 5056 telos {tel'-os} – meaning, end, completion or purpose.

The anointing of the Spirit of Yeshua in the life of a believer is in itself the righteousness of the Law to its fullness, thus ‘end’ does not mean that the Law has been done away with, rather, that nothing more may be added to its fullness, completeness or purpose in Messiah.  The righteousness of Elohim is seen as the fruit of the Spirit. Now that we have received Yeshua as Lord and our life is embedded in the Spirit of the Son, we have His righteousness expressed in the works of faith.

The apostles often quote and instruct from the Torah and the Prophets, giving credence to these writings in their preaching and teaching of the gospel of the Kingdom and Yeshua the Messiah (see Acts 28:23).  “For what the instructions of Elohim could not do while humanity lives in the flesh and under the power of Sin, the Father did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of Torah might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit…” (Rom. 8:3-4 emphasis added).

 “But now the righteousness of Elohim apart from the Torah is revealed, being actually witnessed by the Torah and the Prophets…”  (Rom. 3:20-21), as we noted above. “Do we then make void the Torah of Elohim through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish it…‘‘ (Rom. 3:21) “For we delight in the Torah of Elohim according to the inward man… “(Rom. 7:22). “We thank our Heavenly Father, through Yeshua our Messiah and our Lord, we can serve the Torah of Elohim with our mind…” (Rom. 7:25). For when we are in Messiah, and He in us, He is the completeness and fullness of the Torah “for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4. My modifications in all of the above quotes). 

Therefore the evidence of faith is not justification only, but righteousness that is seen through the works of righteousness.  The works of the flesh are enumerated in Galatians 5:19-21. Immediately following this list comes the list of the works or fruit of the Spirit:  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Messiah have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25).  

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have the works of righteousness? Can faith save him?... “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14 ,26 emphasis and modifications added). 

In what way is faith dead?

Yeshua summed up the commandments that have been written on our hearts into: “Love YHVH with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself”.   This is the proof of righteousness that comes by faith in Messiah.  James challenges the believer who says he has “faith without works”.  In other words, he is asking for evidence in the behavior of the one who claims to have faith. If faith is truly present, then so would be the fruit of the Spirit or ‘works’ of the Spirit. “He who loves another has fulfilled the royal law” (James 2:8). “Owe no one anything except to love one another” (Romans 13:8). If there is no evidence of the righteousness that comes through faith, then as James states, “faith is dead” and if faith is dead, then one is fooling one’s self into believing that they have been justified through faith only.  A living faith sees and becomes an expression of that which is unseen.  Our life in Messiah is unseen until it is manifested through the obedience of faith to His Word. What is it about our life in Messiah that is seen? Would it not be “the works that YHVH prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”? (Eph. 2:10b). Yes, we are “His workmanship that have been created/prepared in the Messiah Yeshua for good works” (Eph. 2:10a).  

Thursday, January 16, 2020

A HEAVENLY LADDER


John 1:43-51:   The following day Yeshua wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me."… Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote -- Yeshua of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."  And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."  Yeshua saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!"  Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Yeshua answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you."  Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of Elohim! You are the King of Israel!"  Yeshua answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these."  And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of Elohim ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

At first glance, it must be admitted that this episode is quite unusual and enigmatic.  Yeshua, who had just ‘conscripted’ Philip, is now interacting with Nathanael. This is a moment when the Son of Elohim speaks into a man’s heart: “I saw you,” He says to him, thereby meeting a deep longing to be SEEN truly for who we are! Yeshua, in so doing, expresses His insight into Nathanael’s inner being. And much to the latter’s (probable) surprise, the Messiah says of him, “an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit”. Having been seen, in soul and physically, Nathanael responds by exclaiming: “Rabbi, You are the Son of Elohim! You are the King of Israel!” Thus “an Israelite indeed” recognizes that the King of Israel has just been revealed to Him. Certainly a touching scene! But Yeshua does not stop there, and continues to reveal Himself and His mission, culminating with: Hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of Elohim ascending and descending upon the Son of Man". The picture or illustration which Yeshua presents here leave no room for doubt as to who He is, tying Himself, as He does, to the very heavens and to Elohim’s messengers. But who or what else does Yeshua infer by this illustration?

The obvious answer is found in Genesis 28:10-15: Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran.  So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep.  Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of Elohim were ascending and descending on it.  And behold, YHVH stood above it and said: "I am YHVH the Elohim of Abraham your father and the Elohim of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your seed. Also your seed shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.  Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you".

The theme of Jacob’s “ladder dream” is YHVH’s repeated promises to three generations of men that, their descendants, of whom there will be many, will inherit the land, will spread in all directions and will bless the other peoples/nations of the world. Comparing Himself to the ladder, connecting heaven and earth, Yeshua is making a definitive statement of His identity and role. But it doesn’t end there. The picture of YHVH’s messengers which is being invoked by Yeshua, is the picture that Jacob saw, so as to become cognizant of the fact that YHVH’s promises are guaranteed and witnessed to by the heavenly host. So why is the One who has just been declared King of Israel by another Israelite, associates this promise with His ‘description’ of Himself? Is it because Yeshua is pointing to the fact that when He is truly perceived or seen as the one whom the Father has sent in order to tie or link heaven and earth, then the auspicious promises to Jacob (and his fathers) will finally materialize in their fullness? Is Yeshua saying that what has been a dream will morph, through His kingship over Israel, into a full blown reality?

With all this said, if Yeshua’s above-quoted statement is examined in light of two more encounters, which follow this one, it will become apparent that Yeshua was not only ‘upgrading’ Jacob’s dream, but that He will also add another dimension to its fulfillment. In the next two examples Yeshua will use, once more, illustrations from Israel’s past in order to point to Himself as a Giver of Life, and to the Spirit of Truth as the agent of action and fulfillment.

Thus, after the wedding at Cana, we see Yeshua meeting Nakdimon (Nicodemus), in which encounter He compares Himself to the brazen serpent that Moses lifted up in the desert thus thwarting the attack of the fiery snakes on the Children of Israel (in the wake of the latter’s complaints about their food supply. See Numbers 21:4-9). The “lifting up of the Son of Man”, likened to the lifting up of the bronze serpent, is an obvious reference to Yeshua’s coming death on the cross and to the resultant outcome to those who will believe in Him, who will not perish but will have eternal life (see John 3:15).

In the next instance Yeshua encounters a Samaritan woman at a well, where He points to Himself as to the source of “living water, springing up into eternal life” (John 4:14). Just as in the occasion with Nathanael, here too Yeshua appears to know the woman through and through (v. 18), and according to her own admittance “told her all that she ever did” (v. 29). But aside from this personal aspect of the encounter, when Yeshua makes reference to worshiping in the ‘holy sites’, notably bringing up Jerusalem, He declares categorically: “…the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father…  But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…” (John 4:21, 23).  

Historically not too long after these words were uttered Jerusalem was destroyed, and for many years worship therein was not possible. In saying these words Yeshua was not abolishing Jerusalem’s (future) role, but was emphasizing that worship rendered to the Father, whether in Jerusalem or elsewhere, was to be first and foremost IN Spirit and Truth. 

So how does this relate to our original text of the “ladder”, the heavenly one, or to the one in Jacob’s dream? Let us repeat once again the questions as to why the One who has been declared King of Israel by another Israelite, is associating the promise to Jacob at Bethel with His own ‘description’ of Himself. Is it because Yeshua is pointing out that when He is truly perceived or seen as the One whom the Father has sent in order to tie or link heaven and earth, the auspicious promises to Jacob (and his fathers) will finally materialize in their fullness? Is Yeshua saying that what has been a dream will morph, through His kingship over Israel, into a full blown reality? If the answer to these questions is a resounding YES, in light of what we have just cited, what else must be added?

We saw Yeshua ‘spiritualizing’ the brazen snake’s healing power as well as having ‘spiritualized’ worship beyond a physical locality, teaching us that the fulfillment of promises to the Patriarchs’ progeny also has to be ‘spiritualized’. Yeshua is not negating the literal fulfillments. Rather, He is elevating them to a higher place or status. The fulfillments and their recipients are to be, first and foremost, imbued by Spirit AND Truth. Upon being seen by their/our Redeemer (just as He saw the sufferings of the Hebrews, Exodus 2:25), an awakening has to take place such as Nathanael’s, who was transformed from total skepticism, to a softening of the heart which led him to recognize the Persona of Truth, a recognition which brought about submission. Likewise, without a radical heart transformation on the part of the would-be recipients, the fulfillment of the promises will be, at best, made up only of the grains of the dust mentioned by Elohim in the words that He spoke our forefathers…

Thursday, December 26, 2019

From a Rock to a City


In my testimony book, Return To The Land, I make mention of a dream that I had shortly after returning from my second trip to Israel in 1977.  In this dream I saw a very large black rock on a beach by the ocean.  Five successive waves that washed to shore, broke up the rock. As I pondered the dream I felt it had something to do with the House of Jacob. Years later”, as I was reading Isaiah 51:1-2 more was revealed regarding the “rock: "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek YHVH: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.  Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; when he was one I called him, then I blessed him and multiplied him". 
As novices in geology or mineralogy, when passing by large rock formations we miss what is actually contained or hidden in those stones.  Could that also be also true regarding the rock of Isaiah 51?  How many of us can see the twelve precious stones of the High Priest’s breastplate in that rock?  How is it that according to the scripture this rock signifies a righteousness that is worth pursuing? And how is “looking” at that rock connected to seeking YHVH? Moreover, these verses also indicate that the pursuer himself has been quarried out of that same rock. This rock of Abraham and Sarah has even more peculiar characteristics.  In Scripture Elohim’s identity is many times tied to Abraham (and to his son Isaac and grandson Jacob). Thus three of the gospels record YHVH’s words regarding this matter and quoted by Yeshua: “I am the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob”. Yeshua goes on to say: “Elohim is not the Elohim of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:32).  How is it, that at that point in history, the forefathers were described as still being alive, and can it be said, in the same way, that they are still alive today?
“Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude -- innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore” (Hebrews 11:12) were the words pronounced about Abraham, words that were also applicable to Sarah (v.11).  As far as reproduction of life, Abraham and Sarah were both dead, yet the Almighty Elohim and Creator brought forth life from them, defying death, in a manner of speaking. "I have made you [Abraham] a father of many nations, in the presence of Him whom he believed -- Elohim, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Romans 4:17). 
Abraham and Sarah’s son, Isaac, was called into life by the Spirit of YHVH and became the father of a chosen race of people.  But now, thus says YHVH, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine’” (Isaiah 43:1).  One cannot help but notice that throughout the Tanach over 200 verses mention: “My People”. At one stage in the history of “My People” YHVH called them “NOT My People”, but by the Covenant of Mercy He restored to them their identity, back to being “My people”.  
The stones quarried out of the rock of Abraham by YHVH who has also fashioned them, are “living stones". These stones are no ordinary stones; they are “precious stones”, although covered by clay (flesh) (see Lamentations 4:1-2).  As such they were hidden in sin and kept under law, yet in them lay dormant “the faith” of their father Abraham, so that when the time would come for that faith to be revealed (see Galatians 3:23). YHVH Himself, by His Mighty Right Arm, would purchase this treasure along with the ground where it was hidden (see Matthew 13:44). He would cleanse the stones by His blood, sculpture and polish them and make use of them for building the city that Abraham was waiting for:  “By faith he [Abraham] dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is Elohim” (Hebrews 11:9-10). 
YHVH, for His part, “laid a foundation stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation” (ref. Isaiah 28:16).  Following this act, it says about the stones that they are , “coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by Elohim and precious,  you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:4-5) (see also Ephesians 3:19-22).  Thus, as precious and redeemed living stones they can be built into YHVH’s temple-city.   This city is said to have no temple, because YHVH Elohim and Yeshua the Lamb are its temple (ref. Revelation 21:22), but as the Spirit of Elohim resides in each of the stones, the city itself becomes the temple. 
Now, as you look at the rock from which you were hewn, can you see the city?
“The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.  The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.  But I saw no temple in it, for YHVH Elohim Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of Elohim illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.  And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it” (Revelation 21:18-24). 

Friday, December 20, 2019

Readings When Lighting the Chanukah Candles


When Lighting the Chanukah Candles read each evening, as each candle is being lit:

When lighting the Shamash candle:  "And now YHVH says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him…Indeed He says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Nations, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'"(Isaiah 49:5-6). "Then Yeshua spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12) "In Me is life, and the life is the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it" (John 1:4-5).

 First Candle:  "But you/we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you/we may proclaim the praises of Him who called you/us out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but now the people of Elohim, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy" (1Peter 2:9-10).

Second Candle:  "For so YHVH has commanded us [body of Messiah]: 'I have set you as a light to the Nations, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth" (Acts 13:47) "to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to Elohim, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.' (Acts 26:18 a word commissioned to the Apostle Paul but by inference to all of us).

Third Candle:  "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you/we do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your/our hearts" (2Peter 1:19).

Fourth Candle:  "I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness"(John 12:46). "For you/we were once darkness, but now you/we are light in the Lord. [We should then] walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8).

Fifth Candle:  "No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lamp stand, that those who come in may see the light" (Luke 11:33). "He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him" (1John 2:10)."For if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Messiah Yeshua  His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1John 1:7).

Sixth Candle:  "If you/we extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your/our light shall dawn in the darkness, and your/our darkness shall be as the noonday…(Isaiah 58:10) "Therefore let your/our light so shine before men, that they may see your/our good works and glorify your/our Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

Seventh Candle:  "Then Yeshua said to them, "A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light" (John 12:35-36).

Eighth Candle:  "The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light" (Romans 13:12). "For you/we, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you/us as a thief.  You/we are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night, nor of darkness" (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5). "O house of Jacob, come and let us walk In the light of YHVH" (Isaiah 2:5). "For Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path"(Psalm 119:105). "Arise, shine; for your/our light has come! And the glory of YHVH is risen upon you/us" (Isaiah 60:1).


Thursday, December 5, 2019

A Sure Foundation

In 1st Corinthians 3:10-11 Paul makes the following statement: “According to the grace of YHVH which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.  For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Yeshua the Messiah”.  In other words, "the Living Word of Elohim" is the foundation laid by the first apostles and prophets of old. Let me insert a clarification here: The apostles and prophets of what is commonly called “the fivefold ministry” (Ephesians 4:11) are not the builders of the foundation, nor are they the ones that are to add to or take away from it.  They are called to build on the foundation that has already been constructed, that is on the “Rock”, and Scriptural foundation.  
“Therefore thus says YHVH Elohim, ‘behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes [in Him] will not act hastily” (Isaiah 28:16).  
The ‘prophets of old’, i.e. the Biblical prophets, and the first apostles were the ones to whom Paul was referring in Ephesians 2:20: “…having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Yeshua the Messiah Himself being the chief cornerstone”. As a result of their groundwork we have “come to Yeshua as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by YHVH and precious,  we also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to YHVH through Yeshua the Messiah” (1st  Peter 2:4-5).  Without the foundation which has been built by the prophets and the apostles, we, as living stones, cannot be set on a sure foundation.  The prophets’ foundation is the Word of Elohim in covenants and promises to our forefathers and to Israel as a whole, enumerating details of people, place and time (history past and future fulfillment).  The apostolic foundation bears witness to YHVH’s faithfulness in keeping and fulfilling those covenantal declarations and prophetic promises via the indwelling of the Spirit.   The Holy Spirit is the guarantee and the evidence of YHVH’s faithfulness:  “For all the promises of Elohim in Him are yes, and in Him amen, to the glory of YHVH through us.  Now He who establishes us with you in Messiah and has anointed us is Elohim, He has also sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 1:20-22).   
 “Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him that glory may dwell in our land.  Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed.  Truth shall spring out of the earth, [that is, from our innermost being], and righteousness shall look down from heaven” (Psalm 85:9-11).  Thus, it is in us that heaven and earth touch each other and kiss. 

Bond Servant

“And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness…” “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of Elohim, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life” (Romans 6:18; 22).
From these two verses one might raise the question: If we have been set free, how is it that we become servants or slaves?  Actually the definition of one who has been set free by their master or redeemed by another, but then decides to freely give himself back to his master or his redeemer is a “bond servant”.  In the following scriptures we see this term used by those who in their service were advancing the Kingdom of Elohim. 
Here is how some the greatest prophets and apostles and foundational builders of Elohim’s Kingdom thought of themselves and of their callings: “Paul and Timothy, bond servants of Yeshua the Messiah” (Philippians 1:1);James, a bond servant of Elohim and of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah” (James 1:1); Simon Peter, a bond servant and apostle of Yeshua the Messiah (2 Peter 1:1).  Not to mention our forefathers, along with Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Ezekiel etcetera, who all were servants of Elohim. 
Even our Messiah Yeshua became a bond servant of Elohim in order to qualify to be our Redeemer and Lord. Therefore “Let this mind be in you which was also in Messiah Yeshua… who made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5, 7-8).   If we have the mind of Messiah then our thinking should be the same, as well as our behavior.   Just because we have been set free from sin and are seated with Him in Heavenly places does not free us from being bond servants to righteousness AND to our King. 
If the following is an example of being a bondservant of an earthly master, how much more so does it illustrate our required service to our spiritual Master and King?  “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Messiah;  not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Messiah, doing the will of Elohim from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to Yeshua the Lord, and not to men,  knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether a slave or free” (Ephesians 6:5-8).  
Every day, regardless where we are, at home with family, at work with co-workers, colleagues or employees, or anywhere for that matter, we should be living out our calling as ‘bondservants’ of Yeshua our King.   Therefore, “Let as many bond servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of Elohim and His instructions [Torah] may not be blasphemed” (1 Timothy 6:1).  “For we do not preach ourselves, (nor live for ourselves) but Messiah Yeshua the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Yeshua’s sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Behind The Fig Leaf



This exploration venture is an investigation into what is “behind the fig leaf” and will be much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, in which each piece has four sides, mostly male or female shaped. Each such piece is also of multiple colors that have to match the piece next to it.  Synonyms in the English language can amplify, spice up, or lend hues of color to each part, but referencing the literal Hebrew and the roots of the words provides an even richer dimension to the picture formed when all the parts are connected. If you have worked with a Hebrew Lexicon you will know what I mean. 

The text that I want to highlight is Genesis 3:7, the one from which the title of this article is derived.  I will be using the following reference materials: Strong’s Concordance, Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon, Etymological Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew, and Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament and of course the Bible/scriptures.
    
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings” (Genesis 3:7 emphasis added).

Why did Adam and Eve use the fig leaf to cover their shame?  Obviously this “fig” is figurative, although some believe that they used the leaf (notice, the original states, “leaf” and not “leaves”) of the very tree whose forbidden fruit they tasted.  In other words, the fig tree represented, or may have even been, the very tree of knowledge of good and evil.  The meaning of the Hebrew word for fig makes it clear as to why YHVH would have told Adam not to eat the fruit of that particular tree, and why such a tree would be named as it was.

The Hebrew word “fig” is “te’ena”, spelled tav, alef, nun, hey (8384), with its root being alef, nun, hey (578). Several colorful meanings are seen in this root - mourn, mourning, lament, occasion, opportunity, ground for quarrel, pretext. A change of the final letter - from hey to chet (584) - makes it, sigh or groan. Change the hey to a yod (589) and it becomes “I” - individual self-identity; add to the first two letters (alef, nun) chet, nun and vav (587) and its meaning becomes “we”, a multiple of “I’s”.  Before their disobedience, man and woman were only conscious of the light of creation emanating from the tree of life (and thus devoid of self-consciousness) , but when their “eyes were opened” they became self-conscious (the ego rising as a little self-contained god - “I”. Indeed they did became their own gods, in fulfillment of the word of satan).
  
Let’s continue by adding more colors to the ‘piece’ we just viewed.  How about alef, nun, chaf (594), which is “plummet”, reminding us of the Fall. Or, alef, nun, nun (596) complain, murmur; alef, nun, samech (597) compel, constrain; alef, nun, kuf (602) cry, groan (as if wounded) or distress (as if in prison); alef, nun, shin (605) be weak, sick (or mortal 582).  As you can see, there is more to the meaning of this word – fig – and its surrounding terminologies than just a rendition of a harmless fruit.  It points to the fallen, contaminated, corrupted human condition.  These adjectives designating negative, unloving, harmful, hurtful and damaging characteristics are fitting descriptions of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and its effect on mankind.  Notice the meaning of the word for “evil” – rah - resh, ayin (7451) - distress, murmuring, unpleasant, calamity etc. This is what awaited man if he were to disobey YHVH’s voice, making it obvious why YHVH charged him not to eat of that tree.
    
Even more understanding, as to the fallen human condition, may be obtained by examining another piece of the puzzle found in the above quoted verse (3:7). The Hebrew word for “naked” - arum singular and arumim plural - is derived from the root ayin, resh, hey (6168): naked, nakedness, a desert waste; destitute, empty, pour out.  To add a little more color, ayin, resh, mem, hey (6191; 6195) is guile, wiliness, astuteness, craftiness, prudence, subtlety, wisdom. Is this in any way similar to the description of another creature that was in that tree, of whom it says that he was “more cunning/subtle – arum - than any of the beasts of the field”? (3:1). Is his 'wisdom' seen in us when we have ... bitter envy and self-seeking in our hearts...? This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic” (James 3:14-15 emphasis added).
 
Let’s continue and investigate the word for “coverings” (2290), which appears at the end of the above-quoted verse – chagorot, of the root chagar;  chet, gimel, resh - gird, gird on, gird oneself; hinder, restrain, closed in space. If we exchange the last consonant with an alef, we end up with chet, gimel, alef (2283) which means reeling; chet, gimel, hey - conceal, place of refuge, protection.

Thus it was actually a “girdle” or a “belt” that was the product of Adam and Eve’s making, not a covering (chaf, samech, hey, 3680), as the latter would not fit well the ‘section’ of the fig in our puzzle. “Stand therefore, having girded your waist (loins) with truth…” and “gird up the loins of your mind” (Eph. 6:14; 1 Peter 1:13) are actions designated to counter the ongoing condition of disseminating and proliferating lies, which begun the journey that humanity has been on ever since.

This fig leaf (with all of its direct meanings and derivations or connected terms) was sown (“taphar” tav, pey, resh, 8609) together collage or quilt style, and was attached by the humans to their bodies.  But as if that were not enough, we go on reading: “And they heard the sound of YHVH Elohim walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of YHVH Elohim among the trees of the garden” (v. 8). The literal rendering, however, is not "among the trees", but “in the midst of the tree”. What?  Yes, they actually hid themselves in the tree of knowledge of good and evil itself.   It is no wonder that YHVH asked, "where are you Adam?” as He could not look upon a tree that represented the kingdom of darkness. “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness”, was declared by the prophet Habakkuk (1:13a).

The Garden of Delight has now become in Adam and Eve's languishing hearts an “empty desert waste”, even before they were expelled from it.