Biblical Symbols

Shabbat Shirah

Ps. 145:21 (NASB) My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.

In this week’s Torah portion, Beshalach[1], we read the Song at the Sea; and in the haftarah, the Song of Deborah. Because of this, Jewish tradition dubs this Shabbat: Shabbat Shirah, or the “Sabbath of Song.” In each of these songs, YHWH is highly exalted as Israel’s deliverer. The enemy has been defeated, and we rejoice!

Beshalach always coincides with Tu B’Shevat (Shevat 15th), or the New Year for Trees. There is an interesting connection between the splitting of the Reed Sea and trees, found here. As the sap begins to rise in the trees so that they blossom and bud with new life, the birds that nest in their branches begin their migrations. Up to 500 million part the sky as they fill Israel’s air space twice a year, with the spring movement beginning in Shevat (February/March).[2] The birds flow and move to the beat of their own moedim, retelling their own type of exodus.

Jer. 8:7 (KJV) Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times (moedim); and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.

Isabelline Wheatear, spring migration in Israel.

Along their journey, they fill the air with something else: songs of praise! Their tiny lungs fill with the air of heaven to release it in a song like no other creatures on earth. Their chirps, squawks, tweets, and peeps harmonize to glorify the LORD. For this reason, a custom developed in Ashkenazi communities to feed these praise singers on Shabbat Shirah.[3]

Ezek. 17:22-24 (TLV) Thus says Adonai Elohim: “I, even I, will take from a sprig from the top of the lofty cedar and will plant it. I will crop off a tender twig from the topmost of its young shoots, and I will plant it on a tall and prominent mountain. 23 I will plant it on Israel’s high mountain. It will bring forth branches, bear fruit and be a magnificent cedar. Birds of every kind will nest under it—they will nest in the shade of its branches. 24 Then all the trees of the field will know that I, Adonai, have brought down the high tree, exalted the lowly tree, dried up the green tree, and made the dry tree flourish. I, Adonai, have spoken and I will do it.”[4]

The Song of the Sea is read every morning in the prayer service (Shacharit) in the Pesukei D’Zimrah, or Verses of Song. The Shacharit begins with blessings and psalms specifically chosen to invoke kavanah or focus and awe for the Holy One in the person praying. The Pesukei D’Zimrah is full of songs and praise, which prepares one to recite the Shema and Amidah. “Know before Whom you stand.”[5] Only after acknowledging and praising Adonai as the Holy One of Israel, can one properly seek Him for requests and desires.

There is another possible meaning of zimrah (song/melody) that emphasizes this point and connects it to the month of trees, in which Beshalach and the Song of the Sea is read. The Hebrew root zemer means “to prune.”[6] The psalms, including the Song of the Sea, are verses of pruning! These melodies act like a type of pruning shear that cuts off wild and unruly growths from one’s tree or mind/heart. Healthy branches receive more nourishment, and hindrances to heartfelt prayer are removed. In this way, the songs and melodies of Scripture (and even modern worship songs/music) lift, align, and unify one with Adonai and fellow worshipers.

This is even figured on the Torah Scroll. The Song at the Sea is written in a brickwork pattern of three interlocking columns, which makes it stand out on the leaf (page of Torah.)[7] This arrangement mimics the congealed columns of water and the Children of Israel walking between them on dry ground, united or interlocked. It is one of only two places in the Torah written in a different layout. The other is the Song of Moses. (Dt. 32) The Song of Deborah follows this same brickwork pattern. (See examples below.)

Song of the Sea

Song of Deborah

The imagery of the early spring season in Shevat, birds migrating through the Land, splitting the heavens with wings and song, the Torah cycle retelling the exodus and the parting of the sea in the month of trees, all proclaim a loud message. Can you discern the bird’s song? It’s the same message from the beginning. Moses and the children sang it at the sea. Deborah recalled it in Judges 5. David repeats it in Psalm 68. Every morning it is recounted in the synagogue. The last book, Revelation, has flying angels proclaiming it to the whole earth.

Ex. 15:1-2 (NASB) Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and said, “I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. 2 “The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation (Yeshua); This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him.”

Jdg. 5:1-4, 31 (NASB) Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying, 2 “That the leaders led in Israel, That the people volunteered, Bless the LORD! 3 “Hear, O kings; give ear, O rulers! I—to the LORD, I will sing, I will sing praise to the LORD, the God of Israel. 4 “LORD, when You went out from Seir, when You marched from the field of Edom, the earth quaked, the heavens also dripped, even the clouds dripped water.” … “Thus let all Your enemies perish, O LORD; but let those who love Him be like the rising of the sun in its might.”

Ps. 68:1-4 (NASB) For the choir director. A Psalm of David. A Song. Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered, and let those who hate Him flee before Him. 2 As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; As wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish before God. 3 But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God; Yes, let them rejoice with gladness. 4 Sing to God, sing praises to His name; lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts, whose name is the LORD, and exult before Him.

Rev. 14:6-8 (NASB) 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; 7 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.” 8 And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”

This Shabbat Shirah, I encourage you to read all the above chapters. (Ex. 15, Jdg. 5, Ps. 68, Rev. 14) See how many thematic connections you can make, and declare The Message to others. The result should cause great jubilation, praise, and awe of the Almighty. If it doesn’t, perhaps one needs to undergo the pruning shears first. To align one’s heart with Adonai, look to the birds. Fill your lungs – even if they feel low on breath– with air and sing, chirp, and tweet about His Greatness. This will lift you up on wings like an eagle, deliverance that only God can achieve.

It is interesting to note that in Hebrew it says that Moses and the sons of Israel will sing, az yashir, but the portion of the song attributed to Miriam and the women is in the present tense, plural imperative: shiru l’Adonai, sing to Adonai (now).

Ex. 15:20-21 (NASB) Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. 21 Miriam answered them, “Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; the horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.”

I’ll never forget an evening of prayer with some local women a few years ago. We had just finished a spiritually tough, but encouraging Bible study on a section in the Book of Revelation. I had shown everyone a slide of an artist’s depiction of the harlot riding the red, seven headed beast with four shady horse and riders in the backdrop of smoke and chaos. The picture spoke a thousand words of defeat and oppression. The point of the lesson was overcoming this false image in our own hearts. (See The Scarlet Harlot and the Crimson Thread by Dr. Hollisa Alewine.)

When we prayed, the Spirit was so strong, flowing freely in our midst. Suddenly, my mind was flooded with images of the Song at the Sea. The Words of triumph and joy were so vivid that I began to jump as I recounted Miriam’s words: “Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; the horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.”


Beloved, we sing because He has already overcame the world. Though Pharaoh or the Whore of Babylon is riding close at our heels, we already know the end of the story. The horsemen, their chariots, and beasts of burden are stopped with a single blast of the Almighty’s nostrils. Their wheels will get stuck in the very mud in which they wallow. So, don’t wait to sing. Like Miriam and the great host of women, Sing now!

Ps. 68:11-12 (NASB) The Lord gives the command; The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host: 12 “Kings of armies flee, they flee, and she who remains at home will divide the spoil!”

Ps. 150:6 (NASB) Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!

Masada


[1]Exodus 13:17–17:16, Judges 4:4–5:31.

[2]https://www.birds.org.il/en/article-page.aspx?articleId=124 Retrieved 2/7/2020.

[3]There are several explanations given for this tradition. For example, see this article: https://schechter.edu/why-is-shabbat-shirah-for-the-birds-2/

[4]Mat. 3:31-32 (TLV) He presented to them another parable, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 It’s the smallest of all seeds; yet when it’s full grown, it’s greater than the other herbs. It becomes like a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

[5]This phrase is inscribed on the ark (that houses the Torah Scroll) in many synagogues. It is drawn from: Ex.3:4-6 When Adonai saw that he turned to look, He called to him out of the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” So he answered, “Hineni.” 5 Then He said, “Come no closer. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” So Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. (TLV)

[6]For example, see The Seif Edition Artscroll Hebrew/English Siddur on Pesukei D’Zimrah.

[7]Torah scrolls are penned on kosher (clean) animal skins and spooled onto a wooden post called an Etz chayim or Tree of Life. The Torah Scroll has much in common with trees and people. Like a tree, it is alive, has leaves, and bears fruit. Like a person, it has a crown, wears a sash or belt and an outer garment, and has a yad or hand. For more, see The Unity of the Scroll.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Torah Portions | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rosh Chodesh Iyar 5779 (2019)

This video is a little early. I hope it helps you to prepare for the upcoming second month.

Have a blessed month of Ziv!

Video:

Audio Only Version:

 

Written Form:

Chodesh Iyar Video Notes 2019

 

Links Mentioned:

Counting the Omer & Shavuot

Rabbi David Fohrman on Shavuot: Click here

 

 

 

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim, new moon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Here Comes That Dreamer!”

  They said to one another, “Here comes that dreamer!” Gen. 37:19 (HCSB)

I was honored to have Bonnie Manning (aka Tekoa Manning) join me this month to discuss the importance of dreams. We discussed what the Bible says about dreams (especially those of Joseph, the “Master of Dreams”), common dream symbols, why your dreams matter, and more!

Listen to the podcast

Bonnie Manning & Kisha Gallagher November 2018

 

Kislev is the dubbed “The Month of Dreams,” as nine of the ten dreams recorded in the Torah are read during this month. As the ninth month, it and dreams are “pregnant” with meaning. (See this article for a look at the spiritual aspects of nine, or this one for numbers in general.)

Sweet Dreams! And may your ninth month be blessed!

A Blessing For Dreams (Hatavat Chalom)

King of the Universe, I am Yours and my dreams are Yours. I have dreamt a dream and I do not know what it is. Whether I have dreamt about myself, or my companions have dreamt about me, or I have dreamt about others, if they are good dreams, confirm them and reinforce them like the dreams of Joseph, and if they require a remedy, heal them, as the waters of Marah were healed by Moses, and as Miriam was healed of her leprosy and Hezekiah of his sickness, and the waters of Jericho by Elisha. As you have changed the curse of the wicked Balaam into a blessing, so too, change all my dreams into something good for me.

Mighty One on high, abiding in power, You are peace and Your name is Peace. May it be Your will to bestow peace on us.

 

Categories: Biblical Symbols, new moon | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Sukkot: Hidden in the Shade of God

Col. 2:16-17 (LITV) Then do not let anyone judge you in eating, or in drinking, or in part of a feast, or of a new moon, or of sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of coming things, but the body is of Christ.

In my last post, I tried to help the reader to understand that not all darkness is evil. Sometimes darkness simply implies what is hidden from our natural (and spiritual) sight. A shadow, like Paul mentions above, falls into that same category. In a godly sense, the shadow is cast by the heavenly reality. The last thing one would desire to do is to speak evil of the shadow, for that shadow is the testimony of heaven.

Ironically, that’s exactly what many well-meaning Believers do when they read the above verses from Colossians. They seek to do away with the shadow because they think it detracts from the reality. I am an amateur artist. Proper shading turns a 2-D piece of art into something that appears 3-D. It gives the piece depth, making it a more realistic representation of the actual figure. Shadows are vital to help one see the reality.

My good friend, Dr. Robin Gould, wrote an excellent BEKY Book explaining the context and culture of Colossae called Colossal Controversies. I urge you to get a copy and give it to those that are perplexed by your obedience to Torah, especially if they’ve been taught that verses such as Colossians 2:16-17 imply that the shadow is useless.

What was the Biblical context of the word “shadow” for a first century Torah observant Jewish Pharisee? After all, that’s how Paul described himself.[1] When he spoke of one’s eating, drinking, partaking of feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths, and connected them to both a shadow and Messiah, this was no small matter. When we understand this significance, we too, will joyfully set our sights on “the things above,” the reality… by following the earthly shadow given by Adonai.

Col. 3:1-4 (TLV) Therefore, if you have been raised up with Messiah, keep seeking the things above—where Messiah is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Focus your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Messiah in God. 4 When Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him, in glory!

Rather than denigrating the dietary laws, feasts, Sabbaths, and new moons, Paul’s message to the Colossians was a powerful testimony of their eternal benefit and protection. To fully appreciate the portrait that He paints, let’s start with the beginning.

The First Shadows

The first Adam, male and female, were created in the image of God. Their mandate was to fill the earth, take dominion, and rule over all its creatures.

Gen. 1:27-28 (NASB) 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.”

Man and woman were created in HIS image. The Hebrew word for image is tzelem. The following is The Complete Word Study Dictionary’s entry[2] for tzelem:

H6754

צֶלֶם ṣelem: 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.

It is used metaphorically to depict persons as shadows, phantoms, or unknowing, senseless, fleeting beings carrying out the motions of life (Psa 39:6 [7]); unless they have hope in God (see Psa 39:7 [8]). In a similar vein, the wicked before the Lord are considered as mere dreams or fantasies (Psa 73:20).

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 mimic the reality. Thus, one’s words, deeds, actions, and fruit will either confirm or profane His 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.)

The common Hebrew word for shadow is tzel. It is just like the word for image above without the mem.

H6738 צלtsêl  Brown, Driver, Briggs Definition: 1) shadow, shade 1a) shadow (on dial) 1b) shadow, shade (as protection) 1c) shadow (symbolic of transitoriness of life) Part of Speech: noun masculine A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H6751

Tzel can be a literal shadow or shade, but just as in English, it can be figurative. It is in this sense that David and other Psalmist speak of God’s shadow being a place of refuge and protection:

Ps. 91:1-2 (NKJV) He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

Ps. 36:7 (NASB) How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.

It is vital to understand what is and isn’t Adonai’s shadow. If His shadow is a secret place of refuge, like the wings of a mother bird, who wouldn’t want to run and hide there? I wouldn’t call this a “mere” thing. Isaiah, speaking of the future of Zion, makes some interesting connections in Hebrew between God’s House and His shadow:

Is. 4:4-6 (NKJV) When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, 5 then the LORD will create above every dwelling place (makon, like mishkan) of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering (chuppah). 6 And there will be a tabernacle (sukkah) for shade (tzel –shadow) in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.

God’s Tabernacle, Sukkah, and Chuppah are all shadows of protection. His sukkah is the shadow that protects one from the heat; it is a refuge and shelter in the storm. This passage also recalls when the children of Israel faithfully followed their Husband in the wilderness[3] as He was a cloud by day and a pillar fire by night. These shadowy pillars protected, led, and covered the people.

The reason one is commanded to dwell in booths or sukkot during the Feast of Sukkot is so that all future generations will know that YHWH made the Children of Israel dwell in sukkot when He brought them out of Egypt. He doesn’t want His people in any generation to forget, so there is something very important about this appointment.

Lev. 23:42-43 (NKJV) You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.’ “

Oddly, the “tents” that Israel dwelt in while in the wilderness are never called sukkot. They are called ohalim, literally tents, or a mishkan, a tabernacle/dwelling place. (For example, see Exodus 18:7; 33:10, Numbers 33:10; 16:27, etc.) This peculiarity has sparked some interesting explanations by the sages. Rabbi Eliezer believed that the sukkot that HaShem made Israel dwell in was His “clouds of glory,” the Ananei HaKavod. Rabbi Akiva disagreed and said that the sukkot were the literal tents that Israel set up in the wilderness. (Sukkah 11b)

Perhaps they are both right. The word sukkah comes from the following root[4]:

H5526 ךּכַסָsāḵaḵ: I. A verb meaning to cover. It means to hide something or to shield something: the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant was covered by the wings of cherubim (Exo 25:20); God’s hand covered and protected Moses (Exo 33:22). It is used of separating off an area with a curtain or hanging (Exo 40:3, Exo 40:21). Figuratively, it shows God shielding those who trust Him (Psa 5:11 [12]; Psa 91:4); He covers Himself in anger (Lam 3:43) or with a cloud(Lam 3:44) II. A verb meaning to stir, to excite. It means to rouse up, to spur on in the context of the Lord’s action (Isa 9:11 [10]; Isa 19:2). III. A verb meaning to weave together. It describes the Lord’s activity in creating a child’s fetus within the womb (Job 10:11; Psa 139:13).

Sukkot is also the name of a place. In fact, the first stop Israel made after leaving Egypt was Sukkot.[5] Inherent in the meaning of this word is the idea of covering, concealing, hiding, and protecting. Paul says that our lives are “hidden in Messiah,” but will one day be revealed when He is revealed in glory (kavod). When the resurrected Messiah left the earth, it was a “cloud” that received Him. Two angels told the disciples that when He returns, it will be in the same manner.

Acts 1:9-11 (NASB) And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

Mark 13:26 (NASB) “Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory.

Shadows and clouds are equivalent expressions in many cases. They both cover, hide, conceal, and protect. Hebrews 12 calls those that had faith and trust in Adonai a great “cloud of witnesses.” In Isaiah 4 above, it is specifically the sukkah that is called a shadow (tzel). To further this connection, Adonai chose a specific person to be the craftsman or builder of His Tabernacle in the wilderness.

Betzalel

Ex. 31:1-5 (NASB) Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, 5 and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.

Betzalel’s name means, “in the shadow of El/God.” His father, Uri, means fiery and Hur means white textiles.[6] Like Messiah, he was from the tribe of Judah. The names of his father and grandfather (fiery and white) also connects Betzalel with Yeshua, the one with blazing white robes and fiery eyes. His was filled with the Spirit of God, and was called to be a craftsman or builder of the House of God. Betzalel is certainly a “shadow” of Yeshua, the son of a carpenter, the spirit-filled builder of Adonai’s House.

Betzalel, the one in the shadow of God, built the earthly shadow of the Heavenly Temple. Ponder that for a moment. The shadow built or created the shadow, so that the people could draw near to God. The pattern of the Tabernacle was shown to Moses on the Mountain top. He was instructed to carefully make it after the heavenly pattern. (Ex. 25:40; 26:30; 27:8) Shadows should mimic the reality perfectly. If we are the shadow or the Temple of God on the earth, then Betzalel has much to teach us. Paul uses this imagery in the following passage.

1 Cor. 3:9-17 (NASB) For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident;for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

If we are the shadow or image of Messiah in the earth, then like Paul, we too, should look at our lives, walk, and ministry[7]as if we are builders of His House and Kingdom. As I’ve written previously, if we aren’t building, we are tearing down.

Pr. 14:1 (NASB) The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.

At the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, the Apostles and Elders gathered together to consider what should be done with the Gentiles that were joining their ranks. Peter reminds them that God’s choice was to use his mouth to declare the Gospel to the Gentiles. (This is what Peter’s Vision in Acts 10 was about.) Then, Barnabas and Paul gave testimony of all they had witnessed among the Gentiles. After careful consideration, James gives his answer or judgment on the matter by quoting Amos 9.

Acts 15:14-17 (NKJV) Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: 16 ‘AFTER THIS I WILL RETURN AND WILL REBUILD THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID, WHICH HAS FALLEN DOWN; I WILL REBUILD ITS RUINS, AND I WILL SET IT UP;  17  SO THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, EVEN ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME, SAYS THE LORD WHO DOES ALL THESE THINGS.’

Notice that Amos and James, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, prophesy that the nations turn to HaShem BECAUSE He is rebuilding the Tabernacle of David. This is what Mashiach, the Builder, does. Adonai’s desire all along has been for His House (Tent/Tabernacle/Temple) to be a House of Prayer for ALL nations.

Is. 56:6-7 (NKJV) “Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants—Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant— 7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

 “For God so loved the whole world,” has been true from the beginning. When King Solomon (another shadow of Yeshua) dedicated the House of Adonai, he did not forget the foreigners.

1 Ki. 8:41-43 (NKJV) “Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for Your name’s sake 42 (for they will hear of Your great name and Your strong hand and Your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this temple,  43  hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name.

When we understand that the mountain, the holy hill, the tent, Tabernacle, Temple, House, the Cloud, the Smoke, His Wings, Dwelling Place, Messiah, and many other beautiful analogies are all speaking about the same thing, and have from the very beginning, and that their purpose and function all teach the same message as a shadow of the heavenly reality, the Bible makes so much more sense.

Sometimes Adonai does something spectacular with His shadowy wings and the realm of heaven kisses the realm of earth. Interestingly, the writers of the Apostolic scriptures call this “to overshadow.”

Overshadow

While studying Torah Portion Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11–34:35) last year, I had the pleasure of learning from Rabbi Sariella Creeger. In the message, she mentioned Betzalel and connected his name with the message given to Miriam (Mary) before conceiving Yeshua.

Luke 1:35 (NASB) The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 

What happened to Miriam when God “overshadowed” her was not unlike what happened when He filled Betzalel with His Ruach. Both were given the heavenly pattern to build the Tabernacle or Dwelling Place of God among His people. They were both “builders” of the House of Adonai. Both Houses were a shadow of the heavenly reality. Both Houses or Temples made a way for the people to draw near to God.

As a side note, I should mention that there are numerous correlations between the womb, the Tabernacle, and intimacy with YHWH. This is true even in the definition of sakak, the root of sukkah, outlined above. Author, teacher, and pastor John Diffenderfer, delivered an amazing message to Mercy Collective in Nashville, TN on Shavuot 2017 called God’s Womb, the Tabernacle, the Bride, and the FeastsI encourage you to watch it; the metaphor is stunning!

A son (ben) and a house (beit) in Hebrew both come from the same root, banah, which means “to build.” Understanding, as in the Spirit of Understanding (Ex. 31:3, Is. 11:2), also derives from the root banah. Do you see the connection? Building a house and building a son (a people) are the same thing. Neither can be accomplished without the Holy Spirit of Binah.

When training someone to perform a new job or task, we often have them “shadow” a seasoned or experienced person in that trade or field. This is how one learns. If we skip the training, it will affect our job knowledge and performance in a negative way. But if we shadow (mimic/mirror) the successful, experienced employee or boss, we too, will prosper.

This reminds me of young girl watching her mother care for her younger sibling or a young boy watching his father build their house. Innate in each is the compulsion to imitate their parent. The young girl likely has baby dolls with toy milk bottles, diapers, and changes of clothes. This is her “shadow nursery” where she practices caring for her future family. Without the reality of her mother’s faithfulness to care for the next generation, this young girl would have nothing (good) to imitate. Either she wouldn’t have a shadow nursery, or her nursery would be distorted by a lack of understanding of what a mother actually does.

The young boy likely has a toy carpenter station with plastic hammers and nails, fake wood planks, and rubber saws. This is his “shadow woodshop” where he learns to care for his future family. Like the young girl, he can only be the shadow of what he sees. If the father is absent, he might think the hammer is used to hurt others. On the other hand, if the reality is a good father, the boy might grow to not only build the house of his family, but many others.

We might laugh at this analogy, but this whole world is a shadow of the heavenly reality. The shadow is the proof or evidence of what we cannot yet see.

Heb. 11:1-3 (NKJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

When the Ruach HaKodesh overshadowed Miriam, the Greek word used was episkiazō. This word comes from the Greek word skia, shadow. Skia is equivalent to the Hebrew word tzelem. Thayer’s defines it below.

G4639 σκία, skia

1) shadow 1a) shade caused by the interception of light 1b) an image cast by an object and representing the form of that object 1c) a sketch, outline, adumbration. Part of Speech: noun feminine

Visualize standing outside with your back to the afternoon sun. Your body blocks the light in front of you, producing a dark, phantom-like representation of your form. If you raise your hands, so does your shadow. If you squat, so does this shady figure. While the shadow mimics your actions and outline, it cannot convey or capture the many colors, textures, and other things that truly make you, you. It cannot move or act of its own accord. And, as long as the light shines on you, you can’t escape or out run your shadow. It is connected to you completely.

Have you ever tried to touch your shadow? There is nothing there. Yet it is proof that something is there… you. This is how the Spirit realm appears to humans (most of the time). Other things in nature give a similar parable, like wind and clouds, both of which are used in the Bible to describe the Holy Spirit. The creation week, the Tabernacle, the Temple, and Yeshua are all a type of “shadow” expressing the reality of Elohim (God) and His Throne. They are proof that there is indeed another realm, far more real and tangible than the world in which we live and breathe. They are the pattern one is meant to learn in order to know YHWH, and discern between the truth and a lie. This enables one to be the true shadow of God. (Ezek. 43:10)

YHWH, speaking through Isaiah, compared Israel to the precious building materials of the Temple and Jerusalem. Yeshua, the son of God, compared Himself to the Temple. Paul compared our bodies to the Temple, and John describes the Bride, Adonai’s people, as the New Jerusalem. All are true and none supersede the others. Each of these shadows is vital to the complete picture of the heavenly.

John 2:19-22 (NASB) Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”  21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.  22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

Is. 54:10-12 (NASB) “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the LORD who has compassion on you. 11 “O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires. 12 “Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, And your gates of crystal, And your entire wall of precious stones.

 The Overshadowing Cloud

Overshadowing occurs in a different, yet similar fashion at the Mount of Transfiguration. In the following account, look for the themes of Sukkot, and key words such as mountain, cloud, a voice, glory, overshadow, build/make, revelation (awake), etc. Where have we read about these things before? Is it a coincidence that this occurred on the “eighth day”?

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Luke 9:28-36 (NASB) Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.  29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming.  30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. 33 And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not realizing what he was saying. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen. (Compare with Mat. 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-13)

The cloud that formed and “overshadowed” the disciples is the same Greek word used in the account of the Holy Spirit overshadowing Miriam (Mary). In the transfiguration, Yeshua is the bright light that casts a shadow of glory visible to Peter, James, and John. They “see” into the Spirit realm, the reality of Who Yeshua is (revelation). Time as we (and they know it) no longer applies, as even Moses and Elijah (Torah and the Prophets) are standing and talking with Yeshua on the mountaintop.

The disciples had two responses to this glorious vision. Peter speaks up and offers to BUILD or make three tabernacles or dwelling places for them, not realizing what he was actually seeing. It is Sukkot, but what he sees is the reality, not the shadow. While he’s speaking, a cloud overshadows them, which brings about their second response: FEAR. They were afraid. (Aren’t we always afraid, since the garden?) Then, a voice speaks from the cloud. As Rabbi David Fohrman would ask, “Where have we seen these words before?”

Ex. 19:9 (NASB) 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.

Ex. 19:16-19 (NASB) So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder (voices) 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.  17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.  18 Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently.  19 When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder (a voice).

Ex. 24:15-16 (NASB) Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 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.

Dt. 18:15-16 (NASB) “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. 16 “This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’

In Jewish thought and teachings, the “revelation” is Mount Sinai, because that is where God revealed Himself to the entire nation of Israel.[8] Mountain tops are images or shadows of the Temple or Throne of Adonai, the place where He dwells and speaks to His people. Mount Zion is the Temple Mount in the natural, though there is still a heavenly reality. God’s Presence (Shekinah) is likened to clouds, smoke, and fire. His voice is compared to thunder, a loud shofar or trumpet blast, and even the sound of rushing water.[9] Experiencing His majesty causes mortal man to tremble.

In a sense, the entire nation was overshadowed by Adonai’s awesome Presence, Cloud, and Glory at Mount Sinai. Peter, James, and John experienced a similar preternatural revelation as they were overshadowed on the mountain of Transfiguration by Adonai’s Cloud. Like ancient Israel, they too, heard a Voice that reminded them of Deuteronomy 18:15-16 (listed above). But this wasn’t the first time that a voice spoke of the Son in the hearing of the disciples, nor would it be the last.

Mat. 3:16-17 (TLV) After being immersed, Yeshua rose up out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Ruach Elohim descending like a dove and coming upon Him. 17 And behold, a voice from the heavens said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased!”

Just after His triumphal entry, but before His death, John records this account:

John 12:27-30 (NASB) “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 “Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, “An angel has spoken to Him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.”

Glory in Hebrew is the word kavod. It means weighty or heavy, and often manifests as a cloud (or smoke). Yeshua’s prayer was for Father’s Name to be glorified. In Hebrew thought, it’s not the pronunciation of His Name that brings Him glory; rather, He (and His Name) are glorified when one obeys Him completely, no matter the cost. When the glory of YHWH filled the Tabernacle and Temple, it was a Presence so weighty that Moses, the priests, and the people couldn’t enter the space or stand to perform their services. One day, the whole earth will be filled with the holy glory of Adonai.

Num. 14:21 (NASB) But indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD.

This will be a time when the shadow and the reality are One, the fulfillment of Yeshua’s prayer. This is the New Jerusalem, the heavenly, coming to earth, the display of Adonai’s splendor and glory. When His glory is revealed marvelous things happen. Even our shadows can cause miracles, and it’s not by our power or might, but the glory and power of the Ruach HaKodesh.

Acts 5:15-16 (KJV) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. 16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

Peter, in this instance, was truly walking in the image of Elohim as even his skia, tzelem, or shadow was full of the Holy Spirit that healed the people, the House of God. I believe that is the desire of all that follow Adonai in Spirit and Truth. A true disciple wants to be the shadow of Yeshua as He is the shadow of YHWH. When He raises His right arm, we mimic His action, just like a shadow. When He speaks, we speak. We He is silent, we are silent. Where He goes, we go. That is the way of shadows.

It might seem odd at first to think of yourself as a shadow of Yeshua. It might seem odder still that he desires a shadow to build His House by making even more disciples after His image. But that is the calling, beloved.

Mat. 28:16-20 (TLV) Now the eleven disciples went to the Galilee, to the mountain Yeshua had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped; but some wavered. 18 And Yeshua came up to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Ruach ha-Kodesh, 20 teaching them to observe all I have commanded you. And remember! I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Everyone needs a mountaintop revelation of Adonai. That is what the pilgrimage festivals lead one to – Zion, the Temple, the House, and the Throne of Elohim. His mountain (Spirit) overshadows, envelops, and fills faithful hearts with the heavenly pattern. It is the blueprint upon which His Kingdom is built.

Paul specifically calls eating, drinking, partaking of the feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths a shadow of the Body of Messiah. In other words, these are the things His Body does, because they reflect the heavenly reality. They keep one attached to the Head, Yeshua. The world hates the shadow and the reality, preferring a false light, the precepts of men, things that decay rather than the eternal.

Col. 2:18-23 (TLV) Let no one disqualify you by insisting on false humility and worship of angels—going into detail about what he has seen, puffed up without cause by his fleshly mind. 19 He is not holding fast to the Head. It is from Him that the whole body, nourished and held together by its joints and tendons, grows with a godly increase. 20 If you died with Messiah to the basic principles of the world, why—as though living in the world—do you subject yourselves to their rules? 21 Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!” 22 These all lead to decay with use, based as they are on man-made commands and teachings. 23 Indeed, these are matters that have an appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and humility and self-denial of the body—yet none are of any value for stopping indulgence of the flesh.

“The Seven Shepherds” Painting by Kisha Gallagher 2018

So, what are the sabbaths, new moons, and feasts a shadow of? What are they concealing and protecting?

Is it the body or reality of Messiah? The Gospel? The Kingdom? The Temple? The Mountain? God’s Throne? The Revelation? The Clouds of Glory? The Day of the LORD? Us?

The answer is YES! So, definitely do not let anyone judge you for doing the very things the Master taught and did. He is a good, good, shepherd.

Be like Betzalel, the son of white garments, a master builder of Adonai’s House. And, be like Miriam filled with the Seed of God, a builder of the Kingdom. Experience the fullness of the Transfiguration at the end of days (Sukkot), by following the cloud, His shadow, keeping the appointments (feasts), which are the cycles that take your feet to Jerusalem, so you can learn the pattern shown by Moses and Yeshua on the Mountain. And lastly, remember that you are hidden in Messiah (the House – Heavenly Jerusalem) as His tezelem or shadow. He is with us always even unto the end of the age.


 


[1]Philippians 3:5-6, see also Acts 23:6; 26:5

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

[3]Jer. 2:2 (NASB) “Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, “I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, The love of your betrothals, Your following after Me in the wilderness, Through a land not sown.”

[4]The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament by Warren Baker. Retrieved using Strong’s number H5526 on E-Sword Bible software.

[5]Ex. 12:37 (NASB) Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children.

[6]The actual meaning of Hur is unclear as there are several root words of which it could be derived. These roots deal with burning – literally or in anger, growing or making white – literally with textiles or pale in the face, or it could mean a hole or cavern. Based on (the man) Hur’s history in the Biblical text, I chose the meaning “white textiles.” Hur and Aaron helped Moses hold his hands up when Israel battled Amalek (Ex. 17:12), and he turns out to be the grandfather of the man that would be endowed to work in many crafts, including textiles. You can see chur or Hur translated as white fabric in Esther 1:6 and 8:15.

[7]All Believers have a ministry. Ministry is service and serving Adonai and His people. Everyone does this in some capacity as they are part of His Body, His House.

[8]Hopefully, this will inspire you to read the Book of Revelation with an adjusted perspective.

[9]I think it’s interesting that one of the Hebrew words for thunder is the same word as voice, kol. Some of the crowd in John 12 perceived the heavenly voice as thunder. Revelation, the mountain of God, the heavens, and His Throne are also accompanied by voices and thunder:

Rev. 11:19 (NASB) And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunderand an earthquake and a great hailstorm.

Rev. 14:2 (NASB) And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps.

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