Friday, May 7, 2021

Eyes of Understanding

 

Psalm 119 is the longest prayer in Scripture.  One which every believer should pray through, at least once a week.  Indeed, this psalm is highlighted by many ministries at this time and should be taken to heart.  In the context of this psalm David is asking YHVH to show him His statutes, ordinances, precepts, commandments and testimonies, in order to receive and have “understanding”.   Why is it so crucial to have understanding of these particular aspects of YHVH’s Word? Let’s look first at the definition of “understanding”: 

 Understanding is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as a person, situation, or message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with that object. ... Thus, understanding is correlated with the ability to make inferences, draw conclusions, and have discernment. This becomes very important when it comes to “TRUTH”. 

When the scriptures refer to YHVH’s statutes, testimonies etc. they are pointing to what we call the “Law” or “Torah”.  Thus, without the “Torah” we have no understanding and our ability to correctly divide the Word of Truth is seriously impaired. Yeshua pointed this out to His disciples through parables, which they (the disciples) always fell short of understanding.   When Peter, for example, asked Yeshua to explain what seemed to be a very simple parable, Yeshua said, “Are you still lacking in understanding also?” (Matthew 15:13).  This appeared to be the case with many of Yeshua’s teachings and allegories.  But while His followers were bewildered, the religious were offended and became angry.  Today we still see the same reactions to present-truth, many times even in a display of ignorance, meanwhile the Spirit continues to fulfill His covenants and promises to our forefathers.

In the parable of a farmer who sowed a seed (of wheat) in a field, while an enemy stealthily sowed another, beside the obvious interpretation, Yeshua also demonstrated the prohibition of “not [to] sow your field with two kinds of seed” (ref. Leviticus 19:19). He went on to explain that the field is the world. (Matthew 13:24).

Sometime later, Yeshua declared that, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted” (Matthew 15:13), or in the case of the tares, they will be cut off by YHVH’s messengers and burned (ref. Matthew 13:40). After that the wheat will be harvested and taken to the barn.  But if the tares/darnel are included in the harvest of the wheat, the former will defile the field and foul the bread that will be made from the two seeds.  If the mixed seed will be sown on the following year, it will be a violation of YHVH’s word and the field will be defiled. (Darnel when eaten causes one to get dizzy, off-balance and nauseous.)  Likewise, in the case of a vineyard. “You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seeds, or all the produce of the seed which you have sown and the increase of the vineyard will become defiled” (Deuteronomy 22:9).

Lack of understanding along with the doctrines of men and demons, have resulted in mission a very basic fact, that YHVH sowed one seed in the world of humanity, and that seed He called and chose some 4,000 years ago.  He anointed (‘christed’) that seed by His Word in covenants and promises, so as to produce a yield of righteousness through faith.  But the germ of this faith that was in the seed of father Abraham remained hidden until YHVH sent His seed to the family of Jacob/Israel - a Redeemer who bought the entire field and is harvesting the seed that His Father had sown.  Stated differently, the Redeemer was willing to give up everything in order to purchase the pearl of great price (ref. Matthew 13:46), or purchase the field for the sake of the treasure that was buried there (ref. Matthew 13:44).

“Wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding,
but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth” (Proverbs 17:24).

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your Torah” (Psalm 119:18).

Friday, April 30, 2021

Restoration According to Cyber

 

The other day I referred to Google for a biblical definition of “restoration”. Although no actual Biblical examples were cited, I was surprised by some of the ones used, which seemed to highlight principles that are indeed found in the Word. So, here is, according to Google’s ‘theological expertise’, the definition of the term "restoration": To receive back more than has been lost to the point where the final state is greater than the original condition. The main point is that someone or something is improved beyond measure. More on restoration according to the search engine: Restoration is the act of repairing or renewing something. An example of restoration is fixing an old house to its original state. An example of restoration is giving someone their job back. An example of a restoration is rebuilding a set of bones to represent a dinosaur.

Normally when one restores something it is never brought back to a better condition than its original state.  However, in biblical understanding, when YHVH restores or renews, the result is far superior to the original.  Many examples may be cited of this principle, as they appear throughout the scriptures.  But what I thought fascinating was the non-biblical examples mentioned above.  

“Fixing an old house”:  What comes to mind from a biblical point of view?  Is it the house of Jacob, house of Israel, house of David, house of Judah as examples?  But beyond merely reconstituting them, is the fact that YHVH’s restoration of these ‘houses’ is to be to an even a greater state than they were at first.  

What about “giving someone their job back”?  Here again we see that the calling that was given to our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Israel was to be servants of the Most High, servants of righteousness.  Instead, their descendants became sons of disobedience and served “sin”. However, our heavenly Father sent Yeshua to redeem and restore our mandate to serve Him. Some of you may remember the song “From a Jack to a King”…  Jack (Jacob’s nickname) was called to be a servant priest, but now YHVH is raising him up to royal priesthood.   

The third example mentioned was, “rebuilding a set of bones”. I am sure that this brings to mind the valley of dry bones of Ezekiel 37.  In this description the bones (we) are not only a random, disorganized, discarded, disassembled and dysfunctional bunch of individuals, but after the restoration they become a mighty army, trained in righteousness and walking in unity - a oneness the likes of which has never been seen on earth.  As one continues in Ezekiel 37, there is a one and holy nation seen in YHVH’s hand. We could also add to that the restoration of the promised land spoken of in Ezekiel 36.  All in all, this future restoration, in the light of YHVH’s promises and covenants is what Yeshua actually came to do and to accomplish, before He returns to sit on the throne of His Father David over the fully restored, royal priesthood and holy Israelite nation.    


Friday, April 23, 2021

Take, Eat

 

For those of you who have been following the Parashot (parashas) each week, recently, in Parashat Shmini (shortly after the death of Nadav and Avihu, Aaron’s oldest two), an interesting episode concerning Aaron’s two other sons is being described. It is this incident that prompted one of those “Oh wow, I’ve not seen this previously!”  But before we go there, I want to interject that lately my mind has been focused on Yeshua’s last Pesach meal with His disciples. In John 18:1 it says: “When Yeshua had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered.”  What were the words that Yeshua had just spoken? What did He say to His disciples before they entered the garden?  Actually, in order to find out what Yeshua shared with them at that time we need to go all the way back to John 13:31, to the moment after He sent Judas Iscariot out on a mission, which the others thought was to buy food for the next night’s Seder.  So with the “last supper” in mind, we go back now to Moses, who was scolding Aaron because Itamar and Elazar, who when sacrificing the sin offering (korban chatat) were supposed to eat it, so that the congregation of Israel could be forgiven, did not do so.   Instead, they let it burn up completely, which means that its purpose was lost while what they did could be classified as profaning the holy which may have even cost them their lives.  This was the reason Moses was so angry at Aaron.  (See Leviticus 10:12-20, especially vs. 16-18.)

It seems strange that this mistake by the two boys (which brought about an insight) somehow eluded me, when just a couple of Parashot ago we were taught about korban chatat that was to be eaten by the officiating priests (Lev. 6:25-26).   But what now caught my inner eye was twofold.  At that last meal Yeshua focused on the “sin offering” that He was to become for humanity (see John 1:29; Rom. 8:3b; 2nd Cor. 5:21). Therefore, when He said to His disciples “take eat, this is my body,” He was referring to that specific offering.  What’s more, because only the priests were to partake of this offering, it brought me back to YHVH’s declared intent for Israel to become His priestly nation (see Exodus 19:6). 

Is this another birthmark of our identity as Israel, and why we can no longer be identified with any other nation?  Formerly, you from the lost sheep of the House of Israel, were totally identified to the nation of your residence, but now you belong to the commonwealth of Israel, and all that pertains to it.   

Friday, April 9, 2021

Omer of the New Creation

 

This past week most of the Christian world celebrated the resurrection of Yeshua on the first day after the weekly Shabbat.  Some understand that Yeshua died in the middle of week, lay in the grave three full days (including the nights) and was raised after the completion of those three days, just as He prophesied.  Yet, there is one more episode of great significance that took place on that first day, the 18th of Nisan. When the risen Messiah told Miriam of Migdal, who came looking for his body in the tomb: “Do not touch me for I have not ascended to my Father…” (John 20:17), He was about to be lifted up as the waved sheaf of the Omer, at the same time that this very observance was going to be performed in the Temple. 

This ceremony was in accordance with Leviticus 23:10, where it says: “… When you come into the land which I am giving to you, and have reaped its harvest, and have brought in the sheaf, the beginning [resheet] of your harvest to the priest then he shall wave the sheaf before YHVH for your acceptance; on the day after the Shabbat the priest shall wave it” (emphases added, YLT translation).  Again, the “first” (resheet) of the Omer refers to the first ripe barley sheaves that were to be waved before YHVH for our acceptance, on the day after the weekly Shabbat.

In that year this tremendous event took place on the 18th of Nisan (or Aviv), In Hebrew the figure 18 (as used in date counting) is made up of the letters Yod and Chet, which form the word for “chai” - “living” or “alive.”

Quite often in non-Hebrew speaking circles the first day of the Omer is called “firstfruits”. This is at least so in English and possibly stems from a mistranslation of the following: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah all shall be made alive.  But each one in his own order: Messiah the firstfruits, afterward those who are Messiah's at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:22-23, see also v. 20). However, in the Aramaic version (the Peshitta Aramaic Text) it is “resheeta”, and in the Hebrew translation of the Greek it is also resheet – that is, “beginning” (the root being ‘rosh’ – head).  This word is identical to the one employed in Leviticus 23:10, quoted above. In other words, Yeshua is the “cause’ or ‘beginning” (the Head) that brings about the firstfruits, which are the “bikkurim”.

What is He the head or the “beginning” of? If we look carefully at the Hebrew word resheet we find it in the very first verse of Scripture (and in Hebrew the very first word), “In the beginning” (B’resheet) reveals that Yeshua the Word was and is the beginning of the present or old Creation.  But after He presented Himself in His resurrected body before the Father, as the beginning Omer, He inaugurated the New Creation and hence we who have now been raised with Him through faith become the “firstfruits” (bikkurim) of the same. “Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2nd Corinthians 5:17). “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18).

Again, after Messiah, the Omer wave offering - the “beginning”, are “those who are Messiah's at His coming”, that is the firstfruits (ref. 1st Corinthians 15:23). “Coming” is parousia in Greek and means “hidden presence”.  Thus, when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit at Shavuot (Pentecost), on the 50th day of the counting of seven shabbats, Yeshua’s presence came into them (‘hid’ in them), making them the firstfruits or bikkurim of Shavuot (symbolized by two loaves which were baked with leaven).  Bikkurim is the Hebrew word used in Leviticus 23:17 for the firstfruits of the wheat at Shavuot (as well as in Numbers 29:26).'

Yeshua, being the head and the beginning, could not bring in the firstfruits before He Himself ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. Only then could the Father send the Spirit of His Son, as it says in John 7:39  “… for the Spirit of Holiness was not yet given, because Yeshua  was not yet glorified”. Thus, He obviously had to be glorified in order to make true His promise of the Spirit “And because you are sons, Elohim has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father!’" (Galatians 4:6), just as Yeshua prayed at the end of the Passover meal “that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:26 emphasis added). Could the Spirit be the leaven in the two loaves  that were waved at Shavuot/Bikkurim?

It should also be mentioned that the specific measurement of Omer is cited several times in the Torah, and because Yeshua has become the proverbial Omer, the latter (or the equivalent which is a tenth of an ephah) draws our attention to Him. Thus, the manna, mentioned in Exodus 16:13-16 was for that amount, “one omer for each person” (v. 16). In John 6:32-35 Yeshua declares that He was the “true bread from heaven”, thus, again, relating Himself that the ‘portion of food’ which Elohim provides for His people. What’s more, in Matthew 6:11, in teaching His disciples how to pray, with the statement of “our daily bread”, He was actually quoting Proverbs 30:8, where the “daily bread” is the “          allotted portion” comparable to the “mana”. Another outstanding example is found in the laws pertaining to the adulterous woman and her jealous husband, where each component of the instructions depicts Yeshua, including the required offering of the woman, which is one tenth of an ephah of barley meal (Numbers 5:15).

Yeshua’s multi-facetted role never ceases to amaze us, in that He was and is, what Hebrews 1:2-3 declares: “… His [Elohim’s] Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…”

Yeshua, of course, spent the first 40 days of the Counting of the Weeks teaching His disciples about the Kingdom of Elohim, after which He ascended, but not before telling those disciples to tarry in Jerusalem “until you receive power from on high” (Acts 1:8). Yeshua’s departure date would have occurred on the 28th of Iyyar, in Hebrew Kaf, Chet, spelling “ko’ach” – power or strength. That date also happens to be the day in which Jerusalem (that is the Old City) was liberated in the Six Day War in 1967.  Since 1968, the 28th of Iyyar has been declared the official Jerusalem Day.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Coming Out

 

The other night in our discussion of the Exodus story, the thought came about the difference between fleeing from the Egyptian slavery and what we face today, that is, fleeing “the daughter of Babylon” which is this present world system.  Go forth from Babylon!  Flee from the Chaldeans!  With a voice of singing, declare, proclaim this, utter it to the end of the earth; say, ‘YHVH has redeemed His servant Jacob!’” (Isa 48:20).  The Hebrew for “go forth” is a command to “get out” or “leave” (the harlot system). This is echoed in Revelation 18:4: “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues’”. 

Leaving Egypt or Babylon, in order for YHVH’s servant Jacob to be free from the bondage of a nation or system that is keeping him from Elohim’s ultimate purposes, necessitates His sovereign act or intervention.  In both cases the blood of a lamb is required before the Almighty can move to extricate His people from servitude to another kingdom.  Yet there is also a significant difference.  In the case of Egypt, the entire nation left together at a very specific time, and what’s more, according to the will of YHVH, it had to be by the explicit permission of the sovereign of that nation. In the case of (latter-day) Babylon, coming out is in response to the command to “leave” or “come out”, to and by, each individual who has acknowledged the redeeming blood of Messiah Yeshua (notwithstanding, the eventual, physical and national exodus).  In 2nd Peter we are reminded that, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (emphasis added 1:3-4).  Isaiah prophesied that, “It shall come to pass in that day that the remnant of Israel, and such as have escaped of the house of Jacob, will never again depend on him who defeated them, but will depend on YHVH, the Holy One of Israel, in truth” (Isa 10:20 emphasis added).

However, Peter also warns us: “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Yeshua the Messiah, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20 emphasis added).

A warning issued by the writer to the Hebrews, based on the first Exodus, still stands:  “While it is said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’ For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?  And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief… Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it” (Hebrews 3:15 – 4:1).

What could be worse than, after having been delivered by the blood of the lamb, to die in the wilderness journey and never reach our final destination? Ezekiel’s prophecy in chapter 20 of his book sheds light on the possibilities that loom before us regarding the two paths ahead of us, the cooperate as well as the individual departure:  As I live,’ says Adonai YHVH, ‘surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you.  I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out.  And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face.  Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,’ says Adonai YHVH.  I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am YHVH’” (20:33-38). Are these rebels the same as those that don’t enter His rest?

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Friday, March 26, 2021

Identity Revealed at Pesach

 


We often tend to see our redemption at Pesach, when we were set free from the slavery to sin and death, on an individual basis.  But is that what YHVH meant when He said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him… let MY people go”?  Obviously YHVH did not only have in mind random individuals, but an entire nation of His called out and chosen sons of Jacob.  YHVH was specifically setting this seed of Abraham on a historic journey into a future that will glorify Him, to the point that not only Israel will know that He is Elohim, but all the nations of this world. 

Thus, one of the most important aspects of the feast of Pesach is “identity”. Prior to that ‘first Pesach’ Elohim revealed Himself as “YHVH Elohim”, and then Israel was revealed as “His people”.  It was also the time when YHVH first introduced Himself to the enslaved nation:  “Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am YHVH; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments’” (Exodus 6:7).  This message that Elohim sent via Moses, was entirely foreign to those Hebrew slaves and idol worshipers (ref. Joshua 24:14; Ezeliel 20:8).  Pharaoh was not the only one who could not relate to the name “YHVH”, this blindness was also true of “My People”.  Hence without this season being marked by the restoration and re-identification of “His people”, now as it was also then, there is no true witness of Him being the great “I Am” of Israel.  

In Ezekiel 37 the whole house of Israel is pictured in a condition not unlike the slavery of their ancestors in Egypt.   The lifeless bones which the prophet was shown needed Divine intervention, and so it came, via the “four winds”. “Thus says Adoni YHVH: ‘Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live’” (Ezekiel 37:9: Mark 13:27).   In this vision the whole house of Israel is seen crying out, regarding their hopeless and helpless condition: “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!” (ver. 11).  Another description of “My people” is found in Ezekiel 34. This time as His sheep - sick, diseased, broken, bound, and lost (especially to their identity), as the false shepherds and leaders have dominated and forced them into submission (see verse 4). 

Fast forward to today, the majority of Israelites are still in the above-described conditions, but unlike their predecessors in Egypt, who at least “sighed because of the bondage” (Exodus 2:23), most of our contemporaries are unaware of their predicament.  Yet the promise still stands; “Adoni YHVH [says]: ‘Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your grave … Then you shall know that I am YHVH, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves’” (Ezekiel 37: 12-13). One more difference which characterizes our times is that, a remnant has been brought up out of those graves. When and how did that occur?  Paul points to the glorious day when the Heavenly Father raised the Redeemer Shepherd of Israel from His grave.  Since we were united to Him on the execution stake, having died (ref. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15) and buried with Him, we also “… were raised with Him through faith in the working of Elohim, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12). This resurrection out of the grave is a testimony of the above-cited Ezekiel verses and is, at the same time, also what restored our identity as “His people Israel”. What’s more, being raised with Messiah we were granted eternal life (see Romans 6:23)! 

Echoing Isaiah’s prophecy of a covenant with Israel’s redeemed (59:20-21), Ezekiel prophesies: “I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, YHVH, have spoken it and performed it,’ says YHVH” (Ezekiel 37:14). Once the “Spirit/breath” of life revives the body/nation amazing things start happening - we not only live, but we also stand upon our feet as an “exceedingly great army” (Ezekiel 37:10). 

Therefore, not unlike the identity of our ancestors of old, our identity and the identity of our Elohim are intricately woven together throughout the tapestry of history, commemorated especially at Pesach time.  So as we celebrate this year’s Seder, and hear those famous words “let My people go”, let us hold on to the vision that is cast before us, as we walk into the future following our Redeemer King.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Yeshua’s Testimony

 


In Revelation 19:10 John the apostle is told the following words, uttered by an “undefined” entity: “I am your fellow bond servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Yeshua. Worship Elohim! For the testimony of Yeshua is the spirit of prophecy”.  One of first statements in this book of end-time revelation is: “the Word of Elohim and the testimony of Yeshua” (1:2).  If there is one thing that sparks the anger of the dragon, it is those “who hold to this testimony of Yeshua” (ref. 12:17). But what constitutes this “testimony of Yeshua”?  

No doubt a book could be written about this, if it has not already been written.  Yes, Yeshua is the “Spirit/Word of Elohim”, and thus all prophecies through Moses and all the prophets of old, was given to them by the One who is “the Spirit of prophecy”.  Shortly before His crucifixion Yeshua disclosed to His disciples what was about to take place, saying:  “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him to you”““However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. (John 16:13, 7). What were those “things to come”? What did Yeshua mean by that? Was He referring to what has been spoken by the prophets of old, prophecies that were yet to be fulfilled? 

The necessity for the fulfilment of these words is the reason why Yeshua is still seated in Heavenly places, and will only return when He has accomplished the will of His Father by revealing Himself in the fulfillment of all those prophecies (see Acts 3: 19-21).  “Then I said, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do your will, O Elohim” (Hebrews 10:7; Psalm 40:7).

One major aspect of the Father’s will, for sending His Son Yeshua, was the redemption and restoration of the Kingdom to Israel and in order for Yeshua to ultimately sit on the throne of David (ref. Luke 1: 32-33).  By saying, “I only came to the lost sheep of the House of Israel” (Mathew 15:24), Yeshua was underscoring His coming to the family of Jacob as a kinsman redeemer. The Hebrew meaning of “redeemer” – go’el - always implies a family relative.  Thus, if we acknowledge that Yeshua is our redeemer, we would have to accept the truth that we are and always have been of the same family.   

Yeshua, being “the Spirit of prophecy” cannot deny Himself. Therefore every word, whether in covenants, promises or prophecies when coming to pass, is the reality of His testimony.   This is what those bond servants of YHVH, whose presence was implied in the above-cited Revelation 19:10, were clinging to, as they, especially John, saw the future fulfilment and recorded it in the final manuscript of “Revelation”.

 “Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion an everlasting joy shall be upon their heads…” (Isaiah 51:11). 

Sometime after Yeshua’s resurrection, in one of His appearances before the disciples, He told 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’” (Luke 24:44).  If this is true about His death, burial and resurrection how much more so the rest of all that has been written in the “Torah of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me”!