Tag Archives: Yeshua

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?

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.

Safe Shelters

refuge-under-your-wingsIn my blog two weeks ago, I wrote about Yeshua as the Door of the sheep, and how He protects from us from all dangers.  Another closely related Biblical concept is that YHVH shelters us, but how does He shelter us?  In many places in the Psalms, David talks about YHVH sheltering us in His hiding place, for example:

  • Psalm 91:1 – He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty [El Shaddai].
  • Psalm 27:5 – For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His sanctuary; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me (the Orthodox Jewish Bible says that He will keep us safe in His Sukkah and shelter us in His tent)…He is our refuge and our fortress;
  • Psalm 32:7 – You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance;
  • Psalm 119:117 – You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word;
  • Psalm 144:2 – My lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge

Other scriptures speak about God sheltering us in His high tower, on a rock that is higher than us, or in his fortress, just to name a few of the graphic images He paints.  Many times David and others speak about YHVH as not only keeping them safe in His secret hiding place, but as actually being that hiding place, refuge, fortress, high tower, stronghold, rock, sanctuary, Sukkah, etc.  As an illustration of a high / strong tower, Sh’lomo says in Proverbs: the name of Yehovah is a strong tower; and the righteous run to it [Him] and are safe.  Now we are getting to the purpose of YHVH sheltering us in all these amazing ways: He is keeping us safe from the enemy.  Psalm 32:7 above provides one of the most beautiful word pictures of God’s protection in all of Scripture: He is not only our hiding place, but He protects us from trouble and surrounds us with songs of deliverance.

In Psalm 91, David says that no evil will befall him because he has made YHVH his refuge and dwelling place.  Because David is abiding under the shelter of His wings, YHVH has promised to give His angels charge over David to keep him safe against all physical and spiritual enemies and attacks.  In Verse 14, He says that because we know and trust in His name (Yehovah), He will set us up on high places (a high rock, high tower, etc.).  He also promises that no evil will befall us, no plague will come near our dwelling, and we do not need to fear the arrows by day or the pestilence that comes in the night.  Finally, in Verse 7 He paints an even more vivid picture of how he delivers us in the middle of great battles: “Though a thousand fall at our side and ten thousand are dying around us, these evils will not touch us” (NLT).

Even from the beginning, God has always been there to shelter us and keep us safe.  When He created the Garden for Adam and Eve, He created it as an enclosed garden that was protected on all sides against enemies.  The meaning of the “Garden of Eden” [Gan Eden] from Hebrew is a sheltered or enclosed garden.  There are many examples of how God has provided for our protection in His creation. For instance, the way an eggshell protects the baby chick as the strongest shape in the world, or the way a mother’s womb protects her unborn baby against environmental dangers.

When God saved Noah and his family from the flood, He once again protected them with an Ark that provided their covering and protection from all the devastation that was going on around them.  Another example of YHVH’s protection was the lamb’s blood covering He told the Israelites to apply to their doorposts to protect them from the angel of death.  In the end times, YHVH’s remnant will be sheltered in the protective rocks of Petra (Bosrah in Hebrew), waiting for our King, Messiah Yeshua, to come and usher us into the homeland of Israel.

As you think about all the ways YHVH protects and shelters us in His fortress or high tower, think about the Hebrew letter “tet”, which in the ancient word pictures represented a shelter for protection.  It is used in the word beten to mean the house that surrounds life (the mother’s womb), and in the word for trust (batach), which pictures us being safe inside the surrounding fence.  The word seter means a hiding place or covering, and from the ancient word pictures it literally means a secret hiding place.  Whereas the word for adversary (satan) means the snake that devours life, YHVH provides the seter hiding place which protects us from evil.  Would you rather be under YHVH’s wings which protect your life from harm, or the enemy’s snake-coil which devours your life?

Yeshua is the Door

the-door-of-the-sheep“Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.John 10:7

In Yeshua’s “I am” statement about being the Door of the Sheep,  He teaches us that He is “the Door”, not just “a door”.  He is saying that He is not only our Shepherd who leads us into the sheepfold of the Kingdom, but He is the only door by which we can enter and be saved and find safe pasture (John 10:9).  There are deeper meanings for understanding Yeshua as our door into the Kingdom of God, so come with me now as we dig deeper into the Word to explore these meanings.

It is helpful to understand more about sheep and shepherding in general and specifically during Yeshua’s time.  Of all domesticated animals, sheep are the most helpless.  Sheep will spend their entire day grazing, wandering from place to place, never looking up. As a result, they often become lost. But sheep have no “homing instinct” as other animals do. They are totally incapable of finding their way to their sheepfold, even when it is in plain sight. By nature, sheep are followers. If the lead sheep steps off a cliff, the others are likely to follow.

Also, sheep are very susceptible to injuries and are utterly helpless against predators. If a wolf enters the pen, sheep won’t defend themselves or run away.  Sheep are totally dependent upon their shepherd for food, shelter, guidance and protection. So close is the bond between shepherd and sheep that to this day Middle Eastern shepherds can divide flocks that have mingled at a well or during the night simply by calling their sheep, who know and follow their shepherd’s voice. The shepherd leads the sheep to safe places to graze and makes them lie down for several hours in a shady place (think of the parallel to Psalm 23). Then at nightfall, the shepherd leads the sheep to the protection of a sheepfold.

In ancient times, there were two kinds of sheepfolds or pens. One kind was a public sheepfold found in villages. It would be large enough to hold several flocks of sheep. This sheep pen would be in the care of a “doorkeeper”, whose duty it was to guard the door to the sheep pen during the night and admit the shepherds in the morning. The shepherds would call their sheep, each of which knew their own shepherd’s voice, and he would lead them out to pasture (see John 10:4).

The second kind of sheep pen was in the countryside, where the shepherds would keep their flocks in good weather. This type of sheep pen was nothing more than a rough circle of rocks piled into a wall with a small open space to enter. Through it the shepherd would drive the sheep at nightfall. Since there was no gate to close—just an opening—the shepherd would keep the sheep in and wild animals out by lying across the opening. He would sleep there, in this case literally becoming the door to the sheep[fold].

Several ancient Hebrew word pictures point to Yeshua as the Door in a powerful way.  The ancient letter for door is dalet.  This meant the tent flap or door originally, but also the “path” or the “way of life”.  Devar in Hebrew means “word”. When we look at the ancient characters for Devar, though, the root meaning is “the Door of the Son”.  Since Yeshua is the living Word, Devar can also be interpreted as “The Word of YHVH”, as in the book of Deuteronomy [Devarim].  Psalm 19:14 says: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, YHVH, my rock and my redeemer”.  In Hebrew, a word for redeem is Padah and the word picture meaning is “redemption comes by the mouth of the door”. The ancient letters tell us that redemption is by the words of the door, and we know that door is Yeshua. Another significant word is the Hebrew word for Righteous, Tsedek, and the word picture tells us that  a person is righteous when their hook is the Door they follow (hook, or fishhook, refers to that which draws you – your passion or desire).

God’s name, Yehovah, is spelled yod-hey-vav-hey in Hebrew. The letter dalet is added to spell “Yehudah” [Judah], out of whose line Yeshua was descended. These 4 letters of the Name of God plus the letter dalet which means “door,” paint a different word picture:  His name tells us that Praise opens the Door to God“.  Since Yeshua is the Door, and He said everyone must enter through Him, this is a graphic picture of the pathway to YHVH – the key to the Door is praise!

Yeshua tells us that He is not only the shepherd of His sheep, but also the door of the sheep. In doing so, He is inviting us to be part of His sheepfold, where we will never have to fear or want for anything.  All we have to do is praise Him, and follow Him on His path, trusting Him with every part of our lives!

Trust in YHVH with all Your Heart

trust-in-yhvhTrust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8

I had memorized this well-known passage in proverbs 3:5-8 many years ago and still repeat it often in many different circumstances.  I would like to be able to say that it always calms my nerves or worries, but I can’t truthfully say that.  I usually have to spend some time with Yeshua remembering all the promises He gave us, that we are not to fear or be anxious for anything.  This tells me then that trust is not just about knowing the Scriptures that tell us God is faithful to watch over and take care of us in all situations.  It is far more about personally knowing the Living Word [Yeshua] who inspired the written Word, than it is about just knowing the written Word.

As believers, we often talk about having faith, more faith, or enough faith to endure whatever trial we are experiencing.  Unfortunately though, faith has become an overused and even watered down concept in our modern society.  Nowadays, we can have faith in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy.  So what do we really mean when we say that we need to have strong faith in God?  Yeshua told his disciples that they could have cast the demon out of the young boy if they even had the faith of a grain of a mustard seed (Matt 17:20).  It is clear from this story that what they needed was not more faith, but rather a solid foundation of trust to back up the faith they had.

As human beings, we understand what it means to trust someone at a much deeper level than just having faith in someone.  Think about yourself for a moment and how you feel about trusting your neighbor. You may trust your neighbor enough to lend them your lawnmower, but do you trust them to watch out for your house when you go on a trip?  Would you trust them enough to give them a key so they can take of your plants when you are away?  Would you trust them to take care of your children for a weekend?

I would like to illustrate this point through a true story about a man named Charles Blondin, who was the greatest tightrope walker of his time, in the mid 1800’s.  He gained great fame in 1859 when he became the first person to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope.  Charles and his friend and manager, Harry Colcord, strung a 2” diameter hemp rope from an oak tree on the American side to a large rock on the Canadian side, and used a series of guy ropes every 20’ (anchored to the shore) to keep the rope as steady as possible.  The greatest risk was the 50’ section in the center of the 1300’ span that could not be reached by anchor ropes.  The incredible thing was that Charles was able to navigate his way across the Falls without any mishaps.  He traversed the Falls a number of times over the next few weeks, carrying props such as a camera and a griddle on which he cooked an omelet, pushing a wheelbarrow, and even doing a backflip on a couple of occasions.

The most daring feat of all, though, was when he carried his manager Harry on his back during one of his crossings.  This is where the rubber meets the road – although the many fans in attendance had faith that Charles was able to cross the Falls (and even bet their money on him), it was only Harry who was able to trust Charles with his life.  A number of guy wires snapped during their crossing, but Charles never wavered.  Harry later told reporters that Charles had coached him to: “look up…you are no longer Harry, you are Charles. Until I clear this place, you are to be a part of me, mind, body and soul. If I sway, sway with me. Do not attempt to do any balancing on your own”.

Here is the essence of trusting God; not just having faith in Him. The spectators watching Charles had faith in him and believed that he was capable of traversing the Falls.  Only Harry, though, trusted him enough to climb on his back and ride across Niagara Falls with him walking on a 2” thick rope.  Is this the kind of trust you have in YHVH – do you trust Him to protect you and care for you and supply all your needs?  Do you trust Him with your whole life – body, soul and spirit – or do you trust more in your own abilities, your financial resources, or your trusted friends? In Psalm 3:6, God promised to direct our paths (keep us going in the right direction) if we would trust and acknowledge Him in every part of our lives.  Are you ready to trust YHVH with your whole heart? He is trustworthy beyond any other person or force in heaven or on Earth.  Go ahead and start trusting Him today – it will be the best decision you ever made!

Yom Teruah helps us Remember and Rehearse

yom-teruahWhen we talk about YHVH’s feasts or festivals, we sometimes think of big celebrations with lots of festive foods along with family and friends.  Although some of YHVH’s feasts are meant to be joyous celebrations (such as Sukkot – the Feast of Tabernacles), others are meant to be more somber and introspective.  Yom Teruah (literally the “feast of the blowing of trumpets (shofarot)”) is a combination of both joyous and somber emotions.  In a previous blog (When Yeshua Returns), we have already dealt with the misconception that Yom Teruah is actually the Jewish new year, or what is called Rosh Hashanah (literally “the head of the year”).  Yom Teruah marks the beginning of the seventh month on God’s calendar, so by definition it cannot be the start of the year.

The Hebrew word used most often for YHVH’s feast days in the Scriptures is Mo’ed (feast) or Mo’edim (feasts plural).  However, this word is much better translated as “appointment” or more accurately “divine appointment”.  YHVH meant for these appointments to be holy (set-apart) times on His calendar to meet with Him.  They were also called “Holy Convocations”, which in the Hebrew is Miqra, meaning an “assembly” but also a “Dress Rehearsal”.

Whenever one of YHVH’s divine appointments arrives, we are supposed to look back and remember something that God has done for us in the past, but we are also supposed to look forward to what He will do in the future.  In His Mo’edim, God has essentially given us a “roadmap” of the most important events in human history.  Leviticus 23:24 describes Yom Teruah in this way: “In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation (rehearsal)”.  Where it says “memorial” in this verse, another name is being used for the Feast of Trumpets – it is also called Zihk’ron Teruah which means a call for remembering through the loud blowing of trumpets.  So what are we remembering from the past and what are we rehearsing for the future?

By Jewish tradition and ancient calendars, it is believed that Yom Teruah commemorates the first day of Elohim’s Creation of the universe.  This fits with God’s biblical calendar.  When the Israelites were delivered out of Egypt, YHVH then said to them: This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 12:2).  This was of course the first day (new moon) of the Passover month (Aviv), which had been their seventh month but was now their first month by God’s instruction.  Thus we know that the seventh month (Ethanim) had been the first month on God’s calendar, which is the calendar He created for us at the time He created the world.  We can give thanks to Yehovah Elohim on Yom Teruah for creating the universe and us as His children.

As far as rehearsing the future on Yom Teruah, we need to look to the verses where the shofar blast is described as a warning or announcement of a future event.  There are a number of Scriptures where we see the shofar being blown as a call to repent and turn back (teshuvah) to YHVH, warning us of the God’s great judgment at the end times, in the “Day of the LORD”. (Joel 2:1, Zech 9:14, Rev 11:15)  In Matthew 24, Yeshua tells us of the great shofar blast when He comes in judgment and to gather His remnant together from the whole Earth: “And He will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather His chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven”.

Abba, as we are celebrating your appointed time to be with You on Yom Teruah, help us to remember all that You have done for us in the past, including the great sacrifice of Your Son for our salvation and deliverance.  Help us to also look ahead at what You are going to do in the future, and make sure we are prepared like the wise virgins who had an abundance of oil for their lamps.  We want to be a part of Your remnant, pleasing to you and prepared in our hearts and spirits to receive Your blessing when You return to this Earth to reign and rule.

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.

 

 

Does God care about Genes or Jeans (Part 2)?

least of these

In Part 1 of this blog last week, I talked about who are YHVH’s children and those who should keep His Torah, and concluded that it is not Abraham’s biological descendants, but rather those who are His spiritual descendants.  The true children of YHVH’s covenant are those are following His will and trusting Him, keeping His Torah and striving to be pleasing to Him in every part of their lives.  That covered the “genes” part of this 2-part series.  This week I want to focus on what God sees when He looks at us: we know from Scripture that He looks on the inside of us and does not focus on our outer appearance or the level of recognition we merit from the world.  In other words, He doesn’t care whether we wear threadbare jeans vs. classy suits, or how many degrees we have achieved or awards we have won.

What is YHVH truly looking for when He looks deep down inside of our souls?  From Hebrews 4:12, we know that He “discerns the thoughts and intents of our heart”.  But what are His criteria in evaluating our hearts – does He look to see how perfectly we are following His Torah, or how diligently we are working to serve our congregation?  Psalm 58 gives us a beautiful window into YHVH’s heart, and we know that our hearts should line up with His heart as we seek to renew ourselves more into His image every day.

God is conveying a very strong message through Isaiah when He tells Him to shout it out with a shofar blast. (Isa 58:1)  He chastises His people for their false piety – they are trying to impress God by putting on sackcloth and ashes, and afflicting themselves severely when they fast.  The only ones they are impressing are people around them though, not YHVH.  He desires them to fast from their hearts when He says:

“..this is the kind of fasting I want: free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help”. (Isa 58:6-7)

If these concepts sound familiar to New Testament readers, that’s because they are.  Listen to what Yeshua said when He was speaking to the goats on His left and the sheep on His right:

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave Me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.’  “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked and give You clothing? When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?’  “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters,[f] you were doing it to Me!’

“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed Me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite Me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give Me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit Me.’  “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help You?’  “And He will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.’  “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

What, then, is truly important to Abba Father when He looks into our souls?  From Yeshua’s words in Matthew 5:7, we know that He desires for us to be pure in heart, not obeying Him out of obligation but because we sincerely want to please Him from the depths of our heart.  And what does He say about those who are pure in heart?  ‘They shall see God’.

This takes us right back to the essence of our relationship with Yehovah – if we want to know Him intimately, we need to align our hearts with His, which means we will automatically do the things that please Him: feed the poor, take care of orphans and widows, shelter the homeless, etc.  In your life, try not to focus on the outward things, but look deep inside your heart.  In the ‘intents and desires of your heart’, after stripping away everything superficial, do you see what YHVH is looking for?