Monthly Archives: September 2015

Fasting from Your Heart

fasting and praying on knees

“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover them…”  Isaiah 58:6-7

In Isaiah 58, YHVH tells His people Israel that they are not to be hypocrites when they fast, going through the motions with their head and body but not their heart (Isa 58:3-5, Jer 14:12, etc.). In Isaiah 58:6, He is talking about repenting for exploiting their workers. He tells them to turn back to Him and make a genuine change in their lives, showing compassion to others. In verse 7, Yehovah gets more specific when He describes the nature of a truly sincere fast, which would cause the people to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in their actions, such as taking care of the poor and hungry, and clothing the naked.

To me, this is one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture, as YHVH is pointing out to His people how they have fallen short (as we all have in our lives), telling them they need to repent, guiding them (and us) as to what they should be doing, and then promising them wonderful blessings if they will follow His instructions (Isa 58:8-11).

Many Scriptures talk about the positive results of fasting sincerely from your heart:

  • In Joel 2:12, YHVH tells the people to turn to Him with their whole heart, with fasting and weeping; He goes on to say that they are to rend their heart and not their garments, and then Joel says that YHVH is gracious and merciful and will bless them for turning back to Him (Joel 2:13-14). This is similar to what He says through Jeremiah when He tells His people to circumcise their hearts and turn back to Him (also see Deut 10:16 and 30:6).
  • Yeshua adds meaning to these words when He tells people that they need to fast inwardly (in secret) and not outwardly (walking around in sackcloth and showing everyone how they are being so righteous with their fasting). As in Isaiah and other Scriptures, He also says that Abba Father will reward them openly when they fast secretly (Matt 6:16-18).
  • When King Darius had to throw Daniel into the lion’s den because he had broken the decree that no one was to worship a different god than the official god of their kingdom, Darius stayed up all night fasting. When he came down to check on Daniel in the morning, he found him alive and well. What really fascinates me about Darius is that he called Daniel the “servant of the living God” even before he knew that he had been saved from the lions (Daniel 6:18-23). This tells me that Darius was sincerely fasting from his heart and that he was praying to the true living God and not one of his false gods. It is also apparent from this passage that Darius was moved with compassion, which inspired his fasting.

What do these Scriptures teach us about our heart attitude when we are fasting and praying? If we are fasting because we think it makes us a better Christian, or we think it’s the right thing to do to get God to answer our prayers, or we are simply following Abba’s instructions to fast but our heart is not in it, what are we accomplishing? We are only fasting outwardly to convince others (or ourselves) that we are righteous people who are following God’s will. We need to look into our hearts and find out what our true motives are when we fast or pray.

Are we truly seeking to draw closer to YHVH and to be pleasing to Him? If that is true, then the fruit of the Spirit should be evident in our lives, starting with our love and compassion for others.

Look again at Isaiah 58 and ask these questions of yourself: are you helping to undo the heavy burdens of others; are you sharing your bread with the hungry and bringing to your house the poor who are cast out; are you clothing the naked and taking care of the widows and fatherless? If you are, then Yehovah will reward you openly: your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily…Then you shall call, and YHVH will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ Isaiah 58:6-9

When Yeshua Returns

when Yeshua returns

Is it Rosh Hashanah or Yom Teruah?  What is the meaning of blood moons?  Is this the beginning of the Jubilee of Jubilees? There are currently numerous arguments and speculations concerning the fall feasts and current events.  As we reviewed the Scriptures (Lev 23:23-25, 25:8, Num 29:1) on keeping the feast of Yom Teruah, we began asking questions during our praise and worship time with YHVH.

The Bible indicates that this fall feast is provided so that we may rehearse the sounding of the trumpets as a warning to look inwardly to ensure that we know and are keeping YHVH’s commandments (Neh 8:2-6).  Yom Teruah is not the beginning of another year, but it may signal a new beginning yet to come, the release of all the inhabitants of the land (Lev 25:8-10).  Scripture teaches us that every seven years (smitah) the land must be rested and anyone in the tribes of Israel was to be released from indentured servitude.  Every fifty years is a jubilee (juval) when all debts are forgiven and everything in Israel is restored and every person in Israel is released.  Any land sold to another tribe is to revert back to the original tribe.  All people in Israel are to be set free (Lev. 25:10).  According to the reckoning of others, the next Jubilee will be the 70th Jubilee. Since years were lost during the Babylonian exile, how do we determine which is the correct year to celebrate it?  How will we know?

As we reviewed the Scriptures on Yom Teruah, the shmitah and Jubilee, we began asking questions about how to correctly celebrate the appointed times and how to best understand current events.  We believe that the Holy Spirit provided the following explanation.  Yeshua will return amid the blowing of trumpets and shofars on the Yom Teruah before we are to celebrate the Jubilee of Jubilees (70th Jubilee).  It is Messiah Himself Who will announce release to all the inhabitants not only of Israel, but all the earth.  The King of Kings will judge His enemies and provide covering for His sheep on Yom Kippur.  Our spiritual enemies will be confined for 1,000 years and we will be released from their torment.  There will be joyous celebration and Yeshua will celebrate with us!  We will then know it is time to blow the shofar on Yom Kippur to indicate the Jubilee of Jubilees.  The first time Yeshua came was to provide atonement and a way for us to be released from slavery to the enemy (salvation and deliverance).  The second time, Yeshua will take captive our enemies, both human and spiritual, and remove them from our presence.

We know from Scripture that Yeshua will return to a desolated world (Matt 24:29).  We also know from Scripture that Israel is not to plant or harvest during a shmitah or Jubilee year.  So, if there is much destruction in the land, how will people eat?  Scripture tells us that Israel’s former enemies and oppressors will come bearing many gifts (Is 60:11).  We believe these will be mainly people from the enemy nations who were not personally guilty of oppression against Israel.  We believe the remnants of the enemy nations will be eager to reconcile with Yeshua and with Israel.  Just as the Israelites took possession of Canaan and enjoyed the products of others’ labors, the inhabitants of Israel will now have the products of their enemies’ labors delivered to their doorstep (Is 60:5).

It is useless for us to try to mesh current events and Scriptural prophecy to fit into our own time frame as many people are doing now.  The one thing we know for sure is that YHVH is in control and will do all that He has promised in His own way and in His own time.  It is not our job to predict or even speculate how everything will play out.  It is our job to be working in the harvest and doing our individual assignments from YHVH.  Then, when Yeshua returns, He will find the faithful servants He expects to find (Matt 24:45-51).  What will you be doing when Yeshua returns?

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.  I am the [alef] and the [tav}, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

 Blessed are those who do [téreó, meaning to keep, guard or observe] His commandments [entolé],  that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city (Rev 22:12-14).

Inside Job

above all elseAs a born-again believer, have you ever tried to explain your experience with YHVH to a non-believer? Have you been met with doubt and misunderstanding or even ridicule?  We can tell others of our experience, but we cannot transfer our experience to another person. No one else can truly experience what another has experienced. They can hear and try to put themselves into the other person’s place, but it isn’t the same thing. They will not truly understand what Yeshua has done for them until they experience His love, forgiveness, and presence for themselves.

At the time I asked forgiveness for my sins and invited Yeshua to be Lord of my life, I was only vaguely aware that I needed Him. It was only after I experienced Him personally that I began to get a glimpse of just how much I needed Him. Through an ongoing relationship with Yeshua for the past 30+ years, I have realized on ever deeper levels just how much I need Him and how much He has done for me. I have learned to love, appreciate, respect, adore, obey and trust my beloved Shepherd. There have been changes in my behavior and attitude that may be perceived by others, but the actual work inside my heart is invisible to others.

When I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, there were outward signs of speaking in tongues and other gifts of the Holy Spirit. The inside work, however, was much more significant. The Holy Spirit worked with me to show me areas where I needed to change and grow, so that I would not be merely a noisy gong as I used the precious gifts I had received. Also, the Spirit emboldened me to step out in faith and take risks in order to work in YHVH’s harvest.

If you have experienced baptism in the Holy Spirit, then you probably understand how difficult it is to convey to others how important it is that they take this step. Many people are satisfied with salvation in Yeshua and are content to have a foot in the door to the Kingdom of Heaven.  We are empowered and equipped by the Holy Spirit in order to develop into harvest workers and soldiers in YHVH’s kingdom. It is not enough to remain spiritual babies any more than we should expect to be human babies forever.

Those of us who have experienced baptism in the Holy Spirit understand what a wonderful gift we have been given, but how do we convey that wonder to others? We cannot convince others by speaking to the intellect. We must speak to the heart and challenge the person to try it for themselves.

The greatest difficulty I have faced is convincing born-again believers of their need for deliverance.   Many believe that once they have been saved, they do not have to worry too much about the enemy.  It is true that Satan had hold of me before I became a born-again believer. He lost control in some areas of my heart after I accepted salvation, but he still had a foothold in areas that I had not yet yielded to YHVH. When I went through prophetic deliverance, I became aware of just how much influence demons still had on me. For one thing, they had clouded my perception of truth. I am now able to see more clearly how demons operate to influence and manipulate us. Now that I better understand how the enemy functions, I have been able to incorporate more effective combat strategies into my spiritual warfare. The greatest discovery for me has been insight into distinguishing the precious person YHVH created from the demon(s) who are working within the person to steal, kill, and destroy in many ways.  However, these experiences and insights are particularly difficult to explain to others.

The best way I can describe it is to ask you to imagine that someone dear to you is being used and manipulated by another person. Wouldn’t you do everything you could to assist that person in getting free? What if the person rejected your every effort and refused to believe that you might have a solution to the problem? What if that person accused you of judging them or criticizing them for getting themselves into such a situation? I experience the same anguish and frustration when I see a demon holding someone I love in bondage. I see the torment that person endures while unwittingly cooperating with the enemy.

If you have not yet repented of your sins and asked Yeshua to be Lord of your life, then I challenge you to try it for yourself. If you have not yet sought the baptism that only Yeshua can offer, then I challenge you to ask Yeshua for this precious gift. If you have not yet sought deliverance so that you can be free from any remaining bondage to Satan, then I challenge you to ask Yeshua to guide you. Yeshua came to set the captives free. The Hebrew name Yeshua means both salvation and deliverance.  We need everything that Yeshua offers to us.  Don’t take my word for it.  Try it for yourself.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws (Ezek. 36:26-27 NIV).

Where do we look on Yom Teruah?

blowing of trumpets

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky: all the tribes of the Land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with tremendous power and glory. He [Messiah] will send out His angels with a great trumpet [shofar] blast; and they will gather together His chosen people from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Yeshua tells us in Matthew 24:30-31 (CJB) that in the last days, He [Messiah] will sound a great shofar, and send out His angels to gather His Body from all the ends of the Earth. YHVH has provided the Feast of Trumpets [Yom Teruah] as a rehearsal to help us prepare for this great End Times event.

When you see phrases like the “blowing of the trumpets” or “loud shouting”, these are translated from the same Hebrew word, Teruah, which simply means a loud noise. One of my favorite uses of this word in Scripture relates to the moving of the Ark of the Covenant in II Samuel 6:15: “So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of YHVH with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet [shofar]”. This same event was described in I Chronicles 15:28: “So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of YHVH with shouting, to the sound of the ram’s horn [shofar], trumpets, and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres.” In both descriptions, you see the combination of loud shouting and the blowing of the Shofar, which both come from the word Teruah. An occasion like the moving of the Ark elicited many loud sounds from the people in the procession, both from instruments and with their voices raised in praise to Yehovah.

There are many other passages in Scripture that tell us how the Shofar is used: as a wake-up call to turn people back to YHVH (Jer 6:17, Eze 33:3-6), a call to battle (Isa 18:3, Jer 4:19, Josh 6, Judges 7), or the announcement of an appointed time with Yehovah (Ex 19:16-19, Lev 23:23-25, Num 29:1). These last two verses refer to the blowing of the Shofar and “loud shouting” on the Feast of Yom Teruah, or the Day of the Blowing of Trumpets.

Going back to the original Hebrew, a better translation of Numbers 29:1 would be: “On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy rehearsal. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets”. Leviticus 23:24 could also be more accurately translated as: “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of trumpets, a holy rehearsal”. Why would this and other Fall Feasts be described as rehearsals? Most likely because the Fall Feasts have not yet been fulfilled. Putting all these Scriptures together, it seems clear that Yom Teruah will find its ultimate fulfillment in the “great shofar blast” described in Isaiah 27:13 (and quoted by Yeshua in Matthew 24:31): “And in that day a great trumpet [shofar] will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship YHVH on the holy mountain at Jerusalem”.

So, what does all this mean to us as the Body of Messiah? No matter whether or not end times prophecy is fulfilled this year and this is indeed the Great Shofar blast that signals the return of Yeshua to reign on the Earth, the blowing of the Shofar on Yom Teruah is nevertheless very significant for believers. Yom Teruah is always meant to be a special time of awakening for our souls and repentance for our hearts so that we are prepared to be received by Yeshua as the Bride of Messiah when He returns. So on this Yom Teruah, we need to look at our inner selves and take stock of how we are doing at lining up our souls with our born-again spirits (Rom 12:2). I know I have areas that need work based on my report card – how about you?