Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Time to Gather and Build

Some of the most familiar scripture verses, an adage if you will, even in circles where the bible isn’t a bestseller, are extracted from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…   A time to break down, and a time to build up… A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones…   A time to gain, and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to throw away;  a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;  a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace” (3:1-8).

In one of Yeshua’s addresses to the religious leaders of His day, He chided them for not being able to discern the signs of the times: “Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, ‘When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times’” (Matthew 16:1-3).

If you are like me, before you go to bed at night you may take a look at some media channel to find out what the weather will be like in the following day, or in the days ahead. When the morrow comes, you may talk about the weather at least once or twice, or compare the forecast with the actual conditions.  But laying aside meteorological predictions, are we paying attention and observing the signs of the times

Without going into the fine details, we really have only two choices: Are we in a ‘good’ time, a time to be born, to sew; to harvest what is planted; to heal; to build up; to laugh; to dance; to gather stones; to embrace, to gain, to keep, to speak; to love, in short are we in a time of peace? Or are we in the ‘bad times’?

“Have a good day” is the most common and frequently used greeting. But what if that particular day just happens to not be a good one?  So you mutter back, “Yeah thanks a lot!”

The prophet Jeremiah was told by the Almighty One of Israel: “See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant" (Jeremiah 1:10).   The book of Jeremiah (as well as all the prophets) is Elohim’s word to the nations and kingdoms, especially of Judah and Israel/Ephraim.  It speaks of how YHVH was going to judge His people, tear down and scatter or sow them, but also of how He would again gather, build them up and bring in the harvest.   When we look back at Israel’s history we see that there were seasons of ‘good’ and of ‘bad’ times. But what about our day?  Where are we at in this generation of Elohim’s chosen?  Is it a time that YHVH is building, or is it a time that He is tearing down and destroying?   We might look around and say: “both”.
As the conditions in this world are spiraling down to destruction, we have to ask ourselves: “Is there a future and a hope?”  YHVH has a resounding “YES” for those who have ears to hear, and can discern the signs of the times.  In many of the Psalms, King David states very plainly what will be the lot of the wicked, the unrighteous, and the evil.  But at the same time he also proclaims the destiny and reward of the good, loving, and righteous; for instance:  “For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on YHVH, they shall inherit the earth.  For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, but it shall be no more.   But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:9-11).  (The entire Psalm is very encouraging).

Almost all the prophets told of the days of YHVH’s righteous judgments that would culminate in the building and restoration of both Judah and Israel, and their re-gathering into one nation that would be a light to the nations.  We believe we are in that season of YHVH’s mercies, during which time He is restoring the nation of Israel/Ephraim just as he did Judah;  bringing them together not unified in a religious system, but as one people, one kingdom, one nation.  

Thus the Bney Yoseph National Congress is aiming at the gathering, building, restoring processes, and inspiring faith and hope in our future.  Yet we must be aware of our enemies.  Just as in the days of Nehemiah, we too will have to work with the sword in one hand and the work tool (be it a computer or something else) in the other.  In spite of those who would try to discourage us, it is YHVH’s time to restore us so that we might live before Him as His redeemed in the greater land, north of Judah’s, which was promised to our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. YHVH said of Ephraim:  "I will sow them among the peoples, and they shall remember Me in far countries; They shall live, together with their children, and they shall return…  I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, until no more room is found for them” (Zechariah 10:9-10).  “Shepherd Your people with Your staff, the flock of Your heritage, who dwell solitarily in a woodland, in the midst of Carmel; Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in days of old” (Micah 7:14).

Purim is a good time to reflect on YHVH’s protective hand over our Jewish brothers and how even though Elohim is not mentioned in the story, His sovereignty is obvious in the many instances that seemed to ‘just so happen…’  Situations can change in a moment of time from ‘bad’ to ‘good’: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…”

A belated Purim Same’ach and Shabbat Shalom,


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