Biblical Symbols

Meditations for the Nine Days Part III

 For an explanation of this series, please see Part I

Day 6 – Av 6

Spiritual Gift: Prophecy 

Fruit: Goodness

The rabbis have assigned a letter to each Hebrew month.[1] Interestingly, the letter for Av is tet. If you haven’t read the recommended articles from Part I on the number nine and Tet, please do so now. In the creation week, the first occurrence of the letter tet is in the word tov or good. On Day One of creation, the “light was good.” Something tov functions in its intended purpose. When one functions in the fruit of goodness, they are like the pure light of creation. They GIVE Light to the earth, and separate the light from the darkness. Goodness doesn’t take from another, it gives of itself freely.

In the acrostic of Psalm 119, David wrote eight verses for each of the twenty-two Hebrew letters to extol Adonai and His Torah. Though this poetic devise doesn’t appear in its fullness in English, it shines brightly in the original Hebrew. Notice how David’s choice word was tov or good in the eight verses for the letter tet:

Ps. 119:65-72 (LITV) טTET: You have done good with Your servant, O Jehovah, by Your Word. 66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I have believed Your Commands. 67 Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now I have kept Your Word. 68 You are good and do good; teach me Your Statutes. 69 The proud have forged a lie against me; I will keep Your Precepts with all my heart. 70 Their heart is like fat, without feeling; I delight in Your Law (Torah). 71 For my good it was for me that I was afflicted, to learn Your Statutes. 72 The Law (Torah) of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver.

 Something good or functioning in goodness, doesn’t neglect correction when needed. The Greek word for goodness in Galatians 5:22 is agathōsunē. The Hebrew Word Dictionary defines it as: good and benevolent, profitable, useful. Something that “feels” good isn’t necessarily Biblically tov or agathosune if it is not profitable or useful in Adonai’s eyes. Thus, correction might be needed so one can adjust their course to realign with Adonai’s standards, which is the Torah (Law) that David speaks about in the above verses.

The Greek word for the gift of prophecy is prophēteías, which is the ability to receive a divinely inspired message and deliver it to others in the assembly. Such messages can vary from exhortation, correction, comfort, inspiration to revelation. All are meant for the equipping and edification of the Body of Messiah. (1 Cor. 14:3-6) It is for our good.

Before the destruction of the first and second Temple (of which this season commemorates), Adonai warned His people that the result of their idolatry and disobedience would bring judgment from heaven. A siege would be laid on the walls of Jerusalem, resulting in a breach that would lead to the complete destruction of the Holy City. The prophets foretold of this destruction, and called for the people to repent and return Adonai. If they had of obeyed the voice of the prophets, things would have gone much differently. Sadly, man often prefers to do what is right in his/her own eyes, even when God graciously warns what is to come.

Someone with the gift of prophecy can be shown a vision, picture, or dream that is meant to guide, edify, or change the perspective of someone that “thinks” they are on the correct course, when in reality they are in opposition to Adonai. In this way, prophecy and prophesying keeps the Body in check. It does the Body good.

In modern vernacular, it’s like having a well visit with the Great Physician. However, some caution is in order. Like the letter tet, prophecy can be good or evil, true or false. Thus, prophets and prophecies are to be well received, but also tested. If found to be tov, prophecies are vital for the spiritual health of the Body.

1 Th. 5:19-24 (NASB) Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

1 Cor. 14:31-33 (NASB) For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

Questions

  1. Do you fear, ignore, or deny modern day prophets or gifts of prophecy? Why or Why not?

 

  1. How does goodness relate to the gift of prophecy?

 

  1. Can you name a prophet that was called tov? (Hint: You will find him in the Torah. – Ex. 2)

 

  1. Since we are in the last Nine Days of the Dire Straits, ask Adonai if He has sent a prophet or one with the gift of prophecy to bring you correction that you rejected. If so, you have an opportunity to repent, and perhaps your house will be restored.

 

Day 7 – Av 7

Spiritual Gift: Discerning of Spirits  

Fruit: Faithfulness

To remain faithful to Adonai, one must be able to separate, distinguish, discern, and judge between “spirits.” This is a broad topic that deserves a much deeper treatment than what will be offered in this meditation. For our purpose, we will examine how discerning of spirits or the lack thereof affects one’s faithfulness to Adonai and His Body.

In the meditation for day three, we looked at the spiritual gift of faith, emunah. Faith and faithfulness are rooted in what is firm, stable, and trustworthy. Emunah has substance and evidence. According to James, the evidence of faith is works or one’s deeds. (James 2:18-21) One acts out what they truly believe. Thus, the fruit of faithfulness is revealed through action or acting upon belief.

What beliefs are contrary to faith in the Word of Adonai? Fear, doubt, and unbelief are good examples. Could such beliefs be called “spirits?” In Greek, spirit is pneúma, and in Hebrew it is ruach. Both words relate to breath, wind, air, spirit, or even one’s disposition. Each definition expresses a different aspect of pneuma and ruach (spirit). In some places, the Bible uses these words to express the thoughts, beliefs, and temperament of a man. After his sin with Bathsheba, David asked Adonai to renew a steadfast (faithful) spirit within him:

Psa. 51:10 (NKJV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

In the passage below, Paul contrasts the spirit of slavery, which is fear, with the spirit of adoption, which is loving acceptance.

Rom. 8:12-17 (NASB) So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 forif you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Himso that we may also be glorified with Him.

In these examples, spirit or spirits are not speaking about demons, but flesh centered thoughts and beliefs. They are akin to worldly wisdom, or as James puts it, “wisdom from below.” This sense of the word “spirit” is deeply intertwined with belief. Understanding these high places of the mind will help one to distinguish or discern between the Spirit of God and other “spirits.”

1 Cor. 2:9-14 (LITV) 12 But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, so that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God. 13 Which things we also speak, not in words taught in human wisdom, but in Words taught of the Holy Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things. 14 But a natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Words from the Spirit of God are not received by the natural man. They seem to him to be foolishness. They are spiritually discerned or distinguished. Only one intimate with the Holy One and His voice can make such a distinction, because they are faithful. They believe His Word. But, even a believer can fall prey to fear, doubt, and unbelief when they fail to remain steadfast in the Word.

Tisha B’Av is landmark on the calendar that recalls one of Israel’s greatest faithless moments – the evil report of the ten spies. Ten men caused the entire nation of Israel to believe the “spirits” of fear, doubt, and unbelief rather than the promises of God. They trusted their natural eyes rather the spiritual reality.

Num. 14:11 (NASB) The LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?

Unbelief or a lack of faithfulness cost an entire generation the Promised Land. The next generation suffered along with them until the last one died in the wilderness. The people failed to discern the “spirits” of the ten spies.

However, one with a “different spirit” escaped the judgement of having to die in the wilderness. Rather than doubting the promise, Caleb followed God fully. He remained faithful. He chose to believe despite seeing the giants with their fortified cities.

Num. 14:24 (NASB) “But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.”

Joshua joined Caleb in encouraging the people. They tried to inspire them to faith and belief.

Num. 14:6-9 (NASB) Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; 7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.”

Fearing man or circumstances is the antithesis to the Spirit of Yirat Adonai, which is reverence for the Holy One. (Is. 11:2) Dr. Hollisa Alewine teaches in The Creation Gospel that “anything we fear, we make holy.” Rather than reverencing Adonai, we are giving our homage to an unholy man, thing, or circumstance. One has essentially built a “high place” in their mind for it.

Jer. 3:6-10 (NASB) Then the LORD said to me in the days of Josiah the king, “Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there.7 I thought, after she has done all these things she will return to Me; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8 And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also. 9 Because of the lightness of her harlotry, she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. 10 Yet in spite of all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but rather in deception,” declares the LORD.

Reverencing anything other than Adonai is harlotry or idolatry. This is one of the sins that resulted in the destruction of the first and second Temples. Rather than building high places for our fears, doubts, and unbelief, may we discern these spirits for what they are: false gods. When it is revealed by the mouth of a prophet or discerner of spirits that a lying spirit has breached the walls of our city, may we be quick to repent, repair the breach, and stand firm in our faith.

Questions

  1. Can you be trusted to fulfill or keep your word? (Mt. 5:33-37) Consider that Adonai is always faithfulto keep His Word. (Is. 55:11) Resolve to do the same as one of His image bearers before the High Days approach this year.

 

  1. Most people, including believers, have been rejected, betrayed, manipulated, or wounded in some way by another person or group. If such sins were committed by another believer, then it is very difficult to trust others within the Body. And yet, the fruit of faithfulness is rooted in trust. How can one learn to walk in the fruit of faithfulness (secure trust) when others have breached the walls of trust?

 

  1. Do you struggle with spirits of the world such as fear, doubt, unbelief, rejection or lust? Read Luke 11:24-28. What was Yeshua’s “correction” to the woman? Based on this, what protects one from “unclean spirits?”

 

  1. What is in the high place of your mind? Is something there that shouldn’t be? If so, repent.

[1] This comes from the Sefer Yetzirah orThe Book of Formation. (See chapter 2) This book describes how the alephbet has three mother letters (aleph, mem, shin), seven doubled (sounding) letters (bet, gimel, dalet, chaf, pay, reish, tav), and twelve simple letters (hey, tav, zayin, chet, tet, yohd, lamed, nun, sameach, ayin, tzade, kuf.) The twelve simple letters correspond to each of the twelve Hebrew months in their alphabetic order.

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Meditations for the Nine Days Part II

Nine dreamstime_xxl_168096063If you haven’t read Part I, please start there to learn the purpose of this series. Click here for Part III.

Day 3 – Av 3

Spiritual Gift: Faith  

Fruit: Peace

 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 tribes[1]that 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.

Heart puzzle dreamstime_xxl_150586996In 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.”

Questions

  1. 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?

 

  1. Do you have “parts” that need to be integrated into the whole? Or, do you need help with unbelief?

 

  1. How does one’s faith affect their sense of shalom?

 

  1. 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   

Fruit: Patience

 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.

Hands dreamstime_m_84036510

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.”

IMG_7057In 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.

Questions

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. If you know someone that is suffering patiently in some way, reach out to them with words of encouragement.

 

  1. 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.

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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,[2] 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!

Unity dreamstime_l_8808167Yeshua’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.

Disciples Prayer dreamstime_xxl_98596069The 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.

Questions

  1. Read Genesis 4:1-12. What is Cain told to master? If emotions rule a person, can they fulfill the commandments?

 

  1. In the figurative sense, hating one’s brother/sister (or any other human) is akin to murder. Why?

 

  1. Read Romans 12. What is love without hypocrisy?

 

  1. Miracles encompass a range of wonders, including the plagues that fell upon Egypt. What is the purpose of miracles?

 


[1] James 1:1

[2] 2 Kings 17:24, Ezra 4:2-11

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The Mark of the Beast Part II

In Part I, many Scripture references were given to demonstrate that the sign of Adonai upon one’s hand and forehead is Passover, Sabbath, and the Shema or Words of God. (Dt. 6:4-9) These feasts teach one that YHWH is the Creator, Deliverer, and Law-Giver. He is the supreme authority and King of the Universe.

Initially, I had planned to go directly into the contranym or the mark of the beast, but then I realized that it would be a mistake to not first rehash some key Hebraic concepts. Especially, given how provocative the topic of the mark of the beast is. Thus, there will be a Part III.

Context is king. The mark, which signifies authority, cannot be understood apart from the “image” of the beast. And, the image of the beast must be understood in light of the image of God.

Image of the Beast

Rev 13:15 (NASB) And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

Does this remind you of this verse?

Gen. 2:7 (NASB) Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

In Targum Onkelos,[1]this verse reads:

Gen. 2:7 And the Lord God created Adam from dust of the ground, and breathed upon his face the breath of lives, and it became in Adam a Discoursing [speaking] Spirit.

The enemy is a counterfeiter through and through. God gave the breath of life to his image bearers, and it became in Adam a speaking or discoursing spirit. The second beast gives breath (and speech) to the image of the first beast. It is the “speaking image” of the beast that is worshipped. We will return to this image after reviewing the image of God.

 

Image of God

Gen. 1:26-27 (NASB) Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Gen. 5:1-2 (LITV) This is the book of the generations of Adam: In the day that God created man. He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and blessed them, and called their name Adam in the day when they were created.

Man and woman were created in the image of Elohim. The Hebrew word for image is tzelem. The following is The Complete Word Study Dictionary’s definition.[2]

H6754 צֶלֶם tṣelem: A masculine noun meaning an image, a likeness, a statue, a model, a drawing, a shadow. The word means image or likeness; its most celebrated theological and anthropological use was to depict human beings as made in God’s own image (Gen 1:26-27; Gen 5:3). People continue to be in His image even after the fall, although the image is marred (Gen 9:6), and still serves as the basis of the prohibition not to kill human beings… The word is also used in a concrete sense to depict images cut out of or molded from various materials. The word describes the images or idols of foreign or strange gods (2Ki 11:18; Amo 5:26). The people of Israel produced images used as idols from their own jewelry (Eze 7:20; Eze 16:17). Israel was, on its entrance into Canaan, to destroy all the molten images of the heathen (Num 33:52). In Eze 23:14, this word refers to pictures of Babylonians that enticed the people of Israel into apostasy when they saw them (Eze 23:14).

Mankind is the shadow of Elohim. In Hebrew thought, this isn’t about one’s appearance, rather it one’s purpose and actions. YHWH placed within mankind (both male and female) a shadow or likeness of His character and will. We are His representatives in the earth, His image or shadow bearers. Shadows or images mimic the reality. Thus, one’s words, deeds, actions, and fruit will either confirm or profane Adonai’s image. This is why tzelem can also mean a graven image or an idol:

Ex. 20:4 (NASB) “You shall not make for yourself an idol (tzelem), or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. (See also Lev. 26:1, Ezek. 16:17, etc.)

If the above sounded familiar, it’s because it is a quote from my article entitled, Sukkot: Hidden in the Shade of God. In it, I tie several themes together regarding the image of God, a shadow of things to come, Betzalel, Mary, and the Transfiguration. These things demonstrate how one that is the true image of God in the earth is a builder, most specifically of the Kingdom.

What do the tzelem of God do? They subdue and rule over the fish, birds, and the beasts. (Not one another.) In Greek, the word for image in Revelation 13 and in the Septuagint of Genesis 1:27 is eikon. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines it as:

G1504 εἰκών eikōn 1) an image, figure, likeness. 1a) an image of the things (the heavenly things). 1a1) used of the moral likeness of renewed men to God. 1a2) the image of the Son of God, into which true Christians are transformed, is likeness not only to the heavenly body, but also to the most holy and blessed state of mind, which Christ possesses. 1b) the image of one. 1b1) one in whom the likeness of any one is seen. 1b2) applied to man on account of his power of command. 1b3) to Christ on account of his divine nature and absolute moral excellence. Part of Speech: noun feminine. A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G1503

There are two possible images that one 

can reflect to the world: 

Adonai’s or the Beast’s.

The Image of the Beast, From the Beginning

In Revelation 13, people worship the eikon of the beast. The first mention of “a beast” in the Bible is on day six of creation.[3] The same day (number) that man was created.

Gen. 1:24-31 (NASB) Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so. 25 God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. 31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

In creation, the beast was created before the man. It was born first, so to speak. But, that in no way placed the beast in authority over the Adam. “The older shall serve the younger” is what the LORD told Rebekah when she sought Him about the warring twins in her womb. Her sons, Esau and Jacob, are archetypes of the two images man can reflect. The elder is red and hairy like a beast, and grows up to prefer the field. He sells his birthright in a moment of hunger, a snapshot in time, which is the epitome of the flesh wanting instant gratification. Jacob, though far from perfect, is a smooth man, peaceful, a dweller of tents. It is not a coincidence that their father, Isaac, was SIXTY years old when they were born.

Gen. 25:23-28 (NASB) The LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.” 24 When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them. 27 When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents. 28 Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

It was as if even in the womb, the older, beast-like Esau was trying to crush the head of Jacob. I suggest rereading this account in Genesis. Pay special attention to the actions and nature of Esau. His tzelem does not reflect Adonai. He is much more like a beast. On another mystical level, we all are the twins. We are Esau AND Jacob. Who will win in the end?

Both the beast and mankind are day six creations. From this point forward, the number six in Scripture is teaching one about the nature of the beast or the nature of man. To be a true “man” or Adam (male and female) one will reveal the image of God in the earth. To reveal anything else, is an image of a beast. Just like Esau and Jacob.

Beasts live by instinct, desire, appetites, and fleshly drives. Mankind has all the same instincts, but he/she is to live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. One’s flesh nature, though not evil in and of itself, should not rule or be what drives a person. This sets mankind apart from their day six counterparts, the beasts.

Dr. Alewine teaches that the basic desires of a beast are to eat, sleep, procreate, play games, and expand territory.[4] None of these things are evil, and a beast is fulfilling its God given purpose by following these instincts. Mankind also has these impulses; and, none of them are sin when fulfilled – IF they are governed by the Word of God. But any one of these impulses, if allowed to rule (control) a person will lead to sin.

You are meant to be a man, which is the tzelem of Adonai, not a beast. You are meant to rule over this nature within yourself by constantly meditating upon and obeying the Words of Life. The beast, like the serpent, will challenge God’s Word, His Authority, and your resolve. This is what happened in the Garden of Eden.

Gen. 3:1 (NKJV) Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

What does a tempter, like the serpent, appeal to? How is he “cunning” or “crafty?” He is a beast, so he will always appeal to the desires of the flesh and the power of emotions, because that is all he knows. The story of the fall is packed with words that speak of desire. Why shouldn’t we have what we want? Did God really say? That’s the voice of the beast. It is the lips of a seductress. It whispers and entices. It is the voice that questions, twists, and perverts the Word of God to have what it wants without any pesky misgivings.

It gives breath and speech to the things
 
that should have no voice, and seeks to kill

those that will not bow down to its will. 

(Rev. 13:15)

The first murderer, Cain, wrestled with this “speaking beast” in the form of jealous anger. Adonai warned him:

Gen 4:6-7 (NASB) Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

In the past, I’ve made the mistake of misreading these verses. (To be fair, translations can be misleading.) Unlike English, Hebrew indefinite pronouns must always refer to a correctly gendered noun. The pronouns “its and it” of verse seven read as if they are replacing the noun “sin.” But, sin is feminine and “its and it” refer to a masculine noun. To find the masculine noun these pronouns are replacing, one must look back to verse 6. The phrase “your countenance fallen” is more literally “your face has fallen.” Face is a masculine noun. This is an idiom for intense anger.

It wasn’t “sin” that had desire for Cain, but something that was within him: his anger! Emotions are part of the lower, beast nature of man. God told Cain to master or rule over this powerful force. If not, the emotion of anger would master him. It was close at hand, at the door, ready to take the reins. Cain did not heed the warning of the LORD. The very next verse says:

Gen. 4:8 (NRSV) Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him.

Notice the reference to the field. (It’s been present in many of the passages I’ve quoted above.) The field is where beasts dwell. The serpent was the most cunning beast of the field. Cain is warned that his strong emotion of anger is crouching at his door. In the very next verse, his anger rose up from its crouch and killed his brother. He became the beast. Anger took over and ruled the man, and murder was the result.

Rev. 13:15 (NASB) And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

Men (and women) ruled by the beast nature are destroyers, whether they realize it or not. One ruled by their desires and emotions live by the animal kingdom’s “survival of the fittest.” At its core, it is selfish and self-serving, because it is fueled by FEAR. It doesn’t want to play nice, share, or put anything or anyone before what it wants. It is the epitome of want. It seeks to subjugate and dominate others because it serves only its own desire. Consider the beasts of the field. This is exactly what they do.

There were two beasts that spoke in the Torah: the serpent in the Garden and Balaam’s ass. In both cases, the people involved had been enticed by their desires. Chavah (Eve) desired the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Balaam desired honor and to profit from his prophetic gift. The serpent’s words roused and deceived Chavah into fulfilling her desire. Balaam’s ass, a beast of burden, tried to save Balaam (and herself) from the sword of the angel. She was a voice of reason to the hardened prophet. He must only speak what God tells him to speak.

These two examples are perfect teachers. The serpent is an untamable, cold blooded creature. It hisses, charms, and bewitches the listener. This is akin to the unbridled lower, beast nature. The ass is broken and trained to carry a burden. She is faithful to her master. This is akin to one that has bridled their emotions and nephesh (flesh) with all its impulses.

 

The Image of the Son

How can one overcome the fallen nature and be a proper tzelem of Adonai? Yeshua is the Way!

Col. 1:15-23 (NASB) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.  19  For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,  20  and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. 21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

We are to be conformed into the image of the second Adam. (Rom. 8:29ff) Not the first Adam. The older shall serve the younger. This is accomplished most notably through suffering, which is something the beast hates. But it also requires diligence and mindfulness. It is a lifelong process. While the beast seeks to subjugate and dominate, the Spirit of the Lord brings freedom!

2 Cor. 3:17-18 (NASB) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

I’ll leave you with Paul’s instruction in this matter. He gives examples of both images, two kingdom attitudes, two paths. The more we know the traits of each side, the more wisdom and understanding we will have to discern between the beast and the man.

Col. 3:1-17 (NASB)

1  Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

2  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

3  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

4  When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

5  Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.

6  For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience,

7  and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.

8  But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.

9  Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,

10  and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him

11  a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

12  So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

13  bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

14  Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

15  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

16  Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

17  Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

 

More to come in Part III.

 


[1]Targum Onkelos is the official eastern (Babylonian) Aramaic translation to the Torah. Its authorship is attributed to Onkelos, a famous convert to Judaism in Tannaic times (c. 35–120 CE).

[2]The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament by Warren Baker. Retrieved using Strong’s number H6754 on E-Sword Bible software.

[3]Why the focus on the beginning? Because it teaches the end.  Is. 46:9-10 (TLV) Remember the former things of old: For I am God—there is no other. I am God, and there is none like Me—10 declaring the end from the beginning, from ancient time, what is yet to come, saying, “My purpose will stand, and I will accomplish all that I please.”

[4] The Creation Gospel Workbook Four: The Scarlet Harlot and the Crimson Thread 

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The Mark of the Beast Part I

The Mark of the Beast Part I

There is a lot of chatter about receiving the mark of the beast during the current pandemic. Is it a vaccine, an under the skin microchip, or a tattoo? Speculations about this “mark” have been juicy fodder for apocalyptic literature, whether fiction or nonfiction, for decades, and even centuries. Fear about receiving this damnable mark bolsters countless conspiracies and an endless supply of consumers eager to swallow them. Fear is a very powerful motivator. But, one that serves the Most High is to fear Him alone. Not man. Not circumstances. And, certainly not the mark of the beast.

While one can find numerous books, articles, websites, and YouTube videos about the mark of the beast, little is available about the sign or mark of Adonai. There is such a disparity, that many Believers aren’t even aware that the LORD also gives a sign upon one’s hand and forehead. So, there are millions that focus solely on the counterfeit, having no experience with the real, authentic sign. No wonder there is such confusion! That is the intent of the beast system, spiritual Babylon.

Thus, if one wants to understand the mark of the beast, one must first understand the positive side of the contranym, which is the sign or mark of Adonai. This is a lengthy article, because it contains extensive Biblical quotes. And yet, this mini-series will only scratch the surface of this ancient dichotomy. The enemy is not creative, though he is crafty and cunning. He can only imitate and pervert God’s genuine Word and creation. With that in mind, let’s read about Adonai’s sign upon one’s hand and forehead.

The Passover is a Sign

Ex. 13:4-10 (NASB) On this day in the month of Abib, you are about to go forth.  5  It shall be when the LORD brings you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall observe this rite in this month.  6  For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD.  7  Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders.  8  You shall tell your son on that day, saying, “It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.”  9  And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt.  10  Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.

The sign upon one’s hand and forehead is repeated further down in Exodus 13. The context is still Pesach and Unleavened Bread, but the emphasis in verse 16 is the redemption of the firstborn. In both cases, obedience to celebrating, commemorating, and telling the next generation about YHWH’s mighty works in delivering Israel from the slavery and bondage of Egypt, and His preservation of Israel’s firstborns serves as a SIGN upon one’s hand.

Ex. 13:11-16 (NKJV) And it shall be, when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your fathers, and gives it to you,  12  that you shall set apart to the LORD all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the LORD’s.  13  But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.  14  So it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, “What is this?” that you shall say to him, “By strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  15  And it came to pass, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all males that open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.”  16  It shall be as a sign on your hand and as frontlets between your eyes, for by strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.

 

Defining Hand & Sign

What does the hand signify in Hebraic thought? One acts, performs, or works with their hands. It is a symbol of “doing” something or having the strength to do or act; thus, it can be translated as power. (Dt 32:36, Pr. 18:21, Hos. 13:14, etc.) One’s hand denotes strength to obey, whether that obedience is toward righteousness or wickedness. Whatever one gives their hand to is what (or who) they serve. (Rom. 6:16)

The “sign” in these passages is אות in Hebrew. Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (BDB) defines it as:

H226 BDB Definition: 1) sign, signal. 1a) a distinguishing mark. 1b) banner. 1c) remembrance. 1d) miraculous sign. 1e) omen. 1f) warning. 2) token, ensign, standard, miracle, proof. Part of Speech: noun feminine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: probably from H225 (in the sense of appearing)

The following verses are samples of how the word oht or sign is used in Scripture:

Gen. 1:14 (NASB) Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years…

Gen. 4:15 (NASB) So the LORD said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.

Gen. 9:12-13 (NASB) God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; 13 I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.”

Gen. 17:10-11 (NASB) “This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.  11  And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.”

Ex. 12:11-13 (NASB) “Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the LORD’S Passover. 12 For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”

Dt. 28:45-48 (NASB) So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the LORD your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46 They shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your descendants forever. 47 Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you.

Ps. 78:41-43 (NASB) Again and again they tempted God, and pained the Holy One of Israel. 42 They did not remember His power, the day when He redeemed them from the adversary, 43 when He performed His signs in Egypt And His marvels in the field of Zoan…

Is. 7:14 (NASB) Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Aleph

An oht or sign is physical symbol of something figurative or spiritual. For example, oht is also the Hebrew word for a single “letter” or character, such as aleph. Thus, even the Hebrew letters can contain signs and meaning beyond the physical. In the case of covenants, the sign is a physical mark such as circumcision or a heavenly appearance of something like the rainbow. Keeping Passover is physical sign upon one’s hand, not as something seen with the eyes, but something physically performed with one’s hand. Observing this moed serves as the sign on the hand. It is both physical and spiritual. In other uses, a sign is the physical miracles and/or judgments of Adonai. Again, these signs are both physical and spiritual.

Defining Forehead or Frontlets Between Your Eyes

What do the phrases “reminder on your forehead” and “frontlets between your eyes” from Exodus 13 mean? In the first case, the Hebrew word for reminder is zikron. Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (BDB) defines it as:

H2146 זכרון zikrôn BDB Definition: 1) memorial, reminder, remembrance. Part of Speech: noun masculine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H2142

Zikron comes from the Hebrew root zakar, which Strong’s Definitions defines as:

Strong’s: H2142 זָכַר zâkar A primitive root; properly to mark (so as to be recognized), that is, to remember; by implication to mention; also (as denominative from H2145) to be male: –  X burn [incense], X earnestly, be male, (make) mention (of), be mindful, recount, record (-er), remember, make to be remembered, bring (call, come, keep, put) to (in) remembrance, X still, think on, X well. Total KJV occurrences: 231

The word for forehead in the NASB translation is literally “between your eyes” in the Hebrew of Exodus 13:9. Observing and telling one’s children about the Passover and exodus from Egypt wrought by the Mighty Hand of Adonai is to be a memorial, a mark, and a reminder, between one’s eyes. This phrase and the following one in verse 16, imply undivided attention, thought, intent, and action. The Passover should be right at the forefront of one’s mind, right before one’s “eyes.”

The similar phrase in Exodus 13:16, “frontlets between your eyes,” reveals the same message, but gives one even more information. BDB defines frontlets as:

H2903 טופפה ṭôphâphâh BDB Definition: 1) bands, phylacteries, frontlets, marks. Part of Speech: noun feminine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from an unused root meaning to go around or bind.

This word gives physicality to intangible thought being a mark. The Passover memorial is like a band wrapped around one’s head. Just as Pesach cycles around and around on Adonai’s calendar, it is to circle and cycle through one’s thoughts and mind. One should NEVER forget that: “with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.” This reminder is a standing testimony of the God of Israel.

 

The Word and Commandments of God are a Sign on One’s Hand and Forehead

Dt. 6:4-9 (NASB) Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Dt. 11:18 (NASB) You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.

By reading the entirety of the chapter 6 above, along with chapters 7- 11 of Deuteronomy, one is given clear context of what it means to have the word of Adonai bound to one’s forehead and hand. The flank chapters (6 and 11) declare the exodus from Egypt as the archetype of deliverance and following after the One True God. In fact, if one substitutes the Land of Promise with the New Jerusalem, an even clearer picture emerges, for they are one.

If the Word is bound to one’s forehead, then one’s thoughts and mind are continually immersed and washed by the Words of Life. If the Word of God is bound to one’s hand, then their deeds (fruit) will follow the commandments and they will teach their children to follow suit, because it is understood that God’s Word and His commandments lead to life. They embody true love and wisdom, and engender reverence to the Holy One of Israel.

Both Deuteronomy passages above have the phrase “frontlets between your eyes.” Frontlets is the same Hebrew word explored from Exodus 13:16. It is tofafa. These verses are included in the Scripture passages that are placed inside the tefillin or phylactery boxes wore by religious Jews. Donning Tefillin (Totafot) or Phylacteries is the Jewish physical expression of the binding meaning of tafafa. It serves as a physical reminder of a spiritual reality.

While the topic of wearing tefillin during prayer is far too immense to cover in this article, I recommend this summary written by Alexander Cowen. A study of the history and intricacies of this tradition, the inner compartments, the included Scripture, and the design of the boxes with the three and four pronged shin can be found in The Creation Gospel Workbook 6: Hebrew Prayer and Worship Traditions by Dr. Hollisa Alewine. She states on page 237:

The Talmud indicates in Megillah 24b that by the time of its writing, it was primarily Jewish believers in Yeshua who wore the round phylacteries or decorated them with precious metals, and they wore them “without scruple.” (Bagatti, 1984, p.101)

Wearing phylacteries as a physical sign of the commandments and commemoration of the Passover was practiced among early believers in Yeshua. Though this custom is foreign to most modern Christians, it would have been common among John’s day when he wrote the Book of Revelation. A sign upon one’s hand and forehead held significant meaning that was not lost on his original audience. But before delving into his mystical book, we will examine a few more references of a godly sign in the Bible. The more context one has of the genuine sign or mark of Adonai, the better understanding one will have of what the counterfeit actually represents.

 

Weekly Sabbaths and Festival Sabbaths are a Sign

Ex. 31:12-17 (NASB) The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 13 “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.  14 Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. 15 For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the LORD; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death.  16  So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”

In the above sense, Sabbath is a sign between Adonai and His children. It is like a wedding ring, signifying one that is in covenant with Him. Why the Sabbath? In Genesis chapter one, the Sabbath declares Him the Creator of all things. When one rests in Him by setting the seventh day apart as holy, this is a physical and temporal acknowledgment that He is the King and Creator of the Universe. In this way, it also sets one apart from those that refuse to recognize Him as their true rest and King. One must choose to don this “ring” or symbol of covenant.

Being in covenant with Adonai is often portrayed by the analogy of marriage in the Bible, and in Jewish and Christian tradition. For example, when donning the phylacteries, many Jews recite the following from Hosea.

Hos. 2:19-20 (NASB) “I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, 20 and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.”

In Jewish wedding ceremonies, the bride encircles the groom three times (in some traditions it is seven), to symbolize a wall of protection and the creating of a new creation: the two becoming one flesh. The three “betroths” mentioned above in Hosea are mirrored as she encompasses her man. (Jer. 31:22) Likewise, those that encircle the groom seven times, reflect the seven days of creation culminating with the Shabbat, the sign between Adonai and His people.

Ezekiel also recalls the exodus from Egypt and the Sabbaths as a sign between Adonai and His people. Within his prophetic book, he mentions a mark placed upon the foreheads of those who sigh and moan over the abominations committed in Jerusalem. They are preserved from Adonai’s judgment that will start with His sanctuary.

Ezek. 20:10-12 (NASB) “So I took them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. 11 I gave them My statutes and informed them of My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live. 12 Also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them.”

Ezek. 9:4 (NASB) The LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.”

Like Shabbat, the Passover (and other moedim) declare the wondrous works of Adonai. They proclaim the good news: freedom for the captives. By rehearsing and commemorating His works again and again, one gets to know God as Creator, Redeemer, Deliverer, Savior, Sanctifier, Miracle Worker, Law-giver, Compassionate Father, Righteous Judge, Forgiver of Sins, Husband, and Immanuel. He is the first and the last, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning and the End, the Amen.

As one follows His divine cycles, the cycles encircle them with His water and fire, an immersion that cleans, purifies, guides, teaches, corrects, and leads. Daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly this process of growth and sanctification continues. In this way, the Word is engraved upon the heart, which directs one’s feet in the Way of Life. Yeshua modelled this perfectly in His earthly ministry. If we follow Him, we will follow the same path that He walked (walks).

This is a sign upon one’s hand and one’s forehead that we are His. It reminds of us of who we are and to Whom we belong, like a wedding ring. But, it also is a sign to those outside of the covenant as well. Though they can’t see a physical or literal mark upon one’s hand and forehead, they can see that you are different. They will see the “sign” and know that you belong to God of Israel. What does that wedding ring look like?

Your calendar is not like their calendar. The oht you observe are not the oht they observe. Your celebrations and commemorations are not like their holidays. Your weekly life revolves around the holy Shabbat, not the constant 24/7 striving that the world enslaves the masses to. Your daily focus isn’t on the acquisition of worldly goods and wealth, but on the Kingdom of God. You don’t fear what they fear. You fear Adonai. You enter into rest, the antithesis to the beast system, which will be explored later in this series.

Continued in Part II.

 

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