Musings

The Vinedresser, the True Vine, and the Branches

The month of Elul is often called the month of repentance, as it is a time to prepare for the upcoming High Holy Days of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, and the last great festival of Sukkot. This traditional period of return is an opportunity to examine one’s life and the fruit that is being produced. What needs to be uprooted? What needs to be pruned? What needs to be nourished? It’s the season to set things right with Adonai and our fellowman. While these things should be a daily exercise, the moedim (feast days) direct the path of the righteous to dedicate this season, the time of harvest, to give an honest account of one’s soul.

The moedim center around agriculture and harvest. During the month of Elul, Adonai our King is “in the field” and people are His planting. We are His vineyard, and He is looking for fruit that will be judged at the High Holy Days. While the King is in the field, He is particularly accessible, as near as a co-laborer and a friend. Yeshua says, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” During Elul the vintage begins; may we submit to His tender affections, pruning, and cleansing before He returns to the Throne of Judgment on the High Holy Days. His desire is for us to enter Sukkot, the figurative end-time harvest and wedding feast, clean and sealed in Him with a heart that is altogether joyful.

 

John 15:1-15  “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  2  “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.  3  “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  4  “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  5  “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.  6  “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.  7  “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  8  “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.  9  “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  10  “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  11  “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.  12  “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.  13  “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.  14  “You are My friends if you do what I command you.  15  “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

 

Deut. 16:11-15  and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name.  12  “You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.  13  “You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat;  14  and you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your towns.  15  “Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.

 

 

Categories: Moedim, Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Brotherly Love Part II

For best context, read Part I.

By Kendall Watson

“You shall bring the very first of the first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” (Ex. 34:26)

“You shall not eat anything which dies of itself, You may give it to the alien who is in your town so that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner, for you are a holy people to the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk. You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out o father field every year.” (Deut.14:21-22)

 

Boiling a Kid in its Mother’s Milk

goat-mothers-milkThe prohibition of boiling a kid in its mother’s milk is mentioned a total of three times in Torah.[3] Have you ever noticed what it’s associated with? In each case, this command is juxtaposed with the first fruits or tithes. What can we glean (spiritually) from this? Since fruit can mean “the result of or results”, physical children are man’s literal fruit. The (ideal) result of a man and woman coming together as one flesh is reproduction. This is expressed as the “fruit of the womb” or the “fruit of the loins”.

The first year that I homeschooled my two children, we studied Botany. (I love to garden.) In the course, we learned that every flower that produces an encapsulated seed is a fruit. Therefore, most things that we eat are actually a type of fruit, even nuts! Seeds reside inside of fruit. This is true in the natural and the spiritual realm. Messiah emphasized this here:

“Now this is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the Word of God.” (Luke 8:11)

Whether you are a “spiritual parent” mentoring the Body or a literal parent, the picture is the same. Words are seeds planted in individuals who are the fruit of Elohim. The question we must answer is this: “Is the fruit we are producing the result of Messiah’s works or is it the result of our own flesh/works?” There is a huge difference between the two. We are designed to rest in Messiah’s works. Just as He only did the works He saw His Father doing, we are to only do the works we see Him doing.

Perhaps another analogy is helpful. Let’s consider working the ground. In order to get a harvest (or first fruits), we must cultivate the soil, sow seed into the ground, and water and weed the plot to ensure that the plants eventually produce fruit for nourishment. This is very hard work. It takes strength, persistence, and patience to reap a harvest. The seed must be nurtured and cared for in order to mature.

Bringing our first fruits to the House of the LORD demonstrates that the first of our strength and all of our hard work is ultimately HaShems. He is the one that enables one to work the soil. The least we can do to show our gratitude is to give him the first fruits of our toil. When we sow with our own works we fail to realize who “really” did the work, which is Messiah.

This same analogy can be made with people. Are we nurturing the congregation with mother’s milk (Torah) or are we killing our kids (first fruits) by boiling them in the very thing that should bring them to maturity and lead them to life?

Let that sink in for a moment. This idea is not far fetched. Paul said, that the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Torah without the nurturing Holy Spirit kills. It will boil the “kids” alive or bring death. (2 Cor. 3:6)

Being a Creation Gospel trainer/student, numbers and their themes, such as creation days and feast days, stand out in the text. Therefore, I can’t help to point out the number three here. Three alludes to the feast of first fruits. Ultimately, Messiah IS our first fruits. He is the strength of our labor; everything else is vanity. What happened on day three of creation? Seeds and fruit trees were created! In Hebrew, the word for tree is etz. Etz is the Hebrew root for counsel, etzah. Wise counsel heals and corrects with words that bear the good fruits of justice, mercy, and faithfulness. It doesn’t injure the sheep or tear them to pieces with vicious words (unwise counsel) in order to be right or more correct. Godly counsel gathers and protects the plants and trees that are near bloom. Hopefully, we appreciate i071_th_wolf_sheep_clothesthe difference.

“Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit”. (Matt.7:15-17)

In Isaiah it says, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.” The word evil, according to Strong’s, is ra (7451). It can mean “evil” or “adversity”. Let’s take a closer look at the word adversity. Adversity means difficulties. The root of this word is adverse and can mean, “not helping”. I don’t know about all of you, but in my mind, I always thought that evil meant “all those other people out there that aren’t believers“. The Hebraic view has expanded my understanding and challenges my old definition. Are we being helpful? What is the fruit of our lips? Is there any good fruit at all? Maybe evil is closer to home than we thought…

“But Jesus turned and said to Peter, Get behind Me Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me, For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men”. (Matt 16:23)

Satan is Strong’s 4567. It means adversary, not necessarily some ethereal evil being. An adversary is someone that opposes or accuses others. We can actually be a satan! What?! The next time you are compelled to tell someone how wrong they are about keeping a commandment a certain way or feel led to push your spouse around because they don’t keep Shabbat, choose your words carefully. To be honest, I have been there. I was so angry at one point with someone close to me that I could have smacked him right in the face! (Really, I could have. If you’re honest, you’ve been there as well.) Later, I realized that my anger was rooted in fear. I was afraid that judgment would fall on us because certain commandments weren’t being kept. Do you think my volatile reaction worked (bore good fruit)? NO! It pushed my dear friend further away.

We do this very thing when we think thoughts such as:

We are not sure if so and so should be at our feast“.

We probably shouldn’t go to that assembly because they have some women teachers…

I need to control my spouse, kids, and other people because they just don’t know what I know…

Even though the Father didn’t tell me to give money to that family I’m going to anyway, because I can’t stand to see them suffer.”

The poor church is going to have judgment poured all over them“.

Those Jews are just so legalistic, too bad they don’t see Messiah“.

Fear is the fuel behind every evil and adversity in the world. It causes people to separate, point fingers, control, and manipulate all because YHVH’s love is not perfected in them. This is not the love of Messiah.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love.” (1John 4:18)

My dear sister in Messiah once visited an assembly with me. The speaker for that day got up and spoke on the Torah portion. Somehow, his message rabbit trailed into a lecture on what (he thought) was wrong with the Church. After leaving the service, she did not tell me what she thought about “our walk”. Years later, she divulged her thoughts and feelings on the experience. Tears run down my face every time I think about that conversation.

As she cried, she told me that she essentially felt like a whipped puppy with no hope. Tearfully, she asked me, “Kendall, are we not one in Messiah? And if we are, why do I feel like you all get offended at the mention of the word church?” She also stated that she was glad that she went because it showed her that what we were doing was not right. What this precious person witnessed in our midst was NOT the Light of Messiah. Instead of finding a place of refuge to learn and grow she found hate and strife among brothers. Any curiosity that may have been flickered was snuffed out by an attempt to “help” people “see” the “letter” of the commandments. The sad part is that I really don’t believe that the speaker she heard meant to cause destruction or bring words of death, yet that is what she perceived. The end result of this message (fruit) wasn’t nurturing milk for life and growth. Instead, it brought adversity, not help.

“Hatred stirs up discord, but love covers all sins.” (Proverbs 10:12) 

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt. 7:12-14)

“Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have wee not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness”. (Matt.7:21-23)

I don’t know about you but I want to know the Lord. Even in the contentions among brothers, Adonai still has great mercy and suffers long for His People. Praise our Elohim for His loving kindness! It’s time that we put aside strife among brothers and sisters. Do you need to ask forgiveness from someone? Then what is holding you back? Do you need to forgive? Then let it go. Do you have bone to pick with Judah about their oral laws? Then I would humbly urge you to not judge so quickly. I have seen the Spirit of Messiah in more Rabbis than I have in the Hebrew Roots movement. Are you worried that by letting outsiders into our feasts, you are sinning? Then, look to King Hezekiah for instruction.[3] According to scripture, he knew that the priests were not clean. Yet, he invited the dispersed to Jerusalem with a heart of joy despite the fact that they had been following the ways of Jeroboam (2Chronicles 30:1-20).

The Father is in His fields. He is searching the hearts and minds of His people. He LOVES the children He has created. His judgment is not bad but good. He wants to bring us life, joy, and peace. Has your flesh roused up to think it’s in charge of you and others? Then use your Fathers discipline to humble it and your mothers Torah to instruct it. Are you afraid that if you let go of control that everyone will fall? Listen to the words of Yeshua:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” Matt. 10:29

“So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows” (Matt.10:31)

I have found that my family draws closer to Yeshua when I let Him shine through me with my actions verses using my words. Our memory verse in homeschool this week happens to be:

“My beloved brothers, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)

May all of you have a wonderful month of Elul! And may the Spirit of Messiah rest on each and every one of you!

 


 

[1] Ex. 23:19; 34:26, Dt. 14:21

[2] Thecreationgospel.com

[3] Rabbi Fohrman also has a great teaching on Hezekiah.

Categories: Moedim, Musings | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Brotherly Love Part I

The next couple of articles will be a two part series by guest poster Kendall Watson. Kendall is not only my sister in Messiah, she is also my sister in the flesh. 🙂 Her heart in this vital message echoes my own. I pray it blesses you during this season of Elul. May we never forget the Spirit of the Commandments, which is Love. – K. Gallagher 

 

img_0360By Kendall Watson

During the month of Elul, it is said that the “Father is in His fields”. He is searching His people and seeking intimacy with His Bride. He longs to be with His children. If only His children would draw close enough to “shema” His voice. That is, if only they would listen and obey. What is His message, you ask? I believe the Father is telling His children to love not only Him but love one another as well. Love is a concrete thought. In Hebrew, love is not just an emotion but also something you do. In other words, someone can say that they love you all day long, but if their actions are not behind those four letters, then the word love means nothing.

In a healthy family, it is natural to love one’s parents. However, the love for one’s siblings is not only different, it is also more difficult. They are the competition for the parent’s affections. Consider what parent’s do for children. When they fall down, parents pick them up. When they cry, a parent’s loving embrace provides comfort and safety. Parents root and cheer for their progeny’s efforts at sporting events. They celebrate every accomplishment of the child as if they were the ones receiving the award. And if there is only one cookie left in the cookie jar, guess who gets to enjoy every bite? Not the adult, of course. Mothers and fathers sacrifice large and small everyday for their children…because they LOVE.

Children don’t generally reciprocate this type of love to their parents. While they certainly love, that love is expressed differently. Parents love, nurture, and discipline with wisdom. In a way, mothers and fathers pour out their very lives to give their children the best opportunities in this world. Over time (in a ideal home setting), the child intuitively learns this truth. This is why the child expects the last cookie, and why the parent usually gives it to them. Even in the most brutal homes, there is evidence from psychiatric studies that the children long for mom’s and dad’s love and approval. In our example, the cookie is simply the child seeking these things.

On the other hand, brothers and sisters don’t love one another quite as sacrificially, do they? Consider your childhood (if you had siblings.) Brothers and sisters aren’t usually very nice or giving. When we fell down, they were usually the one who had pushed us. When we cried, it was usually a brother that had hit us. Over and over again, jealousy takes over siblings in a rivalry. This enmity has its own mantra, “Mom and dad loves me more than you“.

Siblings incite one another with their words. “Oh, you won an award? Well, guess what? Mine is bigger!” Sister ate the last cookie in the cookie jar with a smirk on her face. She smugly thinks to herself, “I’m faster, smarter, and well, just plain better than you kid“.

img_0366Needless to say, contentions among siblings are too numerous to count. Praise the Father for the children that grow out of the immature bickering, and learn to love one another unselfishly. There is much to learn from these family dynamics. Sadly, many never overcome the battles of youth. Instead, they choose (or are forced) to not communicate with family members due to past hurts, jealousy, or other issues.

What spiritual significance can we learn from these life lessons? Loving YHWH is easier than loving our very imperfect and often immature siblings. I submit to you that Moses, Yeshua, and the disciples speak of these very things in the Word. When Yeshua was asked what the greatest commandment was, He answered:

You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt.22:37-40, Mark 12:29-31,Luke 10:27-28)

This teaching was not new. Those with trained ears heard the words of Moses coming from Messiah’s lips.

” Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deut. 6:4-6)

“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord”. (Lev. 19:18)

To love the Lord, is to keep His commandments. For it says,

If you love Me, keep My commandments” John 14:15

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me, And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him”. (John 14::21) 

How many times have you quoted these scriptures to a challenger of your beliefs? Maybe you’ve even quoted them to someone that is curious about why you don’t eat pork. Is it wrong to quote scripture? As Paul would say, “Certainly not!” What I am submitting to you is to consider the Spirit behind the commandments. The question I was confronted with not so long ago was, “Who in me, is keeping the commandments?” And the second internal question was, “Is this pleasing to my Elohim?” I hate to admit that I did not get an “A” on this test. My response to the first question was: Me. My answer to the second question was: Yes! Of course! I honestly couldn’t see anything wrong with my answers. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, at least by the letter.

Torah portion “Ekev” caused me to reevaluate my answers to this “test”. Ekev means heel. The heel is the lowest part of the body. It can be likened to the “nefesh” or “flesh”. For example, Jacob grasped the “heel” of Esau, who is the epitome of the beast or flesh. Jacob overcame the “heel” or flesh and was later named Israel. Hence, in portion Ekev, this is what stood out to me:

“Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth. ‘you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm His covenant that He swore to your fathers, as it is this day”. (Deut. 8:17-19) 

“Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land, whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you” (Deut. 9:4) 

“Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people” (Deut. 9:6) 

The Father has delivered us from bondage, brought us to the wilderness to test us and show us love, and now He is giving us land flowing with milk and honey with houses that are already built and vineyards that have already been planted. But, be careful! Don’t forget who delivered you and brought you into this good land. The temptation is to think that it’s all about ME. To put it another way, one may think that they have this “keeping the commandments” thing all figured out.

It’s a deep, slippery pit when we haughtily begin to think, I’m the one following the commandments, so I have to be doing something right.” Or: “Maybe everyone should keep Shabbat and keep kosher just like me. If only everyone could see what I see. Sigh… Then we all could get along. Until then, I’ll separate myself from all these sinners.”

Yikes! Thoughts like this are very dangerous. The Father is the reason ANY of us keep the commandments. It is YHVH that gives us the strength and power to do anything. It is by His mercy that we even see one of these precious “Words” or “Utterances”. When we act out the commandments in our own strength, we are nothing more than a dry, parched branch needing to be burned. Yeshua reiterated this here:

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who remains in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:5-6)

Fruit in the Greek concordance is karpos (2590), and can mean “the result of” or “result”. When we read the scripture from this point of view, what Yeshua actually states is, “He who remains in Me, and I in him bears much results. If you do not remain in Me, you are a branch that is withered and needs to be burned”. In the Greek, burned is kayo. [1] While this word is often translated as “burned”, it also means “light”,[2] which is reminiscent of these verses:

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your vision is clear, your whole body also is full of light. But when it is poor, your body is full of darkness. Be careful, then, that the light within you is not darkness”. Luke11:34-35 

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20) 

We as a people, for the most part, focus on the literal application of the above scriptures. We tend to associate these things with those we deem on the “outside”. Few in Messianic circles argue that we each need Yeshua’s atoning sacrifice to inherit Life, which inspires obedience to the commandments. But our zeal often overshadows a vital component to our walk. The temptation is to forget the works of Messiah and focus on our own. When the emphasis shifts from Messiah’s loving salvation to our own works, the resurrection Spirit is left out and all that remains is a bag of fleshy letters. This “other” spirit has the tendency to put burdens on others in the Body because they begin to believe that they “know what’s best”. Unknowingly, the person working in the flesh is taking the life giving Torah and twisting it to bring death to the Body of Messiah.

Could this be one of the spiritual applications of “boiling a young goat in its mothers milk?”

“You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God. You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of its mother.” (Ex. 23:19) 

In Part II, we will continue with the notion that boiling a kid in its mother’s milk is rooted in first fruits that are not of Messiah, loving our brother, or the weightier matters of the Torah.


[1] Strong’s G2545

[2] It’s translated as “light” in Matthew: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. (Mt. 5:14-15)

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Parched Ground

How do we display the image of Elohim (G-d) in the earth?parched ground

Recently, I participated in an online correspondence class with a rabbi. In it, he made mention of the davar (word) and its relationship to the midbar (wilderness/desert). I know many of you are already familiar with this connection, but for the sake of those who are not, I will briefly explore this notion. In Hebrew, the root of midbar (desert) is davar (word). In other words, the wilderness comes directly from the Word. Being in the desert is akin to receiving the Word. Or to be more precise, the wilderness is where YHWH’s Word is tested in us. In the Torah, the Book of Numbers chronicles the Children of Israel’s wanderings in the desert. Thus, quite fittingly, this book is called BaMidbar or “in the wilderness” in Hebrew.

When YHWH miraculously removed ancient Israel from Egypt or when He rescued us from the figurative house of slavery (sin and death), where did He take them or us? Was it straight to the Promised Land? Or was it into the desert or wilderness? The fact that we all must face a literal or figurative desert upon being saved sounds counterintuitive at first. What do we need to learn in wilderness? I think Bill Cloud said it best (I’m paraphrasing Bill here): “God can remove us from Egypt, but we find that Egypt is still in us.” In other words, salvation, deliverance, and sanctification are ongoing processes. The desert becomes a type of threshing floor for our souls. All that offends is refined, purified, and threshed in the scorching sands of the desert. The Word that began a good work in us continues its commission to test and humble us. The difficulty and the pain of the wilderness “does good” for us in the end. For Abba, this is a labor of love.

“He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. “In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. (Dt. 8:15-16)

But the desert has one more vital message to teach us. It is in our wilderness where G-d speaks. In the ups and downs of the desert, we learn to discern the difference between the Shepherd’s voice and the enemy’s crafty imitation. When we are stripped of all the comforts of Egypt, we finally reach the end of self. It is there, in the midst of what appears to us as chaos and disorder, that the G-d of order speaks kindly to us and lifts our weary heads. With no more worldly distractions, the Word reveals what is in our hearts. Each revelation offers us an opportunity to repent and return to the Master’s loving embrace.

Ones That Speak

While all the above is fascinating, even if a little scary, that’s not what struck me in the Rabbi’s lesson. He mentioned that one way we are like G-d is in the fact that we have the faculty of speech. We are the only creatures in His vast creation that, like Him, have words. We are medeber (ones that speak). Think about this for moment. In the same way that davar and midbar are connected, so is medeber. This means that we are not ONLY “ones that speak”, but “ones like a desert”.

Have you ever thought of yourself as a desert? Maybe our souls have felt dry or parched during a great trial, in the midst of mourning, or while suffering for righteousness sake or on account of our own sins. But have you ever considered that our wilderness journey should be as close and familiar to us as speech?

We were not only meant to speak, but we were meant to drink like the parched earth of a desert. Consider the many passages that urge us to partake of the Living Waters.[1] Or think about how the Word of G-d is figuratively referred to as rain or water.[2] We should be like the thirsty ground, eagerly waiting for the gentle rain of Abba’s Word. Considering that Adam was formed from the dust of the ground, this makes perfect sense. Mankind is essentially dirt or dust. And the ground NEEDS the heavenly rains like we NEED the words of our heavenly Elohim.

Dirt and Seeds

seed-plant-life-garden-grow-dirt-wide.1200w.tnWe are, at our core, the substance (dirt) in which seeds can be planted in order for New Life to grow. The Word is equivalent to a Seed in Scripture.[3] Coincidence? I don’t think so. If words are seeds, we should be careful what we allow to take root in our soil or dirt. I believe these words or seeds can come from three places: G-d, the enemy, and ourselves.

Thus, the enemy’s word is a seed. The words we speak are seeds. The words others speak are seeds. But the only Seed that is always truth and always produces life is the Word of YHWH. The question is how do we know, and I mean without a doubt know that we know, whether the seed we are receiving is G-d’s Seed?

This is where the dry, dirty side of our essence comes in to play. In order to hear or receive the Word of Adonai, we must become like a desert. All distractions and things that vie for our attention must be removed in order for us to really hear or shema YHWH. In the wilderness, our nephesh (flesh) is denied worldly pleasures and conveniences. One reason that fasting is so effective is because it strips the nephesh of gratification. Any time our nephesh (with all its thoughts, desires, and appetites) is ruled over by our younger (new) spirit-man, our connection to YHWH is strengthened. And our flesh serves us rather than us serving it.

Whose Voice?

speakingMany times, we listen to the voice of our own desires rather than the Words of YHWH. Like the Tree of Knowledge, it speaks both good and evil. We know this voice so well that we often mistake it for the Holy Spirit (especially when its speaking “good”). Let’s face it, when it seems as if we will get to avoid suffering in a dry desert, our voice (or even the voice of the enemy) sounds like good counsel to our itching ears. This is why various people can all claim to be hearing from the One Holy Spirit, yet will have conflicting ideas, agendas, and doctrine. We are ones that speak, but rarely are we willing to become a desert. We must learn to submit to the wilderness and allow the Word to test us.

Emptying ourselves of our own desires (even those we deem good and profitable or even godly) is the key to becoming the image of Elohim in the earth. You want to love YHWH with all your heart and love your neighbor like yourself? It will cost you flesh and bone. Are we willing to suffer for YHWH and our neighbor?[4] Or would we rather cause others to suffer so that we can have things our way? Do we open our mouths and speak life (healing/shalom) to others or do we use our speech to persuade others to do things the way we like it or see it? Which voice is the Holy Spirit and which is the voice of our own nephesh (soul)?

The acquisition of treasures (desires of our hearts/flesh) by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death. (Pr. 21:6 added parenthesis mine)

 

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. (Jam. 1:26)

Watch Your Mouth

He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles. (Pr. 21:23)

shut your mouthOur mouths cause us more trouble than any other member of our bodies.[5] Is this because we only desire to be ones that speak and not ones like a desert? After all, you can’t speak AND drink at the same time! Interestingly, if we fail to choose to become a humble desert before YHWH, He will take us there kicking and screaming. Our only choice in the matter is the method of how we arrive and how we act once we get there. YHWH’s Word is ALWAYS tested in the wilderness/desert.[6] Consider the many judgments that result with the people and the land becoming desolate. In these cases, Abba’s judgment has in effect “shut our mouths”.[7]

Is Adonai just an angry tyrant or does He know something that we desperately don’t want to accept? The Bible says that G-d is Love and that He chastises those whom He loves.[8] He takes us to the desert because He knows that the testing of the wilderness will reveal our hearts. We need to face the serpent on the pole, so that we may be healed and saved. The serpent is the voice of our own selfish desires. It is the crafty forked tongue that whispers both good and evil. When we heed its voice rather than Adonai’s, we are stung with its venom and take the fast track toward death.

This is why we must die daily like the lamb offerings in the Tabernacle and the Temple. Our beast must be brought to the altar. Like all creatures, the beast doesn’t submit easily. It is excellent at convincing us (with its mouth) that all is well. The smooth words of the serpent appeals to our feelings of entitlement, self-righteousness, and piety. The beast does not like to identify with suffering or humility. But like Cain, we are told to MASTER this impulse.

Hearing-GodWe do this by becoming what we were created to be. We are a desert; a vast wilderness laid bare for all of heaven to see and judge. In this position, we are no longer mouths that speak to justify or coerce; rather, we become a sponge that soaks up the words of life. Though the Living Word kills the flesh, it quickens the spirit.

This is the key to humility, hearing from Abba, and loving our neighbor sacrificially. It is also what molds and shapes our clay vessels into the image of our great and loving Elohim. If we really got this we would no longer scorn our fiery trials or fear the seemingly empty places of life. Instead, we would prostrate ourselves under the heavens and allow the Word to truly divide between our soul (nephesh) and spirit.

For the word of God is living and active 
and sharper than any two-edged sword, and 
piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit,
 of both joints and marrow, and able to judge 
the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 
And there is no creature hidden from His sight, 
but all things are open and laid bare 
to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. 
(Heb. 4:12-13)

[1] Jer. 2:13; 17:13, John 4:10-11, Rev. 7:38

[2] This post speaks about the early and latter rains.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Is. 55:10-11)

“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.” (Hos. 6:3)

So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word. (Eph. 5:26)

[3] Luke 8:11

[4] Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, “THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT. “HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT. “FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.” Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. (1 Peter 3:8-17)

[5] James 3

[6] Think about Moses and Yeshua. Were they each not tested in the wilderness? What about Paul? Can you recall a period where he was tested in the desert? Consider the Children of Israel, Job, David, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and others. Can you connect these righteous men with both suffering and the desert/wilderness? Does the Bible give us examples of those who willingly flee to the desert and those who are taken there against their will? What is the difference between these two experiences? What is similar about these experiences? It seems as though we ALL must experience the wilderness. The question is: Will we go willingly or by force?

[7] Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God. (Rom. 3:19)

[8] FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” (Heb. 12:6)

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