new moon

Moonthly Cycle

For the past five years, I’ve been very intentional about celebrating the new moon. One result was publishing my first book, The Biblical New Moon: A Guide for Celebrating in 2016. Another unexpected outcome was discovering patterns within the monthly cycle. I’ll get to that in moment, but first, I’ll give you a comparison.

Most of my readers have been following the weekly Torah portions through multiple years. Those first several years garner more questions than answers as one’s heart adjusts to the Creator’s paradigm. But, as the years pass by, the Words of the Torah become more and more familiar, a comfort to the soul rather than a contention. Those questions from the early years have long been satisfied by the Words of Life.

Each year, the Spirit highlights certain words, phrases, or sections in the portions as He leads one through the wilderness. It’s always the perfect instruction in due time. I often say that as I follow the Torah portions, they also follow me. It’s like the water giving Rock that followed the children of Israel in the desert. I can see the themes from the portions playing out in my life, testing and encouraging me each week. I can’t imagine walking through life without their guidance, as they are my daily bread, just as sure as Yeshua is the embodiment of the same.

I have had a similar experience on the larger cycle of the months. Much like the Torah portions, they each have a personality (so to speak) that thematically links to real life. And, just as the Ruach HaKodesh highlights certain words, phrases, and sections new every year in the weekly Torah portion, He does the same for the months. The first few years I didn’t notice these patterns because all the information was fresh and new. I had more questions than answers as I attuned myself to this greater cycle through practice.

In the fourth year of being intentional, something shifted, just as it did when I first committed to the Torah cycle. If you’ve read my book (linked above), then you know that I included a great deal of Jewish tradition.[1]For example, I used their assignments of the twelve tribes of Israel for each month, and I included the twelve constellations (mazel) that fall in the ecliptic with the sun and moon each month.[2]There are generally four Torah portions within the months, giving even more layers that make up the personality or theme for the month. Moreover, many months have Biblical and/or traditional feast or fast days. All of these things and more are quite fascinating to meditate upon, and will lead to more understanding.

I think of it as zooming out from the weekly cycle to get a fresh perspective. On an even larger scale, one could zoom out to the yearly festivals, then to the seven-year cycle (Shemittah), and even further to the Yovel (Jubilee) cycle. Wheels within wheels all powered by the Spirit of God. All these cycles are constantly moving around you, your family, your assembly, and the greater Body. And, all these cycles have an order. They are NOT random or arbitrary, they are part of what Adonai has revealed to His people. But, we must choose to either move with them, swim against their current (which gets you nowhere), or ignore them altogether. (Ignorance is not bliss in this case; the cycles are there and working in our lives regardless of whether we choose to follow Him or not.)

Dt. 29:29 (NASB) “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.

I had the privilege of reading Barry Miller’s book, Know the Time Change Your World: The Reappearance of the Seven- and Fifty-Year Biblical Cycles, during these intentional years of celebrating the new moon. His book is very helpful at explaining how the rhythms of these cycles affect not only our spiritual lives, but also our tangible lives in the market, workplace, and finances. After all, Adonai is concerned about the whole person, mind, body, and soul.

If you’ve been keeping the yearly feasts of Adonai for some time, you’ve probably noticed that things (good and bad) cycle around and around in the seasons. This is because judgment begins in the House of God. Feast days (including the weekly Sabbaths and new moons) are not just times of celebration. They are tests! We will be examined at the appointed times. As such, there are certain themes related to specific times. Perhaps you’ve already noticed this phenomenon on social media.

Every year, after the fall feasts, the identity of the Messiah is questioned, challenged, debated, and reimagined. Whether He is divine or not, Messiah or not, becomes explosive social media fare, destroying our witness regardless of how we view Him. Meanwhile, winter, Chanukah, and Purim are approaching. People in general begin to grow weary about their own identity. They question their purpose and struggle with foundational issues in life and in Bible study. Those that minister to others, really notice these patterns. It’s not chance.

Consider that after Sukkot, it is the “turn of the year.” It’s a type of new beginning. What’s at every beginning? A foundation must be built– whether physical or spiritual. If one has a shaky foundation, there is usually a great identity crisis. If one’s foundation was damaged in the previous year, they too, will struggle with a rebuild. What many consider “basic” or “foundational” issues will be challenged in this season. The Hebrew month’s that span this time frame are Kislev, Tevet, Shevat, and Adar.

Also consider the traditional winter festivals of Chanukah and Purim. They are all about the Jewish people fighting for their right to exist! Foreigners seek to wipe them off the map or conform them into an image of their making. The basic, foundational rights bestowed upon Israel by the Creator are being challenged. Is it a surprise that Messiah is challenged around this season? Or, that individuals search and struggle with who they are? I don’t believe so, because it’s part of the cycle. Sin and rebellion will exacerbate these issues.

That’s one example, I have many. I’ve been journaling about the monthly cycle for a while. I’ve written about my own struggles, and those that others have revealed to me at these seasons. I’ve also tried to pay attention to social media debates (in the Torah keeping world) and the months and seasons in which they occur. I have a dear friend that has given me more insight, and I hope to continue to collaborate with her. We hope to produce something more formal in the future.

Why would something like this be valuable? Testing and trials will not vanish, of course. They are part of our refinement. However, it would be encouraging to know that you are not alone, and that Adonai has good purposes and intentions towards us. It will also be a great resource for prayer! Many claim to be a watchman. A watchman can see what’s coming, sound the alarm, and prepare the army. If you are aware that certain issues in the natural or spiritual will be challenged or tested, then you know how to pray. You know how to stand. Your faith is built up to overcome. I believe the cycles of the Creator reveal these things to His people, so they can do just that: observe all His instruction. And, do so with a different heart, like Caleb, trusting that though there be giants, fortified cities, and Amalekites, we can overcome!

Num. 13:30 (NASB) Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.”

For now, I have a request for my readers. That is actually the point of this post! I wonder who would be willing to journal alongside me? I’d really like as much feedback as possible. I don’t need you to write a book, just notes about each month. What did you battle with? How did this compare to the weekly Torah portions that month? To the traditions from the Sages? To the feasts or fasts? What “blew-up” on social media? What did people need prayer for? What other patterns did you notice? To streamline what I’m looking for, I’ve devised the following chart. Feel free to print it out to use as journal pages or use it to create your own template.

Moonthly Cycle Chart

 


[1]If you are anti-Jewish, anti-tradition, or fear things that are mystical, you need read no further. I believe in balance and using good Bible hermeneutics. However, I also believe the Sages and Jewish sources are valuable and have great wisdom.

[2]This NOT astrology. It has nothing to do with divination or deciding one’s fortune. That’s the perversion. Pagans didn’t put the stars in the heavens, HaShem did. The luminaries declare the glory of Elohim, which is the Good News. (Ps. 19) They also govern His moedim, His calendar, His appointments, and give Light to the earth as a testament to His authority over all the earth. (Gen. 1:14-19)

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Torah Portion: Beshalach, A New Creation

 Exodus 13:17-17:16, Judges 4:4-5:31

In my last post on Chodesh Shevat, trees and fruit, and tasting that fruit were the central theme. I used the analogy of people being trees that produce fruit to bring out a deeper spiritual meaning for the new month, the New Year for Trees, and living a life devoted to God. One of the lessons of trees and taste buds is RENEWAL.

The idea of being born anew, having a change of status, and being refined into a “new” creation is evident in every aspect of the natural world that YHWH created. The new moon (month) is just one of the heavenly governors that proclaims this message. The Good News is taught in various and sundry ways to those with ears to hear.

This week’s Torah portion, Beshalach, is one of my favorites. There are so many wondrous events that one could spend weeks, if not years, on this one portion. I just happened to pull up Rabbi David Fohrman’s alephbeta.org and the following video captured my attention. The creation week is THE cycle; it is the great archetype for everything we see in both the natural and the spiritual. The seven moedim (feast days) exemplify this week and the Good News beautifully.

Creation Gospel students of Dr. Hollisa Alewine have explored the notion that the creation week can be seen in the exodus from Egypt in workbook one. Rabbi Fohrman furthers this imagery by presenting the listener with a midrash about the sea parting to expose dry ground, and fruit trees appearing as the children walk through the sea. Where do the rabbis get the idea that trees appeared? Could this metaphor be a depiction of the people walking through the sea as trees of righteousness? Is the fruit a reminder of the fullness of the creation week (Shabbat) and the feast of the fruit harvest (Sukkot)? Is the midrash a foreshadowing of returning to Eden?

I hope you’ll watch and find out in this month of taste and “trees.”

Beshalach: Fruit Trees In the Sea?

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Chodesh Shevat: Taste and See

Ps. 34:8 (NASB) O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

The eleventh Hebrew month is called Shevat in Zechariah 1:7. Shevat is a cognate of shevet; meaning branch, rod, scepter, scion, staff, and tribe.[1] In the Land of Israel, Shevat gives the first indicators of spring as the almond trees “wake up” and sprout green buds as a sign of new (resurrected) life. Tu’B’Shevat, the 15th of Shevat, commemorates the New Year for Trees in Jewish tradition. (Read more about that here.)

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Almond buds and blossoms are also associated with authority. Consider Aaron’s rod that budded and blossomed overnight with fully ripe almonds after Korah’s rebellion and the consequent plague upon the people. (Num.16-17) This sign (oht) revealed that Aaron was YHWH’s chosen high priest, and that he operated in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, as indicated by the fully ripe fruit on his rod. It wasn’t happenstance that the rod or branch of the almond was chosen to display this sign, as almond trees flower and bear fruit earlier than all the fruit trees in Israel. Therefore, almonds are שָׁקֵד (sheked) in Hebrew; a word that also means to awake or watch (shakad).

Jer. 1:11-12 (NASB) The word of the LORD came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “I see a rod of an almond tree.” 12 Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.”

The imagery of wakefulness, resurrection, counsel, correction, and authority are also symbolized in the design of the holy golden menorah. It, too, has almond blossoms, buds, and even seven watery-like eyes filled with fiery olive oil. Traditionally, the eleventh month of Shevat merges these themes together with the human faculty of taste and the stomach, i.e. eating.

At first glance, this notion seems a little odd. Haven’t we clearly detected the connections of trees, especially almond trees, with the current season and (spiritual) sight? We could even add light, vision, the Word, and the fullness of the Holy Spirit to these ideas as both the almond tree and the menorah tree represent these concepts beautifully. So why then, do the rabbis suggest that Shevat is associated with taste?

Taste Buds

Contemplating this question led me to do a little research on the tongue and taste buds. The average human tongue is about three inches long with 2,000 to 4,000 taste buds. The tongue is made up of 8 different muscles that intertwine with each other creating a flexible matrix that work independently of the skeleton.

The tongue’s pink and white bumps that are visible to the human eye are called papillae. Each papilla contains 1 to 700 taste buds, depending upon its location on the tongue.[2] Taste buds have ten to fifty sensory cells that are intermittently renewed about every ten days.[3] The arrangement of these cells looks like the bud of a flower; hence, the name “taste buds.”[4]

Taste is some combination of sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami (savory).[5] Contrary to what many were taught in school, all areas of the tongue can detect each of these tastes. Like all of the human senses, taste enables one to discern the world around them. Taste (often along with the sense of smell) is how we discern what we are ingesting. But “eating” doesn’t begin with the tongue and one’s taste buds. We eat with our eyes first. Like Chavah (Eve), the fruit is first pleasing to the eyes before it is deemed good to eat.

Taste and Shevat

Now that the science lesson is over, how does this relate to the month of Shevat? People are often compared to trees in Scripture.[6] Humans have limbs, trunks, and grow roots. People can flourish or wither, and produce fruit. Fruit is an indicator of health and reproduction. Seeds reside Inside the fruit, and have the potential to produce a whole new tree. Messiah compares man to trees:

Mat. 7:15-20 (NASB) “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  16  “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?  17  “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  18  “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.  19  “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  20  “So then, you will know them by their fruits.

The appearance of the tree is not a good indicator of whether that tree (man) is good or evil. We are to look for proper fruit, as outlined by Paul in Galatians 5.

Gal. 5:22-23 (NASB)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  23  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

No matter how appealing the outward appearance is to one’s eyes, human sight, like all senses, can be deceiving. Tasting fruit offers one an additional measure of discernment. What does your tongue tell you? Is the fruit sweet? Sour? Bitter? Salty? Is there a seed inside the fruit?

Taste buds look like a flower bud or blossom under the microscope. Do you think this is a coincidence? These little receptors receive what is ingested and send that signal to the brain as a form of warning or delight. Even if one’s eyes indicate that the fruit is a delight, the taste buds will know whether the fruit is bitter or sweet.

My mother expressed an insightful notion as we were discussing this the other night. She said, “Most people cannot accept the ‘seed’ we offer them because it is encased in a shell (fruit) of bitterness.” Their tongues reject our words and even truth because their senses of discernment are not getting the signals of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Thus, the bitterness is spit out; and with it, the truth we claim to be espousing.

Perhaps the problem isn’t that the fruit is bad, but immature. Young, unripe fruit has a sour taste that can cause intestinal distress. The Torah gives commandments for the appropriate time to consume fruit from trees, but what if trees are also people?

Lev. 19:23-25 (NASB) ‘When you enter the land and plant all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it shall not be eaten.  24  ‘But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD.  25  ‘In the fifth year you are to eat of its fruit, that its yield may increase for you; I am the LORD your God.

© Igor Dolgov | Dreamstime.com

The Torah further directs one in how to handle fruit trees in a time of war; they are not to be cut down or destroyed. Are we not in a very real and ongoing spiritual battle? Mind the fruit trees, please.

Dt. 20:19-20 (NASB)  “When you besiege a city a long time, to make war against it in order to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them; for you may eat from them, and you shall not cut them down. For is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by you?  20  “Only the trees which you know are not fruit trees you shall destroy and cut down, that you may construct siegeworks against the city that is making war with you until it falls.

Taste and See

Taste and then see the fruit of the trees (people). The Word offers some help for one’s taste buds. Sometimes, these tools of discernment need to be renewed, just as we do. Thankfully, Adonai’s design of the tongue enables it to do just that. Within weeks, one can have a mouth filled with new taste buds that crave the good and not the bad. But even then, some tastes require an extra measure of discernment. Consider the following:

Umami (savory)

An aged Isaac had trouble with his physical sight and his sense of taste. His discernment was off, leaving Rebekah to steer the circumstances back toward the instruction the LORD originally gave while she was pregnant. The older will serve the younger.

Gen. 25:28 (NASB) Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Appetites are deceiving and can impair spiritual vision if one is ruled by their mighty impulses. In Isaac’s case, the result was a lack of sight and taste for Adonai’s plan for his younger son Jacob. Savory is a pleasant taste from animal fats and proteins. May that craving not be for wild game, but for the sacrifices of flesh laid upon the holy altar!

Bitter

As soon as Adonai redeemed Israel from the bondage of Egypt and walked them through the baptismal waters of the Reed (Red) Sea, their first stop was Marah, a place of bitterness.

Ex. 15:23-25 (NASB)  When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah.  24  So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”  25  Then he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them.

Can you imagine experiencing the ten mighty miracles in Egypt, plundering your Egyptian taskmasters, fleeing from Pharaoh and being protected by a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire, walking through the parted Sea of Reeds on dry ground, and then watching as the waters returned, swallowing the enemy and his army? That’s the setting for the bitter waters of Marah. The people grumbled (lun – H3885) at Moses because the water was bitter to their taste buds. It’s hard to imagine, but I wonder if we don’t do this very thing.

God answered by showing Moses “a tree.” What do you suppose this tree was? Or more mystically, WHO was this tree? What or who sweetens the bitter waters? Bitterness is an unpleasant taste that warns the brain to reject (spit out) the liquid or solid. The writer of Hebrews reminds believers to pursue peace with all men and sanctification, so that a root of bitterness doesn’t take root in one’s heart that will defile not only the person, but those around them. (Heb. 12:13-15)

Even after salvation and redemption, sanctification is necessary. Failing to submit to this difficult process is akin to allowing bitterness to grow, which defiles the living waters.[7] The Book of Hebrews continues with an admonition to remember the ungodly appetites (tastes) of Esau. We need the counsel of the Tree of Life, the Holy Word, Yeshua the Messiah, to sweeten the waters as He tenderly leads us through the sanctification process.

Drinking bitter waters is also a test. Consider the Sotah, the woman accused of adultery in Numbers 5. She literally drinks a curse as she is bared before the priest. If she is guilty, she will suffer the curse; but if she is innocent, she will not be harmed and will go on to produce holy fruit.

Sweet

In the verses below, YHWH relates the Sabbath and the provision He provides to both sight and taste.

Ex. 16:28-31 (NASB) Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions?  29  “See, the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”  30  So the people rested on the seventh day.  31  The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.

Sabbath rest is a holy space in time, a refuge where Adonai provides bread for the whole man. It is like wafers and honey to the taste buds that ingest its wondrous and heavenly flavor. Many are like ancient Israel and cannot fathom how this strange substance has worth. They declare, “What is it?” Eyes alone are deceiving.

Sometimes we confuse sweet and bitter:

Is. 5:20 (NASB) 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!

This is because we have been tasting and ingesting the words (seeds/fruit) of the harlot or wicked woman instead of the Holy Spirit of Wisdom.

Pr. 5:3-4 (NASB)  For the lips of an adulteress drip honey And smoother than oil is her speech;  4  But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword.

Our taste buds need time to regenerate and heal to their proper function. This is why fasting is beneficial to both the natural and the spirit man.[8] When the flesh is denied the things that it craves, taste buds have time to renew and desire that which is truly good and helpful to the body and the spirit. Beastly scales fall from the eyes when the spirit rules over the lower nature. That is how one can proclaim with joy and gladness:

Ps. 119:103-104 (NASB) How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  104 From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.

But, there is another side to this coin, a holy mandate, that makes the sweet, bitter. The double-edged sword of the Word of the LORD slices through bone and marrow, soul (nephesh) and spirit, and judgment falls on those things that do not belong and on those that refuse to repent.

Ezek. 3:3,14 (NASB)  He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth… So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away; and I went embittered in the rage of my spirit, and the hand of the LORD was strong on me.

Delivering the honey of the Word is a difficult task. One must endure many stings to extract its sweet amber. What is delightfully sweet to the taste buds of the righteous is bitter to the stomach of fleshly appetites and desire. YHWH gave Ezekiel a mission to be a watchman and prophet to rebellious Israel. He endured bitter circumstances to deliver the golden Words of the LORD’s judgment. John’s experience mirrored Ezekiel:

Rev. 10:9-11 (NASB) So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he *said to me, “Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.”  10  I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.  11  And they *said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”

True prophets and prophecy requires dealing with the bitterness of God’s judgment on stinky flesh. The delivery vessel must suffer many tribulations for the sake of righteousness, a process that is very unpleasant to the stomach (appetites and desires of human flesh), but sweet to the taste buds of godly discernment. Only a Holy Spirit filled person could endure this bittersweet calling and mission. David, the anointed king, rejoiced in the judgments of YHWH:

Ps. 19:9-10 (NASB) The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.  10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

If your obedient service to YHWH is bittersweet, rejoice! For He is faithful and true! You are His planting, a mighty oak. Taste and See the liquid gold promises of Messiah:

Is. 61:1-3 (NASB) The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;  2  To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,  3  To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

Sour

The Hebrew word for sour is related to chametz, leavened grains. Fermented breads in the ancient world were all sour dough types. Most often leavened grains (chametz) are figurative of the small foreign agents multiplying rapidly to puff up a person in pride or other sin. This makes one sour or defiled. Closely linked to this notion is the sense of sight, as one is to be watchful of the kneading bowl and thoroughly inspect the house during the days of Unleavened Bread. As Paul says, just a little leaven will infect the whole lump of dough![9]

1Cor. 5:7-8 (NASB)  Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.  8  Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

© Catalina Zaharescu Tiensuu | Dreamstime.com

There is no mistaking that Paul is comparing the sourness of leaven to the actions (and words) of people in the context of the chapter above. The people he references are believers, not those lost to the world. Recall the original Passover and Unleavened Bread. Israel’s first stop was Marah with its bitter waters. If one fails to search out the leaven of the heart, the sour chametz will puff up like the chest of a wild beast of the field to create wickedness and eventually bitterness among even the Household of God. What’s the remedy?

1Cor. 5:11 (NASB) But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

Hopefully, being removed from the camp will spring up a well of repentance in such a person’s heart. Regardless, the yeast infection is stayed from infecting the rest of the local body. Our duty is to daily examine our own hearts for the sourness of pride. The indicators (fruits) are a dead giveaway as to what is truly growing in the soil. Check for the sweet attributes of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and remove what doesn’t belong. In Psalm 34, David tells us to taste and see that the LORD is good. Taste, in order to “see” properly. This is also to true for our words. Taste your words before you spit them out. Don’t let the putrid smell of decaying flesh be on your breath. May your lips drip with the fragrant honey of the Word and fruit (words and action) of the Spirit.

Salty

Lev. 2:13 (NASB)  ‘Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.

Eliminate salt from your diet and discover how mundane and boring eating and tasting can become. Salt adds life and delight to any type of food; even the best dessert needs a pinch of salt to bring out the richness and sweetness. Salt CHANGES the taste of food (it never works the other way around). It makes food and drink palatable and yummy. All sacrifices are offered with salt. Salt was not only a great commodity in the ancient world, but was a symbol of covenant in the near east.[10] Salt and a meal between families bound them together.

Too little salt and the taste is not as appealing. Too much salt, and something can hardly be swallowed, and can even result in poisoning. But with the right amount, flavor bursts in the mouth causing delight. This is what we are to be to other people; the thing that causes them to rejoice and crave more.

Col. 4:5-6 (NASB) Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.  6  Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

© Jiri Hera | Dreamstime.com

Salt is a great cleanser and food preservative. It prevents decay and kills many harmful bacteria. Interestingly, Elisha purified the waters in Jericho with salt. (2 Kings 2) The bottom line is that salt can kill or heal. We must discern a healthy amount to use both literally and figuratively. Messiah said:

Mat. 5:13 (NASB) “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

Salt also causes thirst. Our speech should cause others to hunger and thirst for righteousness, not suffer dehydration. Living Waters are to flow like a river from our innermost being. This IS the Holy Spirit, a river of Life and of Eden. If we have become salt that is no longer salty, or a pillar of salt that continually longs for the world, there is no life. We are a dry well. May Abba cast such a one into His watery refining fires of cleansing and renewal. May He sprinkle fresh water upon your soul.

Ezek. 36:24-27 (NASB)  “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.  25  “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.  26  “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  27  “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

Asher

Taste and see! In conclusion, there is one last association for the month of Shevat that ties into the theme of taste. The tribe of Shevat is Asher. Asher means to be happy, blessed, to advance and walk straight. Perhaps Jacob and Moses’ blessings over this son and tribe will have a deeper meaning considering the faculty of taste just explored.

Gen. 49:20 (NASB) “As for Asher, his food shall be rich (fat), And he will yield royal dainties.”

Dt. 33:24-25 (NASB)  Of Asher he said, “More blessed than sons is Asher; May he be favored by his brothers, And may he dip his foot in oil.  25  “Your locks will be iron and bronze, And according to your days, so will your leisurely walk be.

Asher’s food (fruit) is fat and rich, a feast fit for a King and his court. He is a picture of one that offers the thirsty, hungry, and battle weary true refreshment. He spreads happiness and revitalizes the weak. This is how he yields “royal dainties.” He serves from the King’s table. Does this remind you of the wedding supper of the Lamb?

Moses, through the inspiration of the Ruach HaKodesh, blesses the tribe of Asher last. He is the eleventh-hour tribe (of the eleventh month). Moses says Asher is the MOST blessed of the sons. When his fruit is pressed (tested), his walk (foot) is revealed to be dipped in the sweet oil of the Holy Spirit. Verse 25 above uses the English word “locks” to describe the Hebrew word man’al, meaning sandal or shoe latches or the thing that secures one’s shoes. To have your “feet shod with the preparation with the Gospel of Peace,” remember the happiness of Asher. (Eph. 6:15)

Is. 52:7 (NASB)  How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Asher is a reminder of the happiness to come in the fullness of the Kingdom of God and his banquet table of royal dainties. Asher has the oil from holy trees that others come to “purchase.” His delicacies make him favored among the brethren because they can “taste and see” the richness of the Holy Spirit in the actions and words that drip like oil and honey from his lips. They are a balm of healing and delight, a reminder of the King’s Table. May you be like Asher as a holy tree of life, and not the Asherim of deaf and dumb idols.

May this new month bring renewal and blessings upon you and your households. May it truly be a New Year for Trees (people) in your assemblies. May your tongue be used as a wise discerner of truth. May you be happy like Asher with the richness of the bread (Word) of God, and may you yield a banquet fit for the King and His Kingdom.

© Costin79 | Dreamstime.com

 

Update: After reading this article, a dear reader sent me the following song by Andrew Peterson. It’s called “The Sower’s Song.” I can’t express the magnitude of how much Adonai is glorified in it! Enjoy!


[1] The word Shevat (שְׁבָט) is also phonetically related to Shabbat (שַׁבָּת). The letters tet and tav, both letters of the tongue, can be interchangeable.

[2] http://www.monell.org/news/fact_sheets/monell_taste_primer

[3] http://jcb.rupress.org/content/jcb/27/2/263.full.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4647210/

[4] Learn more here.

[5] Flavor is a combination of taste plus smell, which is how your brain registers scent when you  eat something. I hope to explore flavor and smell in a later in post.

[6] For example, see: Dt. 20:19, Is. 65:22, Jer. 17:8, & Psalm 1

[7] See also James 3 on the tongue.

[8] Consider Jonah 3:7

[9] 1 Cor. 5:6-8, Gal. 5:9

[10] For more on this see Clay Trumbull’s Salt Covenant.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, new moon, Study Helps | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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