Posts Tagged With: menorah

The Rivers of Eden

tree-of-life-river-of-life-05-08Why does Torah portion Bereshit seem to interrupt the natural flow of the creation narrative to interject the telling of the rivers of Eden? Does this break in the story seem strange to you? In her commentary on Bereshit in The Creation Gospel Workbook 5 Volume 1, Dr. Hollisa Alewine expounds on the odd placement (or is it?) of the details of the one river that divides into four in Genesis chapter two. Dr. Alewine’s commentary on Bereshit delves deeply into the rivers of Eden (about 50 pages worth!).  Obviously, this is a much more comprehensive treatment than I will offer here. If you have the time, I urge you to study the Creation Gospel model and her commentary on Bereshit. I hope to give you a summary of these fascinating rivers and a taste of Dr. Alewine’s work along with thoughts of my own.

Gen 2:10-14  Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers.  (11)  The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.  (12)  The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there.  (13)  The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush.  (14)  The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

 

One River

First, what is a river in Hebrew? In our passage above, the Hebrew word translated as river is nahar. According to Brown, Driver, and Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions, nahar is a stream, river, or underground stream. It comes from the root verb nahar meaning to shine, beam, light, burn, be radiant, to flow, and stream. Please keep this imagery of a river as flowing water and flowing light at the forefront of your mind as we continue.

From the Garden of Eden (paradise) the “head” or beginning of the ONE river divided into four other rivers. Before we get into the details of these four rivers, let’s first explore what we know about the number four. As I’ve explained in other places on this blog, four can be a representation of seven or completeness. Day four of creation establishes for us the “governing” aspect of this number.

Other examples:

  • There are four corners of the earth
  • Four corners (horns) are on the brazen altar
  • Four living creatures surround the Throne
  • Four seasons mark the year
  • Fourth commandment is about Shabbat, the seventh day
  • Four gospels testify of Messiah
  • Fourth born son, Judah, receives the scepter (authority, government, rule)
  • Four horsemen complete judgment in the earth
  • Four species are waved at Sukkot, the seventh feast
  • Four corners of garment carry our tzit-tziot (fringes) representing all the commandments

There are many places in the creation (nature) and the Holy Scriptures that speak to the imagery of four depicting completeness just as seven does. The seven branched menorah displays this imagery (in the natural) better than any other motif. Consider that the source or center branch is the fourth branch no matter which direction you begin your count. Messiah Yeshua stands at the center of this lampstand as He is the source from which all things flow. This brings us back to the beginning or Bereshit.

John 1:1-5  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  (2)  He was in the beginning with God.  (3)  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  (4)  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  (5)  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

It is through the divine Light of Messiah (He as our menorah) that all things came into being and are held together. As the source of LIGHT, He rescues us from the darkness and brings us to redemption. He is the beginning of “in the beginning”.

Col. 1:13-18  For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,  (14)  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  (15)  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  (16)  For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.  (17)  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  (18)  He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

As LIGHT, He is both the source branch on the menorah (4th) and the fullness thereof in its seven pipes.

Rev 1:12-15  Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;  (13)  and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.  (14)  His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.  (15)  His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.

Rev. 2:1  “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands

The primordial Light of day one in Genesis 1:3 was not the natural light of the sun, moon, and stars (created later on day 4), but was the glorious spiritual Light of Messiah. He is the Light in the darkness and the Life of men.

While “light” is certainly a symbol for God given to us in Genesis 1:3, there is another symbol that precedes this primordial “light”. In Genesis 1:2, we see the Spirit of God hovering or moving upon the face of the waters. Thus, we learn two things. The Spirit of God is active with movement and that movement is characterized by WATER. Does Messiah have any associations with water? The Beloved disciple John, the one who points us to the beginning and the primordial light, also points us to the ancient waters as the source for eternal life.

John 4:10  Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (see also vs. 14)

John 7:37-38  Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  (38)  “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”

The Messiah Yeshua, as the image of the invisible God, is also the source for the living waters of eternal life. Jeremiah declares that these living waters are from the beginning and find their source in the glorious throne of YHWH.

Jer. 17:12-14  A glorious throne on high from the beginning Is the place of our sanctuary.  (13)  O LORD, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the LORD.  (14)  Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For You are my praise. (See also Jer. 2:13)

Thus, we see the Living waters in the beginning — before all things. Time doesn’t run on some infinite straight line, it is a circle or a cycle according to what we see in the creation, Hebraic thought, and the Bible. What is happening in the beginning will also happen at the end, completing the divine pattern or cycle. What do we see at the end?

Rev. 7:17  for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

Rev. 21:6  Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.

Rev. 22:1  Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,

Though the river in Genesis chapter two isn’t named, I bet you can guess what it is called. It is the Source, the Head, and the Beginning. It is none other than the River of Life. The Holy Spirit inspired Scriptures captures this imagery in a perfect circle from beginning to end. The River of Life (like Messiah) was, is, and is to come. It has always been there flowing from the Throne of YHWH. Does the Genesis narrative about the rivers have a little bit more significance in your mind now? Perhaps learning about them can bring us some greater insight into not only the beginning, but the end.

The River that pours forth from Eden (paradise) and the Throne of YHWH divides into four other heads. Now, let’s go back to our menorah motif again. Imagine the River of Life as the source or center branch, fueling or feeding the outer six branches, giving them Life. In the natural, this river would be the Euphrates. Now, I’m not suggesting the Euphrates IS the River of Life; instead, I’m speaking metaphorically.

The rivers are given to us in the following order in Genesis chapter two: Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Perat (Euphrates). I believe that every word, in fact every letter, is divinely placed in the Torah. The order of the four rivers is no exception. Again, imagining our menorah, Pishon would be on the first branch, Gihon on the second, the Tigris on the third, and the Euphrates on the fourth branch. Since four represents the whole or seven, the first three rivers connect chiastically to their counterpart on the other side of the menorah. Creation Gospel students will understand this from their study in Workbook 1, but for clarity, please look at this graphic:

menorah3

Notice how one and seven mirror one another as do two and six and three and five. Moreover, you can trace with your finger how they are indeed connected at the base; yet the source for them all is the Messiah or the River of Life. By the way, this “mirroring” or chiastic structure is also true for the seven days of creation, the seven Spirits of God, the seven feast days, and the many sevens found in the Book of Revelation. You can learn all about these fascinating truths by studying the Creation Gospel by Dr. Hollisa Alewine.

Perhaps it is a little clearer now as to why Moses gives us more information about the river Pishon than he does for the other three rivers. Looking at the graphic again, you can see how the Pishon encompasses the entire menorah as the outer shell or completeness of the entire menorah.

Before we move onto the meaning of the names of each river and their significance, I want you to look at the graphic one more time. Now, imagine if there were a second menorah upside down on the top of this one. What would you see then? It would be a complete circle with smaller circles on the inside! Perhaps a wheel in the middle of a wheel? But I digress… that is indeed a whole other study in itself — though it is directly related to this one. (: Nevertheless, it is important for you see the complete picture of this circle or cycle as two of the rivers we will study imply surrounding, encompassing, and circling.

Euprates (Perat)

Do you recall from the beginning of this post how that in Hebrew a river is not only water, but a mechanism for carrying light? Do you also remember the crystal clear waters flowing from the throne of God? (Dan. 7:10) Could these same “fiery” waters be life to the righteous and yet a “lake of fire” to the wicked? This is something to consider since the end has been declared from the beginning. Moreover, the equivalence of fire and water is pictured all over the Bible as both symbols for God and conversely of judgment.[1] For our study, consider that these waters from Eden are both flowing fire and water. Whether they burn or cleanse is determined by whether you are wicked or righteous. These flowing waters from Eden are like the Holy Spirit blowing and flowing around and among His people. Like with Daniel and his companions, the fiery furnace of the Holy Spirit is a cool cleansing heat from heaven that protects the righteous, but burns the wicked.

Instead of starting with the first river listed, let’s start with the last or what sits at the center of the menorah. This is the River Euphrates or in Hebrew Perat. The word perat comes from the word pri, or fruit. (You might recall the latter from the Kiddush blessing.) The source branch (river) on our menorah is meant to represent the Holy Spirit of Messiah. It is akin to the moed (feast) of Shavuot (Pentecost), the feast of first FRUITS.

The Bible doesn’t describe for us how the Perat flows as it does with the other three rivers. This hidden action also points to the Holy Spirit. We cannot see Him, but we can feel His presence like the wind. Perat also has the connotation of “breaking forth”. Power and permanence are two words that would describe this river and the Holy Spirit. For now, think of Perat as the source, head, fruitfulness, and increase. We will build upon this with the other rivers.

Tigris (Cheddekel)

Moving to the third and fifth branches on the menorah, we come to the third river mentioned, the Tigris or in Hebrew, the Cheddekel. This river is said to be “going” or quite literally in Hebrew, “walking”. Creation Gospel students will draw the connection to the “running feet” of the birds and fish created on day five. Cheddekel means rapid, roaring, or noisy. This river isn’t a quiet stream as it is characterized by noise and movement! This should also remind you of the shouting and blowing of trumpets during the fifth feast of Rosh HaShanah. Arousing sleepers from the grave first with Yeshua on early firstfruits and later with the resurrection of His full harvest at the feast of Trumpets does indeed require movement and great noise like the River Cheddekel!

Think of noisy movement, awakening from sleep, and (the Spirit of) power when you think of the Tigris.

Gihon (Gichon)

Again working toward the beginning, we next come to the River Gihon. It resides on the second and sixth branches on the menorah. Gihon means to burst forth, give birth, or to gush. This river is said to encompass (savav) the whole land of Ethiopia (Cush). Do you see the circling or surrounding aspect of this river? Cush means dark or black. It can easily symbolize the darkness of burial as pictured in the Messiah’s burial during the days of Unleavened Bread. Moses, the one “drawn forth” from the water, married a Cushite woman. This is likened to the Torah being drawn from the eternal waters of Eden and the Bride being, “black, but comely”.[2] We are truly black or dark (in darkness) until our bridegroom redeems us with His Light and Fire. Only then can we be portrayed as white, like the linen worn on the High Holy Days. The surrounding flow of the Gihon washes us as do the second and sixth feasts of Matzah and Yom Kippur.

Remember to associate the surrounding flow of the Gihon and its ability to transform us from darkness to light like its gushing/birthing name implies.

Pishon

The Pishon sits on the outer edges of our menorah motif, correlating to branch one and seven. We are given more information about this river than all of the others combined. Seeing that it encompasses or surrounds the entire menorah, this isn’t surprising.

Within the Hebrew word Pishon, we have the idea of dispersing, spreading, scattering, or as Brown, Driver, and Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions notes for H6376, increases.[3] Notice that this river flows around (encompasses) the whole land of Havilah, where there is good gold, bdellium, and onyx.

Havilah and its root, chul, are defined as to circle, twist, writhe, travail, dance, or whirl. Within this word is the idea of birth pangs and tribulation. But like the Israelites travail in Egypt, the more they were afflicted, the more they increased and spread out. This led to the birth of the nation of Israel in the exodus to the wilderness. These themes are associated with the first and last feasts of Pesach and Sukkot. Moreover, to make this connection even more apparent, the rabbinical teachings say that Pishon is synonymous with the Nile River in Egypt.[4]

But what is the point in telling us about the good gold, bdellium, and onyx?

Gold (zahav)

I probably don’t have to reiterate what many have done before me in explaining the Biblical significance of gold. What Dr. Alewine astutely points out is that the text specifies that the gold is GOOD in Havilah. Why does this matter? Because for all the “good” symbolism we can see portrayed in refined gold, it does have a contranym (a word meaning its own opposite). Gold may very well represent heaven, spiritual wealth, and the removal of impurities, but conversely it can represent idolatry as seen in the golden calf. The gold in Havilah was GOOD. In other words, like the pilgrimage festivals of Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot, the impurities of leaven and sin have been removed. There is no malice; the streams are pure and gather together the pilgrims to the Holy City of Gold: Jerusalem. (Ever heard the song Jerusalem of Gold?) And let’s not forget that the golden menorah we have been using as a model for all of our fours and sevens is also made from pure gold.

Bdellium (bedolach)

Bdellium is a fragrant gum much like myrrh. It comes from a thorn tree which produces a small particle of resin that appears to “tear” or liquefy when the sun (light) shines upon it. Wow! Does this description remind you of anything or anyone? Wasn’t Yeshua a sweet smelling aroma to the nostrils of His Father as He died on the tree? Did Yeshua not weep for us before His appointed time?

This special resin in Hebrew literally means to divide, separate, distinguish, or even be set apart. Day one and two of creation and the first two feasts of Pesach and Unleavened Bread mirror this separation process. Like the good gold, impurities are what need to be removed or separated. But this process isn’t GOOD unless it leads to gathering together of like kind and like mind as fulfilled in the Jerusalem of Gold. While this is a glorious prospect, it may also be painful as it requires the weeping tears of repentance to enter.

Rashi likened bedolach with crystal and its ability to take pure white light and separate it into the seven colors of the rainbow or visible light.[5] Can you see this same picture on the menorah? One source (Light) streaming into seven beautiful colors that surround the entire menorah like the light refracted from a prism.  Aren’t we told that there truly is such a rainbow encompassing the throne of God? (Rev. 4:3) Could this rainbow of Light be revealed in the seven festivals of gathering in Jerusalem? Is that not their purpose; to bring light unto His people and clear paths for them to walk in?

Dr. Alewine also points out that the manna from heaven had a white look and appeared as dew upon the ground. Have you ever seen light refracted in the tiny water droplets of dew? Do you suppose it was any different when the children of Israel picked their manna up every morning? Could this have been a reminder to the children of Israel of  the Throne of God and its rainbow canopy? In a sense, they were consuming both bread and light at the same time! After all, Yeshua is said to be both!

Onyx (shoham)

Shoham comes from a word that means to “blanch” or “make white”. Hmm. An onyx stone is usually black or dark in color. Spiritually speaking, we call this “whitening” process sanctification or holiness. This idea is similar to the land of Cush we discussed earlier. Dr. Alewine compares this whitening to the “bleached” linen garments of the priests. These garments were made of shesh (shin, shin). Figuratively this connects the priests’ linen garments with man (six –shesh) and with fire (shin aysh).

Do you recall what the high priest wore on his shoulders? Yes, two onyx stones! These were connected to the breastplate by GOLD chains. When we are told that the government will rest on the shoulders of our Messiah (and High Priest), these onyx stones should come to mind. Engraved on these stones are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. These are the holy ones that testify to Yeshua’s government of heaven and earth. And it is He alone that takes what was once inscribed in darkness and turns it into light. These will be robed in white, for they have washed their (dark) robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. 7:14)

Is the River of Life pictured in the four rivers of Eden, the seven days of creation,  the seven Spirits of God, and the seven moedim (feast days) for Gentiles as well as Jews?

Rev 7:9-10  After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;  (10)  and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

Yes! Dr. Alewine points us to John 10:16.

“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

She goes on to say:

“Did Yeshua come to dismiss his Gentile flock from the appointed feasts? Did Yeshua come to create division between or among the folds at the appointed times, or did he come to make them one flock with one shepherd?” [6]

The rivers of Eden are one more testimony that from the beginning, YHWH has declared the end. The first letter of the Bible is an ENLARGED beht, meaning house or tent. From the onset of all things, the Father’s desire is to build and enlarge His House. Within the rivers and moedim (feast days) the good news of the gospel is proclaimed. This is the only place where the nations will find their healing and rest.

river of lifeConclusion

The rivers of Eden surround and flow around the creation days, feasts, spirits of God, and our menorah motif. But they are meant to flow and move through you and me too! By keeping the appointed times set by the Creator on day four, we are equipped to produce the good gold of Havilah (increase). This refining process is a sweet smelling aroma (bedolach) to our Father as we are proclaiming His government (onyx) throughout the earth.

Moving inward to the surrounding river of Gihon, the darkness (Cush/Ethiopia) is pierced as the sons of God prepare to burst forth in their unveiling. By the time the Tigris (Cheddekel) begins to flow through us, we are primed for new life and resurrection; because like the Tigris, we “walk” in the paths of the Creator. The gospel moves with rapid force throughout the earth.

Finally, the Perat (Euphrates) produces abundance and fruitfulness as a great multitude from every tribe and tongue wave palm branches at the great Feast of Sukkot in worship of the King of kings! These are those that will rejoice with the four living creatures under the rainbow canopy of God’s Throne. Below the Throne, the River of Life flows freely to nourish and cleanse the righteous with the cool fire waters of heaven. The wicked will experience the same flow of this river, but it will be unto them a lake of fire and judgment. The end is the beginning and the beginning is the end! Selah.


[1] Examples: Baptism of water and fire, earth destroyed with water and later with fire, God was a pillar of cloud (water) and a pillar of fire to Israelites in the desert, the Hebrew word for heavens is shemayim, a word that literally means “fire-water”, etc.

[2] See the Song of Songs 1:5 and Dr. Alewine’s Creation Gospel Workbook 5 Volume 1, p. 16

[3] Brown, Driver, and Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions: H6376 פּישׁון pee-shone’ From H6335; dispersive; Pishon, a river of Eden: – Pison.

H6335 פּוּשׁ poosh A primitive root; to spread; figuratively act proudly: – grow up, be grown fat, spread selves, be scattered.

[4] See Dr. Alewine’s Creation Gospel Workbook 5 Volume 1, pages 15 and 20.

[5] See Dr. Alewine’s Creation Gospel Workbook 5 Volume 1, p. 18.

[6] Dr. Alewine’s Creation Gospel Workbook 5 Volume 1, pages 34-35.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim, Torah Portions | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Light of the World Part III

Rainbows and the Throne of Glory

Rainbow Science

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

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

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

double-rainbow

YHWH’s Rainbow

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

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

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

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

Keshet   קשׁת

The Bow and the Throne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rainbow Was Upon His Head

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

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

Circular_rainbow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessing When Seeing a Rainbow

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

Related Post: Overcome by a Rainbow

Go back to Part I or Part II


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Light of the World Part II

The mystery of light still baffles modern scientists and theologians alike. We explored some of the reasons why in The Light of World Part I. In this post, I hope to take the scientific and spiritual dynamics a step further.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum

The electromagnetic spectrum is the term used by scientists to describe the entire range of natural light. This spectrum is broken into seven specific regions. Subdividing into smaller spectra is done mostly on the basis of how each region of electromagnetic waves interacts with matter. The diagram below depicts the electromagnetic spectrum’s seven regions.

light spectrum

As the graphic above shows, visible light only comprises about 1.5% of the entire light spectrum. Thus, we could say that we are “blind” to the vast majority of light. And the only reason we can see visible light is because God built special receivers right into our heads: our eyes.

If the natural world teaches us about the spiritual world, then we can deduce that (left to ourselves) we are “blinded” to at least 98.5% of spiritual light as well. Since light in the Bible is often synonymous with the Torah (Law), Word, and Yeshua (Jesus), is it any wonder that God compares us to a blind person when we reject His Law, Word, and/or Yeshua? Consider the following Scripture verses:

The Torah (law), the Word and Yeshua are LIGHT

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.  (Ps.119:105)

The entrance of thy words give light; it gives understanding to the simple. (Ps.119:130)

For the commandment is a lamp; and the law (Torah) is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: (Pr. 6:23)

To the law (Torah) and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Is. 8:20)

“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  (20)  “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  (21)  “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” (Jn. 3:19-21) 

“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. (Jn. 12:46)

 

What the above verses teach us is that God’s light is the only true light. Only His light can illuminate our darkness. Therefore, it is vital that we receive His light. Sadly, many of those that claim to follow Yeshua (Jesus) reject His Torah or law, and replace it with traditions of their own making. According to Isaiah (8:20), there is no light in this type of worldview.

Perhaps Israel (God’s people — including both Jews and Gentiles), truly are “blind in part” as Paul stated in Romans 11. Something is missing. But this is a lengthy discussion best treated with its own set of posts. For now, consider that God uses the Torah (law), the Word and Yeshua as equivalent expressions throughout Scripture. Each of these concepts is what YHWH judges to be His LIGHT.  And they are NOT mutually exclusive of one another no matter what modern theology claims.

It is no coincidence that the electromagnetic spectrum has SEVEN ranges or types of natural light. Spiritually speaking, this is a perfect picture of the SEVEN branched menorah — the epitome of God’s Spiritual light that radiates through and by our Messiah, Yeshua.

Visible Light

If all the different wavelengths of visible light fall on the eye at the same time, white light is seen. However, if that light is refracted, there are SEVEN (that number keeps popping up!) possible colors visible to the human eye as shown in the figure below.

light prism

ROY-G-BIV is the acronym that represents all of the colors in the visible spectrum of light. R (red) – O (orange) – Y (yellow) – G (green) – B (blue) – I (indigo) – V (violet). Not only are those the colors we can see as humans, but they are also in the right order. Red has the longest wavelength and violet has the shortest. In other words, red is the least energetic and violet is the most energetic of the visible spectrum[1]. We will look more closely at these colors when we explore the “rainbow” in a later post.

The prophet Ezekiel was blessed with a colorful vision of heaven. In the verses below, notice the many colored stones, the mention of fire (a form of light), and the reference to the rainbow. All these images are given to us by the prophet to describe the throne room and glory of YHWH.

Ezek. 1:26-28  And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.  (27)  And I saw as the color of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.  (28)  As the appearance of the rainbow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of YHWH. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

In a like manner, the Beloved disciple John was also given a vision of the throne room. Notice the similarities and the reference to colors and light.

Rev 4:2-3  And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.  (3)  And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

Ezekiel and John could see a rainbow (refracted light) surrounding the throne of YHWH, which means the one at its center, must be nothing less than pure white light! Also notice Ezekiel’s description of seeing amber. Amber has a GOLDEN look and sheen. Can you think of a symbol in scripture that is amber or golden in color and also displays light?

The Menorah

There is no better symbol in all of scripture to encompass the theme of “YHWH/Yeshua as Light” than the Menorah. The menorah was first described to us through Moses when YHWH gave him instructions for the furnishings of the holy place in the tabernacle. Menorah is the Hebrew word for a candlestick or lamp stand. This word literally denotes the means by which light comes or that which bears light. The menorah had a very specific design. Speaking of this holy piece of furniture, YHWH said:

Ex. 25:31-39  And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made… (32)  And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:  (33)  Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick… (37)  And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it…(39)  Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels.

While other implements of the sanctuary were to be overlaid with gold, ONLY the menorah was to be made of ONE solid piece of PURE gold. In three passages of scripture, the menorah is called “the pure menorah”[2]. All the tabernacle furnishings were to be made precisely as YHWH showed Moses on the mountain[3], but He repeats the instruction only in reference to the menorah emphasizing its significance.

Ex. 25:40  “So see, and do according to the pattern which was shown to you on the mountain”

Let’s look at some facts about the menorah[4]:

  • It is fashioned out of ONE piece of hammered gold.
  • It’s designed to resemble and almond tree. (Notice its decorations)
  • It has ONE central shaft with 3 out workings on each side. (7 Branches)
  • Common Israelites, not the priests, provided the pure olive oil that kept the menorah continually burning. (Ex. 27:20-21)

One Piece of Hammered Gold

The menorah was the only piece of holy furniture that was made solely of pure gold. Even the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place was made of acacia wood overlaid in gold. The fact that it took one piece of gold measuring a talent to make the menorah speaks to the oneness of this set apart object. Since the Holy Place was completely covered, the menorah would be the only light source for the priests to perform their duties. When you look at or think of the golden menorah, your first thought should be the on its first description: One. Which is UNITY.

Dt. 6:4  “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!

Almond Tree

God’s instructions for the menorah included decorations from the almond tree. In Hebrew, the almond is called esh’kedia, which literally translated means “to be alert, watchful, and to be awake”. Interestingly, the almond tree is the first tree to bloom or “wake-up” in Israel in the early spring. Moreover, an almond is shaped like the human eye, thus in Hebrew it is named after the function of the eye. Jeremiah has a passage that illustrates these concepts beautifully.

Jer. 1:11-12  Moreover the word of YHWH came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see the branch of an almond tree [esh kedia]. (12) Then said YHWH unto me, “Thou hast well seen: for I am watching [sho’ked] over my word to perform it.”

In this passage, YHWH uses something very tangible (the almond tree) to picture something abstract (His watchful eyes). Zechariah confirms this image.

Zec. 4:2-6  And he said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I see, and behold, a menorah all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it.  (3)  And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.”  (4)  And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?”  (5)  Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.”  (6)  Then he said to me, “This is the word of YHWH to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says YHWH of hosts.

The angel goes on to further explain the vision.

Zec. 4:10 For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. “These seven are the eyes of Yahweh, which range through the whole earth.”

The seven flames of the golden Menorah are like seven eyes proceeding from YHWH (the LORD), that scan to and fro throughout the earth. In both Jeremiah and Zechariah, the emphasis is on seeing and YHWH’s continual watchfulness over the fulfillment of His Word.

Ps. 121:4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.

This motif also suggests that YHWH is the Light (the menorah itself) and that the branches are truly His eyes. These are the seven spirits that John describes in Revelation[5]. In nature, it is through the one pure white channel of visible light refracting into six branches that we are able to see glorious color; and so it is through the one main shaft of the menorah branching into six other flames that we see the glory of our Holy God. Perhaps this why Isaiah says of the BRANCH (Messiah):

Is. 11:1-2  There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a BRANCH from his roots shall bear fruit.  (2)  And the Spirit of YHWH shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of YHWH.

The 7 Branches and 7 Spirits of YHWH

Like the Menorah’s seven branches, there are seven Spirits of God. The fullness of the Spirit of YHWH is represented in the main shaft of the golden menorah. All the other 6 branches are rooted and spring forth from this single shaft: wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge and reverence (fear). Each of these manifestations of God’s Spirit operates as creative forces or agents in creation, restoration and renewal from Genesis to Revelation.

As I’ve mentioned in several other places on this blog, Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s The Creation Gospel explores these spirits in detail. If I could recommend one thematic study or biblical paradigm for you to learn, The Creation Gospel would be at the top of the list every time. This study helps you to build understanding by showing you how the smaller pictures found in the Scriptures fits into the greater picture. For now, consider that the 7 Spirits of God are like the 7 tongues of fire that illuminate the golden menorah.

In the following diagram, the electromagnetic spectrum is transposed with a likeness of the tabernacle menorah. Notice the visible spectrum’s 7 colors coming forth from the main stem of “white” light. Remember the heavenly throne room pictured by Ezekiel and John? What better symbolism could have been given to these men to illustrate the majesty of the God of LIGHT? He truly covers Himself with light as a garment!

  Ps. 104:2  Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain.

 menorah and light

Conclusion

  • The electromagnetic spectrum depicts 7 forms of light. Of these 7, we can only see 1 tiny sliver equaling 1.5% of the spectrum.
  • Visible white light refracts into 7 seven colors or wavelengths that increase in intensity.
  • YHWH uses a 7 branched golden menorah to symbolize His Light.
  • Imagery in Scripture equates YHWH’s Light with the Torah (Law), His Spirit, Messiah, His Word, His Eyes, His Power, etc.

Do you think it is a coincidence that “science” describes natural light with 7 “manifestations” long after YHWH established this fact in Scripture with the menorah?

More to come on the Rainbow and YHWH’s Throne, The Menorah, the Tree of Life, Mt. Moriah and Resurrection. Click here for Part III.


[1] Creation Gospel students will find this truth rather fascinating because the “spring” side of the menorah deals more with families and individuals while the “fall” side deals with a nation or the nations. There is a direct increase in intensity as the spring feasts of YHWH progress into the fall festivals. This mimics increase in intensity of the colors energy wavelengths as they progress on the spectrum.

[2] Ex. 31:8, 39:37, Lev. 24:4

[3] Ex. 25:9

[4] Valerie Moody has an excellent workbook on the menorah called: Secrets of the Menorah. Even seasoned Hebraic Roots followers will find some treasures in its pages. Although I didn’t see this particular book at her website, you can contact her about possibly obtaining a copy. http://www.vmoody.com/

[5] Rev. 1:4

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Torah Portion: Shlach L’cha

Torah Portion for June 1st, 2013

Numbers 13:1-15:41; Joshua 2:1-24; Heb. 3:7-19

Hebrew Names

Anytime there is a long list of Hebrew names or genealogies given in scripture, many are tempted to just skip over them and move on to the “meat” of the story. How sadly mistaken they are! Hebrew names have meaning and they usually tell a beautiful story. The list of names given for the spies is no exception. First, the tribes are not listed in their birth order, a hint that should stand out to the reader. Here is the list with the corresponding Hebrew meaning.

  • Shamua —-  Name, character
  • Shaphat —-   To judge
  • Caleb —-     Like the heart
  • Yigal —-     He redeems
  • Hoshea —-   Salvation; saves
  • Palti —-  My deliever
  • Gadiel —-  El (God) of the assembly; troop; army
  • Gadi —- My good fortune
  • Amiel —-  El (God) of my people
  • Setur —- Hidden, concealed
  • Nakhbi —- Refuge
  • Geuel —- El (God) is exalted; lifted high

This is the story hidden in the Hebrew names of the 12 spies.

The Name of the judge of our hearts redeems and saves, for He is our deliverer. The God of our assembly is our good fortune. The God of our people conceals us in His refuge. Exalted be our El (God)!

Thus, Hebrew never ceases to amaze me….

The Spies and a Pinch of Fear

Shlach L’cha literally means “send for yourself”; in our case this refers to Moses sending out 12 men to “spy out” the land of Canaan. The Hebrew word for “spying out” in verse 2 is “toor” (tav, vav, reysh). It would be better defined as “seeking out, touring, or exploring”. In fact, our English word “tour” sounds exactly like the Hebrew word in question. Could it be derived from “toor”? Perhaps. Consider for a moment the difference between touring/exploring and spying. The latter implies something much more strategic and militant while the former implies something much more casual.

The irony is that Moses actually did send the men out as “spies” on a military reconnaissance mission regardless of the true meaning of the Hebrew “toor”. (Num. 13:17-20) We all know that this mission will end up costing Israel a 40 year longer stay in the wilderness. What I hope to show you is that this mission was doomed from the start. While our portion seems to be unclear as to whose idea this mission is attributed to, Deuteronomy 1:22-23 gives us the rest of the details. Once again it was the people’s lack of faith in the promises of YHWH that cost them dearly. Even though YHWH had told them to go and take possession of the land and to do so without FEAR———they did exactly the opposite. (Just as we often do!)

Even Moses was caught up in their “fear”. In Dt. 1:23, Moses says their idea of a recon mission also pleased him. The problem was that their spiritual eyes were closed. In the natural, the people of Canaan were strong and many. Their cities were large and fortified. Yet the land was good——- flowing with milk and honey——-just as YHWH had promised. But, the majority couldn’t see past the obstacles. There was a GIANT stumbling block in their path——– the enemy. The problem seemed too large and too difficult for them to overcome.

How often do we feel this way about various circumstances and problems in our own lives? How often are we like the 10 spies after taking a survey of our own circumstances? It is impossible from our perspective. We justify our lack of faith by telling ourselves or saying that we are being sensible or realistic. Perhaps we even conclude that the promise isn’t really for us.

The real enemy is FEAR. This Shavuot (Pentecost [2011]) Dr. Hollisa Alewine  spoke at our congregation about the Creation Gospel. One point that really stuck out for me was the seventh branch on the menorah. This branch in her thematic study corresponds to the 7th day of creation (Shabbat), the feast of Sukkot, the Spirit of Yirat Adonai (Fear of YHWH), and the church of Laodicea in the Book of Revelation. She pointed out that when we fear anything other than YHWH, we are operating from the wicked lamp[1]. In other words, when we fear man or circumstance we can only produce bad fruit.

How I struggle with this! There is fear of the unknown, fear for the future, fear for our children, fear for our nation, fear for our finances, fear for our health, fear of death, fear of what others think, fear of ridicule, fear of weather, fear of government, fear of our enemies, fear of…… you name it. I personally suffer from occasional anxiety. This is a form of fear whether it begins with physical imbalances or not. But we are called to be overcomers and we are told over and over in scripture to “fear not”! I’d have to guess that this is one commandment that even Torah keepers struggle with regularly. Sadly, ungodly fear is usually justified one way or another. As Dr. Alewine said on Shavuot, “There are boogers around every corner!”

Once again we find ourselves wearing the very shoes of our Israelite counterparts. We are just like them. Although we’d all like to think that we would be like Caleb or Joshua, we really are more likely to be one of the ten bringing a bad report and causing even more of our brothers and sisters to falter with us.

There is only one remedy of our malady: we must learn to fear YHWH and fear Him alone. After all, the beginning of wisdom is the fear of YHWH. (Ps. 111:10; Pr. 9:10)

Creation Gospel’s Seventh Branch

Shabbat

This portion has caused me to mediate on the menorah and the thematic counterparts to Yirat Adonai (Fear of YHWH). I’d like to begin with Shabbat. Shabbat is the day YHWH set apart for rest. It is holy, it is a sign, and it is the seventh day of the week. Yeshua declares Himself  “Adonai (Lord) of the Shabbat day” (Mt. 12:8; Mk. 2:28; Lk. 6:5) What are we really resting in on this day? The finished work of Messiah. There can be no fear when we are resting in Him. Selah. There is nothing like entering in to worship the King of the Universe at His appointed time: Shabbat. Sure we can experience sweet worship any day and at any time, but there is something different about that worship when He appoints it; when He has declared that time sacred. There is absolutely no fear (of man & circumstance) when we adore and show our love to our King. (1 Jn. 4:18)

Sukkot

Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) is the seventh feast and it lasts for  seven days. Therefore, it is thematically linked to the 7th branch of the menorah and Shabbat. (In the Creation Gospel model) There is no coincidence that this feast commemorates the children of Israel living in tents/booths in the wilderness. Since the setting of our portion is the wilderness and the sin of the evil report by the ten spies, it becomes even more apparent that we need to learn from their example. (Heb 4:11; 1 cor. 10:5-6; Heb. 3:8-10)

Sukkot is also called the Season of our Joy. It is the last of the 3 pilgrimage feasts and looks forward to the future millennium when the overcomers shall rule and reign with Yeshua for 1000 years. This is a pictured in Caleb and Joshua. We desire to persevere and come into the Promised Land! We cannot do this without Yirat Yahweh.

Yirat YHWH

The seven spirits of God are given to us in:

Is. 11:1-2  And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:  (2)  And the spirit of YHWH shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahweh

These are the attributes of the one Spirit of God. As stated earlier, the fear of YHWH is the beginning of wisdom. Therefore, we cannot reach the last branch of the menorah without first experiencing the first branch: wisdom. This branch is thematically linked to Pesach (Passover), day one of creation, and the church at Ephesus. We all must first apply the lamb’s blood to our doorposts to begin our journey of redemption, sanctification, and eventual restoration.

Fear of anything other than YHWH is of the enemy. It is a lack of trust and faith in our Adonai. The following quote comes from the corresponding Deuteronomy text for our portion. Moses is recapping the mistake of the spies.

Dt. 1:28-32  Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.  (29)  Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.  (30)  YHWH your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;  (31)  And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that YHWH thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.  (32)  Yet in this thing ye did not believe YHWH your God

If the children of Israel had feared YHWH and not the inhabitants of the land, things would have been much different. How often would our circumstances have been different if we had only trusted in our God, YHWH? Perhaps we too are often left in our own wildernesses for an extended amount time when our breakthrough was just past the Canaanites that we were too afraid to fight.

Laodicea

Laodicea was the seventh and last assembly written to in Revelation. Please read Revelation 3:14-22. Laodicea means “justice of the people”. Already we have a problem; YHWH/Yeshua is our law-giver, He is our judge, and He metes out the only righteous judgment. Laodicea is thematically linked to Shabbat, Sukkot, and the spirit of the Fear of YHWH.

Notice that Yeshua mentions no clean works for this assembly. Instead, He says they are neither hot nor cold and this makes Him want to vomit. Wow. Essentially, they are lukewarm; lukewarm is a mixture of hot and cold. The Laodiceans probably feel they are “just right” or very comfortable. As a matter of fact they say just that:

Rev. 3:17-19  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  (18)  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.  (19)  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

The assembly of Laodicea believes she is prospering and doing well. Sadly, she is seriously mistaken and is quite blind. Because this assembly has material wealth, their every need is met by their own works or prosperity. Having great prosperity is synonymous with godliness in the eyes of this church. (Sound familiar, America?) Yet, Yeshua couldn’t commend them on even one clean or good work.

Their worldly desire for prosperity had actually left them wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. Yet they didn’t even know it!! Think about this. Yeshua is obviously speaking of their spiritual condition. They think all is well and they don’t even have clothes to wear! He encourages this church to buy “gold” (a play on their worldly lust for $$) refined by His fire.

What is this gold Yeshua speaks of?

Ps. 19:7-10    The law (Torah) of YHWH is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of YHWH is sure, making wise the simple. (8)The statutes of YHWH are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of YHWH is pure, enlightening the eyes.  (9)  The fear of YHWH is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of YHWH are true and righteous altogether.  (10)  More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

It was almost as if David wrote this Psalm just for the Laodiceans. He tells us what is perfect and converts our souls——- YHWH’s Law (Torah). This is because the Torah tells us what sin is; therefore we may turn and repent! What is the remedy for blind eyes? According to David, it is the commandments of Adonai. It is apparent so far that even though the Laodiceans believed that they were “good” and lacked nothing, they didn’t have YHWH’s Torah in their hearts. Otherwise, their eyes would be open to their sin and they would realize their wretched condition and repent.

Moreover, this Psalm speaks of YHWH’s judgments. The very name of this assembly (remember, Laodicea means justice of the people) speaks volumes about their source of authority: the people. The people decide what is best, what is good, what is prosperous. But, we see that they are blind! YHWH is the only righteous judge. He decides what is good, not us. He decides what is holy, not us. He decides how He is to be worshipped, not us. Doing things His way, walking out His Torah (instructions), fearing Him and not man, and setting Him as our judge and not man or religious institutions is more desirable than much fine gold and sweeter than honey. Repent! Turn back to Him, His ways, His Torah, and receive fresh white garments and salve for your eyes.

But Yeshua has more to say to Laodicea. He stands at the door and knocks and desires to “dine” with the Loadiceans. In Hebrew thought, this is a direct reference to a covenantal meal. What meal does Yeshua desire to eat with us? The marriage Supper of the Lamb at our future Sukkot! This meal is also thematically linked to the Pesach (Passover) seder———— the beginning of our redemption where a meal is first shared. Passover is our redemption, Shavuot is our betrothal, and  Sukkot is our marriage and consummation. (All 3 pilgrimage festivals)

Rev. 22:14  Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Rev. 22:17  And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come.

Caleb & Joshua

Caleb and Joshua saw the exact same things as the other 10 spies, yet their report was positive. They tried to quiet the fear of the people with their optimism, but the people would rather wallow in their own fears to the point that they prepared to stone Caleb and Joshua (14:10) just to get them to shut-up. Misery truly does love company and Caleb and Joshua were uninvited guests. But the people didn’t govern the lives of Caleb & Joshua———- YHWH did and it was His glory that came to their rescue!

Again, we are just like the Israelites. I know many people that truly wish to shut the mouths of those that are eternally optimistic. They would rather discuss the new scary booger they spotted on the internet and the big booger in the White House or the millions of boogers in the Middle East. Some think that big black helicopter boogers are watching their every move; others are worried about one world boogers, and even more fear famine and stock pile so green slimly boogers never touch them. Boogers are everywhere and they are big, they have fortified cities, and they even live in the Land of milk and honey. Just change booger to Canaanites or name your own favorite scary booger. They are all fear of man or circumstance.

One thing is certain: Caleb and Joshua were more afraid of YHWH than big, slimly, green boogers! They are our positive model and example. In order to be like Caleb and Joshua, we don’t have to walk around with our head in the clouds; we see everything the other 10 see. The difference is in who we fear most. If we fear YHWH more than men or our circumstances our spiritual eyes will be open and we too will say, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it!” (13:30)

We will also encourage our brethren, “Only do not rebel against YHWH. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and YHWH is with us; do not fear them.”

If we would fear YHWH, that obstacle would become our ‘bread’. It will feed us! It will give us strength and sustain us. Why? Because any time we trust YHWH we exercise our faith and prosper spiritually. Hence, our faith removes the shadow of protection from our enemies and we become victorious.

I know I still have much to learn in this area, but I desperately want to be like Caleb and Joshua. We can’t let our eyes deceive us or focus on what “appears” to be happening in the natural. Just because I can see that big gooey booger hanging over my head doesn’t mean that it’s there to harm me. If I start telling everyone that any day that booger is going to fall on my head————– well then it just might!! I fear the booger more than YHWH.

However, if I believe YHWH loves me and has my best interest at heart and that He would never let a booger hang there day after day without a GOOD reason then my fear is alleviated, I’m not spreading fear to my fellows, and one day YHWH might just show me that the booger was the glue that kept the chandelier from falling on my head. You see in this way, it sustained me (it became my bread).

The truth is that anything we fear we have made holy. We have set that thing apart. Think about something you fear or worry about often. By focusing on the circumstance or thing it has become holy or set apart and has displaced YHWH’s rightful place in our lives. When we are tempted to dwell on our circumstances we must remind ourselves that YHWH sits on the throne———- not our finances, our health, our enemies, or our families.

There is one last important detail about this story. After the 10 spies that gave the evil report died from a plague sent by YHWH, the people repented and decided they would now do what YHWH had said and take possession of the Land. BUT the consequence to their sin was 40 more years in exile in the wilderness. Actually, their lack of faith cost them the Promised Land altogether; in as much as those 20 years and older would all die in the wilderness before their children would enter the Land.

I think this happens with us as well. YHWH tells us to do something. We are afraid. We take a survey of the situation and we are even more afraid. Boogers are everywhere; we’ll never make it. We begin telling others of the booger danger. We are out of line and in sin. We suffer because of our lack of trust. Suffering brings us to our senses and we repent. Now we think we will go and do what YHWH had said. But it’s too late. YHWH is no longer with us in this situation. He has moved on to something else. If we go anyway, the boogers will beat us down as far as Hormah. (14:45)

Tzit-tziot

We must follow the cloud. Turn when it turns, stay when it stays. In the last part of this Torah portion, the commandment of wearing the tassels, fringes, or tzit-tziot are given. This is a physical commandment about an article we are to wear on our persons. YHWH is clear as to “why” He initiates this statute.

Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. “It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God. “I am the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the LORD your God.”(Num. 15:38-41)

Do you remember the Hebrew word “toor” translated as “spies” at the beginning of our portion? The high-lighted text above uses the same Hebrew word “toor” for ‘seek/follow after/search/go about’. Moses sent men to “spy” out the land of Canaan. YHWH issues us a command to wear a cord of blue on the four corners of our garments, so that in seeing the blue cords we are reminded NOT to “spy” with our own hearts and eyes. Doing so makes us a harlot. When we fear anything other than YHWH it becomes our god, thus we commit spiritual adultery.

Though our eyes or even our hearts may perceive boogers or even enticing lusts, we mustn’t stray from our God or His commandments. Wearing tzit-tziot is a physical reminder of a spiritual reality. The blue cord reminds us of the heavenly tabernacle, our heavenly priest, and our heritage as a kingdom of priests. Priests are witnesses to YHWH———– not boogers. We can choose to see boogers or we can choose to fear YHWH our Elohim.

It is important also to realize that when we trust in YHWH our savior, He protects us. He is truly our deliverer and our refuge. Remember the story told in the Hebrew names of the spies? YHWH conceals us from all the boogers. We are His special treasure, if we will learn to Fear Him.

If we look at Caleb and Joshua’s names alone in Hebrew, the message of the ‘good’ spies is clear. Joshua is a cognate of the Hebrew word Yeshua or “salvation”. Caleb’s name in Hebrew (kalev) is a contraction of two words: kal, meaning all and lev meaning heart. If we put these names together, we get “Yeshua Saves My Heart!

But Caleb’s name has even deeper implications. The lev in Hebrew is not the physical blood-pumping heart but is more akin to the mind. Truly it is our minds that need saving. Joyce Meyers is right about one thing: the battle truly does begin in the mind. A saved mind CAN overcome as Joshua and Caleb did!

Even more interesting is that the name kalev (Caleb) is a derivative of the Hebrew word for ‘dog’ (kelev). Remember, Caleb’s name literally means “all heart“. You see, Caleb followed YHWH wholly with all his heart. Caleb’s name certainly fits his character! Is that not also the nature of dogs? They seem to always come back to their master… they are “all heart”.

While dogs typically have negative connotations in scripture, this sheds new light on Yeshua’s comments about the “dogs eating the crumbs that fall from the master’s table[2]. Could this be an allusion to the fact that no matter who you are or where your from, if you seek the Master with all your heart, you too will have bread from the Master’s table? And what about the our two “good” spies, Caleb and Joshua? It is only their tribes (Judah and Ephraim/Israel) that are mentioned by name in the New Covenant[3], and their names together suggest: to follow Yeshua with all their heart!

May we become a generation of Caleb’s and Joshua’s!


[1] Proverbs 6:16-19

[2] Mt. 15:22-28; Mark 7:24-30

[3] Jer. 31:31; Hebrews 8:8 I’m not implying here that the other tribes or even those from among the nations are lost and don’t have a covenant, but rather as these verses attest, that we are joined (grafted-in) with one of these two houses of Israel which the Father is making into one New Man. (Rom. 11; Eph. 2)

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