Thursday, September 26, 2019

Yom Truah

The first of the seventh month is almost upon us, a time of “remembering truah” – the sound, the call, the blowing/blast, which heralds the crowning of the King (see Ex. 19:13,19; 20:15; Lev. 23:24). The Sinai scene was the time when Israel, as a people, a “kingdom”, first recognized their Supreme Ruler (see Ex. 19:6, 8).  It is the fourth of YHVH’s appointed times, to be followed ten days later by Yom HaKippurim (Day of ‘Atonements’).

“Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout – hari’u (same root as TRUAH) 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 (TRUAH), 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 to Elohim belong the defenders of the most exalted land” (Psalm 47:1 – 9 literal translation emphasized). 

As we remember the coronation of our King, which was experienced by our ancestors, it is also a reminder to look forward to His return and to be in preparation for this event. As the “defenders of the most exalted land” we also take heart when we read in Ephesians 3:9,10 about:  “the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in Elohim… to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of Elohim might be made known by the assembly/kahal [of Israel] to the principalities and powers in the heavenlies”.

In this Shabbat’s Parashat Nitzavim (and in the next two to follow) “heaven and earth” are to bear witness against Israel, if curses and death are chosen rather than blessings and life. How wonderful it is that through and by our redemption, we are now able to not only be YHVH’s “defenders of the most exalted land”, and thus witness to and on the earth, but also now testify to the heavenlies of the “manifold wisdom of Elohim” thus reversing our forefathers’ indictment (by the terrestrial and celestial witnesses).

Psalm 81 says that the shofar is to be blown on the day of the covered moon (vs 3). Since only one of YHVH’s moadim occurs on such a day, it would stand to reason to pay attention to who is being addressed here: “For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the Elohim of Jacob.  This He established in Joseph as a testimony while he was in bondage in Egypt” – even in his present Egypt (Psalm 81:4-5).

Do the sounds of the Truah also speak prophetically of the coming redemption of the sons of Jacob and Joseph? This is the specified time for the redeemed remnant to declare the Lordship of King Messiah Son of David. Is Yeshua waiting for a people that will call Him, “YHVH our righteousness, in [whose] days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely” (Jeremiah 23:6)?  

On Yom Truah, being a day of remembrance, are we also to recall who we are as the seed of Joseph and Jacob (the “defenders” referred to above), who are to crown the King Messiah as the Master over our lives? 

Yes, we love Yeshua as Savior and Redeemer, but is He the One who sits on the throne of our hearts?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A lesson from the olive tree

There are many lessons that we can glean from the olive tree of Israel, but none as important as what is written in Romans 11. This passage depicts many of the fulfillments of the prophetic scriptures, both from a positive view point but also dire warnings that come alongside the grace given to the branches, both natural and wild.  One of the most incredible and amazing aspects highlighted in this chapter are the mercy and grace granted particularly to the rejected, discarded, and cut off House of Yosef.  The tribes that once made up this house have been scattered and mixed into all the nations.  As branches from the original olive tree of their forefathers, they took root in the field of this world.  They, like all the other nations, are strangers to the covenants and promises.  Hosea prophesied that YHVH would have no mercy on Israel and named them “not my people”.   Because of sin and iniquity their roots have rotted, and thus they have no way back to the covenant promises.  However, out of the olive tree of Jacob YHVH did preserve one root, and that is the “root of Jesse” from the House of Judah.  He sent Yeshua as the offshoot of that root, and by grace through faith in the Gospel of His Kingdom, He is (re)grafting these wild branches into this special anointed sprout from the root of Jesse.  In so doing He is starting to restore the fallen sukkah of David.

 “And if some of the [natural/cultivated] branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root [of Jesse] and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘branches were broken off that I might be grafted in’.  Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.  For if Elohim did not spare the natural [cultivated] branches, He may not spare you either.  Therefore consider the goodness and severity of Elohim: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off” (Romans 11:17-22 emphasis added).

The discovery of the Israelite identity through the Gospel and the coming to the Mountain of Torah, and (allegedly) embracing the ‘whole counsel of Elohim’, has often been accompanied by an air of haughtiness and self-righteousness. This usually has to do with Torah and other scriptural interpretations and practices, supposedly being more precise, more accurate, and better analyzed than… the Jewish understanding and practice, or that of other Ephraimites, or Christians who don’t necessarily agree with a given view point held by one group or another.  The above Romans 11 warning deals with a possibility or a risk that one could be cut off again from the root of the olive tree because of (such) conceit. 

Thankfully YHVH’s goodness leads to repentance (see Romans 2:4), although that does not necessarily guarantee that such repentance will indeed be resorted to.  Pride goes before the fall, or should I say before being cut off? As it says, “you only stand by faith”.  The faith that is mentioned here is the one that justifies and awards us a righteousness that is in Messiah, who is the “Root and offspring of David” (Revelation 22:16).  Immaturity in expressing this righteousness (the fruit of the Spirit), before embracing the right living of the Torah is, I believe, at the root of these only too common problems that show up in the Hebrew Roots movement.
The blood of the New Covenant covers sin, but along with this non refutable fact we are still commanded to cleanse ourselves “from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of Elohim”  (2 Corinthians 7:1). “Therefore consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am YHVH your Elohim…I am holy (Leviticus 20:7; 1 Peter 1:16).

Having received Messiah’s righteousness, why would we want to have a righteousness based on the works of the Torah?  When we have the righteousness that is founded on “the faith” then, as it is written, we “establish the Torah” (see Romans 3:30-31).  But as it is, until we can walk in the light as He is in the light, having fellowship will be next to impossible, because religious like-mindedness has never worked to unify the body of Messiah, nor the two houses of Israel.

If we are a new creation-being our life is lived in the light, as we have died and our life is hidden in Yeshua the Light.  We must, therefore, ask ourselves: Why are we not loving one another unconditionally, as our Father loves us?  What is hindering this (supposed to be) new creation person from loving others, especially brothers and sisters? Why are there strife, contention, controversies and disputes about words (ref. 1 Timothy 6:4-5)? Is it because we have not resisted sin to the shedding of our flesh, which means repenting and identifying by faith to a crucified Messiah, “so that the dying of Yeshua works in me, so that the life of Yeshua can work in others” (ref. 2 Corinthians 4:10-12)?  If pride and self-righteousness and all their attributes are active and evident in our lives, which means that we are continuing to cooperate with the power and nature of sin, chances are we will indeed be cut off from the holy root of the olive tree.  Additionally, in Romans 2:5 we are warned about the wrath of Elohim.  The Hebrew word for “cut off” is “karet”, a very severe term indeed which describes a removal from the covenants and from the household/commonwealth of Israel (see for example, Genesis 17:14; Exodus 12:15; Leviticus 17:4; Numbers 15:30; Ezekiel 14:8 etc.)

The above-cited Romans 11 excerpt seems to have a fitting continuation by the following: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of Elohim, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to Elohim, which is your reasonable service.  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” (Romans 12:1-2).