Posts Tagged With: fall feasts

The Change of the Year

The Eight Day

Gen. 1:4-5 (NASB) God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

 The first six months on Adonai’s calendar includes all of His moedim (feast days) and the primary part of the agricultural year when the various harvests are reaped. This is compared to the Light or the Day. As the last Great Day of the Feast (8thday), this is both the “end” or “going out” of the year, and the beginning of a new cycle.

Ex. 23:16 (KJV) And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.

Ex. 34:22 (TLV) “You are to observe the Feast of Shavuot, which is the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, as well as the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.

Dt. 14:28 (NASB) “At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town. (Context of previous verses places this in the fall.)

Dt. 31:10-11 (NASB) Then Moses commanded them, saying, “At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing.

Rather than arguing that the above verses are in competition with the Head of Months or the Biblical New Year in Nisan (Aviv – Ex. 12:2), Tishrei marks a change or turn of the year in a different way. There is no contradiction in Abba’s Word. He says what He means and means what He says. The only fault is man’s understanding and limited logic (especially in the west with dominant Greek thinking).

The sixth month is akin to the erev (evening) of the day, when it is growing dark, a time for rest. In Genesis chapter one, each day begins with darkness or the evening. Thus, it should be no surprise that the greater cycles of new moons (months) and years begin the same way. Even the first verses of the Bible depict this truth. First there was darkness, chaos, formlessness, then Light and order.

Gen. 1:1-3 (NASB) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

Our Creator is a God of order, cycles, and patterns. Those that teach cycles contrary to His order (changing the timing of the day starts, weeks, months, and years) are deceived and so they deceive. While they might think they’ve stumbled upon some “new” light or revelation, they have fallen for the folly of darkness, seeking to draw others to themselves like a moth to the flame.

One of the appellations for Rosh HaShanah or Yom Yeruah (Trumpets) is Yom HaKeseh or the Hidden Day. Things hidden can be compared to darkness, just like the darker night one experiences during the new moon sliver, which this festival celebrates. Sadly, the physical darkness (new moon) of this hearld of the fall feasts, has become a point of confusion and controversy even in name and observance. Do you think this is a coincidence?

The fall feasts look forward to the coming return of Messiah, resurrection, and the Day of the Lord. All of these glorious things, including the revelation of Yeshua the Messiah and the Throne of God are associated with darkness.[1]BUT, this is not to be confused with evil. There is a hiddenness, a concealment, a covering, cloudiness in this season. Like the erevof the evening, there is a mixture of light and darkness.

In the erev, it is harder for humans to see in the natural. We should expect no less to be true in the spiritual. Thus, I encourage you not to get involved with the many disputes that arise at this season. They are fruitless deceptions dressed in false humility, righteousness, and holiness.

If the first six months of the year are the light or daytime of the year, then the coming six months of the year are a time of night or darkness. Creation is a witness to this truth. The trees and plants release their leaves to rest and prepare for a new “day” in the spring. Some animals go into hibernation, a deep sleep, awaiting the “day.” In winter, there is less light, and (spiritual) food is more difficult to find unless one stored up treasures while it was still day (spring/summer/feast cycle).

Pondering upon these things, and considering the struggle many have in grasping hold of the “joy” that we are commanded to have during Sukkot, inspired this writing. Since this season should be marked by rejoicing and joy, one should expect to be tested in this area at Sukkot. I’ve spoken to several people that have a sense of foreboding, cloudy vision, and a bit of terror or worry because they are wrestling with finding “joy” right now. If you identify with this battle, I hope this post will encourage you. Just because we find ourselves in a battle with darkness, doesn’t always mean that we have sinned, are being punished, or have missed the mark.

Fear was the first emotion felt after the fall, so it will always be one’s first inclination in matters that appear “dark” or hidden to us (change, the unknown). Humans fear the dark, and the year is turning or changing toward the night at this season. If you sense a change, shift, or if your spirit seems to be in a state of “unrest,” perhaps it is due to the natural and spiritual rhythms of Adonai’s calendar. Do not despair. By looking at what the Bible says about light and darkness, we can gain confidence, encouragement, and insight into these coming months; and we can know that we have nothing to fear in the darkness.

The Dichotomy of Light & Darkness

On the surface, the difference between light and darkness is obvious. Light equals good and darkness equals bad. We are told that the Torah is a Light (Pr. 6:23), just as the Living Torah, Yeshua, is the Light (John 1, Luke 1:79). We are to be a light to the world just as our Master is the Light of the World (Mt. 5:14, John 8:12). If we are Messiah’s, then we are the children of light (Eph. 5:8)

The forces of darkness are evil, but God is the Light that pierces the darkness (John 1:5). Darkness is often equated with the lost, sin, ignorance (blindness), a troubled soul, sorrow, prison, trouble, pestilence, rebellion, death (the grave), evil, judgment, and stinginess. (Job 10:21, Ps. 82:5; Ps. 88, Ps. 91:6, Ps. 107: 10-14, Ps. 143:3, Pr. 2:13; 4:19, Ecc. 2:14; 5:17, Is. 5:30; 8:22; 29:18; 42:7; 59:9-10, Jer. 13:16; 23:12, Lam. 3:1-2, Ezek. 32:8, Amos 4:13, Mt. 6:23, etc.)

That seems black and white, easy peasy, light = good, darkness = bad, right? While most of the time this is true, it is not always the case. We must consider the entire counsel of God or we will make some grave errors in judgment, which leads to fear and condemnation.

Remember that we are in a fallen world where deception is prevalent and the enemy masquerades as an “angel (messenger) of light.” We live in a culture where there are those that 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 and deceive many. (Is. 5:20) This is why we so desperately need the wisdom and understanding from the Spirit of God.

Is Darkness Ever Good? 

When Abram received the covenant of pieces, it was EREV, when the sun was going down. As darkness approached, our father of the faith FELT horror and dread.

Gen. 15:12 (NKJV) Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him.

Obviously, this account was not evil, but it was ominous for Abram, though wonderful at the same time. When Adonai walked through the pieces, Abram was in a “deep sleep,” a prophetic state, an awesomeness. (For more on this, click here.) Normally, man sleeps when it is dark. But this is also a time when God speaks to man in dreams and visions. Sometimes dreams are terrifying. Do not be quick to assume that these are of the enemy.

Job 7:14 (NASB) Then You frighten me with dreams And terrify me by visions.

Job 33:14-18 (NASB) “Indeed God speaks once, Or twice, yet no one notices it. 15 “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.

Feeling horror or fear is not always an indicator of judgment or something evil. Abram was receiving the covenant and he was afraid! If the father of our faith felt fear when in the presence of HaShem, how much more so will we feel fear in His weighty presence?

Fallen man, including those that have been redeemed, often perceive God’s Presence as “darkness.” Not that it’s evil, but it is heavy and glorious (kavod), difficult to perceive, hidden- yet felt, cloudy and thunderous. In a word, it is AWESOME.

Ex. 20:20-21 (NKJV) And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” 21  So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.

Our God dwells in thick darkness. He speaks and gives His covenant from this cloudy mist! Moses reminds the children of this account in Deuteronomy.

Dt. 4:10-13 (NKJV) Especially concerning the day you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’ 11 “Then you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness. 12 And the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice. 13 So He declared to you His covenantwhich He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.

Dt. 5:22-24 (NKJV) “These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly, in the mountain from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and He added no more. And He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me. 23 “So it was, when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, that you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders. 24 And you said: ‘Surely the LORD our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice

“Luchot HaBrit” Painting by Kisha Gallagher 2018

from the midst of the fire. We have seen this day that God speaks with man; yet he still lives.

David recalls this account this way:

2 Sam. 22:10-14 (NKJV) He bowed the heavens also, and came down with darkness under His feet. 11 He rode upon a cherub, and flew; and He was seen upon the wings of the wind. 12 He made darkness canopies around Him, dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. 13 From the brightness before Him Coals of fire were kindled. 14 “The LORD thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered His voice.

 Ps. 18:9-11 (NKJV) He bowed the heavens also, and came down with darkness under His feet. 10 And He rode upon a cherub, and flew; He flew upon the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness His secret place; His canopy around Him was dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

 This kind of darkness depicts how God and His Throne are concealed from man. He is unknowable and difficult to perceive; and yet, He chooses to reveal Himself, His voice, His covenant, His Torah, because He loves us. The darkness that surrounds Him protects us from being consumed by the brilliance of His glory and righteousness.

Ps. 97:1-2 (NKJV) The LORD reigns; Let the earth rejoice; Let the multitude of isles be glad! 2 Clouds and darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.

Seeds grow while buried in the darkness of earth. Beasts and mankind grow in the dark waters of the womb. Adonai, the Great Sower and Giver of Life, knows each one as they form and mature to sprout from the ground and burst from the womb. Dark places are where life grows!

Ps. 139:12-13 (NKJV) Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You. 13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.

Is. 45:3-7 (NKJV) I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the LORD, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel.

4  For Jacob My servant’s sake, And Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me.

5  I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me,

6  That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting That there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other;

7  I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.’

Hidden things, secret things, concealed things are all a type of darkness. These things are like treasures buried in the earth, formed by great heat and pressure, priceless jewels and metals awaiting the time that one will carve them out of the dirt, stones, and mountains. Once polished and cut to precision, what was once concealed in deep darkness shines and sparkles with the ability to refract glorious light. This is what good teachers, like the Chazal, do for us. They take what was a rough, dull, and cloudy stone, and turn into a prism that refracts the light into streams that we can glean from and understand, so we are transformed and renewed.

Dan. 2:22-23 (NKJV) He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him. 23 “I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, And have now made known to me what we asked of You, For You have made known to us the king’s demand.”

Is. 42:16 (NKJV) I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.

Do not fear the darkness. Do not fear the change that is in the air. Do not fear dreams of the night. This coming season is for digging into the dark depths to uncover what is concealed. Enter the dark cloud and let the Word wash and transform your face to reflect His glorious light.

Pr. 25:2-5 (NASB) It is the glory of God to conceal a matter (davar –word), But the glory of kings is to search out a matter (davar). 3 As the heavens for height and the earth for depth, So the heart of kings is unsearchable. 4 Take away the dross from the silver, and there comes out a vessel for the smith; 5 Take away the wicked before the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness.

This is the Eighth Day; an end and a beginning. The scroll of the davar (word) is rolled back to the Beginning. The cycle starts in the darkness in Genesis 1, and the erev of the year. But, it is faithful to the Creator’s rhythm of Light piercing the darkness, renewal, and revelation. Be altogether joyful!


[1]Consider Joel 2:2, Amos 5:18-20, Zeph. 1:15, also look up the revelation on Mt. Sinai, and the revealing of God’s Throne in the Book of Revelation. All involve darkness, clouds, and thunder.

 

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim, new moon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Month of Etanim (7th Month)

1 Kings 8:2 (NASB) All the men of Israel assembled themselves to King Solomon at the feast, in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.

The above verse is the only instance in the Bible where the seventh month or Tishrei is called by another name, Etanim. Interestingly, the context is King Solomon dedicating the permanent House or Temple of YHWH. I used the adjective “permanent” intentionally. The Temple’s predecessor, the Tabernacle or Mishkan, was a moveable tent-like dwelling. It moved, and the people followed. In other words, the dwelling place of Adonai was first characterized by “movement.” This recalls the first instance of the Holy Spirit in Genesis one, where the Ruach moves or hovers over the faces of the waters. God is not stationary or static.

However, the Dwelling Place that Solomon built was a fixed structure, a Bayit, a House. Building Abba’s House was the dream of King David, the Beloved.

2 Sam. 7:1-2 (NASB) Now it came about when the king lived in his house, and the LORD had given him rest on every side from all his enemies, 2 that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains.”

David, the man that spent many years on the run from King Saul, was finally settled. He must’ve felt a pang of guilt that he, the representative of the Kingdom, lived in a beautifully appointed house, while God, the King of the Universe, dwelled in a simple tent. God tells Nathan the prophet to report back to David:

2 Sam. 7:5-7 (NASB) “Go and say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in? 6 “For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle. 7 “Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?'”‘

YHWH is not at all disturbed by His circumstances. The word translated above as “moving about” is the Hebrew word halak. This text literally says, “I have been walking in a tent and a tabernacle.”[1] God is moving, even in the tent. I don’t know about you, but I’m thrilled to serve a God and King that MOVES and WALKS. He is not like the deaf and dumb idols of darkness.

But if that’s the case, wouldn’t building a “permanent” House for YHWH detract from this metaphor and the characteristic “movement” of the Holy Spirit from the beginning? After all, movement is the opposite of something permanent. Or is it?

Etanim is a significant term to use for the 7thmonth. I encourage you to read all of 1 kings chapter 8 for context, but also as a lesson for this season, the 7thmonth. Below, is Brown Driver Brigg’s definition of Etanim followed by Strong’s.

BDB Definition H388: איתנים ‘êythânı̂ym

Ethanim = “enduring”

1) seventh Jewish month, corresponding to modern Oct. to Nov.; so named because permanent streams still flowed.

Part of Speech: noun proper masculine A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: plural of H386

Strong’s H388 אֵיתָנִים’êythânı̂ym Plural of H386; always with the article; the permanent brooks; Ethanim, the name of a month: – Ethanim. Total KJV occurrences: 1

Word Study H388

H386 אֵיתָןēytān: A masculine noun indicating strength, permanence, endurance. Figuratively, it describes the usual, constant position of a stream or sea (Exo 14:27).

Etanim is the plural of eytan. The verbal root means to endure or to continue. Obviously, King Solomon’s desire was for the House of YHWH to perpetually endure, just as God promised King David that his house (dynasty/throne) would continue or endure. Allusions to eternity begin to form with this one well placed word.

The number seven also alludes to something eternal. It is the number of rest, Shabbat, completion, and dedication of the House (Temple). In the 2 Samuel passage quoted above, David was at rest (7) when he desired to build Adonai a House (7). Likewise, when King Solomon dedicates the House of YHWH, he and Israel are also at rest (7).

1 Kings 8:55-56 (NASB) And he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying: 56 “Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.

The seventh day and the seventh month are figures of the Messianic Age and Kingdom. Thus, the fall feast days in this season are prophetic of the same. The definitions of Etanim are just another hint to this truth. Permanence, strength, and endurance are true descriptors of the King and His Kingdom. But Etanim is also associated with moving water.

Moving water. Movement AND perpetuity. Ever-flowing springs. Rivers of Living Waters. There is no contradiction. YHWH’s permanent, stationary House is also moving. Out from His Throne flow rivers of water. This is Etanim. This is the seventh month, the turn of the year when the traditional water pouring ceremony takes place. But there is more.

Where is the first mention of water? In the very beginning.

Gen. 1:1-4 (NASB) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.

At the foundation of the world, there was water, deep waters.

Job 38:4-7 (NASB) “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, 5 Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? 6 “On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, 7 When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

The fullness of the seventh month is not just about the end, it is also about the beginning, because they are one. When the foundations of the earth were laid, the sons of Elohim shouted for joy. “Shouted” in Hebrew is ruah, the root of t’ruah, as in Yom T’ruah, the feast of trumpets or shouting.

Wisdom was with Elohim even before the deep waters, and she too, celebrated creation.

Pro. 8:22-31 (NASB) “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. 23 “From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. 24 “When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. 25 “Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills I was brought forth; 26 While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world. 27 “When He established the heavens, I was there, When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, 28 When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed, 29 When He set for the sea its boundary so that the water would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; 30 Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, 31 Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men.

Wisdom was rejoicing before YHWH. The Hebrew word for rejoice in the above verse is actually the word for laugh, shachak. In this context, her laugh was one of jubilation and celebration. It is used in a similar context in these verses:

Pro. 31:25 (TLV) Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the days to come.

Jer. 30:18-19 (TLV) Thus says Adonai, “Indeed, I will return Jacob’s tents from exile, and have compassion on his dwellings… 19 Out of them will come thanksgiving and the sound of celebration. I will multiply them, so they will not decrease. I will also honor them, so they will not be insignificant.

 Jer. 31:4 (NKJV) Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.

The verses above are prophetically speaking about the end; whereas Wisdom was doing the same at the beginning. In the seventh month, we are told to rejoice. I pray that we can truly celebrate with Wisdom’s shachak (laughter), and not the mocking spirit that this word can also indicate.[2]

When the exiles from Babylon returned to the Land, Rosh Hashanah or Yom T’ruah was the first feast that they celebrated. I believe this was prophetic of what is to come in a future ingathering. Notice that they are standing at the “Water Gate,” an allusion to returning to the creation waters, and the foundation, Torah.

Neh. 8:1-3 (NASB) And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel. 2 Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.

The text records the response of the people:

Neh. 8:9-12 (NASB) Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 All the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them.

On the new moon of the 7thmonth, the people HEARD and UNDERSTOOD the Torah. They wept. I wonder how many exiles will not be able to hear or understand the Torah until YHWH gathers them again? And, I wonder even more if those that hear and understand the Torah now will respond as the Levites did.

The Levites calmed and quieted the tears of these grieved souls. Then, they encouraged them to go eat, drink, share with others, and celebrate the feast! We could learn a few things from Nehemiah and Ezra. This was truly a new beginning, a new moon, and a new year for the people. This is Etanim!

Ps. 36:8-9 (NKJV) They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. 9 For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.

Beloved, I pray that you will celebrate the beginning and the end, the enthronement of Adonai, the creation, you as a new creation, and that you will shout with joy at the River of Life in the month of Etanim. To YHWH be the glory!


[1]By the way, this same form of halak, mithalek, is used in Genesis 3:8:

“They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”

[2]H7832 שָׂחַקśāḥaq: A verb meaning to laugh; to celebrate; to rejoice; to mock. It refers to a strong expression of joy: of celebration (Jer 30:19); of making merry, rejoicing (2Sa 6:5, 2Sa 6:21; Jer 15:17); it means to play, to sport, to have fun (Psa 104:26). But it is often used in a context where ridicule or mockery is directed at someone or something (Jdg 16:25). It is used in parallel with mocking (Pro 1:26). Great kings mocked at lesser kings (Hab 1:10). Samson was forced to serve as a tragic comedian for the Phplistines (Jdg 16:27). It is used figuratively of wisdom personified, laughing, rejoicing at God’s creation (Pro 8:30-31). The teacher taught that there is a time for genuine laughter (Ecc 3:4). It has the sense of playing, enjoying life, in some contexts, especially in the prophet’s vision of a restored people of God (Zec 8:5). It means to sing and indicates singing women (1Sa 18:7). It means to play a sport, to hold a contest or a match (2Sa 2:14). In its causative stem, it means to cause laughter toward persons, to mock them (2Ch 30:10).

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

Under the Covers

Taking Refuge in the Fall Feast Days

sukkah

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold”. Psalm 18:2

All quotes taken from the NASB unless otherwise noted.

One thing that all people have in common is the desire to feel safe, secure, protected, and sheltered. As a matter of fact, one of our strongest survival instincts is to find or build a shelter. We desire a covering to protect us from the wind, rain, cold, wild beasts, and other elements of nature. Our Creator placed these instincts within each one of us. These desires prolong our lives and ensure the survival of mankind. If the natural world, including our innate instincts, is to teach us spiritual truths[1], then what do these most basic drives teach us about our relationship to God?

When do we desire to be “covered”? Is it not when we are cold, sick, tired, frightened, distressed, or even depressed? Conversely, we may desire to be “covered” when we are praying and worshipping, and when we are nursing a child or being intimate with our spouse. Ironically, all of these instances are related when we look into the Word of God. Certain aspects of our emotional, spiritual, and physical lives require a shield of protection. Whether the “covering” protects us from danger, comforts our ailments, or covers our nakedness, it is a type of shield, hedge, and defense. In other words, it is the protection that we all need and desire. Abraham, our father in faith, was assured that this “shield” he desired would be provided.

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great. (Gen. 15:1)

The Hebrew word for shield in this verse is magen (mem, gimel, nun) and it does indeed mean a shield of protection. What is fascinating is that it comes from the same root as garden or gan (gimel, nun). The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible describes this word pictographically as “a gathering of seeds”. This is easy to relate to a garden, but how does it relate to a shield and other cognates like protection and a basin? A garden, such as the Garden of Eden, is a protected place; it is surrounded on all sides. Likewise, a basin has a ledge or hedge about it. These concrete images give us a vivid picture of what it means for YHWH to “shield” or protect us.

You see, it is not that there is no danger, predators, or enemies; rather, it is that there is a covering of protection that surrounds us. This shield is clearly depicted when HaSatan observes the life of Job.

Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing? “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. (Job 1:9-10)

The Hebrew word for hedge in this verse is suk, the root for sukkah (booth, shelter, covering). Our gracious Father had placed a “spiritual” sukkah around Job and all that was his. Since we are in the Season of our Joy, the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot, I find that it is most appropriate that we understand how the moedim (particularly the fall feasts) portray this heavenly covering that YHWH provides for us.

Tight Places

Before we explore the heavenly hedge of YHWH, it is imperative that we understand what is outside the protected place. Nowhere in the Bible are we promised a life without trials, tribulations, and hardships. While some naïvely teach the contrary, the truth is that without the proverbial “thorn in our side” we would never learn to rely on God’s grace and mercy. Sadly, our trust would be nothing more than self-reliance which would result in an empty, anxious, and lifeless walk.

The Hebrew word tsar is usually translated as enemy(-ies), adversaries, trouble, distress, affliction, and tribulation. But what it really implies is a “tight place”. It is literally something that presses or weighs upon you. In fact, it is the root word for Mitzrayim (Egypt). Egypt was certainly a place where the Israelites had heavy burdens laid upon them. YHWH redeemed them from this bondage with a mighty hand and brought them into the wilderness with a promise: a land flowing with milk and honey.

This is what happens to us when YHWH redeems us from the bondage of sin and death. We, like our ancient Israelite counterparts, have the promise of the “Land” that flows with milk and honey. What we tend to skip over in our theology and in our thinking is the wilderness. Once we are “saved”, we assume all is well — heaven awaits our arrival. But this isn’t the end of the story; it is the beginning! We must first endure the wild and dangerous wilderness. It is harsh, hot, and dry. It is treacherous. It is uncultivated and infertile. It will require us to relinquish everything over to a holy God just to survive. And the testimony of our ancient brethren proves that not everyone endures the trials of the desert.

The seemingly broadness of the wilderness becomes a tight place of pressing. But this “pressing” isn’t like the bondage of Egypt, sin, or death (though sometimes it may feel that way). Instead, we find ourselves being squeezed and molded by the Potter’s Hands into the image of the Son. While we may have left Egypt, we discover that Egypt is still in us. And so we have similar adages even in English to express this all too painful truth: “You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl”. But our Great Elohim sets out to do what we consider impossible. He not only removes us physically from the bondage of Egypt, He also removes Egypt from within us.

If we pay close attention, it becomes evident that while it is amazingly miraculous how He redeems a whole nation from the bondage of slavery, it is even more amazing how He removes Egypt from us! This is the lesson of the wilderness. And this is the reason we celebrate Sukkot, the last pilgrimage festival on YHWH’s holy calendar.

‘You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. ‘You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.'” (Lev. 23:41-43)

By yearly walking out YHWH’s cycle of divine appointment times (feast days), we are reminded not only of our past and present, but of our future hope. These guideposts encourage and strengthen us; thus, providing the coverings and shelters that protect us from the scorching heat of the desert. They press us to be sure, but they also shield us as we are molded into the image of Yeshua.

Those of you that have committed to follow our Holy Elohim and walk in His “ancient paths” have most likely discovered that while there is great joy and fulfillment in meeting the Creator at His appointed times, there is also great testing, pressing, and often distress. It is hard! Our immaturity may cause us to assume that perhaps the difficulty is a sign that we are on the “wrong” path. But Yeshua reminds us that the true path is “narrow”; it is a tight place! We must expect to be pressed. We learn that the easy way is in reality the “broad” path.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Mat. 7:13-14)

I am always baffled by the multitudes that teach the opposite of what Yeshua and Scripture clearly reveals. Therefore, if you find yourself being pressed in on all sides when YHWH’s appointments come around, rejoice! You are indeed on the narrow and tight path! Consider that the Father is pruning and shaping you into the image of Yeshua and at the same time He is expelling the Egypt that remains in your members. This brings new meaning to the phrase, “It hurts so good!”

The Hedge

Our tight places cause us to cry out to the Most High and He becomes the Strong Tower of Refuge that satisfies our distressed souls.

To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm of David. Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress (tzar); have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. (Ps. 4:1 KJV)

The above verse depicts David crying out to God when he finds himself in a tzar (a tight place of pressing). Many translations simply say God brings “relief” to his distress, but the King James Version actually captures the Hebrew much better. Notice it says that God enlarges or broadens David. This is exactly what YHWH does for you and me. Just when we think we can take no more, He broadens us just enough that we sigh with relief. The Refiner’s Fire is hot, but it is fueled by the cool spiritual heat of heaven. Unlike the pressing of sin and death, the hot coals of heaven’s altar only burns our impurities. There is a promise of Life, not death.

The hedges found in the fall moedim (feast days) teach us all about the cool heat of the shamayim (heavens in Hebrew, but literally “fire-waters”). These fires burn wickedness and flesh in righteous judgment. When we are covered by the blood of the Lamb, we can withstand these fiery trials.

Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1Cor. 3:12-16)

Thus, we must learn to rejoice when we find ourselves in the heavenly fire. If you have heard the great blast from the heavenly shofar and eternity burns in your heart, you are already aware that the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) has awakened you to the approaching bridegroom. But, in order to have enough oil, you will be pressed and crushed like the olives that fuel our lamps. Therefore, rejoice Bat Tzion (Daughter of Zion)!

Though it may seem odd that part of our covering is in fact heavenly fire, and that it sometimes hurts, we know that it cleanses us so we may eventually enter the bridal chamber. This brings us to the most solemn and holy day on YHWH’s calendar, the Day of Atonements. This is judgment day. If you are burning in a holy fire right now, rejoice, for your judgment day will also be your wedding day. Like the High Priest, you are covered and clothed in the red blood of the slain Lamb that appears as pure white light. Anointed with precious oil, enveloped with rich, sweet clouds of incense, eyes illuminated with only the holy seven tongues of fire of the golden menorah of YHWH’s Spirit, the bride is brought under the heavenly chuppah[2] and is forever bound in matrimony to her King. This hope is why we endure. And there is more to this promise; Sukkot awaits us.

The Sukkah

The fragile and flimsy appearance of the sukkah is the epitome of weakness to the natural man. See through walls and a leaky roof do not scream comfort or security — the thing we most long for. But, this is the structure that God beckons us to enter. Outside there are real threats, real enemies, and real elements. When we look at the sukkah, we cannot possibly see how this rickety thing is going to protect us from so many dangers. Surely the more permanent house we’ve built with our own hands offers more protection.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell–and great was its fall.” (Mat. 7:21-27)

Only the House that YHWH builds is founded upon the Rock. All other structures are built on sand. When testing, trials, and storms arise (and they always do), only YHWH’s sukkah will remain standing. Thus, we are faced with a seeming paradox. What appears strong to us is in fact weak, and what appears weak is strong!

We must be willing to leave the “appearance” of security and embark on a treacherous journey through the wild with our bridegroom. He is mysterious and magnificent. He isn’t safe or tame. The real question is, “Do you trust Him anyway?” His promise isn’t a life sheltered from life itself. No, the promise is abundant life. An abundant life is abundantly full. But full of what?

It’s not full of worldly riches and things that will pass away. It’s full of experiences, challenges, and well… life. The Hebrew letter nun means life and its pictograph is a fish in movement. The journey is wild and rushing like a river. It tosses you here and there. Up and down. Side to side. Are you afraid? Don’t be. YHWH’s love is relentless and constantly moving. It is exciting, but it is not comfortable. Comfort is complacent and lifeless.

Our natural man and instincts hates this “uncontrolled” God that we serve. It is foolishness to them. Yet, this reckless abandon is exactly what YHWH desires from us. He calls us into the wilderness, the great unknown wild. It is there He speaks tenderly to us — in the midst of our vulnerability.

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

This is our covering at Sukkot. Following YHWH in the wilderness, through a land not sown. If we love Him, we will follow. Though we are vulnerable to the wildness, our little movable shelter sustains us with the promise that One day, we will have a permanent home with our Beloved.

Is this not what real faith (trust) is all about? Are we not called to be strong and courageous in the face of life’s many uncertainties? Do you trust Him…anyway? In light of all this, the sukkah becomes a beacon, a landmark for what faith actually is! When you sit in your sukkah this year, look at its flimsy walls, partially thatched roof, and open door. It may look like it offers little protection and is anything but secure, yet we know YHWH’s sukkah is the perfect shelter for the wild world He created. Experience it with Him. The promise isn’t a life without danger; the promise is that He will walk through it with you. Follow wherever He goes, for there is a special prize for those that serve and follow Him with reckless abandonment.

And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. And they *sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. (Rev. 14:2-4)

Oh dear one, don’t you want to learn this song and serenade the King of Kings? It will cost you everything, but you will be given all. The sukkah will be replaced with the New Jerusalem. Enjoy it while you can. Experience the wild and untamed King that we serve. Do hard things. Be stubborn in only one thing: in your reckless abandon to the Most High. Run into the flapping tents walls and snuggle up under the canopy of the stars and palm branches. Smell the sweet incense and look for the golden glow of the menorah. It’s all here—right now. Just open your eyes and ears. When the bottom drops out from under you, know that you are simply moving onto a new and exciting adventure with YHWH. Our duty is to remain steadfast, period. We don’t have to understand all the “whys” of life; we must simply trust Him like a child.

There is good news. Jerusalem of Gold awaits the pitter-pat of your precious little feet! Every tear will be wiped away! Then those things that are hidden will be revealed; we will realize that YHWH had every second, every circumstance, and every nuance under His direction and control. And we will know that all along we were indeed covered in perfect security with His heavenly pinions.

Fear not son or daughter of Abraham, for I, YHWH, am a shield and a covering sukkah to you. Your reward for walking through the tight places and trusting me even when your circumstances appeared bleak will be great. For you will see my sukkah with new spiritual eyes and know that no other earthly structure could have ever sustained you. my paraphrase of Gen. 15:1


[1] 1 Cor. 15:46

[2] The wedding canopy or covering. The chuppah is meant to symbolize the sukkah: http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/30529/think-of-sukkot-as-a-joyous-wedding-under-the-chuppah/

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