Posts Tagged With: passover

Hezekiah’s Passover

The Strength of YHWH

The name Hezekiah comes from the root chazak which means “YHWH strengthens” or “The strength of YHWH”. You are probably familiar with this term if you follow the weekly Torah Portions. At the end of each book of Torah, there is a traditional chant that is recited. It is: be-strengthenedChazak, chazak v’nitchazek”, which means, “Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened”. What I hope to answer in this post is how King Hezekiah demonstrates YHWH’s chazak or strength in the Passover.

HezekiahPraying_JS_0015King Hezekiah was one of the few righteous kings to reign in the southern kingdom of Judah. You can read about this fascinating man in 2 Kings 18-20, Isaiah 36-39, and 2 Chronicles 29-32. Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah all prophesied during his reign. Hezekiah tore down the high places, destroyed the bronze serpent, rebelled against the king of Assyria, was miraculously restored to health, cleansed the Temple, and restored the observance of Passover. I’d love to explore all these aspects, but for the sake of space and time, we will focus on his restoration of Pesach (Passover).

Now it came about in the third year of Hoshea, the son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah became king. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. (2 Kings 18:1-2)

King Hezekiah was the son of wicked King Ahaz. (2 Kings 16) But he is also known by his mother, Abi or Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. The Word of YHWH classifies people by their paternal lineage; while, maternal lineage is rarely given. Interestingly, several of the kings of Judah and Israel are identified by both their father and mother. King Hezekiah is one of them as you can see in the verses above.

Avi (Abi) means “my father” or “fatherly”. She is called Aviyah (Abijah) in 2 Chronicles 29:1, which has the similar meaning of “YHWH is my Father”. I find this fascinating since Hezekiah’s earthly father was wicked. It’s as if the text (in Hebrew) is hinting at his strong motherly role model, Avi. She was “like a father” to Hezekiah because she pointed him to our true heavenly Father, YHWH.

While Hezekiah was far from perfect (as we all are), he was a restorer and nurturer to all Israel. His invitation to Passover revealed a tender heart not just toward YHWH, but also toward his brothers and sisters. Instead of giving the wayward people a strict or harsh “fatherly” correction or direction, he opened his arms wide in gentleness and mercy, which are “motherly” traits. We can learn a thing or two from King Hezekiah about proper (Spirit-led) Passover observance.

If you’ve ever wondered or even speculated about the proper protocol in keeping YHWH’s Passover, King Hezekiah’s example must not be overlooked. I have witnessed too many people deny others the opportunity to participate in the Seder simply because the person in question fails to meet some perceived standard or expectation. While said “standard” might be based on Scripture, it is more often than not based on a private interpretation, tradition, or the preference of man — rather than on Spirit and Truth.

The following is a rather long quote, but its context sets the stage for Hezekiah’s Passover. I encourage you to read the entire passage.

Now Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover to the LORD God of Israel. For the king and his princes and all the assembly in Jerusalem had decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month, since they could not celebrate it at that time, because the priests had not consecrated themselves in sufficient numbers, nor had the people been gathered to Jerusalem. Thus the thing was right in the sight of the king and all the assembly.  

So they established a decree to circulate a proclamation throughout all Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to celebrate the Passover to the LORD God of Israel at Jerusalem. For they had not celebrated it in great numbers as it was prescribed. The couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with the letters from the hand of the king and his princes, even according to the command of the king, saying, “O sons of Israel, return to the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that He may return to those of you who escaped and are left from the hand of the kings of Assyria.

“Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were unfaithful to the LORD God of their fathers, so that He made them a horror, as you see. “Now do not stiffen your neck like your fathers, but yield to the LORD and enter His sanctuary, which He has consecrated forever, and serve the LORD your God, that His burning anger may turn away from you. “For if you return to the LORD, your brothers and your sons will find compassion before those who led them captive and will return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate, and will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him.” (2 Chron. 30:1-9 NASB)

King Hezekiah tried to unify the people by inviting ALL of the tribes to a Passover service in Jerusalem. In his letter to the people, Hezekiah urges Judah and Israel to return to YHWH and His true sanctuary. He reminds them of the great compassion and grace of YHWH. Oh, that we would have a heart like this for our brothers and sisters! Hezekiah knew that the people were nowhere near where they should be in regards to obedience; and yet, he still invited his brethren to this monumental meal of the covenant. You see, it was more important, a weightier matter if you will, that the people simply COME at his invitation. (Does this remind you of Yeshua?)

king-hezekiah-s-ancient-seal-has-been-found-in-construction-dump-siteSadly, many mocked the king and his messengers.

So the couriers passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. Nevertheless some men of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the LORD. (2 Chron. 30:10-12)

Many from the northern kingdom of Israel could not imagine joining themselves with the southern kingdom of Judah. After all, they had their own places of worship, priesthood, and calendar. Why would they heed to the call of brother Judah? Thankfully, the hearts of some were pricked and they “humbled themselves” and went to Jerusalem. Can this be compared to anything we see happening in our “movement” today? I believe so.

While it’s true that many (in the church) mock those of us that desire to return to the Old Ways, there are also those in OUR midst that scorn the House of Judah and their traditions. Many follow the way of the northern kingdom of Israel and set up on their own houses of worship in (a figurative) Dan and Bethel. They also create their own calendars and make priests from those that they find fit in their own eyes. (1 Kings 12:25-33) The pride that comes from this type of self-righteousness creates huge rifts between them and the Church and also between them and the Jewish people. Thus, you will hear them mocking either or both of these groups to scorn. Instead of mirroring the prideful hearts of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Zebulun in the above verses, let’s HUMBLE ourselves and come to the Passover with Judah.

Now many people were gathered at Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very large assembly. They arose and removed the altars which were in Jerusalem; they also removed all the incense altars and cast them into the brook Kidron. Then they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth of the second month. And the priests and Levites were ashamed of themselves, and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the house of the LORD. They stood at their stations after their custom, according to the law of Moses the man of God; the priests sprinkled the blood which they received from the hand of the Levites. (2 Chron. 30:13-16)

Those that heeded the call of Hezekiah removed all of the false altars (high places –especially in their minds/hearts) from Jerusalem before sacrificing the Pesach lambs. They did this in the second month because the people had not gathered in the first month, nor had a sufficient amount of priests consecrated themselves to serve in the House of YHWH. The following verses explain the Torah regulations about observing Passover in the second month (Passover is so imperative that there is a “second chance” to celebrate it):

“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If any one of you or of your generations becomes unclean because of a dead person, or is on a distant journey, he may, however, observe the Passover to the LORD. ‘In the second month on the fourteenth day at twilight, they shall observe it; they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. ‘They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break a bone of it; according to all the statute of the Passover they shall observe it. ‘But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and yet neglects to observe the Passover, that person shall then be cut off from his people, for he did not present the offering of the LORD at its appointed time. That man will bear his sin. (Num. 9:10-13)

Adding to Torah? Compromisers?

Notice that neither the people nor the priests actually met the requirements for the second Passover. Those from the northern tribes had not been on a long “journey” and many obviously were unclean on account of death (dead bodies).

For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves; therefore, the Levites were over the slaughter of the Passover lambs for everyone who was unclean, in order to consecrate them to the LORD. For a multitude of the people, even many from Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than prescribed.

For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the good LORD pardon everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.” (2 Chron. 30:17-19)

King HezekiahWhat was the remedy for those that “ate the Passover otherwise than (Torah) prescribed”? Our tenderhearted King PRAYED for the people. You aren’t going to find a precedent for this in the Torah, and yet Hezekiah did so anyway. He was far more concerned that the people return to YHWH and keep the covenantal Passover meal than he was for strict observance. I don’t believe that Hezekiah was snubbing his nose at YHWH’s Word, nor do I believe that he was a compromiser. I also don’t believe that his actions were “adding to” the Torah. Yet sadly, many in our midst today would have accused Hezekiah of all of these things and more. What we should concern ourselves with is YHWH’s response:

So the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people. (2 Chron. 30:20)

Instead of acting by the strictest judgment of His Torah, YHWH extended mercy to the people. In other words, according to the Torah, the people deserved to be “cut off” from Israel and to bear the full weight of their sins. The wages of sin is death; and thus, the holy Torah would judge them as guilty. But YHWH heard Hezekiah’s heartfelt prayer and HEALED the people. He CHOSE to exercise mercy and compassion toward the people even while they reeked of death. This is the SPIRIT of the Torah.

In light of the Torah commandments of Passover and this very real example of a Passover restoration, how do you suppose that YHWH expects us to deal with those that desire to eat of the Passover “other than what is prescribed”? Do we judge them based on the strictest sense of the Law? Or do we extend mercy and compassion unto them and pray for healing and complete restoration? While it is clear what the Torah says, we also have a very real example of what YHWH Himself did for Hezekiah. I believe cases like this are written so that our sword of Spirit and Truth remains balanced. It is vital that we understand righteous judgment AND divine mercy. For our Elohim is both!

Those that have been forgiven much, love much. (Luke 7:36-50) Can you even imagine the immense joy that was experienced at Hezekiah’s Passover? Beloved, we CAN have this same zeal!

The sons of Israel present in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great joy, and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day after day with loud instruments to the LORD. Then Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good insight in the things of the LORD. So they ate for the appointed seven days, sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to the LORD God of their fathers. (2 Chron. 30:21-22)

Adding Even More to the Torah?

The people were so overwhelmed with the joy that comes from forgiveness and unity that they decided to celebrate the feast of Passover (Unleavened Bread) for an additional seven days.

Then the whole assembly decided to celebrate the feast another seven days, so they celebrated the seven days with joy. For Hezekiah king of Judah had contributed to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep, and the princes had contributed to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep; and a large number of priests consecrated themselves. All the assembly of Judah rejoiced, with the priests and the Levites and all the assembly that came from Israel, both the sojourners who came from the land of Israel and those living in Judah. (2 Chron. 30:23-25)

It seems as though this story once again challenges us to find the Spirit of the Torah rather than the Letter. Both matter a great deal. The decision of the assembly to add an additional seven days to the feast of Unleavened Bread wasn’t frowned upon by the Almighty. Instead, we are told that their voices were heard in Heaven.

So there was great joy in Jerusalem, because there was nothing like this in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel. Then the Levitical priests arose and blessed the people; and their voice was heard and their prayer came to His holy dwelling place, to heaven. (2 Chron. 30:26-27)

Perfect Before Pesach?

As you can see, the priests and the people did not come to the Passover table perfect. They had sin that had to be dealt with and many other areas where improvement was needed. But, if we think back to the original Exodus, this shouldn’t surprise us. The children of Israel were in the same boat before YHWH brought them out of Egypt. In fact, we could say the same thing about us. If we lose sight of what the Pesach meal really represents and begin demanding that others be “perfect” in order to celebrate this memorial, we become the ones that are “adding to the Torah”. Yet, that’s what I see happening all over the place.

asherah-poleWhile the false altars were removed from Jerusalem before Hezekiah’s Passover, the rest of the cities in the kingdom (where most of them lived) were still inundated with idols. And even still, YHWH received the people. It wasn’t until AFTER they had celebrated Unleavened Bread for two weeks that the rest of the kingdom was cleaned up. (2 Chron. 31:1)

Passover is the gateway, the bloody door of the covenant. It is the beginning of “our beginning” with YHWH through Yeshua. We are immature at our first Passover. We still carry baggage and junk and possibly a lot of leavened crumbs that we must LEARN to identify and remove. This is a process and a practice. We don’t say the old adage “practice makes perfect” for no reason. We say it because it is TRUE.

Can you imagine demanding that a very beginner piano student play a perfect concerto? That’s ridiculous, yes? Well, so is demanding others to meet an expectation that they have no training for. There must be a starting point. On our Abba’s calendar, that place is Passover. He wants all the whosoever’s at His Table — even the immature little children (spiritual babies included).

This requires a great deal of humility and even more mercy and compassion from those that are older (spiritually). The stricter things can be learned as they mature in the Torah. For now, go and make disciples of all nations. Be patient with those that want to sit at the feet of the Master. Give them a safe place to study, grow, and wrestle with the Word. If they fall down as they are learning to walk (Torah), don’t write them off, pick them up and offer a helping hand!

This is real godly “chazak” or strength. This is where Hezekiah excelled in the Spirit of Adonai. He strengthened his brothers and their unity. He reverted Jerusalem back into a safe womb where life could grow and mature.

The entire purpose of the Passover is to TEACH the CHILDREN, so go and do so!

 

Chag Sameach Passover!

Find more on Pesach here.


 

Categories: Moedim | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The Four Cups of Passover

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

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

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

Many “seasoned” in keeping the festivals have forgotten their first love and that that love “covers a multitude of sins.”[2] Misplaced zeal can easily morph into self righteousness and hard heartedness, which IS a great stumbling block to those coming to the knowledge of the truth. This haughty spirit believes it and its form of godliness and obedience has made it greater in the Kingdom. It boasts of its right calendar or right tradition. No one is immune to this spirit or how it affects and infects the Body. The irony is that it is the opposite of the Spirit of Passover. It is antithetical to the four cups and the matzah, because Passover is all about innocent faith, trust, and humility.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


passover_sederFour Cups

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

Dr. Alewine’s Creation Gospel[7] model teaches that the number four has a lot in common with the number seven or fullness. It alludes to authority, government, and servanthood, first mentioned on day FOUR of creation. All these belong to Messiah Yeshua. He truly is the Door to Life. Passover may be the entry to the Covenant, but it points ahead to the complete redemption to come. The four cups of Passover mirror this truth in a profound way. They are based on the following passage from Exodus:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

The Cup of Sanctification

“I will bring you out.” Ex. 6:6

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

The Sarajevo Haggadah 14th century

The Sarajevo Haggadah 14th century

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

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

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

 

The Cup of Deliverance

“I will deliver you.” Ex. 6:6

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

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

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

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

 

The Cup of Redemption

“I will redeem you.” Ex. 6:6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Cup of Praise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more on Pesach, click here.


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

[2] 1 Peter 4:8

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

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

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

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

[7] Thecreationgospel.com

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Matters of the Heart Part I

lev 2

We all have our own ideas of what we mean when we say things like:

“God knows my heart.”

“My heart just isn’t in it.”

“She has a good heart.”

“My heart is breaking over this issue.”

“His presence makes my heart skip a beat.”

“Just accept Jesus into your heart.”

 Heart Defined

But what exactly is our heart, biblically speaking? Is it merely the blood pumping organ in your chest? Is it just an idiom for your deep seated emotions and convictions? How does the heart differ from your mind? Is our heart deceitful or has Messiah given us a new heart?

The Hebrew word most often translated as heart is “lev or levav.” These Hebrew words are also used to refer to the mind, reasoning, will, and understanding of a person. As a matter of fact, there isn’t a single Biblical Hebrew word to express the western idea of the “mind” or even the brain. When you see the English word “mind” in your Bible translation, it is usually the Hebrew word lev or levav.

Why does this matter? According to Jeff Benner’s Hebrew pictograph’s, the lev, depicts the staff or authority (lamed) with the tent or house (vet). In other words, the lev is a pictograph of “the authority within.” The question becomes one of authority. Who is on the throne of your life? You or the Creator?

What about those times when you feel pulled in two different directions? Could this be an indication that you are fighting YHWH for the throne? For example, have you ever been faced with a decision where you truly felt like you knew the obvious answer in your mind, but your heart didn’t want to follow your own sound reasoning? The heart wants what the heart wants, right?

You might have felt like your heart and mind disagreed in these instances. But in Hebrew thought, your heart and your mind cannot be in opposition to one another. This is because biblically and Hebraically speaking the heart and the mind are one and the same. Thus, a conflict of your seeming heart and mind means that in reality you are double-minded. Ouch. Perhaps the sound instruction you knew to be true (God’s Word) or even good common sense, just isn’t what you desired.

James’ answer is to SUBMIT to God. Apparently that inward struggle is us trying to take the reins and have our own way. We are told to resist the “devil” or the enemy (which can very well be our own flesh) and the “feeling/drive” will flee.

Jam. 4:7-8 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (8)  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Circumstances such as these are indicators that our lev needs to be purified, because we are suffering from double-mindedness. You see, the real battle you are experiencing is between your “renewed” mind/lev and your flesh or nephesh. The nephesh is that big bundle of appetites and desires that we share with all living beasts. Sadly, the things we generally associate with our heart are really no more than this animalistic nature.

I don’t know about you, but when I’ve been faced with such inner conflictions, I KNEW what I SHOULD do (my renewed mind); it’s just that my DESIRE was to do to the opposite (my heart). My nephesh wanted what it wanted, regardless of logic or the Word of God. This is why James calls a double minded person “unstable.” (Jam. 1:6-8) They don’t have a legacy of overcoming the desires of the flesh, making them more akin to a beast than a human. This can also be a maturity issue. The beast (flesh) must daily be placed on the holy altar — something we must learn.

The Occupied Mind (Lev)

Knowing that we each have this warring nature within, YHWH gives us the remedy.

Dt. 6:4-5 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! (5)  “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart (lev) and with all your soul (nephesh) and with all your might (meod).

Loving YHWH begins in the mind (lev) which encompasses our emotions and will. This leads to one making their flesh/nephesh come into obedience (self-control). The more we exercise this type of submission, the stronger we become spiritually. But, the key is the lev as the next verse attests that the Word/commandments of God are to be UPON our lev. (Dt. 6:6) We must purposely choose to meditate on the Word of God day and night. This will strengthen our lev (mind) and we will have much better chances of overcoming our greatest enemy, our flesh.

So far, we have discovered that:

  1. The lev is more than our heart; it is our MIND.
  2. The lev involves thinking, planning, feeling, knowing, remembering, intent, etc.
  3. The lev can listen to your nephesh (flesh/desires) or the truth (Word of God).

Now let’s consider some verses that use the Hebrew lev and read them with this fuller understanding. There are hundreds of verses to choose from; I encourage you do to your own concordance search for more detail.

It searches:

Dt. 4:29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.

It speaks to you:

Dt. 8:17 “Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’

It’s in need of circumcision:

Dt. 10:16 “So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.

Ps. 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

It can be changed and enlarged:

1 Sam. 10:9 Then it happened when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day.

Ps. 119:32 I shall run the way of Your commandments, For You will enlarge my heart.

It can carry you away:

Job 15:12  “Why does your heart carry you away? And why do your eyes flash,

It can rejoice:

Ps. 13:5 But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

It can meditate and be taught:

Ps. 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

Ps. 86:11 Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.

It has a tablet or record that must be guarded:

Pr. 3:3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Pr. 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

It can deceive you:

Jer. 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

Our hearts/minds must be guarded and “fed” a healthy diet of God’s Word in order to stay steadfast and righteous. It truly is a well spring of life —- or death. Thoughts are like seeds. They have the power to produce fruit/deeds. Our natural inclination will be to produce death. This is because a sinful person is really sick. The virus wants to reproduce itself. The only remedy we have or need is the Living Word of YHWH.

The good news is that YHWH is not only willing, but desires to renew our minds. But, it will require us to relinquish ourselves to Him. This reminds me of a quandary that I often meditate upon (a faculty of my lev).

Does YHWH supernaturally place or write His Word and Commandments on our heart (lev) upon receiving Yeshua? Or is this a “process” that we must choose to allow by the washing and watering[1] of His Word? My meditations have caused me to consider that this isn’t a real either/or question. Both are true, if you can take off the Greek/western lenses. Let’s look at a familiar story in the Scriptures that forces us to look at the “heart of the matter.”

cropped-exodus1.jpgPharaoh’s Hard Heart

The passages concerning the Passover and exodus from Egypt are read every year in the Torah cycle and are commemorated each spring with the first moed (feast) on YHWH’s calendar. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that Pesach (Passover) is FIRST on YHWH’s calendar. This story retells the Israelites redemption and release from slavery. Followers of Yeshua also understand that He is our Pesach Lamb year after year. Like Israel of old, we are redeemed and saved by the blood of the Lamb. We are released from the bondage of Egypt and Pharaoh. And, not because we deserve it, worked for it, or earned it. YHWH’s great compassion, mercy, and loving-kindness moved Him to act on our behalf.

But after our release, we must get to know our Redeemer. We must choose to trust and follow Him. We will all face the wilderness. In the wilderness we will be tested and tried, so that our true lev or heart/mind will be revealed. This is life, folks. Will we die in the desert or move on to the Promised Land?

Dt. 8:2 “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

Each year as we commemorate Israel’s and our freedom, we are faced with a seeming paradox in regards to the heart. In the account of the plagues of Egypt, sometimes we see YHWH hardening Pharaoh’s heart and sometimes Pharaoh hardens his own heart. These verses were most confusing to me in the past. How could Pharaoh be held accountable for his resistance to God’s Word if YHWH was pulling all the strings? You might have asked the same question. YHWH loves an honest question—— it requires us to exercise our mind. We have just learned that it was actually Pharaoh’s lev that was hardened. But first, let’s look at this “hardening.”

The Hebrew word for hardened is chazak. This word may be familiar to you if you have a Jewish Bible. There is a traditional phrase that is chanted at the completion of each book of Torah in the reading cycle. It is: “Chazak, chazak, v’nit’chazek!” It means, “Be strong! Be strong! And let us be strengthened!” Thus, what should our lev be strengthened by? The Torah! Isn’t this what the Shema and V’ahavta are all about? (Dt. 6:4-9)

When I looked up the Hebrew word chazak, I was rather amazed by the fact that this word is only translated as “hardened” in reference to Pharaoh’s heart. It is most often translated as “be strong.” It literally means to seize, to grab hold, to strengthen.

What actually occurred was that Pharaoh’s mind (lev) was strengthened. He had convinced himself or “set his mind” to keep Israel subjugated. He wouldn’t even allow the evidence of miracles and plagues to change his mind. He wanted what he wanted. Unfortunately, this strengthening was against the will of God. If you look closely at the text, Pharaoh hardens his own heart toward Israel throughout the first five plagues. And then, YHWH hardens Pharaoh’s heart during the last five. It seems that YHWH eventually turned Pharaoh over to his own desires. Paul tells us that this is very possible:

Eph. 4:17-19 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, (18)  being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;  (19)  and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Sadly, if we continue to resist the Holy Spirit’s direction to appease our flesh, God will let us have our way. Paul urges us to lay aside the “old self” or the evil inclination and be RENEWED in the spirit of our mind.

Eph. 4:20-24 But you did not learn Christ in this way, (21)  if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,  (22)  that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,  (23)  and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,  (24)  and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Paul continues in the Book of Ephesians by advising us to be imitators of God. The process of laying aside the “old man/self” and taking on the “new self/man” is often called sanctification. It is NOT salvation. It is a process. A journey. A walk. A way of life. This is the wilderness experience.  But how do we know what to kick aside and what to take on? Paul again exhorts us:

Eph. 5:8-11 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (9)  (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),  (10)  trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.  (11)  Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;

Eph. 5:15-17 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, (16) making the most of your time, because the days are evil.  (17)  So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

We must be careful and diligent as we follow the Lord. We must seek YHWH’s will and learn what is pleasing to Him. This is much different than pleasing men, their tradition, and their theology. Nevertheless, we can do this without sinning in anger or speaking evil of those that aren’t in the exact place we are on the path. In other words, our lev must become obedient to YHWH.

The only instructions we have is the Bible. Thus, the Words of Life are contained within its leaves (pages). I can either reject them or follow them. But this is where the controversy arises. Is the whole Book meant for my instruction or are there parts I should ignore? When I stand back from all the theological arguments and the thoughts of men, the answer seems rather simple.

Ecc. 12:13-14 The end of the matter, all having been heard: fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole man(adam). (14)  For God shall bring every work into the judgment concerning every hidden thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil. (JPS)

A whole (restored/complete) adam or man will fear God and keep His commandments, because he has a mind (lev) set on serving the Creator. This is a person that has given his inner authority (lev) over to the ultimate Authority of the Universe.

 

But there is more to come, controversial as it might be for some, as I share my lev in the Matters of the Heart in Part II.

 


 

[1] Eph. 5:6

Categories: Messianic Issues, Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Miriam’s Cup Part II

In Miriam’s Cup Part I, we looked at the rather new custom of drinking WATER from a goblet inscribed with Miriam’s name during the Passover Seder. We explored where this tradition originated and why it may be important to incorporate into your own Seder. We also discovered the strong connection of Miriam with water. In this post, we will look at how the Holy Spirit is also linked to the imagery of water, wisdom, Pesach, and women.

© Lakis Fourouklas

© Lakis Fourouklas

The Three Leaders of Israel and the Godhead

“Indeed, I brought you up from the land of Egypt And ransomed you from the house of slavery, And I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam. (Micah 6:4)

The rabbis teach us that there are three good gifts that were extended to the children of Israel– the well, the clouds, and the manna.  The well was provided due to the merit of Miriam, the clouds of glory because of Aaron, and the manna on account of Moses.[1]

The link between the clouds of glory and Aaron is understandable when considering his specific role. Aaron officiated as High Priest in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) that was perpetually covered with the protective pillar of cloud that shielded it by day.  He also ministered daily at the burning altar, just as the parallel pillar of fire hovered over the Mishkan at night.[2] Moses’ association with the heavenly manna is equally fathomable. He was the lawgiver and became synonymous with the Torah or Word of God. Bread (manna) has long been a symbol for the Torah and the Word.

What might not be immediately apparent is why the rabbis attribute the well or rock that gushed forth water in the wilderness with Miriam. In the Brit Chadashah (N.T.), we learn that the rock that followed them was in fact, Messiah.

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. (1Cor. 10:1-4)

Is there a contradiction between what Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians and what the rabbi’s say about this “rock” or “well”? I hope to show you the harmony in their teachings with all three leaders (Moses, Aaron, and Miriam) and the glorious gifts (clouds, manna, and the well). In Part I, we started building the foundation as to why Miriam is linked to water. I hope to continue with this premise here. In the Book of Numbers, the water from the rock dries up immediately following Miriam’s death.

Then the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people stayed at Kadesh. Now Miriam died there and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation, and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron. (Num. 20:1-2)

The Torah seems to beg one to ask the question as to why the congregation had no water immediately following the death of Miriam. In Hebrew, these thoughts run together with a rhythmic flow. Indeed, the people viewed her as a source of life giving waters. Hopefully, you too can make this connection after reading Part I.

Moses, Aaron, and Miriam represented the King of the Universe on the earth. Is it not fitting that there were 3 of them? Isn’t the godhead most often manifested in 3 (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)? Perhaps what may be eating at you is that Elohim would choose a female to represent one of His roles. Moses is clearly the strong father figure to Israel (as Law giver), Aaron is clearly a mediator and priest (like the Son, Yeshua), so Miriam and the life giving waters must represent the Holy Spirit. If you’ve read the Role of Women, this idea isn’t as threatening as it may first appear.

Hebrew students are fully aware that the Spirit of Elohim is always in the feminine form. (This is true of all spirits.) Thus, its not surprising to find God’s Spirit paired with feminine attributes or given to feminine metaphors quite frequently in the Bible. YHWH is neither male nor female, yet He has qualities that we would associate with each sex. This is why it takes BOTH a male and a female to display the image of Elohim in the natural.

The Ruach Hakodesh in Heaven and Earth

To better understand how Miriam, water, and the Holy Spirit can be equivalent expressions, review the first occurrence of Elohim’s Spirit is in Genesis.

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Gen. 1:2)

What is the Spirit of Elohim doing in the beginning? It is hovering or moving over the WATERS. Thus, our first association of the Ruach Hakodesh is with water. The primordial waters are separated into earthly waters (mayim) and heavenly waters (shamayim). Did you notice how waters and heavens sound alike in Hebrew? Can you see mayim in the shamayim?

Interestingly, the word for heavens, shamayim, denotes “fire waters” as it is a compound of the word water (mayim) and fire (esh).[4] We will explore this idea some more in a moment. But first,  look at the word for Spirit in Hebrew: ruach. Most of you already know that ruach is also the word for wind or breath. What might not be immediately obvious is that the air and wind are the heavenly counterparts to the earthly water currents. Wind powers most ocean and air currents. In Hebraic thought these “currents” of the mayim and shamayim reflect one another. Or you could say that “it is on earth as it is in heaven”.

Consider how the birds and fish move, migrate, school, or flock as they follow these currents across the globe — carrying seed. If you find these connections fascinating, I urge you to study Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s Creation Gospel.[5] You’ll never look at creation week or the whole of scripture again without noticing these often repeated themes. Waters and heavens are mirrors of one another; therefore, the notion that the Holy Spirit is both like wind and water is natural in Hebraic thought.

In the Gen. 1:2 verse above, God’s Spirit is moving, hovering, or brooding over the waters. Indeed, the Spirit of YHWH is active like the wind/birds and the water/fish. The Hebrew verb used is rachaph; the AHLB[6] defines it as the following:

Strongs #7363: AHLB#: 2763 (V) Flutter: The stirrings and shakings of a bird in the nest – Flutter: [freq. 3] (vf: Paal, Piel) |KJV: shake, move, flutter| {str: 7363}

Did you notice the tangible picture of a mother bird fluttering, shaking, and stirring her nest? Does this bring other verses to mind about Elohim being a protective mother bird?

“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, That hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions. (Dt. 32:11)

Like flying birds so the LORD of hosts will protect Jerusalem. He will protect and deliver it; He will pass over and rescue it. (Is. 31:5)

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. (Mt. 23:37)

These movements are mimicked in the word for Passover, Pesach. It is a derivative of the protective fluttering actions of a mother bird.[7] [8] Indeed, our Great Elohim moves, flutters, leaps, and hovers over His Creation and His people like a mother protecting her precious chicks. This nurturing aspect of YHWH is divinely displayed in the female creatures of His creation. The Exodus story and the original Passover speak to our initial redemption, which is the Father calling us out for Himself. The “immature” state of the people (and us!) at this initial point of salvation necessitates the tenderness that can only be offered by a mother. Thus, we see YHWH’s Spirit pesach(ing) over the homes of His newborn chicks in Israel.

Pesach and Baptism

By carefully examining what happened when the “death angel” came through Egypt, we see that the same Spirit of YHWH that protected the Israelites also killed the first born of Egypt.

‘The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. (Ex. 12:13)

Now it came about at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. (Ex. 12:29)

The Ruach HaKodesh can nurture and protect and at the same time bring destruction on His enemies. The Spirit is truly like the “waters” that we discussed in Part I. The difference is that the Holy Spirit is always acting with righteousness, even in judgment. After the Children of Israel are released from the grip of Pharaoh, they flee to the wilderness. Without a constant and considerable food and water source, the fledgling nation would be sure to die.

What happens is follows:

  • After 3 days without water, they reach Marah. The waters are bitter (undrinkable). Moses casts a branch in the waters and they are “sweetened”. (Ex. 15) This was YHWH testing the people.
  • They then find an oasis at Elim where 12 streams water the 12 tribes. (Ex. 15)
  • The people begin to cry out for food. YHWH provides them with the heavenly manna. (Ex. 16)
  • They reach Rephidim and again cry out for water. YHWH instructs Moses to strike the rock at Mt. Horeb and water gushes out for the people. (Ex. 17)

A person can live far longer without food than water. The beginning of Israel’s wilderness journey seems to center around issues of water. Miracles and judgments happen with water. Rejoicing and praise are performed by the edge of water. Bitter water is sweetened as a test. The twelve tribes each find their own refreshing stream at Elim. A miraculous “rock” becomes a well that can sustain millions. That same rock FOLLOWS them!

Water, water everywhere! Though the children can’t see it in the natural, they are surrounded with life giving water. (Does this remind you of the Rivers of Eden?) Is this not just like the Holy Spirit? We can’t see the “Spirit”, yet it is everywhere. One connection to the Spirit and water that is tangible to most all Believers is Baptism (or immersing in a Mikveh).

Baptism is a natural picture of the work of the Holy Spirit in the very beginning. The movement and separation of the mayim (water) and shamayim (fire waters) is the same moving and separating that happens when we experience this ritual.[9] It may be an outward symbol of an inward work, but to assume the Holy Spirit isn’t directly involved (and often in a very visible way) is not true. The washing and filling is pictured by both the water and the holy fire! Sometimes these are simultaneous experiences, and sometimes they are separate. Nevertheless, they reflect one another like the waters and the heavens and like the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. Unlike some, I fully believe this process is in continual motion and cyclical even in our individual lives.

But this still leaves us with our original question. Why are Messiah and Miriam both equated to the rock or well of water in the wilderness? Speaking of Messiah, Paul also has this to say:

  For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (Col. 2:9 KJV)

Elohim is One (Shema Dt. 6:4). When Yeshua walked the earth, He was the tangible form of the fullness of YHWH. Thus, we see Him in numerous places attributing an action to Himself and then declaring that the same action is really from the Holy Spirit or the Father.

Yeshua will not leave us comfortless, He will come to us, yet the comforter is the Holy Spirit.[10] Yeshua gives us Living Waters, but then proclaims that these waters are the Holy Spirit.[11] Just as Moses and even Aaron were prefigures of the Messiah, so is Miriam. The analogies are similar to both Moses and Yeshua being the Law giver. Or both Aaron and Yeshua being the High Priest. Why would it be any different for both Miriam and Yeshua to be the well in the rock?  Therefore, who is right? The rabbis or Paul? The answer is both!

Stay tuned for one last post in this series. My hope is to conclude by filling Miriam’s Cup with the Living Waters and the Mashiach in Part III.


[1] Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud), Tractate Ta’anit 9a:  R. Jose the son of R. Judah says: Three good leaders had arisen for Israel … Moshe, Aaron and Miriam, and for their sake three good things were conferred [upon Israel], namely, the Well, the Pillar of Cloud and the Manna; the Well, for the merit of Miriam; the Pillar of Cloud for the merit of Aaron; the Manna for the merit of Moshe.

[2] Exodus 40:38

[3] See my post The Biblical Role of Women Part V for more on the feminine aspects of the Holy Spirit.

[4] The roots of the word shamayim are אש (esh, fire) and מים (mayim, water) The beginning letter א (aleph) is a silent stand-in for a beginning consonant, nothing more. Dropping it does not change the meaning of the two-letter word. So the Hebrew שמים literally means fire in water. The great Jewish commentator Rashi  says this about Genesis 1:8: The word shamayim is a contraction of [a word for] carrying of water, also [a word meaning] there is water, also esh and mayim, [meaning] fire and water. He blended them with one another and made the heavens from them. For more imagery of fire, see The Biblical Role of Women Part XI.

[5] Thecreationgospel.com

[6] Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible by Jeff Benner

[7] They share the two letter parent root chet, pey; which means to cover (in protective action).

[8] See my post on the Meaning of Passover.

[9] John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:16)

[10] John 14

[11] John 7:38-39

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