Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Beshalach: "When He Sent"

I do hope that you've been able to see the prophecy in history here.  I am overwhelmingly satisfied that dots are being connected on what to look forward to in the Day of the Lord.  How exiting is this week's reading?!  God is doing wonders for His people.  They are exiting their bondage.  At the same time He is getting glorified.  It is just good all around.  As Romans reminds us, the good of God's people is attached to His glory.  That passage in Romans and this story here that we read, is to remind us and encourage us as we see the wonders, because in the process of coming out free from bondage and God being glorified, we find ourselves in hairy situations.  Read below:
And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD."  And they did so.  -- Exodus 14:4 ESV
Notice this -- God is telling His people that they are having some hot pursuers, all to His glory.  How would you like the Lord telling you that He is going to put you in some hairy situations that He may be glorified?  Friend, God is glorified in the impossible, in saving and healing.  This means there must have been something you needed saving and/or healing from.  You will most often find that you come to "know" God when He is exercising His multi-faceted glorious roles, and where else would He be exercising such things than in hairy, backed up against the water, situations?  
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants changed toward the people, and they said, "What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?"  -- Exodus 14:5 ESV
Isn't this terrible?  They just lost a great mass of their future generation, and they are more concerned with enslaving Israel.  Take note, Beloved, this is what hate does.  Some people hate God so much, that they would sacrifice their own children, toss aside the remembrance of them, at a chance to overtake God's people.  This may be a sub-par example, but I used it nonetheless to my Star Wars-loving son.  Do you remember the end of Episode 3, where Anakin is so full of hate toward Obi-Wan that he loses his limbs at a chance to attack his own master?  Even losing his limbs, he is crawling in hate toward him, inching away until the fire of the lava stops him.  Hate will consume people -- they lose their children, which are their extension like limbs, at a chance to attack God.  I fear they will continue in their hate-driven blood-thirst until the fire consumes them.
They said to Moses, "Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?  What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?"  -- Exodus 14:11 ESV
Oftentimes I read that and internally answered how ridiculous of a response, so simple-minded.  I'm quickly reproved when I remember moments in the wilderness myself, when I lose heart and think God has it out for me.  "He's taking me to the woodshed," as they say.  I think of the teenage child who says, "My mother hates me because she won't let me go anywhere."  How that mother's heart breaks, the simple-minded child just doesn't see the purpose of mother's upbringing.  So quickly we betray God's good intentions toward us, and refuse to be conformed through the wilderness and fiery furnaces.  Listen, the Father does chasten for sure, just as He chastened in 38 years of the wilderness.  However, remember there were 2 years of wilderness that was purposeful for growth and relationship to Him.  You don't develop relationships with people through a genie-complex ("give me, give me"), you develop relationships with people when you spend time together and are put in situations that bring forth character traits.  The wilderness was solitary, of this we agree.  They got to spend time with God, and be put in positions that drew out characteristics of God they wouldn't otherwise see in positions they didn't absolutely see their need for Him.
And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.  -- Exodus 14:22 ESV
What wonder is this!  How pertinent it is for you today.  You can understand the deeper meaning of this passage when you study the Hebrew.  The Hebrew word for water is mayim.  It starts with the letter mem, which symbolizes water, womb, and chaos -- all three at once, and you will see why.  Mem has 2 forms, open and closed.  A closed womb = no chaos.  An open one = chaos.  Think of a woman's water breaking at the term of pregnancy.  Mem symbolizes water, and water itself also symbolizes the nations which are chaos.  The Hebrew speaks of many things in reality because it is God's language, and God did design the physical to reflect the spiritual.  When you think of mem and its meanings, you can revisit the passages of water in Scripture and see some mysteries God reveals.  This past year the Lord has given me many dreams of waters, and myself above them in an ark of some sort, or even safely within them.  God has a way of making you to walk amongst the nations (amongst the chaos), surrounded by these, literally within the nations, and not be touched.   Nobody needs to go fleeing under a rock now.  The water (the chaos) did not touch them, and by God's hand, neither will it touch you who are His.  I can't say the same for those who aren't.
And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptians into a panic, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily.  And the Egyptians said, "Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians."  Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen."  So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared.  And as the Egyptians fled into it, the LORD threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea.  -- Exodus 14:24-27 ESV
Don't you play the part of an Egyptian and flee.  This is your Lord's hand.  He has kept you safe in His majestic presence thus far, and He can continue to do so if it pleases Him.  The nations flee because they have a reason to do so.  You stand and let your God fight for you.  Did you notice the chaos, that is the water, fell back upon the nations?  Their own chaos will be their ruin, and just as the water's course returned to normal by morning, so when this happens in the Day of the Lord the order is restored in the morning.

The next chapter is the song sang by the children of Israel.  It is a new song to them.  Miriam plays the tambourine and they dance in victory as they sing.  Just the same, Revelation tells us that we will too will sing a new song after the chaos has ended and order is restored in victory.  Oh what a glorious day.  Won't you sing and dance, as the children of Israel?  Exodus 15:11 (ESV) -- "Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?  Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?"  In His language -- "Mi Chamocha, ba'elim, Adonai?  Mi kamocha, nedar bakodesh, nora tehillot, osei feleh?"

Excuse the background.  Yes we are moving.  I guess it was divine that we read and recorded this as we are moving.  So the children of Israel were also moving when they sang and danced these lyrics.


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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bo: "Come"

Five days is just not enough time to study the 4 chapters in the Torah this week.  I still have yet to make satisfactory connections between these things in Exodus and what we can expect as we approach the Day of the LORD.  Then again, when will I ever be done being a student?  I simply ask you, if you are reading this, to learn with me.  

This past Saturday a dear sister in the Lord came up to me and asked me how my brother was doing.  One thing led to another in conversation, and soon she randomly mentioned a dream she had the night before.  It was about a strong wind, a tornado in its blackness, that was coming from the east.  Yet, at the same time she said you didn't know where it was coming or going.  It hit a water tower, and the released water came before it.  She thought it was speaking of an upcoming storm, and the water was the refreshing Word that would come before it.  Well, in truth, the Word has come before any storm.  We know of the storms that will come by the Word that was given, even the Word we study in Exodus.  

That next day my mother in law shared some words that she heard in passing.  Don't confuse the breath of God for a storm.  It reminded me of the dream that was told to me, because although there was a storm, she used words to describe it that were the same words Messiah used to describe the works of the Spirit's leading to Nicodemus (John 3:8).  Later that day we started our parsha reading, and read of the locusts:
"'For if you refuse to let my people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your country, and they shall cover the face of the land, so that no one can see the land.  And they shall eat what is left to you after the hail, and they shall eat every tree of yours that grows in the field, and they shall fill your houses and the houses of all your servants and of all the Egyptians, as neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day they came on earth to this day.'"  Then he turned and went out from Pharaoh. ... Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, so that they may come upon the land of Egypt and eat every plant in the land, all that the hail has left."  So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night.  When it was morning, the east wind had brought the locusts.  -- Exodus 10:4-6, 12-13 ESV
So you can see my eyes were wide open.  Someone tells me of a strong wind that comes from the east, it causes water to come before it.  I think the wind is of the Lord, though it is labeled as a storm.  My mother in law feeds me words that confirm my own thinking, without her knowing it; and then I read of an incident when a strong wind came from the east in God's doing.

This week the parsha name is translated into come.   A storm and even revival may be coming, but really what this more simply means is that the LORD is coming.  From the locusts in Exodus to the anticipated locusts of Joel and Revelation (that have yet to come, and may even be coming really soon), we need to remember that these were brought by the LORD Himself.  I tell my children if they want to know, look at what has already been done.  In this case of Exodus as it relates to the end times, look at the pattern.  The locusts were the last plague before we see God's vengeance (the taking of the firstborn because His firstborn Israel was taken; or the killing of the sons because the sons of Israel were killed in the beginning of Exodus...).  Beloved Reader, the LORD is returning and it will be the vine harvest (Fall feasts).  The vengeance of the LORD will come like the fruit that is pressed, staining the earth for the wine.  However, before we see this day, we realize the locusts will come.  It will be a time of darkness, a darkness that can be felt (Exodus 10:21).  Rest assured, it is but a moment.  God's Hebrew design is that evening starts a day; and so when we see the darkness we know the time is nigh.  It is even here.  Let's move onto the LORD's Passover during His vengeance, otherwise known as the last plague.
"In this manner you shall eat of it:  with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand.  And you shall eat it in haste.  It is the LORD's Passover."  -- Exodus 12:11 ESV
We ate at an elegant Italian restaurant with my in-laws when they came last year.  This wasn't the type of place that had previously frozen meals.  We had to remind the children that this was not that kind of restaurant where they could...act like children.  They should instead act like finely disciplined children.  Up until this year, I thought that is why God commanded Israel to eat girded up with a staff in hand.  I thought it was instead of standing at attention, they were eating at attention.  I read in the Orthodox Jewish Bible it was to signify travel.  They ate prepared to travel.  Well, duh, they are about to travel.  See, that is the thing.  When we partake of the LORD's Passover for the first time (entering the Covenant, see Last Seder/Supper), we had better be prepared to walk.  Walk the walk of our Messiah.  By this we know that we are found in Him, if we walk as He walked, as John so tells us (I John 2:6).
"For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses.  If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land.  You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread."  -- Exodus 12:19-20 ESV
 First of all, this is God's Word, just like it is the LORD's Passover.  If any of us don't like the Words, or the way He wants us to feast, that's not a matter of the messengers, it is problem that person has with the LORD.  That being said, I know of some dispensationalists that don't think of themselves as part of the commonwealth of Israel, and excuse themselves from the conditions and instructions given to Israel, even some of the promises.  Those have to justify to themselves that God has a different set of people who are not Israel, with different set of rules, or risk themselves believing a replacement theology, while at the same time claiming an unchanging God.  For the most, we do claim to be of the commonwealth of Israel, especially if we claim the promises given to Israel.  If you claim any Old Testament promise, you are desiring to be "of Israel."  So then, who is Israel?  The passage above makes it clear that Israel consists of native-born and sojourner who adopts not just the promises, but the conditions (like Caleb, who alone stood with Joshua).  This is to include the one of the Passover.

The flesh gets in the way and gives excuse on why the conditions don't have to be met (keeping Torah).  This flesh will say there are over 1,000 in the NT that must be kept but I cannot at all keep any of the 613 in the old.  What this flesh doesn't realize is that the ones in the NT are merely explanations of the 613, not new ones, and that most of the 613 pertain to the land and the temple.  Mind you, no one keeping the Torah (not even the orthodox) is out sacrificing, so then how could keeping the Law nullify Christ?  Out of all 613, there is roughly 1/3 that apply to everyone, everywhere.  John said the commandments were not burdensome (I John 5:3), and Moses said they were not difficult.  He said the Word is ever near, even in your heart that you may do them (Deuteronomy 30:14).  More amazing is that that is the very definition of the New Covenant (that the Word would be written on your heart -- Jeremiah 31:13, Ezekiel 36:26-27).  Sounds like the same Covenant, by Y'eshua we are restored into it.

I said all that because this happens to be one of those mitzvot that is not limited to the land and the temple.  The LORD said in all your dwellings you are to eat unleavened bread during this Feast.  This is also a 2-part command, like the Sabbath.  The Sabbatical law is not just to rest the 7th, but to work 6 and rest the 7th.  The unleavened bread law is not merely to not eat leavened bread, but it is to eat unleavened bread.
"Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin.  None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.  For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you."  -- Exodus 12:22-23 ESV
My children asked what would happen if they did exit the house before morning.  Would the Lord kill them?  The thing is, God sends the destroyer and He sets up boundaries that you would be protected.  Are we to blame God for disobedience?  Just like the 4 walls of a shut-in house is our Torah.  Torah is a set of instructions for peace and kindness one to another, and love.  This is why the NT disciples and Messiah, in shutting down the people who made it burdensome in their hearts for other doctrines (like we see now in Christian Pharisees), were quick to remind us that the Law is love of God and love of neighbor.  The Love didn't replace the Law; the Love is the Law.  If you step outside of the instructions for peace, kindness, safety, and love, are you to be taken aback that you reap chaos, violence, danger, hate, and destruction?  Who would dare try to rise above God and come up with a different way to bring about peace, kindness, safety, and love outside of His Law?
"And when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?'  You shall say, 'It is the sacrifice of the LORD's Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.'"  And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.  -- Exodus 12:26-27
The children are asking because they see the service being kept.  God commands them to keep this service, and in so doing it would be a continuous witness of what He did, what He does, and what He will again do.  Even Paul said to keep the Passover, just as the Messiah we claim to follow, kept.
A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds.  -- Exodus 12:38 ESV
This "mixed multitude" is clearly telling us that the people who came out and were called "Israel" were more than just Jacob's bloodline descendants.  Isn't that just so beautiful to know that the witness of God's wonders convinced even some Egyptians to abandon their ways and follow the God of Abraham?

This means that more than just Jacob's lineage exited Egypt and received God's Word at Sinai, so then more than just Jacob's lineage is given a set of instructions, a Law, to walk by.  Yes indeed.  The Words of the Lord, about the Words of the Lord, not just given below about the Passover, but we see throughout all His Torah:
"There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you."  -- Exodus 12:49 ESV
Paul speaks of a mystery of the stranger added into Covenant.  He got this mystery as the sod level of reading Torah -- the mystery was in Torah.  We are reading it now as native and fellow joining sojourner exit together, and we see it continue on in examples like Caleb (a stranger) and Joshua (native) come together as one.  The native and stranger, since the beginning of God making for Himself a people, since before the foundation of the world, has come together as one, making what we call "Israel."  So then if Israel claiming the promises, let us also walk not only as He told us, but as He did for example.  Keep the feast, a remembrance until He comes.  Bo, Y'eshua, Bo.


*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.    

Friday, January 16, 2015

Va'Era, through the New Testament

Well here I sit on a restful Erev Shabbat and I couldn't think of anything else I'd rather do outside of talk Scripture, so while I am being my baby's mattress, I'll talk Scripture with you, beloved Reader.  This morning we went over the Brit Chadashah portion of this week's readings, which is taken from Matthew 12:1-14, Romans 9:14-24, and 2 Corinthians 6:14 - 7:1. 
At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath.  His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain to eat.  But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, "Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath."  He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were were with him:  how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which is was not lawful for him to eat nor for those whowere with him, but only for the priests?"  -- Matthew 12:1-4 ESV

I have heard it before taught that in this manner, Jesus was breaking the Sabbath and allowing us to do so.  Careful study of the Torah informs us that within the Law is mercy, specifically that which saves a life, which precedes the other commands.  Hence, David obtained the shewbread from a priest, seeing as the priest made this judgment:  mercifully giving to preserve the life of David is priority.  This is why you also can explain Rahab, a liar, being within the Hall of Faith.  In her false witness, she saved lives.

The Lord is not applying this breaking of the Law for Himself.  He uses the example of David not to back Himself up, but to parallel permitting His disciples to eat.  David and the disciples are being paralleled, not Messiah and David.  It was David who was hungry, and here it is the disciples who were hungry.  It is David who took what was not otherwise lawful for him to have in order to satiate his hunger, and it is the disciples, taking of a field not theirs, who took for their hunger.  He does give an answer for Himself, but this example of breaking the Law because He is Lord over it to do so... is not it.  That would make Him against Himself, and we know that He sinned not which also means He did not break the Law.  The answer He gives for Himself is in the sentence thereafter:
"Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless?"  -- Matthew 12:5 ESV

The answer He gives for His actions on the Sabbath, the parallel He chooses for Himself in what He is doing, is that of a priest.  This is simply because He IS the priest!  Rest was commanded and in the Law for the Sabbath, but the priest's job is not done.  Hence, just like the priest gave hungry David food that was not otherwise meant to be his, the Priest (Messiah) gave His hungry disciples food that was not otherwise theirs.  He is the Lord -- that is, Priest to perform His duties -- of the Sabbath (v. 8), and like the priest on the Sabbath, He continues in the duties of a priest in the verses following.  On to Romans...
For Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."  -- Romans 9:17

This is one of those passages that is either a hard pill to swallow, or simply just hard to understand.  The passage is referring back to what we are studying in Torah:  the freedom of Israel from Egypt, and God dealing with Pharaoh.  First part we need to understand is that this isn't a lack of human responsibility/human choice here.  We learn in reading the original tongue that God "hardening" Pharaoh's heart was not the same as Pharaoh hardening his own heart.  God hardening it meant that He strengthened it; hence, the wording in the above verse quotes God saying He raised up Pharaoh -- that is, to strengthen him.
So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills  You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault?  For who can resist his will?"  But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?  Will what is molded say its molder, "Why have you made me like this?"  Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?  -- Romans 9:18-21 ESV

Not that the Lord needs backing up, but those who ask how He could find fault are generally those that didn't want Him anyway.  The truth is we are born sinners, and God says that He looks to see if any man seeks after Him and seeks wisdom but finds none (Psalm 14:2-3).  Therefore, God doesn't intentionally have to make a vessel of wrath, you alone are a vessel of wrath.  If He touches your life at all, it is a mercy.  How can you find fault in a God you didn't want anyway?  If you wanted Him, does not the Scripture support that you could have Him?  How revealing, therefore, it is that man does not naturally want God.

It is important to know that we are created beings, and that being said, we belong to the Creator.  I heard a story one time I will use for example to try to show that God isn't one who would rather punish than save.  It was that of a woman who owned a famous painting.  She found herself robbed of her painting and called law enforcement.  After some time, the thief was found and punished with fines and incarceration.  The woman was left with this thought:  "That's all good he will suffer, but what about my painting?  I want my painting back."  God wants His painting back.  This is why God sees much more justice over a vessel of mercy than that of wrath -- for the vessel of wrath, he is punished -- but does that give God His painting back?  When a sinner repents, and is a vessel of mercy, God is satisfied in Christ, and God... gets His painting back.  Christ's cost satisfies, since only God can truly satisfy God, but the sinner's payment never will, which is why it is eternal.  With the wicked, God isn't fully paid nor does He get His painting back; but with the repentant, all is satisfied and the painting is restored.
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.  For what partnership has righteous with lawlessness?  -- II Corinthians 6:14 ESV
Sadly, we see a partnership of righteous with lawlessness when we claim righteousness in Christ to the effect of lawlessness or even partial lawlessness ("this applies but that doesn't...").  Jesus did not save us from His Father/His Word/Himself (or any of His other echad facets).  Jesus, as His true, given Name tells us, and as the LORD said in the prophets, saved us from our sins (Matthew 1:21).  Our sins.  That means that God remains, we change. 
"Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."  -- II Corinthians 6:17-18 ESV
We are often told to come as we are but don't stay that way.  I am not even sure if Scripture supports even the first part of that.  I remember reading in the Torah about how God commanded cleanliness before you came to the tabernacle.  Again, set right your heart and matters with your brother before you come to Him (Matthew 5:24).  Here, He says to remove yourself from lawless and unclean, and then He will welcome you.  Take care of your business and repent before you come to Him.  He is the Holy LORD God!
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of Elohim.  -- II Corinthians 7:1 ESV
God's people are not just promised that above, but promised many things.  Just like the promise above, they likewise have conditions because relationships are a 2-way street.  The conditions:  the same, as said above.  Holiness.  Isn't that one way that God sums up the Law's cleanliness and condistions:  "Be ye holy for I am holy."  What is holy, that wasn't written in His Torah? 


*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, January 15, 2015

Va'Era, through the Prophets (Haftorah)

Va'Era means and I appeared, because that is how the Torah portion begins:  The LORD is telling Moses He appeared to the faith-fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The portion of this week's readings within the prophetical books speaks about the time when the LORD will once again appear (primarily, ultimately a prophecy of the 2nd advent) and the events leading up to this "Day of the LORD."  The Scriptures are taken from Isaiah 66, through the English Standard Version.
Thus says the LORD:  "Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?  All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD.  But this is the one whom I will look:  he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.". -- Isaiah 66:1-2
If you recall, the beginning of these words were originally His response to David's wish to erect a house for God.  Yet, these words are universally true, through all time, because from Eden to the tabernacle, to the 1st temple, to the 2nd temple, to Messiah, to the believer, to the New Jerusalem, the common factor is that these are the dwelling places of the LORD with this common purpose:  that God would dwell with His people.  Hence, why He isn't focusing on a building in this passage, but the people within whom He dwells and who [will] dwell with Him.  That is the "end," and that is what we most look forward to in the Day of the LORD.  That is the most important thing we must realize about our anticipated "end" (forever) with the LORD -- that its purpose is to be with Him, not be with a mansion, gold, or whatever other materialistic things that sold us into the faith outside of just Him.
"He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog's neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig's blood; he who makes a memorial of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol."  -- Isaiah 66:3
Is He saying that He doesn't like sacrifices and offerings, and equating them with murder, dogs, and pigs?  I would not venture to say so much, since He reinstitutes these things in His millennial reign, as we see in the end of Ezekiel.  Or rather, is He saying He will accept acts that are against His Torah like murder, things He already said were unclean like pigs, and idols He once cursed as much as He would accept an ox, lamb, grain, and frankincense?  Nay, as He continues in the end of the verse, "These have chosen their own ways and their soul delights in their abominations."  To God, there is a still a difference between Law and lawless, clean and unclean, but "these" treat it as if that part of Him is done away with, when really they excuse themselves that they may choose the ways that delight themselves, not God.  It is not His way that we are no longer under the (His) Law that we are free to murder, eat pig, and have statues, but this is "their (the ones who perform them) own way" as He said.  These things God will see, and we will see, before that great and dreadful day.  It is obvious we have seen them.
"Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son.  Who has heard such a thing?  Who has seen such things?  Shall a land be born in one day?  Shall a nation be brought forh in one moment?  For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth children.  Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?" says the Lord; "Shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?" says your God.  -- Isaiah 66:7-9
He is speaking of Jerusalem here, and making a point in the beginning of it -- does a woman have a child without labor?  But if you want the child, you must labor, you must travail.  God's people will endure their travailing before His coming.  We must be careful in adapting a non-laboring (because we think the Torah was done away with), and non-travailing (because we have been taught that all we have to do is claim the earthen prosperity God wants for us) religion.  Just the same, God is saying to persevere through it, and cling to the hope of this promise:  you will not labor in vain, the birth will come, and so will the rest thereafter.  Remember Paul's words in Hebrews 3-5 about labor and rest.

The verses following (10-14) are talking about after the birth, when great rejoicing overcomes the mourning, milk comes to feed the birthed child.  It says all who love her need to rejoice with her as they have mourned with her.  Just like a mother's milk is full of excellent and filling nutrients, so Jerusalem's coming joy and abundance is very fillling.  It is so filling that all of us believers want of it.  If you want to claim the promises of Israel, then you need to be Israel.  This incudes a walk that is commanded to Israel through an instructional manual (Torah) given to Israel.

He proceeds next to talk about His coming and final judgment (vv. 15-16), when to His people, there is abundance and rejoicing after the travailing.  You know, God declared all the way back in Genesis 1 that evening and day were one day.  The Hebraic way of days starts in this same manner, with evening first.  We can expect that since God never changes, so His own Day (of His appearance) start the same, with darkness wherein there is mourning and travailing before the coming of the Day's Light and rejoicing.
"Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, eating pig's flesh and the abominations and mice, shall come to an end together, declares the LORD.  For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues."  -- Isaiah 66:17-18a
I would not want to be claiming to be sanctified and purified, while partaking of unclean eating nor other abomindations, to inlude worshiping Him in an abominable manner (that is, in the manner of the pagan to their gods).  "But that is not what it means to me."  I think He takes that into consideration, because He said above that He knows their works and thoughts, and still He is bringing that to an end.
"And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the LORD."  -- Isaiah 66:21
How do you explain to those who are going to be the Temple's pillars that we are all the same?  Or to the Bride that made herself ready that she is like the one who didn't?  Some, He says, "some" will be the priest and Levite, just like selected ones are the pillar, and are the Bride.
"For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain..  From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the LORD."  -- Isaiah 66:22-23
This is from Torah.  They are not Jewish gatherings, they are God-commanded gatherings.  Believers across the globe say they are looking forward to this Day of the LORD.  Do you realize that the very Torah and observances that the masses (of Christianity) loathe and reject are the very reinstituted ways of God in His coming?  If you are so hard-pressed to observe these things (like the Shabat) now, do you really want Him to appear?  Because Shabbat will be kept when He comes, as He says.  It is a question we all should honestly ask ourselves as we approach the much anticipated appearance of the LORD.


*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.    

Va'Era: "And I appeared"

I was awake in the middle of the night a couple of nights ago, and I thought about how freedom has been so sweet since beginning the process of having certain lenses removed.  Before that process began, I had a dream I could see my eyes and they had tiny minuscule things, like glass, sitting over my eyes, and it made it hard to see fully.  Little did I know the Lord would show me how that was true in my walk.  Just like stuff that breaches the skin, sometimes it hurts to remove the glass daggers.  I try to remove splinters from my son and he will baby that thing in his skin.  Ridiculously, he’s rather let it sit in there and infect him than to go through the pain of removal.

The things in my eyes were doctrines I could swear to you were Biblically-based, and just like so many I know, I soon read and studied otherwise.  God’s Spirit was the ultimate revealer, but so was His Word.  Obviously, He is His Word.  By His Word, I mean the infallible Word…that is, the original tongue.  When I sat awake that night, I tossed and turned thinking about the mistranslations of an old beloved text.  I wanted to share the Hebrew so badly, especially with those that attest to a KJV only-ism.  I am thankful I had a KJV Bible wherein the editors at least pointed out where the KJV (yes, the KJV) mistranslated.  Mark pointed out this past Saturday as we started Exodus, that it starts with “Va” in Hebrew.  In the KJV this is translated as “Now”:  “Now these are the names…”  (Exodus 1:1).  We know that “va” most often means and, since the letter vav is a nail/connecting point – hence, “and.”  Such a little mishap, we might say.  Yet, you continue in Exodus and see that the plague of flies is omitted in the original tongue.  The Bible should show it italicized, which means it is assumed.  Every single place that says “flies” is assumed.  You can’t get a hint into what that word is supposed to be until the last verse where that word is written, where it says “swarms of flies.”  Swarms is in the Hebrew, and it more closely translates as mosquito.  Small mishap, sure; but let’s see something bigger:  There’s the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart by God and Pharaoh.  They are two separate words.  The Hebrew word translated as “harden” on God’s end actually means to strengthen; whereas, the Hebrew word for Pharaoh’s self-hardening is to make heavy, to glorify.  I think of that certain song, “Let the weight of Your glory fall…”  This is huge.  We are talking about whole sectors of Christianity based upon God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, rather than strengthening it, with doctrines like the Calvinistic predestination, etc.
This week I ask you to take off the lens and dive into some real Biblical-based principles with me.  Let’s strive after truth, and ask the questions we feel intimidated to not ask.  I am sharing my own questions with you, here:

“Say, therefore, to the children of Yisra’el, ‘I am YHWH, and I shall bring you out from under the burdens of the Mitsrites, and shall deliver you from their enslaving, and shall redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments, and shall take you as My people, and I shall be your Elohim.  And you shall know that I am YHWH your Elohim who is bringing you out from under the burdens of the Mitsrites.  And I shall bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, to Yitshaq, and to Ya’aqob, to give it to you as an inheritance.  I am YHWH.’”  And Mosheh spoke thus to the chidren of Yisra’el, but they did not listen to Mosheh, because of shortness of spirit, and from hard slavery.  And YHWH spoke to Mosheh, saying, “Go in, speak to Pharaoh sovereign of Mitsrayim, to let the children of Yisra’el go out of his land.”  -- Exodus 6:6-11
It is really hard to speak to people that are hard in their bondage.  All they want is a relief right now, wanting comfort over the Lord having a moment to glorify Himself to the nations and to grow His people.  You can hardly speak against the children of Israel for this.  One hidden reality we often aren’t fed is that deliverance is often a process that involves relationship-building, God’s glory being made known, and overcoming of an enemy – as we see here.  It is hidden by an instantaneous name it, claim it; or that all our problems go away once we accept the Lord’s lordship.  The Lord lets them know what is to happen, because He is letting them know He is answering them, albeit the end result (the relief) is not immediate.  I reflect on this past week, and many other moments in my life when God showed me a deliverance, but before that deliverance His “wonders” came.  It was like the Lord Himself was saying, “Believe Me, no matter what you see, I will deliver you, and accomplish many other purposeful things – like my glory being made known, your maturity, and a deeper relationship with you -- in the meantime.  I am telling you this ahead of time because as these things come to pass, I don’t want you to lose hope.”  Our portion is a God who speaks to us, warns us, comforts us, saves us.
Then the Lord tells Moses to speak to Pharaoh.  You know, you can ask for immediate relief, but the Lord seems to be much more interested in permanent relief.  He is willing to deal with the hard masters of this world to save you, but we’d rather just have relief while still within enemies’ territories.  People that are not taught that birth cannot come without labor as ones quick to renounce the Lord at the first sign of tribulation.  How many do you know walked away from the faith because they were expecting prosperity and heaven, rather than the affliction and tribulation that called for patience and endurance as you see the hand of God work? 

These are the names of the sons of Lewi according to their generations:  Gereshon, and Qehath, and Merari.  And the years of the life of Lewi were one hundred and thirty-seven. … And the sons of Qehath:  Amram, and Yitshar, and Hebron, and Uzzi’el.  And the years of the life of Qehath were one hundred and thirty-three. … And Amram took for himself Yokebed, his father’s sister, as wife.  And she bore him Aharon and Mosheh.  And the years of the life of Amram were on hundred and thirty-seven.  And the sons of Yitshar:  Qorah, and Nepheg, and Zikri.  – Exodus 6:16, 18, 20-21
A while back I researched the quarrel between Korah and Moses and Aaron – as we will see in the book of Numbers, when Korah rises up against Aaron and Moses to partake of the priesthood.  One writer wrote it was the difference between 2 brothers.  As we can see, Korah’s father was Yitshar, and Aaron and Moses’ father was Amram.  Yitshar and Amram were brothers.  They had different fathers, and so they had different jobs.  Yes and no.  Actually, if you go back not that far, they had the same father.  Both came from Kohath, who came from Levi, who came from Jacob, and so on…  I found that so interesting, and to have within itself a concealed truth, a Torah mystery.  The mystery is that though we have the same Father as His people, we do not have the same jobs.  We don’t even all have the same closeness to Him, just as only the high priest could intercede.  Only Messiah is interceding.  Kohath carried the holy items, but could only do so with blue covers (blue is symbolic for the Messiah).  A royal priesthood will see the holiness of God, but it will only be through the Messiah.  The Messiah is the Father who we will see.  Just as they couldn’t see the holy items bare, but their forms through the blue cover, Messiah is the only express form of Him.  Yes, the veil into the most Holy has been torn; yet, who is the Bride and who are the wedding guests in Yeshua’s parable?  Taking off the lens, one of the questions I soon asked myself was if the Word really said we were all the same?  God’s own example of His kingdom via the wilderness set-up to the land – does this set-up support that we are to all be the same in relationship to Him?  When Yeshua mentioned being the least or greatest in the kingdom – does that support that we are totally equal then?

The magicians then said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of Elohim!”  But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as YHWH had said.  – Exodus 8:19

I think of the times in Scripture when that term “finger of Elohim” plays a part.  This is one of them.  Then there is the later part of Exodus when the Word says that the commandments were written by the finger of God.  Psalm 8 talks about the finger of God that created.  Luke 11:20 is Yeshua saying He casts out demons with the finger of God.  Then there’s His finger that wrote on the ground when the adulteress was brought to Him – the finger that had compassion and mercy.  That is exactly what I want to share with you:  It is the same finger.  The finger that creates, destroys.  The finger that has mercy, gives Torah.  To mirror Luke’s account of the demon riddance, Matthew’s account says “Spirit” of Elohim, rather than “finger.”  The Spirit and finger are the same.  Likewise, the same finger that delivers us is the finger that gives us a Law.  One thing I used to be fed is that the letter of the Law and the Spirit of the Law are not the same.  I am not a theologian, nor do I think I have to be in order to come to the conclusion that it is bad, contradicting theology to say that God’s finger and God’s Spirit are not echad.  In that passage in Luke and Matthew above, it is Yeshua Himself who said a house divided against itself will not stand.  If God is divided against Him, in the gnostic-based theology we are fed that God of the OT is judgment and then His Son Jesus came to save us from His Father, that type of god divided against himself will not stand.  We should be more willing to accept that we need to change to live in accordance to His ways, His Torah, than to say He needed to change His ways to that we could live.  Who is the God here?  The immutability of God is what we have hope in for an eternal Covenant unto salvation.  If He changes, then so can His mind…and with that, what hope is there for you and me to be secure in Him?
The truth indeed shall set you free…
but the truth also makes sense.


*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.    

Friday, January 9, 2015

Shemot: "Names"

Well we started a new book this week and I just love this book because it speaks of the coming out part of deliverance -- the other part being the coming into.  From Exodus until the end of Deuteronomy, you have the coming out and the holiness Israel is brought into, which is the transformation of them through God's laws.  Then after this is the finale of the deliverance (the coming into), which is the land, the "rest" as He calls it (Hebrews 3:11, 4:3, 4:5).  Isn't that so the picture as a whole?  We start with being delivered from slavery, then we go into a period (the rest of our lives) of being transformed into holiness, sanctified (set-apart) by His Word (law) as our Lord so said in John 17; and then, after all of this, we get the coming into, the land, the 'rest' as He so puts it.  Let's not waste any more space and get right into the excitement of deliverance!
But the more they afflicted them, the more they increased and grew, and they were in dread of the children of Yisra'el.  -- Exodus 1:12

Affliction is a genius thing.  I may sound crazy to say this but I almost like affliction...because of what it does.  Affliction is quick to end relationships, but it is also quick to strengthen the right ones.  Here, affliction to Israel brought about more children within them.  We clearly understand marital relationships were strengthened during their affliction; but more importantly, our relationship to God is so.  I venture to say there isn't deliverance without affliction.  For the non-afflicted, what do you need to be delivered from to seek deliverance?  The non-afflicted will not seek deliverance.  The righteous [in their own eyes] will not ask for salvation, but the sick sinner.
And it came to be after these many days that the sovereign of Mitsrayim died.  And the children of Yisra'el groaned because of the slavery, and they cried out.  And their cry came up to Elohim because of their slavery.  And Elohim heard their groaning, and Elohim remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Yitshaq, and with Ya'aqob.  -- Exodus 2:23

Israel's story in Egypt is not one of the consequences of being in a foreign land, but being in a foreign land too long.  First, as Joseph said, God sent him there to save them alive during the famine.  However, that famine didn't last 400 years.

So many pictures are painted about this story, and we must be careful to take what Scripture actually says.  First, here it says that they did cry out to Him, and it was when they cried out to Him that He did something about it.  Friend, the truth is sometimes people don't want to be delivered, and so we can't blame Him for not stepping in where He isn't wanted.  Sometimes cucumbers and leeks far outweigh slaying the innocent to some people.  It has been well noted that 4/5 of Israel actually stayed in Egypt rather than take the exodus.  They cried out for the slavery upon them, but not in the chapter before when the killing of their children started? Something to ponder as a lesson upon ourselves.  They cried out to him after that king died.  It is just a sad truth that we often choose other kings/masters and then cry out to God as our final resort when that one dies.
And the Messenger of YHWH appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.  And he looked and saw the bush burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.  And Mosheh said, "Let me turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn."  -- Exodus 3:2-3

I read a devotional written by Thomas Reade once, wherein he spoke of the bush being likened unto us and the fire likened unto the Spirit.  Obviously, I like analogies and typologies, but I thought he went really off with that one.  I no longer think that way.  What a wonder to have the Spirit of God in our presence and not be consumed!  What a wonder for Him to put His fire in us and yet not kill us.  I blogged on my other site last week about how it takes more strength to restrain yourself than to let it go.  God is a consuming fire, so powerful the whole sky is covered in lightning when He just shows up (Mt. Sinai), and yet He can temper Himself to keep us frail little nothings alive while He abides in us.  What a great sight this is indeed!
"But I know that the sovereign of Mitsrayim is not going to let you go, not even by a strong hand.  And I shall stretch out My hand and smite Mitsrayim with all My wonders which I shall do in its midst.  And after that he shall let you go."  -- Exodus 3:19-20

The Lord gives us so many warnings of what will happen, we truly have no reason to feel abandoned -- even if the answer is not exactly what we would think to be good.  Why did God have Pharoah's heart hard?  Well, He said it -- to stretch out His hand with all His wonders.  Yes, so His glory could be shown.  You need not worry when the answer is so God can show Himself, because His glory is always connected to the good of His people, and crying out to the Lord, clinging, is always for our good.  He needed Pharaoh to show himself of a mighty hand, because Israel fears Pharaoh; and so when God shows He is mightier than Pharaoh, they will no doubt trust Him...or should.  This trust is needed, because they will soon enter a wilderness period where their safety, shelter, food, and water will rely solely upon Him.  It would therefore be good for them to trust Him.
And YHWH said to him, "What is in your hand?"  And He said, "A rod."  And He said, "Throw it on the ground."  So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent.  And Mosheh fled from it.  And YHWH said to Mosheh, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail" -- so he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand -- so that they believe that YHWH Elohim of their fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Yitshaq, and the Elohim of Ya'aqob has appeared to you." And YHWH said to him again, "Now put your hand in your bosom."  And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, and see, his hand was leprous, like snow.  And he said, "Put your hand in your bosom again."  So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and see, it was restored like his other flesh.  ...  "And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land.  And the water which you take from the river shall become blood on the dry land."  -- Exodus 4:2-7, 9
I heard this teaching once on why God chose these certain wonders for Israel to believe and the wonders of the specific plagues.  That teaching went on to explain how these things were actual gods in Egypt and so God showed Himself above their gods and placed their (Egypt's) gods a snare unto them (Egypt), whlie showing Israel H was bigger than Egypt's gods.  Something else occurred to me when I read it this passage this week.  With the first 2 wonders listed, God showed us what we were, what changed us, and that He could restore us.  The rod would symbolize not just correction, but authority (like the scenario of Aaron's rod blooming), and the hand would be the work.  The Lord had first given us authority and the work upon this earth of keeping the things that are His.  The serpent and that sick leprous condition of being a sinner changed that.  Yet, God restores it as He restored that rod and hand.  How does He do this?  By that third wonder:  water to blood.  Heaven's Living Water came upon the dry land and shed His blood. 
And Mosheh returned to YHWH and said, "YHWH, why have You done evil to this people?  Why did You send me?  For ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your Name, he has done evil to this people.  And You have not delivered Your people at all."  And YHWH said to Mosheh, "Now see what I do to Pharaoh, for with a strong hand he is going to let them go, and with a strong hand he is going to drive them out of his land."  -- Exodus 5:22 - 6:1
For as much as we are afflicted, and for as much as we are bonded, we have opportunity to deepen our experience of His deliverance, and knowledge of the depths of His deliverance, and deepen our relationship with Him that much more.  He is our perfect match like that.  The Lord's deliverance goes to depths of Sheol, the grave.  Surely He's more than able to deliver us from anything on the land above the grave. 

It's amazing that this reading is named "Names" (Shemot).  It is because it starts out with the names of the children of Israel, but the most important name mentioned is that of the Lord Himself.  He introduces Himself with His Name to Moses and shares it with Israel.  Names mean things to the Lord.  The Hebrews understood this and often named their children after something that rang true, connecting the name with the child.  Hence, He says it is because He changes not (He's forever, and forever the same) that Jacob is saved (the eternal deliverance).  This Name does not only tell us that He self-exists from ever to ever, this name implies deliverance.  Deliverance forever (salvation) is wrapped up in this Name.  If you want to be closely acquainted with this highly exalted name, be prepared to be in positions that will result in deliverance associated with His Name.


*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, January 1, 2015

VaYechi: "And he lived"

I was just mentioning to my daughter that death is all over this parsha, when it's title is the complete opposite.  In our discussions I talked to the children that in dying we can resurrect.  So they realize the purpose in death is that we may live, but then Amira responded by asking, "Then what do we live for?"  We die that we may live, and we live to die.

There are actually plenty of study points in this week's reading.  In the reading there are many words exchanged that shared God's goodness.  Our family predominately focused on one point in this week's readings.  It is the part of Jacob adopting Joseph's two sons.  Yes, they are his grandsons.   However, unlike the rest of his family, they were not born in his presence and they were born to a strange woman and an idolatrous culture.  This holds huge significance to us, having been adopted through the Beloved, who once were strange seed born to an idolatrous culture.  We are going to pick up where Jacob is talking to Joseph in his illness.
"And now, your two sons, Ephrayim and Menashsheh, who were born to you in the land of Mitsrayim, are mine -- as Re'uben and Shim'on, they are mine."  -- Genesis 48:5
You will recall that Reuben and Simeon are his natural-born, direct-descendent sons, who were the first 2 to be born to him and born unto Leah, his first wife (we'll get into that later).  A bit over 2 weeks ago my husband's petition to legally adopt my older 2 children was granted.  This weekend he is dedicating them as his children, alongside Elisha's baby dedication, in front of the congregation.  I am amazed at God's timing.  The adoption came through in this time frame wherein the dedication of them includes the teaching of adoption.  More importantly, we learn herein what adoption means to the Lord.  He takes us in as if we were his natural-born sons.  He has adopted us.  What excites me is not how my family can relate to this story of Ephrayim and Menashsheh, but how God has called my family, my own children, to likewise be as Ephrayim and Menashsheh:  witnesses of His adoption of us.
"And I, when I came from Paddan, Rahel died beside me in the land of Kena'an on the way, when there was but a little distance to go to Ephrath.  And I buried her there on the way to Ephrath, that is Beyth Lehem."  -- Genesis 48:7
Jacob takes a minute to remind Joseph of his mother's death and burial.  It is very divine that it says this as a reminder, as Jacob is about to die and require burial himself.  We will get into that later. 
"...the Messenger who has redeemed me from all evil -- bless the youths!  And let my name be called upon them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Yitshaq.  And let them increase to a multitude in the midst of the land."  -- Genesis 48:16
One of the best parts of our recent adoption was leaving the court room to immediately proceed across the hall, into the clerk's office, and submit the forms to change the names on the birth certificates.  I can hardly wait until we get them in the mail.  What is it about a name that holds so much importance?  I wear a Hebrew shin on my neck, every day.  I started to wear it because it reminded me of "shua" of Ye'shua (salvation), and then it reminded me of the Shema.  I stopped taking it off when it also reminded me of Shaddai, as in El Shaddai.  For me, it wasn't just the symbol of my salvation and the Shema because of it, but it was a symbol of the dire yearn for the Name of El Shaddai upon me.  My God has been my nurterer and provider.  I yearn it forever, and it is a gentle reminder to see it in that symbol:  your God is El Shaddai.  

Jacob puts his name, Yisra'el, upon the youths.  There is something very powerful about a name.  There is a reason why couples don't sit around the idea of name-changing after marriage, and why we gloried in seeing Vanessa Amira and Xavier Emet on the decrees with the surname Vollendorf.  There is a reason we call upon and claim the Name of the Lord.
But his father refused and said, "I know, my son.  I know.  He also becomes a people, and he also is great.  And yet, his youngest brother is greater than he, and his seed is to become the completeness of nations."  -- Genesis 48:19
He didn't just put his name upon them, he put his own heritage upon them.  He was the younger who was greater than the elder.  His own life exemplified the truth of the first and second Adam, the second greater than the first.  Now he has passed on a heritage of truth to these adopted children.  The best thing we could pass along to our children is the heritage of truth.  Let them live lives that speak of truth, that speak of Messiah.  Even as those in Torah lived to foreshadow, let us live to remind and boldly proclaim.
And he blessed them on that day, saying, "In you Yisra'el shall bless, saying, 'Elohim make you as Ephrayim and as Menashsheh!'"  Thus he put Ephrayim before Menashsheh.  -- Genesis 48:20
Do you remember the covenant given to Abraham, the one that keeps getting passed down the generations?  That covenant said that nations would be blessed through Abraham and his seed.  At this point in the Bible, his seed is Yisra'el.  The blessing above is very dynamic.  I don't have time to get into all the facets, but he said it.  The way of the nations being blessed through Abraham is the way of Ephrayim and Menashsheh -- the way of adoption.  
And Yisra'el said to Yoseph, "See, I am dying, but Elohim shall be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers.  And I, I have given to you one portion above your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow."  -- Genesis 48:21-22
Joseph was taken out of the land.  In the end he will have a double portion of it.  He wouldn't see that day, but we know that it ended up happening.  I take much comfort in knowing that God has a way of working things out, demanding weights and balances, the law of reaping and sowing.  He is a God of justice, and our avenger. 
And he commanded them, and said to them, "I am to be gathered to my people, bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Makpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Kena'an, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite as a possession for a burial site.  There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Yitshaq and Ribqah his wife, and there I buried Le'ah --"  -- Genesis 29:31
You know, we always want to talk of Rachel, Jacob's wife.  We are in love with the love story of Jacob working so long for Rachel.  We even snare that he was beguiled into marriage with doe-eyed Leah.  We relate to him wanting the beautiful and not the tender.  Can you hardly speak against the Jews who were looking for a king of Solomon's glory instead of the uncomely, tender, suffering servant they got?  We are the same.  The truth is, in both cases of Leah and Messiah, beauty was beheld not by the eye, but by faith.  You cannot deny that Leah was God's chosen.  He blessed her womb excessively, and her son Judah is the lineage of the Messiah.  Instead, how many (not just the Jews of Yeshua's time) are looking for what would come forth from the beautiful Rachel, or likening Him to such physical beauty?

Jacob held Joseph and Benjamin dear because they were the 2 sons of Rachel, who he called his wife.  However, in the end, we see that he reconciled himself to God's choosing and though Rachel was buried in Bethelehem, he chose to bury Leah with the faith patriarchs and the wives that bore them children, and bury himself next to her.  I think of how nice it would have been for Leah to know that after loving somoene who didn't chose her, Yisra'el finally chose her.  Not only as a woman do I find that a beautiful thought, but for Messiah how wonderful it will be when all of Yisra'el chooses Him as God's chosen.  Abraham and Sarah his wife, Isaac and Rebekah his wife, Jacob and Leah his wife, Yeshua and Israel his wife...  If we are to be found living with Him, we are first to be found buried with Him:  Living to die, and dying to live.

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