All posts by peterryall

YHVH’s Glory in the Eclipse

Just about everyone in the United States (and probably many other countries) was aware of the total eclipse on August 21st of this year.  Nancy and I had the privilege of seeing the total eclipse in the foothills of the NC mountains. We are so thankful that Abba blessed us with that once-in-a-lifetime experience!

I have always been fascinated with YHVH’s created heavenly bodies, so I could not resist this opportunity to see one of the many heavenly testimonies to His awesome glory and power.  Since I had never seen anything but a partial eclipse (and that was as a young child), I did not really understand the unique qualities of a total solar eclipse.  I thought of all the amazing factors that have to come together for the moon to track right along with the sun across 3,000 miles of our country, blocking the entire sun within a 30-mile-wide swath at the surface of the Earth.

 One of the things that YHVH planned and designed perfectly were the relative sizes of the Sun and Moon, and the distances between the Sun, Moon and Earth.  This would be straightforward if the three heavenly bodies were all close together, but it is complicated by the fact that the moon is only 250,000 miles from the Earth and is ¼ the size of the Earth, while the Sun is 93 million miles from the Earth and over one million times the size of the Earth.

Another aspect is the perfect alignment of these three bodies by the synchronization of their orbits around each other: the moon around the Earth and the Earth around the Sun.  To make this even more miraculous, this blocking of the Sun must be able to persist for a very long time, such as the tracking of the total eclipse across the entire US on August 21st.

During the total eclipse, we marveled at Abba’s amazing creation, demonstrating His glory and perfection through this incredible event.  When the eclipse became total and darkness fell all around us, it was almost beyond description – even the birds were confused by this sudden darkness and flew anxiously back and forth out of the surrounding trees.  The photo at the front of this article, taken with a regular digital camera by one of my cousins, gives you some idea of the incredible view we had of the sun, looking at it with our naked eyes.

Once darkness fell, we immediately started seeing other lights in the sky.  The brightest and most obvious light was Jupiter, located to the East of the darkened Sun.  A few of the younger folk in our group spotted another light to the West of the Sun, and we later discovered that it was Venus, often called the “morning star”.  I did not learn until later that the only time you can see both Jupiter and Venus in the sky is during a total eclipse.  At all other times, Venus can be seen in the morning and Jupiter can often be seen in the evening sky.

It is hard to describe if you have never experienced anything as visually amazing as a total eclipse, but at this stage our whole group was staring in awe at the darkened sun, and we were rendered speechless – it was a truly inspiring sight, and showed us YHVH’s glory from a very different perspective.  At the time, I was thinking about the significance of seeing Jupiter in the eclipse-darkened sky in the middle of the day.  I remembered that the original Hebrew name of Jupiter was Melech, which means king.  Then I recalled that this planet symbolized the Messiah as the King of Kings according to ancient Rabbinic interpretations of Messianic prophecies.  Later, we remembered that the Sun also represents Yeshua our Messiah (Psalms 19:4-6).  Although the Sun was darkened for a time, it could not be blotted out completely, because the corona was still visible around the perimeter of the moon.  Also, as the Sun darkened, Jupiter brightened.  Our Messiah and King, the Light of the world, cannot be defeated.

This was all wonderful and we glorified YHVH for these revelations.  But there was more – when I was researching this later, I realized that the Sun had moved into the star-sign of Leo the lion before the time of the eclipse (it then moved into Virgo in the Fall when Jupiter was also said to be in “Virgo’s womb”).  The original Hebrew name of Leo is Aryeh, which also means lion, and this sign and its related constellations tell the story of Yeshua coming as Judge and King in His final victory over the enemy.  If you want to read more about the Gospel story told by this heavenly sign, see our blog from early 2016: https://missingpieces.co/2016/02/20/the-lion-of-the-tribe-of-judah/ 

While I do not predict timelines of the Second Coming, I feel that Yeshua was giving us some very powerful visions of His final victory on that darkened afternoon.  I believe He was telling us that He is coming quickly (as He said in Revelation 22:12), understanding that “quickly” in His time-frame means something very different than it does from our Earthly perspective.  It was another sign to me that we need to prepare ourselves spiritually for His second coming.  We can best prepare ourselves through worship, fasting and prayer, as He meets us at those times and gives us revelation about Himself and His plan.  I praise Yehovah’s holy Name that He gives us these glimpses into His glory.  Let us turn our hearts and minds to Him and listen for His voice so that we do not miss what He wants to place in our hearts.

Even though darkness (evil) on the Earth will increase for a while, it will not totally blot out the Light of the world, who has already overcome the world (John 16:33).  Yeshua, our Light and King, will very soon return to the Earth, triumphant over the evil one.

Final Reflections

This is the twelfth and final article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH [Yehovah].  YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  Our King reigns from His throne and also pronounces judgment from there. 

The last article focused on the Bronze Laver that was used by the priests for cleansing themselves.  We also talked about us as His kingdom of priests today, still needing to cleanse ourselves by the “water of the Word”.  We recalled that the Word is both the written Word in YHVH’s Scriptures as well as the living Word in the person of Yeshua our Savior.

In this article, I want to expand on these concepts, looking both backward and forward into the various ways that YHVH wants us to come into His presence.  Before we leave the Tabernacle, though, it is important to know the meaning of the Hebrew word for Tabernacle, Mish’kan.  The root of this word is shakan, which means presence.  Combined with the prefix “M”, Mish’kan means “In His Presence”.  We know from Scripture (Exodus 40:33-38) that the “cloud of His presence settled on it and the presence of YHVH filled the Tabernacle”.

When we go forward from the Tabernacle, we see that Solomon’s Temple included the Bronze Laver (see 1 Kings 7:23-30).  This “laver”, however, was so large it was referred to as the bronze (or molten) sea.  It was about 8’ high and 15’ across, and was supported by 12 statues of bulls around the outside.  To enhance its lavish appearance, 10 wheeled bronze laver carts surrounded the structure, each very ornate, with images of lions, oxen and cherubim carved into the side panels.

The decadence of this bronze laver was not specified in the original Temple plans that YHVH gave to David, but we can only assume that Solomon wanted each of the implements to be grand and larger than life to further glorify YHVH.  On the spiritual level the grandeur of Solomon’s laver emphasizes our need to cleanse ourselves before coming into the presence of YHVH.  The awesome presence of YHVH in the glory cloud was constantly over the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies within the Temple.  While Solomon’s Temple and all its implements are amazing, we learn even more about YHVH’s original desire to meet with us when we go back before the time of the Tabernacle.

Before the Tabernacle, we see that Moshe originally met with YHVH in the Tent of Meeting out in the desert (Exodus 33:7-11).  He had to construct this tent outside of the camp because of the idolatry (golden calf) of the Israelites at the foot of Mt Sinai.  In Hebrew, this tent was called the Ohel Mo’ed, which literally means the appointed tent to meet with YHVH, or the tent of His presence.  Before Moshe and the Israelites built the Tabernacle, YHVH had said to Moshe that His presence would not go with them when they went up into the land, because if He did He would surely destroy them (Ex 33:5).  At this point, the people grieved deeply and repented for their sins.

Then, as YHVH always does because of His incredible grace, He relented and said that He would indeed go with them, and be present in their Tabernacle once it was built.  In the meantime, though, because of Abba’s passionate desire to meet with His people face-to-face, he agreed to meet with Moshe and any others that would remove their jewelry, humble themselves, and approach Him at the Ohel Mo’ed outside the camp (Ex 33:5-7). (Note: we do not know from Scripture whether their jewelry was openly idolatrous (had symbols or images of pagan gods) or if it was just reminiscent of the jewelry they had used in a sinful way when they gave it to Aaron to create the golden calf.)

So, whenever Moshe set up the Tent of Meeting, YHVH’s glory cloud would come down and rest on top of it, and the people fell down prostrate at their tents and worship the glory of YHVH (Ex 33:8-10).  In YHVH’s infinite mercy, He allowed anyone who was willing to come out to the Ohel Mo’ed and share in His glorious presence with Moshe.  When I compare this to the glory of the Tabernacle or even the Temple, I would prefer to be face-to-face with YHVH’s glory at the Ohel Mo’ed any day of the week – this was an opportunity to meet with the Creator of the universe one-on-one – wow!

Moshe was a prototype of Messiah Yeshua when He opened the way for the people to return to YHVH’s presence.  Just as Moshe set up the Ohel Mo’ed and opened the “tent-flap” so that He and others could meet with YHVH, Yeshua has torn the veil and opened the way for us to enter the Holy of Holies and meet with YHVH face-to-face.  It would have been enough (dayeinu) for Yeshua to die for us, but then He sent us YHVH’s Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) who now lives inside of us, as we are now the Tabernacles for His presence to be with us always.

Finally, since we are YHVH’s kingdom of priests, He has supplied us with everything we need to minister to Him.  He has given us His whole armor to protect us from the fiery darts of the enemy, and the sword of the Spirit, which is His Word, living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.  We now have the privilege to meet with YHVH in any time and place – we are His Tabernacle [Mish’kan], and we carry His presence with us at all times.  Let’s give Him our praise at all times, spend time with Him, get into His Word and use it for His glory – Amen!

Clean Reflections

This is the eleventh article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH [Yehovah].  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series. YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  Our King reigns from His throne and also pronounces judgment from there. 

This article focuses on the significance of the Bronze Laver (basin) that YHVH instructed His people to build and place between the Brazen Altar of sacrifice and the Tabernacle. In Exodus 30:18, YHVH [Yehovah] said to Moshe: “You are to make a basin of bronze, with a base of bronze, for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it” [CJB].

In verses 18-21, YHVH explains to Moshe how this basin is to filled with water and used by the priests for washing before they come into His presence and before they bring sacrifices to the Altar: “Aaron and his sons will wash their hands and feet there when they enter the tent of meeting — they are to wash with water, so that they will not die. Also, when they approach the altar to minister by burning an offering for Yehovah, they are to wash their hands and feet, so that they will not die. This is to be a perpetual law for them through all their generations”.

To help the priests see their dirty places more clearly, YHVH also instructed the Israelites to embed mirrors into the bronze laver: “Bezalel made the bronze washbasin and its bronze stand from bronze mirrors donated by the women who served at the entrance of the Tabernacle” (Ex 38:8).  Since YHVH wants us to come before Him without spot or blemish (as in Ephesians 5:27), the bronze mirrors from the women helped the priests to clean up those physical spots that would keep them from full immersion into YHVH’s presence.

These instructions that YHVH gave to His people show the importance He places on purity.  When His people come before Him to minister to Him, they are to be “clean”.  So, what does Yehovah mean by clean in this context?  He has given us many examples of cleanliness in the physical world, such as His instructions to the priests to wash themselves before coming into the Tabernacle or Temple, for His people to eat clean instead of unclean foods, and to cleanse ourselves after touching a dead body or being healed of leprosy.

However, these are only physical object lessons that point to His more crucial message that we need to cleanse and purify our hearts and minds before coming into His presence, as in Psalm 24:4: “The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up their soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully”.  The importance to YHVH of purity of hearts and hands is also shown in Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” and James 4:8: “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded”.  After David committed his most flagrant sins, he cried out to God in Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me”.

Aaron and his sons were the appointed priests for the whole nation of Israel, but we know that all of YHVH’s children are to be priests ministering before Him, as in Exodus 19:6: “And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation”.  Yeshua said in Revelation 5:10: “And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God”.  We know that we are to come before YHVH’s throne and into His presence, as in these Scriptures in Hebrews:

  • Hebrews 4:16 – “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most”; and
  • Hebrews 10:22 – “…let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him…

Now that we understand that we are to be priests before YHVH, be cleansed, and come into His presence, how do we go about cleansing ourselves?  First, look at the second part of the verse from Hebrews 10:22: “For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Messiah’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water”.  While it is true that Yeshua’s blood has saved us from our sins, we still need to be cleansed and made holy by “the washing of water by the word(Eph 5:26)

In James 1:25 [NLT] it says: “But if you look carefully into the perfect law [Torah] that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it”.  So, YHVH says that we are to study the Torah (the Word of YHVH) and follow what it says.  The living Word is Yeshua.  As it says in John 1, verses 1 and 14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and dwelled among us…”.

The Word of God (both written and Living) is our water of cleansing – it is His will for us to spend time every day soaking in His Word, being transformed by the renewing of our minds, and being cleansed in our souls so that we can constantly draw closer and closer to Abba and His precious Son, Yeshua.

Reflections of His Light

This is the eighth article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH [Yehovah].  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series. YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  A king reigns from his throne and also pronounces judgment from there. 

This article focuses on the significance of the lampstand [Menorah] that YHVH instructed His people to build and place in the Holy Place, along with the Table of Showbread and the Altar of Incense.  In Exodus 25:31-32, YHVH said to the Israelites: “You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece.  And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side”.

The seven-branched Menorah held individual lamps that represented God’s perfect light. The lamps contained pure olive oil inside almond-shaped containers, suggesting the seven eyes of YHVH mentioned in Zechariah 4:2.  The Menorah and its seven lamps were referred to as the Perpetual Lamp (ner tamid), a source of light that illuminated the Bread of Presence and the Altar of Incense within the holy place. The lamp was to be attended to every morning and evening during the time of the burning of the sweet incense (symbolizing prayer), and was never to be extinguished (Lev 24:2).  The priests obeyed this command because they understood that light represented the word of YHVH (Ps 119:105, 150). It was the word of YHVH that sustained their lives and all that YHVH created.

A close look at the Menorah reveals a middle shaft, with the six branches extending out from this shaft.  The seven branches were a single beaten piece of gold.  The Hebrew word for this shaft is generally translated as thigh, loins, or body. The six branches extend out from the central shaft, but yet they are one with the shaft.  Note that in Romans 11, believers in Messiah Yeshua, whether Jew or non-Jew, are referred to as branches.   Even more significantly, note that these branches are said to all be one with the olive tree, which is referred to as the Body of Messiah.  Yeshua uses the lampstand to refer to His kehillat (assembly or “church”) in Revelation 1:20.

From ancient writings, the center candle was said to be the only one that always stayed lit.  After the Temple was destroyed and thus all Temple sacrifices were stopped in AD 70, the center candle of the Menorah no longer stayed lit from morning until evening, but had to be re-lit in the evening.  The six outside lamps all faced towards the center lamp, which was called the Servant lamp [Shamash].  This served to focus the light towards the center of the Menorah, making the Shamash candle even brighter.  Let’s look at a couple of the Scriptures that focus on Yeshua as the true Light of the world:

  • John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
  • John 12:46: “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

Yeshua is the Light of the World.  The Menorah was hammered from one solid piece in order to support the six branches, just as Yeshua’s arms and legs were hammered for our sins.  In John 15:5 Yeshua says that He is the Vine and we are the branches.  The branches were also hammered, warning us of our own persecution.  We are now living as “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8) who draw our source of light from Yeshua, the one true Light.  Just as the other six lamps of the Menorah face towards the Servant [Shamash] lamp in the center, we as His followers are to keep our focus on Yeshua and magnifying His light throughout the Kingdom.

Revelation 2-3 accurately describes the condition of His branches today. In Revelation 2:1-7, there is a description of the church at Ephesus, and it begins by mentioning one of the aspects of Yeshua’s ministry. “…who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands”. Yeshua commends this group by reminding them of their dedication to removing imposters, of their good works, and their patience. However, He then tells them what He has against them. They have lost their first love, and will not go back to their first works and repent. He says that if they continue, He will remove their lampstand from its place.  Our love and passion for Yeshua must remain strong.

The Menorah was made of pure gold (not gold plated) and had seven branches. Pure gold is a representation of the deity and perfection of Yeshua.  Seven is the number of completeness in the Bible. The believer is made complete by the perfection of Messiah.

The Most Holy and Holy Places are completely covered in various linens and skins, which means that these inner sanctuaries were very dark.  Only the light of the Menorah was to illuminate the Holy Place, or the place of ministry.  This tells us that ministry (worship) is to be driven by the light of YHVH and not by people’s plans or desires.  Our minds are to be illuminated by God’s light. His light shines forth from His Word (Torah). It is this light that is to be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105).  Are we reflecting Yeshua’s light in this dark world?

[Author’s note: we have tried to cover the main aspects of the Menorah as they relate to Yeshua and our own spiritual light, but there is so much more to cover that we might someday consider “branching out” to a deeper study (pun intended )]

Reflections of His Presence

This is the seventh article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH [Yehovah].  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series. YHVH is building His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  A king reigns from his throne and also pronounces judgment from there. 

This article focuses on the significance of the “Table of Showbread” and the Showbread itself that YHVH instructed His people to place in the Holy Place in front of the Holy of Holies.  In Exodus 25:23-30, YHVH told the Israelites to: “Make a table of acacia wood, 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 27 inches high.  Overlay it with pure gold and run a gold molding around the edge.  Decorate it with a 3-inch border all around, and run a gold molding along the border.  Make four gold rings for the table and attach them at the four corners next to the four legs. Attach the rings near the border to hold the poles that are used to carry the table. Make these poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. Make special containers of pure gold for the table – bowls, ladles, pitchers, and jars – to be used in pouring out liquid offerings. Place the Bread of the Presence on the table to remain before me at all times”.

This table (often called the “Table of Showbread”) was to be set up next to the lampstand (Menorah) outside the Holy of Holies, so that the light from the lamps could illumine the table.  As with the Ark of the Covenant and the lampstand, this was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold, so we know it was meant to be one of the most precious items YHVH wanted to be in His holy place.  We have spoken in earlier articles about the special place that both gold and acacia wood hold in YHVH’s heart, so we can say that the Table had to be made of materials worthy of the King of creation – our King, Messiah Yeshua.  The acacia wood covered in gold that composed the Table of Showbread can also be seen as symbols pointing to both the humanity and divinity of Yeshua.

I will just mention one other thing about the Table – in a typical Hebrew home at that time, it would have been common to have a table set with plates and dishes for bread and incense, and pitchers and bowls for liquid offerings (although probably not of pure gold!).  By having this Table in the Tabernacle, YHVH was showing that He wants us to regard the Tabernacle as His house – this includes both the Earthly tabernacle as well as His heavenly Tabernacle (after which the Earthly tabernacle was modeled).

Moving on now to the bread that Abba instructed His people to place on the Table, we see that “Showbread” is not an accurate translation.  The original Hebrew phrase for this bread is Lechem haPanim, which literally means “Bread of the Presence” or “Bread of the Face [of God]”.

The historian Josephus indicates that the Bread of the Presence was unleavened, pointing to Yeshua as our sinless Savior who is the true Bread of the Presence.  In John 6:35, Yeshua said: “I am the bread which gives life! Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever trusts in Me will never be thirsty”.   Then in Verses 48-51 of John 6, Yeshua says that He is the true Bread that came down from Heaven and that if anyone eats of this Bread, they will live forever.  Yeshua gives us life to the fullest; life more abundant on this Earth and life everlasting in Heaven!

When we look again at the Bread of the Presence in the Tabernacle, we see that it symbolized being in YHVH’s presence, so when the priests ate the bread they were fellowshipping with Abba Father in His presence, face-to-face.  The bread on the Table in the Tabernacle, as well as the bread in Messiah’s communion, reminds us that our life is in the true Bread from Heaven, Yeshua HaMashiachYeshua went even further than this, though, because He told His disciples [talmadim] that he didn’t need physical bread to eat (John 4:32-34),  but rather He had “food to eat that they knew nothing about”.  When they asked what food He had, He said that His food was to do the will of the Father (the One who sent Him).  When Yeshua shared the communion bread of His body, He was teaching His disciples to be filled with the Bread of His presence, satisfied with doing the will of our Father.

Yeshua gives us more spiritual food when He says in Matthew 4:4 that people do not “live by bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God”.  In Matthew 6:11, He also teaches us to pray to our Father that He will give us our daily bread, but I believe this means spiritual Bread as well – that He will tell us what He desires for us to do each day.  I want to leave you with a story about one of my favorite composers – it is said that when Handel wrote the Messiah, food trays stacked up outside his door for 17 days.  He was too busy and too fulfilled to eat – he was eating the Bread of life, the Bread of the presence of YHVH, and it sustained and nourished him.  What is the Bread of YHVH’s presence for you?

Precious Reflections

This is the fourth article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also more challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH.  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series.

In the first article in this series, Nancy studied the significance of the metals used in the Tabernacle.  In the second article she examined the items YHVH specified in Exodus 25:4-5 as materials to construct and cover the Tabernacle.  In my article last week, I discussed the oil and spices used for the anointing oil and incense in the Tabernacle (Ex 25:6).  This week I will cover the next verse (7) in Exodus 25, which specifies: “onyx stones and setting stones for the [priest’s] ephod and for the breastplate”.

In Exodus 25:7, Abba tells Moshe that he is to ask the people to gather special types of precious stones to be used for the high priest’s ephod and breastplate.  From Torah passages (Ex 28:4, 29:5, Lev 8:7) the ephod signifies a garment, which is part of the official dress of the high priest, and was to be made of threads of various colors.  What can be gleaned from these passages is that the ephod was held together by a girdle sewed on to it (Ex 28:8); it had two shoulder-straps, which were fastened to the front of the ephod by golden rings, to which the breastplate was attached by golden chains (Exodus 28:6-14) which were fastened to the ephod in front (Ex 28:27).

From this description, it appears that the ephod was some type of apron, with the two onyx stones fastened to the shoulder straps. The breastplate was then to be hung down from the ephod straps, and the 12 different types of precious stones were attached to the breastplate, one for each of the tribes of Israel, inscribed with the name of the corresponding tribe (Ex 28:21).  It is interesting to look at the prophecy of the “end times” New Jerusalem in Revelation 21.  We know from Verses 12 and 13 that will be 12 gates to the New Jerusalem, with one of the names of the 12 tribes of Israel on each of the gates.   Then from Verses 19 and 20, we see that there were 12 stones in the 12 foundations around the wall of the city, and the stones are very similar (and probably identical if we knew the Hebrew-Greek correlation) to the 12 stones in the breastplate in Exodus 28.

We know that the New Jerusalem is a direct reflection of the Holy City in Heaven (since it comes down from Heaven), so the foundations of the New Jerusalem are a reflection of the foundations of the City in heaven.   From this we can infer that YHVH plans to build His  earthly Kingdom according to His pattern in heaven, using the stones representing the 12 tribes as the foundation stones – thus He is building His new Kingdom on Earth on the foundations of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Somewhere near the heart of the high priest, among the stones of the tribes of Israel, the Urim and the Thummim were placed on the “breastplate of judgment”, to be used so that YHVH could guide the high priest in judging between right and wrong, especially in cases of deciding the guilt or innocence of the people.  This passage points to Yeshua as our High Priest, who is the Righteous One (as it says in I Cor 1:30: He became Righteousness for us).  While the high priest of Israel determined right from wrong in difficult cases of judgment by allowing YHVH to speak to him through the Urim and Thummim, Yeshua did not require this type of physical sign to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh).  The Ruach HaKodesh spoke directly through Yeshua, and because He has sent His Ruach to dwell inside us, we now have the same Ruach speaking to and through us.

Sha’ul (Paul) reminded us that we live on a spiritual battlefield, and that we must protect ourselves by putting on the whole armor of God.  One of the key elements of our armor is the breastplate of righteousness, but whose righteousness are we putting on?  This breastplate of righteousness refers to the righteousness purchased for us by Yeshua at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). The breastplate He gives us is specially designed by God to protect our heart and soul from evil and deception. Our own righteous acts are no match for Satan’s attacks (Isaiah 64:6). The breastplate of righteousness has Messiah’s name stamped on it, as though He said, “Your righteousness isn’t sufficient to protect you; here – wear mine”.  Yeshua offers us His breastplate of righteousness; it is up to us to accept it and wear it.

Although sometimes it would be comforting to have physical evidence of YHVH’s guidance in our lives when we make decisions, or discern between good and evil, we have something even better than the Urim and Thummim.  We have the Ruach of YHVH Father and Yeshua His Son living within us, guiding us in every part of our lives.  It is not always easy, but our part is to draw close to YHVH, so we are able to hear Him better and understand what is He is saying to us.  We do not need precious jewels and an intricately woven breastplate to hear Him as He guides us – His thoughts and insights are precious jewels to us.  What we need is to know the thoughts and intents of His heart as He knows ours, by sitting in His lap and leaning against His heart.  That way, we can truly call Him Abba Daddy and He can call us His beloved children.

Fragrant Reflections

This is the third article of our Living Tabernacles series, where we study the Tabernacle in depth. It is exciting to see how each element symbolizes some characteristic of Yeshua.  It is also more challenging when we examine what each element means for us, since each of us is now a living tabernacle of YHVH.  We are posting two articles each month as part of this series.

In the first article in this series, Nancy studied the significance of the metals used in the Tabernacle.  In the second article she examined the items YHVH specified in Exodus 25:4-5 as materials to construct and cover the Tabernacle.  In this article we will cover the oil and spices to be used for the anointing oil and the incense in the Tabernacle.

In Exodus 25:6, Abba tells Moshe that they are to gather from the people…”olive oil for the lamps; spices for the anointing oil and the fragrant incense”.  Later on, in Exodus 27:20, YHVH tells Moshe: “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed (beaten or pounded) olives for the light, to keep it burning continually”.  Yeshua is continuously our pure Light.  When we think of Yeshua as the Light of the world, and His command to us to shine that light throughout the world, then we can see how important it is to keep that light shining through us 24/7.

In Exodus 30:23-24 YHVH provides details of the ingredients and preparation for the anointing oil listed in Exodus 25, and how it is to be prepared – He says to Moshe: “Collect choice spices—12 1⁄2 pounds of pure myrrh, 6 1⁄4 pounds of fragrant cinnamon, 6 1⁄4 pounds of fragrant calamus, and 12 1⁄2 pounds of cassia—as measured by the weight of the sanctuary shekel. Also get one gallon of olive oil”. In Verse 25, He then explains how these ingredients are to be mixed together: “Like a skilled incense maker, blend these ingredients to make a holy anointing oil”.  Note that YHVH has added yet another qualification to the anointing oil – as I highlighted in the last verse, it is referred to as a “holy anointing oil”.  This tells us that it is to be set apart and made in a very special way compared to all other oils, such as the oil for the lamps.  Yeshua baptizes us with the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit.

Let us look at the spices to be used in the anointing oil in more detail:

  • Myrrh is a pale yellow gummy substance extracted from a small thorny shrub, typically used in spices and ointments. It is very costly and is known to be purifying to the body, and has a pleasant fragrance.
  • Fragrant cinnamon oil is distilled from the bark of a special type of cinnamon tree. It is very tasty and is often used to flavor food because of its pleasant aroma.
  • Fragrant (or sweet) calamus is a tall wetland plant with scented leaves – it is a fragrant cane whose root is highly prized as a spice. When it is crushed, it exudes a sweet fragrance. The more it is broken and crushed, the more of the fragrance that is exuded. In its spiritual application, the calamus speaks to us of brokenness, and reminds us that Yeshua was crushed and broken for us.  There are times in our lives when we must be crushed or broken in order to be purified.
  • Cassia comes from the aromatic bark of a Middle Eastern tree, and represents the true humility of anointed worship. It is sometimes used as a natural medicine. Cassia is derived from the Hebrew root “quadad”, meaning to bend or bow. This can be seen to represent us as God’s people, who are to bow down in humility before the strong hand of God (1 Pet. 5:6).
  • The main ingredient by volume in the Holy Anointing Oil is olive oil, which has both secular and sacred purposes. The olive tree is very important in secular life for cooking, cosmetics and soaps, and as a fuel for oil lamps. The olive tree has been a symbol of peace and prosperity since the time the dove returned to Noah’s Ark with an olive branch.

Let us now take a look at the spices YHVH specified to be used in the Tabernacle:

  • When Frankincense is burned it emits a fragrant odor, and hence the incense became a symbol of the Divine name (Malachi 1:11) and an emblem of prayer (Psalm 141:2; Luke 1:10; Revelation 5:8; 8:3).
  • Stacte is generally understood to be the purest kind of myrrh; and as the Hebrew name implies a drop, it would seem to refer to this type of myrrh as dropping from the tree of its own accord, without any cutting. This makes me think of Yeshua’s precious teardrops of blood in Gethsemane.
  • Onycha: Hebrew shechelet is thought to be the resin from a Mediterranean shrub that has been used for medicines and sweet perfumes for hundreds of years.
  • Galbanum: this rather foul-odored spice, when mixed with all the other spices, produces a perfect mixture for the incense. An ancient story tells of a perfumer who experimented with the biblical incense recipe and discovered that when the galbanum was left out of the mixture, the other ingredients still produced a pleasant fragrance. However, when the galbanum was added, something quite wonderful happened chemically: “the full mixture of the spices, including the foul galbanum, smelled infinitely more delicious than the mixture without galbanum”. The experiment showed that the galbanum transformed the sweet spices to produce the most beautiful incense possible. In the same way, as saved believers, we are transformed through the cleansing of our “foul” sins into beautiful children of God.

It is wonderful that YHVH explained to His people the precious spices they were to gather and use in the holy anointing oil and the incense, but we need to always remember that our obedience to Him is the sweetest aroma we can sacrifice to Him (1 Sam 15:22).  Our prayers are the most powerful incense we can offer up to YHVH (Rev 5:8).

The holy anointing oil that was to be used in the tabernacle can also be related to the oil of the Holy Spirit, flowing through our own tabernacles, purifying us and making us holy to stand before YHVH in His heavenly Tabernacle.  Let us welcome the oil of the Holy Spirit to keep our bodies and souls pure and set apart from the lusts of the world, such as power, greed, arrogance, hostility and envy.  We are called to be set apart to be with YHVH for all of our days, both here on Earth and forever in Heaven.

Yeshua is the Way

thru-the-veil-of-his-fleshIt is clear that Abba Father tore the veil separating the people from the Holy of Holies when Yeshua’s body perished, because the Scripture says it was “torn in two from top to bottom” (Matt 27:51).  The fact that it was torn from top to bottom symbolizes YHVH reaching down from Heaven and opening the way for us to “come boldly to His throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy” (Heb 4:16).  What is this place we are entering into, though?  For Torah observant Jews of Yeshua’s time, they may have wrongly believed that the way had been opened for them to come into the Holy of Holies and worship in YHVH’s presence, where His glory dwelled above the earthly Ark of the Covenant.

However, through history and the Scriptures, we find a much deeper meaning to the tearing of the veil.  From history we know that the Temple was destroyed and the Ark was hidden or taken away, just as Yeshua had prophesied in Luke 13:35.  Our entrance into the Holiest place, then, was not an entrance into an earthly place, but rather an entrance into YHVH’s heavenly throne of grace.  Sha’ul gives us some great hints as to what this means at a deeper level:

  • “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the veil, where Jesus [Yeshua] has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever..” (Hebrews 6:19-20)
  • The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made with human hands,” (Acts 17:24)

The first passage above tells us that Yeshua has gone into the inner place ahead of us, to make a way for us to come before the Father’s throne.  We know from Scripture that Yeshua ascended to Heaven after his Resurrection and now sits at the right hand of the Father, and Hebrews 6:20 tells us that Yeshua is now our high priest.  When He opened the way into the Holy place of the Father in heaven, Yeshua also did away with the sacrificial system.  He became our God-man sacrifice who took away our sins and diseases for all time, not just once a year like the earthly high priest or the animal sacrifices people brought to the Temple.

In the second Scripture above, we learn that YHVH does not live in earthly temples – rather, He dwells in His heavenly Tabernacle, where He now invites us to come and fellowship with Him, through the Way that Yeshua has made for us by tearing the veil.  Yeshua has also made us holy and righteous before Abba, as He has washed us white as snow by His blood (I Cor 6:11).  This is not only a way to the Father, but rather it is the only way to draw close to Abba – in John 14:6, Yeshua Himself said that no one can come to the Father except through Him.

Even with all these insights into the tearing of the veil, though, and the way that has been opened for us into Yehovah’s most Holy place, there is still a deeper and more personal significance to this event.  Hebrews 10:20 (NIV) says that Yeshua opened a “new and living way for us through the veil, but then it equates the veil with Yeshua’s flesh.  This means that we are actually entering into Yeshua’s body when we come before YHVH’s throne – now that is the way to come to the Father!  The next time you come before Abba’s throne in worship, remember that you are entering through the perfect, sinless flesh of the One who showed us His unconditional love by sacrificing His life for us.

Gedi Star Teachings

gedi-the-goatToday we are going to explore another of the amazing signs that YHVH placed in our heavens from the beginning of Creation.  The sign is commonly known as Capricorn, which translated from Latin literally means a horned goat.  However, as I have mentioned in the past, we cannot trust modern Greek and Latin names of stars or constellations, as their names and meanings have been corrupted over the years from the original Hebrew meanings.  In Hebrew, this sign is called Gedi, which means kid goat, but is sometimes translated as sea goat, due to the strange half-goat/half-fish image portrayed in ancient drawings of the sign.

The image we see in Egyptian, Indian, and Phoenician drawings is of a fish that is weak and dying at the head, but alive as a healthy fish at its tail end.  The stars in this sign confirm the meaning associated with this image: ma’asad: the slaying; dabih: the sacrifice slain; and sa’ad al nashira: the cutting off.  As with many Hebrew words, gedi (kid goat) has a second meaning: to be cut off.  This sign, then, represents the sacrificial Goat of atonement, Yeshua, who was slain to redeem us from our sins, was “cut off” (crucified) to bring us salvation, healing and deliverance from evil.

The fish portion of the goat’s body represents us: the people for whom the sacrifice was made.  Other star names in this sign also point to Gedi as being the goat who was sent into the wilderness for remission of our sins (so that they would be sent away as far as the east is from the west).  We know that Yeshua fulfilled both of these goat sacrifices!

To complete this awesome picture story, the three constellations associated with this sign give more of the details. The 1st constellation is Sagitta, means “the arrow of Elohim sent forth” – this connects with Psalm 38:2 where it says “Your arrows have struck deep, and Your blows are crushing Me”; and also Isaiah 53:4-5: “He was stricken, smitten of God & afflicted; He was wounded for our transgressions”.  Aquila (the eagle) is the 2nd constellation in Gedi – the stars in this constellation convey the meaning of “the smitten One falling”, “the One who comes in the Shekinah glory of God to shed His blood as a sacrifice”; and “the One who was wounded in the heel” (Gen 3:15).

The third and final constellation in Gedi is Delphinus, the original name meaning “the dead One rising”.  It is shown in ancient Zodiacs as a fish full of life, always with his head pointing upwards.  This represents Yeshua’s resurrection as “the first-fruits of them that sleep” (I Cor 15:20).  The Hebrew name is Dalaphin, which means Dolphin and also “pouring out of water”.  We see from this word picture that Yeshua fulfilled the prophecy to pour out the Holy Spirit on all flesh, symbolized in Scripture as the “fountains of living waters”.

The brightest star in Gedi is actually a double star named Deneb Al Giedi – “the Judge who is the sacrifice.”  When we think about Yeshua’s dual role as our Messiah, we know that He came to save us from our sins in His first coming to Earth, but that He will be our ultimate Judge in His second coming. As Yeshua says in John 3:36: “Whoever trusts in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but will remain under God’s judgment”.  Draw close to Yeshua and He will draw close to you; get to know Him intimately and your greatest desire will be to trust Him with your life, walk in His way and lovingly obey all of His commandments.

Righteous Oaks

righteous-oaksWhen YHVH promises in the beginning of Verse 3 of Isaiah 61 that He will give us: “Beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness”, His end goal is not just to give us temporary help to get us through a crisis in our lives. Ultimately, God is building us up to be trees [oaks] of righteousness. We are the “trees” God is planting in the place He desires us to bear fruit.

Oak trees are known to be the strongest, most sturdy and resilient of all trees on Earth. They can withstand hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, droughts and floods better than almost any other type of tree.  God likens His children to oak trees and says we can be just like them in our character and integrity: “They shall be like great oaks of righteousness”.  These are not the words of a long-ago prophecy that have no meaning for us today. This is the expression of God’s heart for His people down through the generations. God wants us to be strong and enduring and He has given us clear insight in His word as to how we are to make that happen.

The average large oak tree needs as much as fifty gallons of water per day, so the root system is large and goes deep to reach that water. The root system not only brings the needed nourishment to the tree but it provides the anchoring base that allows the tree to withstand all kinds of assaults, from the wind, the rain and the shaking of earthquakes.  The root system of a mature oak tree can total hundreds of miles, and the roots of an oak tree extend out underground up to two and a half times their height.  So how can we as YHVH’s children ever hope to have such deep roots?

Jeremiah 17:7-8 is a powerful amplification of what Isaiah is talking about: “But blessed is the person who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit”.

Both in Isaiah 61 and here in Jeremiah, it is clear that YHVH plants His seeds purposefully. He does not take His seeds and scatter them to the wind, disregarding where they fall.  God picks a perfect place for each of us, personally putting the tender shoot in the ground, knowing exactly what lies ahead. God knows every detail of our lives and the place of our planting and He does not make mistakes; we were not planted in the wrong part of the garden!

We were destined to display the “splendor of the Lord.” It doesn’t matter how you feel, you are destined to display the splendor and majesty of YHVH. There are days when you may not feel that you are reflecting God’s glory to others in your world, but if you have deep spiritual roots and are standing tall in constant relationship with YHVH, you will be displaying His majesty.   In fact, He will “rejoice over you with gladness” (Zephaniah 3:17) and even “protect you from trouble and surround you with songs of victory” (Psalm 32:7).

Trees do not instantly develop deep roots, and neither do people – both must go through difficult times of physical or spiritual drought and hardship, and must be patient until their roots develop.  In the case of God’s people, we must be filled with God’s Holy Spirit and grow in our faith and spiritual maturity, learning to trust YHVH more and more for strength to overcome the attacks and temptations of the world.

Trees contribute greatly to purify the air, and render it fit for us to breathe. When the air around us passes through leaf surfaces, it is purified and invigorated.  In the same way, there is a moral atmosphere around us.  When the air around us passes through our spirit and soul, we have the ability to speak life or death, blessing or curse to those around us.  As YHVH spoke in Deuteronomy 30:19-20, “I call on heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have presented you with life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life, so that you will live, you and your descendants, loving the LORD [YHVH] your God, paying attention to what He says and clinging to Him — for that is the purpose of your life!

As YHVH’s children, when we trust in Him with all our heart and follow His ways and His instructions, our roots will go down deep into the “earth” of the Holy Spirit within us, enabling us to withstand all the trials and tribulations of life, bearing much fruit and glorifying Him through our lives.  As YHVH says in Jeremiah 17:7-8 about those whose confidence is in Him: “we will be like trees planted by the stream, that send our roots deep: we will not fear when heat [persecution] comes; our leaves will always be green. We will have no worries in a year of drought and we will never fail to bear fruit”.