HEBREW ROOTS

HEBREW  ROOTS

 Author….Ruth

FORWARD:

I believe that it is important for me to make it clear that I do not descend from Hebrew roots being in fact a Gentile. Neither do I need to become a Jew as Paul the apostle made clear, nor copy their ways or mimic their customs or even learn Hebrew. But I might need to remind readers, whatever nationality we are from, that our Bible is a Jewish Book, and further more Jesus/Yeshua was a Hebrew and a rabbi who kept the Jewish Feasts, was integrated into the Hebrew customs and culture, in fact used them to instruct not only His own people but also Gentiles. For twenty years or more I have delighted in discovering the Word of God through Hebrew eyes and Hebrew culture finding both the value and richness in doing so. Ministering in many nations in Bible Schools and Bible teaching series this subject has proved a great joy to teach and valuable for the hearers, resulting in folk around the world longing to tap into this knowledge. The following series will satisfy in part both my joy and your desire for this understanding. My quest to search and discover the richness of this subject has never waned, one I expect to be researching until I die for I am passionate about reading the Bible through Jewish eyes.


CHAPTER ONE:

Firstly we would do well to understand how the Hebrews viewed the Torah. They viewed the Torah (I will use the name Bible as it relates to we non-Jews more) as a diamond which has seventy facets/sides and depending upon how one turns the diamond so this allows the prisms of light to catch and show its many faces. In this way every scripture has seventy different ways that the light will catch. Besides this they use four differing levels of meaning through which to understand, to check and double check, their understanding of the Bible. This method protects them against private interpretation, it also determines that they will never say that they fully have grasped the full meaning and facets of Jehovah, for they are dealing with something that is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword. This would guard against one taking a verse out of context, even of laziness in interpretation.

If one falls into the category of being Hebrew educated, then we who are not Hebrew are by comparison Greek educated, and herein lies an enormous difference. The Biblical Jewish mind for example was practical and dealt in tangibles, if God said that He cared and understood then they sought to prove that, even limiting themselves to that which they had proven, this does not render them naïve or simple, rather practical. Not so the Greeks who presumed to philosophise about the Almighty, delving into the mystical and unseen even that which is none experienced, postulating about the unseen God, thus complicating issues, even to speculation. Immediately we can not only recognise the danger in this but we also recognise that the Church today is totally immersed in such practises.

Yet another problem is seen in the words of one Christian author who stated that ‘if the plain sense of the Bible makes sense then seek no other sense’. Such a statement would be totally unacceptable to a Hebrew as is thoroughly Greek in thinking. Let me explain further……

The Hebrew people interpret the Bible by using four levels. Pashat, Remez, Drash and Suud. The understanding of their scriptures must meet the test of passing through these four levels. So let us explore each level……

PASHAT….this is the simple plain meaning of the text taken as it reads, where they honoured the plain text but at the same time realising that it must also pass three other levels of understanding.

REMEZ….reading the same text again this time they look for an illusion to something that has been written before, for they use the midrash by way of interpretation. By way of example we Greek educated begin at Genesis 1:1 reading right through to Revelation in a linear fashion, not endeavouring to see that the Lord unfolds Himself in an ever increasing revelation. It is important here for us to realise that the book of application. Remember the Hebrews deal in tangibles restricting Genesis begins more or less with a wedding and the book of Revelation ends with a wedding, for marriage is on Jehovah’s heart. Sandwicheched in between Genesis 1 and Revelation many successive weddings are recorded to give a greater understanding and revelation of the greatest wedding of all time, between God’s Son and His bride. This is Remez.

DRASH….gives us life experiences. Everything we read must be applicable and applied to life as we know it.

SUUD….is the mystery, that realm of the Bible which only the Holy Spirit can reveal, such as the Song of Solomon and the Book of Revelation and Ezekiel to name a few. In the Book of Ezekiel it opens with Ezekiel describing a vision that he was experiencing of wheels within wheels and living creatures with many faces. It all sounds very science fiction, and seemingly impossible to comprehend. We see these enlarging and diminishing constantly moving circles could the explanation be one of our God who is constantly moving, fresh each day, interacting. Never changing at His core and yet constantly changing and on the move, so that we should never feel bored in His presence, or imagine that we fully know Him. Suud is a mystery just waiting to be search out.

Thus we can see that the Bible is not to be read hurriedly as in rote or duty, rather it is to be savoured, meditated in day and night, questioned and mused upon, even wrestled over. Neither is it to be handled lazily, where we quickly read and what we do not immediately understand, or is not related to our immediate circumstances, we carelessly cast aside.

Deut. When you enter the land read it to your children upon your bed.


CHAPTER TWO.

In the previous chapter we determined that one of the most dangerous things we can do in our Biblical reading or study is to insert our modern thinking, even our culture into the Biblical era. By which I mean that we must not use as reference our culture, our personal way of thinking, mind-set, even our language or the era in which we live into our interpretation or understanding of the Bible. The Bible is a Jewish book therefore we must interpret its contents through Jewish/Hebrew eyes. To enlarge on this thought let’s take the following scripture for example….

Ps. 104:2 God stretches out the heavens like a curtain.

To a non-Hebrew these words are meaningless, merely poetic and fanciful, but to a Hebrew used to living in a tent the words are powerful. Here the Psalmist saw Jehovah stretching out the heavens as an enormous tent. Under the covering of those skins the extended family would gather, protected, unified, cosy, one big family, and this is the way they saw the universe. Jehovah was their Father, and Father of an enormous extended famiy. Here is another verse to consider.

Hebrews 4:15 He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.

This reveals a God who is active in the midst of His people, where He walked and talked with His creation. Beginning in the Garden of Eden with Adam the first man, to Enoch who, the Bible records, walked and talked with God in such depth and on such an intimate level that one day Enoch simply kept on walking right from this realm into the next. We also have Abraham who entertained the Lord in his tent. The tragedy and loss that Adam experienced and which continued on through history has only one redeeming feature, the first glimpse of this hope is seen in the Book of Genesis as we examine the scriptures through the four layers. We are turning to

Genesis 2:8-12 The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree to grow that was pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river went out from Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four river heads. The name of the first is Pishon, it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good

Firstly we read these verses on the Pashat level that is we take the simple plain meaning of the text, taking it at face value. But it is meant as much more than a geography lesson, or an interesting story, therefore we re-read the same text again this time look for an illusion to something that has been written before, or something on which to hang it, this is the Remesh, at the same time taking time to check out the Hebrew meaning of the names, in this instance Pishon and Havilah. For in this garden which the Lord God made specifically as a place where He would come and interact with Adam one of the first rivers named was Pishon. This river circled the land of Havilah to water the land, to refresh and to sustain life, it’s source was Eden from where it flowed out and beyond. We well know what happened to that idyllic scene and we grieve together with Adam and Eve as they were ushered out never to return. But the river went with them as it were, perhaps they rested on the banks of that river, cooling their burning feet in the cool waters. But it is still only a story until we look below the layer for the name Pishon means ‘hope’, but there is more, much more. The name Havillah means ‘suffering’, a river of hope flowed through a land of suffering, and the book of Genesis shows again and again hope in the midst of suffering. Havillah was rich with excellent gold, now gold when it is perfect becomes transparent, and this gold dust when it mingles with water turns the water red in colour, and here we have the story of Genesis. In the midst of suffering our Almighty, loving Creator shines through with hope, our hope is found in and through the blood of Jesus His Son.

Using the Hebrew method of Midrash we see that seam of pure gold again and again, as we look through the layer of Remesh. For example when the nation of Israel who had known captivity in Egypt for over 400 years. When their deliverer Moses began to show Israel’s Lord and God in action, the very first plague was when the waters of the River Nile turned red. Hope in the midst of suffering. Departing Egypt and before they faced the wilderness crossing they were required to cross the Red Sea, followed closely by Egypt’s Pharaoh together with 600 hundred choice chariots. Who crossed safely and who were drowned, every last one of them? Hope in the midst of suffering. It continues in like manner, for these same people now camped at the foot of Mt Sinai elected to build a calf made of pure gold according to the gods they had known back in Egypt. When to Moses horror he discovered what the people had done he smashed the calf to powder, throwing the powder into the water. Gold dust in water turns the water red, and now Moses orders the people to drink that red tainted water, for they sure needed hope in that situation as they were once again faced with the prospect of suffering.

So what have we seen here? We have discovered that the Bible read through Hebrew understanding is much more dynamic than we first thought. But we still have another layer we can pass this through and that is the Drash so that these historical truths become applicable as  applied to life as we know it, for we too can look through life’s sufferings and find the seam of gold, and that gold in the hands of the Lord Jesus turns from hope to reality. 

One reason why we may often miss the seam of gold and the hope which follows is because we are so fragmented. To put it another way, our minds are running and turning every which way, rarely do we wait in the presence of the Lord until we hear Him and after that what we have heard penetrates our minds and hearts in such a way that we will never forget what we have heard. It will impact us. In Middle Eastern language there is an interesting phrase, it is El Arbiniyah, and as close as I can get it means ‘as long as it takes’. You see that phrase regarding how long Moses was up Mt. Sinai, our Bible translators wrote that it was 40 days and nights, but that could just as easily be translated El Arbiniyah, ‘as long as it took’, as long as it took for what? As long as it took for God to get Moses out of the way, his thoughts, his confusion, his worries, his fears and on and on. Or we could say, for as long as it took for God to get Egypt out of Moses head space, or for as long as it took for the responsibility of 3,000,000 Israelites waiting at the foot of the mountain for him to take them to the Promised Land. For as long as it took for Yahweh to impart to Him His great plan

Now we need to ask the question, how long do we pray each day? How about this for an answer, El Arbiniyah, or for as long as it takes for God to get through to our minds and beyond to our hearts.

Jer. 29:13 And will you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your hear

CHAPTER THREE:

The Bible is about a God who is active in the midst of His people. One who walked and talked with His creation from the beginning back in the Garden of Eden. Not only then but now His longing for fellowship with us and for communication has not waned, to be involved is His desire. We see clearly as we read the Bible that He is active in the midst of us.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Reading this same verse in the Spanish translation of the Bible it hits home even harder. For where in English it says ‘the Word’, in the Spanish it reads ‘El Verbo’. El Verbo or The Verb. At school I was taught that a verb is a ‘doing word’, which portrays so clearly to us that God and His Son Jesus, is a God who is active, working, functioning in the midst of us.

When John the Baptists disciples went to Jesus on John bequest, to ask whether He really was The Christ or did they still wait for another, Jesus answered this way…..

Matt. 11:4,5 Jesus answered and said to them “go and tell John the things which you hear and see. The blind receive their sight, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the gospel preached.

What He is saying is, go and give John the proof he needs of a God who is active in the midst. The Bible is so much more than inspirational words or of literary excellence, these same words have the power to cleanse us as we read them, in fact the Bible talks of The Word as being like a mirror or a sword. For the words of the Bible are practical, vibrantly interacting with us leaving us emotional or peaceful, even guilty or angry, but never unmoved if we read it honestly.

We see this so poignantly expressed in the Psalms…..

Psalm 63:3 Because your loving kindness is better than life my lips shall praise you.

The question that begs being asked is this, what does loving kindness look like, how would you describe it? I feel that we need to answer this in order for these words to impact us, for how can we praise Him if we cannot determine or isolate loving kindness. The Hebrew word for loving kindness is Chesed, but it is the following word Cheseda that gives us the key. Cheseda is where a swan plucks off its own downy breast feathers and uses them to line the nest for her eggs followed by chicks. Eggs and chicks which face the possibility of being damaged or wounded from the hard edges of the nest before it is lined. Thus the swan protects her own by plucking something from herself, at her cost. There is no better illustration for loving kindness, where God the Father and Jesus His Son gave of themselves and still give to protect us from the damaging effects of life.

The Lord Jesus described Himself in the following terms

John 6:35, 41-51 Jesus said “I am the Bread of Life, he who comes to me shall never hunger.

John 10:14 I am the good shepherd

John 14:6 I am the way, the truth and the life.

John 15:1 I am the true vine

John 10:7 I am the door of the sheepfold

John 8:12 I am the light of the world.

Now to be a good Hebrew, think function, what do the above ‘do’. Bread for example it nourishes, strengthens even satisfies our hunger, and can certainly sustain life but we need to eat it for this to happen. This way the Lord Jesus is saying “eat me, take me into your life, let me become an integral part of you”, where even as the bread we eat becomes a part of us so He desires to become a part of us. In similar manner think about the function and end result of the other examples, the shepherd, the light, and so on. What do they do, how does it work.

Ps. 24:7 Lift up your heads O you everlasting gates and the King of glory shall come in.

Let us go beyond the Pashat, the plain statement for we need to ask some questions, such as how can gates have heads. Again we need to think ‘function’, what was the function of a gate in Bible days. Not only as an entrance for coming and going, within the gates in the walls of Jerusalem which incidentally were wide enough and covered to form a room, sat the heads of the city. The judges, the leaders sat in the city gates to hold court, the gates were a place of judgment or where questions and problems were asked and solved, where disputes were settled. In the Book of Judges 5:8 where is tells us that in those days of Deborah there was war in the gates, we are being told that the nation’s leaders were at odds with one another. Because of this the nation’s problems were unsolved, and the invading Canaanites were able to make life untenable. Thus the Psalmist is pleading for the leaders, the decision makers, to become the leaders God intended them to be in making a way for the King of Kings to set up His kingdom and so allow His people to be judged in righteousness.

We cannot close here for now we need to pass this truth through another layer, the Drash which gives us the application to life as we know it, for there are not only leaders of nations how about leaders of Churches, of families, anyone responsible for another’s life. Make way for the King of glory to enter and rule in righteousness. Only this way will life go well for us.

Ps. 139:1-24 (23) search me o God and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts.

This is meant to be our constant cry and heart attitude as we allow the Lord to be deeply involved in our lives.

CHAPTER FOUR:

Yesterday I wrote of our Lord’s longing for fellowship with us and for communication, for Him  to be involved. There is another Remesh on this subject which is so worth mentioning, seen in

Matt. 21:18,19 Now in the morning as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it “Let no fruit grow on you ever again”. Immediately the fig tree withered away.

Mark 11:12,13. Now the next day when they had come from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.

This is an incident recorded in the Bible which we cannot afford to just read through the Pashat layer, for at face value it makes the Lord out to be mean spirited, which He is not. The first thing we must do is to study the culture of those days.

  1. Those fig trees went through 4 cycles, so that never at any time of the 4 annual seasons would the tree be without figs. The anomaly is that in the Hebrew language the name for the figs on the first cycle was a different word, it was phuge, and phuge came before the leaves, these were the first fruits.
  2. Jesus seeing leaves knew that if there were leaves there would have been phuge (pronounced fagay) But this tree showed leaves with no fruit.
  3. The previous day the Lord had ridden into Jerusalem to great acclaim. The roar of the welcome would have been still ringing in His ears. They were welcoming Him as their Messiah, but did they believe what they were saying! Now on His way back into Jerusalem wondering what awaited Him He saw a fig tree.

He sees the fig tree. Now the fig tree was a symbol of the nation of Israel, a symbol of security and prosperity. The Lord was hungry, but physical hunger was usually quite low on the priority scale for the Lord, was He hungry for other than natural food! Was He not racked with hunger for communication with His people, the nation of Israel. When the Lord reached up into that tree and parted the leaves looking for Phuge, I am imagining that He was forcibly almost knocked over with the revelation staring Him in the face. This tree, an emblem of the nation of Israel was covered in leaves, just as Israel was all outward show, outward noise and acclamation, just as Adam too covered himself in fig leaves immediately upon loosing fellowship with his Creator, but as for fruit. Absent, missing, nil, zero. Now let us add the Drash, for now the spotlight is upon us, how about condition?

Is there an even deeper reason why the Lord wants fellowship with us? Could it be because during and within this level of fellowship He is able to make us into something? He will be able to see the fruit of His own Spirit coming alive in us, the Holy Spirit truly working and moving. But instead are we emerging daily looking like Adam after he fell, covered with our own efforts? Doing things our way, in our time, according to our plans and purposes.

As much as I want you to catch the impact of the truth here I also want you to recognise the benefits from reading the Word of God through the layers and levels. In this case the Pashat, the Remez and the Drash. Could we include the Suud here as well, for are there mysteries here which only the Lord by His Spirit can show us.

Oh to be more and more, until fully caught up and lost into the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.  My thought are going back to when Moses was climbed Mt. Sinai again and again, why?  because Yahweh called Him up, why? for fellowship. As a result of those times on that mountain Yahweh named Moses as His friend. I have heard congregations around the world sing over and over the words of the song ‘I am a friend of God’, but I cannot help but wonder as I hear them enthusiastically sing, how much time they spend in His presence until it is God who calls them friend.

Ps. 91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

This is another instance where we should go further than the Pashat level and ask ourselves the question, how can someone who is pure light cast a shadow? He cannot therefore the Almighty cannot cast a shadow. Therefore the verse is talking about ‘us’ ‘dwelling in the secret place’, and in that place we are dwelling for the moment in pure light. God cannot cast a shadow but I can when I am dwelling in His presence of pure light. Besides this the primary function of light is to expel darkness, and there is plenty of darkness within our vessels, yet another reason to dwell in communication with Him in the secret place.

CHAPTER FIVE:

Who would think that one could learn valuable lessons even from studying the clothing used by those ancient Hebrews. Let us take a few chapters to do just this. Firstly we will take The Girdle   made either of leather or a coarse cloth. Its purpose was many and varied, the obvious was its use to gather in the garment during the daytime in order to give greater freedom of movement and then loosened at night for comfort. Another use was for them to hang their tools or weapons upon, a scribe for example would hang his inkwell and quill from his girdle, so that wherever he went he was ready to ply his trade. Or a soldier his weapons, or a carpenter his tools, and so on. A slit would be made in the girdle and used as a pouch for money or other personal possessions.

Mark 6:8 He commanded them to take nothing for the journey, no bag, no bread and no money in their girdle.

2 Sam. 20:8 Now Joab was dressed for battle, on it was a belt with a sword fasted in its sheath at His hips.

Ex. 12:11 Eat it with a belt on your waist, your shoes on your feet….eat in haste. (it was very unusual to eat, or even be at rest within their homes with their girdles fastened, but the Lord is telling them that they were to be ready to depart after the meal)

Acts 12:7,8 An angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the prison….and the angel said, “Arise quickly, gird yourself and tie on your sandals”. (in prison they were not expecting to go anywhere therefore they would have loosed their girdle)

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (when they were to move quickly they would bend down and taking the hem of the back of the skirt between their legs to the front, then bringing the hem right up they would tuck it into the front of their girdle, so leaving their legs free to run or move quickly)

We are told to do this with our minds as it were, to reign our thoughts in rendering us focused. This is so that nothing can slow us down or hold us back.

Luke 12:35,36 Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who wait for their master.

Eph. 6:14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.

Today there is so much to distract us that it is seldom even considered that we could be ‘fixed upon the Lord’, and yet I imagine that we miss hearing or receiving so much from Him because of this. There is a beautiful story told in the gospels to illustrate just this. It is the story of Blind Bartimaus, firstly this was not his name, in fact we are not told his name. Bar means son and Timaus is his father’s name, therefore he was Timaus’s son who was blind. Daily he would have been led to his begging position and left there to do his bit towards the family purse.

Mark 10:46-52blind Bartimaus …And casting away his garment he rose up and came to Jesus

….and answering him Jesus said to him. ….and then he followed Jesus in His way.

In the above text I have underscored the words ‘casting away his garment’, because we need to ask ourselves why, what is happening, This is not a guy who is so excited to see Jesus that he starts stripping. In 1st century Jewish culture you had to receive a license in order to beg thus  you would have to go through a legal process where you would be required to prove your validity to beg. Here they would put you through a test to ascertain whether you could make money any other way than begging. The blind son of Timeaus owned such a licence, but the next question that needs to be asked is where would a blind person display this license to beg, place it in his pocket or on view and he ran the risk of having it snatched from him. How did they solve this problem? It was overcome by the wearing of a different coloured tallit, this was the outer garment, the prayer shawl even. Clothed in this particular shawl and at one glimpse you would be seen to be legitimate. Understanding this we can see something very special about this beggar, and that is his faith. So the blind man was throwing away his license to beg, and this was faith  in evidence, and this is what Jesus responded to by asking him what He could do for him. This was faith that demanded a response from Jesus, which remains the same for us for is there any part of us that is holding on to something, whilst you wait for Jesus to respond to us first. This entire illustration is about how kingdom people respond to Jesus, this  is about people who want what Jesus has for their lives so bad that they are willing to lay stuff down in order to enter into something better. It’s a story of bravery, courage, where we are brave enough to leave former things behind for each one of us has a garment to throw off, for when we hold on to our garment it keeps us blind, so that we cannot see the next step of our journey, the next possibility. This is all imagery that Jesus uses to show what it is like to be a Kingdom person yielding our security blanket, and this is a Drash.


CHAPTER SIX:

We are going to continue to look at clothing worn in the Old Testament days, and not at any time will we be merely interested in the historical aspect rather we shall be looking below the layers/levels. Let us take the tunic and the coat through the level of the Pashat and see what we can glean. Firstly the tunic was made from two pieces of material seamed so that it was shaped like a sack. A V shaped opening was cut for the head, and slits were made in the two corners for the arms. A new tunic was sold usually without the V opening so that it could be proven to be new. For the females the V could be embroidered in a design which depicted the region the wearer represented. These tunics could be made from wool, linen, leather or more frequently from cotton, according to the trade or the wealth of the wearer. But then there were tunics made from sackcloth or goats hair which would be very uncomfortable causing skin irritation, they were therefore only worn during times of deep repentance or mourning. Tunics worn by the men were normally short whereas the women wore tunic to the ankles. The coat which was the outer garment depended in style and material fully upon the wealth and status of the owner, and could be made from silk or as a thick blanket for warmth. When made from silk it became a luxury garment where a wealthy person would never think of going out of doors without one. Another difference in style would be in the sleeves. For a person of status which included a father plus the firstborn son the sleeves were fashioned thus. Beginning at the elbow a piece of material was inserted into the seam of the sleeve, at the elbow commencing very narrow widening as it reached the cuff. The end result was such, when holding the arms horizontal from the elbow the sleeve would widen gradually so that by the time it reached the wrist the sleeve would touch the floor. This is the Pashat many readers of the Bible would be uninterested, and yet we shall soon see how important this information can prove.

The first example will be Joseph….

Gen. 37:3 Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than all his children….and he made him a coat of many colours.

It would be culturally incorrect to imagine a garment of striped colours, think of the difficulty in dyeing the material, in was the Septuagint and the Vulgate translation who gave the translation to be colours in fact the correct translation should not be colours but pieces.  Coat of many pieces, and these pieces were not strips of coloured material layered side by side to make a cloth of many colours, rather it was the pieces inserted into the seam of the sleeve. But why is this important? It is important because it gives great insight into why there was so much sibling jealousy between the brothers, you see Jacob had foolishly promoted Joseph into Rueben’s position in the family. The firstborn wears such a coat and Joseph was not the firstborn Rueben had that honour. The wearer of such a garment was obviously not expected to do any manual labour, thus Joseph stayed at home and Reuben was out minding sheep. On the day Joseph took lunch out to his brothers in the fields he would have been wearing his coat of many pieces. As the boys watched Joseph coming across the fields towards them they planned his death, in fact it was Reuben who saved Josephs life.

Look closely for here we have a Drash, a life application. Is there a deeper reason as to why Reuben was able to lighten Joseph’s sentence of death? Could it be that the Lord makes His grace available to the one who has been offended, as in Reuben’s case. Where the wounded one only needs to take up the grace that is available, that is the ability to forgive the offender. Is there a special grace to heal that wound? Not so the brothers, for they were not the offended instead they had taken up Reuben’s offence. In doing this they had to carry the intensity of that bitterness which ate at them until it turned into murderous intent.

Isa. 52:10 The Lord has made bare His holy arm and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Without the understanding of the above, we would not understand the deep meaning of this verse. The Hebrews knew that Yahweh would wear a coat with pieces in the sleeves, for He was higher than royalty. Therefore they also understood that He would not be expected to be involved in manual work, where He would need to soil His hands. Now if for some reason this was necessary the wearer of such sleeves would take the long edges of the sleeves and tie them behind his neck. In this way the sleeves would be pulled higher and so out of the way causing the arms to become bare and so able to work. Therefore when Yahweh said these words to them, that He would make bare His holy arm, they understand that He was saying that He was willing to get His hands involved and dirty in their situation, their mess. Plus the result would be visible even dramatic.

In this chapter once again we have seen the Pashat, the Remez and the Drash and each layer has been not only valuable it has also aided in our interpreting the Bible correctly.

Now another thought……

Rev. 3:8 I have placed before you an open door.

In Hebrew Old Testament culture doorways were left invitingly open, for hospitality was of high importance. If one was at home but required privacy they would merely drop a curtain over the open doorway. In fact the only time the door would be closed is if the owner was away from the house or if it was night time. In the above scripture the Lord is saying to His people that He is always available, and it is certainly never night time for He slumbers not nor sleeps the scriptures say.

CHAPTER SEVEN:

In this chapter I want us to examine the wearing of sackcloth through the Remez and the Drash. This cloth was used for mourning the dead, for in the week following a death mourning clothes were worn and the head sprinkled with ashes. In Biblical culture mourning was intense, for tearing ones clothes, rubbing ashes into the hair and wearing sackcloth would be considered intense by our standards. During the entire week following a death there would be no work. The tomb would be revisited on the 3rd day and again on the 7th and 10th day and finally one year after the death.

Gen. 37:34 Then Jacob tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days.

2 Sam. 3:31 Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, “tear your clothes, gird yourself with sackcloth, and mourn for Abner”.

Firstly we should ask ourselves why the Creator saw fit to provide space for mourning, as seen throughout Jewish culture, where mourning was to be fully savoured and acknowledged, giving full approval of the depth of feeling and even a way to express that emotion. For the wearing of sackcloth set them aside for a definite period of emotional grieving. Today we recognise that if a person is not allowed to embrace each stage of grief then the result could even be possible psychological damage or even damage to health. Recognised stages of grief can be numbness followed by denial even anger, certainly sadness and guilt. How about anxiety, loneliness, fatigue, these are all definite stages until the person works through them to eventual freedom and hope.

In the Old Testament we see deep personal or even national mourning.

Esther 4:1 When Mordecai learned all that had happened he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes and went into the midst of the city.

Mordecai was making his statement of mourning very public for he wanted to bring something to the attention of his niece and eventually the king, and yet no one had died. As yet! You see Mordecai had discovered the plans of Haman to exterminate the Hebrew people, and he knew that they were as good as dead unless he did something about it. There we have the Pashat, but how can we make it a Drash? By recognising that firstly Mordecai was not blind to the situation afoot as neither should we. But before we can mourn we will need to recognise that there is something to mourn over, we will need to see as God sees. We will need to know ‘the times’ that is, whether there is something to mourn over or to rejoice. Joel the prophet makes this very clear for his prophecies were for our time……

Joel 1:8-10 Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. The grain offering and the drink offering have been cut off from the house of the Lord. The priests mourn who minister to the Lord. The fields are wasted the land mourns for the grain is ruined, the new wine is dried up, the oil fails.

Joel is calling us to mourn because of the condition of the house of God which is the Church of God. Why? because the grain, which is the Word of God, and the wine and oil which speaks of the Holy Spirit, is missing. As Solomon said in the Book of Ecclesiastes….

Ecc. 3:1-8 To everything there is a season…..a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,…..

I believe that often our problem is that we do not recognise the time, I say this because we rarely if ever see God’s people today grieving and mourning and wearing sackcloth because of our/the Church’s condition, and yet I suggest that we have every reason to. Just in case you do not understand how we can wear sackcloth today, we should read

Rev. 11:3-6 And I will give power to my two witnesses and they will prophesy ….clothed in sackcloth….they have power to shut heaven.

The Book of Revelation is for the future and yet we see two witnesses wearing sackcloth. Obviously that which was literal has now become symbolic. We can best understand if we compare it with circumcision, in the Old Testament it was literal but come to the New Testament and it talks of circumcision of the heart. Likewise with sackcloth, the wearing of sackcloth in a spiritual sense would be an attitude of the heart, thus the above mentioned two witnesses will obviously not wear literal sackcloth, actually it could be hard to find such material today anyway, but their hearts will be symbolically clothed in sackcloth in that they will mourn for exactly that which is grieving the Lord’s heart. It is interesting to note the following verse…..

Ps. 30:11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing. You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.

In the case of personal grief what better than to have the Lord lift sadness from off us, after all the scriptures say ‘you give and take away, so blessed be the Lord’. But in the case of our grieving or mourning for a condition within the church or the nation, we need His heart when He dictates.

Luke 10:13 Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented a great while ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

1 Chron. 21:14-16 So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel and 70,000 men of Israel fell. And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. Then David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth having in his hand a drawn sword stretched over Jerusalem. So David and the elders clothed in sackcloth fell on their faces.

Amos 8:9,10 And it shall come to pass in that day says the Lord God that I will make the sun go down at noon and I will darken the earth in broad daylight. I will bring sackcloth on every waist and baldness on every head. I will make it like mourning for an only son and its end like a bitter day.

Repentance Bible style is going down on our face before God until He comes, until He gives us His Spirit. Thus enabling us to take His hand and arise in mercy and forgiveness. We are encouraged to mourn fully when we see our nations’ sin and condition before God, or our own personal sin.

Isa. 22:12 And in that day the Lord called for weeping and for mourning…..for girding with sackcloth. But instead joy and gladness….let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.

 

CHAPTER EIGHT:

There is still such a lot that we can glean from studying the clothing worn by Old Testament Hebrews. For example why did the Lord insist upon such a fashion statement as tassels or ‘Tsit se ot’ as it is pronounced in Hebrew.

Deut. 22:12 You shall make tassels on the four corners of the clothing with which you cover yourself.

Numb. 15:37-41 Make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations and put a blue thread in the tassels ....and you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them….and be holy.

We are going to do some research here going even beyond the Pashat into the culture, so that we can understand better the Remez and Drash. Not only were tassels to be worn during Old Testament times but through until today was the Lord’s command. Amongst the traditional Jews today they follow this command by wearing tassels upon their prayer shawl.  But firstly let’s focus upon the blue thread for this is where the expense lay. The tassels were made from white linen thread, but the dye required for this one blue, or to be more correct it was the colour purple and there were one or more purple strands per tassel, this dye was costly. This purple dye was taken from the Murex sea snail and to obtain the dye only one pin prick could be harvested from each snail. It took 10,000 snails to make 1 cubic centimeter of the dye. Each family formed their own tassel, as a signature or a crest, in this way the tassel could be used as a seal, when pressed into some soft substance, thus leaving an impression.  The tassel was sacred; therefore only within the confines of a family would they touch each-others’ tassel. Now the Pharisees, who were people of external show, often wore excessively long tassels to indicate they were more holy.  In some instances their tassels were so long they dragged in the dirt.  Walking through the market place the Pharisees rang a tiny bell to warn folk not to step on their tassels.

Over time the meaning of the tassel went beyond that which the Lord initially intended, for it also became a symbol of authority. For example if you took someone to court, you could literally drag him by the tassel.  In this way you were placing your authority over theirs. Jonathon Saul’s son in handing David his coat during making a covenant together with him, handed him access to the Saul dynasty, its power and wealth, in the exchanging of the tassel. Besides this the tassel shows their place in society, for every Israelite as mentioned in Numb. 15:4, 37-41 had, by law at least one purple thread, originally this included every person both male and female down to the children. When a woman was divorced they cut off part of her tassel thus her worth would be halved, also the wealthier the person the fancier the tassel and the more purple threads per tassel.  And so you can see that the tassel played an intricate part in their lives. In all of this we have the Pashat with some historical back ground.

But now we are going to see how valuable all of that information is as we look for the Remez. For example in the Book of Acts at the stoning of Stephen the men hurling the stones at Stephen firstly removed their robes, this would be complete with tassels, and they placed them at Saul’s feet.  Culturally for us that could simply mean that in this act they were merely requiring Saul to guard their coats from being thieved whilst they performed Saul’s dirty work for him. Saul was a Pharisee dressed in his silken coat and long tassels and throwing stones would have been beneath his status. But this was not the reason, for as we think Hebraic ally in doing this act they were placing their tassel, their authority under that of Saul’s tassel and so authority.  Saul in accepting these coats and therefore the tassel, was accepting the responsibility for what was about to happen to Stephen.

Another Saul, this time it was the Old Testament King Saul who was resting with his men in a cave. They were hunting David down to kill him but as they slept David discovered their hiding place. Carefully David stepped over the sleeping bodies until he reached where King Saul lay, here was the perfect opportunity to turn the tables on Saul and take his life. As he bent down Yahweh spoke to David instructing him to not touch Saul. Thwarted but before retreating back out of the cave David cut off the hem (tassel) of King Saul’s garment, after which he felt guilty knowing that he had shown lack of respect for Saul’s authority, plus he had weakened it. Saul awakes and it would appear that he spotted David standing in the opening of the cave, and there was his tassel in David’s hand. His response says it all for Saul spoke these words, “I now SEE you will become the next King of Israel”.  Obviously Saul saw something more than just a mere piece of his garment in David’s hand, he saw his authority, and what is more Saul understood that Yahweh had allowed it.

Another time we recognize that the tassel would be involved was when the Lord Jesus was stripped of His garments at Calvary, it would not only have been his garments but the tassel that was valuable, for it was not only costly it also stood for His authority and His place in society.

Yet another incident was when the prodigal son little by little sold everything he had, this would have included his tassels.  When it says specifically that his father ordered another robe for the son, it would be complete with another set of tassels.  Although he had already spent his inheritance once, here his father was giving him more, as it were, credit cards and another cheque book.  No wonder his brother was angry and jealous.

We are about to come to a very beautiful incident but to build the momentum there are the following verses to read.

Matt 14:36 They begged Him that they might touch the hem of His garments, and as many as touched were made perfectly well. 

Mark 3:10  He healed many as they pressed about to touch Him.

What were they touching? Is it as the translation explains it? Were they merely touching the hem of His garment, if so what is so special about the hem, why not the sleeve? Of course it must have been the tassel that they were touching, for it was the tassel which represented His authority. Now we come to an incident with this lady.

Matt. 9:20  The woman touched His hem and was healed.

This is the lady with an issue of blood which she had suffered for 12 years. During the time of a woman’s monthly cycle she was not permitted to attend her children or her husband, or even household matters. She could not even attend the Temple or be out amongst society for she was unclean as in, she could spread disease. For such a situation as with this woman the Rabbi’s had decreed that a husband could divorce his wife, she being no more use to him or his household. Recall back that her tassel would also have been cut in half, meaning that her value, her place in society was halved. Any money she had anyway had been spent on doctors, therefore by the time she met Jesus she was a homeless outcast. She risked life itself pressing through the crowd that day to reach His side and when she did she did not dare ask Him for help. Therefore bending low she grabbed His tassel, and what did Jesus say? “Who touched me”?  But everyone was touching Him, so this was a certain ‘touch’. Remember back, only family members were allowed to touch one another’s tassel. The tassel can be likened to credit cards, or money in the bank.  It represented the family wealth, or the family name and authority. In touching His tassel she was touching everything and everyone who stood behind Him.  She was touching the wealth of heaven, and she was touching the authority of heaven, what’s more she knew this.  Little wonder she was healed.        

In superstition one may touch the tassel in the same way they handle ‘worry beads’. One may touch in faith or in superstition but it is faith, not the touch that matters, and this is the Drash, and we would miss all of this understanding without having done some research, I hope that you can see that it is worth the effort to go beyond simply reading the Pashat.

CHAPTER NINE:

In the study on ‘warfare’ I highlighted how on many occasions the nation of Israel was instructed to let the singers and worshippers go before the fighting men into battle. This is our subject in this chapter, that of worship. In our study on the ‘Pathway to Heaven’ I wrote of the layout of Moses Tabernacle and showed how Yahweh had instructed which tribe was to camp in what sequence outside the fence of the Tabernacle. It is interesting to note how specific the Lord is. But it is the tribe which had to camp directly in front of the door/gate which has our attention here, for this tribe was Judah and the meaning of this name is ‘praise’. As they went in through the first entrance on their journey into the Lord’s presence they had to be taking praise with them.

 Ps. 100:1-5 Enter His gates with thanksgiving in your heart and enter His courts with praise.

 I inhabit the praises of My people.

 We are not talking about worship but praise. The Hebrew word ‘praise’ which is ‘Judah’ is made up of 3 pictures

  1. J is an upraised hand
  2. D is a picture of a door
  3. H the picture is a window

Thus we understand that as we raise our hands in praise and surrender to God then He opens the windows and doors of heaven over my life. It does one good just to read through the concordance to see all the scriptures relating to praise just in the Book of Psalms alone. Praise makes a way for the Lord to show forth His glory. If we want to be a Kingdom person then we need to remember with thanks all that the Lord has delivered us from. Many of us will have sung the following song in church.

Give thanks with a grateful heart

Give thanks to the Holy One

give thanks for He has given Jesus Christ His Son

And now let the weak say I am strong,

Let the poor say I am rich

Because of what the Lord has done for me

Give thanks.

Now we shall read something from the Book of Deuteronomy which at first glance does not make any sense to us in our culture or era.

Deut. 26 And it shall be when you come into the land….you shall take some of the first fruits….put it in a basket….and you shall go to the priest and declare…..”my father was a wandering Aramean, a Syrian.

Every year the Israelites had to give their first fruits offering. Standing before the priest they would place their offering in a basket, now at the Lord’s instruction they would lift the basket holding their offering high in the air, and as they handed the basket with the offering to the priest this is when they would cry with a loud voice “my father was a wandering Armean”, year after year. In other words they are saying “my father was a homeless refugee, a slave even, or, I am wealthy now but without Yahweh I would still be homeless”, or words to that effect. For many of them it would be years even generations since their forefathers, specifically Abraham, was a wandering Aramean. Nevertheless they were still to cry out these words.

Obviously what the Lord is teaching them and us is that we must never lose sight of how much we have been forgiven, or how much grace we have received, or how far we have come. Be it by God, or by God through other people. For He is saying if we lose sight of this then we will miss the kingdom of God. We are not meaning we will miss out on heaven but we will miss out on the best that is available to us here on earth, the kingdom here on earth.  For where would we be today had God not have touched our lives, therefore give thanks is what is being explained. If ever we lose this we run the risk of looking down on other people. Even if they may be making a mistake at the time, we need to free them to go their own way at their own time and even make the mistake.

God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

In other words the cross is God extending His love towards us first, even at the risk of us refusing His offer. This action of love towards us demonstrates to us that love is risky, even when we have been refused or hurt or even stomped upon, or how about crucified! To be a kingdom person means that we risk again and again and again. For if we cannot risk our love upon people then we cannot love by God’s nature.

Here is a Remez. It is after the crucifixion and the disciples have gone back fishing. As they pull up to the shores of the Lake of Galilee they see a perfectly normal sight, someone is standing tending a fire. The stranger calls out to the disciples, remember their hearts are heavy they are probably not conversing with each other, deep in thought. The disciples respond to the stranger by taking some of their catch over to the fire so that he can cook their breakfast for them. Now we have Jesus standing by a fire, a pit of burning coals, and Peter comes and stands alongside Him. When was the last time Peter was standing beside a similar pit of burning coals? It was the last time He set eyes on Jesus, and it was the time when Peter vehemently betrayed the Lord. This is such a painful Remez for Peter, the memory was so sharp he could almost taste it. But without a word of rebuke, a snide remark, a hint of sarcasm even, Jesus handed Peter some food to eat. This would have been the instant Peter realised who He was, and it was this very moment that Peter knew that he was forgiven.

I do not need to enlarge on the Suud, for we all are remembering at this instant the times when we forgot that ‘we are the sons and daughters of a wandering Aramean’ we could just as easily have been born in a different country or to a different family, who gets to choose. Or we have forgotten how many times we have been forgiven, 70X7.!

CHAPTER TEN:

In the land of Israel the vineyard was very much a part of the Old Testament landscape. They are a part of many of the stories in the Bible, but mostly you and I simply read of them in passing without giving too much thought beyond the Pashat. Yet there are so many valuable lessons within the Remez and Drash. Firstly some background information, or as I like to say when teaching class, “let us gather data”. The vineyard was placed on a hillside and so ensuring good drainage besides allowing the grapes to catch the sun. The land was first terraced so as to use up the stones that littered the ground, at the same time providing a means of drainage during the heavy rains. The plot was then surrounded by a wall again constructed with stones, with a fence of thorns placed along the top of the wall to help keep out marauding animals. Finally a watch tower was constructed in the centre of the vineyard; this was used as a summer cottage for the family whilst the grapes were being harvested, with the upper tower used as a look out post Isa. 5:2. The months of July to September would see the entire village move to the vineyards to enable the harvesting to be completed quickly when the moisture and sugar content was at its peak. Harvesting the grapes was hard labour but there was much singing and dancing and celebration as they trod out the grapes. If the celebration was absent it would be a mark of God’s judgment. Isa. 16:10; Jer. 48:33.

The vines were planted at the commencement of the dry months in winter which is when the ground is cultivated. During the following dry months the vines sole source of life giving water is from the dew. At this time the ground must be left undisturbed to encourage the vines to dig deep in search for water. It is now that the vine owner departs leaving the vines to themselves, in fact he is absent for five months, February through until June. During this time the dew fall unseen at night time, but stones have already been gathered and placed around the roots, for these stones will help preserve the precious moisture in the ground during the heat of the day.

After five months winter is over and the owner returns for now it is time for pruning. During those five months the vines have become well established and there has been much growth. The pruning is to remove any diseased wood, or to bind broken branches back on the main trunk. Now the fresh growth must be cut back drastically because the vines are greedy in that both the wood and the leaves keep water for themselves thereby denying the developing fruit access. Another task would be to raise the vines off the earth for they grow parallel to the ground. Air is required to circulate around the branches for grapes are sweeter the higher they are lifted. Therefore the keeper would take more stones placing them under the branches and so off the ground.

John 15:2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes that it may bear more fruit.

Where it says ‘He takes away’ in the above verse in the Greek language this phrase means ‘he lifts up’. Therefore both the lifting up and the pruning are seen here in this scripture.

To benefit from the gathered information it must become more than a story, we must now apply the Drash.

In the first paragraph we see the land cluttered with stones. Usually stones are not beautiful, in fact mostly they prove a useless inconvenience. We trip over stones, stubbing our toes or bruising our shins, at first glance there would appear to be no possible beneficial use for stones. Yet the Israelites found use for them. Stones were gathered and heaped to make walls for protection for the vines from wind, from animals and from thieves. The Drash would be the things in our life which at first glance appear ugly, and inconvenient, which we resent and pray for their removal, as we live a surrendered life the Lord can use them to benefit us in the long term, until they even appear beautiful so that we give thanks for them.  Those same stones gathered and placed around the roots of the vine shield the ground from the hot sun and drying winds, protecting the precious moisture which fell during the night. Incidentally how about the dew which fell during the night! Isn’t there something about the times during the night hours we spend with the Lord, alone and undisturbed. A fellowship we drink in deeply, one which means even more to us because of the problems we recently faced, problems which cause us to reflect and guard and hold closely those times with the Lord, ready to face the heat of the day.

But how about the vines themselves, for isn’t it interesting that they were planted just prior to the winter months and when there will be no rain, besides which the keeper departs leaving no one to water the ground. During these months the vines are to put down roots. Expert gardeners advise against watering newly planted stock, for they will keep their roots near the surface instead of going deep to seek for cool and moisture for themselves. With roots too close to the surface they will always need constant watering. To me that clearly shows us that a new born Christian, once securely planted in excellent soil, needs to be guided as to how to seek the Lord and then left to put down roots for them -selves, independently reading the Bible, praying and building their own relationship with their Lord. Then come the hot mid-day searing sun or the drying winds they have roots deeply planted, even using the problems and hurdles of life to guard the precious roots and dew.

Finally there is the pruning that must take place. It is easy to understand how after the initial spurt of growth, when answered prayer seems easy, when God appears to give us everything we ask for, now He appears to leave us alone. How will we react? Allow the feeling to turn in cold hard faith? Read the scriptures and learn to believe what they say? Reactions which came from immaturity or hurt from the past, or wrong ways of handling life will need to be pruned away. Then there will be the growth that comes out of our own exuberance, even out of our own ability, ego or pride, oh it must all be cut away otherwise it will rob the development of the fruit.

There is a commonly world-wide statement we hear used whenever there is human tragedy, be it a horrific train crash, or a tsunami, an earthquake with so many killed or buried.  The statement is this, ‘how can a loving God allow that to happen’? Such a statement always leaves me feeling angry specifically when it is made by people who never give thought to God at any other time, not until they wish to blame him. My response is this, life happens and life is not always gentle. I suggest that God comes at such a situation from another perspective, when we might ask the question ‘where was God?’ the question that He asks is “where are My people?” for He wishes to be involved but it will be through us, we must show His  heart, His love, His concern, we have the answers. The Message version of the Bible is interesting in the following verse.

Amos 5:21-24 (The Message)

            I can’t stand your religious meetings.

            I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.

            I want nothing to do with your religious practices.

            Your pretentious slogans and goals

            I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes.

            Your public relations and image making.

            I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego music…

            Do you know what I want?

            I WANT JUSTICE.

 Here are some shocking statistics that I read recently …..

6,000  in Africa will die of aids today.

400,000 in Malawi

1 million in Kenya

180,000 aids orphans in Mozambique

3 billion people in the world live below the poverty line.

Every 4 hours in America a child commits suicide

Every 6 seconds in Africa there is a rape

Jan 2012, 80,000 children in Delhi, India have been rescued from slavery or sex trade.

and people say, “WHERE IS GOD” AND GOD IS SAYING “WHERE IS MY BODY”, TO SHOW THE WHOLE WORLD WHAT GOD LOOKS LIKE.

CHAPTER ELEVEN:

For centuries God’s people have been encouraging themselves with words from the Bible such as

Ps. 17:8 Hide me under the shadow of your wings.

Ps. 36:7 How precious is your loving kindness Oh God, therefore men put their trust under the shadow of your wings

Ps.57:1 In the shadow of your wings will I make my refuge

Isa 49:2 In the shadow of His hand He has hidden me.

To be sheltered under the shadow of His wings, how could we want for more, and yet there just might be more to understanding what we have been reading. It might even be more beautiful than we first imagined.

Ps. 91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress. My God in Him I will trust.

But this poses a question, how about the verse that says the following……

1 John 1:5 God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

Which raises yet another question it is this, pure light cannot cause a shadow!!!!!

What is the primary substance of God, the tangible substance? It is light, for God is light, pure light. In Him is no darkness at all, therefore how can He cast a shadow, it is impossible. So is the Bible wrong or have the translators really messed up? In the above verses there is a shadow referred to, I do not think there is any doubt here, but what is the shadow? The shadow is us, we make the shadow if we are in Him who is the light. Therefore if there is a shadow then it is proof that we are in Him. Oh I like that concept. Could this be what happened with Peter?

Acts 5:15 they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on their beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall of some of them.

Without any conscious effort was Peter so centred in the Living God that he was acting as a charged dynamo? Maybe without us realising it our presence has brought a change in the atmosphere, or in the hearts and minds of those present. Perhaps they felt it without making any comment, maybe it even touched them physically and they went away healed, be it in their bodies or hearts.

So this must be where we not only have the benefit of us being in Him but there must be a benefit to others if our shadow touches them. That all sounds so very right to me. But let us change direction slightly with the following scripture…..

Matt. 8:20 Jesus said ‘foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests but  the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.

Is Jesus warning this person that to follow Him meant that he could not be sure of where or when even his next bed or meal would be? For this is the usual interpretation of this verse, but let us put that explanation aside for a moment to see if there is possibly another view. What do birds use nests for, isn’t it for birthing and raising chicks not for sleeping in, therefore in similar manner Jesus is more likely to be saying that the Son of Man does not yet have a body to put His head on to multiply Himself. He did not have a body then, not until after He was resurrected and the Church was birthed for we are His body.  If this is the correct interpretation then He was encouraging the man to follow Him because He was in the process of preparing a body for Himself. Now that is a whole different angle and to me it makes far more sense. Now we will come at this from another angle again…..

In another Bible Study I wrote here on the web I taught on Moses Tabernacle, or Pathway to Heaven as I named it and I want to bring it in here because  we are the tabernacle, house for God’s presence. Therefore we can take every specific detail of Moses Tabernacle and lay it over our own lives. What we are talking about is that we are the Lord’s hands, feet, heart etc. we are the tabernacle here on earth, His dwelling place

Ex. 25:8 the Tabernacle without, external;     2 Cor. 6:16 the Tabernacle within

1 Cor. 12:27 you are the body of Christ         1 Cor. 3:16 You are God’s temple.

Ex. 25:1-8 shows the intricate details of all the material they were going to need in order to build the tabernacle, plus the design and even the position the pieces were to be set, for God is into details. I stress this here because the details of this external dwelling place eventually became an internal one. He is into detail, and they are clear whereas we think we get away with stuff, we never do. Everything was woven together, spelt right out, all with a purpose in it, vs 8 shows the purpose.

                        SO THAT I MAY DWELL WITH YOU.

Likewise now, us living within the confines of Gods details, the end result must be                      

SO THAT I MAY DWELL WITH YOU’.

                                    YOU EXPRESSED

Now to sum up this entire chapter. Firstly we have us fully ‘in Christ’, where no longer I live but He lives within me and the effect of this touches other’s lives. Secondly we discovered that He as the head and we the body, He lives in and through us, and so we benefit as do others. Finally as the dwelling place of God and Him living in us in intricate detail we become a doorway for others, that they may enter, where as we absorb the truth of the Tabernacle we become vital and effective, Him more and more in us. 


CHAPTER TWELVE:

Matt. 15:2 “Why do your disciples transgress the traditions of the elders, for they do not wash their hands when they eat bread?”

Here is the Pashat and as is the custom with so many of us we will simply read this and move on but it is only one layer there are more and we are expected to search them out. The Hebrew people believe that the scriptures resemble a diamond which has 70 facets, it depends on how you turn the diamond to how the light strikes it as it dances and sparkles. In like manner every scripture has 70 different ways that the light can go through it, now add to that the four different levels of interpretation. Thus we can never say that we have total understanding of the real meaning of something for we are dealing with the Word of God which is both living and active and is sharper than any two edged sword.

Now it is good to ask why the Pharisees asked this question of the Lord for at face value it would appear that the Lord was opposed to general hygiene. Is it not wise to wash hands before touching food even today, therefore surely it would have been the same way back then. Therefore why the question, the Pharisees had a good point in questioning, or so it would seem from where we stand. But not so for if we are transported back to those days, over 2,000 years ago, the question is about ritual not cleanliness. The truth is that the Jews believed that they were surrounded by demons, but there was one specific demon Shibta by name who sat upon the hands, therefore when they touched their food to eat the demon could be swallowed thus making them demon possessed.  Besides which Rabbi Taanith taught that whoever had his abode in the land of Israel and ate his food with washed hands, and spoke the holy language and recited his phylacteries morning and evening may rest assured that he shall obtain eternal life.  Thus the Pharisees were saying ‘how is it your disciples neglected this ceremonial washing before meals, and so ensuring eternal life and demon free. The problem was this entire act of washing hands was not about cleanliness instead it had become a religious tradition, meaningless at that, and for the disciples to become free in their minds of senseless tradition the Lord was allowing the pendulum to swing into the extreme in the opposite direction. Once they were free of tradition then they could go back to sensible hygiene.

Understanding the above helps us see clearer what the Lord was saying when He spoke to the Pharisees on many occasions.

Matt. 23:27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but the inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.

He was telling them that they need not be concerned about swallowing Shibta and therefore becoming unclean on the inside, for they were unclean already, in fact they were full of sin and dead ritualism and formalism. To understand whitewashed tombs is also interesting and enlightening. Living in the desert regions the Bedouin nomads who lived in tents besides living such a transient lifestyle meant that tombs were erected across the vast desert wastes, each one consisting of two rooms. In the first room the family would gather to mourn the recent dead, on the 3rd day, again on the 7th and the 10th day, and again one year after the death, whilst in the inner room rested the dead in various stages of decomposing even down to the bones of the dead. Great care was taken to keeping the outer room of the tombs complete with provisions, for two reasons, one for when the family were visiting, the other to provide sustenance to any passing wanderer who might find themselves in distress. The unwritten custom being whatever provisions were used would be replaced at some later date, this custom could be literally a life saver for a desert traveller. In order for these tombs to stand out in the desert landscape they were whitewashed. The whitewashing was an annual event for each year the family would spring clean inside and out.

In the above verse Jesus is declaring His opinion of the religious leaders of the nation of Israel. They resembled the desert whitewashed tombs. On the outside freshly and religiously painted but they are still only houses for dead and decaying stinking flesh and bones.

The subject of this chapter is around righteousness, cleanliness even inside and out, or just plain sin. This subject of sin has been clouded even misunderstood but more especially depicted wrongly, until there is absolute confusion. But I have found clarity by looking through Old Testament Hebrew eyes and language. Firstly what is sin, it is not bad things, for we are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. We are sin, e are unclean, there are two Hebrew words that will make this clearer, they are TAMEI  and TAHOR. Tamei is the word for unclean and Tahor is the word for clean.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins (tamei) He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This is about making us tahor because we are tamei. This is about taking up the cross daily so that we may overcome the sin nature and walk in Christ’s nature. Walk outside the cross and we shall see the tamei nature rise as strong as ever.

But the picture is still incomplete, now we are introduced to two more opposing words YETSER HARAH  and YETSER TOH. Yetser harah means evil, it can mean the evil eye, or the dark eye, even greed, or being self-centered is being yetser harah. Being any of the above  hinders our chance of completion, it blocks us off from being complete. Now the opposite is Yetser toh where our eye being full of light brings us to completion. By way of an example….

Matt. 6:24 …you cannot serve God and mammon.

The explanation would be that if we are greedy, we will tend to be so self-centered that we will not see the needs around us which renders us yetser harah, we will not see the revelation of what is around us as we are self-centered. But on the other hand if we are generous it will bring revelation which is yetser toh which brings me into completion, but a revelation of what? Of life, of the big picture where I will have an open attitude and heart and spirit, this is if I am yetser toh but here is an interesting scripture….

Matt. 6:13 ….deliver us from evil/yetser harah

Here we are instructed by the Lord to pray  ‘deliver us from evil’  and this is not the devil, we are saying ‘deliver me/save me from myself for I am so easily yetser harah. I am yetser harah where I think I am important enough to keep things for myself, even to hold onto offense, grudges to walk in un forgiveness where I set myself up as some ones judge, even imagining that I am more righteous than they.

There is so much more to understanding this subject of sin, for example there are three levels of sin. I am not talking about degrees of sin, where we decide which sin is less or more that another.

The Bible speaks of iniquity and of transgression, and then of sin itself. Are they one and the same thing and is it important. So let us get below the Pashat and see what happens….

First let us look closely at the word INIQUITY.  The Hebrew language is similar to the Chinese language except they use not so much symbols as pictures. There are three pictures in the Hebrew for this word iniquity which are an eye a hook and a fish multiplying. The word is AVN, 3 letters and so 3 pictures.

A = eye;

V = hook;

N = fish multiplying.

Now to take those 3 pictures and to arrange them to make a sentence in English it would look like this. ‘Whatever your eye hooks to, multiplies’ or how about ‘whatever dominates your focus becomes very large’ as in coveting. We could even say the following ‘when problems are in clear view then those problems are actually bigger than they appear’. ‘The problem looks bigger and what your eye hooks to, multiplies’. Any of those statements aptly describes iniquity. Many a woman leaves a man and regrets it later, but at the time the problem seemed so big that the more you looked at it the greater it became. Or let us take the subject of coveting, let us say that we see a phone and we want it. Iniquity is that my eye hooks to that phone and because my mind cannot let it go my need for it multiplies. This is iniquity. In the Old Testament you could not be prosecuted for iniquity, especially if you don’t know that I am thinking it.

But now to the Biblical use of the word  SIN.

James 1:14 But each one is tempted when he is draw away by his own desires and enticed.

Now let us come back to our illustration of the phone, as I look at the phone my need for that phone becomes bigger until at some point it creates a lust and this lust catches me up into sin and I haven’t done anything yet.

but there is the word TRANSGRESSION and this word comes into play when I actually take the phone, for then I transgress the law. In the Old Testament law you could not prosecute someone for iniquity, neither could you prosecute them for sin, but could you prosecute them for transgression? Yes providing you had 2-3 witnesses.

But now it becomes even more beautiful for Isaiah the prophet explained that

Isai all we like sheep have gone astray ….and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

This is true grace in action, for Jesus does not forgive you for just what you have DONE, He in fact forgives you all the way back to when your ‘eye hooked to it’.

But in terms of living the best life we can we are going to have to handle things at the iniquity level so that it doesn’t get to transgression. Hook your eye to Jesus, because whatever your eye hooks to multiplies. If we could dominate our own imagination and keep it from wrapping around things God does not want us to have, that would be freedom.  

CHAPTER THIRTEEN:

Previously I wrote of the blind son of Timaeus with the emphasis on ‘focus’. For this blind man to get past so many hindrances there needed to be complete focus, where nothing would or could deter him. I wish to carry that thought further probably because I see the need both within myself and everywhere I look. When my husband and I spend months each year travelling on teaching tours we experience focus. During those months we do little other than focus upon our studies and our teaching then our delivery, which can total to hours per day and night. I understand that this is not normal or even possible for most people I simply put it out there because of the recognised personal benefit we experience ourselves at those times, yes we experience huge benefit to our spirit and our communion with the Lord at these times of focus. On this subject of focus I think of Charles Finney who wrote of his frequent journeys into the woods near his home in England some over 100 years ago to spend time in fellowship with the Lord God, he became so intent in his absorbing passion to be alone with his Creator that he writes of crawling into a hollow log just to close himself off from any distractions. Many of your responses when reading this will be that this is impractical, your lives could never allow such luxuries, and yet I wonder, for I have also found that if we ask the Lord to give us the desire and then to show us how to make space for Him, it happens miraculously, even to where the short times we may have at our disposal can become more intense.

Something Heidi Baker wrote in her books grabbed my attention recently, she was writing of her many orphans in Mozambique, the former lives she had rescued them from compared to their lives now. She wrote how formally they had only known extreme lack in every area of their existence, I will just pick up on their lack of food which was barely subsistence level. Prior to the rescue their entire lives knew the pain of hunger, day and night, their stomachs cramping, bodies weak from malnutrition. Now in the orphanage they saw their plates covered in food for the first time, and they fell upon that plate of food with little to no restraint. No manners, no etiquette, no pickiness, they became oblivious to anything or anyone except that food before them as they shovelled it into their mouths with both hands. Compare that to we who have such plenty how we pick and choose, we turn our noses up at this or that, we are not afraid to miss a meal because we know that there will be plenty within reach whenever we feel disposed to eat again. I see the parallels amongst God’s people towards feasting upon God’s presence or blessing, we can take it or leave it, even wait weeks if we feel so disposed. We presume we can even afford to be choosy as to who we listen to or where we go or what we accept for if we ever feel spiritual hunger pains at the touch of a button we can find something to dull the pain. There is little need to prepare a spiritual meal for ourselves for there are plenty of meals out there prepared by others. There is seldom an ache within our spirits akin to physical hunger where we feel loss if we have not fed from His hand. I understand that we cannot work up a desire, at best we can just cry out to the Lord for help as we begin to recognise that we could be suffering from spiritual malnutrition. But at least let us do something out of a desire for Him.

King David of the Old Testament is always an example to us of one who knew and treasured the Lords presence….

Ps. 27:4 One thing  I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.

That one thing, just this one thing, this is focus. Of course it did not mean that he would go  through life without mistakes. Everyone knows about David’s big mistake, it is perhaps spoken of and remembered more than anything else about his life, but I guarantee that this is not what the Lord remembers most. He remembers the one thing that David desired. With apologies to David I too want to highlight this mistake of his, but only because it relates to the subject of this chapter.

2 Sam 9:3-4 Now King David said “Is there still not someone of the house of Saul that I may show the kindness of God?” And Ziba said to the king “there is still a son of Jonathon who is lame in his feet”. So the king said to him “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “Indeed he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar”.

The story:

David is king and in those days when one king succeeded another, custom was that the new king would kill the former king’s family. Or at the very least he would castrate any male, so that there would be no continuation of the previous royal line minimising any chance of a coup. Therefore when mayhem and slaughter swept through the palace after King Saul’s death a nurse flees the palace with Jonathon’s son Mephibosheth. Leaving the palace hastily she tripped and fell, dropping the baby in her panic who as a result became crippled in both feet. Fleeing the area the nurse hid him in a place by the name of Lo Debar which we read of in the above scripture. It is interesting how the Lord recorded specifically for posterity the name of the place plus the name of the head of the home in which they hid. There is so much benefit from going beyond the Pashat, I cannot stress this enough, it takes work I admit but I will do the work for you here to convince you I trust. …..

If we follow the name Machir we discover that he has a sister and that because the father also resides in that same home this must therefore be the family home where both brother and sister grew up into adulthood.  1 Chron 3:5 records that Bathshua is the daughter of Amniel. In the margin of my Bible it explains that Bathshua is Bathsheba, also that Amniel is named elsewhere Eliam. Putting all of this together we deduct that Amniel/Eliam is the father of Malchir and Bathshua/Bathsheba, one household growing up in Lo Debar. Perhaps not very interesting until we connect the dots, and the first thing we need to do is discover the meaning of the name Lo Debar.

The name Lo Debar means – ‘the land of no bread’. Whatever Lo Debar was like geographically does not necessarily interest us, but symbolically a land of no bread means a spiritual place of no sustenance, it’s a place of lack, poverty, wilderness, despair and this is where Bathsheba grew up as did Mephibosheth. Spiritually speaking bread, sustenance, living food always refers to The Word of God, which is life to us. As in the natural so in the spiritual ‘we are what we eat’,  if we are in a  place of no Word then we are in lack, wilderness, despair, no hope, no consolation. Back to the natural story, Mephibosheth is now a cripple who has lost everything, his family, his health and his inheritance even his future, and living in daily fear of his whereabouts being discovered and then he would lose his life also.

King David does discover where he is residing thus Mephibosheth is now expecting death or at the very least castration, instead the King brought him into His palace. He allowed a cripple, someone who would be permanently unclean in Israel’s eyes, eat at His table. Prior to that act of kindness and mercy from David Mephibosheth although having all the rights as a kings son because of family inheritance, because he was now banished to the land of Lo Debar and way beyond the palace and its bountiful life, he was in poverty and despair, trying to make the best of a bad situation.

Now it gets really interesting for the place of Lo Debar became dangerous for David also, for Bathshebas family were there. Did David ever visit Lo Debar to visit with Mephibosheth, if so did he meet Bathsheba and her family? Anyway two chapters later  David fell very badly into sin with a girl from Lo Debar when he was spiritually in a place/condition of Lo Debar, no bread. A place of ‘no bread’ is the most dangerous place to be, both naturally and spiritually. At this time David opted out of accompanying his men into battle, he felt like a break, a holiday, and we can understand his need, but to David it got him into serious trouble. But how can this be a parallel for us?…….

Matt. 4: 4 Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Jesus had just been in the wilderness where satan tempted Him. One of the first temptations of the evil one is to make something that is not, into something tangible or to trick us into thinking this, such as turning stones into bread. Satan tricks us into thinking that a life without the fullness of God is sufficient, which in essence is a life full of stones, stones which we have collected and are embracing and which appear to be bread, bread that will sustain and nourish us, even satisfy, which they never can.  But bread spiritually is the Word of God, so the temptation of the evil one is to counterfeit the truth of the Word of God to the point where our prayer time becomes defined by turning our stones into His bread, where we try to turn our insecurities into the truth or our guilt, our inabilities, even our un acceptance into something worthwhile and to cling on to. Where we are the centre rather than The Lord Jesus Christ, where it is about us and how and when we want it.

Jesus said, every day pray, ‘give us this day our daily bread’. In other words every day go out and gather the seeds of your daily bread where we never allow our lives be defined by the seed that fell on stony, thorny or dry ground, rather when we pray let us say ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Enable me to stay out of Lo Debar. For God is longing for His kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN:

Abraham is the great patriarch both of the Jews and the Arabs, plus spiritual Israel the church, but for Abraham himself where did it all begin? We first meet him in Genesis chapter 12 where suddenly he is introduced to us by Yahweh telling him to leave his country. Abraham was a Semite a Bedouin, I favour those who cite his family as part of a tribe of nomads who settled themselves on the edge of the city of Ur, thus participating in both city and desert life. His people were idol worshippers; this was their norm, this custom his family and tribe had followed forever, worshipping whatever they put their trust in at the time, either by need or through fear. But something had to have been happening deep within Abram’s mind for the things to take a turn in the way that they did. I can easily imagine Abram reasoning and questioning himself as to which of these gods they worshipped and looked to, was the chief. In his observations it was clear that a father figure was always preeminent where someone held the leading role, be it within the family or even the tribe or a nation. Therefore in the same way which of all these many gods they acknowledged, which one was boss, the head, the father figure amongst them all. And there were many. Now I can picture Jehovah responding to Abram’s ponderings and introducing Himself. Tapping Abram on the shoulder one day He said “it’s me Abram, I am the Head, the Chief, the Father”. Their gods were notorious at remaining mysterious by keeping their devotees in the dark, in limbo, even in confusion, but not Jehovah. Firstly Jehovah did something the gods never did, He gave Himself a name by which Abram could address Him, and little by little Jehovah revealed Himself and His ways to Abram. In the process of time Jehovah suggested to Abram that he depart his people, turn his back on all of the lesser gods and follow Him and as Abram responded positively Jehovah in-cooperated His name with Abram and changed it to Abraham.

All the time Abraham is discovering and learning about this chief God. When Abraham was asked by Jehovah to circumcise himself, even though he by now was a 90 year old man, he is not entirely shocked because all other gods demanded self-mutilation at one time or another. On the day Jehovah asked Abraham to sacrifice his son again this would not have been totally foreign to Abraham, for didn’t other god’s demand human sacrifice, even children would be sacrificed at times. The only difference here was that previously Jehovah had promised Abraham that through Isaac would be birthed a great nation, and this knowledge was huge in Abrahams mind. When the time of sacrifice came and Abraham was about to plunge the knife into his son, he was stopped and Jehovah substituted Isaacs’ life with a sheep. This act was a totally new and unheard of experience for Abraham, his people were used to gods who took and took with no visible benefits but here was a God who gave instead of taking, He produced a sheep. The end of the story includes us for we too are the beneficiaries of this God who still gives of Himself, even to giving His only Son as the ultimate sacrifice, that we might have life.

A God like this draws out our heart in a response other than fear, duty or need even. The more we understand Him the more our hearts are stirred we want to respond, but in a meaningful and lasting way, what does He require? Other gods never made it clear what they required or what was enough or acceptable, therefore their devotees beat themselves, sacrificed endlessly, on and on but never a response in return. Not so Jehovah, when we meet the Israelites in the Book of Exodus they had lived in slavery for 430 years, they did not have a day off for 430 years serving the Egyptians, they were worthless slaves, the women were raped, their children could have been taken and sacrificed to the Egyptian gods. But now in the Book of Exodus they are free, here they are standing at the foot of Mt Sinai and listening to these words from their leader Moses…

 “JEHOVAH/YAHWEH  IS COMING DOWN TO MEET WITH YOU”.

 This is scary because they have not been conversant with a loving God, all they really know is that this God is very strong for He parted the Red Sea, He brought about all those plagues upon their enemies, all they can do is compare Him with the Egyptian gods who were mean and temperamental and takers.  What is more Moses makes it clear that THIS IS ABOUT A GOD WHO WANTS TO LIVE AMONGST THEM AS A HUSBAND. IT’S ABOUT A GOD DESIRING TO BECOME BETROTHED TO THEM. Besides this He wants to give them a new identity and a new mission. Yahweh is offering them union with Him.  He is saying you have been without Me and all it got you was slavery, I am offering you a chance to come back to Me.  Not to simply reconnect with Yahweh but to be something different, to show the whole earth what God looks like.

The journey of Israel is a journey just like ours, slavery, freedom, messing up, rebellion, back to slavery, delivered yet again. BUT HE WANTS TO LIVE WITH US, SO THAT ONE DAY HE MIGHT LIVE IN US. BETROTHED AND THEN MARRIED. There is going to be a marriage between the Lord Jesus Christ and The Church, everything in the Bible is leading up to this wedding and we need to read everything through this filter. For the nation of Israel it is all recorded in Ex. 19.

Ex. 19:4 You have seen …how I bore you on eagles wings and brought you to Myself.

He is saying “I brought you out of captivity destroying the enemy for you. At Marah I allowed you to be violently ill in order to rid your system of Egypt’s diseases, I supernaturally fed you and gave you water, and neither did your shoes wear out”. This is true for leaving Egypt they passed by Marah, Moses knew this region very well so why did he take them via the Bitter Lakes where they would drink the waters and so become violently ill? There is a very valid purpose in all of this for Egypt was a filthy nation, demons, filthy plagues, flies, dead frogs, impure water. Diseases carried by snails living in the irrigation ditches affected the people. Here at The Bitter Lakes of Marah the water was clear but it was also thick with calcium and magnesium thus making it bitter and undrinkable. There is a saying even used today, ‘one teaspoonful and you go for a week’ this is caused by the chemical magnesium which is a powerful laxative. Yahweh used this to purge them of the parasites. Besides this calcium and magnesium form Dolomite used by professional athletes who perform in the sun, it is used to control muscle spasms, and this was all to prepare them for crossing that great wilderness expanse. Jehovah expressed that He carried them upon eagle’s wings although in their thinking they had walked all the way, but God saw it differently. For He had carried them away from the sordid garbage dump where vultures feed, high up to safety, solitude where they could see the big picture. Now Israel came and stood before Jehovah as recorded in Exodus 19 and Yahweh came down upon the mountain to attend a betrothal ceremony, His, between the nation of Israel and their Creator. In Exodus 19:8 their words was tantamount to answering “we do”, words which are common to us in a wedding ceremony between the bride and groom. Israel knew what they were doing, if we are in any doubt then let’s read the words of Jehovah as spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, spoken 1,000 years later.

Jer. 2:2 “I remember you and the kindness of your youth. The love of your betrothal when you went after Me in the wilderness”.

When was the nation of Israel in their youth, as a young nation? It was when they came out of Egypt. Here the Lord is 1,000 years later through the prophet Jeremiah wanting to remind them of that time and of their betrothal/engagement to Him. At that same time Yahweh gave the people The Ten Commandments, which are disregarded even discredited these days, but this only shows our ignorance as to what they were. At a Jewish Betrothal ceremony the two families would exchange a contract, but if either party broke any part of this contract this gave conditions for divorce. Therefore rather than naming these ten commandments such, it would be more correct to name it a betrothal/marriage contract. Jehovah handing them the tablets upon which were written Ten Commandments is a proof of His love for them and  His proposal of marriage. Look at each one of them closely writing them in our terminology, what Jehovah is saying are the very things we would want said at our engagement.

Exodus 20….

  1. 1.      Vs.3 I expect you to have no other boyfriends now that you are betrothed to Me
  2. 2.      Vs. 4-5 Neither do I expect you to keep with you any pictures of your former boyfriends. Do not make images of other lovers
  3. 3.      Do not dream of them, imagine them and so worship them.
  4. 4.      Vs. 7 Now that you belong to Me I expect you to honour My Name
  5. 5.      Vs. 8-11 Keep one day for Me alone, where you will just be with Me, I will be your focus.
  6. 6.      Vs. 12 Now that you are joined to My family do not steal honour from your parents
  7. 7.      Vs. 13 Or steal the life of one of My creation.
  8. 8.      Vs. 14 Or steal another person’s wife or husband.
  9. 9.      Vs. 15 Or another person’s belongings.
  10. 10.  Vs. 16 Or another person’s reputation.

Matt 22:37-40  Jesus said to him “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbour as yourself”.

The above verse in a nutshell is how the Lord Jesus Christ abbreviated the Ten Commandments.

Of course we might answer “I don’t know what you mean, of course I love the Lord, He is my friend”. My response would be in return “If my boyfriend/partner loved me (or me him for that matter) the way we often love the Lord I would not see the point of continuing in the farce. I am specifically thinking of the way we spend 5 minutes out of 24 hours with Him in a meaningful, focused, quality time. Where we are both heard, where both needs and desires are met. Talking face to face and heart to heart, where I feel His breath on my face, where to be focused upon Him and delighting in Him is the highlight of the day. Food for thought!!!!!

CHAPTER FIFTEEN:

I wish to continue where we left off in the previous chapter, with the young nation of Israel, which is an illustration of a young, newly born believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai being offered a contract of betrothal. Standing at the foot of that mountain Israel witnessed creation responding to the Creator, for as He descended upon the mountain the sky rumbled and flashed with fire and the ground shook, could we expect any less? But once again it is merely a story unless we look beyond the Pashat layer.

  1. They Saw thunder, now how do you see thunder?  The Hebrew word is Kolay, and kolay means voices and languages, this is what they heard, but again how do you see voices? The thunder rolled around the mountains calling out to one another as it seemed.
  2. There was Lightening, fire flashing, they saw voices and fire
  3. There was also Smoke, and that word in the Hebrew language is  huplah, and a huplah in Jewry is used in a wedding to cover the couple, like a canopy. The smoke hung over and around them just like a huplah.

But what is happening, and how would we relay this in our language and culture? The voices for example what would they be saying?  “Will you marry Me, will you become betrothed to Me, will you be mine only?” is what the voice is saying. In Jewish culture as in any culture when you propose then there is expected to be a response, and initially they responded favourably by saying ‘yes, we will”, until things got really scary that is. Now the people do not respond to Jehovah but speak instead to Moses by saying “do not let Jehovah speak to us unless we die, you speak to Him on our behalf and relay to us what He requires”. How did Yaweh respond to this response of their? He responded by giving them The Tabernacle to show them how to come to Him in a safe and non-threatening manner. 

Is there any proof that this is exactly what was happening there at the base of Mt. Sinai? The prophet Jeremiah makes it clear to my thinking.

Jeremiah 2:2 Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem saying thus says the Lord “I remember you the kindness of your youth the love of your betrothal when you went after me in the wilderness”.

When was the time of youth for the nation of Israel? When they departed Egypt and were on the way to the Promised Land, when they were in the wilderness. Hear is Jehovah 1,000 years after Sinai Jehovah is wishing to remind Israel of those times, of exactly what was happening there in that place, He was betrothing them as a bride.

If we read other prophets their words augment what is happening here. Hosea for example, he was the first person in the Old Testament to speak openly of the bride of Jehovah. Then there is the prophet Isaiah who came just after Hosea. Isaiah in chapter 9:6 talks of how we will address the Lord within a bridal paradigm, we will call Him wonderful Isaiah says. Likewise there is going to be a revelation of Jesus before this is over, where the people of God will call Him wonderful, and that is probably related to calling Him my husband. But back to Hosea for he was first, he spoke of a relationship so intimate with the Lord God Jehovah, so entirely foreign  to anything any prophet had ever told the people of God prior to that, and it would have seemed like scandalous doctrine, like heresy to the people of Israel when he said it.  Yahweh told Hosea to promise His people that He would allure them. He is talking about bringing natural Israel into the understanding of the gospel, in a specific way but it is not limited to that, for it is not limited to natural born Jews coming to Jesus, it also encompasses the activity of the Holy Spirit around the globe at the end of the age, for what God does through the redeemed that are Jewish, He will do through the redeemed that are not Jewish. The activity of the Spirit is being described, He will woo them/us, He will romance our heart, for we will need this. The Spirit of God is going to reveal the loveliness of Christ Jesus that will allure and will conquer the people of God. Eph 5:29

Remember the Hebrews read the Bible using the method of midrash, where one truth explodes into another and another, the revelation becoming greater and clearer as it expands. In this way, keeping clearly in mind what happened to this young nation of Israel as they camped at the foot of Mt Sinai let us move on in history to another new beginning, this time it is the new church, which was birthed during the Hebrew feast of Pentecost. The resurrected Christ is seen for 40 days, and then prior to Him finally departing He tells them to do nothing except wait in Jerusalem, and in the upper room until they receive power.

Day after day they wait, but for how long they were not told. Each day they expected power to arrive, but how would it look when it did, again they did not know even though I expect they speculated on this, we humans do this. Day after long day and then night after night, and during that time I can imagine them constantly questioning each other. “Has it happened yet, do you feel any different”? Life went on and they would have needed to eat, to market, to prepare food, to bathe even to sleep, and still the question was on their lips, “has anything happened yet”? then one day they were assembled together,  in one accord, in prayer and supplication as the Bible expresses it, about 120 of them, and the day had arrived. But my question is what day? Was it a specific day, was Jehovah waiting for something specific, surely it wasn’t waiting just for the sake of waiting. No, they were waiting for the right date. They didn’t know this is what was happening, they didn’t know how long they were to wait, or what they were waiting for, or what, if anything, was to happen, or even if they would recognize it when it did happen. They might even have thought that Peter organizing the voting in of a replacement for Judas was the power. Instead they were in fact waiting for a date on the calendar. Yes the day of Pentecost fell on the same date that the nation of Israel had stood those many years prior at the foot of Mt. Sinai, when Jehovah had descended to ask them to become betrothed to Him. Now it is another new beginning and this time the Gentiles are included, but that is all that is new, for it is still about a wedding. And yes, the ground probably shook, there were certainly voices and fire, but this time there was a subtle difference, for this time they did not know what they were saying. The Holy Spirit was exploding deep within their spirits as they responded to the cry from heaven “will you become betrothed to me”, and their response soared and fell, “yes, yes, we will, we do”.  For is that not what the power is for initially, to enable us to respond fully to our Lord’s desire, the longing of His heart for a bride.

This was the birth of the Church, who is to be the bride of Christ, if the bride makes herself ready. If she enters into contract and keeps it. In the book of Ephesians 5:31 Paul is writing 4,000 years after Adam and Eve, and here Paul wrote

Eph. 5:31 For this cause/ reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

In this entire chapter the apostle Paul is speaking of Christ and the Church, back and forth between a natural marriage by way of example and a spiritual marriage. Wives submit, a husband is the head, husbands love your wife and give yourself for her, in order to set her apart, back and forth, natural illustration to explain spiritual, between Christ and His bride. Paul is using a midrash to enlarge on the book of Genesis chapters 1 and 2, where Adam and Eve enjoyed the intimacy of nakedness without shame.  There in Genesis the Lord God put Adam to sleep, promising him a companion, He pierced His side, and out of His pierced side He brought forth a bride for Adam, and they were embracing one another without shame, in intimacy. Likewise from the time of Calvary the Lord God put His Son Jesus to sleep as it were where His side was pierced out of which flowed blood and water, which would in turn allow His wife to be embraced by Him naked without shame, in intimacy. The Book of Revelation talks of the streets being like glass, transparent, surely speaking of our able to be transparent without shame of intimacy. This is what the Lord has always been desiring, our intimacy with Him, transparency without shame because our filth is washed away.

The Lord said “for this cause, for this embrace, naked, unashamed, cleaving to one another, God established the institute of marriage for that ‘cause’, He would leave and cleave, for this cause, to establish intimacy without shame with us and produce a suitable companion for His Son.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN:

Today as I walked the dog (and myself) I found myself singing an old church song, probably have not heard it for years now……

Song: Into Your presence I come not for the works I have done,

But for Your grace and Your grace alone,

Into Your presence I come……..

It was not premeditated for I was singing it before I realised and tuned in to the words themselves. Of course one thought leads to another and so I began to meditate upon the grace of God, His unearned and undeserved favour time after time, again and again. Hebrew scholars use the following verse to show the disposition of their coming Messiah, which of course was the disposition of His Father.

Exodus 34:6 The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abounding in goodness and truth.

They say that this is how He will act, just like His Father, one a reflection of the other. But we cannot stop here because He is our example, not that we are to copy Him rather we are to live in Him and He living through us, His disposition will be seen in us. He is our goal, we have to have a goal otherwise we have no chance of reaching it.  At this point we need to take some examples from His life, and from the words of life, the Bible.

Romans 12:20 If your enemy hungers, feed him, if he thirsts then give him a drink. For in so doing you will heap coals of fire upon his head.

Often we interpret this verse by thinking that as we turn the other cheek, as we are nice to those who do not deserve it, so the judgment of God will fall upon them and burn them up. Humanly speaking that might be a satisfying thought at times and I would think that we have all entertained such thoughts, but this is self-righteousness at its best. To understand this scripture correctly it needs to be seen through Hebrew eyes. When did those who lived in Bible days carry coals upon their head? When they were carrying their embers from one place to another in order to have instant fire for preparing food, thus it is a life sustaining act. Also it was a woman’s duty to keep her embers alive ready to fan a flame to prepare food at any given moment. It was considered extremely careless and neglectful even criminal to allow her embers to die. In the light of this and re reading the above scripture again what do we see? We see that our enemy has allowed the coals/embers die, and this probably is indicative of why they were in such a bad emotional condition to become our enemy. Now with no ability to relight their fire both for themselves and their family they are in great danger. This is where the Lord’s beautiful and gracious nature/disposition comes into effect, for He is merciful, longsuffering and good, and He would want to give something of Himself (an ember from His own fire) to re start the extinguished fire in someone else’s life, and this is just what He is asking us to do, even with our enemies.

Keeping the theme of this chapter which is the disposition of Jehovah the Lord God and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ here is another verse.

John 18:1-11 “Peter cut off the high priests servants ear”.

The servant of the High Priest was not a servant as we use the word today, rather he was an understudy to the high priest, he was in fact studying to be the High Priest, therefore this is who is leading the charge against Jesus. In that culture you were a Rabbi because you earned it but you were a priest by birth right, therefore priests and kings were born into that position, this opened a potential for abuse. For example if a priest was bad, you can’t depose or even starve them out, they can live amongst you, can even eat the holy bread, all you could hope for was a physical blemish which would then bar them from ministry in the Temple. Therefore they needed to come up with a plan to keep the bad ones out of the office of the priest-hood, they needed to cause a disfigurement on the body in some way.

Lev. 21:16-24 for no man in whom there is a blemish shall draw near……shall not come near to offer the fire offerings of God…

One plan was that the Hebrews would sneak up behind an unworthy priest and snip off their ear or simply take a nick out, after all wasn’t the ear sticking out just asking to be removed! Josephus the Jewish New Testament historian writes about this practice of lopping off the ear lobe, to keep them from offering offerings, and from going beyond the veil. Here is Peter a man of action who simply could not stand by helplessly observing the disrespect shown to the Son of God. By cutting the ear and so disfiguring the future high priest he is saying “if you are going to kill the real Temple of God then you have no business serving in the Temple made with the hands of men, and I will stop you. Actually there are two possible meanings here, the Pashat and Remez. There is the obvious meaning here where we see Peter become very angry but the hidden meaning is to remember that the Law in the Book of Leviticus moulded the Hebrews lives.

Jesus’ response is He puts the ear back on and so restores him back to his office because He is simply and solely good. I still recall the day I fully understood that He is the One who washed Judas feet whilst knowing that Judas was already in the process of betraying Him, for the money was already in his purse, and I understand how humanly impossible that is for us unless we are fully immersed into His life. But then again if we want to establish the kingdom of God in our life then we will need to guard against our tendency to cut peoples ear off whenever they oppose us, or we consider them unworthy. For the one we are representing the one we long to be close to and become like is putting ears back on, even is restoring and protecting those we are seeking to destroy Or where we want mercy for ourselves but justice for someone else, or where our attitude is “if you don’t get them I will”, and we even cut off their ear to make sure they do not serve the Lord anymore in their considered hypocrisy. Rather Jesus words recorded in Romans 12:20 is all about how we need to put peoples ear back on where possible, subsequently leaving any judgment issue to God and His  timetable, it is called ‘going the second mile’.

There is still more we can draw on such as, still in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus said to Peter “Peter put your knife away because if you live by the sword you will die by the sword”. What He is saying in effect is “If you make a habit of disqualifying people, one day someone will disqualify you”, you see the Lord knew that in a few hours Peter was going to betray the Him, which was going to put him in a very dangerous position, it could even disqualify him in so many ways. Therefore it is more than possible that the Lord was saving Peter’s ministry and future because, if Peter carries out that judgment on that servant of the high priest then he would have to be judged by that same standard. 

We Christians have a frightening ability to be self-righteous and this is something which the Lord violently detested, here are some of the things that could fall into this category….

  1. To condemn a sin in someone else, considering that we would never commit such an act, or even that anything we do could not equal the other person’s sin. Even to categorise sin where some sin is worse than others.
  2. Reserving forgiveness, or shall I say, holding back forgiveness from anyone we feel does not deserve it, or judging that they have not sufficiently repented.

Of course there is more, but that is for later.

There is a lot of mixture in the worldwide church today, plus so much judgment or abuse in the name of the Lord. It can be deeply grievous not only to His people but to the Lord Himself.  How do the Godly, or those who desire to be Godly and with clean hands, respond without reacting? Yet at the same time not closing our eyes and becoming like an ostrich or being naïve, rather being the watchmen we are called to be. We certainly need to attack the break-down and distortion and watering down of the scriptures, but we should attack the deeds rather than attack the person’s character. Is it that simple but we will need to know the scriptures so that we do not react out of emotion but act out of knowledge.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN:

Genesis 18:2-7 Abraham entertained three strangers. He ran to meet them, he hastened to tell Sarah to prepare food, and he ran to fetch a calf then hastened to prepare it.

 In this chapter I wish to explore the custom of Hebrew hospitality, to them it was another of those many covenants which they held to with great tenacity, here guests were believed to be sent from God which made hospitality a sacred duty. Abraham was called both by Jew and Arab the Father of Hospitality. It was elevated so highly that the rabbi’s laid out step by step rules to follow to ensure that this covenant was followed with reverence. Each step I have laid out as follows…..

Step 1. They were to great each guest by bowing from the waist whilst touching their heart, mouth and forehead in that order. This in effect was signifying to the guest that as long as the guest was in their presence they would be offered the hosts heart, voice as in conversation  and mind/concentration/focus/attention. They may also bow so low as to kiss the lowest part of the guests clothing whilst saying “salaam alakum”, “peace be on you”.

Step 2. Now the guest would be kissed on both cheeks.

Step 3. The guest would now have his sandals removed and his feet washed, this was both for cleanliness and to refresh and would be carried out by the lowest servant, or often the child of a servant.

Step 4. Next the guest would be offered a drink of cold water.

Step 5. Finally they would be offered a meal. This eating together was sign of yet another covenant, this time it was a ‘covenant of friendship’. If the guest was a stranger they would refrain from eating together until the guest had disclosed his purpose for the visit, for once you have eaten together it was considered a terrible sin to harm your host.

 Certain Bedouin tribes’ say that once dismounted and you have touched the rope of the tent then you are safe and will be protected by the household. Following the steps of hospitality the visitor would then be invited in to the tent for coffee, all seated cross legged in a circle. In line with the greeting given the guest where they bow touching their heart, mouth and forehead the guest, even a stranger is accepted completely without suspicion. Thus they are acting as the scriptures say ‘harmless as doves’, but how do they as the scriptures go on to say be ‘wise as serpents’? Another man who was allocated to be on guard duty that day, and has not been a part of the welcome, is seated alone near the opening of the tent listening and observing with one hand inside his robe curled around the handle of his dagger, listening with his mind and not his emotions or heart. If he decides that the visitor poses no danger then he would arise and join himself to the seated circle of men, by comparison if he departed the tent this is a signal that this visitor needs to be dismissed as soon as possible. Certainly he would not be offered a meal for once they have eaten together they had then entered into a covenant of friendship where they are now honour bound to protect him.

 We have two issues here. The first is the practicality of the scripture

 Matt. 10:16 Behold I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

 I tie this in with the concept of armour bearers, they would be akin to the man whose role it is to sit removed, watching and listening, in effect guarding your back. Someone who is behind the scenes praying for you, warning you, someone who is not intricately involved, so often it can be a wife guarding her husband, wives get ‘gut feelings’ which may not be just suspicions it can be intuition from the Holy Spirit.

 The second issue is the ‘eating together’ which instigates the covenant of friendship, where if at any time this covenant is broken it is only re-established by once again eating together. With this in mind let us read some further verses of scripture.

 John 21:1-13 After Peter had betrayed Jesus the Lord met him on the beach and cooked breakfast for him.

 Simon Peter knew alienation from his former friendship and fellowship with the Lord, for all hope was lost that it could ever be restored. Suddenly there on the shore of the Sea of Galilee there was a stranger standing tending a fire, then inviting the fishermen Peter included over. He was inviting them to bring their fish to be cooked by Him upon the fire. The scene was set, another situation was recreated similar to the situation not many days before when Peter stood at an identical fire and betrayed his Lord, by doing this he severed their Covenant of Friendship which had last been renewed in the Upper Room at the last supper. Now the stranger took the cooked fish from the fire and broke it and handed it to the disciples and as He performed this action instantly they knew who this stranger was, it was their Lord. As the Lord handed the fish to Peter encouraging him to eat so Peter understood that Jesus was offering to restore their Covenant of Friendship.  As Peter took the fish and looked deep into the eyes and soul of his Lord and Master he was asked the question “Peter do you love Me”? upon his positive response Jesus then urged him to go and act to others out of love and forgiveness in the same manner as he was then receiving.

 Going beyond the Pashat layer gives us understanding into another incident in the Lord’s life recorded in Luke 7. We need to itemize certain pointers…..

  1. Vs. 36 One of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. Therefore Jesus was an invited guest in this man’s house.
  2. Vs. 37 A woman of the night, a prostitute had slipped into the room. Hebrew custom was such that the door of a home was welcomingly left open so that if there was a special guest the uninvited were also welcome to enter and listen to the honoured guest’s wise words, but they were not invited to be seated at the table. This woman joined many others who gathered around the feet of those reclining around the table. Jesus was personally invited therefore He was seated and this woman obviously managed to work her way round the room until she was standing at His feet. As the healing words of the Son of God touched her deeply wounded heart she began to weep quickly wiping her tears from off His feet.
  3. Vs. 39 Simon the host Pharisee not only noted what was happening he was also quick to judge both the woman and Jesus. Unlucky for him the Lord could read his mind. I cannot help but be suspicious as to how Simon recognised this ‘woman of the night’ this prostitute, does this indicate that he had been her customer on a previous occasion?
  4. Vs. 40-46  Jesus answered Simon’s unspoken words by drawing to his attention that when Jesus had arrived at Simon’s house Simon gave Him no greeting, no kiss, and even no water to wash His feet. Previously I wrote of the Rabbinical code of hospitality, which reveals Simon’s discourteous neglect something that would never in normal circumstances have been overlooked. This information reveals two things, firstly Simon’s attitude towards Jesus and secondly the Lord’s beautiful attitude in overlooking the insult.
  5. Simon may have ignored the acceptable code of hospitality but Father God had someone there, a woman, to cover the neglect and so kiss Him and wash His feet.

 Has this indicated to us how valuable it is to go beyond the Pashat so that we may fully grasp the beauty that lies behind the obvious. 

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN:

In the previous chapter we looked at the unspoken insults from Simon the Pharisee in the withheld common courtesy of hospitality towards Jesus the Son of God his guest, this is something the Lord was faced with frequently by the very people He had created. Another one we can mention is found in

Matt. 26:14-16 ……and they counted out to him 30 pieces of silver……

The scriptures are very specific in naming the figure, no more and no less, it was 30 pieces of silver, God wanted that on record. Why not simply say ‘a bag of silver’? Because He wanted us to know the truth. Once again we are going to look deeper than the Pashat by asking ourselves whether anywhere else in the Torah it mentions that specific figure of currency. Yes we find it in Exodus….

Ex. 21:32 if a bull gores a slave….the owner of the bull must pay 30 pieces of silver to the master of the slave….and the bull must be stoned.

Here we find that 30 pieces of silver was the redemption price put on the head of a slave. That was the worth of a slave to his master. Therefore when the priests and leaders together with Judas Iscariot get together and ask what Jesus life is worth, the judgment is 30 pieces of silver, the same as for a slave. Judas accepted that sum, I am sure he could have bargained a higher price if he wished for the leaders were needing his help. From this we deduct that to Judas Iscariot Jesus was not his Lord but his slave, in his mind that is how he considered Him and treated him. Rather than accepting Him as his Lord Judas saw himself as superior and this attitude was his downfall. Likewise I see this same attitude when I listen to the prayers of some, as they command and demand the Lord to do this and that, and now at this very moment.

Jesus do this for me , and then do that”

“Jesus handle this”

“ Jesus make this happen”

Yes I have even heard someone command Jesus with a stamp of the foot. The Judas heart. I think that sometimes we do not realise how far our depraved minds have fallen for how should our prayers sound if He really is our Lord, “not my will, but yours be done”. But there is yet another incident that is so horrific it makes us cry out in horror. It is the time that our Lord and Saviour hung on the cross, when out of His parched and cracked lips He expressed that He was thirsty. Someone at the foot of the cross hearing His words offered to fetch Him a drink. Did we consider for a moment that this was kindness in action, a little compassion and understanding! All day they had been trying to kill Him and suddenly they want to keep Him alive, not so. So someone went and found a sponge on the end of a stick which was soaked in sour wine and vinegar and they placed it to Jesus lips. Turning His head away He achingly groans “it is finished”.

Now to the understanding of what was really taking place. In the first century their public toilets were made of stone and very public, many holes were cut side by side, this is where people would sit right out in the open. Now if you had a bowel movement how would you clean yourself? The beggars had found a way to make extra money by taking sponges and putting them on the end of poles, then coming up behind people after they had completed their bowel movement they would clean their rear ends for them with a mixture of sour wine which was vinegar. One sponge, a hundred rear ends and between each use the sponges would be cleaned with spoiled wine and vinegar in a bucket. They offered Jesus one of these used sponges. Surely when Jesus uttered “it is finished” He was merely saying I cannot do anything more for these people.

The temptation is for us to console ourselves by imagining that we would never do such a thing, but this is the heart of man. Let us consider young Jacob now married with two wives, living with his wives family headed by Laban. The treatment he received at Laban’s hand angered him, Jacob believing he was very badly treated. The day came when Jacobs footsteps turned back towards home which meant reuniting with his brother Esau. Each step he took closer to home the Lord opened his eyes and his heart more and more until he began to see that Laban’s actions and attitude simply mirrored his own, for had he not treated Esau in exactly the same manner.

The Lord works in this manner, He is the revealer of men’s hearts, He is the one who convicts for He sets the scene where He builds upon our past gradually before our eyes, until eventually we are faced with the truth about ourselves. He is so very faithful, good and wise, we can trust ourselves in His hands. As I often say to folk ‘we are called to be overcomers which we cannot be unless there is something to overcome’.  I wish now to take us to something the Lord said to one of the 7 churches in the Book of Revelation.

Rev. 2:17 To him who overcomes I will give him a white stone and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.

In Roman times during the New Testament era a token of friendship may be exchanged between two friends. This token could be a tile of wood or a stone then divided into two halves. Both people would write their name on one half and then exchange. These token could be handed down from father to son as a binding reminder of the covenant made between these two. To produce one half would guarantee the help of a true friend, a covenant friend.

In the words recorded in the Book of Revelation the Lord is saying that He holds the half with our name written thereupon, recorded there when we entered into a covenant of friendship with Him at our new birth, our salvation. This is the time now when we meet Him face to face and where He will hand us the half He has been holding all this time. Of course we will be holding the other half, the half where His name is recorded. As we see the half He is holding we will expect to see our name written there, but as the verse above says it will be a ‘new name’ which will be different to the one we had at our salvation. This is speaking of he who overcomes, because during those times of overcoming our character will take on change, and seeing that our name signifies our character, so our name will be changed. We all have areas of character which needs to imbibe His nature, long suffering, patience, merciful, forgiving and on and on. On that day we will look at the new name written there and in that moment we shall understand. We will understand the purposes for the path we needed to walk, for the pressures we needed to face, for the times we could not understand the contradictions we faced. For as we read our new name this will reveal our new character, His nature, the one He has been working into the warp and woof of our very being, and we will then know that everything was worth it. That is if we have been an overcomer.  


CHAPTER NINETEEN:

When we speak of the Kingdom of God it is far more than the heavenly Kingdom for it also includes the Kingdom of God here on earth, how it looks when He is in charge. It should not be put off for way somewhere in the future, for where Jesus is ‘tis heaven there and it is His Kingdom, with Him as King Jesus. Jewish truths were never about just going to heaven one day, but what we can do to bring heaven to earth, for it was never a journey about going to something and some place but about bringing that something to us and those we encounter.

The birth of the Church was about creating a community of people who are a radical new culture who are going to show the world what God is doing in the earth. Their concept of hell was mostly about hell on earth for example the word for hell which is Gehenna  which is used 15 times by Jesus, Gehenna was not ‘hell one day’ but  ‘hell now’. Jesus was saying “here are some things which sends your life to hell now” holding anger in your heart, fearing man not God, un forgiveness, pride, greed to the extent where one overlooks the poor. He is saying, “if you live your lives like that then your life will be as though you are living on the garbage dump, it will be pure hell”. There is another word for hell and that is Hades and is used 3 times by Jesus and this is the one we really want to avoid for this is the one beyond the grave. Two of these times Hades was used as a figure of speech, such as ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’.  Only one time did He use this one in terms of a person and a place of fire and this is when He spoke of the rich man who overlooked a poor man. Interesting isn’t it, for it wasn’t used of the lady caught in adultery, in fact Jesus said of her “since I do not condemn you, go and sin no more”,  whereas I have heard Christians say “go and sin no more and then I won’t condemn you”.  We say “don’t do this list that Paul gives, then you will be saints”, whereas Paul meant “since you are saints you will not want to do this”. So it is not a case of “if you repent God will be nice to you”, the Bible says that it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. 

Wonderfully the Bible is all about a marriage. It commences with a marriage in the Garden of Eden and closes in the Book of Revelation with a marriage, this time between Christ and His bride.

The Bible says that ‘first in the natural and then in the spiritual’, and so I wish to take a natural marriage as it was in the Old Testament Hebrew life, and then see the spiritual parallels. Betrothal which is a similar idea to our engagement with many differences, can take place many years before the marriage. This is where they covenant together in a betrothal ceremony to prepare themselves for the future wedding day, exchanging gifts of something of value maybe even a ring, a document of betrothal is a written agreement which set out details of what is expected from each other. There is a big difference between a ‘promise’ and a ‘betrothal’. A promise can be broken but not so a betrothal, for with the breaking of the latter it would be considered a divorcement needing the appropriate conditions and permission. The only difference that demarks a betrothal from a marriage is that during the betrothal period there is no consummation, for they do not enter into physical relations.

Now that they are betrothed yet apart there is someone now, selected by the man’s family, who plays a very important role. He is the intermediary, for he is the messenger who constantly plies between the couple bearing gifts or messages. Often he was called upon to keep the anticipation and love alive, portraying the desires of each partner. This important person is known as ‘the friend of the bridegroom. John the Baptist named himself the friend of the Bridegroom as forerunner to the Lord Jesus Christ for John’s ministry was to prepare Israel, the bride to be, for the Lord, whereas the Holy Spirit in now the Friend of the Bridegroom as He prepares us to meet our husband to be, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now to the marriage day as understood within the Hebrew culture. Just prior to midnight a procession would depart from the groom’s house. The groom together with his male friends would then make their way through the darkened streets to the bride’s house. For this occasion the groom would be dressed as much like a king as possible with a garland of fresh flowers around his neck and a crown upon his head. His clothes would be scented with frankincense and myrrh. As they walked through the streets the grooms friends would be blowing the trumpet singing, dancing and making so much noise that everyone in the vicinity were alerted to the fact that a marriage was about to take place. With the time so close to midnight the streets would be in black darkness with the only light coming from the lanterns carried by those who accompanied the groom, and the groom himself.

Meanwhile the bride not knowing the exact day her husband to be would arrive had been preparing herself. There were probably countless trial runs when she dressed in her bridal clothes and waited at the closed door. The friend of the Bridegroom would have alerted her that time was very near, that the feast was prepared, the guests even were beginning to gather, and it was simply waiting for the father to release his son. Dressed in her bridal clothes she too was dressed as a queen, her friends were surrounding her and each either carried a lantern with extra oil or a musical instrument, ready to escort her through the dark streets in the procession.

Walking back through those streets together the couple would be separated from their friends and the merriment by walking together beneath a canopy, and locked in one another’s love. For this and only this occasion, the girl had covered her face with a veil, and as he looked into her eyes the groom and indeed the guests were unable to see the beauty that was promised.

The banquet was prepared back at the groom’s father’s house and the guests were invited and gathered ready. Each guest had been provided with a fitting wedding garment to wear for the celebration, this way the father was ensuring that the groom and his bride would not be insulted or demeaned by the condition or apparel of some of the guests. The guests and feast was waiting and the father was standing waiting at the open door ready to welcome the couple.

As the procession arrived they entered through the doors which were then locked behind them. To one side of the room two thrones had been arranged, and to these the groom led his bride. Now seated and with the canopy raised over them and before the feast began the groom had one more duty to carry out. He reaches across and without saying a word he unhooks the veil from off her face. First one side and then the other is unhooked, now with the veil removed those gathered can see her beauty and acknowledge the full beauty that has been blossoming, unseen all this time.  Fully satisfied he now, still without speaking a word for she understood the custom, he entirely removed the veil and laid it across his right shoulder, this way he is saying to her and to the guests ‘all the things that life brings that has been used to prepare her for this day, I take responsibility for everything’. Now the feast can begin but rather than be involved in the partying the couple depart to a side room and the marriage is consummated. Now it is left to us to take each and every part of that demonstration from beginning to end and overlay it piece by piece, movement by movement upon that which is and will happen as Christ prepares and finally comes for His bride.

(Can I leave you to do just that for yourselves, for you will be truly blessed and enthralled by the beauty and the clarity with which God is speaking and unveiling. If there is any part you would like more clarification just send me an e mail and we can chat.)

CHAPTER TWENTY:

It might be interesting to look at two controversial topics in this chapter, they are found in Genesis 1:1-3 and John 20:6,7.

Before we look at Gen. 1:1-3 I need to say that if you question most modern Jews/Israeli’s today they will disagree with the version I am about to present which is the one I opt for. The reason is that as they translate from Hebrew to English they will tell you that it does not use the words I am going to give, their reasoning comes from the fact that they are not Messianic Jews therefore Jesus will never make an appearance in the Old Testament for them, but also because the modern Hebraic translation has changed two important words, changed because to them they do not make sense, they are untranslatable. Take this into consideration before you make your choice which interpretation to accept. Now to the old original Hebraic version of Genesis 1:1-3.

Vs. 1 Beresheet bara elohim et aleph tav hassamayim waet aleph va tav hares

Vs,1.  In the beginning God the Messiah who was crucified created the heavens and earth, that is the Messiah who was nailed.

The reason certain words have been changed was because they made no sense, that is not until the Book of Revelation was written where Jesus said “I am the Aleph and the Tav”, which means I am the Alpha and the Omega, and this put Jesus right there ‘in the beginning’ at the creation. He is the A and the Z, He is the first letter of the alphabet and the last, He is the beginning and the end.

Vs. 2 The earth became crazy and indistinguishable (void) and that craziness invaded your house making it uninhabitable, because you did not have a revelation of the covenant of the nail. Darkness was on the face of the deep and this left your house in a perpetual state of disrepair because the boundaries you were choosing to live in were consuming your covering and this life of disrepair was presenting itself in the face of God’s hidden blessings. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. But God’s response was to relax to the slap in the face you gave Him.

Vs. 3 God said “Let there be light” and there was light, thus declaring a solution full of grace and truth, a word that was both with Him and was Him. By a word ‘Let the One who is light shine’.

This interpretation is placing Jesus the Son of God right there in the beginning as the Creator, but not only that He is already committed at that time to being crucified one day for the salvation of our souls.

Rev. 13:8 (He is) The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Not only that but without a firm revelation of His involvement with planet earth from the beginning and a revelation of His death on the cross at Calvary and His resurrection, then our house, be it planet earth or our own personal physical body will make no sense, life will be crazy and full of darkness. This is a covenant from God to mankind and we need a revelation of it that will make a lasting change within us.

Now to the second scripture….

John 20:6,7 John saw the strips of cloth, and the face cloth that had been around His head, folded by itself, as  a napkin.

Here is another interpretation that causes some dispute today. Google this subject and the arguments and disagreement rage back and forth, and I am finding that because the internet questions the interpretation I again opt for folk vote google as being the correct one. Let me present it and then you make your choice.

In first century Hebrew culture if you were invited to some-ones home for dinner, at the end of the night you would know whether the guest wished to return or not by a certain action.  At the end of the dinner the guest would either take his napkin and scrunch it then place it on top of the plate or he would fold it carefully and lay it beside the plate. The scrunching of the napkin was their way of saying “I enjoyed my time here with you, and would like to come back another time”. But on the other hand if they did not wish to continue on with this association, or to return another day, then they would take the time to neatly crease and fold the napkin and then lay it to the side of the plate separately. You would know from this action that the guest would not be returning and this is a way of informing without being confrontational.

Now to our scripture in Johns Gospel, when they go into Jesus tomb, and find the burial clothes laying there undisturbed but not so the napkin which had previously covered His face, this was lying apart from the body, to one side, and folded neatly.  As with the Hebrew custom at meal time was Jesus saying, “My business with the grave is completed and I am never coming back here again in this way”. 

My feeling is that if there was no significance why was the face cloth not lying in place together with the undisturbed burial clothes, why was it laid to one side and folded neatly and why did the Bible state this so clearly. Everything the Lord does and says has a reason and a purpose behind it. At some stage Jesus Himself or the angel had taken the time to fold the napkin and lay it to one side. That part of our salvation is completed once and for all and Satan knows it and here the Lord is making it clear to His disciples and to us.

Next time He returns it will not be as suffering saviour, but as conquering Lord.

CHAPTER TWENTYONE:

This chapter is dedicated to those of my readers who see no place today for many parts of the Torah, specifically the books of Leviticus and Numbers, who see no relevance finding them boring, merely historical and certainly not worth reading or taking head to. I hope to change your thinking by taking in depth two separate chapters both in the Book of Numbers.

Numbers 5:11-31 And the Lord spoke to Moses saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, If a man’s wife goes astray and behaves unfaithfully towards him…

Vs.13. and it is hidden …and there was no witness…

Vs.14. if jealousy comes upon her husband…

Vs.15. Then the man shall bring his wife to the priest….

Vs18 The priest shall uncover the woman’s head.

Vs.19 And the priest shall say to the woman, if no man has lain with you, then you will be free from this bitter water that brings a curse.

Vs.20-22  But if you have sinned then this bitter water shall be a curse and your thigh shall rot and your belly swell.

Vs. 22 Then the woman shall say “Amen and so be it”.

Vs. 31 then the man shall be free from his jealousy and the woman shall bear her curse if necessary.

THE LAW OF JEALOUSY is what we are addressing here, or shall we say God’s law for dealing with jealousy.  The illustration used from the Old Testament was between a husband and wife where the woman submitted herself to the test imposed both by her husband and the law. Her husband was jealous although he was not sure if it was all his imagination but he needed to know for sure, and the law made provision for this. His wife could have refused to take the test and her reasons for refusal could have been twofold. Firstly if she knew she was guilty, then she could have refused to take the test out of fear, but on the other hand if she was not guilty then she could have chosen to refuse to take the test out of pride, allowing herself to become offended.  But she accepted the test. The woman allowed herself to be brought before the priest, bring with her the necessary offering of barley, which was the food of the poor. Is this illustrative of the spirit with which she should come?

Matt 5:3 blessed are the poor in spirit

She was not to be anointed as this was not the time to minister under any anointing. Her hair was to be uncovered, we would be wrong to interpret this by thinking that she ‘let her hair down’ which means in some cultures that it is party time. In the Bible that does not mean a party as it does in the West.  Her hair was her glory, this was a time to shed her glory, take the cover off and be totally honest, putting aside any pretence.  If she was guilty, the bitter water would become a curse to her, it would rot her thigh.  Interestingly the Hebrew word for thigh is ‘yedet’. Yedet does not only refer to thigh, but also includes loins, sexual organs including  reproductory organs.  If she was guilty then the water would not only rot her reproductory organs it would also cause her belly to swell, indicating pregnancy, but this would be a false pregnancy, giving the notion of being pregnant but a false promise. Thus all the while she may be rejoicing because she is pregnant but nothing will come of it. The term used in the Old Testament is that her ‘thigh shall fall’, this term uses the same word as is used for ‘miscarriage’.

Job 3:16.   Why was I not hidden like a stillborn child, like infants who never see the light.  Stillborn – Nyapal -  miscarriage

Ps 58:8,9 Let them be like a snail which melts away as it goes.  Like a stillborn child. - miscarriages - nyapal

Ecc 6:7 all the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled. -  appetite, lust, abortion – nephel

(She wants to have children but keeps having a miscarriage)

Deuteronomy 28: If you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God….all these blessing shall come unto you…But if you do not obey then curses shall overtake you.

What we must not fail to see is that this entire incident is a type, and it is twofold. First type, the Jewish people are accursed because they rejected their Messiah, and they missed recognizing their Messiah because throughout their generations they had continuously rebelled and gone after other gods.  Or playing the harlot as the Old Testament portrays it.

Now to the second type which illustrates the ‘Bride of Christ’. The interpretation in the New Testament relates to a marriage as seen in Ephesians, but also can be interpreted spiritually as we see in both Deuteronomy and Ephesians.  Approaching this subject from the subject of fruitfulness, as we look at the Church as a whole or the members of the church, we acknowledge that there is often a problem with fruitfulness or lack of it. Fruitfulness, not as is sometimes assessed, by how many souls are brought into the kingdom, but in accordance with the text of the book of Galatians. 

Galatians 5:22-25.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control  If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit.

Where we constantly fail to bear fruit, and in effect, suffer one miscarriage after another, as individuals or as The Church, The Bride of Christ, then we are wise if we follow the allegory as is seen in Numbers 5.  We take the test for unfaithfulness. God is not interested in the celebration if someone else is messing with His woman, the Church if her attention is upon anything or anyone other than upon Himself.  With the realization that the heart is desperately wicked and who can know it, and that we deceive ourselves, we would be wise to come and stand before the Lord and take the test, and let Him judge and reveal as to the problem. Take the bitter water, let it reveal one way or another, then something can be done about it if necessary.

Deuteronomy 32:21 They have provoked me to jealousy, they have moved me to anger by their foolish idols.

It is significant that the Hebrew word for a harlot, a whore is ‘zuit’.  This is the same word that is used also for Spiritual idolatry and/or adultery. 

1 Sam 15:23.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

Gal 5:20.  Idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissentions, heresies etc…..

Col 3:5.Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth, fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Will the Church, The Bride, we as His people say “Amen, so be it”?  To drink of the bitter water to find out why we are not fruitful, or why each moving of the Holy Spirit upon and over us comes to nothing, or why the ever promised revivals never arrive, even why the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit results in just another abortion or miscarriage with nothing to show for any intimacy boasted of. We can choose to become bitter instead of drinking the bitter water, or we can let our hair down which is tantamount to coming as we are, uncovered, honestly and so allow the Lord Jesus and His sacrifice to beat the curse.

For interpreting this spiritually, it would be wise to take the test so that we can know for sure, especially if there have been evidences of an aborted pregnancy, which is lack of fruitfulness. 

Amen and Amen, yes I will take the bitterness inside that it might search out and reveal why the blessings are being withheld from my life.  Then when I am healed, I can intercede for my nation that they too will say Amen and Amen, Lord show us the extent of our unfaithfulness.

(this theme will be cntinued n the next chapter)

CHAPTER TWENTYTWO:

I have another example in the Book of Numbers for my readers who see no place today for many parts of the Torah, who see no relevance even finding it boring, merely historical and certainly not worth reading or taking head to. This one is to do with the red heifer mentioned in chapter 19. At first glance one would imagine that there could be no possible relevance here to our life and times, but read on and see what you think…..

NUMBERS 19

Vs. 2 without spot or blemish and never been yoked.

Vs. 3 the priest brings it outside the camp where someone else kills it in front of the priest.

Vs. 4 the priest takes the blood and with his finger sprinkles it before the Tabernacle.

Vs 5 the heifer then is burned whole

Vs 6 the priest takes cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet and throws it in the fire.

Vs. 7 the priest then washes his clothes and bathes, then re-enters the camp but remains unclean until evening.

Vs. 8 the ‘burner’ does the same.

Vs. 10 the gatherer of ashes does the same.

Vs 9 a 3rd man gathers the ashes and keeps them in a clean place outside the camp.  To be used for a water of separation, a purification for sin.

Vs 10 This is to be a statute FOREVER X 3,10,21

Vs 11 unclean 7 days if touch a dead body.

Vs 12 shall use the water/ashes on the 3rd and 7th day

Vs. 13 to not do this you defile the tabernacle of the Lord and remain unclean and shall be cut off.

Vs 14, 15 even the dwelling place and uncovered containers become unclean and need to be purified.

Vs. 16 any dead person

Vs 17 ashes and running water put into a vessel

Vs 18 hyssop dipped in the water and sprinkled upon dwelling, vessels,people.  3rd and 7th day

 ( do not forget to note how Jesus fulfilled each and every aspect of the above type)

Now let us gather data and see what we have. A female (heifer) is taken, according to Edersheim the female sex is the immediate source of new life to substitute death. Therefore the most precious is taken, the females being the breeders (the seed money). The heifer is taken by the priest on this special day from the Temple hill, along the Red Heifer Bridge, across the Kidron Valley to the Mt. of Olives. A representative of the High Priest led it out then the priest dips his fingers in the warm blood and sprinkled 7 X in the direction of the Temple.

Heb. 9:13,14.  For if the blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh.  How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

I am not planning to take each and every aspect of this study and explore it to its fullest. Sufficient to say if you are a student of the word then there is an enormous amount hidden here, all fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. For example the Saturday before Passover, even today, is known as Lamb Selection Day and is when people came to choose the perfect lamb for their Passover sacrifice, this too was the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as the perfect Lamb of God. In the Book of Numbers three people were specifically involved

  1. The priest sacrificing the red heifer who became defiled was Caiaphas.
  2. The one who actually kills the Lamb is also considered unclean, in this case it was the Gentile Roman soldier.
  3. The one who collects the ashes and stores, interns them outside the city wall was also unclean, on this occasion it was Joseph of Arithamae.  He too was under the law and all were unclean until evening, for the law is a shadow but Jesus is the reality

Caiaphas the High Priest called for Jesus crucifixion for Jesus had said that “it was necessary for one man to die for the nation”.  Caiaphas tore his robes crying out “blasphemy”. From this time on the Jews didn’t need a red heifer for Jesus is the fulfilment, plus the Jews didn’t need to rebuild the Temple Jesus is the fulfilment.

In Jewish history there have been 9 red heifers for the ashes last a long time, but in AD 70 when the temple was destroyed they had used the last of the ashes, and since then being without a Temple there has been no use for ashes.. But they will need more ashes soon for the red heifer is the only way a Jew could be released from death, and they will not accept Jesus who is the fulfilment. Therefore in Israel the Orthodox Jews have been hoping for a red heifer for the past 30 years having always held to the truth that the Temple will be rebuilt and when the 10th red heifer is offered the Messiah will come. They also believe that they will need this red heifer at the rebuilding of the Temple, for they will need to be sprinkled with ashes from the red heifer before they can rebuild and then enter it. For many years the Rabbis have been waiting for God to supernaturally supply the 10th heifer, there was no thought of looking around the world for such a heifer, believing it needed to be born on Israeli soil.

In the year 1997 in Haifa, Israel a red heifer was born causing great excitement. When this happened the orthodox Jews immediately wanted to dynamite the Dome of the Rock mosque so that the Temple rebuilding could commence, all in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. The then Jewish leaders envisaged arising trouble between Arabs and Jews as the news fermented and put a stop to any talk along these lines. Even so anxiously they waited and watched the heifer to mature to the age of 3 years, the age for sacrifice, but the worst happened for it began to develop irregularities white and black hairs in its tail in particular, which rendered it impure and therefore unsuitable until finally this long awaited red heifer had to be discarded. But the story does not end there.

In Mississippi, USA there was a Pentecostal believer who owned an entire herd of red heifers. Knowing his Bible this man contacted the American Embassy and the Israeli embassy, eventually he was put in contact with rabbis in Jerusalem. Clyde informed them he owned a herd of red heifers 200 head to be exact, which he offered to the Israelis for USD2,000, saying,  “You are going to need these heifers for 1,000 years of offering sacrifices after the Messiah has returned, I don’t need them because I am about to be raptured”. The Jews misunderstood him by thinking that he meant USD2,000 per head rather than for the entire herd, therefore they rejected Clyde’s offer by remarking that the price was too high. Clyde wanted to make it clear and so he responded by answering “I don’t want to exploit you at this time because you are turning back to God”.

Now to something very pertinent within the Jewish history, 2,6000 years ago a gem went missing from the High Priests breastplate, they searched everywhere for a replacement eventually finding a replacement but it was owned by a Gentile jeweller living in Israel. The Jews approached the merchant to buy the gem and offered 100 shekels for it.  The jeweller responded by saying “it is under my fathers bed, when he awakes I will get it for you”, but the Jews believed him to be merely stalling and that he wanted more money therefore they kept upping the price another 100 shekels here followed by another 100, but every time he answered the same way, until the price reached came to 1,000 shekels, but still the man answered the same until the Jews exclaimed “this is too much” finally they departed. But this isn’t the end of the story because the Arab went running after them shouting the following words, “Wait, I am only asking for 100 shekels for the gem, I don’t want to exploit you because you are turning back to God”. Now back to the modern day incident with the American for this is the same ratio that Clyde was asking, but especially when Clyde said those words the Rabbis became very excited for the Jews know their history, and so the deal was made.

Clyde arrived in Israel for he needed together with the Israeli’s to find a place where the herd would we pastured, but just prior to leaving Mississippi a preacher friend had telephoned urgently. This preacher had been in the middle of his sermon when God told him to phone Clyde urgently to give him a message from the Lord, this he did, and the message he passed on to Clyde from the Lord went like this, “when you reach the land of Israel you will recognise the place for the herd when you see a winding valley filled with mist, also there will be springs in this valley.  You are then to ask the people as to how safe is this valley.

Clyde arrives in Israel he is met by many Israeli religious and governmental leaders who escort him by a specially chartered bus searching the land for possibilities for the herd to be pastured. On the 1st day they looked over a number of places, many of them suitable but nothing like the valley as described by the Lord. Then the 2nd day they arrive in a valley complete with mist, even springs, and so Clyde asks the question, “how safe is this valley”? the response from the leaders was one of laughter as they  answered ”to the north of the valley is an army camp, to the south of the valley the same and to the right is the Jordan  and over the other side is the Jordanian army who are also protecting us, therefore it could not be safer”.

Now back in Jerusalem a Rabbi questioned Clyde by asking “do you understand what has happened today”? Upon Clyde’s puzzled look the rabbi continued with these words, “The areas we have visited these past days looking for the right spot for the herd is in reverse order to when Israel first entered the land under Joshua. We have simply retraced the route”.

In this chapter I have taken us from the Old Testament book of Numbers,  then we have followed that statue laid out by Jehovah through Israel’s history. We have seen The Lord Jesus as the fulfilment, right down to today as the Jews wait and prepare for the coming Messiah. I find it an interesting even exciting journey, but the point of lesson is to show that the books in the Torah are very relevant to us even today.

CHAPTER TWENTY THREE:

In Hebrew the prayer shawl is named a ‘tallith’, it is made from white cotton or wool with a black border or stripe, completed by a tassel placed at each corner. During prayer they cover the head and shoulders with this shawl, otherwise today it is fastened around the waist. The Hebrew word for shawl is ‘tallith’ and can also be interpreted as a forelock of hair, a fringe or a ringlet of hair and amongst the traditional Jews today you can see this ringlet of hair hanging either side of their face. This is the tassel so to speak. But besides the tallith there is also the phylactery which is a small hand-made leather box about 2 inches square. Inside this hollow box is placed the scriptures written upon a piece of parchment. The written scripture is as follows…..

Deut. 6:4-9 You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of you might. And these words shall be in your heart and you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, they shall be as frontlets between your eyes, and you shall write them on the door posts of your houses and on your gates.

These words the traditional Jews obey literally by taking the phylactery and strapping this little box around their hand, or around the head to place the box squarely between the eyes, or even within a wooden box at the threshold of the home. Far better for us to fix those words firmly upon our hearts and minds, upon the threshold of our homes or the entrance to our physical home, our body. For the Jew the box by the entrance which held the parchment was known as a Mezusah and can be traced back to the time when the angel of death passed over their homes way back in Egypt, and therefore it is connected with Divine protection.

Every day is a new beginning in every way but also in our walk with the Lord. A devout Jew begins his daily religious life immediately upon waking, with a prayer…..

Hear O Israel the Lord your God is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

For a devout Jew each day the sun arises in the east bringing with it the hope of new day in His Presence and as the sun’s rays rise it first shone upon the entrance to the Tabernacle and Temple alike. In anticipation for the rising sun a watchman was positioned on the highest point of the city of David which is Mt. Zion, watching, waiting. As the first rays appeared the watchman would raise the trumpet he was holding to his lips and blow. The sound of the trumpet peeled out alerting the priests who were waiting at the door of the Temple for the signal of this commencement to the new day, now these priests would put their combined weight against the doors to the Temple pushing, pulling until the gates were opened wide. This way each and every day commenced a new day with Jehovah.

I wish to itemize certain points here so that we can apply them to our own life….

  1. A watchman waiting, awake, alert, watching, focused for the commencement to the new day.
  2. The doors of the Temple did not open automatically and they were never to remain closed, therefore it was fresh each and every day.
  3. The doors took effort to open for they were very heavy and they certainly could not open by themselves. Each door stood the height of an 8 story building and each were 50 feet in width, so large and heavy that it took 25 men to open each door.

To apply this to ourselves it would indicate that coming into a face to face, heart to heart, life changing awareness of our Creator, Lord and Saviour each and every day is not impossible, but it will take effort, it may even be difficult, and it is certainly not to be an easy and frivolous  matter.

Mal.4:2 unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings.

But let us examine this even closer and see how it applies to our own lives. Firstly the watchman, it is his role to stand alert each morning watching and waiting for the day to commence, watching both for himself and to alert others. He is waiting in anticipation for the rising sun, upon the highest point of the city of David which is Mt. Zion. There was firstly the city of Jerusalem which is known as the city of the king, and then there was Mt. Zion. Mt. Zion is where the king actually lived, where his palace stood. Equally in spiritual language there is a differentiation between Jerusalem the city where spiritually all Christians dwell but there is also Mt. Zion which stood on the highest part of the city, it was elevated.

Ps. 9:11 Sing praises to the Lord which dwells in Zion, declare among the people His doings.

Ps. 20:2  May He send you help from the sanctuary and strengthen you out of Zion.

Ps. 48:2 Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth is Mt. Zion…the city of the great King.

Ps. 53:6 Oh that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion when God brings back the captivity lof His people.

There are many more scriptures relating to Mt. Zion and those who live there but for this chapter we are referring to the watchman who stands there each morning, watching and waiting. A watchman’s duty is to watch, be alert and then to alert others, he would need to know what he is watching for. Interestingly he would also be required to know which sound to blow on his trumpet as he saw the first rays of the rising sun, the trumpet akin to the voice.  Throughout Old Testament history the many notes of the trumpet were heard throughout the day. There was a certain sound used to prepare them for sleep or to awake, many different sounds alerted them to make preparation to meet with Jehovah. Most important was the sound which warned them that the enemy was approaching, which rounded up the fighting men ready for battle. Not only did the trumpeter need to know which note to sound but the hearer also needed to be able to discern the notes. In some instances there was a long held out cry, at another time the staccato sound resembled a sobbing voice, indicating a call to repentance. The voice of the prophet was also likened to the sound of the trumpet, for the prophet likewise was to know the situation at hand, was especially to relay Jehovah’s words, and was to warn. Whether we use the name trumpet, prophet or watchman these are not to be obsolete in church life today, in fact it would pay us to know who we recognize as watchmen today, and have ears attuned to what they are saying.

At the sound of the trumpet the priests now sprang into action, here we remind ourselves that we are all called to be priests……

Rev. 1:6….and has made us kings and priests  (a kingdom of priests)…

As I wrote earlier at the sound of the trumpet these priests would put their combined weight against the door to the Temple pushing, pulling until the gates were opened wide. That is the job of the watchman they are to prompt you to arise, get moving, become focused, Jehovah is waiting for you to commence the day with Him. If we listen they will bring light to the condition of our heart, they will stir us to desire more of the Lord’s presence. The sound can come through the words of a song, a message, even something mentioned during a conversation, we need to ask the Lord to give us ears attuned to hear, to pick up the faintest sound from heaven.

Perhaps a question we could ask ourselves is how do we become spiritual? What defines being spiritual?

John 4:23 The hour is coming and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

Vs. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

Rom 8:1 there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Vs. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

Matt 22:37-40  Jesus said to him “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbour as yourself”.

John 17:3 And this is life eternal (the purpose of life) that they might know You, (by experience) the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

John 17:26 I have declared to them your name, and will declare it, that the love with which you loved me, may be in them for me.

Matt. 7:22 Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your Name….depart from me I never knew you

The above scriptures appear to emphasize that Christian spirituality comes through knowing the Lord?

Matt. 7:21-23 (you will need to read each of these verses)……depart from me I never knew you.

The word ‘knew’ is the Greek word ginosko and refers to knowing someone intimately as in a marriage relationship. This then is the premise for being in a personal intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus. This is the internal fellowship that one is to experience and hereafter there needs to be the outworking of knowing God which will be seen in the external outworking.

 

(To be continued. )  This study will now be added to on an irregular basis.