Day 3 – Av 3
Spiritual Gift: Faith
In Hebrew, faith is emunah (ee-moo-nah). It comes from the root aman, which means to support, confirm, establish, be faithful, to trust. It’s first occurrence is with Abraham:
Gen. 15:5-6 (NASB) And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed (aman) in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Aman is often translated as “believe,” because it implies something that can be trusted with confidence. It is firm. Amen (amein) comes from this same root. When one says, “Amen!” they are affirming the words being delivered and counting them as trustworthy. Truth, emetshares this same root. Truth is firm, established, and trustworthy. One can put their faith and trust in the truth of God’s Word.
Emunah differs from western thought. Having “faith” is not a mental or verbal agreement to a set of statements. This is why you won’t find a statement of faith at Grace in Torah. While emunah does have an element of mental belief, it is something that is proved through action. Abraham trusted and believed in God, and demonstrated his faith through his deeds. James said that “faith without works is dead.” As a Hebrew, he understood this concept very well, and reminded the scattered tribesthat even demons have head knowledge or mere belief.
Jas 2:18-21 (NASB) But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?
Emunah has substance and evidence. The writer of Hebrews says that this is the kind of faith that our elders had (saints in the Tanakh –O.T.), that garnered them a good report. Since Tisha B’Av recalls the evil report of the ten spies in Numbers 13-14, perhaps it would behoove us to also recall the actions of those in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11.
Heb. 11:1-2 (KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
Much could be (and has been) written on emunah. For the purposes of this meditation, consider how faith and peace are related. If one’s faith is true and firm, it naturally produces peace. That doesn’t mean that one will not suffer or struggle; it means that one’s faith gives confidence and shalom in the midst of trials.
Rom. 5:1-5 (TLV) Therefore, having been made righteous by trusting (faith), we have shalom with God through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. 2 Through Him we also have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand and boast in the hope of God’s glory. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in suffering—knowing that suffering produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Ruach ha-Kodesh who was given to us.
In Hebrew, peace or shalom is not the absence of war, pain, or conflict. Shalom is more akin to wholeness, in the various respects of a person – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Being made whole implies that at some point, “parts” were separated. In order for shalom to occur, these pieces must be brought back together, even if they are in opposition to one another. In this sense, shalom is about integrating these things, becoming “one.”
In this realm, one can have shalom in one area and not another. One’s faith can supersede the missing part, because one knows that in the end, all will be made whole again. (1 Cor. 15) It is possible to have shalom while walking through great difficulties or even danger. Having “peace like river” is quite contrary to the idea of still waters. Thus, faith and trust in Adonai can sustain one’s mental and emotional state as they float through the rapids of life, because they TRUST Him and have hope for the future.
Heb. 11:39-40 (NASB) And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
Those with faith in Hebrews 11 did not receive the promise, because Adonai will not make them “perfect” without us. All the “parts” will be gathered together as a whole (echad), which is shalom. This was the prayer of Yeshua. (John 17:19-26) It will occur under the perfect government of the Prince of Peace! How fitting is that?
Like our forbearers in the faith, we also remain faithful as we look forward to That Day. This brings peace to broken hearts and lives. We have a great Hope! This life is not the end. There is so much more.
Heb. 12:1-2 (TLV) Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin. Let us run with endurance the race set before us, 2 focusing on Yeshua, the initiator and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame; and He has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
In the meantime, may we be known as peacemakers.
Jas 3:18 (NASB) And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Mt. 5:9 (NASB) “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
- If you want to ask someone how they are doing in Hebrew, you say, “Ma shlomchah?” (mas. – speaking to a male) The feminine form is “Ma shlomech?” (speaking to a female) But, what you are really asking is, “What’s your peace?” Today, I’m asking you this question. Ma shlomeach?
- Do you have “parts” that need to be integrated into the whole? Or, do you need help with unbelief?
- How does one’s faith affect their sense of shalom?
- Read through Hebrews 11. When you tell someone about “your faith,” does it look like these examples? If not, what is the difference?
Day 4 – Av 4
Spiritual Gift: Gifts of Healing
In 2020/5780, this day is the weekly Shabbat. Because of that, let’s begin this meditation with Shir Hama’alot, which is Psalm 126. In meditation 2, we looked at Al Naharot Bavel or Psalm 137, sang on weekdays and non-holidays during Birkat Hamazon (Blessing after meals). On the Sabbath and holy days, Psalm 126 is sung/recited instead.
Ps. 126:1-6 (NASB) A Song of Ascents. When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dream. 2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” 3 The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. 4 Restore our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the South. 5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. 6 He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Consider the contrast between these two Psalms. They depict exile for rebellion, and then the promise of return and restoration. A wound, and yet there will be healing. That pretty much sums up the entire Bible from man’s perspective. But, like our spiritual gift for this day’s meditation, healing doesn’t always occur instantaneously. Often, it requires patience or long suffering.
In the preface of the list of spiritual gifts, Paul uses a few key phrases to help the reader understand the diversity not only in gifts, but in the people that have them.
1 Cor. 12:4-7 (NASB) Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
He reiterates this again after listing the gifts of the Spirit:
1 Cor. 12:11 (NASB) But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
The Greek word translated as “varieties” by the NASB, is diairesis. It means distinctions, variety, and diversity. There are a variety of gifts, ministries, and effects, but they all come from the same Spirit of God. The word “effects” is the Greek word energēma, from which our English word energy comes. Different people are given different energies to perform the gift that Adonai has given each. They won’t always “look” the same, even if two people operate in the same gift. And yet, they all are empowered by the Holy Spirit, His energy.
The gift of healing is one of those energies or ministries. Healing has many forms, all with the goal of being made well or whole. One’s mind, emotions, physical body, life circumstances, or even their finances can be broken or wounded. Sometimes, a healer can touch or pray and the area affected is renewed. Sometimes a healer will direct the afflicted to do something such as repent, wash in the Jordan, or give charity. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all box.
Since the fruit for this day is patience, how can suffering through brokenness of soul or body be beneficial? Sometimes healing is a process that one must walk through, because instant healing wouldn’t really heal the root issue, or it wouldn’t bring Adonai glory, or it wouldn’t fulfill His purpose in some way. In cases like this, where we can’t possibly understand with finite minds, we might cry out like David and the saints that are told to patiently wait.
How long, O LORD?
Ps. 6:2-4 (NASB) Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am pining away; Heal me, O LORD, for my bones are dismayed. 3 And my soul is greatly dismayed; But You, O LORD—how long? 4 Return, O LORD, rescue my soul; Save me because of Your lovingkindness.
Ps. 13:1-2 (NASB) For the choir director. A Psalm of David. How long, O LORD?Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? 2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Ps. 79:5 (NASB) How long, O LORD? Will You be angry forever? Will Your jealousy burn like fire?
Ps. 90:12-14 (NASB) So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. 13 Do return, O LORD; how long will it be? And be sorry for Your servants. 14 O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Rev. 6:9-11 (NASB) When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
We must trust that Adonai is Good, and that His mercy (chesed) endures forever, despite the way things seem to us at the moment. If Adonai can heal Egypt and Assyria, He can definitely heal us! But, like these persecutors of Israel, it will come in His perfect timing.
Is. 19:22-25 (NASB) The LORD will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the LORD, and He will respond to them and will heal them. 23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. 24 In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”
In the meantime, we remember that we are like those that dream. (Ps.126) The Hebrew word for dream is chalam (חָלַם). It is like shalom with a chet instead of a shin; and like shalom, it implies recovering and being restored to health. This Shabbat, we sing and we remember, and we patiently consider that our suffering and tears will produce many sheaves for the Kingdom.
Ps. 126:5-6 Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. 6 He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
- Do you operate (energema) with one of the gifts of the Spirit? Which one(s)? If not, ask Adonai to reveal to you how His Spirit (energy) works through you.
- Do you suffer with a chronic illness or another affliction? If so, I’m praying for your complete healing and for your patience. May Adonai grant you reprieve this day.
- If you know someone that is suffering patiently in some way, reach out to them with words of encouragement.
- Dreams are corrective and restorative. If you haven’t been paying attention to these night parables, start keeping a journal of them.
Job 33:15-18 (NASB) In a dream, a vision of the night, when sound sleep falls on men, while they slumber in their beds, 16 then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction, 17 that He may turn man aside from his conduct, and keep man from pride; 18 He keeps back his soul from the pit, and his life from passing over into Sheol.
Day 5 – Av 5
Spiritual Gift: Working Miracles
Fruit: Lovingkindness (chesed)
Love and lovingkindness go hand in hand. In the meditation for day one, we looked at agape and chesed in relation to wisdom. In this meditation, we will consider the miraculous power of chesed. When acted out in earnest, wondrous things happen.
Yeshua said, “go and learn” what chesed means in Matthew 9:13. In that case, he was being questioned for eating with tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees and many religious people today have firm ideas of what is acceptable and unacceptable. Yeshua was more concerned for those that needed to repent and be healed, than He was for even the holy sacrifices. Consider the story below.
Luke 10:25-37 (NASB) And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27 And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.” 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
Almost any commandment, tradition, or halachic ruling can be broken to save another person’s life. YHWH is the God of the Living, and all human life is immeasurably valuable to Him. We are told in Leviticus 18:5, “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.” (NKJV) Rabbi Akiva clarifies this verse by saying, “That he shall live by them, and not that he shall die by them.” (Yoma 85b)
He infers that the heart of the commandments islife and love. To save a life or one’s own life (or even the health of either), is the highest priority so long as one doesn’t deny Adonai, commit murder, idolatry, or adultery in order to do so. Piety should never hold a higher place in one’s mind than the value of another human. Choose Life!
The story that Yeshua told the lawyer in Luke 10 is just as valid today as it was in the first century. In the US, segregation is oddly being promoted by some groups. In the first century, various groups also separated themselves from one another based on religious sects, regional affiliations, and race.
The Samaritans were half Jew, half Gentile. During the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel, the king of Assyria sent people from Cutha, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim to inhabit Samaria, and they intermarried with the remaining people left from the northern tribes of Israel. They became known as Samaritans. While they accepted a version of the Torah (5 Books of Moses), they rejected the Prophets and the Writings. They also mixed idolatry with their worship of the Holy One. They even set up their own temple on Mt. Gerizim. When Nehemiah worked to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, the Samaritans tried to stop the work. (Neh. 6:1-14)
Needless to say, the Jews were not fond of the Samaritans. Tensions between these two groups were high. In John 8:48, the Jews called Yeshua a demon possessed Samaritan. This was meant to be a highly offensive slur. In John 4:9, the (Samaritan) woman at the well was perplexed that Yeshua, a Jew, would even speak to her.
Yeshua gently corrected her understanding in several ways. He pointed out her “5” previous husbands, an allusion to the Samaritans false belief that their version of the Torah was legitimate. He also revealed Himself to her as the Messiah, the Living Waters, and extended salvation to this lowly Samaritan, something the religious leaders in Jerusalem would have never done. The woman dropped her water pot and ran to tell her countrymen the Good News. The men of Samaria believed the woman’s report and came out to meet Yeshua. She was actually the first effective evangelist!
Yeshua’s encounter with the woman at the well is chesed in action. She and the Samaritans didn’t deserve anything from Him; and yet, He extended mercy, grace, and kindness to them anyway. Because, He is chesed. He brought reconciliation to two alienated groups, which the apostles continued after the resurrection. (Acts 8:25)
Chesed doesn’t ignore past sins; rather, it chooses kindness over retribution, mercy over vengeance, grace over disdain, love over hate. Chesed doesn’t know the “tit for tat” scores that we keep. It is not intimate with wisdom from below.
Love covers a multitude of sins. (Pr. 10:12, 1 Pet. 4:8) That includes the sins of those that have been a bane to your existence. Yeshua, as the living embodiment of the Word and the image of God, chose chesed rather than sacrifice. This resulted in the miracle of salvation to those that were perishing in Samaria. Often our vision is impaired, and is need of adjustment.
The only way that one can love the way that Adonai loves is to KNOW the love He has for us. (1 John 4) Then, we won’t fear that our enemy might not get his “just desserts.” Instead, we can truly rejoice that forgiveness and salvation has been extended to them as well. The lawyer reluctantly admitted to Yeshua that in the story, it was the “evil” Samaritan that fulfilled the Law more fully than the priest and Levite by extending chesed to the brutalized man. Caring for human life, in all forms, is greater even than the two greatest commandments. Why? Because it is the epitome of chesed love, and the two great commandments hang from it. Yeshua says, “Go and do the same.”
Rom. 13:10 (NKJV) Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.
The natural, earthy man struggles with the concept of chesed. Chesed is supernatural. To operate with chesed, one must continually have their mind renewed to align with the mind of Messiah. (Romans 12) Consider testimonies and stories that have had the greatest impact on your thinking. Do stories of radical forgiveness and sacrificial love inspire you more than rote commandments? In our heart of hearts, we hope that we can act with such sacrifice and loyalty to HaShem. We want to believe that we can radically forgive those they don’t deserve our forgiveness.
Chesed is so powerful that it can penetrate even the most callused heart. It is miraculous. It is the gift that keeps on giving. When one experiences true chesed, they are moved to extend chesed to another. It is freely given, underserved, and it certainly doesn’t expect anything in return. Though it is rooted in covenant love, it surpasses the letter of the Law, because it is pure Holy Spirit in action.
The Hebrew and Greek words for miracles (oht, pala, semeion, etc.) are often translated as signs and wonders. They are heavenly, like chesed. Miracles occur when heaven kisses earth (and earth beings). Thankfully, Adonai built (and continues building) the world with chesed (Ps. 89:2), which is the epitome of the Messiah. (Col. 1:15-20)
Ps. 85:10 (NASB) Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Perform chesed. Expect miracles.
- Read Genesis 4:1-12. What is Cain told to master? If emotions rule a person, can they fulfill the commandments?
- In the figurative sense, hating one’s brother/sister (or any other human) is akin to murder. Why?
- Read Romans 12. What is love without hypocrisy?
- Miracles encompass a range of wonders, including the plagues that fell upon Egypt. What is the purpose of miracles?