Friday, July 31, 2015

Va'Etchanan -- Taking a Covenant

The Hebrew word Va'Etchanan actually doesn't mean covenant, it mean 'and I implore'.  As we gather from reading only a little further this is referring to the time when Moses begs the Lord to enter Canaan.    However, what really stood out to me in this passage was the mention of cutting a covenant.  
Watch yourselves, so that you do not forget the covenant of Adonai your God, which He cut with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything that Adonai your God has forbidden you.  -- Deuteronomy 4:23 TLV
Adonai our God cut a covenant with us in Horeb.  -- Deuteronomy 5:2 TLV
I chose this version because of the use of the word cut.  This is the Hebrew karath.  It was very interesting to look up the meanings of this word and how the most important covenant we make is inseparable with this word.

When Moses stated the term "cut Covenant" we find a repeat of the Ten Words listed.  Such Words cut through two tablets of stone as God passed through, giving the conditions of the Covenant.  This is not the covenant that many New Testament churches want to grasp today.  However, can you separate Christ from this Covenant, or from any other?  He did still adhere to this Covenant and it is by His keeping of it that so many in their logic claim exemption to keep it themselves.  If He did not keep it, is He an eligible Savior?  Do you still claim the 'Noahic Covenant' when you see a rainbow?  Aren't the blessings through Christ the principles you see in the Abrahamic Covenant?  As we uncover the Hebrew word karath I also hope you will further study to see how covenants where God is one of the parties involved are inseparable one to another.

The word itself means to covenant, very specifically by cutting of flesh and passing through the pieces.  I'm reflecting the context of the passages above, when God's Covenant came by cutting of tablets in two and passing through them as the Words were written.  I am also more immediately taken back to God's covenant with Abraham in Genesis fifteen.  I noticed how it records God telling Abraham to bring Him certain animals as He prepares to make a covenant with him.  I also noticed that it does not say that God told Abraham to cut the animals, but that Abraham did it anyway.  Before the Torah was written with the laws of sacrifice, it was understood that there had to be tearing and there had to be blood for this type of covenant.  The Lord then passed through the parts as He made a covenant with Abraham.

It means to be chewed.  This must be reason why Luke 22:13-28 is the New Testament reading this week.  In this passage, we see how Yeshua cuts the bread by breaking it and, after offering it, offers the wine as His blood in this renewed covenant.  Do you see how the Seder's bread and the wine (yes, symbolic of His body and blood) is so closely related to the cutting of the animals and the blood shed by them?  However, we must partake, and by this we must then do as Yeshua said about His body:  take it and eat.  Chew.

Of course, we must remember that the Luke passage is about the Passover.  Yet, look at the similarities of the Passover and the covenant with Abraham:  Both involve cutting of animals and blood shed (you must cut the lamb to get the blood), and both involve a passing.  God passes through the animals in both.  

This brings me to one more meaning -- it means to be freed.  Now, I understand the Passover is about God's passing over His people, but justification and satisfaction must first come, and hence God must have first passed through His Lamb.  We are free, we are passed over, because of the sacrificed Lamb.

Now, going back to Abraham.  I noticed by command that Abraham brought the animals and sacrificed them himself.  I also read enough to know that lambs don't show up on Passover already sacrificed, but rather the people had to physically gather a lamb and bring it forward to sacrifice it at their hands.  We knew a family in Costa Rica who was raising their own food.  They told us of the time they slaughtered their first goat.  Not only was the goat aged enough but it had also turned aggressive -- so aggressive that they wholly approached it expecting a fight.  To their surprise, he submitted.  They said it was as if he not only knew it was coming, but he knew it was his job to be food and he was ready.  I say this because Yeshua did say that nobody took His life from Him but He laid it down.  However, man did physically bring the Lamb to the slaughter and did physically slaughter Him.  Yeshua, like that goat, knew his purpose and was ready.  It should ever humble us that without our hands physically bringing Him to sacrifice and as the sacrifice, we wouldn't have a part in Covenant.

Yet, we should also be aware that in this Covenant has conditions -- not conditional love, but conditional covenant.  They are not the same thing, to an extent.  Anyone who has had to step away from another who was abusing their relationship understands that all too well.  I say "to an extent" because the commands in the covenant are indeed acts of love, but there are several words in both the Hebrew and Greek that we pile together to mean the one word love.  The commands are given by God, who alone is love, and who alone has authority to give this definition of what it means to love.  However, love as far as goodwill is concerned...it is very clear that God extends this to all mankind.  He has the right to state covenant conditions because He presents it and He paid for it Himself with His sacrifice and blood shed.

The sacrifice of the Lamb...  What a special event wherein God demonstrated His love toward us.  How do we demonstrate our love in return?  It is in the Covenant.

Shalom,

 Natasha

*Disclosure:  With the exception of Scripture and quotations, the information on this site is meant to be viewed solely on this site.  Any reference of its contribution is not to be parted with the reference of this site, nor without reference to its contributor.  The information is, kindly, made public, and expected to be cited properly.    

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1 - 3:22)

I am always eager to jump into Deuteronomy and discuss it.  It is not just a book of a recap and reminders, but it is a book of seconds.  It is a second giving of the same instructions given to the second generation of the exodus, and a second chance to do what was supposed to be done some 38 years prior.  Did you ever notice that God chooses the seconds?  Messiah is called the Second Adam; He chose Jacob, the second-born; also the first and bigger blessing given to Joseph's sons was to the second born; the second generation post-exodus Israel inherited the land...  With all the seconds, it appears the Lord is trying to tell us something.  God offers good news and much hope, a bright future, for those of us that are in need of second chances and/or come in second best.

The thing about seconds, and second chances, is that we should learn from the first and repent accordingly to make the most of the second chance, and to see it to a fulfillment.  Consider this text:
"Then all of you came near to me and said:  'Let's send men ahead of us to explore the land for us and bring us back word about the way we should go up and the cities we will enter.'  The idea seemed good to me, so I took twelve men from among you -- one man for each tribe.  They turned and went up into the hill country, and they came to the Wadi Eshcol and spied it out.  ...  'Where are we going?  Our brothers have discouraged our hearts, saying, "The people are greater and taller than we!  The cities are great and fortified up to the heavens!  Besides, we have even seen the children of Anakim there!"'"  -- Deuteronomy 1:22-24, 28 TLV
So they must learn from their parents what not to do.  What did their parents do wrong here?  Was it not the unbelief they had in God to deliver the inhabitants of Canaan into their hand?  I want to take it a further step back and bring to mind that it was not commanded of them to spy out the land, but instead they decided they wanted it.  This is very important because this is the first sign of unbelief.  Why did they need to see the land and which way they were going to enter?  Why not just listen to the direction of the Lord and enter where He tells them to enter?

I find that I have related to this all too much.  In even a current battle I am facing, the Lord has graciously given me the vision of the end result.  The thing is, I want to know by which way I (and the situation) will get there.  All too often God tells us the end, to give us an expected hope, but the 'by way of' (the same thing the first generation is seeking in their request to spy out the land) is something He often does not reveal, but is a call to faith and trust in itself.  Why can't we know the 'by way of'?  

When I first started my walk with the Lord, I used to practically beg Him to literally show up and let me see Him or an angel with my own eyes.  I wanted Him to speak to me like I've heard Him doing to those in the Old Testament.  Yet, very early along in my study of the book of Daniel, I took into consideration Daniel's response to the messenger showing up and speaking to him.  Not only was the appearance something that blew his mind, but the information given, the 'by way of' to the end result Daniel displays that he couldn't even handle such information.  To the whole experience, his strength left him, he collapsed.  The news of angelic warfare with the messenger and the prince of Persia, and Michael helping -- just wow!  He was terrified.  

Being terrified comes in many different dimensions.  Yet, one thing we can gather from Daniel's experience and this parsha is that some foreknowledge is terrifying.  Most especially what we can gather from this parsha is that foreknowledge can paralyze...and not just to the point of Daniel collapsing in the presence of the messenger, but the cowardly and frightful behavior that is a disservice to God's hand to claim victory in any situation we may find ourselves fighting.

So in the light of second chances, we would do well to learn from our first mistakes.  Even then, we can also learn from the testimony that others bear.  Consider the first part of chapter 2... Did you catch that Moses was very intent to mention the journey of Israel as it pertained to the land that belonged to Ammon and Esau?  One thing I caught was that he mentions how both of these acquired their land by driving out inhabitants.  Ammon even drove out relatives of the Anakim (the giants in Canaan).  Surely, if God would drive out giants for Ammon, He would drive out giants for His peculiar treasure Israel!  I guess in this case, the problem truly was as they spoke in this parsha, that they thought God hated them not that they were His treasure.  The problem arose from failure to believe who they were in God as recipients of His good will, and therefore failure to believe in God.

We must humbly accept that in saying God is love, we are to first say that God has goodwill toward mankind.  He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.  He is a God of second chances, yet with repentance.  

Even for the believer today, let us learn from the mistakes of those in the first covenant -- how they hardened their hearts toward His Law while keeping to their own traditions which tied to breaking their covenant by spiritual adultery.  In the Lord's death He made free those in this curse of the law of sin and death and curse of adultery.  He made a second chance to be in covenant; and having that chance, let us repent from the first mistake of both unbelief (like the first generation) and of hardening our hearts to His Law as we later see.  This second generation moved forward not only with belief as they crossed the Jordan, but they moved forward with the instructions of Torah.  Let us be found like them, moving forward in the belief and trust of the Lord Yeshua, who is the Life, and with the instructions on how to live that life. 

Shalom,

Natasha

*Disclosure:  With the exception of Scripture and quotations, the information on this site is meant to be viewed solely on this site.  Any reference of its contribution is not to be parted with the reference of this site, nor without reference to its contributor.  The information is, kindly, made public, and expected to be cited properly.    

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Matot/Masei

This week we have two readings in one -- matot (tribes) and masei (journeys).  The journey of the children of Israel is nearing an end until they are birthed a nation with their own place in earth.  It was a forty year journey, wherein God said He carried them (Deuteronomy 1:31).  This reminds me of a journey that we all go through, the journey of conception and being carried until childbirth.  The physical is designed to reflect the spiritual, tell the story of the things of faith you wouldn't otherwise quite understand.  Life is about more than convenience of having children, the weighing of benefits and timing, but life (especially this time period of conception to childbirth) is to tell us of the Giver of it and what is says of us in relation to Him.

It takes approximately forty weeks from conception to childbirth.  The child is a child from conception.  I look at those pins of baby feet at ten weeks gestation, and the detail of the little one in such a short amount of time is nothing short of pure amazement.  Again, a child at conception -- it is just that like all things, human beings need time to grow as well.  When we near the end of pregnancy so many of us are impatient to just be done with it, like it has taken forever to get to this point.  In reality, at the end of the day, I am more in awe that a little life can grow so much in such a short amount of time, that a person who is completely dependent on their mother for life, can be a stand alone living being with their own space in the world in just forty short weeks.

When I think of Israel's journey, I think of pregnancy and childbirth.  I think of how they are children of God from the time He brought them out of Egypt, just like a child is a child from conception -- they just needed time to grow, like each human being from conception.  I think of how, just like we are all dependent on our mothers for those forty weeks, Israel was 100% dependent on God for those forty years.  Truly, they could not even have water to drink without Him!  Not only this, but they literally would have died if they were apart from Him during this time, as a child in gestation cannot survive without its mother or without intense intervention in lieu of a mother.  They would have been overtaken in death by the environment, the enemies, the situations, and their immaturity.  I think of the end being a crossing of the Jordan River, at which point they were no longer carried and nursed by El Shaddai in such a way likened unto an umbilical cord, but rather manna stopped coming and they had to labor for their food and make food themselves from what God provided in the land.  It reminds me of something I was once told so long ago with my first child, that after birth babies labor for their food in breastfeeding.  If you ever pumped, you would understand it doesn't come out so easily, and definitely not like the ease and constant outpouring of nutrition through an umbilical cord.  I think of the Jordan River like a breaking of the waters to their birth as people brought forth out of a womb, with their own place in the world.

I think of another set of forty, the forty days and nights it rained on the earth until it was filled with water and the result of this (once the waters receded) was a birth of a new beginning.  This forty reminds me of water that builds in a womb until its fill, then it will recede before the birth and soon comes a new beginning of life.  This forty, and the forty years in the wilderness birthed life.  

Then there happens to be forties that didn't end as intended.  There exists the forty days the spies had in the land that was supposed to result in the physical birthed nation of Israel as they entered, but did not.  We also have the forty years in the book of Acts (forty years after Messiah's parting) that resulted in destruction of the temple rather than a birth.  The forty is meant for growth, and meant to end in birth.  Due to the hardness of hearts, there are times in the Bible that it doesn't, and likewise due to hardness of hearts there are times pregnancy isn't used for growth and doesn't end in birth.

Early last year I came across an article while I was pregnant with my youngest.  It was in great timing, since I was already connecting pregnancy to Biblical matters.  This article takes the general truths a step further in to the precision of development in relation to the Biblical holy days.  
Zola Levitt discovered an amazing correlation between Jewish Holy Days and the gestation of a human baby, from conception to birth.  While preparing for writing a book for new parents, Zola contacted a gynecologist for some help in understanding gestation.  During the session, the gynecologist showed him a series of pictures, pointed to the first one (an egg and a sperm) and said, "On the fourteenth day of the first month, the egg appears."  The statement struck a cord in his Jewish mind because that was the date of Passover.  He remembered the roasted egg on his family table every Passover.  Now, for the first time, he knew what it meant!  Not wanting to lead the gynecologist off from the subject at hand, he didn't say anything, but continued to listen.
The gynecologist continued:  "The egg must be fertilized within 24 hours, or it will pass on."  This reminded Zola of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the seed or grain that "fell into the ground and died" in order to produce a harvest, the first fruits of which was presented to God.  Next, the gynecologist said, "Within two to six days, the fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the womb and begins to grow."  And, sure enough, the Jewish evangelist thought, "The Feast of First Fruits is observed anywhere from two to six days after Passover!"
Next, he was shown a photo of an embryo showing arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, a head, eyes, etc.  The caption said, "Fifty days."  The gynecologist continued, "Around the fiftieth day, the embryo takes on a form of a human being.  Until then, we don't know if we have a duck or a tadpole."  Zola thought, "That's Pentecost!"
The next picture showed the embryo at seven months.  The gynecologist said, "On the first day of the seventh month, the baby's hearing is developed.  For the first time, it can hear and distinguish sounds outside of the womb."  Zola knew that was the date for the Jewish Feast of Trumpets [when we will hear that sound of the shofar that is coming from outside of this world].
The gynecologist continued, "On the tenth day of the seventh month, the hemoglobin of the blood changes from that of the mother, to a self-sustaining baby."  Zola thought, "That's the Day of Atonement, when the blood was taken into the Holy of holies!"
Next, the gynecologist said, "On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, the lungs become fully developed.  If born before then, the baby would have a hard time breathing."  Zola thought, "That's the festival of Tabernacles, a time of celebrating the Temple, home of the Shekinah glory or Spirit [breath] of God."  In the New Testament, the Greek term pneuma, normally translated as "breath," is applied to the "Holy Spirit."
Birth takes place on the tenth day of the ninth month.  Eight days after birth, in Jewish families, a son is circumcised.  Zola noted that the eight days of Hanukkah are celebrated right on schedule, nine months and ten days after Passover.  
No human being could have understood the gestation period 3,500 years ago.  The establishment of the Jewish Holy Days was given to Moses by YHWH, Himself.  Its correlation with the human gestation period is not only remarkable; it proves "Intelligent Design."  It proves the existence of an intelligence beyond this world.  It proves that there is a Creator God that guides the affairs of man.  -- J.R. Church
I do hope it is safe to say that anyone who would read this is for life.  Yet, I hope to see you take a firm stand against the evils of abortion.  If God, perfect in every way, can carry a rebellious people for the forty, is it really too much for a mere human to endure forty weeks for an innocent life?  If Moses can intercede for the rebels, so that due to God's mercy there would still be a birth of a nation at the end, then let us be found interceding for innocent lives to end in childbirth.

Shalom,

Natasha

*Disclosure:  With the exception of Scripture and quotations, the information on this site is meant to be viewed solely on this site.  Any reference of its contribution is not to be parted with the reference of this site, nor without reference to its contributor.  The information is, kindly, made public, and expected to be cited properly.    

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Balak

"He crouches like a lion or a lioness -- who would rouse him?  He who blesses you will be blessed, and he who curses you will be cursed."  -- Numbers 24:9 TLV
Isn't it just amazing how someone who was sent to curse Israel is not only blessing them, but is actually restating a part of a covenant blessing from old?  "He who blesses you will be blessed, and he who curses you will be cursed" is actually from the Abrahamic Covenant.  I am relieved to see that even through chastisement of Israel, God makes her enemies to know she is loved, she is blessed, she is His highly-favored bride. 

When I was in my younger twenties, in my former marriage, I had a few girlfriends I'd use for venting and vice versa.  In the heat of spousal arguments, or even in times when I felt I had been grossly treated, it was nice for me to be justified and validated.  When I was younger I often turned to girlfriends for this.  Many, many times it was at the cost of man-bashing, to put it bluntly.  Then when all was well in the marriage, I'd talk to my friend and she would still speak with an animosity toward my ex-husband and even sometimes speak ill about him in my own ear.  Let me tell you, it sounds so ridiculous to hear someone else speak ill of your spouse while you are sitting there listening to it, but what else are you to do?...You started it.  

I think what opened my eyes wasn't just what I was hearing, but to likewise know what it felt like to hear someone bash me to my spouse and watch him not say much of anything.  I didn't actually get that message from reading Balak, but when I discussed the parsha with Brant yesterday it was something that came to his attention.  Israel is wandering a wilderness in chastisement, the first generation of them have already been cut off from the land, but yet God doesn't allow spousal bashing.  God is so after protecting her image and her honor, as it is tied to Him and His honor properly as Bridegroom and bride, that although there are problems He is not going to make a show of her.  This is so perfectly stated in this parsha and exemplified even in the story of Joseph who thought to put away Mary privately than to bring disgrace upon her in the eyes of others.  

Marriage is under attack these days.  I don't just mean in the redefining of it in worldly, "civil rights" terms.  I mean that it is under attack by even believers, who have been given the opportunity for spousal bashing and ran with it.  I had seen myself in such places, unfortunately many times.  If any message sticks from Balak, let it not just be that we cannot be cursed if we are blessed, but let it be a conviction of what it really means to honor and prefer one another in marriage, especially in protecting each other's image.

Outside of this message above that Brant reaped, a point that I was stuck upon was the very end of the parsha when Israel started having sexually immoral relations with the women from Moab and Midian.  This stuck out to me because the parsha began with those of Midian and Moab wanting to curse Israel and trying to hire Balaam to do so.  The very people who wanted to curse Israel but couldn't are the people who caused a plague among Israel.  It's like if they couldn't curse Israel, they would just cause Israel to curse themselves through the sin of sexual immorality and idolatry/spiritual adultery.  Do you see the hatred of Satan toward God?  So many people will like to quote that no weapon formed against them shall prosper, like the same thought of not being able to be cursed since we are blessed as God's children.  However, in getting us to sin he not gets us to curse ourselves but he gets us to dishonor God.  It saddens my heart for God's sake to see Him protect His bride from certain people, yet His bride will allow those same exact people to trample on Him.  He fights to protect our image and protect us from spousal bashing, but do we do the same for Him?

The best way I can think of, so far, in protecting God's image goes back to the commandment to His first bride in the garden, and like a thread of love this same commandment is repeated throughout the Bible... "Shamar" -- which means to guard and protect.  Guarding God's commands is how we protect His image.  If we learned to love God properly by keeping the commands, rather than doing away with what is His definition of love (the commandments), then perhaps everything else, including marriage as it is intended, would fall into place.

Shalom,

Natasha

*Disclosure:  With the exception of Scripture and quotations, the information on this site is meant to be viewed solely on this site.  Any reference of its contribution is not to be parted with the reference of this site, nor without reference to its contributor.  The information is, kindly, made public, and expected to be cited properly.    

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Korach -- Your Right Placement

I am not going to ask you to observe another or think to another, but instead look to yourself -- have you ever found yourself going after something someone else is doing, especially because they do it well?  I had spent much of my life being a follower of people in such things, or taking up new habits because I saw others were good at them.  It took some time to pry away from that to find my chosen placement.  That is the thing I had to come to realize...it's not a matter of "you are good at this and I want to look good at doing this as well".  Simply, some are chosen/anointed in a certain thing that others may not be.  I find this, and the competition/covetousness in placement, most especially true in ministry.  When I was in a choir I had to look upon the soloists and not let their talent make me covet that placement, but let them have their gift and placement while I grew in finding my own.  My flag team is minus a wonderful worshipper.  Actually, it was a year prior to my joining the team that I first noticed how she was just plain ole anointed in flagging.  The way she worshipped drew me to join her.  However, in challenging myself on if I just coveted someone else's placement or if God really wanted to place me there, I waited a year before I joined.  I know waiting is not always the answer in deciphering; however, we need to understand that covetousness kills, though we often don't think it is covetousness because it is ministry.  This week's Torah parsha is a reminder of that, and the importance of embracing our own God-given placement, while letting others bear theirs.
Moses also said to Korah, "Listen now, sons of Levi!  Isn't it enough that the God of Israel has set you apart from the community of Israel to bring you near to Him to do the work of the Tabernacle of Adonai and to stand before the community to minister to them?  So He brought you close, along with your fellow sons of Levi.  But you are seeking the priesthood, too!"  -- Numbers 16:8-10 TLV
I know how much we like to use that passage in one of Peter's epistles about all being priests.  Maybe in interpreting it in that manner it is explanation of why we, today, find ourselves unable to let other people bear their placements without 'trying it on' ourselves, whether in entertaining thought or action.  I can't even count how many times I've taken a liking to something just because someone else mentioned it or did it well (I notice that when someone does something terribly, it does not draw followers -- proof that often our motivation is covetousness), when instead what I should have done is shut the voices of others' in the excitement of their placements so I could listen to just one voice (God's) in mine.  Plainly, we cannot all be priests.

There is a reason why I keep using the word bear in placement -- because placements come with responsibility accordingly.  You want the role of priest, but you need to understand a level of holiness/set-apartness that came with that.  You have to realize that the priests didn't rest like the rest of Israel rested.  Do you remember when Yeshua was saying He was the Lord of the Sabbath while He was feeding the hungry (Matthew 12)?  He was saying that because as a High Priest, He has duties even on the Sabbath that a non High Priest would not.  Hence, in verse 5 He mentions the work of the kohanim on Shabbat.  Only they could 'work' without defiling Shabbat.  He didn't break the Sabbath, but in fact was doing the work of a High Priest, a work not permitted otherwise to anyone else, on the Sabbath because He is the Lord of it.

We can say this about any one position within the Body.  We must realize that with certain gifts and even privileges there are responsibilities.  We cannot just go into a position simply because it looks good on someone else.  That is covetousness.  We all serve a certain purpose, and like Moses said (in paraphrase)...'Isn't it enough that God 1) called you out of Egypt, and 2) put you in a position at all?'

So back to my flagging story.  Obviously, I did join, and it is on my mind because practice is in a few hours and happened to be a good example.  My last day in the dance circle, some things caused me to doubt flagging.  Mind you, this was something I waited a year to confirm.  First, people flattered me in dancing and that tried me to stay.  Then from someone there came a word of doubt in switching.  I was troubled, and so I brought it up to Brant.  He said to me, "If no one said anything to you at all.  If nobody encouraged you or discouraged you to be in one place or the other, where would you be?"  There was the answer, and a simple reminder of how much we can easily be steered out of placement by what we hear or see of others.

It sounds so cliche to say this truth, but the body is made of many members and not all are supposed to be the first things people see, though many of us want to be.  Some are the smallest little bone.  Still, I don't know a single person who would want to be without their ear bones.  Surely, we can say the same of the Lord.  It is enough that He is mindful of us at all to save us and place us.  As the descendants of Korah humbly learned (Psalm 84)...better is one day in our perfect placement than thousands elsewhere.

Shalom,

Natasha

*Disclosure:  With the exception of Scripture and quotations, the information on this site is meant to be viewed solely on this site.  Any reference of its contribution is not to be parted with the reference of this site, nor without reference to its contributor.  The information is, kindly, made public, and expected to be cited properly.    

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Beha'alotcha/When You Step Up

This week's reading starts off with such a statement:  "When you step up."  Of course this is referring to stepping up to the service of the tabernacle, as we start off with the menorah's lighting.  What I want to talk about this week is not so much stepping up, but remaining.  I want to discuss faithfulness.  We are in an age where many people step up to many things, but without much commitment.  There are many 'flavors' to try out there -- in hobbies, habits, lovers, religions, but how many remain faithful to just one thing?  We all strive for individuality and to be validated, to belong; so stepping up isn't the issue so much as remaining.  

I used to clean for an elderly couple, the man of which (who stood in as a father figure for my wedding) nicknamed me, "Hummingbird."  It was cute at the time, because I do love hummingbirds.  He named me so because of how I look when I clean.  It is, however, not so much of a compliment when you are dealing with positions and placements.  I am irked to not see longevity in things or people.  It makes me wonder if we have this commitment thing down, if what we do is for ourselves or for another (ultimately, God) -- knowing this, that serving one's self is still instinctual, sinner's mentality, versus serving another and God as a sacrifice of one's self, which is true love.  Doing something because I am interested isn't always equated with doing something because it pleases another (God, ultimately).  One if often self-love as it is self-service, while the other is a charity agapao.  When something becomes a desire of mine, I often like to let time prove if something is of God or not.  I am told to test the spirits, even my own.  My fluttery, deceptive heart in its natural will never stand time, but God's Spirit is the epitome of faithfulness and will turn a spirit likened unto Him.  If the situation allows, if I forbear a new thing, and the desire remains, I have learned that it is of God and I have also learned patience and a bit of temperance.  If what we are doing is always changing and we are unable to be faithful, then perhaps we are doing it for ourselves because we human beings are never satisfied until we are doing something for God who alone is our perfect match and who alone can fill us.

This is serious, people.  If we cannot be faithful to a mere task at hand, a book, a lover...how can we expect to remain faithful to a God we don't even see?  In the great falling away, are you to be found faithful, are you to be found a remnant, one who remains?

I want to bring up one passage in the Torah text before I move onto something in the New Testament reading that I'm currently pondering.  
"Bnei-Yisrael is to observe Passover at its appointed time.  You are to celebrate it at its appointed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of this month, with all its rules and regulations."  So Moses told Bnei-Yisrael to observe Passover.  They celebrated Passover at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month in the Sinai wilderness.  In accordance with all that Adonai commanded Moses, so Bnei-Yisrael did.  However, there were some men who could not celebrate Passover because of being defiled by a dead body.  So they came to Moses and Aaron on that same day, and these men said to him, "We have become unclean because of a dead man's body.  Why should we be kept from presenting the offering of Adonai at the appointed time with the rest of Bnei-Yisrael?"  -- Numbers 9:2-7 TLV
While we have the masses of Christianity focused on how they don't have to guard the Torah and moedim, you have some here that ask for another way that they can still remain faithful.  As a mom, when I ask my children to do something I would like it with a willing heart.  I am severely pained and even respond with, "Forget it!" when they make a countenance of dislike, opposition, and adversity.  Adversity.  You know that root is what the word satan means right?  Why be adverse to God's Torah and moedim in our hearts so to let it spill forth from our lips with a nasty, "I don't have to."  It reminds me of a jagged step-child's response, or a response of a teasing child to their babysitter:  "Make me."  Adversity is in the heart.  It is as clear as day.  Why can't the Lord find more people like those in the text, more people that would argue a way to guard His ancient words, rather than argue in adversity to their longevity?  Why can't He find more people to remain faithful?  It is as He said of His return -- will He find anymore faith?  These words -- faith and faithful -- are intertwined.

Speaking of that passage, let's go to the New Testament reading which includes that exact passage.
"I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed.  One will be taken along and the other left.  There will be two women grinding at the same place.  One will be taken and the other left."  "Where, Lord?" they replied.  And He said to them, "Where the is a corpse, there also will the vultures be gathered."  -- Luke 17:34-37 TLV
Yeshua is presenting "the day when the Son of Man is made fully known," (verse 30 above).  So of course we read this believing that this is a rapture, a taking, of believers to Himself.  I have a problem with this interpretation based upon the question that is asked and His response.  "Where?" is the question given to one of the two people here -- the one who left or the one who remains.  I venture to say the "where" is asked of the one who is gone because if one is to remain you don't need to ask where as they are exactly where they already were.  The change of location happens to the one who is taken, therefore it is suitable to ask, "Where?"  This alone could speak of a taking of believers by Yeshua, yet His answer to where is what stumbles me.
"Where there is a corpse, there also will the vultures be gathered."  -- Luke 17:37 TLV
Some translations will say "eagles," but it is first more important to note that the word is plural regardless.  I've seen Bibles and commentaries link this verse to Job 39:30, and then say it is Yeshua as an eagle gathering the Body (since some translations say "body" rather than "corpse).  Then I noted the OJB (Orthodox Jewish Bible) linked this verse not to Job, but to Devarim (Deuteronomy) 21:23 -- in the case of a a body hanging as a corpse as result of sin.  This type of cursing should never be equated with the blessed Body of Christ in His second coming, which is different than His first wherein He was impaled.  Therefore, I toss out the notion that the corpse/body is the Body of Christ.  Likewise, I am leery in referring to Yeshua in the plural (since God is One), so then I must question if the vultures/eagles are figurative of Him?  Likewise, a bird who eats off the dead cannot be the image Messiah is presenting of His second coming, which is a glorious coming (as opposed to the suffering servant in the first) might I add.  So what if we are the vultures and we are eating of His dead body?  Once again, this is referring to the second coming, and He is alive I will remind you...not a dead body.  So then I researched the words a bit in the Greek.

The thing about the word paralambano, which is the word behind "taken," is that it is taken (haha, pun intended) from para and lambano, which have interesting and almost contradicting definitions in their words alone.  At times para can mean to beside or against.  Lambano implies a seizing.  I was especially interested to find that the seizing often means by force, ecstasy, spoken of an evil spirit, temptation.  Joining to a great temptation, perhaps?  If that is so, do you want to be that group, that one who is taken?

I am wondering if this seizing -- this being "taken" --  is not by the Lion of Judah, but by, as the text says, vultures -- creatures and predators that feed off the dead; that you'd know who these people are by the fruit of what they take becoming dead; that those that are left are exactly that:  remained ones.  It is just a thought, and one that honestly makes more sense than the one I was taught.

On that thought, there are many that want to be taken, want to be seized and not remain.  One of the first prophetic dreams God gave me was one of closing my eyes as a tsunami came over me.  When I opened them I saw colors I could not describe as I was clearly traveling in a way unfamiliar to me.  The earth disappeared, and everything as I saw it was gone.  I remained.  I must repeat that to myself, that I remained.  This earth will be gone one day.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but He and His words will remain.  Friend, I want to be in that left behind boat.  I want to remain.  I want to be found faithful to the end of everything else.  I want to be the remnant...and I want my life to be a training ground for that and exemplify in this dimension what it means to be faithful and to remain.  Carry the principle in your relationships, your tasks, your positions, your words, and in God's Words.

Shalom, 

Natasha

*Disclosure:  With the exception of Scripture and quotations, the information on this site is meant to be viewed solely on this site.  Any reference of its contribution is not to be parted with the reference of this site, nor without reference to its contributor.  The information is, kindly, made public, and expected to be cited properly.    

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Shavuot/Pentecost

This week's reading, having come on Shavuot, is in Exodus 19-20 and Ezekiel 1, and can also include Acts 1-2, regarding the descending of the Spirit on Shavuot.  

In time, instruction is given concerning this day.  It is 50 days after the barley first fruits (which was the first day of the week following the Passover week's sabbath), where a new grain was ready to be harvested, which was the wheat harvest.  We are able to make connections with this in addition to the literal (keeping in mind the 4 levels of reading Scripture) by acknowledging that Messiah is the first fruits, and thereafter Him is the harvest of His followers.  This was that day the believers gathered in Acts 1-2 for the Shavuot feast and the Spirit descended for the harvest.  It makes sense.  Dots connect.  

What adds to the interest and full picture is studying it prior to the instructions of harvest in the land.  Exodus 19 begins by telling us that it is the third month.  Israel left Egypt in the first month, which is the same month of the Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the barley first fruits.  Fifty days later to Shavuot would equal the third month here in Exodus 19-20 when God gave the Words we know as the Ten Commandments.  The Spirit descended 50 days after Messiah's rising in Acts 2, and here the Law descended 50 days after what would have been the barley first fruits if they were in the land.  What unison God is declaring here, that His Spirit and His Law are one!  There is no such thing as the letter of the Law versus the Spirit of it.

The first thing I want to talk about, regarding the Lord descending and harvesting, is protocol.  Yes, there are protocols.

When I was a little girl I had an issue with plugging things into electrical wall outlets.  I had not known myself to have ever been electrocuted, so I don't know what established that fear.  For years I was really weird about this, even putting off certain chores until another could come plug something in for me.  For example, my washer stopped going in the middle of it being filled with water and had to be reconnected.  A vacuum would come unplugged and after pushing the on/off button so many times, I would not know if it would be on or off once I replugged it, giving a moment of spark.  Then there was the one time my breaker box was making a snap, crackle, and pop noise, and I exited my house.  These things brought out a real awareness of the capabilities of electricity to my mind.  Though they were not entirely founded, I did appreciate and understand when Mark Biltz said (in comparing protocols of handling electricity) that there are protocols when dealing with a Holy God.

To take caution when handling electricity (by proper grounding, keeping water away, covering wires, etc.) is not to say that we are forbidden from using electricity.  It is to say we understand its capabilities and are choosing wisdom.  In this simple example, we need to understand God is very capable of utterly frying us (way more than any form and strength of electricity, I might add).  There are certain protocols when approaching His Majesty.  Remember that when Israel said they would like to no longer approach God directly, that He said this was wisdom in their cases.  It isn't that He wasn't accessible to them (Moses did comment on how no other nation has a god so close to them as theirs is to them), but these are babes...and just as how my own baby enjoys the results of electricity as I do (she sits in lighted rooms, has warm food, charged items), she also doesn't go handling the plugs and sockets that bring about those things.

Verse 10 in chapter 19 starts off with the instruction to tell Israel to make themselves ready.  There is a readiness for visitation by Him.  This is just beautiful to me, because if you grasp what is going on, on Shavuot (which would later bring a fuller understanding with Acts 1-2), you see that God just got through delivering these people for Himself to be their Husband and then gives them these sets of Words.  This is a ketubah, a marriage covenant.  The second thing I want to discuss about the Lord descending and harvesting is the marriage that comes from it.

There are countless books out there written about how to read love languages, identifying what love means to your spouse, and how to act accordingly to express your love.  Since Yeshua said that this (the Law) hangs on two commandments -- love God, and love your neighbor -- this means that this Law, these Words given, are... love.  When we take to ourselves a spouse, we consider in each other what it means to love one another, and we hold each other to it as a part of a covenant.  Most of these are written in the traditional vows, though many come up with their own and are very personal and real.  It is what love is to them.  God, who is Love, tells us exactly what love is in these Words.  He gets to define it, because He alone is love.  

I have heard from some people, and even once myself said this same thing... that the Messianic movement is all Law but no love.  If the Messianic movement knows Messiah while guarding the Law, how can we say it is loveless?  I found that I had to change my definition of love, because the Law is God's definition of love expressed.

When I think of this being a ketubah given, to which God says to make yourself ready beforehand, it reminds me not only of protocol in approaching a holy God, but it reminds me of a bride who makes herself ready for her wedding ceremony.  She will do what she can to make herself clean.  I mirror this back to 19:10 where the instruction comes to wash.  This brings me to Yeshua's parables of the virgins not being ready and the initial invitees to the wedding party not coming.  It really does make one think about what it means to prepare oneself for the wedding feast of the Lamb.

What does it mean to be a prepared bride?  It is a washing of the Word as Paul so wrote in Ephesians 5 when speaking of a bride.  That Word is Torah, since only the OT existed when he wrote that.  The Torah was given so long ago on Sinai in an event we read about this week.  I simply smile, then, when I see believers going back to the roots of this faith, those accepting the Jewish Messiah and His Torah.  It is God most beautifully calling His bride to prepare herself for that wedding feast of the Lamb.

Shalom,

Natasha

*Disclosure:  With the exception of Scripture and quotations, the information on this site is meant to be viewed solely on this site.  Any reference of its contribution is not to be parted with the reference of this site, nor without reference to its contributor.  The information is, kindly, made public, and expected to be cited properly.