In our own spiritual journey, the Holy Spirit has led Peter and me to various congregations and ministries. Each new experience taught us something about living and functioning as members of the kingdom of YHVH. Although we fellowship with various groups and congregations, we continue our search for the one congregation where we are encouraged to put all the newly-acquired pieces together.
A brief summary of our journey may help to paint this picture more clearly. At one congregation, we learned to love each other unconditionally. However, the Spirit moved us on to another congregation to learn our Hebrew roots so that we might gain a more accurate knowledge of the history of our faith and acquire a better lens through which to understand both Old and New Testaments. Once again the Spirit moved us on to various ministries and congregations in order to understand better how we should be functioning in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. A separate ministry supplied us with a more mature understanding of our spiritual enemies and how to be delivered from bondage to the enemy. Interaction with various other ministries confirmed the message I had received from Father that we were to call Him by His name. While we are grateful for these congregations and ministries, we wonder why each group seems to have part of the truth, but not all of the truth. After meditating on Acts chapters 2 through 8, I began to realize just how fragmented the Bride of Messiah has become over the centuries.
The first eight chapters of the Book of Acts paints a very different picture of the living functioning Bride of Messiah. Yeshua’s followers lived together in close proximity to one another sharing all their belongings. As a unit they prayed, praised and worshipped, studied, healed, preached, taught, learned, and shared all their possessions (Acts 2:42-47). Today, we and many others must search from place to place to acquire what we need to be mature contributers to Yeshua’s Bride.
When did the fragmenting start? Right away, since the majority of Jewish leaders and many of their followers rejected Yeshua as their Messiah. Yeshua’s followers went to the Temple as YHVH commanded in the Torah, but they had to go outside the Temple parameters in order to learn about Yeshua. Although not perfect, the first generation of Yeshua’s followers provided a more complete picture of what the Bride should be. As time went on the Bride became further fragmented as the good news spread and Yeshua’s followers were scattered over several nations. Distance, persecution, poverty and other trials helped to foster misunderstanding, suspicion, and outright abuse or neglect of each other, especially dividing Jews from non-Jews. Constantine’s efforts to unite his massive empire mingled in pagan practices and beliefs, and at the same time sought to eliminate all ties to Jewish or Hebrew roots. Over time empty manmade rites and rituals increasingly replaced true relationship with YHVH.
At this time, YHVH seems to be restoring the Bride, perfecting her in anticipation of Yeshua’s return. Several congregations that we have met with locally are seeking to restore the missing pieces in their groups. Three Messianic congregations in India have demonstrated for us the most complete example thus far of how the Bride should function. These congregations function according to their Hebrew roots, actively preach and teach the good news of the Kingdom of YHVH, operate daily in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and call the Father by name. They do so in the midst of daily trials and persecution. What about each of us? How are we participating in YHVH”s work to restore the fragmented Bride?
In this passage, Job believed that he had been walking uprightly with YHVH, so he was not afraid to speak aloud to his friends in front of YHVH. He is essentially saying that he is willing to undergo YHVH’s righteous judgment if he has slipped up anywhere in the path of his life. Notice that Job refers to honest scales when he talks about YHVH testing him to see if he measures up to YHVH’s standard of righteousness.
Of course, having all the scriptures available to us now, we can look back and do some easy “Monday morning quarterbacking” relating to Job’s statement, knowing now as we do that no one can measure up to God’s standard of righteousness. Romans 3:10 says: “As it is written [quoted from Psalm 14:1-3]: ’There is none righteous, no, not one’”, and then in Romans 3:23 Sha’ul (Paul) says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”. He then follows with the divine punch line after the comma in Romans 3:24 “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Messiah Yeshua”. So, if I put on my 6-year-old Bible analysis hat, I could easily surmise that believers can be justified before God, but only through the blood of Yeshua our Redeemer.
The scriptures pertaining to YHVH’s judgment lead into the second major sign in the Zodiac: Libra, which means “weighing in the scales”, from the ancient Hebrew name for this sign, Mozanaim. We learned from previous postings on the “Gospel in the Stars” that the original Hebrew root word for Zodiac (Zodi) means “the way” or “path”. So, combining Job’s speech with this meaning, we can see that Job tried to the best of his human ability to follow Abba’s path, but like all of us, when he was weighed in the scales by YHVH, he fell far short of His righteous standard.
However, the Good News (Besorim in Hebrew) is that YHVH made a way for us to be saved in spite of our sins and weakness, and Messiah Yeshua provided the solution for all people for all times. I believe that Job hinted at knowing His Messiah (Yeshua), the true Savior of the world, when he said in Job 19:25: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at last on the earth.”
Digging down a bit deeper into the meaning of the ancient names of the stars in Libra, we see that a very consistent theme emerges. The key stars in Libra (from ancient Hebrew and Arabic) are: “the price which is deficient”; “the price which covers”; “the value of the redemption”; and “the price of the conflict”. From these names, it is easy to paint a picture that tells a beautiful Gospel story: human beings are hopelessly deficient in our fallen souls; we need a Redeemer to balance out the scales, which we cannot do on our own; YHVH has prepared a Redeemer for us from the foundation of the world; Yeshua our Messiah is that Redeemer, who paid the ultimate price and atoned for our sins (covered us with His blood); and now we can stand righteous before YHVH by calling on His name and trusting in Yeshua. As seen in the image of Libra at the beginning of this posting, our scales are severely unbalanced – only Yeshua can balance them out for us.
As with all the signs of the Zodiac, there are three constellations associated with Libra: Crux (the Southern Cross); Victima (the Victim); and Corona (the Crown). It is not too difficult to see how these three fit perfectly into the rest of the story of Libra. Crux, which appears like the Hebrew letter Tav (which looked like an “X” in ancient Hebrew), graphically shows how the Messiah was to die and atone for our sins. Interestingly, the Southern Cross disappeared from the night sky in Jerusalem after Yeshua’s crucifixion and can only be seen in the Southern hemisphere now.
The second constellation in Libra, Victima, which is named Sura (Lamb) in Hebrew, points to Yeshua as the divine Victim who willingly chose to pay the ransom for our redemption. It vividly brings to light the scripture from Revelation 13:8: “…written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” This scripture needs no further explanation!
The final constellation in Libra is Corona, named Atarah in Hebrew, which means “the Crown Bestowed”. Once again, this fits well into the overall picture of this sign, especially when we look at verses such as Hebrews 2:9: “But we see Yeshua — who for a little while was made lower than the angels — now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by God’s grace He might taste death for all humanity.”
So now, armed with this knowledge, I challenge you to worship the One and only One who is worthy to balance out the scales in our favor, Yehovah our Redeemer, and Yeshua His Son, who paid the ultimate price so that we could be restored to Abba Father.
Scripture has much to say about fellowship among followers of Yeshua. Many people have construed passages such as Heb 10:24-25 and 1 Pet 2:5 to urge us to join a congregation. For centuries people have sought fellowship in church, seeking community, accountability, support and encouragement. However, currently there are multitudes of believers fleeing the established church setting. Why?
Scripture exhorts us to meet together, to support and encourage one another, to call one another to account and to be accountable to others, to bear one another’s burdens, and so on. While it is true that we need to do these things, it is not necessarily true that a church setting is the best environment to foster such activities. In fact, traditional church practices often hinder or discourage people from following Scripture’s mandates. Here are some examples of how we can lose focus in a church setting:
Focus shifts to a human agenda rather than the Holy Spirit’s agenda. We can get caught up in our programs and projects and lose sight of our true mission (John 3:6-8; Acts 8:39; 1 John 5:6; John 14:26). We fail to seek guidance daily from the Holy Spirit and draw away from our Father’s plan.
- Focus centers on the needs of the church entity while neglecting individual needs. Many times people come to service week after week heavily burdened with trials or sin and leave carrying the same burdens. Even if the congregation has an established order of service, does it also provide opportunities through small groups, prayer ministers, or some other means to assist individuals? Is there effective prayer for healing? Are demons expelled? (Matthew 10:7-14)
- Focus settles on certain truths to the exclusion of the rest of the truth. Is the emphasis on adhering to established doctrines or on learning more about YHVH and His will for us? (John 16:13)
- Focus turns inward with little or no outreach from the congregation. Do we reach out to those around us who do not yet know the joy of salvation in Yeshua? Do we help others in need or do we judge them? Do we have an exclusive “club” where we feel comfortable and outsiders remain outsiders? (Matt 25: 35-40; Mark 16:25; Rom. 10:14; Acts 1:8)
- There is strong temptation to settle into a comfort zone and stagnate. Spiritual growth becomes a threat. Change becomes an unwelcome challenge. (Eph 3:17-19; 2 Pet 3:18)
- The agenda of an established hierarchy replaces the agenda of the Holy Spirit. (Matt 15:3; Mark 7:3-9)
Recently, we have attended services where the congregations are working hard to address these shortcomings. Even within a worship service, there is room for the Holy Spirit to take over the meeting. Active outreach to the community is passionately pursued by the congregation. There are opportunities for people to seek individual prayer and support so that they do not carry burdens alone.
We need to broaden our definition of fellowship. There are numerous opportunities to have “church” daily. Tim Mather explains in his book, Escaping Church, that any time we share the good news with another, encourage or advise or pray for another, or have discussions about our faith with others, we are “doing church.”
There are other ways for congregations to restore what is missing that I will discuss in my next article. It is time to repair Messiah’s broken body. It is time for the bride to prepare herself to meet her Husband. It is time for us to have true fellowship with one another.
From my first two postings about God’s Name, we know that YHVH [Yehovah] wants us to know and speak His name, and that His name (Yehovah) has been written in Hebrew over 100 times in ancient Scripture texts. I have given examples of how we can use His name when we are speaking healing, deliverance, or blessings of any kind over another person. I have also explained how the pronunciation of His Name has been hidden from the majority of Jews and Christians for more than 2000 years.
What I have not talked about yet is why we are to treat His name as holy and to revere it above all else. In Psalm 138[ESV]: David says to YHVH: “I bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word.” The key is that David says YHVH has exalted His name and His word above all else – if we want to focus on what is most important to Abba, then we need to listen to what He says about exalting His name.
There are also many scriptures that talk about the holiness of YHVH’s name: “…all flesh shall bless His holy name Forever and ever.” (Ps 145:21); “…He has commanded His covenant forever: holy and awesome is His name.” (Ps 111:9); “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” (Ps 103:1); “For our hearts shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.” (Ps 33:21); “Let them praise His great and awesome name — He is holy.” (Ps 99:3). So what exactly does holy mean in this context? The Hebrew word for holy (kadosh) actually means “set apart”, and we know from Scripture study that YHVH (His name and His word) is set apart from everything else in the universe, just as David implied in the Psalm 138 quote from the previous paragraph. YHVH also wants us to be set apart from the world, as we are told by Him to be holy as He is holy (Lev 11:45, quoted in 1 Pet 1:16).
My favorite example of the holiness of God’s name [Yehovah] is the display of His awesome power in I Kings 17-18. In the beginning of this story, YHVH is prophesying to Ahab through Elijah that there will be a drought in the land for three years, until YHVH speaks His word to end the drought (I Kings 17:1). During this time, there are signs and wonders to confirm that YHVH is working through Elijah, such as the miracle of the widow’s food lasting through the drought and her son being raised from the dead (I Kings 17:8-24).
When Elijah returns to confront Ahab and his false prophets of Ba’al and Asherah, he knows he can trust in the name of YHVH to overcome the evil powers, and to prove to them who is the true God [Elohim], Creator and Master of the universe. Although Ahab and Jezebel and their warriors had been seeking to kill Elijah, he now confronts his enemies boldly and challenges their false god to a duel (I Kings 18:21). He compels them to make a decision as to whom they will serve: YHVH or Ba’al. This is a decision we must all make at some point in our lives, because there is no middle ground – either we serve the world (Satan and his kingdom of darkness) or the true God, YHVH.
In the familiar story of the confrontation between good and evil, Ba’al and YHVH, there is no contest of course, and YHVH is victorious. Elijah tells the false prophets to call on the name of their gods, and says that he will call on the name of his God (I Kings 18:24). Working through Elijah, YHVH then graphically demonstrates that God’s name is unique and set apart (kadosh – holy) from everything else in the universe. Elijah first built an altar and dedicated it to YHVH, then asked YHVH to show the people that he was the only true God, and prayed that He would turn their hearts back to Him (I Kings 18:46-37). YHVH then answered Elijah’s prayer convincingly by sending fire from heaven to burn up not only the wood and the sacrificial bull, but also the water in the trench around the altar (I Kings 18:38).
The response of the people was to immediately prostrate themselves on the ground and start worshipping the true God, Yehovah: “Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!” (I Kings 18:39). The people’s declaration is even more powerful when translated directly from the Hebrew, as they said: Yehovah, He is the God [Elohim]; Yehovah, He is the God [Elohim]. Since they had previously been worshipping many (false) gods, the key point of their declaration is that Yehovah is the one and only true God of the universe, set apart (holy) from the world and all other false gods!
There is power in the name Yehovah. His name is to be revered and praised, just as He is revered and praised. We can trust in Yehovah and in His name to protect us and provide for us. We can call on His name with confidence, and He wants us to be set apart from the world as He is set apart (holy).