Posts Tagged With: light

Purim Video: What the Darkness Reveals

This is the video of my message from the recent Purim 2021 conference. May it encourage you as we transition into the first Hebrew month, Aviv/Nisan this weekend.

 

 

The written message in written format can be found here.

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What the Darkness Reveals

Dear readers, this is a written form of my Purim message from this morning’s conference 5781 (2021). 

Isaiah 45:3, 6-7 (TLV) I will give you treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, so you may know that I am Adonai, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name… 6 so they may know, from the rising to the setting of the sun, that there is no one besides Me. I am Adonai—there is no other. 7 I form light and create darkness. I make shalom and create calamity. I, Adonai, do all these things.

At first glance, it might seem odd to consider that darkness reveals anything. Typically, we associate darkness with covering, hiddenness, chaos, confusion, sin, judgment, evil, or even death. Most of the Biblical references to darkness agree with those associations. However, like light, darkness is a contranym. While light is most often a symbol of the Word, Spirit, commandments, goodness, wisdom, and Messiah, there is also a false light. The enemy masquerades as a messenger of light. There is a light that is, in reality, darkness. (Luke 11:35)

Just as light doesn’t always equate to something good, darkness doesn’t always equate to evil. Light can blind instead of expose, and darkness can reveal things that light conceals. While the opposite is what one witnesses most often, it is important to know how darkness can be beneficial in our relationship with Adonai. This will build a stronger faith in the One that dwells in thick darkness.

In the natural, this can be compared to the electromagnetic spectrum. The vast majority of the spectrum is invisible, hidden, or one could say “dark” to the eyes of man even though it is all light. These portions of the spectrum have wavelengths too large or too small for the physical limitations of man’s sight. The tiny fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum that man can see with his eyes is called “visible light.” This is also true in the spiritual realm. God compares Himself with light, and yet man can only perceive a fraction of His light.

1 Timothy 6:15-16 (NASB) …He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

In this sense, there is light that appears “dark” or hidden from man. But, it is only dark from man’s perspective, not God’s. Thus, there are some (good) things that flourish in darkness. Consider a seed buried in the darkness of earth. It is in this place of seeming death that it germinates and sprouts to life. Or, think of a baby in the womb. It is in this dark, watery place that new life forms and grows, awaiting her day of birth.

Psalms 139:11-13 (NASB) If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” 12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. 13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.

While most flowers bloom with the light of day, there are some that only bloom at night to release their sweet perfume.[1] In Hebrew, the tzit-tziyot (fringes) figure the bloom of a flower and the commandments of God.[2]From those blooms, fruit will grow, mature, and become sweet. Just as some flowers bloom in the moonlight, some commandments are to be kept when it is dark, like Passover.

In Hebrew, there are two primary words for darkness. The first is choshek.[3] Like English, this word can imply physical darkness or an absence of light, but it is also used figuratively to represent something hidden, obscure, chaotic, or evil. The second term is araphel.[4] It is often translated as thick darkness or a dark cloud. Many Biblical verses describe the place where Adonai dwells with both Hebrew words for darkness. Here are a few:

Exodus 20:21 (NKJV) So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness (araphel) where God was.

Deuteronomy 4:11-12 (NASB) You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness (choshek), cloud and thick gloom (araphel). 12 Then the LORD spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form—only a voice.

2 Samuel 22:10-12 (NKJV) He bowed the heavens also, and came down with darkness (araphel)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 (choshek) canopies around Him, dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

1 Kings 8:10-12 (NRSV) And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD. 12 Then Solomon said, “The LORD has said that he would dwell in thick darkness (araphel).”

In light of this, what does darkness reveal? Consider the night sky. When the sun is shining brightly, the depths of the heavens are concealed from view. But when the sun sets below the horizon, and the beautiful blue sky fades to black, the multitude of stars, planets, and galaxies that exist far beyond the earth’s atmosphere become visible to the earth. The moon, which has no light in the daytime, becomes illuminated, shining her face upon the earth. Without darkness, one would never know that stars, planets, and galaxies dot the sky far beyond the blue heavens, nor would one know that the moon has any light at all.

In the natural, it is darkness that reveals the depths of the heavens. Do you suppose this is also true in the spiritual realm? Consider your life, your light in the earth. Is your light brighter in times of “light” or in times of “darkness?” Is the light of a lamp, candle, or flashlight easier to see in the daytime or at nighttime? Sometimes, we don’t know our potential, our lumens (light output), until we find ourselves surrounded by darkness or dark circumstances. That is what happened in the story of Esther. Facing the darkness of the shadow of death, she shined brilliantly and saved the Jewish nation living in the 127 provinces of Persia.

In Persian, Esther means “star.”[5] Stars shine in the darkness. Like all descendants of Abraham and Sarah, she was born to give light to a dark world.

Genesis 15:5-6 (NASB) And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

In Genesis 1:14, the stars and other luminaries are l’ohtot, for signs. Esther served as a sign to her people; and, she is still a sign, a shiny star to Believers today. It is likely that she drew strength by recalling Adonai’s promise to her father, Abraham. Before Adonai walked through the Covenant of Pieces as the smoking oven and flaming torch, Abraham felt terror and great darkness.[6]

Genesis 15:12-14 (NASB) Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness (chaskekah) fell upon him. 13 God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.”

God’s covenant with Abraham occurred when it was dark. In this frightful place, Adonai told him the fate of his descendants, the figurative stars. Abram experienced this as terror and great darkness. Based on this account, Jewish writings have long associated exile with darkness. Thus, the setting of Esther is darkness because the Jews in Persia were living outside the Land of Promise.

But, Esther is more than a “star.” Her name in Hebrew sounds like hester, which means hidden. In the light of day, the stars are hidden from man. In other words, when things appear good to us, lights like Esther are concealed. A scroll is megillah in Hebrew. It means to unveil or reveal what’s inside. The scroll of Esther means: Revealing the Hidden.

Just below the surface of the story, there is a hidden subtext with brilliant light for eyes that are searching for it. Without the darkness of exile, Mordecai and Esther would not have had their opportunity to shine. Without our personal times of darkness, we wouldn’t either. The darkness tests what’s in our hearts. It exposes what we really believe. And, it reveals the depths of the heavens and God’s hand in our lives in ways that cannot be perceived in times of “light.” In this way, darkness benefits our faith, and deepens our trust in Adonai.

Hebrews 11:1-2 (KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

Darkness Precedes Light

There is another important factor one should consider before examining the Scroll of Esther. Darkness precedes light. This pattern is first illustrated in the creation week, and then carried forth throughout the Word. It edifies one in times of struggle, turmoil, and even pending doom like Esther faced. In the beginning, there was darkness, and in that darkness, the Spirit of God hovered and fluttered over the faces of the waters.

Genesis 1:2-4 (NASB) The earth was formless and void, and darkness (choshek) 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.

Darkness precedes light, just as exile precedes redemption. At creation, light came forth from the darkness. This is an important concept to grasp, because in all Biblical stories of redemption, darkness precedes light. This is also true for you and me. When we were lost in the darkness of our trespasses and sin, the Living Word of Adonai pierced our darkness with His light, the Messiah, and brought us redemption. Thus, the natural realm mirrors the spiritual.

Consider that in Hebraic thought, the “day” begins in the evening with darkness, then light emerges with the morning sun. “And there was evening and morning…” This is the model given from the first day of creation, and it has been followed faithfully by the Jewish people since that time. The seven day week also follows this pattern. The first six days of the week are mundane working days. One could say they are spiritually dark. But, the week ends with the holy Shabbat, a spiritual day, akin to “light” when man’s work ceases.

Similarly, new months begin when the moon is dark, often called the conjunction. In Hebrew, this period is called the molad, which means “birth.” However, it is not until the first sliver of light is witnessed emerging from the dark moon that it is sanctified and the new month begins.

On the larger, yearly cycle, the late fall and winter season can be likened to the “dark” part of the year, when there is literally less light. Whereas, the festival season that begins in the spring and extends to the first part of autumn, can be likened to the “light” part of the year. The feasts of Adonai occur when the days are longer and warmer. In every case above, darkness precedes light. That is the Biblical creation pattern. Thus, it is not surprising that new human life begins the same way, whether that life is physical or spiritual.

Isaiah 9:2 (NASB) The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.

Darkness of Exile and Captivity to the Light of Redemption

Now, let’s examine how the creation pattern of darkness preceding light is illustrated in stories of redemption. The exodus from Egypt is the archetype of redemption. All stories of redemption share aspects of this monumental event, which is forever commemorated by the first feast on Adonai’s yearly cycle: Pesach. Messiah’s persecution, death, and resurrection follows this model. Consider the archetypal pattern: the last three plagues involved darkness before the children of Israel went out from Egypt:

Locusts – Plague 8:

Exodus 10:4-5 (LITV) For if you refuse to send away My people, behold, I am going to bring locusts into your territory tomorrow. 5 And they will cover the eye of the land, and no one will be able to see the land. And they will eat the rest of that which escaped, that which is left to you from the hail. And they will eat every tree that sprouts to you from the field.

Darkness – Plague 9:

Exodus 10:21-23 (LITV) And Jehovah said to Moses, stretch out your hand to the heavens so that darkness (choshek) may be on the land of Egypt, and one may feel darkness (choshek). 22 And Moses stretched out his hand to the heavens, and darkness (choshek) of gloom was in all the land of Egypt three days. 23 They did not see each one his brother, and they did not rise up, each one from his place for three days. Yet to all the sons of Israel there was light in their dwellings.

Death of Firstborn – Plague 10:

Exodus 11:4-5 (NASB) Moses said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, 5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well.

There is a clear mandate for followers of the God of Israel to remember the exodus. Notice when one is to do so:

Exodus 12:42 (NASB) It is a night to be observed for the LORD for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the LORD, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.

Redemption (Passover) is to be commemorated at night, when it is dark. But, what was the mark that Israel’s redemption was complete?

Exodus 14:24, 27 (NASB) At the morning watch, the LORD looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion… So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

When day light pierced the darkness of night, Israel’s redemption was complete! Pharaoh and his army were defeated in the waters of the Reed Sea. Does Messiah’s Passion follow a similar pattern?

 Matthew 27:45 (NASB) Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.

When Messiah hung on the tree, darkness fell upon the land for three hours, mirroring the three last plagues of darkness before the redemption of Israel. From man’s perspective, that darkness remained (figuratively) for three days and nights while Yeshua was in the dark tomb. Even when the women went to the tomb, it was dark.

John 20:1 (TLV) Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it is still dark, Miriam from Magdala comes to the tomb. She sees that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb.

Matthew 28:1 (NASB) Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.

But with the morning light, Yeshua appeared to Mary and the others, a clear mark of a new dawn, a new day, and the evidence that He had overcame death and redeemed all those who believe. Once again, darkness preceded Light.

 

Purim to Passover

Based on all the above, why do you suppose that the rabbis ensured that Purim occurs one month before Passover in a leap year when there is an added 13th month or Adar 2?[7] They didn’t want us to miss the deep connections Purim has with Passover. Since both are stories of redemption, it is vital that we understand that whether God brings one out of darkness with a Mighty Hand and great miracles, or whether He works behind the scenes in life’s happenstances and coincidences, it is ALL Him. He is the Savior and Redeemer.

Purim occurs at the end of the cycle of months, and Passover occurs at the beginning. The end is the beginning and the beginning is the end. In nature, the season is transitioning from winter to spring – a type of darkness to light. In Esther and Exodus, the people were living in exile, or darkness. Their lives hang in the balance. Anytime one is in state of transition, there are many unknowns, things one can’t see. It is dark from man’s perspective.

But, that is the precise place where God works. David said, “Ye though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou are with me.” (Ps. 23) He is right there with you in your darkness. His Spirit is hovering over the dark waters of our chaos. When Yeshua walked on water, like the Spirit in the Beginning, it was DARK and the wind and waves were contrary. (Mt. 14) Likewise, He is hovering and fluttering over your darkness, your chaos, your foggy circumstances. Light will come forth from your darkness. It is like a birth, a new creation .

Now, let’s step back into the story of Esther. This young Jewish girl ended up in a foreign king’s harem. Her entire life would be dictated by this (ungodly) ruler. She had no control over her life or circumstances. Her life must’ve felt pointless, and subjected to the will of others. When Esther first met King Ahasuerus, it was in a dark month of winter, Tevet, the tenth month. In this dark place and time, God gave her favor with the king, and out of all the other women, she was chosen to be his new queen.

Esther 2:16-17 (NASB) So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus to his royal palace in the tenth month which is the month Tebeth (Tevet), in the seventh year of his reign. 17 The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.

At this point in the story, Esther’s true identity is hidden from the king at Mordecai’s request. Meanwhile, it just so happened that while Mordecai sat at the king’s gate, he overheard two wicked officials discuss their plot to lay hands on the king. Mordecai reported the men to Esther, and she reported them to the king’s guard. The men were charged and executed. This incident turns out to be the key to the outcome of the whole story.

In the next chapter, Haman the Agagite is elevated to a position of authority. All pay homage to him except Mordecai, which infuriates Haman. His hatred extends to all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews. Three months after Esther is crowned queen, in the month of Nisan or the first Hebrew month, Haman casts purim (lots) to discover a favorable

Haman – May his name be Blotted Out!

month to destroy the Jewish people.

Esther 3:7 (NASB) In the first month, which is the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, Pur, that is the lot, was cast before Haman from day to day and from month to month, until the twelfth month, that is the month Adar.

This entire scene unfolds in the month of Nisan – the month of redemption on Adonai’s calendar. We don’t want to miss this connection. A great deal of this story occurs during the spring feasts. Once Haman divines that the month of Adar is best for destroying the Jews, he brings his plan to King Ahasuerus.

Esther 3:8-9 (NASB) Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king’s laws, so it is not in the king’s interest to let them remain. 9 If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king’s business, to put into the king’s treasuries.”

Haman was willing to put forth his own money to fund this campaign of death – 10,000 talents of silver, which is the equivalent of about 333 tons by weight or around $5.6 million dollars in today’s currency.[8] Haman was a man of great wealth, and he used it for evil. So, on the 13th of Nisan, the edict went out to all the provinces that nearly a year later, in the month of Adar, the people should prepare to annihilate the Jews. (Esther 3:11-15)

Esther 3:13 (NASB) Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces to destroy, to kill and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to seize their possessions as plunder.

Pause right there and think about God’s calendar. From Nisan 10th to the 14th, the Passover lambs are examined for blemishes, so they can be sacrificed to the LORD to commemorate Israel’s redemption from Egypt. Was a blemish found in the “lambs” of the Jews living in Persia?

Esther 4:14 (NASB) “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

Perhaps, Esther realized she and her fellow Jews did indeed have a blemish. Consider Haman’s accusation against the Jews. They were “scattered” and “dispersed,” and their laws were different that the King Ahasuerus’. While the latter is a good thing, being scattered and dispersed signals disunity among the people. Realizing this, Esther seeks to remedy the problem:

Esther 4:16 (NKJV) “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”

Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah, a myrtle branch. Her response to Mordecai was to gather or assemble ALL the Jews. As a true Sukkot branch, she calls for the scattered people to come together in unity, just as the various lulav branches are gathered and waved before the LORD at Sukkot. Instead of feasting during Passover and Unleavened Bread, they fasted for their lives. Esther was willing to risk death for her people, a beautiful foreshadowing of the work of Yeshua.

As a result, the king was more than favorable when Esther approached him unannounced, even offering her up to half of his kingdom. She requests that the king and Haman attend a wine banquet that she had prepared. They do so, but Esther keeps her identity and true request concealed, inviting them to a second banquet the next day. Meanwhile, Haman builds 50 cubit gallows in which he intends to hang Mordecai.

During that night, the turning point of the narrative occurs. (Take note of the dark/light symbolism.) The king can’t sleep, so he has the chronicles read to him and discovers that Mordecai saved his life. The king desires to honor Mordecai for saving him. The next morning, Haman entered the courtyard to ask the king if he could hang Mordecai on the gallows that he built. In a funny turn of events, Haman instead ends up parading Mordecai throughout the kingdom to honor him for saving the king.

This mortified Haman, so he covered his head in shame, and went home to complain to his wife and friends. But, he was quickly ushered off to Esther’s second wine banquet. There, she finally revealed her true intentions. She unmasked Haman as the wicked one set on destroying her people, and revealed her Jewish identity to the king. The furious king hung Haman on the gallows he built for Mordecai.

All the above occurred during the spring feasts of Adonai. In third month of Sivan, when Shavuot is celebrated, the king allowed Mordecai and Queen Esther to issue new edicts for the upcoming time of destruction set by Haman in Adar. The rest is history. The Jews defended themselves, fear of them grew in Persia, the tables were turned, and they destroyed the ones determined to destroy them. These days were marked as the festival of Purim, a remembrance of the time Adonai turned them “from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a yom tov.” (Esther 9:22)

 

Warring with Amalek

Haman was descendant of Amalek, the people that attacked the weak and weary Israelites in the wilderness. After this, the LORD said that He would war with Amalek from generation to generation. (Ex. 17:14-16; Dt. 25:17-19) Moses built an altar at that time, and called Adonai YHWH Nissi, the LORD is my Banner, in honor of Adonai’s declaration. A banner is a nes, which is a sign, standard, or ensign. It is also related to the Hebrew word for miracle, nes.

A nes is something lifted up like a flag that can be seen from far away. When the children of Israel warred with the Amalekites, Hur and Aaron held Moses’ tired arms up as an ensign. As long as his arms remained raised with the staff of God, Israel prevailed. In the yearly Torah cycle, we reread this account in Exodus on Purim, as we celebrate Haman’s (Amalek’s) defeat.[9]

Adonai is truly our Banner, the One lifted up as our ensign. We look to Him and the battle is won. Every year at this season, we remember Amalek. We recall his battle tactics. He seeks to attack the stranglers, the weak, and the frail – those that are experiencing darkness. Those that are struggling with exile and hard circumstances. This is the time to lift up a banner for the whole camp of Israel to see. On Adonai’s calendar, that flag or standard is the Scroll of Esther.

She shines like a bright star to those in darkness, giving gentle instruction to the weary. She calls for gathering and unity, even in exile. She reminds us of Haman’s (Amalek’s) defeat, and the hidden, yet Mighty Hand of Adonai. Esther connects one to the new cycle, and prepares us for Pesach. She transitions us from darkness to light.

The Orthodox Pesach Haggadah highlights this with a song that is read at the end of the Seder on the first night of Passover called, It Came to Pass at Midnight. As you read through the lyrics below, meditate on the timing of redemption. When it seems like the darkest moment, even in our own lives, that is when Adonai comes to rescue us. In Egypt, we were slaves one moment, and then, at the “stroke of midnight” we were free. (Ex. 12:29) How many times has Adonai came to your aid at a figurative “midnight”?

IT CAME TO PASS AT MIDNIGHT

You performed most wonders at night,
In the early watches of this night; You caused the righteous convert,
Abraham, to triumph at night;

It came to pass at midnight.

Gerar’s king Abimelech, You judged in a dream by night; You frightened the Aramean, Laban, in the dark of night;
Israel (Jacob) overcame an angel and won by night;

It came to pass at midnight.

You crushed Egypt’s firstborn at midnight;
They found no strength when they rose at night;
The army of the prince of Sisera, You swept away with stars of night;

It came to pass at midnight.

Senncherib, the blasphemer, You disgraced by night;
Babylon’s idol fell in the dark of night;
Daniel was shown the secret of the king’s dream at night;

It came to pass at midnight.

Belshazzar, who drank from the Temple’s vessel, was killed that same night;
Daniel who was saved from the lion’s den interpreted the writing on the wall at night; Hateful Haman the Agagite wrote letters in the night;

It came to pass at midnight.

You triumphed over Haman in the king’s sleepless night;
Trample the winepress and help those who ask the watchmen, “What of the long night?” The watchman responds: “Morning comes after night;”

It came to pass at midnight.

Hasten the day of Messiah, which is neither day nor night;
Most High, make known that Yours are day and night;
Appoint guards for Your city all day and night;
Brighten like the light of day the darkness of night;

It came to pass at midnight.

In your dark hour, have you asked the watchmen, “What of the long night?” A true watchman will respond, “Morning comes after the night.” Exile, affliction, trials, and sufferings are dark, but they are not the end; they signal the beginning. This is the nature of birth and birth pangs.

We can add another “midnight” to this Orthodox poem:

Mat. 25:5-7 (NASB) Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.

The pattern is consistent and trustworthy. When it is dark, one can trust that Adonai is at work. One can believe without wavering that Adonai will once again bring the LIGHT. Not even death, the thing most fear above else, cannot separate us from the love of Messiah. “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (Ps. 30:5)

Rom. 8:35-39 (TLV) Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.

Paul was convinced of this message. Are we?

Queen Esther knew the stakes. Her life was on the line for her people. We fear what lurks in the darkness of what we can’t see. But, Adonai is there with us, just as He was with the Jews in Persia. Darkness and light are alike to Adonai. (Psalm 139:12) And, we can trust that He is for us. He is good and works ALL things for the good. (Romans 8:28)

We, especially those that live in western nations like the United States, prefer teachings that focus on one’s safety and prosperity. We have developed entire theological systems that have the “church” escaping trials and tribulations. These doctrines are dangerous because they are rooted in fear of worldly poverty and death. The king’s palace, though luxurious and seemingly “safe,” could not protect Queen Esther. Mordecai told her not to even imagine that her high status would protect her. We serve the God Who gave His all for His people. He expects no less from those that follow His example.

If you find yourself lost in the dead of night at this season, seek wise watchmen, like the moedim or appointed times. They arrive in the year at the perfect time to remind one that though the enemy is always seeking your life, Adonai is still on the Throne. He redeems, He saves, He lives, and He is coming. Death will be swallowed up in victory!

So, every year we rehearse the blow to Amalek at Purim, exactly a month before Passover. On Adonai’s calendar, Purim is the (spiritual) preparation for Pesach. It dissolves the chametz of fear, doubt, and unbelief. These are lies that lurk in the dark, hidden corners of our hearts. They question God’s presence in the natural world and one’s everyday mundane existence. This type of darkness seeks to destroy one’s faith just before the first sliver of “light” pierces the night at Passover.

But, we have our own megillah, our own revealing, like Esther and Purim. This is our testimony of overcoming. It shines in the darkness like the stars and the moon. These sparks of light remind all that dwell in darkness and dark circumstances that we have a great hope. There is Good News! What is hidden now, will be revealed – unrolled like a heavenly scroll. And Messiah, our hope and glory, speaks to us in the thick darkness.

Matthew 10:26-27 (NASB) Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to look up when it is dark. There, far beyond the earth, the heavenlies utter their wordless speech. They remind all the Esther’s or stars of Abraham of Adonai’s Covenant Promises. He is faithful. Can you find the treasures of darkness? Look up!

Luke 21:25-28 (NKJV) “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring;  26  men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  27  Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  28  Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”


[1] For example, check out the Moon Flower: https://www.thespruce.com/growing-moon-flower-in-containers-4125231

[2] Strong’s H6734 צִיצִת tsee-tseeth’ Feminine of H6731; a floral or wing like projection, that is, a fore lock of hair, a tassel: – fringe, lock.

H6731 BDB Definition: צץ / ציץ tsı̂yts / tsits 1) flower, bloom. 1a) flower, bloom. 1b) shining thing (of gold plate on high priest’s mitre) (metaphorically). 2) feather, wing.

[3] H2822 חשׁך chôshek BDB Definition: 1) darkness, obscurity. 1a) darkness. 1b) secret place. Part of Speech: noun masculine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H2821

[4] H6205 ערפל ‛ărâphel BDB Definition: 1) cloud, heavy or dark cloud, darkness, gross darkness, thick darkness. Part of Speech: noun masculine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: probably from H6201

[5] https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Esther.html

[6] From the same root as choshek: H2825 חשׁיכה / חשׁכה chăshêkâh / chăshêykâh BDB Definition: 1) darkness. Part of Speech: noun feminine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H2821

[7] In a leap year, the Hebrew year has thirteen months or a second Adar. (Learn more here and here.) Leaps years occur seven times in a nineteen year cycle. The 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 19th years of the nineteen year Metonic cycle are leap years. 5781 is year number 5 of the cycle and is therefore not a leap year. The next leap year will be in 5782, year number 6 of the cycle. See New Moon posts on Adar for more: here and here.

[8] See the IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament and New Testament by John H. Walton; Mark W. Chavalas; Victor H. Matthews; Craig S. Keener on Esther 3:9

[9] See Warring with Amalek Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 to understand Haman’s connection to Amalek.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Kislev: Light & Identity

  • Month: Nine
  • Name: Kislev, meaning trust, security, hope[1]
  • Tribe: Benjamin
  • Tribal Banner: Wolf
  • Sense: Sleep
  • Mazel: Sagittarius/Keshet (Bow)
  • Organ: Belly/Stomach/Loins
  • Letter: Samekh (60)
  • Themes: Month of Dreams, Festival of Lights/Dedication
  • Torah Portions: Toldot – Generations, Vayetze – And He Went Out, Vayishlach – And He Sent, Vayeshev – And He Settled, and in some years Miketz – At the End

The Light Always Gives[2]

Kislev and Tevet, the 9th and 10th Hebrew months, are the darkest months of the year in the northern hemisphere. Since the natural is a picture or shadow of the spiritual realm[3], what is occurring in nature at this season is mirrored in one’s spiritual life. Less light and more darkness is sensed by both the physical and spiritual aspects of man. For example, when the days grow shorter and colder, some people experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD).[4] Light therapy is a common treatment for this type of depression.

Nature is a great teacher, and a firm witness of God’s truth. Thus, by examining creation, we can learn spiritual patterns in the cycle of seasons, days, months, and years. The luminaries of day four of creation GIVE both natural and spiritual light to the earth and earth beings. They govern the day and the night and separate the light from the darkness.[5] Mankind has a proclivity to confuse light and darkness, at least spiritually speaking.[6] The intent of this article is to remind the reader of this reality, and to help one discover how Adonai uses this season every year to refine and prepare one for the next growing season.

All the points at the beginning of this post are important themes that weave together to create the “big picture” view of Kislev. My video on Kislev in 2018 explained most of these themes. But this year, I want to concentrate on the theme of Light and the primary feedback that I have received in the “dark” months over the years.

Identity

During Kislev and Tevet, I receive more emails and messages about identity than anything else. People tend to struggle with their purpose, who they are, and what they should be doing. And, conversely, social media often teems with those that question or challenge the identity of Messiah. Regarding the former, I receive questions at this season that look something like this:

  • Who am I, really?
  • What is my purpose?
  • Is all my work for nothing?
  • Am I toiling in vain?
  • Does God even care?
  • What should I really be doing?
  • How can I function in my gifts and callings?
  • I’m tired. What is the point?

If you find yourself struggling with your purpose or with discerning Adonai’s will for your life in the dark months, know that this is normal. Rather than falling into the malaise of depression, apathy, or condemnation, allow the creation and agricultural season to shed LIGHT on God’s purpose for this introspection. The late fall and winter months in Israel are crucial to the new growing season of spring. If this is true in the natural, it is also true in the spiritual realm.

Right now, it is still the time of the early rains (yoreh) in Israel. They begin after the turn of the year, just after the seventh month and the fall feast days. These rains sink into the hard, dry soil making it easy for farmers to plough the ground and prepare it to receive new seeds. As you read Smith’s Bible Dictionary’s entry on “rain” below, consider the figurative or spiritual application as well as the natural.

“In the Bible, “early rain,” signifies the rain of the autumn, Deu 11:14, and “latter rain,” signifies the rain of spring. Pro 16:1; Pro 16:5. For six months in the year, from May to October, no rain falls, the whole land becomes dry, parched and brown. The autumnal rains are eagerly looked for, to prepare the earth for the reception of the seed. These, the early rains, commence about the latter end of October and continuing through November and December. January and February are the coldest months, and snow falls, sometimes to the depth of a foot or more, at Jerusalem, but it does not lie long; it is very seldom seen along the coast, and in the low plains. Rain continues to fall, more or less, during the month of March, but it is very rare in April… the early and the latter rains, for which the husbandman waited with longing, seem rather to have implied the first showers of autumn — which revived the parched and thirsty soil and prepared it for the seed — and the later showers of spring, which continued to refresh and forward both the ripening crops, and the vernal products of the fields.” Jas 5:7; Pro 16:15.” (Emphasis mine.)

On the higher, spiritual level, the season of the early rains (October, November, December) coincides with the darker, colder, and less “light” time of the year. If the natural purpose is to soften dry, hardened soil for ploughing and planting seeds, then the spiritual purpose is the same in the heart of man. Can you see why it is at this season that people tend to question their purpose and progress, and reevaluate their goals? Especially, in regard to Kingdom work?

Beloved, there is a very real inward battle at this season. Your identity is firmly rooted in Messiah Yeshua. Period. But, that will not excuse one from testing. Testing is for our refinement and is the LORD’s tool to conform us to His image. The months and the moedim GIVE Light to the earth and earth beings. If you’ve been following the moonthly cycle of Adonai for some time, you already know that certain issues pop up at certain seasons EVERY year.

In the dark months, consider what is happening outside. The days are growing darker and colder. Life seems stagnant or even dead. Plants shrivel, trees lose their leaves, some animals crawl into a den of hibernation and SLEEP. All these things are literal surface observations. They do NOT depict what is occurring under the surface, within the trees, and in the soil. In this case, it’s what we can’t see with our natural eyes that matters most. Though one’s natural eyes can see that the environment is dark, cold, and lifeless, one with wisdom knows how VITAL this stage is for NEW GROWTH.

Consider this time of inner reflection to be like a dark, watery womb[7] where you are receiving the early, nourishing
rains of Adonai. They are softening hard, callused attitudes and hearts. Or, think of yourself like a plant or tree. The struggle you face is meant for the betterment of your FUTURE. It is time not only for night dreams,[8] but waking dreams, hopes, and goals. What worked or didn’t work during the growth and harvest season last year? How will you plan your GARDEN for the upcoming season of Light, spring? How will you use these “dark” months? What will you birth or sprout in the spring?

I recommend that you journal any “identity” issues that surface in Kislev and Tevet. Pray and seek God for what He will have you plant, rearrange, uproot, and in what areas you should expand or reconsider altogether. These deep soul questions are normal, and Adonai’s desire is that they help you prepare for the next season. The enemy will use such questions to lead one to despair or condemnation. That is the perversion, and the battleground.

Light Gives

With less natural light available, the spiritual light can also be obscured if one is not diligent to seek it out at this season. Perhaps, this why Adonai gave the Maccabees victory late in this month, as He knew it would be commemorated with the oil fueled light of the Chanukiah. Even if you don’t celebrate Chanukah, this is a good time to review the historical events and learn from them. Judah was fighting a type of spiritual darkness that mixed the holy with the profane, and outright forbid crucial elements of the Covenant between God and Israel such as circumcision, Shabbat and New Moon observance, and Torah study.

Knowledge of this reality is half of the battle. We do not grope in darkness, for there is light in Goshen. We are expected to be prepared in and out of season because we have the Light of the Word and Messiah.

2 Timothy 4:1-4 (NASB) I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Messiah warns about the confusion of light and darkness. There is a very real possibility that one can be full of darkness and actually think that they are full of light. In other words, there is a false light that deceives many.

Luke 11:33-36 (NASB) “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. 36 If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.”

 

There is one key difference between true and false light. True light always gives. It does not take or steal or consume another in order to “shine.” False light, figured by natural fire, rapidly and hungrily devours its fuel source. Though it shines brightly, it can only do so as it gobbles up the essence and livelihood of another.

False Light Separates Brothers (Pr. 6:16-19)

Today, it has become normal in western cultures to blame others or groups of others for one’s successes or lack thereof. Inner reflection, personal responsibility, and the Sovereignty of God are anathema in their equations. If you believe that you can only shine if and when others are brought low, consumed, silenced, or destroyed, it is time to “watch out that the light in you is not darkness.” The world has a false light, and it sounds very good to man’s passions, desires, lusts, and ego.

True light has no need to take from or consume another person or thing. It burns bright and true without destroying its fuel source. When Adonai called Moses to lead His people out of the bondage of Egypt, this is the first lesson he was taught. God’s light does not consume or destroy.

Exodus 3:2-4 (NASB) The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3 So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Moses was told to bring the children to this same mountain where Adonai appeared to him in the burning bush, and this would be a sign that Adonai was with him. (Ex. 3:12) Later, when Moses did so, the children of Israel perceived the glory of Adonai on Mount Horeb (Sinai) as LIKE a consuming fire. But like the bush, it was not actually consumed.

Exodus 24:17 (NASB) And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top.

The Holy Spirit of fire that rests upon God’s people likewise doesn’t consume or destroy the person. Fleshly passions, burning lusts, and worldly desires are quenched, but the man remains. As you consider the “light in you,” review your passions. What fuels your desires? What do you battle for or against? Does your heart burn with the desire to consume others in some way? If we are truly citizens of the Kingdom of Adonai, our lamps will not consume the “wood” or “oil” of another, only foolish virgins think that way.

Rather, our work will GIVE to others. It will uplift, transform, fill up, and brighten the lives of those that Adonai brings into our sphere. Others should see the LIGHT of Messiah in us, which will compel them to turn aside, like Moses, and stop their normal activities to see this marvelous sight. It is so contrary to the natural order that it stuns people. It might even appear to be “foolishness” if one is immersed in worldly wisdom.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (NASB)  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God.

One of the meanings of Kislev is foolishness or stupidity.[9] In the month of light and darkness, the question is in what or in whom does one trust? For that determines how this word is translated. Do we trust in wisdom or folly? Truth or Lies? In God’s Sovereignty or man’s government? The foolish harlot’s tongue drips honey laced with promises of worldly pleasure, wealth, and grandeur. She excuses and justifies all the destruction and ruin in her wake; and, it really does sound like “wisdom” to the one sprawled on her couch drenched in costly fragrances. “Let it all burn and we will rebuild it in our own image,” she whispers. “It is good.”

On the contrary, the supernatural light of God manifests like chesed (lovingkindness), which is also a GIVER. Chesed and the LIGHT of Adonai are spiritually discerned for those in darkness. It just doesn’t make sense to the natural, worldly mind. But, this “burning without consuming” is where God met with Moses and it is where He made the Covenant with Israel. The pattern is trustworthy. In order to lead others to the Mountain that burns without being consumed, we must first demonstrate the same. May it be so!

Another journal activity for Kislev and Tevet is to consider your gifts. As the ultimate Giver, Adonai gives good gifts to His children. What spiritual gifts do you possess? How are you using them? If you are unsure of what gifts you have, ask other Believers that know you well. They likely see them better than you do. Pray and ask Adonai to reveal to you what they are and how you can serve Him with these talents. If you meet with others for the new moon, devote some time in prayer for those present in the areas of identity and gifts. Many struggle, especially at this season, with one or the other.

Meanwhile, be very careful with what ignites your flame. Next month, in Tevet, anger is the sense. Don’t allow your dream discoveries in Kislev to incite covetousness, rage, jealousy, or contempt. May Adonai bless you and keep you!


[1] See H3689 as used in Job 8:14; 31:24, Proverbs 3:26, Psalm 78:7 (Also see footnote 9.)

[2] Genesis 1:17-18 (NASB) God placed them [the luminaries] in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.

[3] Col. 2:16-17, 1 Cor. 15:46

[4] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

[5] See footnote 2.

[6] Job 17:12, Isaiah 5:20; 9:2; 59:9, Matthew 6:23, John 1:5, etc.

[7] This is the NINTH month, the number most associated with human gestation.

[8] Kislev is called the month of dreams, because most of the dreams recorded in the Torah are read during this month in the Torah cycle.

[9] Hebrew Word Definitions: כֶּסֶל kesel: A masculine noun meaning loins, confidence, stupidity. The first use can actually mean the waist area, the kidneys, etc. (Lev 3:4, Lev 3:10, Lev 3:15; Lev 4:9; Lev 7:4; Job 15:27). The second use is more ambiguous, meaning that in which one puts trust or confidence (Job 8:14; Job 31:24; Psa 78:7; Pro 3:26). The final usage is a false self-trust or stupidity (Psa 49:13 [14]; Ecc 7:25). See the related Hebrew verb kāsal (H3688) and Hebrew noun kislāh (H3690).

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In the Beginning: LIGHT

It’s a new year with a renewed Torah cycle. The human soul craves new beginnings, do-overs, fresh starts, and restoration. The Creator knows this well and has built many such renewals into His calendar. We have a renewal every day, week (Shabbat), and month (new moon). Renewals occur at various points throughout each year (moedim), and especially at the new year, in the seven year cycle (Shemittah), and in the fifty year rotation (Jubilee/Yovel).

At the turn of the year (7thmonth), the weekly Torah Portion cycle begins anew with Genesis. This year (5780), is the fifth year of the current Shemittah cycle.[1] As I’ve consulted with others, prayed, and meditated on this upcoming cycle, many things have been on my lev (heart/mind). The creation days in this week’s portion, B’reishit, are the foundation of all things. They especially inform the many other sets of sevens found throughout the Bible.[2]

The year that just went out was a year four, which mirrored day four of creation, the day that natural light from the sun, moon, and stars was separated from the darkness. Their mandate was to rule the day and night, and to be heavenly governors and calendar markers for those that dwell upon the earth. Spiritually speaking, they represent God’s authority of not only creation and man, but of time. What or who governs your clock, calendar, and time? Did you receive “light” on these issues in the previous year?

The Light of the World is Messiah:

John 8:12 (TLV) Yeshua spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows Me will no longer walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Torah (Law) is Light:

Ps. 119:105 (TLV) Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Pr. 6:23 (TLV) For the mitzvah is a lamp, Torah a light, and corrective discipline the way of life.

Followers of Messiah and His Torah are also Light:

Mat. 5:14-16 (TLV) You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on a lampstand so it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Has the authority that Adonai gave you to be one of His “lights” been challenged? I have certainly witnessed those dead set on hiding the “light” of others in year four with the promise to continue to do so in the fifth year. Light and authority go hand in hand as the proclamation of day four of creation. Challenging authority is challenging Light. Oppressing a brother or sister by denying their authority to be a light to the world is akin to hiding their light.

This has always been the mind and intent of the enemy. His heart is set on enslavement, bondage, and taking captives. His desire to rule, reign, and govern is a false light that is really darkness. He proclaims to be light. He masquerades as light. He proclaims himself holy, righteous, and good. But, he rules by fear and scare tactics. He wants you to be afraid, to question what God has said, and to be fearful to walk in your calling. His focus is to subject, dominate, silence, and make himself the head. (Isaiah 14 – King of Babylon) It seems that we should recognize him easily, but we don’t. Messiah warns that false light is difficult to discern. In fact, it is possible that the light we think we have is really darkness.

Luke 11:33-36 (NASB) “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. 36 If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.”

The Spirit of Messiah stands in stark contrast to those that seek to oppress and hide the true light. He says:

Luke 4:18-19 (TLV) “The Ruach Adonai is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, 19 and to proclaim the year of Adonai’s favor.”

The body has two eyes, not one. THEY are the lamp of the body. This is akin to the Torah and the Messiah. It is also like a man and a woman as one flesh, the male and female created on day 6. Each is an “eye” in their unity. The man and woman (as echad) should be filled with the Light of Torah and Messiah. This is also the message of day and year four. The Light of the Torah and the Spirit were given on the fourth feast day: Shavuot or Pentecost.

Two eyes and two equal yet different perspectives, like the two tablets and two loaves waved before Adonai on Shavuot. These prepare one to walk properly in the Spirit of Power of day and year five to move rapidly throughout the earth like the birds and fish to spread the Seed (Gospel). If they fulfill their mandate and move within their (wind) currents of purpose, they will be judged favorably in year (day) six.

What are these two eyes on the ONE body (man and wife)? They are the Torah of Chesed (lovingkindness) and the Torah of Emet (Truth). The woman teaches the Torah of Chesed and the man the Torah of Truth. Both are equally important. Hiding or covering one eye partially blinds the body and the family unit. The lamp becomes dim and darkness encroaches. When light is suppressed, the people are oppressed. Praise Adonai that Messiah recovers sight to the blind – both eyes are able to function properly. (Is. 61, Luke 4:18)

Rabbi Sacks has an excellent video explaining the role of men and women as the Torah of Kindness and Truth.[3] I pray it enlightens your Torah cycle this year!

Ps. 118:24-29 (TLV) This is the day that Adonai has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! 25 Hoshia-na! Please, Adonai, save now! We beseech You, Adonai, prosper us! 26 Baruch haba b’Shem Adonai—Blessed is He who comes in the Name of Adonai. We bless you from the House of Adonai. 27 Adonai is God, and He has given us light. Join the festival with branches, up to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I praise You. You are my God—I exalt You! 29 Praise Adonai, for He is good, for His lovingkindness endures forever.


[1]Leviticus 25

[2]For an in-depth thematic study of this, see The Creation Gospel: The Foundation Workbook One by Dr. Hollisa Alewine. And, Know the Time, Change Your World by Barry Miller.

[3]Thank you, Barry Miller, for bringing this video to my attention!

Categories: Torah Portions, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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