Posts Tagged With: sanctification

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.

 

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

Matters of the Heart Part II

Two Hearts?

© Simi32 | Dreamstime.com - Heart Devil Or Angel Icon Photo

© Simi32 | Dreamstime.com – Heart Devil Or Angel Icon Photo

In my last post on Matters of the Heart Part I, we laid the foundation for the Hebraic and Biblical understanding of the heart or the lev/levav. As I was researching this Hebrew word, I discovered that the Rabbis have long understood the dual nature of the human heart. (No surprise there.) I mentioned in Part I that this duality is most akin to us being double-minded, since the lev is also our mind.

But the Rabbis take this a step further and make a Midrash on the fact that the Hebrew word for heart comes in two forms: lev and levav. Even looking at these transliterations, you can see that the latter form has a “doubled” vet. The Rabbis point out that we each have TWO hearts or two conflicting impulses (good and evil) at the core of our being. The lesson isn’t that we are to neglect the evil inclination and strengthen the good inclination, as we might assume. Rather, a truly righteous person will yoke both inclinations to the mitzvot or commandments of God in order to direct us toward godliness.

This may seem strange to our Greek minded nature. But the Rabbis make a point that we often miss. The evil inclination is really our nephesh. It is our fleshly desires, appetites, emotions, and intellect. It serves a godly purpose – IF— we bring it into obedience to the Word of God. The strong urge or desire to procreate is only evil when it not sought within the holy bounds of matrimony. The drive to expand our territory is good if that expansion is for the Kingdom of YHWH. Without the “evil” inclination of our levav, we would have no passion, drive, or desire to accomplish anything!

black horse 2The analogy that best describes this lesson of the sages is seen in our domesticated beasts or animals. My son and I just finished reading Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Many of you will be familiar with this classic, but for those of you that are not, it is a tale about the life of a horse named Black Beauty. Beauty grows up around people and learns to work early in life. He is a gentle and loving horse, but faces many challenges as he is bought and sold numerous times — sometimes to good men and other times to cruel ones. Beauty is the epitome of a tamed beast. He is well trained and desires to please his masters. As a matter of fact, the owners that take good care of him and show him love, mercy, and compassion only makes Beauty a better work horse and companion. Beauty grows to love and trust them and their families. His diligent service in these homes is driven by love rather than compulsion.

Along his journey, Beauty meets many other horses and hears their life stories. Those that had a wild or cruel upbringing have “issues” with man. They fear giving new owners their trust and often step out of line in disobedience or ignorance. Beauty is grateful for his loving upbringing and sound instruction when he hears stories like these; for he knows that had he not known love, compassion, and gentle training when he was young, he might have the same struggles as his new friends.

While reading this old story again after many years, I have been struck by it in a profound way. We, like Beauty, are also (partially) a beast (nephesh). And like his friends, our upbringing has a great impact on our future. Those of us raised with godly parents that gently guided us do have advantages, and in some cases, less “issues” than those that didn’t. This in no way implies that those less fortunate in their upbringing cannot overcome through Messiah. But I can’t help but to recall the Creator’s mandate that we are to diligently teach our children. These words aren’t arbitrary. They are purposeful and would not be in the Torah if obeying this commandment didn’t have a direct impact on the earth, us, and our children.

But that isn’t what impressed me the most about Black Beauty. Mrs. Sewell went into great detail about the proper and improper handling, training, and treatment of horses. It was as if Adonai was speaking to me through this children’s story about our “older” nature, our nephesh, the beast. Our nephesh must be broken in and tamed just like the wild stallion. We must bring it into the submission of our renewed spirit that is ruled by Word of Elohim.work horse

All those wild passions, strengths, and desires must be broken and reforged for a NEW purpose —-to serve HaShem and our fellowman. In other words, that part of your heart (levav) that likes to have its way instead of doing what you “know” to do is really an unruly and untamed BEAST. It is just as strong and powerful as the majestic Black Beauty. It must learn to serve the master (your spirit) and the Master of masters, Adonai. If this nature is brought into obedience, great things will happen. Think of how much more a man with a work horse can do in the field than one without!

The Beast Within

The Scriptures that reference our heart, mind, and soul are meant to instruct us in taming our “older” nature and bring it into submission to YHWH. When taming and training a beast of the field, we well know that this is a PROCESS — it doesn’t happen overnight. Thus, this natural picture of the spiritual should bring encouragement for those of us that still struggle in particular areas of this process.

As I was meditating on this practice and Black Beauty, it became clear as to why it is so important to search out the “roots” behind many of our struggles. These (bad) roots would have been formed when we were young or may have even been passed through our bloodline (generational).[1] Conversely, they could form as we age as a response to unfair, abusive, or hard circumstances.

horseThese “roots” are basically made-up of thoughts and agreements with falsehoods. In other words, our lev or levav has rooted itself with a wrong mindset which brings about incorrect feelings, actions, words, attitudes, and deeds. How can one break free and walk, live, or think another way unless he is taught with much patience and kindness? Like Black Beauty’s friends, it takes the long suffering of a good trainer to help the beast see that there is a better way to behave and that some people really can be trusted.

Although godly people are the key to us hearing and receiving the Good News, we have our own homework to do as well. Please don’t misunderstand that last statement. I’m not inferring that the Gospel isn’t enough or that it must be earned. What I am saying is that once you RECEIVE the truth, you must learn to walk in it — if you truly desire to be an overcomer and have abundant life. I’ve met many people that were saved by the grace of God, but they were still living with much pain from the past, patterns of broken relationships, and great bondage in general.

Many would suggest these people are in need of deliverance and I agree with that counsel. However, most references in the Bible about deliverance are about salvation and rescue from real enemies or adversaries. Not all of our ailments and problems come from the outside. Many are issues of our heart (lev) which have been left unchecked because we SEE no other alternative or we just don’t know HOW to get from point A to point B. We have no clue as how to rein in the beast (nephesh/flesh) and change for the better. This is where the washing of the water of the word becomes our guide to success.

Eph. 5:26-27  so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  (27)  that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

What I’m really speaking to here is sanctification, not deliverance. I personally believe that some people fail to receive deliverance in certain areas because the problem isn’t about an outside force or enemy, but an inward (heart) issue that is in need of cleansing and circumcision. That which is neglected is the MIND or heart, the lev or levav.

Tit. 2:11-15  For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,  (12)  instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,  (13)  looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,  (14)  who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.  (15)  These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Are you zealous for good deeds? I like to think that I am until I am tested, but then the real truth in my heart comes forth. (Which is why we ARE tested in the first place — so we can see what really lurks in our hearts.)

For example, you’re running late for an appointment and every possible delay seems to prevent you from getting there on time. You find yourself trying to turn onto a traffic laden highway and no one will let you in. Finally there is a tiny break and you take your shot into traffic. You slowly inch through two stop lights and as you approach the third you see a car trying to join the mob from a side street. Who knows how long they’ve sat there trying to turn? Any other day, your kindness would allow them to enter just in front of you. But today, you’re already late. Do you let them pass anyhow, knowing it may cost you passage through the next stop light? Or do you justify your selfishness because you are late for a very important date?

Does that example seem too “small” of an issue to really matter? What about this one?

It seems as though every day you have to remind your son to do what he knows to do — clean the cat box and take out the trash. Without fail, every day you are forced to remind him. This constant cycle has you immensely frustrated. Today has already been a trying day with other matters. Do you grab him by the ear and drag him to the cat box and demand he fulfill his duty? Do you scream and shout out of exasperation? Do you mete out severe punishment while furious? Or do you slip into indifference and apathy and do his job yourself? There are so many choices as to how to respond. Which one, if any, are correct and supports the notion that you are zealous for good deeds?

How about this? Your spouse has a bad habit that drives you up the wall. (Maybe it’s leaving the toilet seat up) You’ve kicked, screamed, cried, begged, and pleaded that they change this one thing. Why won’t they just do this one thing? Do they not love me? Why? Why? Why? Today you sit down to do your business and… ker-plop! Your bottom touches the cold ceramic edges of a seatless loo and you barely miss falling into the water. Immediately your blood pressure skyrockets. As usual, your response is to rush into the other room to announce your frustration and disdain for your spouse’s carelessness. Your spouse goes on the defensive at your furious tantrum. Shalom in the home flies out the window along with any and all of your sensibilities. The evening is completely spoiled, the children have witnessed yet another verbal outburst with tears and slamming doors and the whole house is now on edge. Any plans for family time have been lost. Reading Scripture together as a family is reserved for another day. All this because your precious bottom touched a little potty water. Worst of all, you feel justified in your actions. All blame goes to the REAL guilty party: your spouse!

toilet_flushing_5While it is true that your spouse needs to be more respectful of your wishes (and your tuchas), he is NOT the villain in this little tale. You are. His little oversight didn’t wreak havoc in your household and teach your children the “wrong way” to handle life’s problems. It wouldn’t be surprising if YHWH was allowing him to continually “forget” the toilet seat in order to teach you a lesson! Your actions are so disgusting that they belong in the toilet!

Now replace any of the scenarios above with issues you seem to face again and again. Who is the one in need of more “training”? I firmly believe that YHWH works on multiple levels. Even when it comes to correcting our children, there is an opportunity for us to be corrected as well. Repetitive issues should grab our attention the most. Apparently we are NOT passing the exam, and it’s usually because we are oblivious to our own need for “correction”. Pride and self-justification can mask a plethora of character issues. The focus shouldn’t be our fellow man’s problem — it should be our own! Didn’t Messiah say something about this very thing?

Mat. 7:3-5  “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  (4)  “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?  (5)  “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

 

Today, I will leave you to ponder the issues of you own heart during these last days of the month of repentance (Elul). The fall Moedim (feasts) are quickly approaching and they truly are all about the heart! I’ve actually written this second part multiple times over the past weeks. There are so many facets to this topic that I’ve had a hard time deciding which angle to take. The next one will hopefully expand upon this post and offer some solutions to the dilemma that seems common to us all: How do we prepare and practice in order to pass the myriad of life’s tests for our souls?

Part III


[1] My understanding of “generational curses” is more akin to the passing along of unholy thinking. For example, if all you ever learned as a child was to “deal” with life by over drinking, then you will probably mimic the actions of the parent that presented you with this “way of life”. It’s as if you see no other course or way in which to go. The same could be stated for issues such as abuse, depression, poor work ethics, obesity, drug abuse, thievery, anger, etc. There is a reason why we are commanded to teach our children in the way that they should go. Most children watch everything their parents do for good or for evil. Later when they are an adult themselves, when life presents them with opportunity (and it always will), most will choose to follow the path taken by their parents —- even if they hated the parents actions as a child. The mind (lev) only has experience with what it has been taught or trained for; thus, without the transforming power of the Word, most will follow the footsteps of their earthly trainers (parents/guardians). This is a vicious cycle and indeed a curse. Thank Heaven we have the Living Word to show us the way of truth, life, and blessing!

Categories: Messianic Issues, Musings | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: