Posts Tagged With: covenant

Counting the Omer & Shavuot

Chag Sameach Shavuot!


This year, I wrote two articles in a newsletter format. (I used this same format last Rosh Hashanah.) My plan was to print and give these out at our gathering, but they became too lengthy. If you listened to recent Renewed podcasts, you have some idea of where my thoughts have been this year during the Omer count.

So, dear reader, you get a two-for-one in this post – my two loaves, lol!

 

Counting the Omer 2018

Shavuot 5778

 

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim, Renewed Radio | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Four Cups of Passover

*Updated 3/18/18

Four_Cups_-_VideoA few of years ago, I revised our family Haggadah with a special emphasis on revealing the Messiah. While I prefer a more traditional Haggadah and feel it amply reveals Messiah, it’s not about me. (Imagine that, lol!) My mother suggested this format for those new to keeping the Moedim (feasts). And, I completely agree with her. If we truly want to “love our neighbor”, we must consider where others are at on the journey. How we handle these “little children” is a direct reflection of our own hearts. After all, the Haggadah (the telling) opens with the words: “Let all who are hungry come and eat.”

Yet, I’ve met some Torah keepers that refuse to allow certain people to “eat of their Passover.”[1] While I understand Torah commandments regarding this vital festival, I wonder if we are using just weights and equal measures when we make a judgment that refuses their participation. Will we deny the little children to enter the Kingdom? Do we have the “authority” to deny them?

Mat. 18:1-6 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (2) And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, (3) and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (4) “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (5) “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; (6) but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

It seems to me that many of us “seasoned” in the festivals have forgotten our first love and that that love “covers a multitude of sins[2]. Our zeal to do what is “right” in our own eyes or to follow our own interpretations becomes a block of stumbling. We smugly begin to think we are the ones that are greater in the Kingdom because we are doing things more accurate or holy. We believe we have the right calendar or the right tradition. We become the focus of the parable above, refusing to humble ourselves, which is in essence, us rejecting the children. We shoot our own foot with our so called “rightness”. When will we realize that this is nothing more than SELF-righteousness? This must turn the stomach of our loving Elohim.

The Father has really been speaking to me through the four traditional cups we drink at the Passover Seder.[3] I had not previously meditated on the fact that the Passover meal centers around FOUR.[4] The number four in Hebrew is the letter “dalet”. It is a picture of a door (delet). Passover is YHWH’s appointed time or moed that commemorates the Israelites applying the blood of a lamb to the lintels and doorposts of their homes. Without this act of obedience through faith, the death angel would have smitten Israel’s firstborn sons along with the Egyptians during the tenth plague. Moreover, Yeshua declared Himself the door. Consider the context of the following verses. Those familiar with Pesach will receive His intent immediately.

I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:9-10)

All those in covenant with YHWH must, by faith, apply the Lamb’s blood to their doorposts (hearts). There has always only been one Way to the Father. Passover is our entry into the covenant with YHWH.[5] Outside the covenant (door), the enemy seeks our destruction. We see this pictured with Cain[6] (sin crouches at the door) and with the death angel in Egypt passing over those homes with the blood of the Lamb.

Pesach is that first inkling of raw wisdom (light) that draws us unto the Father. It is realizing the depth of our depravity and our desperate need for a Savior. It is not as mature as Shavuot (Pentecost) or Sukkot (Tabernacles). But, it is still the entry point. It is accepting the Messiah and the Covenant. Understanding and deep Knowledge comes later and with maturity — as we journey through wilderness with YHWH. Again, will we deny the less mature babes from entering in?

When they had arrived and gathered the assembly together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. (Acts 14:27)

For I do not wish to see you now just in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits. But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. (1Cor. 16:7-9)

There are real adversaries outside the “door”. The last thing we would desire is to become an enemy to those trying to enter this DOOR! I’m afraid that some of us have (unintentionally) become an adversary to the immature children trying to enter. We must repent of this great tragedy! A wide door of effective service is open to us and the myriads that are loved by the Father. We have no right to be an enemy by standing in front of the door and blocking those that desire to enter. Perhaps we do not properly understand righteous judgment. If we have received mercy, we should also extend mercy – which we will examine further in the fourth cup. (For more in this vein, consider reading: Hezekiah’s Passover.)


passover_sederFour Cups

Ps. 116:12-13 (NASB) What shall I render to the LORD For all His benefits toward me?  13  I shall lift up the cup of salvation And call upon the name of the LORD.

Those of you familiar with Dr. Alewine’s Creation Gospel[7] model are aware that the number four is also a picture of seven or fullness. It deals with authority, government, and servanthood. All these belong to Messiah Yeshua. He truly is the Door to Life. Passover may be the entry to the Covenant, but it is also a picture of our complete redemption to come. The four cups of Passover mirror this truth in a profound way. They are based on this passage from Exodus:

Ex. 6:6-7 “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. (7) ‘Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

The four cups are called by different names depending on the Haggadah you are using. Don’t let this confuse you. It is very difficult to encapsulate the full meaning of each cup with one English word. Therefore, it is fitting that we embrace the various names used for each one and seek to understand how they harmonize or complete the “picture” of the promises given to us in Exodus.

  1. The Cup of Sanctification —- “I will bring you out”
  2. The Cup of Deliverance/Plagues/Judgment —- “I will deliver you”
  3. The Cup of Redemption/Blessing —- “I will redeem you”
  4. The Cup of Praise/Hope/Kingdom/Salvation/Restoration —- “I will take you for My people”

The cups are drunk in the following order throughout the seder:

  1. Drink 1st Cup with Kiddush (at the start of the seder).
  2. Drink 2nd Cup after the Maggid (telling of Pesach story).
  3. Drink 3rd Cup after Birkat Hamazon (blessing for the meal and Afikomen. Also, pour Elijah’s cup in anticipation for final redemption and coming Messiah.)
  4. Drink 4th Cup after Hallel (Psalms of praise).

 

We will look at each cup and explore its implications for the people of YHWH.

 

The Cup of Sanctification

“I will bring you out.” Ex. 6:6

Before saving faith, there is utter darkness. We are like dead men walking blindly toward our ultimate demise. In other words, one is in complete bondage to sin and death at this stage. There is no escape. Enter in YHWH. Despite one’s circumstances and multiple transgressions, the Creator of Heaven and Earth loves His Creation. He loves YOU. Therefore, with a Mighty Hand, He separates us from the bondage of sin and death. One simply must believe His promise and apply the blood to the doorpost of one’s heart by faith. God alone separates His people from the clutches of “Pharaoh,” so they can freely serve Him.[8]

The Sarajevo Haggadah 14th century

The Sarajevo Haggadah 14th century

When enslaved to sin and death, one cannot serve or worship YHWH in the manner He prescribes. Logically, the first step is for Him to call or bring one out of this depravity. This is the symbolism of the first cup, sanctification. You have been set apart, called out, and marked as one of His children. Passover is the moed (feast) that demonstrates this reality in process, deed, and ritual.

How this is accomplished by the Father is also abundantly clear; it is by the blood of the Pascal Lamb. This has been the process from the very beginning. (Rev. 13:8) Salvation has always been accomplished by believing (faith in action) in the promises of God.

By looking back on the original Passover, the first cup is akin to salvation from the harsh bondage of Egypt or Pharaoh (darkness/sin/death). Like the ancient Israelites, one might still be in a figurative Egypt or the world at this point, but the plagues of judgment placed on the evil taskmasters have lessened one’s hardships considerably. Light has pierced the darkness with a grand promise. We believe and await deliverance.

 

The Cup of Deliverance

“I will deliver you.” Ex. 6:6

The second cup is based on YHWH’s promise to deliver you. How is this different from the first cup, “bringing you out”? Being called out and separated is only the beginning of the redemption process. Once separated unto the Father, one is still in great need of rescue. The trappings of Egypt are many. These bondages have many forms with very tight shackles. Like Pharaoh, they do not want to let us go! While some of these trappings are external, many are internal. One’s time in Egypt (the world) has created a lot of soul ties. One’s nephesh or flesh likes many of the delicacies in which it has grown accustomed. Hopefully, Abba will not have to send plagues or judgments in order for one to turn fully toward Him.

passover 2The good news is that no matter the issue —- deliverance IS available. It’s never too late and one is never too old to experience this sweet release. When Israel was “delivered” from the burdens of the Egyptians, it was so that they could worship YHWH as He intended. Therefore, anything that hinders one from being able to worship Him in fullness can be likened to one of the “plagues” — whether they are external or internal. Anything that is placed before YHWH is an idol of the heart that needs to be removed. The point is to keep seeking for and to receive what is already promised. Our Deliverer Lives!

Traditionally, this cup is drunk at the conclusion of the maggid or retelling of the Passover story. Wine is a symbol of joy and celebration. Because our deliverance and liberation was costly to the lives the Egyptians, we decrease our joy in recognition of their suffering. Thus, one reduces their joy or the contents of the second cup by dipping a finger into their cup to remove a drop for each of the ten plagues or judgments.

This cup can be compared to being delivered and rescued from the clutches of Pharaoh. Though the enemy chased them with great haste and with many chariots, the mighty pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night would not allow the Egyptians to touch even one hair on the heads of the Israelites.

 

The Cup of Redemption

“I will redeem you.” Ex. 6:6

The third cup is often called redemption or blessing. YHWH buys back or redeems His people from the realm of sin and death. At the first Passover, the blood of the Lamb saved the lives of the Israelites. But with Pharaoh and Egypt closing in, many were sure that YHWH brought them into the desert to die. If we are honest, sometimes we feel the same way. Are you still there, Abba? Things are looking pretty bad down here! I am about to be swallowed up by the enemy! At this point, Israel would be standing in front of the Reed (Red) Sea. People that have known nothing but bondage often believe the worst in hard circumstances. It takes intent and time to change one’s attitude from victim to victor. Consider Israel’s words as they stood near the Reed Sea:

Ex. 14:11=12 Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? “Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

From the Israelite’s unredeemed natural eyes, their circumstances appeared to be hopeless. Even though they experienced the miracle of the plagues and the pillar of cloud and fire, they still weren’t convinced that God would actually save them. In fact, it probably felt as if He led them into a horrible trap (G-d Forbid)! But that was far from the true intent of our loving Elohim. Instead, He wanted the people (and us) to be completely confident in His saving power and in His great affection toward them (and us). The very next verse says:

red seaEx. 14:13-14 But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. “The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.”

Moses tells the people to stand still and see the salvation, that is the YESHUA, of YHWH. Abba’s salvation, His Yeshua, will accomplish our complete redemption from Egypt (sin and death)! YHWH will fight for us, while we shut our doubting mouths. This cup is drunk after the meal in the traditional seder. It is this cup that Yeshua linked to the New Covenant and His shed blood:

And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (Luke 22:20 NASB)

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a partaking of the blood of Messiah? The bread which we break, is it not a partaking of the body of Messiah? (1Cor. 10:16 HRB)

This cup also mirrors the timing of the parting sea, and crossing over on dry ground. Doubting the intentions of Elohim is no longer an option; redemption or being bought back by the Almighty is a clear and present reality. The waters figuratively wash the deathly dust of Egypt from weary souls and baptize one in Moses and Yeshua. Thus, hearts are prepared for the fourth cup of hallel or praise.

Rev. 15:2-4 And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. And they *sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED.”

Messiah said that He wouldn’t partake of this cup again until, “I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Mt. 26:29)

Mar. 14:23-26 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. (24) And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. (25) “Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (26) After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Interestingly, and a wonder to meditate upon, the Mishnah has an interesting note about not drinking additional wine between the third and four cups.

They mix a third cup; he blesses his meal. [The] fourth [cup] is concluded with Hallel, which he says with the [concluding] blessing. Between these cups, if he wishes to drink, he may drink. Between the third and the fourth [cups], he may not drink. – Pesachim 10:7

The whole of Passover is about REDEMPTION. Yeshua is our Sanctifier, our Deliverer, and our Redeemer. Of all the Biblical stories about exile and redemption, Passover is the one that YHWH asks us to personally identify with. Passover is Personal; it is the cup of our salvations, as Psalm 116:13 declares. The many sets of “fours” associated with Passover, like the cups, are wonderful tools to help one accurately recount this most important truth.

 

The Cup of Praise

“I will take you for My people.” Ex. 6:7

The fourth and final cup is a picture of restoration and completeness. This is one reason it is sometimes called the cup of hope, acceptance, or salvation. I prefer its more common name, hallel or praise. Though the Passover is the beginning of YHWH’s moedim (feasts) cycle, in it He declares the end.[9] God’s desire has always been to restore us (deal with our sin) and then dwell with us for eternity.

Thus, with the fourth cup, we await the coming Kingdom of Heaven where Yeshua will be our King. Wine can be a symbol of judgment or blessing.[10] A cup or kos can denote the same imagery. Passover weaves both of these themes together seamlessly. Sin and wickedness must be judged. There is a false bread and a false wine that competes with Adonai’s covenant Passover meal. Like the righteous woman and the harlot, both call and ask us to rest in their presence.

Pr. 4:17 For they eat the bread of wickedness And drink the wine of violence.

Obviously, the harlot feeds us false bread and wine, which is, in reality a covenant of wickedness. The problem is that our nephesh or flesh craves the (spiritual) false bread and wine just as we often prefer processed junk rather than the healthy plants and animals that Abba meant for us to consume.

Nephesh (flesh) fears judgment because it knows that what it likes isn’t healthy or holy. Like the Israelites, we fear that YHWH won’t keep His promise to bring us out, deliver us, redeem us, and make us His people. Many feel as though they will get lost in the shuffle of the four cups. But YHWH is faithful, even when we are not![11]

1Th. 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

Though Passover is certainly the season to thoroughly examine ourselves and root out all chametz (sin), it is also a time to remember these four grand promises of YHWH! His Word will not return to Him void. I think many of us fear that instead of blessing, YHWH will only rain down judgment on our heads. For we know that we are not worthy. And, we know that there is a lot that we still don’t know!

Is. 55:11-12 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. “For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

chesed_etymologyPsalm 136 is generally recited or sang before partaking of the fourth cup. This Psalm recounts the fact that YHWH’s mercy/lovingkindness/grace endures forever. This is good news! The Hebrew word repeated over and over in this Psalm is chesed (חֶסֶד). Abba’s chesed endures forever. Chesed cannot be encapsulated by just one English word. In fact, it would take a book or many volumes to fully realize the depth of what chesed actually means.

To put it as succinctly as possible, chesed is a covenantal term that encompasses both love and loyalty. God has chesed toward us and hopefully, we have chesed toward Him and our neighbor. My acceptance of His chesed requires that I give it back to Him and to others. The Theological Workbook of the Old Testament says this under chesed:

“God’s loving-kindness is that sure love which will not let Israel go. Not all Israel’s persistent waywardness could ever destroy it. Though Israel be faithless, yet God remains faithful still. This steady, persistent refusal of God to wash his hands of wayward Israel is the essential meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated loving-kindness.”

The wonderment of God’s immense chesed toward us may cause one to question His righteous judgment or justice. How do mercy and judgment coexist? Which one is stronger? Obviously, we do not deserve the chesed or loving-kindness of God. The Bible is full of examples of a wayward stiff-necked Israel. We are no different. Like them, we most often refuse to walk in His Ways. In other words, we all deserve judgment, destruction, and death.

Knowing this, most of us have an unhealthy fear of the coming worldwide judgment, life circumstances in general, and of what God is going to do with our “loved” ones. But this type of thinking is fear based. It is not rooted in chesed or true love. All of our worries, anxieties, and fears come forth from a skewed view of the Creator. He is no tyrant, dictator, or sadist. He is LOVE.

1Jn. 4:16-19 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. (18) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.

Notice what John says above. FEAR has to do with punishment. When we only fear punishment, our love is NOT perfected. In other words, if we fail to grasp how deep and wide the love that God has for us really is — we will fear. We will worry. We will believe that YHWH is ready to strike us down at our very next breath. But LOVE, that is His chesed, is stronger than the judgment we all deserve. John tells us all of this, so that we can have confidence in the Day of Judgment.

YHWH is certainly a holy and righteous Elohim, but His love for His people is greater still. Rashi said that God gave ‘precedence to the rule of mercy’ and joined it ‘with the rule of justice.’ God’s judgment and His mercy is an enigma to our peon minds and hearts. Which shall we receive? Passover is the perfect time to ponder this question. The cups reveal the answer. Within each, wickedness is judged and yet mercy prevails. The paradox may twist our brains, but hopefully it causes your heart to rejoice.

YHWH will NEVER give up on you, me, our loved ones, or any one else. His chesed is incomprehensible. His love NEVER fails, it NEVER gives up, and NEVER runs out on you or me. This is chesed. This is Love. This is Covenant. This is Passover.May your Cup of Praise runneth over this Pesach and always.

I’ll leave with Isaiah 55. How are YHWH’s thoughts and ways higher than mankind’s? According to this passage, it is YHWH’s mercy and compassion that supersedes our “thoughts and ways.” We have difficulty comprehending this aspect of His nature, and suffer because of it. May He reveal a glimmer of His heavenly compassion to you this Pesach!

Is. 55:1-13 (NASB)
1  “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost.
2  “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance.
3  “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David.
4  “Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples, A leader and commander for the peoples.
5  “Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, And a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of the LORD your God, even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.”
6  Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.
7  Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
8  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
9  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10  “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;
11  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.
12  “For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
13  “Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up, And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, And it will be a memorial to the LORD, For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.”

For more on Pesach, click here.

 


 

[1] They are referring to those still in the “church” or those that may not be as “Torah observant” as themselves. There are direct and clear commandments that admonish us to not eat (the Passover) with those that are practicing blatant and willful sin. However, we must remember that there is always a sacrifice for sin committed in ignorance. If YHWH provides a sacrifice for them, we should also. Those that DO know better and yet persist in their sin, Paul has the correct course to take: But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. (1Cor. 5:11 KJV)

[2] 1 Peter 4:8

[3] Please refer to Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s work in the Creation Gospel workbooks. These thematic studies will forever change your worldview of the Scriptures. Your understanding of the “bigger picture” will come into sharp focus by learning about the Seven Spirits of God and how they operate in both the physical and spiritual realms. Thecreationgospel.com

[4] For example, there are FOUR sons (or children) that ask FOUR questions, three matzot (unleavened bread) become FOUR with the breaking of the middle cracker, YHWH uses FOUR expressions to describe our redemption from Egypt, which is mirrored in the FOUR cups of wine.

[5] Whether they realize it or not, when a Christian accepts Yeshua as their Lord and Savior and repents of their sins, they are in effect applying the Passover Lamb’s blood to their “doorposts”.

[6] “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Gen. 4:7)

[7] Thecreationgospel.com

[8] The famous “Let my people go” phrase is always followed by YHWH’s intent: “so that they might serve me”. Ex. 7:16; 8:1,20; 9:1, 13; etc.

[9] Is. 46:9-10 “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure‘.

[10] Ps. 75:7-8 But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another. For a cup is in the hand of the LORD, and the wine foams; It is well mixed, and He pours out of this; Surely all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs.

Pr. 3:9-10 Honor the LORD from your wealth And from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty And your vats will overflow with new wine.

[11] 2Ti 2:11-13 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

 

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The Light of the World Part III

Rainbows and the Throne of Glory

Rainbow Science

Before we look at the majestic rainbow in Scripture, let’s review what modern science teaches about this unparalleled display of “colorful” LIGHT. In order for a rainbow to occur, three particular criteria have to be met. The sun has to be shining “behind” you. A rain cloud or moisture in the air must be in “front” of you. And, the sun’s rays have to shine through the cloud at an anti-solar point of 42 degrees. (The anti-solar point is where the shadow of your head is)

When a beam of sunlight passes through a water droplet it slows down and spreads out, separating each color that makes up white light. The process of light refracting or bending can be more accurately described as the process of light changing speed as it moves through different densities. The reason why rainbows appear as an arc is because of the bending of and dispersing of light through millions of water droplets. The colors will always display in the same order due to the fact that each color has its own wavelength or intensity.

The most common rainbow is called a primary rainbow. It shows red on the outside with violet on the inside. Often this “bow” of light will have another larger but fainter arc above it. We typically call this a “double rainbow”, but scientists call it a secondary rainbow. The double bow occurs when the water droplets in the primary rainbow reflect light TWICE. Since it is the reflection of the primary bow, the colors are reversed. The “double” bow occurs at 50-53 degrees from your anti-solar point.

double-rainbow

YHWH’s Rainbow

Gen. 9:11-17  “I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.”  (12)  God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations;  (13)  I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.  (14)  “It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud,  (15)  and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.  (16)  “When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”  (17)  And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (NASB)

The rainbow, according to the Creator, is THE sign of His covenant with every living creature that He will never again destroy all flesh with water. So…were their no rainbows before the flood of Noah’s day? Many Creation Scientists believe the evidence points to the possibility that before the flood it had never rained on the earth. For example, Walt Brown[1], director of the Center for Scientific Creation in Phoenix postulates that rain as we know it was unknown to preflood peoples[2]. If this theory is true, it would have been impossible for a rainbow to form “in the cloud” since there were no clouds. However, this question is not a new one. The ancient sages debated this among themselves for centuries and they likewise considered modern “science” of their day.

The Biblical commentator Ramban argued that a simple experiment proved easily enough that a rainbow is the result of light being refracted through water, which was enough proof in his mind that they were present from creation forward. He never believed that the verses we quoted above, upon close inspection, contradicted science. He states, “Whether the rainbow was created now or whether it had always been a part of nature, the reason for it representing the sign remains the same.[3]

Regardless of whether rainbows existed preflood or not, the Creator plainly states that it was AFTER the flood that He “set” His bow in the clouds as the SIGN of His covenant.

Keshet   קשׁת

The Bow and the Throne

In Biblical Hebrew, a bow as in “rainbow” and a bow as in a “bow and arrow” are the same word, keshet. The mindset behind this is similar to our English idea: they both BEND. In Noah’s day, YHWH sovereignly chose to judge the earth with a weapon or “bow” of water. Therefore, it is fitting that God chose the rain “bow” as the sign of His promise to never again judge the earth. The rainbow points toward heaven instead of earth as a sign of peace. Bible commentator John Gill puts it this way: “Though it is a bow, yet without arrows, and is not turned downwards towards the earth, but upwards towards heaven, and so is a token of mercy and kindness, and not of wrath and anger[4].”

The Ramban (Nahmanides) has a similar idea as to YHWH’s choice of a rainbow: “ancient cultures fought their wars with the bow and arrow, and the side which surrendered, pursuing peace instead of war, would express their will to do so by raising an inverted bow that the enemy could see. Similarly, G-d places an inverted bow in the heavens as a sign that He is no longer warring against humanity.”

In most places, the word keshet denotes a bow of archery or the archers who handle bows. I could only find three[5] other references to the majestic 7 colored rainbow in the Scriptures. In most of these verses, the bow is found surrounding the throne of YHWH. The first place is in Ezekiel’s vision of the FOUR living creatures. I highly suggest you read all of chapter one for context. Also, be sure to take note of all the words associated with light; there are many!

Ezek. 1:26-28  Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man.  (27)  Then I noticed from the appearance of His loins and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around Him.  (28)  As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.

The vision must have been amazing! Can you imagine what this must have been like for Ezekiel? First, notice the reference to the “expanse” or as some translations say, the “firmament”. This should remind you of day 2 of creation when God placed an expanse or firmament between the heavenly and earthly waters. (Gen. 1:6-8) God’s throne and the One with “the appearance of a man” are seen ABOVE this “expanse”.

The One with the likeness of man is oddly described from His loins and upward and His loins and downward, yet both resemble fire — a form of LIGHT. This radiance is said to “surround” Him as a rainbow of colorful light. Thus, we can imagine that seeing YHWH is like seeing bright white light refracted into the 7 colors of the rainbow. Perhaps the color or refracted light is seen because our eyes cannot perceive His full nature as pure white (spiritual) light. It must be refracted, bent, or slowed down in order for our “eyes” to see it. This is something to think about. We must remember that the natural world teaches us spiritual truth.

The remaining two verses about YHWH’s throne and the rainbow are both found in the Book of Revelation.

Rev. 4:2-3  Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.  (3)  And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance.

Rev. 10:1  I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire;

In these verses, we get to explore the Greek word for rainbow, iris[6]. We get such words as iris, iridescent, iridium, and iridology from this Greek word. These cognates are named due to their association with a colorful appearance. What I find most interesting about this Greek word is that it is found one time in the Septuagint[7]. It is used in the recipe for the Holy Anointing Oil.

Ex. 30:22-25  Moreover, the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (23)  “Take also for yourself the finest of spices: of flowing myrrh five hundred shekels, and of fragrant cinnamon half as much, two hundred and fifty, and of fragrant cane two hundred and fifty,  (24)  and of cassia (iris) five hundred, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and of olive oil a hin.  (25)  “You shall make of these holy anointing oil, a perfume mixture, the work of a perfumer; it shall be holy anointing oil.

So, the question becomes: What does the spice cassia have to do with an iris or a rainbow? The Hebrew word for cassia is kiddah and means to roll, shrivel, or contract. The spice is made from the bark of the cassia tree. Sections are rolled and dried from both sides toward the center so that they end up resembling scrolls. This rolling like a scroll is hint of creation day 2 and the expanse or firmament between the earthly and heavenly waters. One day instead of being stretched out (Is. 42:5) like a rainbow, the heavens will be rolled up like a scroll. (Is. 34:4, Rev. 6:14)

But our Hebrew word kiddah most often means bowing the head in worship or in great respect. (i.e. Gen. 24:26) Since Hebrew is a very action or verb based language, the verb form of kiddah gives us insight into why the Rabbis translating the Hebrew Tanakh into Greek chose this particular word in reference to the cassia spice.

Cassia is the FOURTH ingredient in the holy anointing oil. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the Rabbis used “iris” for “kiddah” in reference to the Holy Anointing Oil. Four is another picture of completeness or seven[8]. Yeshua the Messiah comes from the house of Judah, Jacob’s 4th son. He is the Anointed One standing in the midst of the 7 branched menorah, representing the Light of God[9]. If you read my previous two posts on the Light of the World, you also recall that the menorah is the perfect motif for not only the 7 Spirits of God, but also for light’s 7 forms in the electromagnetic spectrum and its 7 colors of visible light. The rainbow’s 7 colors is a perfect (natural) display of the splendor of His Kingdom and throne.

As a side note, this should really open our eyes to the blasphemy of His glory and Kingdom when the homosexual community uses this motif as a symbol of their rebellion. While it may appear bright and cheery, it is in reality a counterfeit wicked lamp[10] of darkness.

The Rainbow Was Upon His Head

In Revelation 10:1, we are told of a strong messenger with a rainbow upon his head. Some would envision something like a halo. But the halo doesn’t originate in Scripture. It comes from ancient sun god deities[11], the oldest form of false worship. Nevertheless, we have many places in the Bible where a shining or glowing light, even fire, emanates from either God or a person[12]. I freely admit that it is possible that this “rainbow” upon the messenger’s head in Revelation 10:1 may actually be similar to a halo. Please allow me to explain why.

A rainbow actually forms a full circle around the point directly opposite of the observer from the light source. Since the light source is usually the sun, the center of the circle is the anti-solar point (the observer’s shadow). Most often only a portion of the circle is above the ground so that the visible part is an arc or bow. When the observer is located at a considerably higher altitude, like an airplane or mountain top, the full circle of the rainbow can be seen. The picture below was taken while the observer was skydiving.

Circular_rainbow

Could this circular rainbow be an allusion as to why Moses’ face shone with light after his encounter with YHWH on the mountain top? In other words, when Moses ascended up to that lofty point on the earth, his shadow didn’t block any of YHWH’s glorious light! Don’t we see this same marvel when Yeshua takes Peter, James, and John up to the mountain of transfiguration?

Mat. 17:1-6  Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves.  (2)  And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.  (3)  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.  (4)  Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  (5)  While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”  (6)  When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified.

Do you suppose that the faces of Moses and Yeshua were similar when they “shone”?

Ex. 34:29-30  It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him.  (30)  So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.

I find it fascinating that in the natural, one must be at a high altitude, such as a mountain top in order to “see” a complete rainbow —- a picture of God’s covenant. I personally believe that the shining faces of both Yeshua and Moses would have been similar to the circular rainbow. Yeshua is the one standing in the “midst” of God’s menorah. He IS the Light of YHWH, but at the time of the transfiguration, He was not yet glorified. In other words, it is possible that the light was still “veiled” or refracted (bent or slowed down) and this enabled His disciples to perceive it — and Him.

A rainbow in all its fullness is not just a “bow” or arc, it is a circle! For those of you that have been studying the Hebraic mindset, this shouldn’t be too surprising. God and His creation, His calendar, and His Word are all cyclical in nature. Do you recall our first passage in Ezekiel with the living creatures? Earlier in chapter one, these beings are said to be powered by great sparkling “wheels” or circles.

Ezek. 1:15-20  Now as I looked at the living beings, behold, there was one wheel on the earth beside the living beings, for each of the four of them.  (16)  The appearance of the wheels and their workmanship was like sparkling beryl, and all four of them had the same form, their appearance and workmanship being as if one wheel were within another.  (17)  Whenever they moved, they moved in any of their four directions without turning as they moved.  (18)  As for their rims they were lofty and awesome, and the rims of all four of them were full of eyes round about.  (19)  Whenever the living beings moved, the wheels moved with them. And whenever the living beings rose from the earth, the wheels rose also.  (20)  Wherever the spirit was about to go, they would go in that direction. And the wheels rose close beside them; for the spirit of the living beings was in the wheels.

These shining wheels with rims full of eyes (a symbol of YHWH’s Spirit) are what powered or gave energy to the beings. This can be none other than YHWH’s Light, His Spirit that is symbolized beautifully in the 7 days of creation, the 7 Spirits of God (Is. 11:1-2), and in the 7 Feasts of YHWH! This is why the 7 branched menorah and the 7 visible colors function as a LIGHT display. Creation Gospel students will instinctively perceive why there are 4 living creatures, for this is a picture of 7!

How fitting it is that YHWH chose a rainbow as the first[13] sign of the covenant with mankind and all the creatures of earth! There are more “types” of rainbows than I mentioned in this post. It is a fascinating subject to explore; I urge you to do your own research and see where it takes you. I hope we are all fortunate enough to see a rainbow very soon and take in all its symbolic glory! Imagine the shining faces of Moses and Yeshua and the gleaming Throne Room of the Most High. I leave you with a traditional blessing for when you do see one.

Blessing When Seeing a Rainbow

“Blessed are you, YHWH, our God, King of the universe, Who remembers His covenant, is trustworthy in His covenant, and fulfills His word.”

Related Post: Overcome by a Rainbow

Go back to Part I or Part II


[2] Article, “Did It Rain before the Flood? “ http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/FAQ29.html (7/31/13)

[4] John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, from my e-sword.org bible program on Genesis 9:13.

[5] Including the first rainbow of Noah’s day, this totals FOUR biblical references to the rainbow. Creation Gospel students will recognize once again that 4 is another picture of 7!

[6] Yes, in case you were wondering, our flower by the same name does come from this Greek word! It is aptly named because the iris flower grows in a “rainbow” of colors.

[7] The Septuagint is the Greek version of the Tanakh or Old Testament.

[8] Four also stands for the servant, government, authority, kingdom, the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost), the door, and the fullness of the Holy Spirit. (For more information on why this is true please seek out a Creation Gospel trainer)

[9] Rev. 1:12-14  Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;  (13)  and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.  (14)  His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.

[10] Pr. 21:4  Haughty eyes and a proud heart, The lamp of the wicked, is sin.

[12] Ex. 34:29, Mt. 7:2, Mark 9:2, Heb. 1:3, Rev. 1:14-15, etc.

[13] While many theologians declare that YHWH’s first covenant was with Adam, Scripture doesn’t use the Hebrew word for covenant, brit, until Genesis chapter six with Noah. Many commentators assert that Noah’s covenant was merely an expanded form of God’s covenant with Adam, and perhaps this is true. Regardless of whether God’s first covenant was with Adam or Noah, the first SIGN of the covenant is the rainbow.

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