Biblical Symbols

A Woman Will Encompass (Eclipse) a Man

“Set up for yourself roadmarks, Place for yourself guideposts; Direct your mind to the highway, The way by which you went. Return, O virgin of Israel, Return to these your cities. “How long will you go here and there, O faithless daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth—A woman will encompass a man.” (Jer. 31:21-22 NASB)

 Today, like many other Americans, I watched the moon eclipse the sun in a stunning show of light and darkness. Our special glasses enabled us to watch the sun mimic the moon’s monthly phases in a matter of hours– waxing and waning, or in this case, waning and then waxing.

In the hour leading up to the eclipse as the light decreased upon the land, we all felt strange — like we were in a dream. The air felt different and the temperature began to noticeably drop. There was an otherworldly stillness even in the wind.[1] Since we never experience the sun’s light in this fashion, I can understand why ancient people considered a total solar eclipse to be a bad omen. Creation itself was confused as birds went to roost and crickets began to chirp. Even the fast paced to and fro of traffic stilled as drivers parked to look up.

© Chris Rogers

When the eclipse reached totality, the spectacular imagery felt at once awesome and eerie. There is something at the core of earth beings that senses the “wrongness” of darkness when it should be light. The ethereal beauty that the natural eye absorbs seems contrary to the subliminal implications that this heavenly sign might suggest. The change in the atmosphere occurred on both a physical and spiritual level.

The masses that gathered across the nation to view this stellar event were in one accord – all looking up. I wonder how many heard the wordless speech of the heavens?

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat. (Ps. 19:1-6 NKJV)

David compares the sun to a bridegroom coming out joyful and strong from his wedding canopy. Nothing is hid from his/its heat. Today, the heat was abated for a short while by the moon. In Joseph’s dream of the sun, moon, and stars, his mother Rachel is figured as the moon.[2] We could say that Rachel eclipsed Jacob or a woman encompassed a man. In this way, the moon is a picture of the bride. In Psalm 19, David continues by comparing the glory of the heavenly bodies to the Torah. Hopefully, we are ones that have His Law written on our hearts.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer. (Ps. 19:7-17 NKJV)

I pray that all the many faces that turned upward to view God’s glorious handiwork will learn to detect their errors and their hidden faults as David mentioned. Only the perfect law of liberty can reveal such things. The eternal Gospel is always being proclaimed.[3] The Torah is a Light.[4] That flaming ball of fire in the sky has a message, perhaps more than one if you’re listening. Today, it’s brightness was decreased enough that one could look up and see what is normally hidden. What did you see?

Was it a warning or a marker? Yes, but I won’t take my speculations past David’s remarks. The heavens declare the glory of God. I certainly saw and felt it today. I even considered that the awesomeness was only an inkling of what was experienced at the Revelation at Mt. Sinai or the darkened sky at Messiah’s last breath or the one accord outpouring of the Ruach Hakodesh in Acts 2 on Shavuot or what will be on the Day of the LORD. There is one thing we can and should all agree on – Abba is always pleading with us to RETURN. Repent. Do the works from the first.

“Set up for yourself roadmarks, Place for yourself guideposts; Direct your mind to the highway, The way by which you went. Return, O virgin of Israel, Return to these your cities. “How long will you go here and there, O faithless daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth—A woman will encompass a man.” (Jer. 31:21-22 NASB)

The sky today was a road mark and a guidepost for those within its viewing range. Jeremiah 31 is a prophecy about the return of the exiles, the restoration of our captivity. We go back the same way we went out. Return to me says Abba, and He will show you a woman encompassing a man!

The renewed thing (chadash) or a woman encompassing a man is bridal, covenantal language. The woman encircles her groom seven times in the fullness of the Holy Spirit[5] to create a new House and to tear down any walls (like Jericho) that may remain between them. The woman surrounds the man with (spiritual) protection as the gatekeeper of their home.

© Chris Rogers

Like the moon, she is rarely the visible one in their union (echad), but there is one day that she is the star for all to see — her wedding day! Though it’s a modern custom in the U.S., I couldn’t help but to be googly eyed at the grandeur of the “diamond ring” effect of the eclipse as all the figurative meanings of the sun and moon as man and woman played in the back of my mind.

Abba desires a chaste bride, and what an adornment He has for her! So rather than doom and gloom, I’d like you to consider LIFE – abundant LIFE tonight as we embark on the new moon (month) of Elul after a stunning display in the heavens. Ani l’dodi v’dodi li. I am to my beloved and He is to me.[6] The Bridegroom and His bride. That’s what I saw in the sky today.

Though the Season of Teshuvah (repentance, return) starts tonight, it is not all weeping and wailing. YHWH told Rachel in the same Jeremiah passage:

Thus says the LORD, “Restrain your voice from weeping And your eyes from tears; For your work will be rewarded,” declares the LORD, “And they will return from the land of the enemy. “There is hope for your future,” declares the LORD, “And your children will return to their own territory. (Jer. 31:16-17)

There is a hope for your future. Though we return weeping, carrying our bag of seed, we WILL shout for joy as we bring in sheaves.[7] Our tears for family, friends, and the nations have a purpose. Like the Shekinah and Rachel, we cry for the destruction of the House and the many many children that Abba longs to come “home.” He’s always waiting, always calling. Not one is beyond His reach. He labors greatly for each and every one of them.

In the eclipse today, I saw wonder, beauty, and a future. At its zenith, I looked at my husband and said, “A woman just encompassed a man and everyone was watching.” The moon is the light in the sky for those in darkness. As she made her way between the sun and earth today, many were confused and bewildered. I saw a glorious union, the House or tent of the two made into one flesh, a glimpse of what is to come. The daughter of Laban (levanah – moon), the moon to Jacob’s sun, was seen and heard today. Can you hear her calling? Do you listen to her cries? She’s pleading for you to come home. The reunion will be glorious. The whole world will stand still and look up. May we eclipse to reveal, not to conceal.

As you blow the shofar throughout Elul, sounding the alarm, remember that even in the midst of judgment the heart of YHWH is always on reconciliation. He is gracious and compassionate. Are we? He is slow to anger. Are you? He abounds in lovingkindness and is relenting of evil. Are His people? (Darkness, gloom, the sun and moon turning to darkness, the Bridegroom and the Bride, blowing the shofar… it’s all in Joel 2. Consider reading it this Elul.)

Don’t proclaim judgment and doom and gloom without also shouting for joy about forgiveness, love, grace, and compassion. The world needs a sign from the moon. As the reflector’s of Abba’s glorious Light and the stars/seeds of Abraham, we are the only light that a dark world can see. Are we occulting His Light or are we inviting them to the feast (wedding supper)?[8] Rachel refuses to be comforted. She pleads for each one. It is the season. Send out the invitations. The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”

 


[1] “Solar eclipses don’t just turn the lights out – they also make the wind slow down and change direction.” —  http://earthsky.org/earth/solar-eclipses-have-an-effect-on-wind

[2] You could argue that the moon was Leah since she was alive and Rachel was dead at this point, but later it is Rachel that is portrayed as weeping for her children in Jeremiah 31. Besides, both were brides of Jacob and could signify the same thing in this article.

[3] And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.” (Rev. 14:6-7)

[4] Is. 8:20

[5] The seven Spirits of God (Is. 11:2) are reflected even in the time duration of a total solar eclipse, with the maximum length being 7.5 minutes!  https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/how-long-does-longest-possible-total-solar-eclipse-last

[6] Elul is said to be an acronym of this phrase from Song of Songs 6:3.

[7] Psalm 126

[8] Occult in its verb form means to hide, conceal, cover over. It is synonymous with eclipse. One of the astronomical words for an eclipse is an occultation.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim, new moon, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Clouds of Glory

Where I live, it’s cloudy and rainy today. The heavens are literally weeping water down to the earth bringing nourishment to parched life. Not coincidentally, I’m preparing for a Bible study tonight — the water of the Word. The natural clouds have a spiritual truth to teach. Below, I simply did a concordance search on cloud and clouds and then placed similar themes together. This is far from exhaustive, but if you put your figurative and spiritual thinking cap on,  you’ll gain a new appreciation for the clouds and the upcoming fall feast days. (This is also helpful for dream symbolism!)

Have these questions in mind:

  1. Clouds have both a positive and negative connotation. In the natural, they also can appear as white or dark grey. What do we learn from these opposites?
  2. What creatures fly in the clouds? What day were they created? Which moed are they associated with (fifth feast/fifth day, Is. 60:8)?
  3. How can the idea of clouds being covering denote both righteousness and wickedness?
  4. Who are the great cloud of witnesses?
  5. Which feast day or days are associated with clouds? With water?
  6. What fills the House of Adonai?
  7. What is Adonai’s army compared to in Joel 2?
  8. When rain (from clouds) is withheld, what is the result? (Consider Zec. 14:16-19.)

 

H6051 עָנָן ‛ânân aw-nawn’ From H6049; a cloud (as covering the sky), that is, the nimbus or thunder cloud: – cloud (-y). Total KJV occurrences: 87

H6049 עָנַן ‛ânan aw-nan’ A primitive root; to cover; used only as denominative from H6051, to cloud over; figuratively to act covertly, that is, practise magic: –    X bring, enchanter, Meonemin, observe (-r of) times, soothsayer, sorcerer. Total KJV occurrences: 11

 

Covenant in the Cloud

I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. “It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.

 

Pillar of Cloud & Fire

Exo 13:21  The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.

Isa 4:3-6  It will come about that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem. When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, then the LORD will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.

 

Sinai/Mountain

Exo 19:16  So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.

Exo 24:15-16  Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud.

 

Tabernacle/House

Exo 33:9  Whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the LORD would speak with Moses.

Lev 16:2  The LORD said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.

Num 9:15  Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning.

1Ki 8:10-12  It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.Then Solomon said, “The LORD has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud.

Mat 17:5  While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”

 

Great Cloud of Witnesses

Heb 12:1  Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Eze 1:4-5  As I looked, behold, a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire. Within it there were figures resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they had human form.

Joe 2:2  A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations.

1Co 10:1-2  For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

1Th 4:17  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

1Ki 18:44  It came about at the seventh time, that he said, “Behold, a cloud as small as a man’s hand is coming up from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, so that the heavy shower does not stop you.’”

Rev 11:12  And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them.

Nah 1:3  The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, And clouds are the dust beneath His feet.

Day of the LORD

Eze 30:3  “For the day is near, Even the day of the LORD is near; It will be a day of clouds, A time of doom for the nations.

Zep 1:15-16  A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and battle cry Against the fortified cities And the high corner towers.

 

Coming with Clouds

Exo 19:9  The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever.” Then Moses told the words of the people to the LORD.

Dan 7:13  “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him.

Mar 14:62  And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”

Rev 1:7  BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.

Waterless Clouds

Jud 1:12  These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;

Pro 25:14  Like clouds and wind without rain Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.

Isa 14:14  ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’

 

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Creation Gospel, Moedim | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Jezebel No One Talks About

There are countless teachings that suggest that Jezebel is a controlling spirit, and can manifest in a man or woman. Like ancient Jezebel, there is an “Ahab” type of person that enables this spirit to thrive in a congregation as she wreaks havoc among the members, destroying foundations and relationships. My intention isn’t to uproot this insight, but to sharpen the focus using Yeshua’s message to the fourth church/congregation in Revelation, Thyatira.[1]

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: ‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. (Rev. 2:18-19)

Yeshua stands as the One in the midst of the menorah,[2] and like this figurative picture of golden light, His eyes are a flame of fire and His feet like brilliant burnished bronze. He is the Light in the Temple of YHWH and the world.[3] The fourth branch is the very center of the menorah and the source pipe for the remaining 6 branches. It is the shamash or Servant candle. He addresses the fourth church as the central fourth branch of the menorah. All authority has been given to Him.[4]

Thyatira had been growing in deeds or works. They are commended for their love, faith, and perseverance. But there is an issue that our heavenly governor wants them to deal with, the woman Jezebel.

‘But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. ‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. ‘Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. ‘And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. (Rev 2:20-23)

Whether Jezebel was a real woman that this early church dealt with or whether she is a figurative picture is not the point of this post. I happen to believe both are likely true, but the message is the same either way. The Book of Revelation portrays two women, much like the Book of Proverbs. One is essentially a harlot and the other is a righteous (virtuous woman). These women simultaneously figure the wicked anti-Christ spirit and the Holy Spirit, and a wicked congregation (Body/House/Temple) and the righteous congregation (Body/House/Temple).

I will use Jezebel and the harlot interchangeably in this post as they have the same characteristics and depict the same theme. Ancient Jezebel was NOT a follower of the God of Israel. Thus, any teaching she is delivering to Messiah’s Body cannot be based in Torah. It is worldly and foreign, and likely rooted in the worship of false gods.

Jezebel calls herself a prophetess. She claims to have the spirit of prophecy, but Revelation says that the testimony of Yeshua is the real spirit of prophecy. (Rev. 19:10) Jezebel’s smooth words teach and lead “My bond-servants” astray. The people she is affecting (or infecting) are not just pew warmers. They are bondservants! These folks have a true relationship with Yeshua. And yet, they have become enticed by this message of the harlot. How can this happen?

How can a true follower of the Messiah be convinced to “commit acts of immorality” and “eat things sacrificed to idols?” It seems ludicrous, but I submit to you that it’s happening right under our noses, even in Torah communities. Jezebel isn’t as much about control as she is about perversion.

Everything the harlot appeals to is carnal, fleshly. We are all human and live in carnal bodies. We have flesh to contend with every day. Failing to put our pound of flesh on the holy altar to be consumed by the holy fire will result in some nagging nephesh issues. (I have my own daily battle!) What does flesh love most? Pleasure. Even eating a cupcake can be highly pleasurable (and no, cupcakes are not evil, just don’t eat five or one with every meal).

There are two primary pleasure centers that are exceptionally intimate. Food and sex. Jezebel is teaching an anti-Torah message on both fronts and has gained ground even among Yeshua’s bondservants.

  1. Acts of Immorality (fornication)
  2. Eating Food Sacrificed to Idols

What are acts of immorality? How does the Torah define this? The Greek word porneuo is often translated as immorality or fornication;[5] this is where the English word pornography originates.

Modern culture does not have the authority or right to define the parameters for lawful and unlawful sexual partners, nor can society define which creatures should be on one’s plate. Only the Word of YHWH can make such distinctions.

Leviticus 11, 18, 19, and 20 are a great place to start. In these chapters, we learn how unlawful sexual partners and eating certain creatures are described as detestable, wickedness, abominations, profane, etc. It is within this context that YHWH says, “you shall be holy, for I am holy.”[6]

Jezebel teaches Yeshua’s bondservants that partaking in the intimate acts of eating such things and having depraved sexual encounters aren’t really against God. “Did God really say?” She appeals to one’s pleasure centers and seduces true disciples from the simplicity of Adonai’s Word.

Perhaps she divides the Word into “dispensations” or “covenants”, making none of Leviticus applicable to Yeshua’s followers. Suddenly, adultery, homosexuality, incest, unlawful marital unions, pedophilia, gender confusion, and bestiality are no longer abominations, but the new progressive ideals of evolved Christians. Can any of these activities be found in the assemblies?

How does food dovetail into Jezebel’s message of sexual immorality? What does it mean to “eat things sacrificed to idols?” The vast majority of those that follow Yeshua assume that just because they aren’t literally offering and eating sacrifices to a foreign god that they aren’t participating in this depravity. Eating is as intimate as having sex. In Jewish writings, the altar is often called the Shulchan, or Table of Hashem. In the natural, consuming food sustains one’s health and keeps one alive. Eating spiritually then, provides one with the same benefits. It satiates, sustains, and gives (spiritual) life.

Food is not just physical, but also spiritual. “Man shall not live by bread alone.”[7] This is why we are told to “eat” Messiah’s Body and drink His blood. The symbol is partaking of God’s Table, His sacrifice, because it is LIFE. If YHWH has a “table”, then the enemy has a counterfeit. In fact, we are told that Jezebel indeed has her own shulchan:

When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is this you, you troubler of Israel?” He said, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and you have followed the Baals. “Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” (1 Kings 18:17-19)

Again, in this passage, the number four (450 and 400) is linked with Jezebel. Four is associated with government, authority, and fullness. Elijah was challenging the authority of Baal and Asherah. While Jezebel and her false prophets frightened Elijah, he knew that he served the only true God of heaven and earth. The Jezebels and false prophets of today are also striking fear in the hearts of this Elijah generation. Messiah later tells Thyatira to “hold fast” to what we have. This is His Word and our testimony of Him. This is how one overcomes Jezebel.

Consequently, those that continue to “eat” at Jezebel’s table will suffer unless they repent. The result is sickness and death. Jezebel’s “food” is poison.

‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. ‘Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. ‘And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. (Rev. 2:21-23)

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that certain creatures were never deemed by YHWH to be food in the first place. Pigs, rabbits, frogs, shellfish, and the like (Lev. 11) were never offered on the Holy Altar. Offering them would defile the altar. If our bodies are a form of the Temple of Adonai, should these creatures cross our “holy” lips?

‘You are therefore to make a distinction between the clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean bird and the clean; and you shall not make yourselves detestable by animal or by bird or by anything that creeps on the ground, which I have separated for you as unclean. ‘Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine. (Lev. 20:25-26)

Peter reiterates this:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)

Followers of Yeshua should make a distinction between their former lusts, desires, and appetites and the loving instructions of YHWH (the Torah). Though we will still contend with fleshly desires, we must allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide our daily walk. Who you have sex with and what you consume with your mouth is deeply intertwined with the god that you serve. If we claim to be bondservants of Yeshua, then we must NOT tolerate Jezebel’s licentious doctrine. We mustn’t turn a blind eye to this type of immoral depravity. And, we certainly shouldn’t look for ways to twist the Word of YHWH to suite the desires of carnal flesh!

Yeshua relates these moral failings to knowing “the deep things of satan.” It’s important to remember that satan means adversary. Uncontrolled desires of the flesh are indeed a great enemy.

‘But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you. ‘Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. ‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS; AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Rev. 2:24-29)

As the fourth church in Revelation, Thyatira stands in an authoritative position, one of governing (based on day four of creation). Considering this, Jezebel is the antithesis to the righteous or virtuous woman (bride). She is a false sun, moon, and stars. Her light is really darkness.[8] Jezebel doesn’t “give”, she takes as a thief would.

Her intimacy appeals to the carnal nature and pleasure. She is far more concerned about what feels good and right than true righteousness. Truth is relative to one’s personal appetites and desires which is contrary to the Word of YHWH.

Today, there is no lack of those that want to “be true to themselves”, “speak their truth”, “live their truth”, and “be free to be me.” After all, they were “born this way.” They want the whole world to bow down and tolerate the desires of their carnal flesh, feelings, and emotions. They want us to swallow this offering to an idol of their own making. Their lascivious rants have already infected millions in the Church.

Like Jezebel of old, those that speak against her agenda are viciously attacked and demonized. Thyatira was tolerant of Jezebel’s venomous message. I have to wonder: Are we? Has the Torah community become the proverbial Ahab that empowers Jezebel to operate? Are we being seduced by the words of a harlot? Are we turning a blind eye to sexual sin and adultery? If so, may we REPENT!

 


 

[1] This article is written within The Creation Gospel’s model of interpretation. Many of my conclusions are based upon the insight gleaned by studying the creation foundation for numbers, the 7 Spirits Adonai, and the 7 wicked spirits that counterfeit the former. (Is. 11:2, Pr. 6:16-19, Luke 11:35)

[2] Rev. 1:12-13

[3] John 9:5; 12:46, 1 John 1:5, Rev. 21:23-24

[4] Col. 2:9-10

[5] Strong’s G4203 πορνεύω porneuō From G4204; to act the harlot, that is, (literally) indulge unlawful lust (of either sex), or (figuratively) practise idolatry: – commit (fornication).

[6] Lev. 11:45; 20:25-26

[7] Dt. 8:3, Mt. 4:4

[8] Luke 11:35

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Messianic Issues | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Tu B’Shevat

tree15th of Shevat (eleventh month)

February 11th, 2017 (begins at sundown on the 10th)

Rosh HaShannah La’ilanot

As of late, I’ve been reading a very interesting book called, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. While this isn’t a spiritual book, I cannot help but notice once again how the natural things teach spiritual truths. In the book, Mr. Wohlleben explains the marvelous activities of trees in life, death, and regeneration. Trees (in forests) live, communicate, support, and tend to one another. They detect and warn others of parasites and insects that cause harm, and can even release toxins to kill such threats. Deep in the soil, their roots work with fungi, creating a biological internet to communicate and share vital nutrients with sick trees and even the stumps of fallen family members, keeping them alive. However, trees can also shun other trees, robbing them of nutrients and sunlight. They tend to share only with those that are direct family members.

Interestingly, humans could not survive on earth without trees. They produce most of the oxygen that people and animals breathe. There would be no rain without trees, since trees absorb water from the soil and release it through evapotranspiration back into the air in the form of clouds. Forests are earth’s air filters, without which, we’d all die from pollutants. Trees prevent topsoil erosion, break the force of wind and rain, and their decaying leaves enrich the soil for other trees and plants.

In the Bible, trees (etz) were created on the third day, linking them with the Spirit of Counsel (Etzah), the Feast of early Firstfruits, and resurrection. The Biblical imagery of trees and their direct comparison to people is astounding. In fact, the only person that required a second touch from Yeshua for healing exclaimed, I see men like trees, walking.” (Mark 8:24 NKJV) Yeshua actually spit in this blind man’s eyes. I am of the opinion that Yeshua’s saliva “over-healed” this man, if you will, and he saw too well (spiritual), requiring an additional touch (a tamping down) to see as a man.

People have trunks and limbs. They grow roots, have seeds, and produce fruit. Trees and people feel pain and bleed when wounded. Both breathe and sway (move) when the wind (ruach) blows upon them. The growth of trees and people are deeply affected by the type of soil, the volume of water, and the amount of sunlight that they receive. Even the House (Temple) of YHWH is built with both trees and people. (2 Chron. 2, 1 Cor. 6:19) Thus, it is no wonder that the Scriptures abound with analogies, metaphors, similes, and puns that compare mankind to the majestic trees of the field.

In this post, I hope to illuminate the surprising connections between the month of Shevat, trees (seed to fruit), Messiah, resurrection, water, and Torah. My hope is that you will be inspired to explore Judaism’s traditional New Year for Trees with fresh eyes, like the healed blind man. Tu B’Shevat or Shevat 15th is not mentioned in the Torah. However, it is mentioned in the Mishnah, where it is called the New Year for Trees.[1] Why in the world do trees need a new year and what benefit is this for a follower of Messiah?

First, it is helpful to understand the four different Rosh Hashanim[2] or New Years celebrated in Judaism. They are the following:

  • Nisan 1st is Rosh Hashanah for the festival or feast day calendar. (Ex. 12:2) It is also Rosh Hashanah for calculating the years of the reign of the Kings of Israel. No matter when a king was crowned, his first year ended and his second year began on that day. Thus, if a king was anointed in the month of Adar, the following month of Nissan would be the beginning of the second year of his reign.
  • Elul 1st is Rosh Hashanah for the tithing of animals. A farmer is obligated to tithe his livestock, consecrating every tenth animal. But all ten animals counted must be born in the same year. The 1st of Elul became the mark to separate the year for tithing cattle.
  • Tishrei 1st is Rosh Hashanah for years, for Sabbatical years and Jubilees, and for the judgment of mankind. It is also Rosh Hashanah for the calculation of orlah (the first three years of a fruit tree when its produce may not be eaten[3]), and for the tithes separated from grains and vegetables.
  • Shevat 15th or Tu b’Shevat is Rosh Hashanah for trees. The sages designated the fifteenth of Shevat as the boundary between one year and another regarding fruit trees for tithing fruit. All fruits which blossom before Shevat 15 are a product of the rains of the previous year, and are tithed together with the crops of the previous year. Fruits that grow after this date are produce of the new year. Like Elul 1st and the new year for cattle, this demarcation was instituted so one could tithe without confusion.

dsc_0687Below, we will briefly examine the following relationships:

  • The Early and Latter Rains (Water and Torah)
  • Pesach and Sukkot (Trees, People, and Torah)
  • Celebrating Tu B’Shevat (Seder: Wine, Seeds, & Fruit)

 

Early and Latter Rains

The roots for Tu B’Shevat are found four months prior when Sukkot is celebrated. One of the major themes for the Feast of Tabernacles is water, especially in the form of rain. Prayers are offered up for rains in their season, which is a direct reference to the early rains in Israel.

“It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain (matar) for your land in its season, the early (yoreh) and late rain (malqosh), that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. (Dt. 11:13-14)

Rain in season is essential for trees that will bloom in spring. Thus, the prayers and water ceremonies from Sukkot look forward to the future feast and harvest cycles of the coming festival New Year of Nisan. The timing of the early and latter rains in Israel can be confusing to a westerner. We tend to associate the early part of the year with January or spring, but in Hebraic thought the civil year begins in the fall with the 1st of Tishrei. Thus, when the Bible speaks of the early rains, it is implying the time just after Sukkot in the fall. The latter rains fall near Pesach (Passover).

So rejoice, O sons of Zion, And be glad in the LORD your God; For He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, The early and latter rain as before. (Joel 2:23 NASB) 

In Hebrew, the word for “early rain” in the underlined phrase above is moreh (H4175). This is also the word for TEACHER. The actual word for early rain is yoreh as used in Deuteronomy above. However, Joel chose to use one of its cognates, moreh, to ensure that we didn’t miss his connection between rain and teaching. They both share the Hebrew root yarah, meaning to cast or throw (like an arrow). This is also the root word for Torah!

The Torah of Adonai is like an arrow being shot to its target. It delivers precise information from teacher to student. It is also like the gentle rains that fall from heaven to soften up the soil (hearts) to receive His Seed.

“Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As the droplets on the fresh grass And as the showers on the herb. (Dt. 32:2)

The NASB of Joel 2:23 states that YHWH gives the Teacher or early rains for our vindication, but the Hebrew texts actually says it is for our tzedakah or righteousness. Perhaps Young’s Literal Translation of this verse will put this into perspective:

And ye sons of Zion, joy and rejoice, In Jehovah your God, For He hath given to you the Teacher for righteousness, And causeth to come down to you a shower, Sprinkling and gathered—in the beginning. (Joel 2:23 YLT)

Very simply, the early rains are associated with the Teacher of Righteousness and His Word, the Torah. Why? Because the Word is a Seed and seeds require rain or water to sprout and grow and eventually produce fruit that has more of the same seed within it. The early rains (Torah) also soften the hard earth after a long, hot summer, allowing seeds to be planted in favorable soil.

Tu B’Shevat occurs between the early and latter rains. At this point, sap begins to rise through the veins of trees, pricking them to awaken from their winter sleep. This mirrors resurrection, new life, and renewal. Dormant seeds know that the time to spring from their earthly graves is near. Thus, the month of Shevat, the time between Sukkot and Pesach, is pregnant with the energy of new life. In fact, the sages teach that on the 15th of Shevat, a unique wave of Divine energy flows through all of creation as a forerunner to restoration and rebirth (in spring).

dsc_0773It was on the first day of the Hebrew month of Shevat that Moses recited the book of Deuteronomy to the people of Israel. Once again, this links Shevat with receiving the Seed and the Rain, YHWH’s divine instructions:

These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel and Laban and Hazeroth and Dizahab. It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea. In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the children of Israel, according to all that the LORD had commanded him to give to them. (Dt. 1”1-3)

Sukkot and Pesach

The Teacher of Righteousness (Messiah) was given to Israel in the season of the early rains, as He was born during Sukkot. He was also the Living Waters and the Lamb needed at Passover in the spring when the latter rains saturate Israel. If this still seems a little backwards to you, consider that time is a cycle or circle in Hebraic thought and that Passover and Sukkot mirror one another.

For example, Pesach and Sukkot are exactly six months apart and like Tu B’Shevat they always occur on the 15th of their respective month. This means that all three dates occur on the full moon when there is the most physical and spiritual light in the darkness. Both Passover and Sukkot commemorate the exodus from Egypt, slavery, and bondage. Moreover, they are the only two festivals that the Torah specifically calls a chag rather than a moed in Leviticus 23. The Hebrew word chag means to make a cycle or circle with your feet.[4]

lulavOne of the most astounding links between Tu B’Shevat and Sukkot are the commanded four species that are waved during the festival.

On the first day you are to take choice fruit of trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and rejoice before Adonai your God for seven days. (Lev. 23:40 TLV) 

Have you ever wondered why trees are used to commemorate the Israelite’s trek through the desert? We know that their diet consisted of manna from Heaven and water from a Rock. Could it be that the trees (Lulav and Etrog) that are waved at Sukkot represent the people? The Torah asks us a rather odd question in Deuteronomy 20:19, “Is the tree of the field a man?” While the context deals with war and is meant to define which trees can be cut down as tools to besiege a city, the association with men and trees are found elsewhere. Consider these verses:

But I—I am like an olive tree flourishing in the House of God. I trust in God’s lovingkindness forever and ever. (Ps. 52:10 TLV) 

 The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green. (Ps. 92:12-14 NASB)

“They will not build and another inhabit, They will not plant and another eat; For as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people, And My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands. (Is. 65:22)

Does Sukkot’s mirror, Passover, have any associations with trees? Yes! The people were to take hyssop branches to apply the blood of the lamb upon their doorposts and lintels. (Ex.12:22) Many centuries later, on another Passover, Yeshua was crucified on a tree. When death was nearly upon him, he said, “I thirst.” They took a hyssop branch with a sponge on the end of it and soaked it in vinegar and myrrh. They lifted it up to his mouth, but Yeshua refused it. (Mt. 27:34, Mark 15:23, John 19:29) The hyssop tree is also mentioned along with the Torah, water, people and the blood of the covenant:

For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “THIS IS THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT WHICH GOD COMMANDED YOU.” (Heb. 9:19-20)

Trees are intrinsic to both the beginning and the end. In Genesis, we see both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In Revelation, Trees of Life line the banks of the River of Life. In Proverbs 3, the Spirit of Wisdom is a Tree of Life to those that cling to her. In Jewish tradition, the large spindles that carry Torah scrolls are called Trees of Life and the many sections of parchment are called its leaves.

The holy seven-branched menorah is also a Tree of Life, and is modeled after the almond tree. Interestingly, almond trees are the first trees to “wake-up” and bloom in Israel. The imagery of light, oil, buds, blossoms, and, eyes all add to the heavenly pattern of the menorah/tree being a symbol of resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the Hebrew word for tree, etz, is the same word for counsel, etzah. Thus, we find wise counselors like Abraham and Deborah near trees.

dsc_0701Messiah compares our ability to understand and discern His truth with four different types of soil receiving Seed[5], which are amazingly similar to the four-species waved at Sukkot. According to Yeshua, it is entirely possible to hear and see and not understand. Understanding is another Spirit of G-d, Binah.

Our good works and outward treatment of others is likened to fruit. Since we cannot possibly know the heart of another person, Yeshua reminds us that a tree is known by its fruit, for it reveals the seed from which it sprouted. (Mt. 12:33-37) YHWH even gave specific instructions for fruit trees in the Torah:

‘When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised. Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten. But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the LORD. And in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, that it may yield to you its increase: I am the LORD your God. (Lev. 19:23-25 NKJV)

Thus, discernment is key. For even if the fruit we see and taste came from good seed, it can still be uncircumcised and unfit for consumption in its sour immaturity. People are inherently connected with seeds, trees, and fruit. Hopefully, the tree we choose to partake of is the Tree of Life and not the one that simply makes one wise with the knowledge of good and evil. We must choose life.

The counterfeit tree is deceitful and its fruit enticing. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of himself and his kingdom that YHWH equated to a mighty tree. (Dan. 4:10-16) Moreover, the wicked are planted in the earth like tree:

I have seen a wicked, violent man Spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. (Ps. 37:35)

Israel is to be like the precious fruit trees that grow from the Seed of the Torah (Messiah) into a flourishing plant that gives sustenance and shade to others. Birds, like the sweet dove of the Holy Spirit, will nest in such branches. (Mt. 13:31-32) Notice the imagery and links between counsel, Torah, water, trees, leaves, and fruit that the psalmist uses in Psalm 1:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1)

In Romans 11, the Jewish people are called the holy, natural branches of an olive tree. Those of the nations are grafted into this tree and receive the same rich sap from its Root. Paul warns the grafted-in wild branches to not become arrogant against the natural branches, but rather to FEAR. Judah indeed holds a scepter of authority over the House of YHWH.[6] Not coincidently, the Hebrew word for scepter is shevet, the very name of this month (Shevat)![7] It also means a scion (graft), branch, rod, shepherd’s staff, and even a tribe.

In modern times, Jews have been planting trees in the land of Israel to honor righteous Gentiles such as Oscar Schindler and Corrie ten Boom, who helped save Jewish lives during the Holocaust.[8] These trees are planted in Jerusalem at the Holocaust museum in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem.

As you can see, the connections with people and trees are many. I have only briefly explored this concept. If nothing else, I hope you are inspired to research trees in Scripture during this season of transition. I pray that you bloom in the rich soil in which Adonai has planted you and that you continue to draw life giving nutrients from our Root, Yeshua.

Trees

By Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see 
 A poem lovely as a tree. 
 A tree whose hungry mouth is prest 
 Against the earth's sweet flowing breast; 
 A tree that looks at God all day, 
 And lifts her leafy arms to pray; 
 A tree that may in summer wear 
 A nest of robins in her hair; 
 Upon whose bosom snow has lain; 
 Who intimately lives with rain. 
 Poems are made by fools like me, 
 But only God can make a tree.

 

Celebrating Tu B’Shevat

4-speciesHow can we make Tu B’Shevat meaningful? Consider some of the following activities:

  • Plant a tree! Or start some seeds for the spring.
  • Give the gift of fruit (or money) to the needy. Or volunteer to help feed or nurture them.
  • Study trees, tithing and/or the seven species of Israel in the Bible (Dt. 8:8)
  • Prepare a meal that includes various seeds, leaves, and fruit. Discuss with your family.
  • Take a walk or hike through forested land and thank the Creator for the mighty trees.
  • Recite Psalm 104.[9] Or the Psalms of Accent (120-134).
  • Host a Tu B’Shevat Seder. (Explained below.)

Intriguingly, the rabbis have developed a seder, complete with haggadah, to lead the family through the new year for trees, further linking Tu B’Shevat to Passover. Like the Passover haggadah, there many versions to choose from. A basic outline is as follows:

The service often begins by singing Psalm 133 or the “Hinei Ma Tov”. This song recalls our familial connections to Israel’s family TREE. During the ceremony, each participant will drink 4 cups of wine (or juice), starting with white wine, mixing increasing amounts of red wine with white, ending with a glass of red wine. YHWH is blessed before each cup by reciting Kiddush. These four cups symbolize the cycle of life in four seasons:

  • Pure White —represents the winter and the (seeming) void of life. It also symbolizes Day One of creation when divine light is separated from darkness.
  • Pale Pink (white with a few drops of red) —represents the approach of spring, and the splash of red signifies the emergence of color. It also symbolizes Day Two of creation when the earthly (red) and heavenly (white/fire) waters are separated from one another.
  • Dark Pink (a mixture of white and red) —represents the progression of spring. The ground has warmed to allow the seeds to take root, and the plants have started to grow. It also symbolizes Day Three when the waters (white) are gathered and dry land (red) appears with the life of seeds, trees, and fruit.
  • Pure Red —represents the arrival of summer. The trees are in full bloom and filled with fruit, ready for harvest. It also symbolizes Day Four when the sun, moon, and stars were given to govern our clocks and calendars to worship the King in proper seasons (moedim).

In between the cups of wine, participants eat a total of fifteen (or seven) types of nuts and fruits from three categories: fruits/nuts with shells, fruits with pits, and fruits edible inside and out. (Recall the Lulav and Etrog and the Parable of the Sower.) Each type of fruit represents a type of person and is intended to stimulate discussion around the table. The fourth element or fruit is spiritual and is not eaten. To represent the spiritual fourth fruit (Holy Spirit), the fragrance from cloves, cinnamon, rosemary or any other pleasant spice is inhaled by the participants. The entire seder is meant to increase awareness of Tu B’Shevat through nature, prayer, song, story, and dialogue.

The following links may be helpful in creating a meaningful Tu B’Shevat Seder.[10]

My jewish Learning

The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)

“My beloved responded and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along. ‘For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. ‘The flowers have already appeared in the land; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. ‘The fig tree has ripened its figs, And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along!'” (SOS 2:10-13 NASB)


[1] Rosh HaShana 2a: Chapter I, Mishnah. “There are four new years. On the first of Nissan is new year for kings and for festivals. On the first of Elul is new year for the tithe of cattle. R. Eleazar and R. Simeon, however, place this on the first of Tishri. On the first of Tishri is new year for years, for release and Jubilee years, for plantation and for [tithe of] vegetables. On the first of Shevat is new year for trees, according to the ruling of Beth Shammai; Beth Hillel, however, place it on the fifteenth of that month.”

[2] Shanah, the Hebrew word for year, is a feminine noun. It is one of the “rule breakers” in Hebrew grammar. In the plural, shanah takes the masculine ‘im ending rather than the usual feminine ‘ot.

[3] Lev. 19:23-25

[4] We use our feet to make cyclical pilgrimages to the mountain of YHWH in Jerusalem, hence they are called “foot-festivals.” Chag is also related to the circle dancing or whirling of worship.

[5] And He *said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? (Mark 4:13 NASB)

[6] Gen 49:10  “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

[7] H7626 שֵׁבֶט  shêveṭ  From an unused root probably meaning to branch off; a scion, that is, (literally) a stick (for punishing, writing, fighting, ruling, walking, etc.) or (figuratively) a clan: –  X correction, dart, rod, sceptre, staff, tribe.

[8] Moody, Valerie. The Feasts of Adonai: Why Christians Should Look at the Biblical Feasts. Lubbock, TX: Gibbora Productions, 2009. Print. p.143

[9] Psalm 104 is traditionally read on Rosh Chodesh (the new moon), but it’s filled with all the rich imagery we just explored.

[10] Linking to these sites does not suggest that I agree with all their content.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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