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Law-Abiding Citizens?

Not everyone who says to meThis article is the first of three articles in a series entitled “Living Kingdom”.  We will examine the importance of choosing to abide by YHVH’s commands as we consider the choices of individuals in Scripture.  The Good News (Gospel) is about YHVH’s kingdom.  Salvation is necessary for Kingdom Living, but it is a part of the process, not the goal.  We face the same challenges as the Israelites:  recognizing and obeying our King.     

Since the time of Martin Luther, much emphasis has been put on salvation through Yeshua as a gift of YHVH’s grace and not something we merit.  This is true, but it is only a part of the truth.  Yeshua taught about salvation and stressed that reunification with YHVH was possible only through Yeshua Himself.  However, the majority of Yeshua’s teaching focused on how to live in the Kingdom of YHVH (Matt 5-7; 16:19, 18:3, 29-30, 19:23).  Salvation supplies us citizenship in YHVH’s kingdom, but as citizens we must abide by the rules and regulations of our King.  Citizens and visitors in all countries on earth are required to obey the rules of the country where they reside or visit.  What are the consequences of ignoring YHVH’s teaching and commandments?  What are the rewards?  Two books of Scripture (Judges and Ruth) present vivid pictures of the two choices and their consequences.  As we review the stories in these two books, let us look for insights into kingdom living and see how the Body of Messiah measures up.

The Book of Judges provides examples of those who made it to the Promised Land but who failed to follow YHVH’s explicit commands (Judges 2:10).  Let us begin with the story of Micah (chapter 17).  Micah stole 1100 silver pieces from his mother (violating Ex 20: 12, 15).  He overheard his mother putting a curse on the thief.  Micah confessed his sin and returned the money.  His mother used part of the money to “honor” YHVH by creating some idols.  Mixing pagan with sacred and is strictly forbidden by YHVH (Ex 20:3-5).   Micah hired a Levite to serve as a priest in his home.  Levites were to serve YHVH in the Tabernacle, not in individual homes (Num 18:1-2).  How do these choices compare to the development of the Body of Messiah? The church early on mixed pagan with sacred (Christmas and Easter replacing the seven feasts of YHVH), misappropriated funds (selling indulgences and relics), provided idols (statues), and created roles for “priests” that YHVH never authorized.  These practices continue today.  Corruption spreads quickly but is not easily eradicated.  Over time, the Israelites’ disobedience led to their expulsion from the land.  What will be the consequence of our continued disobedience in the kingdom of YHVH?

Next,  the tribe of Dan discovered Micah’s evil setup (Judges 18).  They not only failed to root out the evil, but they stole the idols and the Levite “priest” from Micah thus spreading evil throughout an entire tribe.   Even though YHVH raised up various judges to lead the people, their influence was short-lived.  Strong godly leaders have arisen throughout the history of Christianity.  Revivals have come and gone. Leaders can inspire, exhort and teach, but we make our own choices.  Each person is responsible for establishing and maintaining a relationship with YHVH by loving Him and obeying Him.  We are also responsible for exhorting each other in the Body of Messiah (Col 3:12-17) and rooting out evil from our midst.  Each of us will appear before the Judge (Matt 7:21-23).

Finally, there is the tragic tale of the Levite and his concubine (Judges 19).  The Levite not only failed to protect his concubine, but he used her as a human shield to protect himself.  At that time travel in the Promised Land was no safer than in foreign lands (Judges 19:12).  Israel finally addressed the situation by almost eliminating an entire tribe, not to mention the loss of life in the other tribes.  The first two days Israel fought with the tribe of Benjamin (where the rape and murder had taken place), the other tribes suffered heavy losses.  Was this perhaps punishment for not purging evil from their midst earlier?  On the third day, the tribe of Benjamin was defeated and almost totally destroyed.   A lot of people were killed, but was the evil eradicated?  Being a member of a particular congregation or denomination in the Body of Messiah does not guarantee that we will be righteous before the Judge.  The many incidences of corruption, immorality, etc. within the Body of Messiah today bear witness to our failure to purge evil from our midst.  How many people have sought to know Yeshua and His Father within the Body of Messiah only to be discouraged or even destroyed?  What are we doing to purge evil from our midst?

The book of Ruth provides strong examples of Kingdom of heaven living. Ruth, Naomi and Boaz lived during the same time period as the book of Judges, but their choices brought blessings to themselves and others.  They represent the remnant, those in each generation who truly follow YHVH’s ways, the few chosen from among the many who are called (Matt 22:14).  The climax of the story takes place in the springtime during the barley harvest, the time of Pesach.  Boaz not only followed Torah (Lev 23:22) by allowing Ruth, a poor foreigner, to glean from his fields, but he provided protection and advice for her, unlike the Levite did for his concubine.  We are to welcome the “foreigners” to our faith who seek to know, love and serve YHVH.  We are called to make disciples of them, providing advice, mentoring and protection, not bias and judgment.  Ruth wholeheartedly sought to serve YHVH and her new family.  She was willing to follow the advice of both Naomi and Boaz.  We have much to learn from each other.  Are we proud and obstinate or humble and yielding?  Boaz followed the commandments of YHVH in offering to the kinsman redeemer first in line the opportunity to do his duty.  When the first kinsman redeemer refused, Boaz assumed his assigned duty.  Ruth and Boaz were harvesting barley; we are to harvest souls.  (John 4:35-36).  While bloodlines are important and respected by YHVH, they are no guarantee for eternity.  Neither is the fact that we claim to accept Yeshua as our Savior.  The litmus test for all of us is faithfulness to YHVH and His Torah.

The prevailing excuse given in Judges is that Israel had no king.  Actually, they did have a King who is Spirit, but they failed to recognize Him.  He later came to earth as a human and many still failed to recognize Him.  Our King, who is both YHVH and human resides in heaven, but also in our hearts.  Do we recognize Him as King?  Do we follow His commands?

The Cost of Fear

He will not leave you

To our beloved readers:  I write this article as one who has struggled for years with fear.  Bit by bit I have overcome some of my “illegal” fears, but my struggle continues.  I write this article to myself as well as to all of you.  Let us keep our focus on the prize before us.

Fear is one of the emotions that YHVH gave to us for a specific purpose.  We are to fear only YHVH knowing that He is much greater than us and more powerful.   However, many of us fear much more than the awesome might of YHVH.  We humans have many different types of fear.    Yet Scripture tells us repeatedly not to be afraid.

In Exodus 1:19-45 and Numbers  13-14, we read that the Israelites refused to go into the Promised Land because of their fear of the giant people living there.  As they focused on the problem it seemed to magnify, distracting them so that they forgot the signs and wonders that YHVH had already performed to release them from slavery in Egypt.  As a result of yielding to their fear, the Israelites paid a heavy price.  They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until that generation of adults died out.  They not only forfeited a much easier life in a land of abundance, but they failed to assume their divine assignment from YHVH.  Instead of carrying out their mission, they spent the rest of their lives wandering around aimlessly.  YHVH simply waited until a new generation was raised up to replace those who had yielded to fear.

What can we learn from the Israelites? In Exodus 19 and 20, we see that YHVH wants to meet with the people.  The manifestations of His presence (fire, smoke, lightening and thunder and so on) made the people afraid.  We are to have great awe and respect for the Ancient of Days, but we are not to be afraid to speak to Him and hear His voice.  Now, we do not hear YHVH’s voice thundering, but instead we listen for a still small voice inside of us.  YHVH has made it more comfortable for us to hear Him.  In the Exodus account, barriers were erected around the mountain in order to separate YHVH from the fallen, sinful humans, but Yeshua has removed those barriers for us.  The veil in the Temple has been torn and we are free to have a close personal relationship with our Father and His Son.  Do we fear having an intimate relationship with our Father or with Yeshua?  If so, what price are we paying for our fear?  What are we losing?

Our Father spoke His commandments to the Israelites, but they were too afraid to continue hearing from Him.  So He wrote out His commands on tablets of stone.  After Yeshua returned to His Father, He sent the Holy Spirit to write His law on our hearts.  The Holy Spirit not only has put the law on our hearts but works through us so that we can carry out YHVH’s commands.  Do we fear having the Holy Spirit operate in us and through us?

Just as YHVH delivered the Israelites from bondage, He desires to set us free from our bondage to sin and to demons.  Many of us deny that we can be in bondage to demons when we are already born again.  Others of us are afraid of the spiritual realm and the idea of demons, so we stay in denial and try to ignore them.  Just as termites in your house will not go away if you simply ignore them, neither will demons depart from you because you deny their existence or their presence.  Do we fear seeking deliverance from  demons who hold us in bondage and torment us?  Do we fear the spiritual realm?   As the Israelites were commanded to purge leaven from their midst during Unleavened Bread, we are expected to permanently purge sin and demonic influence from our midst.  How does our bondage hinder us from completing our mission on earth and enjoying life in abundance (John 10:10)?

When the Israelites began to fear the giants in Canaan, they abandoned the only fear they were supposed to have, fear of YHVH.  Their fear of the giants became so great that they disobeyed the only One who is to be feared.  Is it the same with us?  Do we fear that which challenges us to the point that we forget to fear YHVH and thus fail in our divine assignments? Will we fail in our mission because our fear is misplaced?  What blessings and joys are we forfeiting because we give in to forbidden fears?

 

Building Plans

working-together

Exodus 35 paints a beautiful picture not only of the past but of the future as YHVH’s plan unfolds.  In Exodus 35, Moshe had already received the blueprint of the tabernacle to be built for YHVH’s dwelling place on earth.  Now, the people were contributing their goods, time and talents according to what YHVH has provided for each person.  All the people were working together for the glory of YHVH!

There were no distinctions or exclusions among the people.  Every person was invited to participate if  he or she was willing.  Each had something to contribute.  Men and women were both included.

When the Israelites left Egypt, there was a mixed multitude (Ex 12:37-38).  YHVH’s demonstration of His power and the powerlessness of the false gods awakened more than just the Israelites to recognize the one true God.  An unreported number of Gentiles were in the group.  All the people were told to keep the Shabbat and the other appointed times.  YHVH, who is a God of relationship, provided in His plan set times for a family reunion three times a year after they were settled in the Promised Land.  While they were in the desert, they could all meet with YHVH each Shabbat as well.

Today Jews, lost tribes, and Gentiles are being called to help establish and be part of YHVH’s kingdom.  In this case it is not Moshe who has the blueprint, but the Holy Spirit. All are called to participate. All are called to the appointed times YHVH has provided for us.  Each person has an assignment in the work and each person is called to contribute according to the provisions of  goods, time and talent that YHVH has provided. There is  neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor freeman, neither male nor female; for in union with the Messiah Yeshua, you are all one (Gal 3:28 CJB).

Every person is important to the work of YHVH’s kingdom building.  Every person is needed and has a specific role to play, a specific assignment to carry out.  In the wilderness, as the people were building a tabernacle, YHVH was building a community, a family.  So it is today.

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought (1 Cor 1:10 NIV).

Releasing Love

God's Love

Many of us have accepted Yeshua as our Lord and Redeemer, yet we are unable to trust what He has accomplished for us.  Yeshua bore our punishment for all time so that we could maintain a relationship with YHVH and be a part of His family and His kingdom.  We have all heard this message preached, taught, argued and dissected until the words have perhaps become meaningless to us.   Words are not enough; each of us must experience the love of YHVH.

Too often Yeshua’s sheep silently struggle with guilt, regret, and shame that bog us down and block us from enjoying our Father’s overwhelming love.  Instead, we are inundated with misery that YHVH never intended for us to experience.  Do we believe that if we suffer enough, we can somehow make up for our sins?  Truly, there is no way that we can pay for even one sin.  It doesn’t seem right to us that we can repent and walk away free.  Perhaps that is why we find it so difficult to forgive those who have wronged us.  If others have made us suffer, then we feel justified in wanting them to suffer also.  We do not see things from YHVH’s perspective.  We forget how He rejoices over recovering the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7) or re-uniting with the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).  When things go wrong, we think that YHVH is punishing us, even when we have repented and turned away from sin.  It is right to loathe the sin, but we must not loathe ourselves.

Our experiences in this world color our perception.  We assume that YHVH loves the way people love:  half-heartedly, sporadically, conditionally, and so on.  Over the last several months, I have encountered numerous others who are struggling to see themselves as YHVH sees them.  I, too, tend to see myself from a worldly perspective rather than as YHVH sees me.  YHVH loves us extravagantly not because of us, but because of who He is.  What does it mean to us that God is love?   1 Cor 13:4-7 provides some helpful insights.

YHVH does not keep a record of our wrongs and is not easily angered.  He is focused on us, not on Himself.  He believes in us, trusts us and hopes in us.  He is willing to endure all things so that we might be loved into reaching our full potential.  Derek Prince in a work entitled “The Divine Exchange” has provided a beautiful illustration of YHVH’s love through Yeshua’s sacrifice.  Below is a summary of “The Divine Exchange”.

  1. [Yeshua] was punished that we might be forgiven
  2. [Yeshua] was wounded that we might be healed
  3. [Yeshua] was made sin with our sinfulness, that we might be made righteous with His righteousness
  4. [Yeshua] tasted death for us that we might share His life
  5. [Yeshua] was made a curse that we might receive the blessing
  6. [Yeshua] endured our poverty that we might share His abundance
  7. [Yeshua] bore our shame that we might share His glory
  8. [Yeshua] endured my rejection that I might have His acceptance with the Father
  9. He was cut off that we might be joined to [YHVH]
  10. Our Old Man was put to death in Him that the New Man might come to life in us

Sin causes damage and loss.  In John 10:10, Yeshua tells us that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.  Yeshua came so that we might have abundant life.  Yeshua came to recover, restore, replace, re-unite and revive.   Let us throw off the temptation to dwell on the past, on what has been lost or destroyed, and focus instead on what Yeshua has done, is doing, and will do.

YHVH’s love releases us from every burden and barrier, so that we are free to release His divine love to others, including ourselves.  When we are truly set free by His love, we will be able to love as YHVH loves.

 

 

Abiding (Part 2)

Abiding

Last week, we examined some of the definitions of the word abide (according to merriam-webster.com) and how Scripture verses on abiding in YHVH address each definition. We discovered that there is more to the word abide than is obvious at first glance. Here is a brief recap of last week’s blog. Abide can mean “to await”. We must await, or be on the lookout for, YHVH’s call to us so that we can respond promptly. Abide can also mean “to bear patiently or tolerate”. We must be willing to embrace opposition, persecution and suffering for the sake of our relationship with YHVH. A third definition of abide is “to accept without objection”. We must be yielded unconditionally to YHVH’s will for us.

Now, let us examine the final two definitions of abide to see whether Scripture also deals with these definitions. A fourth definition of abide is “to remain stable or fixed in a state”. In John 15:4-9, Yeshua explains what it means to abide in Him in this way.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

Branches on a fruit tree or a vine do not produce fruit by concentrating on the peaches or the grapes they are to produce. In other words, they do not sit on the vine or the tree and repeat “peaches, peaches, peaches, I must produce peaches,” but rather they are so connected to the branch or vine that they naturally produce the desired fruit. If we abide in Yeshua continually, then we will produce the fruit that Yeshua expects from us because Yeshua Himself will supply the fruit in us.

Notice also that the branches that do not produce fruit are gathered up and thrown into the fire. Many of us have the idea that if we have accepted Yeshua, we are “saved” and nothing else is required. If we half-heartedly read our Bible or pray occasionally, we will not produce the fruit that Yeshua is expecting from us. We then become useless branches to be gathered up and thrown into the fire. It is not enough to accept Yeshua once and think that is all that is required. We must continue to abide in Him, which means to be closely connected to Him in an intimate relationship.

In the physical realm, a branch that is separated from the vine or tree cannot be reconnected nor will it produce fruit. It will wither up and die and be thrown into the fire. In the spiritual realm, we may be able to separate from Yeshua for a time and then be re-attached later, but what is the result of such choices? When we separate from Yeshua, we automatically attach to the enemy. We will always produce fruit of one sort or another. The fruit of the enemy is an abomination to YHVH. When we stand before YHVH one day, we do not want to be associated with the enemy’s fruit. The fruit of the enemy is designed to try to undermine or weaken the kingdom of YHVH. We cannot serve two masters (Luke 16:13).

The final definition of abide is “to continue in a place” or “sojourn”. If Yeshua has returned to His Father in heaven and we are still here on the earth, how can we sojourn with Yeshua?

Therefore, if you have been raised up with Messiah, keep seeking the things above, where Messiah is, seated at the right hand of YHVH. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Messiah in God. (Col 3:1-3)

I recently heard a teaching at a class I am attending at Catch the Fire that illustrates how closely we are blended or melded with Yeshua. You are probably familiar with the story of the Israelites in the desert who were being bitten by poisonous snakes. YHVH had Moses make a bronze serpent on a pole. Those who were bitten by the snakes could look at the bronze snake and be healed. Many of us recognize that the serpent on the pole symbolizes Yeshua on the cross, taking on our sin and diseases and putting them to death in His body. But why a bronze serpent? Why not some other metal? Bronze is made by mixing tin and copper together. Once these two metals are united, they can never be separated.

Once we have been smelted with Yeshua, we can never be separated from Him. If Yeshua died on the cross, then we died with Him and we arose with Him triumphant from the grave. We are seated with Yeshua at the right hand of the Father. (Gal 2:20; Rom 6:4-6; Eph 2:6). In Colossians 2:20, we are admonished not to abuse our exalted position in Messiah.  You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world….

We must be ever mindful that we are blended with Yeshua and in Him we are exalted in glory. Therefore, we must live a glorious life as Yeshua did. Yeshua was constantly aware of His Father and saw His Father at work. Yeshua did the works of His Father (John 5:17, 9:4). We, who are seated in Yeshua at the right hand of the Father, must also do the works of our Father.

Scripture shows us that the word abide has much depth and meaning to us who are in Yeshua. It is not a word that we should skim over lightly for it contains a treasure trove of encouragement and instruction for us. Now when we read the word abide in Scripture, we can remember who we are in Yeshua and what it means for us to abide in Him and for Him to abide in us.

Our Darkest Hours

Light

Life is full of challenges and often we are able to rise to the occasion and overcome our trials.  However, there are times when we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances.  During these times, we realize that we are weak and vulnerable.  What causes these dark times to happen?  What can we do?  Scripture provides some insights for us.

Sometimes our suffering is a direct result of our own poor choices, such as when David succumbed to temptation and slept with another man’s wife.  He continued to yield to temptation by attempting to cover up his sin with various schemes.  At last, David confessed and repented of his sins, but there was the consequence of losing a child.  It was only after David confessed his sin and repented that he was set free from his guilt and was able to finally move forward (2 Sam 11-12) .

At other times we need to adjust our focus.  A good example is found in the book of Job.  Job was living in fear and focusing on the negative.   His fear became his focus and performance became his “god”.  “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me” (Job 3:25 NIV). Only when he experienced the loss of family, health, goods, and reputation did his focus change. He met YHVH personally and YHVH became his focus.   And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you (Phil 4:8-9 NLT)

Another source of adversity is when we build false strongholds.  We rely on something or someone else besides YHVH to protect us.  When we are threatened or injured, we tend to develop strategies and attitudes to keep from further injury.  The strategies become our “god” and the attitudes, instead of insulating us from further hurt, only trap us and make a dark place for the enemy to reside.  We know from Yeshua that “[t]he thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10 NIV).  Through deliverance and inner healing, we can remove the darkness and step into the light.

 Yeshua promised us that we would endure persecution for following Him (Matt 10:16-23).  The apostles suffered much persecution and many of our brothers and sisters today are suffering severely.  We must be ready to endure whatever is required of us (1 Pet 3:13-17).  Yeshua endured tremendous persecution during his time on earth, yet He kept His focus on His Father and Abba’s promises to Him.  As a result of His faithfulness, He is exceedingly glorified and we are tremendously blessed (1 Pet 3:18-22).

Whatever the cause of our darkness, the solution is always to turn to YHVH and put our trust in Him.  YHVH will take what is meant for evil and produce glorious good for us (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28).

A Pleasing Fragrance

aroma pleasing to GodIn Exodus 30:34-38, YHVH instructs Moses concerning the incense that is to be made for YHVH’s altar. This incense was to be used solely for YHVH and not for anyone else. Each of the ingredients has much significance for us, both spiritually and physically.

The first ingredient mentioned is stacte, which is a product of myrrh. Modern authorities believe that the stacte was taken from other sources, but ancient authorities equate stacte with myrrh.  It seems more likely that the stacte YHVH intended was from myrrh because of its spiritual significance in Scripture. The wise men offered myrrh to Yeshua as a child (Matt 2:11) and Nicodemus supplied a mixture of myrrh and aloes for Yeshua’s burial (John 19:39). When Yeshua returns, Psalm 45:8 tells us that His robes will be scented with myrrh, aloes, and cassia (cinnamon).

The Hebrew word for stacte is nataph. Both words mean drop or tear. The resin is naturally produced, but sometimes the plant is bruised In order to release more resin. To obtain stacte, the bark of the tree must be cut. The resin is placed in a container and hot water is poured over it. Lumps of myrrh resin and oil sink to the bottom and the water is drained off. Stacte is the liquid taken from within the lumps of myrrh. The lumps must be broken in order to obtain the stacte.

Since ancient times, myrrh has been used in salves for cuts and sores, in rejuvenating facial creams, and in perfumes. Today, myrrh can be found in toothpastes, creams and cosmetics, and is recommended for healing a variety of illnesses including digestive disorders, arthritic pain, and regeneration of healthy cells, to name a few.

The second ingredient is onycha, a Greek word meaning fingernail or claw. The Hebrew word is shecheleth, which means “to roar as a lion”. The root of the Hebrew word means to exude a fragrance. Once again, there are various opinions as to the source of onycha, but the most likely seems to be a type of rock rose. The flower petals resemble a human fingernail that has been painted red.   The twigs and roots of the rock rose are still used for medicinal purposes.

The third ingredient is galbanum, a gum resin with a musky odor. The resin comes in either lumps or tears and has a bitter taste. Both Hippocrates and Pliny extolled its medicinal qualities. Pliny asserted that “the very touch of it mixed with oil of spondylium is sufficient to kill a serpent.”

The final ingredient for the incense is pure frankincense, another aromatic resin. It is produced by slashing the bark in a process called “striping”. The hardened resins are called tears. The Boswellia sacra trees that produce frankincense are able to live in harsh, unforgiving environments and can even grow out of solid rock. The Hebrew word for frankincense is lebonah, which means “white”. YHVH commanded that frankincense be included in the grain offerings (Lev. 2:1) and meat offerings (Lev 2:15). A very pure type of frankincense known as lebonah zakkah in Hebrew, was to be presented with the showbread (Lev 24:7).

Just as Yeshua shed His blood for our healing and restoration, the sap in the tree or shrub produces the resins that are so healing for us.  The sap is the “lifeblood” of the tree or shrub.  Yeshua only is pure enough to be our perfect sacrifice, even more pure than the purest frankincense.  Sap or resin leaks out only when a tree is damaged or cut, just as Yeshua’s blood was released during His suffering and crucifixion.  We can readily see how each ingredient in the incense points to Yeshua’s most precious sacrifice on our behalf. The incense was to be used only for YHVH just as Yeshua alone was worthy to be our sacrifice. Yeshua’s sacrifice is the most pleasing odor to YHVH, the most perfect expression of love.

What does this mean for us? We see that the ingredients of this most sacred incense glorify Yeshua and point to His precious work of redemption. We are restored to YHVH and healed in body and soul. In Yeshua’s righteousness, we can offer ourselves as living sacrifices to YHVH (Rom 12:1).   We too can be pleasing fragrances to YHVH.

Why is Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks) Important?

I will put my spirit within you

One of the least known and understood Biblical feasts of YHVH is the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot in Hebrew or Pentecost in Greek.  As believers in Yeshua the Messiah, you are probably well aware of what happened on the Pentecost following Yeshua’s resurrection and ascension.  The great outpouring of the Holy Spirit came upon Yeshua’s disciples in Jerusalem, and over 3,000 souls were added to the believing Body of Messiah on that day alone.

You are probably also familiar with the Holy Spirit-inspired miracle that occurred during that Shavuot, when the disciples started speaking in tongues of other languages, and each of the thousands of pilgrims in Jerusalem that day understood them in their own language (see Acts 2:11).  Also well known is the fact that this miracle (which represented the overturning of the confusion of languages from the Tower of Babel) was the beginning of the fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32, where YHVH prophesied through Joel that the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh.

When we dig down a little deeper into this appointed feast day of YHVH, though, we realize that many questions are raised and mysteries unveiled when we seek answers through the Holy Spirit. We know that this day of Shavuot happened 50 days after Yeshua was raised from the dead, as we have many confirmations of that time period in Scripture. It is stated clearly that Yeshua was on the earth and appeared to over 500 people during the 40 days following His resurrection (1 Cor 15:6). Then, Yeshua clearly told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them (Luke 24:49):  “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (also see Acts 1:4-8)

You may have studied the similarities between Pentecost and the Shavuot on Mt. Sinai when many Jews believe the Law (Torah) was given to the Israelites.  There is the obvious analogy of fire falling from heaven in both events, first on Mt. Sinai and then on each recipient of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring.  A somewhat less obvious analogy is the giving of the Torah on both occasions (once in written form and once as the Holy Spirit bringing the living Torah to dwell inside of us (see the chapter on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in our book).  Another similarity is the loud sound (YHVH’s voice on Mt, Sinai, which compares to the loud sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind. (Acts 2:2)

What you may not have considered is that the Torah was written on tablets of stone at Mt. Sinai, but Abba said He would write His Torah on our hearts: “I will put My law [Torah] in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people”. (Jer 31:33) And how did YHVH plan to accomplish this miracle? By the power of His Holy Spirit within us: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes [Torah]” (Eze 36:26-27)

Here is the connection: when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the people at Shavuot and they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, YHVH wrote His Torah on their hearts.  When we receive the Holy Spirit to live inside us and guide us, He causes us to walk in His Torah.  A better way to say this might be that He continuously helps us to renew our minds and hearts so that we are transformed into His likeness.  As we go through this transformation, we desire to follow His instructions because we love Him and want to be one with Him as Yeshua said He wanted to be one with us before He left the earth (John 17:21-23)

Spend some time studying God’s word this Shavuot, praising the living Word (Yeshua) and giving glory to Abba Father who sent the Holy Spirit to dwell inside us.  As you do this, you might want to meditate on how you can draw even closer to all three persons of Yehovah God by keeping the Torah that they wrote on your heart, which is kept alive and powerful by the Holy Spirit who lives within you.

Messiah’s First Coming Foretold in the Stars

Messiah's 1st coming foretold (Isa 11 1)“A virgin shall conceive and bear a Son called the Branch, the gloriously beautiful, who shall come down and have dominion. He shall be desired and longed for, but also He shall be despised and be a sin offering. He shall be pierced, but will also pierce. He is the heretofore and the hereafter. He will come suddenly to rule, subdue, govern and tread under foot” (paraphrased from a combination of passages in Isa 4:2, 7:14, 9:6-7, 11:1, 53:3,5; Hag 2:7; Zech 3:8, 6:12; Rev 1:8)

Although this quote is not taken directly from the scriptures, it can be pieced together from the above list of scriptures, and agrees in every detail with the ancient constellation and star names. The word “Zodiac” comes from the Hebrew word zodi, meaning “the way” or “path”.  The Greeks use the term ‘Zodiakos’, meaning ‘circle’ to designate the twelve signs and ecliptic circle of the path they follow through the twelve months of the year. We understand Yeshua’s statement that He is “the Way, the truth and the life”, and remember that Yeshua represents the “Strong Man” moving through the circle of the Mazzerot throughout the year (Ps 19:5-6). So based on these two concepts, we recognize that we are meant to follow Yeshua as the Way, and that He is figuratively leading us around the circle of the Zodiac, the signs that tell the Gospel story of Yeshua’s birth, ministry, death, resurrection and final judgment as King of kings.

The first sign of the Mazzerot (Zodiac) is named Virgo (Latin) or Betulah (Hebrew). The reason we know Virgo (Betulah) is the first sign of the Zodiac is because of the great sky painting found in the Temple of Esneh in Egypt, which shows the whole image of the zodiac with all of its constellations. Between Virgo and Leo, there is carved the figure of the sphinx with the head of a woman and the body of a lion. The woman’s face is looking at the Virgin and the lion’s tail is pointing at the Lion, telling us where the Zodiac Gospel story begins and ends. Although I don’t recommend the Latin Vulgate as the most accurate Bible translation source, in this case it helps us understand the meaning of this sign relating to the prophetic passages about the Messiah. Two of the names for this sign are connected – Virgo (Latin) which means a virgin (Isa 7:14); and Virga (Arabic), which means a branch (Isa 11:1).

To confirm the reference to the Branch, the brightest star in Virgo is Tzemach (Hebrew). Although there are 20 different Hebrew words that are translated as “branch”, Tzemach is the only word for branch used to represent the Messiah (example Isa 4:2 – “In that day shall the Branch of Yehovah be beautiful and glorious.”) Virgo’s left hand is shown holding ears of corn – in her left hand is a bright star named Spica, which in Latin means “an ear or seed of corn”.  The Hebrews called this star Zerah, which means “the seed” and is the same exact word used in Genesis 3:14-15. Remember how Yeshua used the figure “grain of wheat” or “seed of corn” (depending on the translation): unless the seed [of corn] falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” He was indicating here how He had to die in order to bring salvation and eternal life to His people.

The other constellations within the sign of Betulah [Virgo] confirm the prophesied roles and attributes of the Messiah. The first constellation is name Coma in Hebrew, which means the “desired” or “longed for” One, as in Haggai 2:7 – “The Desire of all nations shall come”. Ancient Zodiac depictions show a woman with a child in her arms, with the star representing the child designated by an ancient Persian name meaning the “anointed one”. In some ancient teachings thought to have originated from Daniel the prophet, a new star appeared within Coma which represented the newborn Messiah they were seeking.

The second constellation within Virgo is Centaurus (Latin), which is a well-known mythological character purported to be half-man and half-horse. The ancient Hebrew name of this constellation, though, was Bezeh, meaning “despised” as in Isa 53:3 – “He was despised and rejected of men”. Incredibly, the other name for this constellation is Asmeat, which means “a sin offering”, as in Isa 53:10 – “When You make His soul an offering for sin,..”. So, we have a creature here who is the Son of God, both man and sacrificial animal (probably a goat and not an unclean animal such as a horse), who is despised by people but still willing to sacrifice Himself for us. This is a clear picture of Yeshua our Messiah!

The final Virgo constellation is called Bootes (Hebrew), which means “The Coming One”. He is generally shown as a shepherd, with a shepherd’s crook in one hand and a sickle in his other hand. This could represent many things, but most clearly it shows a picture of the Messiah, coming the first time as our shepherd, and at the end of the age as the judge who comes to reap His harvest of souls and cut off those who will still not turn to Him and His Father after their final call to repent. Even in the stars we see Abba Father and Yeshua beckoning to us to repent – how will we respond?

Shalom!

Shofarblow

We give thanks and praise to the Holy Spirit for guiding and inspiring us to share what we have learned through the writing of our book: Missing Pieces.

In many instances, the Spirit worked through people and situations to both correct and enhance the contents and we hope He does likewise with our conversations and essays here on this blog site.  We appreciate the gentle nudges when we needed and extra push to complete the task.

We hope this blog inspires you with the thoughts we share and the conversations we will have as we continue our daily walk with our Lord and Savior, Yeshua The King of Kings!