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”!

Friday, March 5, 2021

Israel - Babylon's Demise

 

In order for YHVH to reveal Himself to humanity/the nations, He must of necessity be faithful to His covenants and promises to Israel and Judah. He states over and over in Scripture that, He is the Elohim of the forefathers whose progeny makes up the nation of Israel in its entirety.  Thus, the restoration and re-union of the two houses of Israel, in the last days, as we have noted in last week’s article “A Debt Repaid”, is one of Yah’s final acts in the great drama of His grand finale. This scene must be acted out before Yeshua’s return to rule and reign over the House of Jacob (see Luke 1:32-33; Acts 3:19-21).

The amazing connection of Israel’s restoration to the end time fall of the “daughter of Babylon” and her world dominion, as seen in Jeremiah chapters 50 and 51 (and Revelation 18), will be the last phase of the restoration of the Divine order in the family of Noah.  Ham and Japheth must come to live and serve in the tent of YHVH’s firstborn Shem (ref. Genesis 9: 26-27), who (when alive) was the “Melchizedec” in Noah’s family, having had a two-fold duty in his service to YHVH.   As we know, Yah’s kingdom order was challenged in the third generation by a Hamite, Nimrod, who set up another kingdom in Babel in the land of Shinar (ref. Genesis 10:9-10).  Thus, began the conflict between the two kingdoms up to this very generation.  A single ruler remained in position until YHVH expanded the “Melchizedec” rule from an individual to a (Shemite) nation - Jacob/Israel.

If we follow the history of YHVH’s chosen “Melchizedec” nation, we see a very interesting pattern.  All the nations that are associated with the Babylonian kingdom will always attempt to subject, even to enslave, Yah’s chosen nation and people.  The first example of that was the Hamite nation of Egypt. Thus for YHVH to preserve and continue His divine order, He had no other choice but to sovereignly intervene and bring Israel out from under that Babylonian-like government and authority.  At the same time, notice what happened to that kingdom and nation when YHVH delivered Israel.  This was to be the pattern from now on through all generations.  There are many good examples of this in the book of Judges, when from time to time Elohim allowed another nation to defeat Israel and rule over them as a result of Israel’s idolatry and adultery.  However, because of His divine order, YHVH could not permit or tolerate such a subjugation to continue, and that brings us to Jeremiah 50 and 51, when through the new covenant’s restoration and union of Israel and Judah YHVH will again, as He did in Egypt, bring Israel and Judah out of the present Babylonian world order.  But in the process, through the authority of His kingdom established in the hearts of His remnant, will do the following, as recorded in Jeremiah 51:19-23:   “The Portion of Jacob is not like them [Babylonians].  For He [YHVH] is the Maker of all things; and Israel is the tribe of His inheritance. YHVH of hosts is His name.  2" You [Israel] are My battle-ax and weapons of war: For with you I will break the nation in pieces; With you I will destroy kingdoms; With you I will break in pieces the horse and its rider; With you I will break in pieces the chariot and its rider;  With you also I will break in pieces man and woman; With you I will break in pieces old and young; With you I will break in pieces the young man and the maiden;  With you also I will break in pieces the shepherd and his flock; With you I will break in pieces the farmer and his yoke of oxen; And with you I will break in pieces governors and rulers”.  Notice it does not say “because of you” but, “with you”.  

We see hints of this end time army in the restoration of the dry bones of Ezekiel 37: “So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army” (ver 10).  In Jeremiah 51:19 YHVH is referred to as “the LORD of the Armies”. In Zechariah 9:13 YHVH states that He “made you [Israel and Judah] like the sword of a mighty man” (one sword).

YHVH will not leave Israel as the tail resulting from the curse of lawlessness (Deuteronomy 28:44), but will raise up a remnant of both houses of Israel into the head, as under the provisions of the Renewed Covenant He will enable us to, “listen to the commandments of YHVH our Elohim… to carefully observe them” (Deuteronomy 28:13), and “to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Messiah” (Ephesians 4:15).  We need to pray that all who have had their identity restored to them, will not grow weary and slide back to another national identity.  Also, that we do not become complacent regarding the future return to all the lands promised to our forefathers. We are YHVH’s witnesses at this time in the nations as to who He is.   Be encouraged and press on to the goals that YHVH has set before us!

Friday, February 26, 2021

A Debt Repaid

 

A Debt Repaid

The Grand Scale Purim Spiel (Purim Play)

 

Israelite identity is far more important today than it has ever been in the recent past.  Thus I want to get right to the point, extracted from a teaching on the book of Esther given by Rabbi Fohrman of Alef-Beta.  Rabbi Fohrman highlights the interesting relation between Leah’s side of the family, as represented by the “Jews”, and Rachel’s, represented by the “Benjaminites” – Mordechai and Esther. In reflecting back on the story of Joseph, Fohrman mentions how Judah (Leah’s son) stood up for his brother Benjamin (Rachel’s son), in an attempt to save him from becoming a slave to the “Egyptian lord” (Genesis 44:33-34).  Fast forward now to the story of Purim. Esther the Benjaminite risked her life to save the entire Jewish population from an Amalikite overlord – Haman, thus repaying Benjamin’s “debt” to Judah. As many times as I have read the story of Purim, I had not seen it through the eyes of the two mothers, the two brothers, and two nations, until now.

If we fast forward again a few hundred years, we hear about a Messiah, from the root of Jesse, tribe of Judah, Leah’s descendant, saying that He has only come to Rachel’s side of the family that is to, “the lost sheep of the House of Israel [Joseph]” (ref. Mathew 10:6; 15:24).  Fast forward again to our day, at which time the descendants of Leah are settled in the land of Israel. Their religious leaders make the claim that the Messiah (Ben Yosef) has been in every generation, but hidden.  In this generation and in our day, they are even calling for Him to reveal Himself. But where is He?  The amazing thing is… that the Messiah Son of David, who was born on Leah’s side of the family, became the Redeemer and Messiah of the House of Rachel/Joseph. Therefore Rachel’s son Joseph remains indebted to Judah. Being that the Spirit of the Messiah is now indwelling a remnant from Rachel’s House, but camouflaged, so much so, that the Jews are not aware of His presence there. However, it is now Rachel’s children who will be the ones to bring Him back to Judah.  Thus, all Israel will be saved and the debt paid.  

When will this happen?  According to Revelation 18 and Jeremiah 50 & 51, it will be during the time of the fall of this present world’s Babylonian system.  One of the main references to this end-time scenario is found in Revelation 18:24-25: "The light of a lamp shall not shine in you [Babylon] anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived.  And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth".  I don’t think much more needs to be said, as the rich and “great men” of the earth have taken control and are using their influence and power through “sorcery” (in Greek “pharmakia”) to subject the rest of humanity to what seems best “in their eyes”.  Every nation is experiencing the effects of this at this time, as billions of small vials of serum are being mass produced to fulfill an agenda, devised by the “great men/merchants of the earth, who have become rich by the wealth of her [Babylon’s] sensuality” (Rev. 18:25, 3). However, YHVH declares regarding such a time: “I will bring back Israel to his home, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan; His soul shall be satisfied on Mount Ephraim and Gilead.  In those days and in that time,’ says YHVH, ‘The iniquity of Israel shall be sought, but there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, but they shall not be found; For I will pardon those whom I preserve’” (Jeremiah 50:19-20).

 “For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his Elohim, YHVH of hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel. Flee from the midst of Babylon, and every one save his life! Do not be cut off in her iniquity, for this is the time of YHVH's vengeance; He shall recompense her” (Jeremiah 51:5-6).

Friday, February 19, 2021

Two Wisdoms at War

 

It is very obvious that all that is happening in today’s world, both personally and corporately, may pose great challenges to our faith and trust in our Heavenly Father and His Messiah.  At the same time the scriptures encourage us to: “Consider it all joy…when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”, (James 1:2-4).  These words happen to address “the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad” - in other words both houses of Israel.  It is interesting that right after stating “that you may be… lacking in nothing” the writer (James) points to one thing that most likely they (and us) were missing, and that is “wisdom”. “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of Elohim… in faith without doubting” (verses 5&6). 

James elaborates on the nature or character of the “wisdom from above”:  “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17-18).

We just read that our faith is tested in the midst of trials. We may perceive our trials to be financial, physical, or the results of governmental decisions, but when it comes to the need for the “wisdom from Elohim”, the testing seems to be more in regards to our relationships within the family of Jacob.   

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?  You lust and do not have; so you commit murder [with the tongue]. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3).  Here the writer presents the nature and character of the world’s wisdom that is waging war against the wisdom from above, and obstructs having sound and loving relationships. “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.  This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:14-16).

The warfare that goes on between the flesh and the spirit is not new, it is a daily battle for all of us who are striving after the wisdom and righteousness in Messiah Yeshua.  We all need the Father to impart His wisdom that can overcome the wisdom of the world, but it does not come without another condition and that is, asking with the right motives (ref. 4:3). 

Obtaining this wisdom, as we saw above, is based upon asking with faith and without doubting. The apostle reminds us of our father Abraham’s faith, of which there was living evidence when he offered up his only son (and in a way, his own life) (ref. 2:21-22).  Likewise, we too should be offering up… ourselves, in faith as a “living sacrifice” (ref Romans 12:1). It is only then that we will begin to see the evidence of the wisdom from above, and demonstrate the fruit of righteousness with which we may nourish others and brings about the oneness that unites the two families of Israel.

 “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom” (James 3:13). “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of Elohim above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).

“Now may the Elohim of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, the Father of glory, give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him… and that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:17; Colossians 1:9).  

Friday, February 12, 2021

WIND AND FIRE

 

WIND AND FIRE

 

At the peak of his ministry Yochanan the Immerser made a declaration about the One coming after him, saying:  “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit [Ruach in Hebrew, meaning both spirit and wind] and fire.  His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:11-12; Luke 3:16-17).


 Yochnan uttered wonderful words of promise - being immersed/absorbed/engrossed by the Spirit (Ruach) of Holiness, as well as by fire, a holy cleansing flame that would come from YHVH. Surely many were encouraged and stirred up when they heard those words; with their daily routines being ordered by an oppressive Roman rule, and the religious life by a corrupt Sadducee priesthood or legalistic rabbinic Pharisees, these words must have sparked excitement and anticipation. To be “gathered” as “wheat” to Elohim’s barn, to be in a safe place, protected and be made ready for the Master’s use – as wholesome bread (the “showbread” in the Holy Place)… Perhaps at last things were going to change….???  But, just a minute, not so fast… what is this about chaff and burning????

 

The chaff typically is gotten rid of by allowing the wind the blow it away. The chaff that Yochanan was talking about was going to meet an even worse lot. He announced that it would be burned. Even words spoken over Israel’s enemies were not so harsh: “O my Elohim, make them like the whirling dust, like the chaff before the wind!” (Psalm 83:14). Yochanan’s words are even sterner. Burning up the chaff “with unquenchable fire” Yochanan was in agreement with Psalm 11:6, which says: “Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup”!

 

Wind (Spirit) and Fire. Both Yochanan and the above words employ the two together. The wonderful immersion of the wind of the Spirit and It’s fire is something we are longing for – cleansed by His fire, filled by His Spirit! Could it be that YHVH is using the very SAME wind/Spirit, and the very same fire to both cleanse and saturate, but also to blow away with an unquenchable fiery wind? Are we in the season of the near maturation of the wheat kernels (almost) ready to be harvested and be gathered into the Master’s granary, while the tares are being readied to be blown into the flames?    

 

Abba, let the fiery wind do its thorough work within me, so that the flame of Your Spirit may be generated from within me for Your purposes as You blow away evil with Your fiery breath! Yes, may we be one with His Spirit. May we be one with His Fire!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Time for Wisdom

 

What a joy to be studying the Parashot (weekly Torah readings) at this time in the history of Israel, “YHVH’s people”, especially if you know that you are one of the redeemed of Jacob!  With all that is going on in the world and in the lives of billions of people, we stand out as Elohim’s witness and testimony of His faithfulness.  What an encouragement when we read of YHVH’s sovereignty over the lives of our ancient forefathers, even while in slavery in Egypt!  Moreover, scripture bears out that YHVH was also in total control of the king of Egypt, his people, and even over the magicians.  In this week’s Parashat “Va’ey’ra” YHVH speaks to Pharaoh and declares: “But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16). This very verse is quoted by Paul in Romans 9:17. The apostle brought out this example, because in the previous verse he highlighted a statement from Exodus 33:19, in which YHVH declares:  “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion” (Romans 9:15 emphasis added) – whether king or slave.  Many times, however, we lose sight of YHVH’s will and sovereign control over everything that transpires on the earth (and perhaps even in heaven), or just over our own lives. 

 That He has never lost control or given sovereignty over to a satan or to anyone else, is indisputable, as Daniel 2:21 confirms: “And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding”. 

“He gives wisdom… and knowledge…” James says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of Elohim, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (1:5). But how will we know that we have been given this wisdom from above?  Here is the apostle’s answer: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (3:17).  Make no mistake! You will know if you have been granted this special wisdom, because it has a very distinct character.  There is many an experience that we go through in life that does not line up with what we had expected or assumed.  At such times we have to recognize YHVH’s will and our need for celestial wisdom. As for the ‘celestial wisdom’, there is an outstanding promise for the future. Daniel declares that, “those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmamentand goes on to say: “And those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3 emphasis added).