Thursday, April 16, 2020

The End of Another Three Days' Journey

Last week we took a three days’ journey with our Israelite ancestors from Rameses through Succoth, Etham and finally (on the 3rd day) to Pi Hahiroth located opposite Baal Zephon, at which point they crossed the Reed Sea with the Egyptian chariots chasing after them. We noted that this would have taken place on the 18th of the month of Aviv, signifying “chai” – the very day of Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead.

Immediately after this miraculous and joyous event, indicating the nation’s formation, another three days’ journey commenced. This journey brought the Israelites, on the 21st day of Aviv, to a place called Mara, which was named so because of its bitter waters. Thus the seventh day of the Feast of Matzot that was to be a holy convocation (ref. Ex. 12:16) and set aside as a solemn day to YHVH, turned out to be a time of worry, complaint and… bitterness.

It was right there that YHVH had pointed out to Moses, a tree (“etz”) that was cast into the waters making them sweet. How much of a promise is there in a “tree”?! How much power is there in a “tree”? It was on a tree that Messiah Yeshua bore the bitterness of our sins in His body, so that we may live in the sweetness of His righteousness (ref. 1st Peter 2:24). There is also a promise which remains, that one day there will be one tree held in the hand of the Almighty; the tree of the united people of Israel and Judah (ref. Ez. 37:19), the tree which is mentioned in Romans 11:17.  Then all the bitterness of the former ‘defiling with idols, with detestable things, and with any of the transgressions’ will be turned into the sweetness of ‘deliverance, salvation and cleansing’ (ref. Ez.37:23).  

Thus the high Sabbath (“shabbaton”) of the last day of the feast of Matzot became a day of testing, as is declared in Exodus 15:25, but beyond the test YHVH also chose that day for announcing “a statute and an ordinance” according to which: ”If you diligently heed the voice of YHVH your Elohim and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am YHVH who heals you – YHVH Rophe’cha" (v. 26).  

The next stop of our fathers, three weeks after this decisive incident, found them in Elim, on the 15th day of the second month (ref. 16:1), “where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees, so they camped there by the waters” (15:27). However, even with all this wonderful provision of grace, their complaining did not cease (16:2-3).

“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1st Corinthians 10:11).  

As we look forward to our wilderness/desert journey, may we remember YHVH’s words: “I’m not doing this for your sake oh house of Israel but for my name sake… to humble you and test you, to know what is in your heart, whether you will keep My commandments or not… and that I might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but by every word that proceeds from My mouth” (Modified from Deuteronomy 8:2-3).   

Friday, April 10, 2020

A Three Days’ Journey

 At this point, on the second day of the Feast of Matzot, the 16th day of Aviv (Nisan), we are looking toward the first day of the coming week, the 18th, which is signified by the Hebrew letters yod and chet, that if read backwards make up the word “chai”, meaning “alive” or “living”. This is also the day on which, according to VaYikra (Leviticus) 23:10-11, the Beginning (re’sheet, imprecisely translated “first fruits”) of the Omer (barley) is to be waved “before YHVH for your/our acceptance”.  In the most amazing way this was fulfilled by Yeshua, when He rose from the dead on the first day after the Shabbat, following 3 nights and 3 days ‘in the grave’, and presented Himself before the Father as the Beginning – Resheet - of  those who have fallen asleep (1st Cor. 15:20).

From one very scant, but significant, reference we know that one thing that Yeshua did, during what is in our world of time and space a 3 day period, was to go and “preach to the spirits in prison who formerly were disobedient…” (1st Peter 3:19-20). We cannot imagine how He did that, and what exactly the results were, but we do know that He was resurrected 3 days later.

Against this backdrop, if we revert back to the time of the Exodus, to our ancestors’ emergence from slavery (on the 15th of the month) with their belongings, we see them traveling from Rameses to Succoth (Ex. 12:37), where they picked up Joseph’s bones (13:19, 20). Next, we are told that they camped at “Etham at the edge of the wilderness”, which would have been the next day. Immediately after, on the 17th, they camped “before Pi Hairoth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon; you shall camp before it by the sea” (14:2). So now we are on the 3rd day of Israel’s journey from Egypt toward the spot where they would cross the Reed Sea dry shod. Like Yeshua, the Children of Israel’s journey toward this most significant next ‘station’ was one that took 3 days.

Yeshua’s victory over the enemy, started by succumbing to the death on the cross, and continued in a 3 day course culminating in His resurrection. Israel’s 3 days journey to the shores of the Reed Sea was also of some significance, particularly so is the last stop where YHVH Himself commanded them to camp. Why? Let’s take a closer look at the names of the places mentioned, and notice also YHVH’s further order to the Israelites to, “camp before” and “opposite” a particular site. Pi Hahiroth, the camping site where they were to stay, reads in Hebrew Pi Ha-chirot, which with a simple vowel change may be pronounced Pi Ha-Cherut – meaning the “mouth/opening of liberty”! This “opening of/to liberty” is located right in front of Baal of Zephon, which in Hebrew is read Tzfon, or with a slight change of vowels, Tzafon, meaning north. Baal literally means “owner”.

Where is Mount Zion, the City of the Great King said to be? “On the sides of the north” (ref. Ps. 48:2 emphasis added).  Where is it that Lucifer – Hillel ben Shachar – desires to take his place? “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of El: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north” (Is. 14:13 emphasis added).  Psalm 23 declares: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (v. 5), and it seems that YHVH did just that for His people. In fact, a little later on we read that, “the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon” (Ex. 14:9). Within a short time (not before some terror-filled moments) Israel saw “the salvation of YHVH”, when they “went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground….” (14:22), while their enemies drowned.

You know the rest of the story, one that turned out to be a glorious victory over the enemy, a victory which none other that YHVH Himself could accomplish; a victory that also projected into a future that was to see the defiant archenemy, who dared to try and dethrone the Almighty, having to bow down and face the “opening” for freedom and liberty when Yeshua “led captivity captive” (Eph. 4:8). This will ultimately result in creation being “delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of Elohim” (Romans 8:21).

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Same’ach,
Ephraim and Rimona

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Prayers of Repentance

Nehemiah 1:5-11 “I pray, YHVH Elohim of heaven and earth, O great and awesome Elohim, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant, which I pray before You now, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father's house and I have sinned.  We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.  I remember the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘if you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather you from there, and bring you to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.'  

Now we are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.  O Adoni, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name…”

Nehemiah 9:5-36 “Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise!  You alone are YHVH; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.  You YHVH Elohim, chose Abram, and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and gave him the name Abraham; You found his heart faithful before You, and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites… and to give it to his seed. You have performed Your words, for You are righteous.  You saw our affliction in Egypt, and heard our cry by the Reed Sea.  You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his servants, and against all the people of his land. For You knew that they acted proudly against us. So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day.  And You divided the sea before us, so that we went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; And our persecutors You threw into the deep, as a stone into the mighty waters.  Moreover, You led us by day with a cloudy pillar, and by night with a pillar of fire, to give us light on the road which we should travel.  You came down also on Mount Sinai, and spoke with us from heaven, and gave us just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments.  You made known to us Your holy Sabbath, and commanded precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses Your servant. You gave us bread from heaven for our hunger, and brought us water out of the rock for our thirst, and told us to go in to possess the land, which You had sworn to give us.   But we and our fathers acted proudly, hardened our necks, and did not heed Your commandments.  We refused to obey, and we were not mindful of Your wonders that You did among us. But we hardened our necks, and in our rebellion we appointed a leader to return to our bondage. But You are Elohim, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake us. Even when we made a molded calf for ourselves, and said, 'This is our god that brought us up out of Egypt,' and worked great provocations. Yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake us in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from us by day, to lead us on the road; nor the pillar of fire by night, to show us light, and the way we should go.  You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct us, and did not withhold Your manna from our mouth, and gave us water for our thirst.  Forty years You sustained us in the wilderness, we lacked nothing; our clothes did not wear out and our feet did not swell. Moreover You gave us kingdoms and nations, and divided us into districts. So we took possession of the land…  You also multiplied our children as the stars of heaven, and brought us into the land which You had told our fathers to go in and possess. So we Your people went in and possessed the land; You subdued before us the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into our hands… we took strong cities and a rich land, and possessed houses full of all goods, cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees in abundance. So we ate and were filled and grew fat, and delighted ourselves in Your great goodness.

 Nevertheless we were disobedient and rebelled against You, cast Your Torah behind our backs and killed Your prophets, who testified against us to turn us to Yourself; And we worked great provocations. Therefore You delivered us into the hand of our enemies, who oppressed us; And in the time of our trouble, when we cried to You, You heard from heaven; And according to Your abundant mercies You gave us deliverers who saved us from the hand of our enemies.  But after we had rest, we again did evil before You. Therefore You left us in the hand of our enemies, so that they had dominion over us; Yet when we returned and cried out to You, You heard from heaven; And many times You delivered us according to Your mercies, and testified against us, that You might bring us back to Your Torah. Yet we acted proudly, and did not heed Your commandments, but sinned against Your judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them. And we shrugged our shoulders, stiffened our necks, and would not hear. Yet for many years You had patience with us, and testified against us by Your Spirit through Your prophets. Yet we would not listen; Therefore You gave us into the hand of the peoples of the nations. Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume us nor forsake us; For You are Elohim, gracious and merciful.   Now therefore, our Elohim, the great, the mighty, and awesome Elohim, Who keeps covenant and mercy: Do not let all the trouble seem small before You that has come upon us, our kings and our princes, our priests and our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until this day.  However, You are just in all that has befallen us; For You have dealt faithfully, but we have done wickedly.  Neither our kings nor our princes, our priests nor our fathers, have kept Your Torah, nor heeded Your commandments and Your testimonies, with which You testified against us. For we have not served You… Nor did we turn from our wicked works. Here we are, servants today in the nations that you have banished us… Here we are Your servants… but slaves to the governments of these nations.  Because of our sins; they have dominion over our bodies and our belongings, and we are in great distress.”

Daniel 9:4-19   “O Adoni, great and awesome Elohim, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.  O Adoni, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day -- to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven us, because of the unfaithfulness which we have committed against You.  O Adoni, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To You YHVH our Elohim belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against You.  We have not obeyed Your voice YHVH, to walk in Your laws/Torah, which You set before us by Your servants the prophets.  Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your Torah, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; Therefore the curse and the oath written in the Torah of Moses the servant of Elohim have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against You. And You have confirmed Your words, which You spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us this disease/virus… As it is written in the Torah of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us and all Israel; yet we have not made our prayer before You YHVH our Elohim, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth.  Therefore You have kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for You are YHVH our Elohim righteous in all the works which You do, though we have not obeyed Your voice. And now, O Adoni our Elohim, who brought us, Your people, out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day -- we have sinned, we have done wickedly!  O Adoni, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from us… Now therefore, our Elohim, hear the prayer of Your servants, and our supplications, and for Your Name sake cause Your face to shine on Your people. O my Elohim, incline Your ear and hear… for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.  O Adoni, hear! O Adoni, forgive! O Adoni, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my Elohim, for Your city and us, Your people who are called by Your name…”