Heading to our new moon meeting for Tevet 5781 (2020). These are my notes for our locals. I thought some of my readers would find them helpful for the new month. May your homes been filled with Light and Yeshua!
Heading to our new moon meeting for Tevet 5781 (2020). These are my notes for our locals. I thought some of my readers would find them helpful for the new month. May your homes been filled with Light and Yeshua!
Kislev and Tevet, the 9th and 10th Hebrew months, are the darkest months of the year in the northern hemisphere. Since the natural is a picture or shadow of the spiritual realm, what is occurring in nature at this season is mirrored in one’s spiritual life. Less light and more darkness is sensed by both the physical and spiritual aspects of man. For example, when the days grow shorter and colder, some people experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Light therapy is a common treatment for this type of depression.
Nature is a great teacher, and a firm witness of God’s truth. Thus, by examining creation, we can learn spiritual patterns in the cycle of seasons, days, months, and years. The luminaries of day four of creation GIVE both natural and spiritual light to the earth and earth beings. They govern the day and the night and separate the light from the darkness. Mankind has a proclivity to confuse light and darkness, at least spiritually speaking. The intent of this article is to remind the reader of this reality, and to help one discover how Adonai uses this season every year to refine and prepare one for the next growing season.
All the points at the beginning of this post are important themes that weave together to create the “big picture” view of Kislev. My video on Kislev in 2018 explained most of these themes. But this year, I want to concentrate on the theme of Light and the primary feedback that I have received in the “dark” months over the years.
During Kislev and Tevet, I receive more emails and messages about identity than anything else. People tend to struggle with their purpose, who they are, and what they should be doing. And, conversely, social media often teems with those that question or challenge the identity of Messiah. Regarding the former, I receive questions at this season that look something like this:
If you find yourself struggling with your purpose or with discerning Adonai’s will for your life in the dark months, know that this is normal. Rather than falling into the malaise of depression, apathy, or condemnation, allow the creation and agricultural season to shed LIGHT on God’s purpose for this introspection. The late fall and winter months in Israel are crucial to the new growing season of spring. If this is true in the natural, it is also true in the spiritual realm.
Right now, it is still the time of the early rains (yoreh) in Israel. They begin after the turn of the year, just after the seventh month and the fall feast days. These rains sink into the hard, dry soil making it easy for farmers to plough the ground and prepare it to receive new seeds. As you read Smith’s Bible Dictionary’s entry on “rain” below, consider the figurative or spiritual application as well as the natural.
“In the Bible, “early rain,” signifies the rain of the autumn, Deu 11:14, and “latter rain,” signifies the rain of spring. Pro 16:1; Pro 16:5. For six months in the year, from May to October, no rain falls, the whole land becomes dry, parched and brown. The autumnal rains are eagerly looked for, to prepare the earth for the reception of the seed. These, the early rains, commence about the latter end of October and continuing through November and December. January and February are the coldest months, and snow falls, sometimes to the depth of a foot or more, at Jerusalem, but it does not lie long; it is very seldom seen along the coast, and in the low plains. Rain continues to fall, more or less, during the month of March, but it is very rare in April… the early and the latter rains, for which the husbandman waited with longing, seem rather to have implied the first showers of autumn — which revived the parched and thirsty soil and prepared it for the seed — and the later showers of spring, which continued to refresh and forward both the ripening crops, and the vernal products of the fields.” Jas 5:7; Pro 16:15.” (Emphasis mine.)
On the higher, spiritual level, the season of the early rains (October, November, December) coincides with the darker, colder, and less “light” time of the year. If the natural purpose is to soften dry, hardened soil for ploughing and planting seeds, then the spiritual purpose is the same in the heart of man. Can you see why it is at this season that people tend to question their purpose and progress, and reevaluate their goals? Especially, in regard to Kingdom work?
Beloved, there is a very real inward battle at this season. Your identity is firmly rooted in Messiah Yeshua. Period. But, that will not excuse one from testing. Testing is for our refinement and is the LORD’s tool to conform us to His image. The months and the moedim GIVE Light to the earth and earth beings. If you’ve been following the moonthly cycle of Adonai for some time, you already know that certain issues pop up at certain seasons EVERY year.
In the dark months, consider what is happening outside. The days are growing darker and colder. Life seems stagnant or even dead. Plants shrivel, trees lose their leaves, some animals crawl into a den of hibernation and SLEEP. All these things are literal surface observations. They do NOT depict what is occurring under the surface, within the trees, and in the soil. In this case, it’s what we can’t see with our natural eyes that matters most. Though one’s natural eyes can see that the environment is dark, cold, and lifeless, one with wisdom knows how VITAL this stage is for NEW GROWTH.
Consider this time of inner reflection to be like a dark, watery womb where you are receiving the early, nourishing
rains of Adonai. They are softening hard, callused attitudes and hearts. Or, think of yourself like a plant or tree. The struggle you face is meant for the betterment of your FUTURE. It is time not only for night dreams, but waking dreams, hopes, and goals. What worked or didn’t work during the growth and harvest season last year? How will you plan your GARDEN for the upcoming season of Light, spring? How will you use these “dark” months? What will you birth or sprout in the spring?
I recommend that you journal any “identity” issues that surface in Kislev and Tevet. Pray and seek God for what He will have you plant, rearrange, uproot, and in what areas you should expand or reconsider altogether. These deep soul questions are normal, and Adonai’s desire is that they help you prepare for the next season. The enemy will use such questions to lead one to despair or condemnation. That is the perversion, and the battleground.
With less natural light available, the spiritual light can also be obscured if one is not diligent to seek it out at this season. Perhaps, this why Adonai gave the Maccabees victory late in this month, as He knew it would be commemorated with the oil fueled light of the Chanukiah. Even if you don’t celebrate Chanukah, this is a good time to review the historical events and learn from them. Judah was fighting a type of spiritual darkness that mixed the holy with the profane, and outright forbid crucial elements of the Covenant between God and Israel such as circumcision, Shabbat and New Moon observance, and Torah study.
Knowledge of this reality is half of the battle. We do not grope in darkness, for there is light in Goshen. We are expected to be prepared in and out of season because we have the Light of the Word and Messiah.
2 Timothy 4:1-4 (NASB) I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
Messiah warns about the confusion of light and darkness. There is a very real possibility that one can be full of darkness and actually think that they are full of light. In other words, there is a false light that deceives many.
Luke 11:33-36 (NASB) “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. 36 If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.”
There is one key difference between true and false light. True light always gives. It does not take or steal or consume another in order to “shine.” False light, figured by natural fire, rapidly and hungrily devours its fuel source. Though it shines brightly, it can only do so as it gobbles up the essence and livelihood of another.
Today, it has become normal in western cultures to blame others or groups of others for one’s successes or lack thereof. Inner reflection, personal responsibility, and the Sovereignty of God are anathema in their equations. If you believe that you can only shine if and when others are brought low, consumed, silenced, or destroyed, it is time to “watch out that the light in you is not darkness.” The world has a false light, and it sounds very good to man’s passions, desires, lusts, and ego.
True light has no need to take from or consume another person or thing. It burns bright and true without destroying its fuel source. When Adonai called Moses to lead His people out of the bondage of Egypt, this is the first lesson he was taught. God’s light does not consume or destroy.
Exodus 3:2-4 (NASB) The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3 So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Moses was told to bring the children to this same mountain where Adonai appeared to him in the burning bush, and this would be a sign that Adonai was with him. (Ex. 3:12) Later, when Moses did so, the children of Israel perceived the glory of Adonai on Mount Horeb (Sinai) as LIKE a consuming fire. But like the bush, it was not actually consumed.
Exodus 24:17 (NASB) And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top.
The Holy Spirit of fire that rests upon God’s people likewise doesn’t consume or destroy the person. Fleshly passions, burning lusts, and worldly desires are quenched, but the man remains. As you consider the “light in you,” review your passions. What fuels your desires? What do you battle for or against? Does your heart burn with the desire to consume others in some way? If we are truly citizens of the Kingdom of Adonai, our lamps will not consume the “wood” or “oil” of another, only foolish virgins think that way.
Rather, our work will GIVE to others. It will uplift, transform, fill up, and brighten the lives of those that Adonai brings into our sphere. Others should see the LIGHT of Messiah in us, which will compel them to turn aside, like Moses, and stop their normal activities to see this marvelous sight. It is so contrary to the natural order that it stuns people. It might even appear to be “foolishness” if one is immersed in worldly wisdom.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (NASB) For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God.
One of the meanings of Kislev is foolishness or stupidity. In the month of light and darkness, the question is in what or in whom does one trust? For that determines how this word is translated. Do we trust in wisdom or folly? Truth or Lies? In God’s Sovereignty or man’s government? The foolish harlot’s tongue drips honey laced with promises of worldly pleasure, wealth, and grandeur. She excuses and justifies all the destruction and ruin in her wake; and, it really does sound like “wisdom” to the one sprawled on her couch drenched in costly fragrances. “Let it all burn and we will rebuild it in our own image,” she whispers. “It is good.”
On the contrary, the supernatural light of God manifests like chesed (lovingkindness), which is also a GIVER. Chesed and the LIGHT of Adonai are spiritually discerned for those in darkness. It just doesn’t make sense to the natural, worldly mind. But, this “burning without consuming” is where God met with Moses and it is where He made the Covenant with Israel. The pattern is trustworthy. In order to lead others to the Mountain that burns without being consumed, we must first demonstrate the same. May it be so!
Another journal activity for Kislev and Tevet is to consider your gifts. As the ultimate Giver, Adonai gives good gifts to His children. What spiritual gifts do you possess? How are you using them? If you are unsure of what gifts you have, ask other Believers that know you well. They likely see them better than you do. Pray and ask Adonai to reveal to you what they are and how you can serve Him with these talents. If you meet with others for the new moon, devote some time in prayer for those present in the areas of identity and gifts. Many struggle, especially at this season, with one or the other.
Meanwhile, be very careful with what ignites your flame. Next month, in Tevet, anger is the sense. Don’t allow your dream discoveries in Kislev to incite covetousness, rage, jealousy, or contempt. May Adonai bless you and keep you!
 See H3689 as used in Job 8:14; 31:24, Proverbs 3:26, Psalm 78:7 (Also see footnote 9.)
 Genesis 1:17-18 (NASB) God placed them [the luminaries] in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.
 Col. 2:16-17, 1 Cor. 15:46
 See footnote 2.
 Job 17:12, Isaiah 5:20; 9:2; 59:9, Matthew 6:23, John 1:5, etc.
 This is the NINTH month, the number most associated with human gestation.
 Kislev is called the month of dreams, because most of the dreams recorded in the Torah are read during this month in the Torah cycle.
 Hebrew Word Definitions: כֶּסֶל kesel: A masculine noun meaning loins, confidence, stupidity. The first use can actually mean the waist area, the kidneys, etc. (Lev 3:4, Lev 3:10, Lev 3:15; Lev 4:9; Lev 7:4; Job 15:27). The second use is more ambiguous, meaning that in which one puts trust or confidence (Job 8:14; Job 31:24; Psa 78:7; Pro 3:26). The final usage is a false self-trust or stupidity (Psa 49:13 ; Ecc 7:25). See the related Hebrew verb kāsal (H3688) and Hebrew noun kislāh (H3690).
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-YESHUA AND THE WOMAN WHO LOVED HIM
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Spiritual Gift: Faith
In Hebrew, faith is emunah (ee-moo-nah). It comes from the root aman, which means to support, confirm, establish, be faithful, to trust. It’s first occurrence is with Abraham:
Gen. 15:5-6 (NASB) And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed (aman) in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Aman is often translated as “believe,” because it implies something that can be trusted with confidence. It is firm. Amen (amein) comes from this same root. When one says, “Amen!” they are affirming the words being delivered and counting them as trustworthy. Truth, emetshares this same root. Truth is firm, established, and trustworthy. One can put their faith and trust in the truth of God’s Word.
Emunah differs from western thought. Having “faith” is not a mental or verbal agreement to a set of statements. This is why you won’t find a statement of faith at Grace in Torah. While emunah does have an element of mental belief, it is something that is proved through action. Abraham trusted and believed in God, and demonstrated his faith through his deeds. James said that “faith without works is dead.” As a Hebrew, he understood this concept very well, and reminded the scattered tribesthat even demons have head knowledge or mere belief.
Jas 2:18-21 (NASB) But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?
Emunah has substance and evidence. The writer of Hebrews says that this is the kind of faith that our elders had (saints in the Tanakh –O.T.), that garnered them a good report. Since Tisha B’Av recalls the evil report of the ten spies in Numbers 13-14, perhaps it would behoove us to also recall the actions of those in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11.
Heb. 11:1-2 (KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
Much could be (and has been) written on emunah. For the purposes of this meditation, consider how faith and peace are related. If one’s faith is true and firm, it naturally produces peace. That doesn’t mean that one will not suffer or struggle; it means that one’s faith gives confidence and shalom in the midst of trials.
Rom. 5:1-5 (TLV) Therefore, having been made righteous by trusting (faith), we have shalom with God through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. 2 Through Him we also have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand and boast in the hope of God’s glory. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in suffering—knowing that suffering produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Ruach ha-Kodesh who was given to us.
In Hebrew, peace or shalom is not the absence of war, pain, or conflict. Shalom is more akin to wholeness, in the various respects of a person – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Being made whole implies that at some point, “parts” were separated. In order for shalom to occur, these pieces must be brought back together, even if they are in opposition to one another. In this sense, shalom is about integrating these things, becoming “one.”
In this realm, one can have shalom in one area and not another. One’s faith can supersede the missing part, because one knows that in the end, all will be made whole again. (1 Cor. 15) It is possible to have shalom while walking through great difficulties or even danger. Having “peace like river” is quite contrary to the idea of still waters. Thus, faith and trust in Adonai can sustain one’s mental and emotional state as they float through the rapids of life, because they TRUST Him and have hope for the future.
Heb. 11:39-40 (NASB) And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
Those with faith in Hebrews 11 did not receive the promise, because Adonai will not make them “perfect” without us. All the “parts” will be gathered together as a whole (echad), which is shalom. This was the prayer of Yeshua. (John 17:19-26) It will occur under the perfect government of the Prince of Peace! How fitting is that?
Like our forbearers in the faith, we also remain faithful as we look forward to That Day. This brings peace to broken hearts and lives. We have a great Hope! This life is not the end. There is so much more.
Heb. 12:1-2 (TLV) Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin. Let us run with endurance the race set before us, 2 focusing on Yeshua, the initiator and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame; and He has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
In the meantime, may we be known as peacemakers.
Jas 3:18 (NASB) And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Mt. 5:9 (NASB) “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Spiritual Gift: Gifts of Healing
In 2020/5780, this day is the weekly Shabbat. Because of that, let’s begin this meditation with Shir Hama’alot, which is Psalm 126. In meditation 2, we looked at Al Naharot Bavel or Psalm 137, sang on weekdays and non-holidays during Birkat Hamazon (Blessing after meals). On the Sabbath and holy days, Psalm 126 is sung/recited instead.
Ps. 126:1-6 (NASB) A Song of Ascents. When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dream. 2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” 3 The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. 4 Restore our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the South. 5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. 6 He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Consider the contrast between these two Psalms. They depict exile for rebellion, and then the promise of return and restoration. A wound, and yet there will be healing. That pretty much sums up the entire Bible from man’s perspective. But, like our spiritual gift for this day’s meditation, healing doesn’t always occur instantaneously. Often, it requires patience or long suffering.
In the preface of the list of spiritual gifts, Paul uses a few key phrases to help the reader understand the diversity not only in gifts, but in the people that have them.
1 Cor. 12:4-7 (NASB) Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
He reiterates this again after listing the gifts of the Spirit:
1 Cor. 12:11 (NASB) But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
The Greek word translated as “varieties” by the NASB, is diairesis. It means distinctions, variety, and diversity. There are a variety of gifts, ministries, and effects, but they all come from the same Spirit of God. The word “effects” is the Greek word energēma, from which our English word energy comes. Different people are given different energies to perform the gift that Adonai has given each. They won’t always “look” the same, even if two people operate in the same gift. And yet, they all are empowered by the Holy Spirit, His energy.
The gift of healing is one of those energies or ministries. Healing has many forms, all with the goal of being made well or whole. One’s mind, emotions, physical body, life circumstances, or even their finances can be broken or wounded. Sometimes, a healer can touch or pray and the area affected is renewed. Sometimes a healer will direct the afflicted to do something such as repent, wash in the Jordan, or give charity. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all box.
Since the fruit for this day is patience, how can suffering through brokenness of soul or body be beneficial? Sometimes healing is a process that one must walk through, because instant healing wouldn’t really heal the root issue, or it wouldn’t bring Adonai glory, or it wouldn’t fulfill His purpose in some way. In cases like this, where we can’t possibly understand with finite minds, we might cry out like David and the saints that are told to patiently wait.
How long, O LORD?
Ps. 6:2-4 (NASB) Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am pining away; Heal me, O LORD, for my bones are dismayed. 3 And my soul is greatly dismayed; But You, O LORD—how long? 4 Return, O LORD, rescue my soul; Save me because of Your lovingkindness.
Ps. 13:1-2 (NASB) For the choir director. A Psalm of David. How long, O LORD?Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? 2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Ps. 79:5 (NASB) How long, O LORD? Will You be angry forever? Will Your jealousy burn like fire?
Ps. 90:12-14 (NASB) So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. 13 Do return, O LORD; how long will it be? And be sorry for Your servants. 14 O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Rev. 6:9-11 (NASB) When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
We must trust that Adonai is Good, and that His mercy (chesed) endures forever, despite the way things seem to us at the moment. If Adonai can heal Egypt and Assyria, He can definitely heal us! But, like these persecutors of Israel, it will come in His perfect timing.
Is. 19:22-25 (NASB) The LORD will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the LORD, and He will respond to them and will heal them. 23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. 24 In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”
In the meantime, we remember that we are like those that dream. (Ps.126) The Hebrew word for dream is chalam (חָלַם). It is like shalom with a chet instead of a shin; and like shalom, it implies recovering and being restored to health. This Shabbat, we sing and we remember, and we patiently consider that our suffering and tears will produce many sheaves for the Kingdom.
Ps. 126:5-6 Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. 6 He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Job 33:15-18 (NASB) In a dream, a vision of the night, when sound sleep falls on men, while they slumber in their beds, 16 then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction, 17 that He may turn man aside from his conduct, and keep man from pride; 18 He keeps back his soul from the pit, and his life from passing over into Sheol.
Spiritual Gift: Working Miracles
Fruit: Lovingkindness (chesed)
Love and lovingkindness go hand in hand. In the meditation for day one, we looked at agape and chesed in relation to wisdom. In this meditation, we will consider the miraculous power of chesed. When acted out in earnest, wondrous things happen.
Yeshua said, “go and learn” what chesed means in Matthew 9:13. In that case, he was being questioned for eating with tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees and many religious people today have firm ideas of what is acceptable and unacceptable. Yeshua was more concerned for those that needed to repent and be healed, than He was for even the holy sacrifices. Consider the story below.
Luke 10:25-37 (NASB) And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27 And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.” 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
Almost any commandment, tradition, or halachic ruling can be broken to save another person’s life. YHWH is the God of the Living, and all human life is immeasurably valuable to Him. We are told in Leviticus 18:5, “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.” (NKJV) Rabbi Akiva clarifies this verse by saying, “That he shall live by them, and not that he shall die by them.” (Yoma 85b)
He infers that the heart of the commandments islife and love. To save a life or one’s own life (or even the health of either), is the highest priority so long as one doesn’t deny Adonai, commit murder, idolatry, or adultery in order to do so. Piety should never hold a higher place in one’s mind than the value of another human. Choose Life!
The story that Yeshua told the lawyer in Luke 10 is just as valid today as it was in the first century. In the US, segregation is oddly being promoted by some groups. In the first century, various groups also separated themselves from one another based on religious sects, regional affiliations, and race.
The Samaritans were half Jew, half Gentile. During the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel, the king of Assyria sent people from Cutha, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim to inhabit Samaria, and they intermarried with the remaining people left from the northern tribes of Israel. They became known as Samaritans. While they accepted a version of the Torah (5 Books of Moses), they rejected the Prophets and the Writings. They also mixed idolatry with their worship of the Holy One. They even set up their own temple on Mt. Gerizim. When Nehemiah worked to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, the Samaritans tried to stop the work. (Neh. 6:1-14)
Needless to say, the Jews were not fond of the Samaritans. Tensions between these two groups were high. In John 8:48, the Jews called Yeshua a demon possessed Samaritan. This was meant to be a highly offensive slur. In John 4:9, the (Samaritan) woman at the well was perplexed that Yeshua, a Jew, would even speak to her.
Yeshua gently corrected her understanding in several ways. He pointed out her “5” previous husbands, an allusion to the Samaritans false belief that their version of the Torah was legitimate. He also revealed Himself to her as the Messiah, the Living Waters, and extended salvation to this lowly Samaritan, something the religious leaders in Jerusalem would have never done. The woman dropped her water pot and ran to tell her countrymen the Good News. The men of Samaria believed the woman’s report and came out to meet Yeshua. She was actually the first effective evangelist!
Yeshua’s encounter with the woman at the well is chesed in action. She and the Samaritans didn’t deserve anything from Him; and yet, He extended mercy, grace, and kindness to them anyway. Because, He is chesed. He brought reconciliation to two alienated groups, which the apostles continued after the resurrection. (Acts 8:25)
Chesed doesn’t ignore past sins; rather, it chooses kindness over retribution, mercy over vengeance, grace over disdain, love over hate. Chesed doesn’t know the “tit for tat” scores that we keep. It is not intimate with wisdom from below.
Love covers a multitude of sins. (Pr. 10:12, 1 Pet. 4:8) That includes the sins of those that have been a bane to your existence. Yeshua, as the living embodiment of the Word and the image of God, chose chesed rather than sacrifice. This resulted in the miracle of salvation to those that were perishing in Samaria. Often our vision is impaired, and is need of adjustment.
The only way that one can love the way that Adonai loves is to KNOW the love He has for us. (1 John 4) Then, we won’t fear that our enemy might not get his “just desserts.” Instead, we can truly rejoice that forgiveness and salvation has been extended to them as well. The lawyer reluctantly admitted to Yeshua that in the story, it was the “evil” Samaritan that fulfilled the Law more fully than the priest and Levite by extending chesed to the brutalized man. Caring for human life, in all forms, is greater even than the two greatest commandments. Why? Because it is the epitome of chesed love, and the two great commandments hang from it. Yeshua says, “Go and do the same.”
Rom. 13:10 (NKJV) Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.
The natural, earthy man struggles with the concept of chesed. Chesed is supernatural. To operate with chesed, one must continually have their mind renewed to align with the mind of Messiah. (Romans 12) Consider testimonies and stories that have had the greatest impact on your thinking. Do stories of radical forgiveness and sacrificial love inspire you more than rote commandments? In our heart of hearts, we hope that we can act with such sacrifice and loyalty to HaShem. We want to believe that we can radically forgive those they don’t deserve our forgiveness.
Chesed is so powerful that it can penetrate even the most callused heart. It is miraculous. It is the gift that keeps on giving. When one experiences true chesed, they are moved to extend chesed to another. It is freely given, underserved, and it certainly doesn’t expect anything in return. Though it is rooted in covenant love, it surpasses the letter of the Law, because it is pure Holy Spirit in action.
The Hebrew and Greek words for miracles (oht, pala, semeion, etc.) are often translated as signs and wonders. They are heavenly, like chesed. Miracles occur when heaven kisses earth (and earth beings). Thankfully, Adonai built (and continues building) the world with chesed (Ps. 89:2), which is the epitome of the Messiah. (Col. 1:15-20)
Ps. 85:10 (NASB) Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Perform chesed. Expect miracles.