Posts Tagged With: fasting

Chodesh Tammuz & The Three Weeks

If I forget you, O Jerusalem, May my right hand forget her skill. (Ps. 137:5)

During the fourth Biblical month of Tammuz, the traditional period called the “Three Weeks” begins on the 17th. In Hebrew, the Three Weeks is bein hametzarim, literally, “within the straits” or “within the borders.” This name comes from a verse in the Book of Lamentations (Eicha), which is read on Tisha B’Av (9th of Av):

Judah has gone into captivity, Under affliction and hard servitude; She dwells among the nations, She finds no rest; All her persecutors overtake her in dire straits (bein hametzarim). The roads to Zion mourn Because no one comes to the set feasts. All her gates are desolate; Her priests sigh, Her virgins are afflicted, And she is in bitterness. (Lamentations 1:3-4 NKJV)

Hametzarim is like Mitzrayim (Egypt), a tight, narrow place of pressing. Think of being constricted or pressed. Bein Hametzarim is a traditional time period on the Jewish calendar that marks additional restrictions as a way to mourn over the destruction of the Holy Temple.

Remembering the loss of the Temple is a difficult concept for most Believers to grasp. Since we know Yeshua, a type of Living Temple[1], and read Paul (who described our physical bodies as a type of Temple of the Holy Spirit[2]), there is a tendency to view the physical Temple as an unnecessary or invalid prescription for approaching YHWH (God). We must be careful of supersessionism and all its facets.

Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her. (Is. 66:10 KJV)

My hope is that you will be encouraged to recognize and observe the Three Weeks and the fasts on the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av after contemplating the significance and importance of why these events are commemorated and the Temple is mourned. The verse below demonstrates that fasting in the fourth and fifth months has Scriptural and historical value:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth months will become joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace.’ (Zec. 8:19)

I hope you took the time to read the article I reblogged by Sue at The Lamb’s Servant. While her focus was on the kedushah (holiness) of the Temple, she also brought out some other provocative ideas that she gleaned from Joe Good’s Temple study course (of which, I also highly recommend).

If we really understood the majesty and holiness that existed during the times when the Temple stood, we too, would deeply mourn its loss. The Temple was central to Biblical worship. How one approached the Holy One of Israel was tangible and certain. A worshipper knew where to go and what was required of him. He knew where the presence of the Holy One resided, who his mediator was, and understood the various levels of kedushah (holiness). In other words, the manifestations of godliness were obvious to all who approached, regardless of one’s status or intellect.

This heavenly pattern has not changed. If we fail to learn the blueprint for YHWH’s House, we are missing the heart of worship. The Jewish people have preserved the work and worship at the Temple in the daily prayer services. Three (or four[3]) times a day, a prayer request for the restoration of the Temple and its services is made.[4] This does not include the many times it’s repeated in the Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meals).[5] Can you imagine making this petition multiple times daily to the Holy One?

Though Jerusalem and the Temple are central to Jewish prayer and thought, it is foreign to most Christians. The Temple is typically thought of as an antiquated relic, and a lesser form of approaching God. Yeshua didn’t think like this. Paul didn’t think like this. In fact, the only people that I can find in the Bible that openly spoke against the House of Adonai were enemies and adversaries of the Most High. Consider Ezekiel’s words:

And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me. And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. (Ezek. 43:6-7)

The earthly should reflect the heavenly. Once we “see” the heavenly pattern, we should as both Joe Good of HaTikvah Ministries and Sue at The Lamb’s Servant point out, be ashamed and REPENT!

Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern. And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them. (Ezek. 43:10-11 KJV)

The Call

Join with me this year in mourning for the House of YHWH. The Three Weeks begin on the 17th of Tammuz with a fast day from dawn until nightfall; this commemorates the first breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the 1st Temple was destroyed. Mourning continues and escalates up to the 9th of Av, when another fast from sundown to sundown commemorates the actual destruction of the 1st and 2nd Temples. After the Three Weeks, a shift from mourning to rejoicing occurs. Consider reciting the Birkat HaMazon at least once a day after meals when not fasting if it’s not your practice to do so.

I had larger intentions for this post, but preparations for Revive have limited my time. I hope to share more soon. Meanwhile, take this time to focus on the House of Adonai. Measure the pattern. Study its form, its ordinances, and its laws. Weep for our captivity and exile. Be like those that dream…

 

 

PSALM 126

Thanksgiving for Return from Captivity.

A Song of Ascents.

    1 When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion,

       We were like those who dream.

    2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter

        And our tongue with joyful shouting;

        Then they said among the nations,

       “The Lord has done great things for them.”

    3 The Lord has done great things for us;

        We are glad.

    4 Restore our captivity, O Lord,

       As the streams in the South.

    5  Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.

    6  He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,

        Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

 


[1] John 2:18-22

[2] 1 Cor. 3:16-17

[3] There is a lesser known midnight prayer service called Tikkun Chatzot in honor of the matriarchs, Rachel and Leah. The three daily services are attributed to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The Tikkun Chatzot focuses on yearning for God (Leah) and the destruction of the Temple (Rachel). If one incorporates these midnight prayers, then mourning and requesting the restoration of Temple totals four times in prayer services.

[4] Within the Amidah (both weekday and Shabbat), the Avodah is recited:

Be pleased, O Lord our God, with your people Israel and with their prayers.

Restore the service to the inner sanctuary of your Temple,

and receive in love and with favor both the fire-offerings of Israel and their prayers.

May the worship of your people Israel always be acceptable to you.

And let our eyes behold your return in mercy to Zion.

Blessed are you, O Lord, who restores his divine presence to Zion.

[5] For the text of the Birkat HaMazon (Grace After Meals), click here.

Categories: Moedim, new moon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Repairer of the Breach

repair the breachI promised this article in The Biblical Role of Women Part IX. Though this post is directly related to the building/destroying discussed in my last two posts on women, I felt this post was important enough to warrant its own title. I hope it brings you renewal.

Before I get into the meat of this post, I have to tell you something that happened as I was writing this article. I had just finished writing five pages and I hit the “print” button to proofread what I had written. I then hit “save” and POW, the entire document changed into a strange mixture of Asian symbols, English letters, and Arabic numerals. Someone more computer savvy than myself might be able to explain this odd phenomenon with computer science. I, however, have no idea how or why this happened. I searched and tried to recover the document to no avail. All my “saves” were contaminated with the gibberish I mentioned above.

But I did have the intact document in that single print I made. I would have to retype the whole thing to post it on the blog. My husband and children were witnesses to this fiasco and all were sorry for me, LOL. But I believe it happened for a reason. You see, in the original article I had written a lot about how we “react” to life’s interruptions and seeming setbacks. That cannot be a coincidence! I’ve pondered on this and have set out to do more than retype the original. Being a repairer of the breach requires more than a rebuild. It requires strengthening the area where the breach occurred.

What is a Breach?

Repaierer-of-the-Breach-370x215A breach is a gap in a wall, barrier, or defense. In warfare or agriculture, a breach is a place where the enemy comes in to destroy or where the sheep break out and get lost. It’s that one weak spot in the levy that gives way to the flood. It doesn’t take much digging to discover that God’s House is to be maintained, and that includes repairing breaches. The accounts of King Jehoash,[1] King Josiah,[2] and the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem in Nehemiah all teach us about how and why we are to rebuild what has been breached. And sometimes, due to great opposition, we must rebuild with a sword in one hand and our tools in the other.

Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon. (Neh. 4:17)

If you’ve read my latest articles on the Biblical Role of Women Part VIII and Part IX, then you know that their themes are related to building. Sometimes, a breach occurs in the walls we have built. This implies two things. First and foremost we must GUARD what we have been building. If watchmen were/are needed in the natural, you better believe that they are needed in the spiritual realm. And secondly, we must be prepared to maintenance or repair any weak areas or outright breaches. We are fools if we don’t think this will be an ongoing endeavor in our lives. Thus, we must diligently search and inspect our building projects. Sometimes, things can be improved or strengthened. All of this is to prevent the enemy from having opportunity and to prevent us from straying.

Who is the Repairer of the Breach?

In my mind, I’ve always thought of Yeshua as being the Repairer of the Breach. And this is true; He does indeed mend what has been broken. He applies the salve we need to endure and the comfort we desire from the battle. However, it is YOU and I that are called to be His hands and feet in the earth! As His followers, we are meant to be the ones that shore up the holes in the wall. We are to repair His House! Our focal passage in this post is from Isaiah 58. Let’s begin by looking at the first eight verses. These serve as the context of our focus, so please don’t skip over them.

Is. 58:1-8  “Cry loudly, do not hold back; Raise your voice like a trumpet, And declare to My people their transgression And to the house of Jacob their sins.  (2)  “Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways, As a nation that has done righteousness And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. They ask Me for just decisions, They delight in the nearness of God.  (3)  ‘Why have we fasted and You do not see? Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’ Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire, And drive hard all your workers.  (4)  “Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.  (5)  “Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the LORD?  (6)  “Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke?  (7)  “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?  (8)  “Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Do you recall from Part IX how that the rabbis often infer from the text that the HOUSE is a reference to the women? If that is true in this case, then the “people” are in rebellion, but the House or women are in sin. Women can represent the intimacy of a relationship. In this passage, YHWH is truly speaking about intimacy or the lack thereof. The people desperately want to know why their cries and worship are not bringing YHWH near or close.

The problem, as YHWH has pointed out, is a heart issue. They may be doing what is required, but their motive is all wrong. Even their fasting has been for selfish reasons. YHWH goes on to delineate the true reason for fasting. I love these verses and have recounted them often. But now, I’m wondering if some of my own fasts have also been for the wrong reasons. Yah help me! So that we can recognize how we are to be repairers of the breach, I will enumerate the true reasons for fasting:

  1. To loosen the bonds of wickedness.
  2. To undo the bands of the yoke.
  3. To let the oppressed go free; to break every yoke.
  4. To divide your bread with the hungry.
  5. To bring the homeless poor into the House.
  6. To cover the naked.
  7. To not hide yourself from your own flesh.

I’m not going to analyze these seven things, but I would like you to notice the fourth reason – it is directly related to repairing the breaches in our own lives. Bread is more than physical sustenance. As we know, “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of YHWH”.[3] Interestingly, this quote from Deuteronomy also mentions humbling ourselves and our clothing (coverings).

Now for the key verses:

Is. 58:9-12 “Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,  (10)  And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday.  (11)  “And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.  (12)  “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.

I wonder how many of us consistently call out to YHWH and feel that He is not listening. I wonder how many of us stumble through life in the darkness of depression, oppression, and “gloominess”. How many of us wallow in self-pity, without direction or satisfaction? What is missing? Why don’t we know what to do with ourselves? Why are we unsatisfied, lonely, and afraid? Why do we believe that everyone else “has it together” when we do not? Isaiah 58 has some answers if we are willing to receive it.

How Do I Get YHWH to Answer Me?

answer-me-1I think that too many of us stumble from one stream of chaos to the next. We are tossed to and fro; and we are tired. What is the root behind all this despair? We have a “breach” in our wall and we’ve not repaired it! The truth is that every single person will have to deal with one or more major “breaches” in their life. Sadly, many of these occur in our childhood and have left us maimed for decades. These gaping holes have left us less than whole. Every relationship is colored by our past experiences and our wounds just won’t seem to heal. The destruction from the breach continues to wreak havoc in our thought life and our relationship with God and others.

So, we cry out to YHWH and beg Him to take the pain away! But sometimes the pain remains, why? What are we missing? Based on our passage in Isaiah, there is something WE must do. Sure, God could supernaturally take it all away in one clean brush stroke. So, why doesn’t He? Perhaps, Isaiah can help us.

There are four things mentioned for us to do in verses 9-12. The text says, “IF” we do these things, “THEN”, our darkness and gloom will become as bright as the midday. The question is: do you want to get out of that pit? If so, let’s follow these words of our King and not only find that quench for our own thirst, but become the spring that never fails. Here are the four:

  1. Call upon YHWH.
  2. Remove the yoke from your midst (heart).
  3. Stop pointing the finger of blame and speaking wickedly.
  4. Give yourself to the hungry and the afflicted.

Call Upon YHWH

If you have a relationship with Abba, I’m sure you’ve been acting on number one rather frequently. That is, unless you are bitter with the Almighty. And you know if you are. If you can’t even bring yourself to worship or cry out to the King, then you will remain in that pit. You must forgive God for that breach. He didn’t cause it. And He hasn’t forsaken you. You have left Him. Whether it was the loss of a loved one, sickness, abuse, disappointment, or some other major struggle, you have allowed the breach to occur. Let it go and choose to walk in newness – trusting that YHWH really is smarter than we are and knows how to best care for His children.

I know this isn’t simple. But the reason it is not, is for one reason: your flesh and the pride of life. Yes, that’s ONE thing as they are tightly intertwined. If you are waiting for your feelings (flesh) to line up with what you know to do, then you will remain in disappointment.

Call upon YHWH, anyway. Call upon Him in your grief over life. Worship Him even though you don’t feel like it. (Especially if you don’t feel like it!) By making your FLESH do what your spirit knows to do, you are mastering your lower beastly nature. Eventually, if you’re consistent, your flesh will fall in line with your spirit. Like a strong and wild stallion, you’re flesh can be mastered. And true release will come! Abba says, “Here I am”!

Remove the Yoke from Your Midst

A yoke is a devise used to pair two beasts together at the neck to carry a load or plow a field. The Bible uses the imagery of yoke to explain what it is that controls us or directs our heads. There is the yoke of the enemy and the yoke of Yeshua. The former is nothing but slavery and bondage; whereas, the latter is light and easy. Yeshua’s yoke brings the protection of the Master’s House. His Kingdom has boundaries, but His walls ensure our safety and security. In order to receive His protection, we must choose to be lifelong bond-servants. For it truly is better in the Master’s House!Jesus-yoke-is-easy

But, to become His bond-servant, we must remove any other yoke we have attached ourselves to. Did you notice that the first verses of Isaiah 58 on fasting also mention “undoing the bands of wickedness and the yoke”? YHWH is serious about this. When we fast, it is our FLESH that must suffer. Fasting is one way in which our spirits can take back the upper hand and rule over our beast (flesh). Our flesh doesn’t like to feel hungry. It wants to RULE where we turn our heads. And it is the primary “enemy” you will deal with until death.

Beloved, the more I study, and the more I pursue a life in Torah, the more I realize that after coming into relationship with YHWH, everything is about this. The question of whether you will be a beast or a man (in the image of God) created on day 6 of creation is in nearly every single story of the Bible, culminating in the Book of Revelation with the “woman” and the “harlot who rides the beast”. The harlot gives her power to the beast.[4] God’s people have taken authority over (their) beast (flesh). They have instead, taken upon the yoke of Messiah.

Whip that flesh into submission! (I’m speaking to myself here as much as I am to you!) Force it to conform into the image of the Messiah. This is our calling. Go back and read the epistles in the Brit Chadashah. (N.T.). Notice the constant call to stop being carnal. Grow up by making your flesh submit. It’s time to build and no longer destroy. (As I’ve mentioned before, mussar is an awesome tool to help you “tame” your beast!)

Stop Pointing the Finger of Blame and Speaking Wickedly

The blame game. We all play it from time to time. The flesh ALWAYS has an excuse for its rotten behavior. Our favorite scapegoat is — everyone else. They’re not doing what they should be doing; thus, I’m justified in my own stinking actions. I was provoked. They hurt me. They won’t stop doing this or that. They always make me feel… you fill in the blank. They take advantage of me. They made fun of me. They… this or that. There is always a reason that we don’t do what we know to do.

cheating-blameThe problem is that “they” are not who we are supposed to master. We aren’t responsible for “their” behavior, no matter how crappy they treat us. YHWH says, “STOP!” Just stop pointing the finger. No matter what happened to you at the hands of some other person, we cannot use them as an excuse for our own bad actions. Go back and look at number seven in the list of fasting requirements. It says, do not hide yourself from your own flesh. Don’t justify your own fleshly nature while pointing out everyone else’s. That is being a hypocrite. Mercy is nonexistent in these scenarios.

The second clause in this statement is also true. If you’re pointing the finger, you are also running your big, fat mouth. You’re telling anyone and everyone “why” you are the way you are. And it’s all someone else’s fault. STOP. You will never find the healing and deliverance you so desperately seek while engaging in this relentless behavior. Hurting people hurt people. If you’re hurting right now, please stop and consider your actions. Don’t continue this cycle of chaos and destruction. Choose differently.

Again, this is all about your FLESH. Either Messiah has set you free or He hasn’t. You either wear His light yoke or you keep yourself yoked to your lower nature (flesh). Who is steering your head? Who dictates where you walk and what you say with that mouth? Who is at the helm of your ship?

STOP, says YHWH. Turn back and REPENT!

Give Yourself to the Hungry and the Afflicted

I’m not sure if you noticed this or not, but in the first verses of Isaiah 58 on fasting, and in our focal verses on becoming the repairer of the breach, the fourth thing required is to give bread to the hungry. Creation Gospel students understand the “authority” and “governing” aspect of the number four. It is actually a picture of seven and wholeness. You can read my article on The Rivers of Eden, to learn a little more about this number.

hands-holding-an-empty-bowl_shutterstock_68377594Four is also a picture of the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost). Not surprisingly, this firstfruits festival involves the offering of TWO baked loaves of wheat bread. After you have called upon YHWH, removed the evil yoke, and stopped the blame game, the next requirement is to give yourself to the hungry and the afflicted. How do we give ourselves to the hungry?  The passage on fasting says to “divide” our bread with the hungry. Do you have a loaf to spare for your neighbor?

We’ve already mentioned that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of YHWH. But, in order to train our flesh, giving real physical bread is necessary. Our nephesh would rather keep as much for itself as possible. Like a child, anything in its reach is “MINE”! It doesn’t like to share. It doesn’t really care about its neighbor or being in one accord at the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost).

Thank heavens, YHWH does care. The final test for your flesh is in whether or not you will give yourself to the hungry and the afflicted. As the last step, it will be the most challenging. Giving yourself to another person requires great vulnerability. In order to give yourself over to or to love your neighbor, you must place yourself in a position to get hurt. Getting hurt is what caused the breach in the first place. It’s why you’ve built the walls (of sand) around your heart. It’s why you blame, it’s why you complain, and it’s why you’re in pain.

Does YHWH really want me to risk it all, again? The answer in an unequivocal: YES! And if you get hurt again, then you get hurt. God can mend you again. He risked everything for us. We are to risk everything for our brothers and sisters, because we are to be one. Scars, bumps, bruises, and all. This is perfect love. For every heart break and every disappointment we endure for the House, YHWH is right there with us. We are His hands and feet.

These things are the IF. Now let’s look at YHWH’s promised, THEN.

Then, YHWH

Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday.  (11)  “And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.  (12)  “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell. (Is. 58:10-12)

By making your flesh submit, its “feelings” will eventually line up with the Word. Depression, apathy, and gloom are replaced with the brightness of God’s Light.

Tabernacle-Layers-Lesson-23Verse eleven is especially significant to me. “And YHWH will continually guide you”. Do you lack direction? Are you unsure of which way or where to go? Perhaps, all we need to receive this precious instruction is to give ourselves to our (imperfect) brothers and sisters. Strength will return to the body when we do. Notice that our “bones” or the frame of the House is restored. We become the builder we are meant to be. The living waters of the Holy Spirit are ever present in our midst.

Those willing to risk everything are given a name. Oh, how I want to be called by this name! Those that rebuild the ruins and raise up those old foundations are called “The Repairer of the Breach”!! The Kingdom and House have been restored and there we shall dwell in peace. Sigh. This is so awesome! All it will take is a little humility. We can do it!

One last note, the remaining two verses of Isaiah 58 speaks directly about the Shabbat. We are to deny our flesh, and delight in the Sabbath by resting in YHWH’s finished work. Real Sabbath delight requires gathering with our brothers and sisters — blemishes and all. Build, and do not destroy. Repair what has been breached. I hope to see you there. Shabbat Shalom!


[1] 2 Kings 12

[2] 2 Kings 22

[3] Dt. 8:2-6  “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.  (3)  “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.  (4)  “Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.  (5)  “Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.  (6)  “Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.

[4] Rev 17:13-16  “These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast.  (14)  “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”  (15)  And he *said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.  (16)  “And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire.

Categories: Messianic Issues, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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