Posts Tagged With: Shavuot

The Heart of Shavuot

Today on Renewed Radio

This morning, Dr. Deb Wiley and Kisha Gallagher spoke with special guest, Dr. Hollisa Alewine of The Creation Gospel about the heart of the Torah and Shavuot (Pentecost). Where does the idea of “fire” on Shavuot originate? How are fire and water related? What message are we to learn from the traditional seven ushpizin (guests) that visit with YHWH’s people as they sit in their sukkot, and how does this connect with Shavuot? All these questions are answered and much more on Hebrew Nation’s Renewed.

Chag Sameach!

Listen for free for one week on Hebrew Nation Radio’s podcasts:

http://hebrewnationonline.com/hebrew-nation-morning-renewed-6/

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Know Your Place

The Spirit of Shavuot

After reading this past week’s Torah portion, B’midbar,[1] and celebrating the fourth Biblical festival of Shavuot (Pentecost), I began to think about our various “positions” before YHWH. The Mussar middah (character trait) humility has at its core the question of a person’s proper place. A balanced person neither thinks too highly of himself nor too lowly. Likewise, he or she doesn’t focus too much on self or on the faults of others. This sounds so simple, but the issue of humility is a great struggle for most of us. (Me included!)

signIn parsha B’midbar, YHWH described not only the placement of each individual tribe as they camped, but also outlined the order in which they would travel and go to war. The tribal leaders were named and the duties of the priests for the movement of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) were established. YHWH is very specific and organized. There was no question as to one’s duty or placement in the body of Israel. Today, instead of “knowing our place”, we seem to be all over the place in both physicality and deed; each thinking his way, interpretation, or understanding is higher or better.

This creates confusion, not unity. Instead of being united like the believers at Shavuot in Acts Chapter 2, we seem to be more scattered and divided like they were after Messiah’s last Passover and subsequent crucifixion. Using this as a model, we know that Yeshua’s desire was for them to come back together as one people at Shavuot. This is why the risen Messiah told them during the days of the Omer count to go to Jerusalem and WAIT for the promise of being “clothed with power from on high”.

“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”  (Luke 24:49 NASB. See also Acts 1:4)

We all know what happened next.

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (Acts 2:1 KJV)

When we fully come into the Spirit of Shavuot, we know our proper estate. Can you even imagine how glorious the unity of the people was? Look at what their actions produced; it’s eerily similar to when God spoke the Ten Words to the people standing at the base of Mt. Sinai at an earlier Shavuot:

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  (3)  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  (4)  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:2-4 KJV)

So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.  (17)  And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.  (18)  Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently.  (19)  When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. (Ex. 19:16-19 NASB)

YHWH descended Mount Sinai in fire at the giving of the Ten Commandments and the people trembled. Later He descended in fire again, but this time, instead of manifesting on a mountain, the fire sat upon the people. Like the mountain, the people were not consumed. In both cases, the Word of YHWH went forth like FIRE at the feast of Shavuot!

The people in each of the above examples were unified. I dare say that their theology was NOT what united them. It’s difficult to find two people that have the same opinion on any given matter. Jews have a saying to express this: “two Jews, three opinions”. So what did unite the people? Or better yet, what CAN unify us?

The two most memorable Shavuot festivals have at their heart two great leaders. And there is one trait that both are said to possess that I find most fitting for us to focus on within the theme of unity. Moses is called the most humble man on earth.[2] Later, the one like unto Moses[3] is also called humble.[4] By following Moses’ and Yeshua’s example, it’s not our theology and opinions that binds us into one accord. Rather, it’s our willingness to “know our place” or live in a state of humility.

The Humility of Shavuot

“Always seek to learn wisdom from everyone, to recognize your failings and correct them. In doing so you will learn to stop thinking about your virtues and you will take your mind off your friend’s faults.”Cheshbon ha-Nefesh by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Satanov.

If there is one thing that I notice more than anything on television, the blogosphere, and social media, it is that our focus is continually on the faults of others. I see very little introspection and meekness. As Rabbi Menachem mentions in the above quote, it is by seeking to learn wisdom from EVERYONE that we are enabled to really see our own failings and correct them.

Everyone? Even the heathen, pagan, atheist, and cult follower? Most would squawk that these lost souls have no wisdom. Is this true? The last time I checked, they too were made in the image of God. While they may need redemption, they too are a holy soul and YHWH cares greatly for them. Pride is what causes us to assume that we have nothing to learn from these precious ones.

But this is also true of those that we interact with from the redeemed. Just because Joe Schmoe doesn’t think, believe, or act out his walk with YHWH exactly like you do, doesn’t mean that you are better than him or that he doesn’t have something yet to teach you. Again, it’s PRIDE that keeps us from gathering together. I’ll give you an example from my own life.

Years ago, I was part of a congregation in FL. The local Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) church allowed us to meet in their building. I personally don’t think or believe like SDAs. Other than obeying the Sabbath, I thought I didn’t have much in common with these folks. One day, the SDA group asked us to join with them to break bread. To be honest, I didn’t really want to go. My prideful little self secretly thought, “What could they possibly teach me at this point?” I know you’ve never had a thought like that about a person or group, but I freely admit my debauchery to you anyway. 🙂

FootwashingLong story short, I went… begrudgingly. The meal was fine. It was more or less a communion service in their fellowship hall. Since I associate communion with Passover, I felt that the meal wasn’t quite “accurate”. (More pride.) Then something odd happened. The people rose from their seats and began to break off for a foot washing ceremony. Without anyone leading, spontaneous songs and hymns began to flow from the lips of these people. A sweet Spirit entered our midst and I think my mouth hung open, lol.

Married couples went to one room. Singles of the same sex went off into two other areas (children included). A sink and a stack of basins were in each room for us to gather water. One spouse sat while fresh, warm water was poured over the other’s feet. Song and praise continued to flow throughout the building. It was one of the most touching experiences I’ve ever had in my life. The water was just water, but it felt like SO much more than that.

It was SO much more than that! YHWH humbled me in a way that day that I will NEVER forget. Washing someone else’s feet is the epitome of humility. But I honestly believe it takes even MORE humility to have someone else wash YOUR feet.

Feet are the lowest part of our bodies. Since they are what touch the earth and because they are what carry our every weight and burden, they are likened to our nephesh (soul/flesh). They are our beast (of burden). And they get dirty. They, more than any other part of us, need frequent washings. You can walk around in the dirt all day and your hands can remain clean, but not your feet.

Some of you may know that I’m a licensed manicurist. I give pedicures (wash, clean, and manicure of the feet) all the time. I actually enjoy it. I consider it a privilege to care for a person in this way that is often difficult for them to do for themselves. But without soap, sweet ointments, or even toenail polish, the foot washing that I gave and received at that little SDA church has stood out as the best of the best.

Having my feet washed in the presence of YHWH and His people nearly overwhelmed me. The chip on my shoulder fell off the minute the water touched my toes. This is the Spirit of Shavuot. I wanted to separate myself out like the disciples did at Passover and Unleavened Bread, but Abba wanted me to humble myself and gather together with His people in one accord and one place.

Shavout isn’t about perfect doctrine or halachah. It is one of the pilgrimage feasts and as such, it is literally a FOOT festival. You must tame your feet and direct them to Jerusalem to receive the promise of the Father. The journey will make your feet both tired and dirty, but when you arrive, true disciples will be there with fresh water and songs of praise on their lips. Better yet, YOU will be there happy to wash the grime and mud off of your neighbor’s feet.

The heart of the commandments is LOVE. And there is no better way to express the love for your brother than to wash his feet. In a sense, this humble act says; let me wash the dirt from your lower nature. I know walking through life gets your soul muddy. I understand. I too, have a dirty nephesh. Let me refresh you. Allow me to care for you by meeting a need we all share regardless of our theology or lack thereof. I love you anyway. Let me learn something from you. You matter to me.

If we think about Moses and Yeshua, didn’t they do exactly this? Both dealt with imperfect and challenging people. Both humbled themselves and SERVED the people. They knew their place. Instead of calling fire down from heaven to destroy those with dirty feet, they tenderly washed the people.[5] The result was a fiery Word in the mouth of Israel.

Since Shavuot is about the Bride receiving her ketubah (Torah Covenant) and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, I thought it would be fitting to conclude with the words of Abigail, a bride of King David. Let’s see what wisdom this model bride can teach us:

woman-kneeling-in-prayerWhen the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they spoke to her, saying, “David has sent us to you to take you as his wife.” She arose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, Behold, your maidservant is a maid to wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” (1Sam. 25:40-41)

Abigail was a humble bride; one any king would desire. She proved this through the selfless action of foot washing. Shavuot beckons us to ask: “What do I do with the feet of those I encounter? Do I step on their toes? Do I turn my nose up at their grime? Or do I bow down low and tenderly wash them clean?” May we become a maidservant like Abigail. When the King comes to take us as His Bride, may we know our place as ones who wash the feet of His servants!


[1] Numbers 1:1- 4:20. B’midbar literally means “in the wilderness”.

[2] Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth. (Num. 12:3)

[3] “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me [Moses] from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” (Dt. 18:15)

[4] “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mat. 11:29-30)

[5] Ex. 19:10-11; John 13:5-13

Categories: Moedim, Mussar, Torah Portions | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

B’har

(Revised from 2013)

Mount Sinai summit view4

Lev. 25:1- 26:2

The name of this week’s portion is B’har. It literally means “on mount” or “on the mountain”; this is where YHWH spoke to Moses. This portion begins with the mitzvah of the Sabbatical years for the land and the counting of years until the Yovel or Jubilee year. This count is strikingly similar to the yearly counting of the Omer that leads to Shavuot (Pentecost). Both counts add up to 7×7 or 49 with the holy day proclaimed the next day (with Shavuot) or year (with the Yovel). Yovel’s 50 year cycle is a much larger picture of Shavuot’s 50 day cycle. While the counting of the Omer begins following the Sabbath after Pesach and culminates 50 days later at Shavuot in the spring months, the beginning count for the Sabbatical years that culminates with the Yovel (Jubilee) begins on Yom HaKippurim[1] (Day of Atonements) in the fall. [Lev. 25:9]

This “counting” connection between the Yovel and Shavuot is no coincidence. The Scriptures are almost begging us to ask more questions and mine out the answers. After a close inspection, a common theme begins to emerge from the excavation. That theme is FREEDOM. At first glance, Shavuot may not appear to contain the thematic element of liberty. After all, the direct commandments associated with Shavuot are linked to the wheat harvest and the waving of leavened loaves.[2] It commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai and our in filling of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). Thus, we can see the relationship of liberty begin to emerge.

Pesach is well-known as the “Festival of our Freedom”. And it should be as it marks Israel’s undeserved redemption from slavery and oppression. However, we must not make the mistake of assuming that Pesach is the end of our journey or salvation. On the contrary, Pesach and our exodus from Egypt and all it represents is only the beginning of our “renewed life” with our Holy Redeemer. All the moedim (feast days) are intrinsically connected to one another and are designed to be recurring appointments or rehearsals with our Creator. They are guide posts that light our path as we follow the Mashiach. We have a weekly illumination in the Shabbat, a monthly light in the New Moon, 7 yearly celebrations in the moedim, 7 year markers in the Sabbatical years, and every half of a century we are released in the Yovel (Jubilee). Many believe that these “cycles” are Ezekiel’s great “wheel in the middle of a wheel“. I imagine them to be akin to the planets circling the sun, each on their own elliptical or the electrons encircling the neutron of an atom.

Shavuot is deeply connected to Pesach by way of the counting of the Omer. It IS the culmination of our freedom on Pesach. Ancient Israel, and we as their descendants, are not truly “free” until we receive the Torah. It is as it were, our ketuvah (wedding vows). The picture is repeated in the Brit Chadashah (N.T.). We are redeemed by YHWH’s unmerited favor (grace) by the blood of the Lamb, but then we are to wait (count) until the feast of Pentecost (Shavuot) to receive our instructions (Torah) and be filled with the Ruach HaKodesh in order to carry out our Master’s will. We must accept or say “I do” to the Covenant. We are set free from the bondage of sin and death (Egypt) so we can choose the easy “yoke” of the One True Master.

The Yovel (Jubilee) is like Shavuot but on a grander scale. In fact, if you read Leviticus 25 carefully, you will see that what the Sabbatical years and the Yovel actually proclaim is YHWH’s ownership of not only Israel (those that have entered into covenant with Him), but of the whole earth! Think about this for moment. Every 7 years the “land” is to remain fallow; it is a Sabbath for the LAND. If these “sabbaticals” are kept, it leads to the release of MAN. All debts are forgiven and all those found in bondage are released. Property reverts back to the original owner, because no one really owns the land but YHWH (Lev. 25:23). We are only stewards. This is another testimony that YHWH is the Master; we are the servants. No other celebration declares YHWH’s ownership of not only “us”, but of the “earth/land” more than the Yovel.

Ps. 24:1 A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.

YHWH’s ownership makes Him our King and we are His subjects. Isaiah 61 speaks about the Yovel and its theme of freedom. Is it any wonder that Yeshua our Redeemer spoke these very words in Luke 4: 18-21?

Isa 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; (2) To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, (3) To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

I hope you noticed the agrarian imagery used by Isaiah in reference to us. Somehow, we are intrinsically linked to the “land”. And if we meditate on this for a while, we remember that mankind was birthed from the dust of the earth. This is why the Yovel deals so intimately with both mankind and the land. When we are obedient to the Covenant, the land produces abundantly. When we are disobedient it resists us. So much in fact, that if we remain in rebellion, the land eventually spits us out into exile and captivity (bondage). Certain sins directly affect the land such as incest, bestiality, offering your children to Molech [abortion], and homosexuality. (Lev. 18) Why? Because all these actions profane the name of YHWH. They are the opposite of His character.

If our obedience proclaims His ownership and Kingship, then these sins are in reality proclaiming a false deity (HaSatan). We are currently in the Omer count leading to Shavuot. As we count, we should be reminded of the Shemitah (7 year Sabbatical year) and its count to our great release in the Yovel. Our thoughts should be on the King and His Kingdom and not on our own selfish desires and lusts. Our desire should be to march with perseverance toward a more obedient lifestyle. This will not “redeem” our souls, but it will bless our lives. (Remember the picture from paragraph 5?) If we are the King’s subjects, then we must walk and live by the decrees of the Kingdom (Torah); this shows us to be true followers.

John 15:8-10 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. (9) “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. (10) “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

Lessons from the Hebrew Pictographs

The Yovel (Jubilee) begins with a loud shofar blast on Yom Kippur. Brown, Driver, and Briggs’ Hebrew defines Yovel as trumpet, cornet, ram’s horn, horn, ram’s, and Jubilee (as marked by blowing of horns). Literally, this special holy day that comes only once every 50 years is named for the instrument in which it is announced.[3] What is the trumpet blast to remind us of? Once again we see a connection with Shavuot. At the original exodus, the children of Israel traveled for about 50 days until they reached the base of Mt. Sinai (at Shavuot). When YHWH gave the 10 Words (Ten Commandments), He told Israel:

Ex. 19:13 “Not a hand is to touch it, but he shall certainly be stoned or shot with an arrow, whether man or beast, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, let them come near the mountain.”

The Hebrew word for trumpet in this verse is not shofar or a Ram’s horn, but yovel. As a side note, it is important to know that many of the Sages believed that the Yovel was simply another name for a ram’s horn or shofar; in fact, we see the word yovel translated as such throughout the Tanakh. In Hebrew, yovel consists of a yod, bet, and a lamed. The last two letters, bet and lamed, form the Hebrew root word “val” that means ‘to flow’. It has the idea of the flowing of any substance. (i.e. imagine uncorking a bottle of oil and releasing its contents to flow forth; the flow of the oil coming out is “val“) Since the flow of something is often also the emptying of a container, val also means to come to nothing, flowing away, or none.[4]

The first letter, yod, means the hand, a deed, or work. If we put these two pictographs together from the word Yovel, we get “the hand or deed that causes release. This a perfect picture of the function of the biblical Jubilee or Yovel. Remember how we discussed that the theme for both Shavuot and Yovel was FREEDOM or liberty? The Hebrew word for liberty is “deror”. It is used in several passages that speak about the Jubilee, including Isaiah 61. As we’ve just seen, Yovel is also a release (of those in bondage).

While in Hebrew these two words are not etymologically related, their meaning or function most certainly is. Both yovel (Jubilee) and deror (liberty) come from root words that carry the idea of a substance that is free-flowing, like a release of fluid, sound, or the abstract “freedom”. We use this very imagery in English when we sing “Let Freedom Ring!” The sound waves flow forth like the yovel blast. All of this speaks to a build up of pressure just before the “release”. In other words, there is a FORCE behind our release! (The Holy Spirit!)

When the time on YHWH’s calendar is just right … BAM! In my opinion, the fact that these two words are often used in conjunction and that they have similar meanings only adds to the significance of the flow of freedom. When man is free to move about or FLOW without the restraint of sin and bondage, only then can (s)he truly be free to seek and follow the King of Heaven and Earth. The flow or sound waves created by the shofar announce the return of our King and our complete redemption. May we have ears to hear it!


[1] Creation Gospel Students should make the connection immediately. All the moedim find their source in the 4th branch, the festival of Shavuot. The Day of Atonements is the epitome of a “clean slate”; therefore, it is quite fitting that the Yovel (Jubilee) begins at this crucial point. This day is ruled by the Spirit of Daat, the knowledge of sacrificial love. What better picture of this loving knowledge is there than a “return”? How many of us fantasize about going back and doing things all over again —- but this time better? This is the Yovel. (Lev. 25:10, Neh. 1:8-9, Is. 44:21-22)
[2] Interestingly, Shavuot’s wave offering is the ONLY offering in the entire feast and sacrificial system where “leavening” is not only allowed, but commanded. (Lev. 23:17) Is this not a picture of us? We ARE what is leavened.
[3] Likewise, this is the case for Yom Teruah or the Feast Day of Blowing (Trumpets).
[4] Some further Scripture examples are Isa.53:7 Isa.55:12 Jer.31:9.
Categories: Moedim, Torah Portions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Torah Portion: Shlach L’cha

Torah Portion for June 1st, 2013

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

Hebrew Names

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

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

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

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

Thus, Hebrew never ceases to amaze me….

The Spies and a Pinch of Fear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creation Gospel’s Seventh Branch

Shabbat

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

Sukkot

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

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

Yirat YHWH

The seven spirits of God are given to us in:

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

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

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

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

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

Laodicea

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

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

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

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

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

What is this gold Yeshua speaks of?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caleb & Joshua

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tzit-tziot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[1] Proverbs 6:16-19

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

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

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