Friday, October 16, 2020

A Lesson Learned

 

This past week I had one of the scariest and most disconcerting experiences ever. But before I begin to share this experience, I need to give you a little background.  My teenage years were basically from 1957 to 1964.  Like many other young people, in those years I tried to “find myself”, or define who I was. That is, I was looking for “who is the you that others are relating to”.  During those impressionable years our experiences impact us in ways that tend to leave indelible marks on our mind, memory and character.  But in our latter years, in our 60’s or 70’s, a ‘thing’ called nostalgia sets in and we look back at those significant teenage or earlier years;  glancing through old photos, videos, play some of our yester-year favorite music all of which bring back some of the good-old, fond memories. 

A few months ago we decided to disconnect from all of our television channels (tell-a-vision), we canceled our subscription (or should I say, prescription) and started using the internet only as the source of our cyber information.   It did not take long to realize that our cell-phone and computers not only took up the TV watching time, but soon became a morning to bed time companions.  Between these two communication devices our past could meet our present and influence our future in one click.  Obviously the amount of information that is available is astronomical. But being limited in our/my capacity as to how much of that world we/I want or can entertain, we/I pick and choose our/my topics of interest while the cyber world knows how to ‘expand our horizons’ by directing us to other options.  Of course at the same time there is another unseen reality that is working behind the scenes to subtly and deviously entice our interests, passions and desires.  Probably the most influential is what is called the YouTube application.   If you have any experience with this user app (or abuser app?) you know what I mean. 

This brings me to the point of an early morning experience that I will never forget.  Six months of being under varying degrees of lockdown, one finds themselves more and more dependent on the internet for many things.  For entertainment I started looking into documentaries related to famous and influential people of my past (way past).  Music was my favorite area of interest.  And so, the other night YouTube introduced me to one of their many choices of 50’s and 60’s music.  One could listen all at once to excerpts of 100 songs, each lasting about 10 seconds.   I clicked and started to listen, which meant around two hundred songs, some repeats. Although it was a very short time span, yet I went to bed with many of those songs playing in my mind.  The following morning, upon waking up from a dream in which I was walking in my parents’ house singing a Ricky Nelson song “Hello Marylou Goodbye Heart”,  I suddenly realized that my mind was locked into hearing song after song, after song and I could not shake it off.  I thought that my mind and memory fused and that I had become a permanent juke box.  This went on for about five to ten minutes, before I started crying out to YHVH in the name of Yeshua for help.  Suddenly it was as if someone pulled out the plug and it stopped.  I took a deep breath and started praising and thanking Yeshua for the divine intervention.  Needless to say, this was a lesson learned in what could have been a “hello new reality, good bye heart”!

A couple of days later I started thinking about the YouTube, and why this application was so named.  We know what the “you” refers to, but why the “tube”? What is a tube? I remember going swimming with an inner-tube, which was a rubber tube from a tire which when filled with air made a great play toy.  When I studied biology, I encountered many tubes in the body’s anatomy. Tubes are found in science, in the home, everywhere there are tubes.  Their simple definition is, “a long, hollow cylinder of metal, plastic, rubber, glass etc. for holding or transporting something chiefly liquids, gases” and I might add “spirits”.  Perhaps our brains and our minds are like a tube.  In the beginning they are empty and hollow, but as we experience life they begin to be inflated, until their content defines our “you”.  Thus the simple idea behind the YouTube is to help us discover a new reality as to who we are according to the image and likeness that the internet algorithm determines.  I realized that when it comes to the use of this tool, one has to really pay attention to whether one has the permission from the Holy Spirit to make that “click”.  Yeshua’s words to me after that episode were: 

You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;  but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Yeshua the Messiah…  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of Elohim    …To Yeshua the Messiah be the glory both now and forever.  Amen” (2nd Peter 3:17-18; Romans 12:2).  

Friday, October 9, 2020

The Grand Finale'

 


Just before we go back to where it all began – to the B’resheet – let us pause and come under the blessing which was announced and bestowed upon all of Israel’s tribes. Even though allocated to each individual tribe, it is still called “this blessing”, singular. “Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of Elohim blessed the children of Israel before his death” (Deut. 33:1).  This seems to indicate that every thing which is said to each individual tribe is actually applicable to the destiny of the nation as a whole.  In other words, when the tribes are joined together as one people (sons of Jacob) they share or complement one another, with their individual blessings. 

 

Thus, it is possible that these words never failed to accompany the descendants of Bney Yisrael, even in their dispersion and oblivion as to their identity and heritage.  Is it possible that these words, which aside from being blessings are also prophetic utterances, defined historical destinies for the ones whom YHVH recognized and determined as those whose lot was to be cast by these words? How much more so nowadays, when the identity is being restored and the recipients of the blessing/pronouncements actually embrace these words and are watching for their on going and progressive fulfillments! The various parts of the one blessing form a tapestry that by necessity interconnects the ‘lot’ of all the tribes, a tapestry that one day will be held up before the whole world as a banner over the Bride as she enters the wedding chupah (canopy) with her Bridegroom. 

 

Before Moshe ventures into the specific blessings, he “the man of Elohim”, recaps in verses 2 and 3 (of Deuteronomy 33) the central theme of the wilderness journey and takes us to spiritual mountain-tops, from where he unravels an overall view of what he had been called to do:  to reveal to the nation of Israel the Elohim of their forefathers.  To begin with, he advances three phases of YHVH’s appearing to the nation: "YHVH came from Sinai, and dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran…” (33:2 emphases added). Even with the citing of Sinai, Seir and Paran, this overview is pointing to spiritual peaks upon which Elohim met – and will meet again - His people.

 

It is actually the non-too clear articulation of this short passage that makes it necessary to dig and search for the treasures hidden therein, and thus to uncover them. The first phase points to YHVH’s “coming” - denoted by the simple and direct “ba” – being in both past and present tenses.  This expresses His continual “coming” to His called out ones, until they become as He is, conformed to His image and likeness (1 John 3:2), which was His original intent at creation.   Thus, at each of His comings He reveals aspects of His nature, His purpose, His character and His glory.

 

In the second part of the verse, YHVH is said to have “shone” or “risen”, employing a verb that is used mostly for the sun’s appearance. This is being echoed by Isaiah’s:  “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of YHVH is risen upon you.  For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but YHVH will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you” (Isaiah 60:1-2 emphases added).

 

In the third phase it says that, “He shone forth from Mount Paran”. This verb speaks of radiating as if from darkness, just as we saw above in the words uttered by Isaiah. This time, however, He is not alone. The Hebrew rendering adds another “coming”, but switches to the Aramaic – “atta” – such as in “maranatha”. And where is He said to have come from (yes, “from” and not “with”) this time? From the “ten thousands of holiness” (no, not “holy ones”), which is a curious term indeed! What is this multiplicity of “holiness”? It seems to indicate that His holiness is with or in the multitudes of His people, like a great cloud of witnesses, or messengers, that have actually become the message/the word - an expression of Himself.  In this way He is revealing His glory which emanates from those who have been conformed to His image and likeness, does this sound familiar? “Then Elohim said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion’” (Genesis 1:26).  Only now at the end of the Torah, do we see how this might be realized in the future.

 

We continue reading in verse 2 (in its literal translation, with a certain necessary modification): “By His right side/hand is/was a blazing/gleaning/glowing fire”.  Obadiah verse 18 states that, “the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame”. Moreover, verse 3 continues to ‘enlighten’ us regarding YHVH’s hand: “Yes, He loves the peoples; all its [that is the nations’] holy ones [those called out from the peoples/nations] are in Your hand”.  Habakkuk 3:3-4 adds to this: “Elohim came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise.  His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, and there His power was hidden”. Amazing! All His power, His kingdom authority and the light of His glory hidden in the palm of His hand and ready to be cast forth as flashing fiery arrows against the darkness, piercing through and destroying the works of the devil! (ref. 1 John 3:8).

 

One would think that by being placed in YHVH’s hand the “holy set-apart ones” have now come to full rest. However, our text continues (still in Deut. 33:3) to say (literal translation): They are struck down at Your feet; elevating Your utterances/speech” (emphases added). Like Yeshua, their Redeemer, who was “struck by Elohim” (Isaiah 54:4, using the same root of the verb “struck”), these ones also have to be humbled-struck some more in order to elevate – lift up – His utterances, His speech. The word used here is “mid’bro’techa” – Your “midberot” – words/speech/utterances. Interestingly, in Song of Songs the Bride is addressed by her Groom, who says (literally): “Your lips are like a strand of scarlet and your speech - mid’barech - is lovely” (4:3). “Midbar” is singular for “midbarot” – referring to the Bride’s speech. In the days to come the Bride, sitting at His feet, is destined to have her Groom’s Word on her lips.

 

This brings to an end Moshe’s summation-cum-prologue or grand finale, to which is added: “Moses commanded a Torah for us, a heritage of the congregation of Jacob” (verse 4), and lastly, what can only be a prophetic expression (literal translation): “And there was a King in Yeshurun, when the heads of the people gathered, together the tribes of Israel”. We just read YHVH’s declaration that He loves all peoples and nations, but from and out of those nations He has called a people whom He separated unto Himself.  He then humbles them, causing them to lie down at His feet in order to receive His Word/Torah, which is their heritage as the united community of Jacob. And even though past tense is used here, Jacob obviously has not yet been straightened, so as to be in an upright-straight posture, his heads have not been gathered and neither have the tribes come together. But once the leaders and the tribes are reunited in the Oneness of His holiness/righteousness, YHVH will show Himself as King in Yeshurun.  We look forward to the day of this great fulfillment.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

More on Polygyny

 A brother left the following comments on the blog, reinforcing the message that we posted on Polygyny. Most of you will not have read these comments, so I asked him if it would be okay to post it as an article. Thus with his permission we are very blessed to share this with you.  I just want you to know that he is a research physicist at one of our universities here, so the examples that he uses are backed by his professional expertise.

Comments/thoughts:

Thank you for standing up for this matter! The break down of the family unit seems to be high up on the enemy’s agenda, causing the downfall of this generation, providing him easy access to the coming generation. As he worked this through Balaam to destroy the nation of Israel, likewise he seeks to break down the Elohim-ordained unity of the family since then, in various ways.

To the many good points quoted above, I would like to add some more - to share with those who may consider going that way, to save them, their families, and the body of Messiah from harm.

 

1) We husbands still fall terribly short of loving our wives according to our Master’s standard. We still fail the commandment to love our wives “as Messiah the Congregation”! How could we then ever think about adding another wife, which will make us even fail more in love! A husband trying to serve the one wife’s special need, will unavoidably neglect the other. Focusing on the needs of the one, he will have to draw his attention from the other. As one cannot serve two different masters equally, one cannot love two different wives equally. Adding a wife is going in the wrong direction concerning our goal of growing in love and “becoming one”.

 

2) We are created, both husband and wife, with a desire to be exclusively loved: SoS 8:6 Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm. For love is strong as death… and the verse continues  jealousy is cruel as Sheol. From all the examples of the resulting jealousy we find in scripture and the world around us, how could we –if we love our wives– even consider taking this risk, thinking that “touching this fire will not burn us”? Human jealousy is a destructive force that man cannot endure (Prov 6:34-35), destroying the key foundations of marriage – the underlying trust on both sides, quenching love. In men it causes “rage, uncontrollable anger” and Elohim gave special instructions for when the spirit of jealousy overcomes a man (Num 5:14...). Don’t cause your wife to suffer something that you are not even able to handle or endure. Don’t invite this spirit into your house, for –whether to man or to woman– its fire is painful to the depth of the soul!

 

3) We cannot look back and apply the same standard to us, which Elohim in his mercy had for a fallen creation with “hard hearts” in the old covenant. Messiah’s answer (concerning the granted divorce which Elohim hated, but allowed because of their hard hearts) was “…but it was not this way from the beginning”. Our Father send the redeemer, to create in us a new heart, no longer hard as stone, to renew our mind according to the mind of Messiah, to restore us back to His perfect will, according to which He created us in the beginning when He made us, in Eden: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife [Singular!] and they shall become one (echad, unified) flesh. We no longer should live as a fallen creation, but we are restored – We are a NEW creation!

 

4) Our Master’s last prayer for us was that, we would “become one”. In the context of Marriage between husband and wife, this starts with “becoming one flesh”. Our own physiology, that is the way we were created, already shows that we are meant to be one husband and one wife. The first time husband and wife come together, the hymen breaks and the blood is shed and both become literally one flesh, one human organism. Now being one, every consecutive time they come together is like a memorial of this blood covenant.

There is no physiological way a normal man can be physically one with more than one wife, simultaneously.

Complete physiological unity in marriage works only between two, one man and one woman. If you add another woman, maybe the man can be physiologically one with each one of them at different times, but the two women can never be physiologically one with each other. Hence, the husband+2wives triplet can never be physiologically completely one.

As the incompatibility in physiology between the two wives already warns, the examples of polygyny in scripture strongly points to the emotional incompatibility in marriage to the same man. And so the problem of incompatibility between the two wives will consequently become a key problem to the whole family, which will fail trying to “become one”. This must be a strong warning to us husbands, for we will not be able to fulfill our responsibility to lead our family in unity. Polygyny will rather destroy it and will undoubtedly hurt our wives and our children and our children’s children. And eventually we will have to give account for it.

 

5) The fundamental concept of “two united” we find not only in our physiology, but is revealed even in the lowest level; in the very matter which Elohim formed our bodies out of. Proton and Electron (the basic particles forming the atoms) are electrically charged particles – of opposite charge. As these opposites attract, one Electron and one Proton will form a stable union, the Hydrogen atom. The Proton being the heavy center, around which the Electron oscillates. Both are attracted and kept stable together by their opposite charge.

Now, it is true that you can temporarily form a weakly stable Hydride atom, in which two Electrons oscillate around one Proton - but it will strongly react with its environment and its structure will quickly fall apart. And as long as it exists, both Electrons will indeed try to come as close as they can to the Proton, but stay as far as they can apart from each other.

 

6) Now, the unity between Proton and Electron goes even deeper. The closer Proton and Electron come together, the stronger is the attracting force between them. When one Proton and one Electron come extremely close to each other, the force will be extremely strong and they will combine to form a new particle, the Neutron. The Neutron is no longer electrically charged - as a unit all opposites in charge are eliminated. As Elohim separated the first Adam into two human beings, man & woman, also the human characteristics are being divided between two humans of opposite kind, being attracted to each other by their complementing differences. As they become one, they form the complete human being, no longer individually incomplete but a complementing unity.

Back to the matter of the elementary particles our bodies consist of: This unity only works between one Proton and exactly one Electron, not two.

 

7) Beside all the warning examples of polygyny in scripture, it is further interesting to note that the first polygyny of mankind appears in the cursed line of Cain. While the seventh from Adam in the obedient line, Enoch walked with Elohim, the seventh in the cursed line, Lamech, chose to become a murderer and take two wives. The one followed life, the other death. The one lineage (seed) was saved through the flood, the other ended with it. As the article states, the restored creation started again with couples of one husband and one wife. And not only for mankind, but also for all the animals, who were saved in pairs!

As husbands, let us not allow the enemy to harm the miracle of Elohim, who made each of us one with his wife. Rather, let each one of us work with more with his heart to love his wife as Messiah His congregation.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

It Is Not Polygamy – It Is Polygyny

 It seems that every couple of years, the necessity arises to address one more unsavory issue plaguing the Hebrew Roots Movement, and especially the precious Israelite Identity adherents. The enemy is relentless in trying to turn this group into an esoteric-cum-occultic sect and having everyone in it vilified by virtue of association with those who espouse strange and nonbiblical ideas.

 Among all the various questionable forms of beliefs and associations which have sprung up during the past few years, there has been one that many of you are no doubt aware of, and that is polygyny. And so that you will not be mistaken as to what this term means, let me clarify that it is not referring to a general multiple-spouse relationship “polygamy”, but specifically to a multiplicity of wives. One man—several wives!

 Do we need to belabor the point that at Creation there was one man and one woman? Is it necessary to quote Scriptures which point out that the sacred union between husband and wife is likened to the Messiah and His Bride? Should we point out that in the New Covenant it states very clearly that he who aspires to be a spiritual leader must be the husband of one wife? Or is there a need to mention that Elohim seemingly tolerated some of the customs of this sinful world, even within His own Israelite community, and did not forbid this kind of union but also never really favored it, pointing out that if one man has two wives, one will be loved but the other hated? (I will elaborate on the above comments in this article). 

Nevertheless, even though you are probably quite clear about this matter, and most likely are not in favor of such an arrangement, please let me expound some more on this issue since it has reared its head again in the “House of Joseph/Ephraim”.

 In today’s society, polygyny is no longer recognized as a moral issue but a sociological one. However, a man who wishes to have more than one wife and is a believer in the Word of Elohim (the Bible), especially the New Covenant, has very little to stand on as far as justifying himself biblically. I do not condone this practice for the following reasons.

 The Creator took only one rib out of Adam’s side, from which He formed one woman to be his companion (wife), so that they would become one flesh. This would be impossible if another person were added to the “equation” or union—even chromosomes come in pairs. 

Noah is said to have entered the ark with his sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth; his wife; and three daughters-in-law. Although YHVH, no doubt, desired to repopulate the earth after the flood, He did not allow Noah and his sons to have two or more wives each in order to hurry up the process.

 Abraham had only one wife, and that was Sarah. Hagar was not recognized by YHVH as Abraham’s divinely given mate. Nor was Ishmael recognized as a legitimate son. We know this from what YHVH said to Abraham when instructing him to take Isaac, his “only son” (Genesis 22:2), and give him back to Himself. It was not Abraham’s idea to take Hagar. He did not initiate the relationship. When Abraham did take another wife, it was after Sarah’s departure.

 Isaac had only one wife—Rebecca.

 Jacob ended up with two wives, not by choice but by trickery, and then proved the veracity of Deuteronomy 21:15—that man is only capable of loving one wife while . . . hating the other. I do not even want to mention what happens when one wife is favored over the other; it is an open door for the spirits of envy, jealousy, resentment, rejection, hatred, murder (with the tongue), etc. Entertaining any of these spirits is sin, which will result in curses and, of course, bad fruit. The following from the Song of Solomon 8:6: “Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm. For love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as Sheol [the bottomless bit]”, points very clearly to jealousy within a love relationship. Thus if a husband really loves his wife, why would he subject her to such potential cruelty? Any spirits coming from the nature and power of sin are cruel and tormenting. One such example is the relationship between Peninnah and Hannah, Elkanah’s wives. Those two are called “rivals,” or in Hebrew, “tzarah”—that is, “trouble, anguish, distress.” They were each other’s “trouble” (1 Sam. 1:4-6). Elkanah loved Hannah more than Peninnah (v. 5), and thus jealousy, strife and contention ensued. We could also mention the conflicts between Hagar and Sarah, and Leah and Rachel.

 In Ephesians, Paul addresses husbands, admonishing them to love their wives since it is a testimony of Messiah’s relationship to His bride, not brides. Some claim that the Messiah has two brides—Israel and the Church. If that is the case, then somehow they will have to squeeze into the same wedding dress, “for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His wife has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). I don’t see “brides” or “wives” in this Scripture, nor does YHVH add another one on any other occasion. He is very consistent and faithful to the one nation/bride that he betrothed at Sinai. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Messiah and His ecclesia [or in Hebrew “Kahal”]. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph. 5:31-33).

 Cain's progeny, Lamech, was the first to have more than one wife. Esau and Ishmael, had multiple wives, as did many pagan kings and those who could afford to “own” them. In polygynous relationships, women became a commodity and a source of pride and power to the male ego. Some kings would have only one wife, who was given the status of queen, while the other women made up a harem of concubines.

 In today’s world, polygamous/polyganous marriages are not seen as a moral issue but rather a sociological problem. There are many secular scholarly studies on the effects such families have on a society. You can check out this article on the internet: https://slate.com/human-interest/2012/01/the-problem-with-polygamy.html. It states, “As marriage historian Stephanie Coontz has pointed out, polygyny is less about sex than it is about power.” Quoting cultural anthropologist Joe Henrich, the article notes that ethnographic surveys of 69 polygamous cultures reveal “no case where co- wife relations could be described as harmonious.” The article further states that “polygynous households foster jealousy and conflict among co-wives.” Polygyny also destabilizes the social and economic norms of a community, which is why nations and states have passed laws against such unions. One report says that monogamous marriage actually reduces crime https://www.nationalreview.com/the-home-front/look-whos-defending-monogamy-glenn-t-stanton/The biblical idiom and truism that a “thing” is known by its fruit is borne out in the above observations of secular scholars. If evidently even the “wisdom of this world” (1 Cor. 3:19) rejects polygyny, how much more true would that be regarding the “wisdom that is from above” (James 3:17)?!

 When the world is calling “evil good, and good evil” (Is. 5:20), and then describes as “marriage” some of the most horrendous combinations—like polyamory (open and multi-partner relations), homosexual, and lesbian relationships—then a man who wants two women to join him in a dual marriage doesn’t sound so bad after all. However, the scriptural definition for adultery is a husband having a relationship with another woman, and the same applies to a wife who has a relationship with a man other than her husband. There is no excuse for a born-again, believing husband to look to marry/take another woman. Not only will this most certainly result in divorce, but worse—it is also committing adultery. A friend pointed out that many times cult leaders tend to surround themselves with multiple wives. I thought this was quite perceptive and also confirmed the power and control issue. However, as mentioned before, even in New Covenant biblical times it was declared that if someone aspired to some kind of leadership position in the body of Messiah, he could not have more than one wife and needed to raise his children in a godly way (see 1 Timothy 3:9-12).

 Yes, we are living in a fallen world, where the power of sin has a grip on the human soul. But for a redeemed believer in the blood of the New Covenant, there is no reason, nor justification, for polygyny, polygamy, or any other “poly.” We are to bear witness to principalities and powers in the heavenlies of the righteousness and holiness of our Messiah—qualities that are to be seen in a marriage between one man and one woman. As new creatures with a new heart, being conformed to the image of Messiah by the indwelling Spirit of Elohim, we leave behind us the ways of the world, walking on a restoration path toward the more ideal template which Elohim has set for humanity from the Beginning. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). Yeshua uses the same scripture in both Mathew 19:1-9 and Mark 10:2-12. (Please read both). In Mark’s verse 10 it says: “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” This is exactly what happens when taking a second wife, it breaks YHVH’s ordained union of one man and one woman.

 Many people are leery of Covid-19 vaccinations, which may contain unknown and harmful components, potentially altering our DNA. Sin will do the same if it is passed on from generation to generation. The Creator wrote His Word into every living thing, and we need to pay attention to it (the Word) without adjusting or modifying our behavior to accommodate our fleshy desires or carnal instincts.

 The word of Elohim tells us that YHVH hates divorce: “YHVH Elohim of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence” (Malachi 2:16). YHVH’s distain of divorce stems from His hatred of adultery, which is what marriage to two or more wives actually is!

 A husband needs to “walk in the light as Yeshua is in the light" (1 John 1:7), and thus his wife will have for her companion a humble servant who undergirds the family in love and treats her as he would his own body. It must be a non-hierarchal relationship, where each lays down their life for the other, until the Spirit washes, cleanses, and purges every vestige of sin.

 YHVH is moving in this hour to identify and restore the whole House of Israel, among the nations and here in the Land. But when those who are being drawn by YHVH hear that polygyny is accepted (even if tacitly), they may turn away from the path that YHVH has ordained for them. Let us be bold enough to stand up and declare that this is an intolerable practice in the body of Messiah and in the Hebrew Roots Restoration Movement.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Thoughts on Yom T’ruah

 

That somewhat obscure mo’ed - Yom T’ruah -  is upon us again … Interestingly, in Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:24 the words “Yom T’ruah” are preceded by “Zichron” – memorial or remembrance. T’ruah is of course a sound, chiefly formed by one’s vocal chords or by blowing a shofar, or a trumpet. Remembering the sound, however, takes us to the one significant occasion where all of Israel witnessed (“saw” in Hebrew) the sounds (Ex. 19:16, 20:15). That, of course, took place at the base of Mount Sinai, when Elohim ‘appeared’ before His people, when and where He also uttered the Ten Commandments and summoned Moshe to go up the mountain.

Celebrating YHVH’s holy mo’adim is always a recalling of a past event/s and retelling, reliving or reconstructing it/them in some way, if you will. In both Colossians and Hebrews the feasts and the Torah are termed “shadows of things yet to come” (Col. 2:17, Heb. 10:1), thus rendering them prophetic. Hence commemorating these special times and events becomes a sort of rehearsal for a greater manifestation, in the future, of that which had already taken place.

 As we remember the act of YHVH’s manifest presence on Mount Sinai, His first and major revelation of Himself to the People of Israel as a whole, being the Husband who was betrothing His bride, we tremble in awe, we are humbled to the core that we too are called His people Israel, who have also received the promises conferred upon our forefathers on that momentous occasion. We acknowledge that YHVH is the King and Master over us individually and corporately, and as we worship and adore Him we declare our full allegiance to Him. At the same time we also look forward to the return of Yeshua, “with a shofar sound” and “with a shout” (Mat. 24:31, 25:6; 1st Cor. 15:42; 1st Thes. 4:16) to judge and to rule, to reign and to exert His sovereignty upon this earth from Jerusalem, and we shout (t’ruah) “Maran Atta!” Another significant event that we look forward to is the blowing of “the great shofar” which will signify the return from (the proverbial lands of) Assyria and Egypt of those who had been “lost” and “cast out”, but who upon this sound will be “gathered one by one into one” (Isaiah 27:13, 12b).

 Among the best expressions of adulation owed to the King, there is the one articulated in Psalm 47:  “To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout/T’ruah to Elohim with the voice of triumph!  For YHVH Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth.  He will subdue the peoples under us, and the nations under our feet.  He will choose our inheritance for us, the excellence of Jacob whom He loves. Selah. Elohim has gone up with a shout/T’ruah, YHVH with the sound of a shofar.  Sing praises to Elohim, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!  For Elohim is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding.   Elohim reigns over the nations; Elohim sits on His holy throne.  The princes of the people have gathered together, the people of the Elohim of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to Elohim; He is greatly exalted”. 

 One particular event which took place on the first day of the 7th month was the reading of the Torah after the construction of the Second Temple during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. “The people were gathered together as one man” and heard the Torah read, leading them to deep conviction, but also to a time of rejoicing in that set apart day (ref. Nehemiah chapter 8).

 In line with the command to celebrate the first day of the 7th month, we find the concomitant words in Psalm 81: “Blow the shofar at the time of the New Moon… For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the Elohim of Jacob.  This He established in Joseph as a testimony”.  Notice the emphasis here on Joseph. This is the only place where Joseph’s name – Yoseph – is spelt Y’Hoseph, with the added letter “hey” which stands for the name of YHVH. Yoseph, the hidden part of Israel, is much like the covered moon whose sliver has to be searched out on this particular day. Is this also a hint as to Yeshua's unknown day and hour of coming (Mat. 24:36)?

 But, “why the seventh month?” Why not declare and crown our Husband-King on the 3rd month of the Hebrew year, when He actually covenanted Himself to His people?

 Let us turn to the very first citation of “shofar” in the Scriptures. That takes us back to Shmot (Exodus), at the beginning of the three days’ preparation (i.e. the cleansing symbolizing for us repentance) of the People of Israel, prior to their encounter with Elohim. Moshe warns them lest they touch the mountain, or get close to it, but when the … “yovel sounds long… come near the mountain” (Ex. 19:13). The “yovel”, jubilee, is another word for shofar, which points to it being a ram’s horn, but also to what will be the sound that will signal the start of the year of jubilee.

 “And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years.  Then you shall cause the shofar of t’ruah to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the shofar to sound throughout all your land.  And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family” (Leviticus 25:8-10 emphasis added).

 A “Shofar of T’ruah” for the Jubilee (Yovel) is to be sounded on the tenth of the seventh month every 49 years. The original shofar, called as we saw “yovel”, was not a physical or literal object. It was the shofar of Elohim, which even though was sounded on the 3rd month of the Israelites’ journey, was nevertheless a true sound of “yovel” – of liberation from slavery and from the ownership of another ‘ba’al” – lord or husband. In Shmot 11:1, in an address to Israel, it is announced that Pharaoh “will expel/divorce you as the sending away [divorce] of a bride” (lit. Hebrew translation). Elohim had to reclaim His bride, and He therefore sounded the t’ruah of the yovel-shofar ahead of the 7th month, as an act that demanded urgency. We are to call to mind this act every year at the start of the 7th month (ten days ahead of the once in every 49 years event), and in so doing we also prophesy that our Bridegroom will not be late in coming to claim us - His bride (at Succot) – at which time we will dwell with Him, never to be separated again (ref. Rev. 21: 3).   

 Chag Same’ach


 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

TAPping into the Shadows

 

TAPping into the Shadows: (T - T’ruah, A - Atonement, P – Pesach) 

It seems like yesterday, when we were standing, “Nitzavim”, before the door of YHVH’s fall feasts, especially on the threshold of Yom T’ruah, the day of the sounding of the Shofar which heralds the appointments of YHVH with His people. 

Over the years we have been presented with many teachings, both from the Hebrew Roots movement and Jewish sages, in regards to YHVH’s feasts.  But now, since we are experiencing a “new normal”, we may want to re-examine the feasts, and especially what their prophetic significance may be saying to us, being reminded of the apostle’s words from Colossians that, the feasts, new moons, etc “are a shadow of what is to come” (2:17), meaning that they are prophetic. When YHVH decides to bring to light His hidden mysteries into our reality, changes begin to happen to us individually, as well as corporately. If this is true, from last year’s Yom T’ruah to this year’s we should see noticeable changes on many levels of life, none clearer than the working of His purposes for establishing His kingdom’s righteousness, His rule of justice, and the reality of His presence in our hearts and in our relationships. 

Remembering (calling to mind) is a very important part of Yom T’ruah.  Can we look back and see how His Spirit was plowing up our fallow ground, or pruning our vine after last year’s harvest?  Were we aware of that new seed (His word) that He sowed, or the new growth on the vine? Were we thankful for the rains of grace that fell upon the fields? Or did we experience those birds that came to pick up some of the seed, or perhaps those tares that were stealing water and nourishment from the same ground?  What about those thistles that, just appeared from nowhere, to try and cut off our life force before we could bear fruit? Yet, here we are again standing at the gate to bring ourselves before the Almighty, the Holy One of Israel. 

Are we really ready to blow the Shofar? Are we ready to walk through the entrance and stand before Him in reverence and awe?  Is He, in His great mercy, going to show us how guilty we are because of our past failures to live up to His standard of “righteousness”? Or, will He place before us “the blood of the Lamb”?  Over and over again in the generations of Yoseph/Israel and Judah/Israel YHVH reminded them, “to remember when I brought YOU out of the land of bondage [Egypt]”.  These words had to do with Pesach, which is a shadow of something yet to come - how about the greater Exodus?

As you know, in Jewish tradition the first of the seventh month is called “Rosh HaShanah”, the head of the year. Maybe it is no mistake, as it is a reminder to go back to the first month and walk through it again in the seventh, remembering our bondage to sin and its consequent death, AND the GRACE and MERCY, through the Life of the Lamb, in whom we have “atonement/propitiation”. While the day of Atonement/Kippurim is on the 10th of the seventh month, looking back to Aviv we find that the lambs chosen for the Pesach offering were carried into Jerusalem also on the 10th and examined for three days, and on the 14th gave up their lives to atone for the sins of the people. Yeshua too, rode the colt of a donkey into Jerusalem on the 10th day and on the 14th gave up His life to atone for the sin of His kinsmen.

There is no way of understanding the Day of Atonement in the seventh month unless one goes back to the first month, to Pesach.  When you read the following verses from the book of Hebrews keep in mind YHVH’s words spoken to the House of Jacob in Exodus 19:4-6 You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself  (ultimate reconciliation) . 'Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (emphases added). These words were spoken to Israel three days before they experienced the great sound of the Shofar and the awesome presence of the Almighty coming down on Mount Sinai.  This is another experience to remember on Yom T’ruah, because it is part of “when I brought YOU out of the land of bondage”.

Now here is what we hear from the book of Hebrews: “For both He [Yeshua] who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,  saying: ‘I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.’ And again: ‘I will put My trust in Him.’  And again:’Here am I and the children whom Elohim has given Me.’ As a kinsman redeemer, Yeshua came to His brothers of the House of Jacob. “In as much then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, [Pharoh/Egypt] and release [the Exodus] those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He [Yeshua] had to be made like His brethren [the children of Israel], that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to Elohim, to make propitiation/atonement for the sins of the people.  For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:11-18 emphasis added).   

Now that you know the connection between the Day of Atonement and Pesach you should afflict you soul” (ref. Leviticus 16:29) with humility AND gratitude, rejoicing that YHVH has provided atonement through the blood of Yeshua.  Perhaps once we know who the “YOU” (in the scriptures above) is referring to, we will better understand on Yom T’ruah and Yom HaKippurim our destiny and the hope that comes to us through the sounding of the Shofar: “A shadow of things yet to come”.

Friday, August 28, 2020

On or Off Curse

 

“The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws [“torot”, plural for torah], violated the statutes [chok, single statute or law], broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth (Isaiah 24:5-6).  

I wonder how many Bible believers in what is called the Judeo/Christian world would agree that we are living today under the above curse.

In using “torot” – instructions, and chok – statute, the above scripture points to the entirety of YHVH’s decrees – as many of its injunctions are preceded by “the torah of…” (each of the sacrifices, for example, is a “torah” in itself, there is also the “torah” of the Temple, the “torah” of leprosy, etc.).  Forsaking “chok” means that the very idea or concept of law has been nullified and made void. It doesn’t take more than this kind of attitude and deeds which follow, for the everlasting covenant/s to be broken and for the curses to come.  John warns, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).   Just how far must a nation go before the consequence of sin catches up with its inhabitants and for the curses of Deuteronomy 28:15 to materialize:  But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of YHVH your Elohim, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you…” 

Israel of old has experienced over and over again the fulfillment of these words, but somehow each generation did not seem to learn from the previous.  So YHVH made a New Covenant with the house of Israel, with the intent of giving them a fresh start.  However, ignoring the Torah still remains a problem, even though it is supposed to be inscribed on the hearts and minds.  It would be great if the Torah on the heart would be made evident with the waving of a magic wand.  However, this cannot happen instantaneously.  Acts of obedience of faith and knowledge of YHVH’s Torah, is what will bring about the blessings and break the curses.   

In one of our recent fellowship meetings, a visiting Jewish brother from England shared with us what is happening in the UK, where as early as in the 2nd grade the children can decide, on a daily basis, their preferable gender, dress accordingly and use the bathroom facility of their choice.  Speaking out against this incurs violation of the law, and hence the believers/Christians are living in fear and do not speak out, or else have to face the consequences. One has to ask the question: What has taken place in countries where in the past there was a substantial presence of the “faith people”?  The above scripture drops a very big hint.  They have abandoned the Torah of Moses, and by so doing began, in ignorance, to transgress the moral laws that are contained therein. 

In neglecting the Torah these “faith” people, i.e. those who are actually believers in Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel, have left behind, again in ignorance, a major revelation of their Messiah.  And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).  "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:46, 47).   Also, hidden within the Torah is the mystery of their identity as the seed of the forefathers, and the irrevocable calling and destiny as the “sons of the living Elohim”.   

Scriptures remind us that: “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,  having predestined us to adoption as sons by Yeshua the Messiah to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:4-5).  Please note the emphasis of “in Him”.   Thankfully through the New Covenant He is in us by grace, but in order to know Him we need that abiding intimate relationship that is found only in Him, as He is our life (see Colossians 3:4).  “We live and move and have our being in Him” (ref. Acts 17:28) and by “knowing Him and the power of His resurrected life” (ref. Philippians 3:9) we will survive the coming days. While those who dwell in the earth are convicted [found guilty], therefore they are burned, and a small minority of mankind is left” (Isaiah 24:6 literal translation).   Yeshua, however, has given us encouragement and hope in His parable of the “Tares and the Wheat” (see Matthew 13:24-30).