Posts Tagged With: suffering

Becoming One Loaf

This past weekend I had the honor of presenting two breakout sessions at Revive in Nashville, TN. While the breakouts weren’t formally recorded, I recorded my sessions, entitled Becoming One Loaf Part 1 and 2 (audio only). The slides and the messages are below. This message is derived from an upcoming BEKY Book that I’m writing on the fall feasts (title TBD). Rather than being an introduction of the fall feasts, this BEKY Book will focus on the spiritual flow or movement of Ruach HaKodesh at Adonai’s fall appointed times, and through you and your community.

We are to be One or Echad with Adonai and one another at His return at the fall moedim, but the message of how we reach that unity requires a great deal of self sacrifice. Becoming One Loaf Part 1 explores the threshing floor and the threshing process of grains as an example of meeting with Adonai as a unified loaf. Part 2 speaks about the summer season, the Three Weeks, and how the danger before the fall moedim is falling into idolatry, which is the context of the verse that engendered my title.

“Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.”  1 Corinthians 10:17 (NIV)

With today’s culture being so focused on self and personal identity(-ies) rather than on one’s identity in Messiah, this is a word in due season. What will it take to bring us into unity?

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:1-2 (NASB)

 

Becoming One Loaf Part 1


Becoming One Loaf Part 2

 

 

Becoming One Loaf Revive 2021 (Part 1 and 2 slides)

Categories: Conferences, Ethics, Moedim, Torah Portions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Haftarah Miketz: Cutting the Baby in Half

Miketz (At the End) Genesis 41:1-44:17, I Kings 3:15-4:1

In some years, this prophetic portion coincides with Chanukah in which case the reading is Zechariah 2:13–4:7. This year (2020), Chanukah concluded before Shabbat (parsha Miketz).

In the Torah and Haftarah portion, Pharaoh and Solomon awake, yayiykatz, from a dream. In Hebrew, a dream is chalom; spelled like shalom, but with a chet rather than a shin. Chalom, much like shalom, refers to being strengthened and restored to health. Indeed, God used the dreams of both men to impart His wisdom for proper ruling and justice, the latter given through Joseph’s interpretation. (For more on dreams click here.)

The above is an oversimplification of the relationship of the two narratives. However, the word yayiykatz caught my attention regarding current events. One of the buzz words in modern culture is being “woke.” If you haven’t researched the origin from which this term was coined, I highly suggest investigating Critical Theory (CT). This paradigm or ideology is the primary message being taught in our universities and has spread to every area of government and business, and is now replacing the Biblical worldview in some churches.

Wearing this lens distorts Biblical justice while purporting to be the epitome of justice itself. CT proposes to unify various groups and bring about equality and equity, which sounds wonderful, especially to those that have been marginalized. Yet, the whole ideology segregates people into categories based on group identity in the areas of race, class, sexuality, and gender identity. (Notice that none of these are about inward morality.) One is taught to judge a person based on the “box” in which CT places them. They are either an oppressor or one of the oppressed. This is NOT how the Bible deals with issues of judgment, justice, or equity.

Worst of all, proponents are conditioned to base truth on lived experience and feelings rather than logic, critical thinking, and facts. At its core, the worldview of CT has its own versions of original sin (they call it oppression) and morality (which is anything but godly). CT’s plan of salvation is not the shed blood of Messiah and faith in God, but activism and overthrowing power structures that oppress the aforementioned groups in various ways. They call this “social justice,” which will be dealt with below. Once one accepts the tenets of CT, and “sees” the oppression he has suffered and desires to remedy it, he is considered a “woke” person.

Biblical justice, righteous justice, is akin to “wisdom from above.” The Torah and Haftarah both use the terms discerning (navon) and wisdom (kamoka/chakham) to describe King Solomon and Joseph. This is what being AWAKE, not woke, refers to in our portion. The case of the two women in 1 Kings drives this point completely home. These two women can be likened to the dichotomy between the spirit and the flesh, the good and evil inclination, or the righteous woman and the harlot (wicked woman). If one is discerning and wise in the Biblical sense, they will allow the Word to rule or master (mashal) their thoughts, mind, and heart, not earthly social dogma. In doing so, they are awake, not woke.

James 3:13-18 (NASB) Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the

Does this message align with “wisdom from above?”

wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

I chose to quote James because not only does he teach the twelve tribes of Israel about godly wisdom and understanding (discernment), but he specifically addresses the trials of poverty and oppression experienced by the poor in his letter. (Jas. 1:9-11; 5:1-6; 2:5-6) These trials are championed by CT proponents and their solutions are diametrically opposed to James’ message. First, consider the case brought before the wise king:

1 Kings 3:16-24 (NASB) Then two women who were harlots came to the king and stood before him. 17 The one woman said, “Oh, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house; and I gave birth to a child while she was in the house. 18 It happened on the third day after I gave birth, that this woman also gave birth to a child, and we were together. There was no stranger with us in the house, only the two of us in the house. 19 This woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on it. 20 So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from beside me while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead son in my bosom. 21 When I rose in the morning to nurse my son, behold, he was dead; but when I looked at him carefully in the morning, behold, he was not my son, whom I had borne.” 22 Then the other woman said, “No! For the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son.” But the first woman said, “No! For the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son.” Thus they spoke before the king. 23 Then the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son who is living, and your son is the dead one’; and the other says, ‘No! For your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.'” 24 The king said, “Get me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king.

The king asks for a sword. It is by the Sword of the Word, righteous judgment, that he will rule in this matter. Both women are referred to as a zanah, usually a harlot. But, there are many cases where a harlot ends up proving herself to be the righteous woman. For example, consider Tamar or Rahab. This case is once again challenging one to discover which woman is which. Sometimes, we must challenge our own hearts, inclinations, motives, and desires to discover the same. James’ wisdom from above and wisdom from below teaches one the difference. (Also see the Book of Proverbs.)

I cannot help but to feel great compassion for the woman that accidently smothered her newborn in the night. What a horrible tragedy, regardless if one is wicked or righteous! Any mother that has lost a child can relate to the unbearable agony and seeming unfairness of this great loss. In desperation, such a one would do just about anything to remedy her pain. And, that’s exactly what she did. She saw an opportunity and took it. Though it was rooted in bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, pride, and lack of concern for her neighbor, she stood by her choice and ended up before the highest judge in the Land.

For onlookers, the case was not clear. Which woman did the child belong to? Who was telling the truth? How would the king rule? King Solomon, grasping his sword, proclaimed:

“Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” 1 Kings 3:25 (NASB)

That’s equity: equal outcomes. And, this decision satisfied the woman that lost the child. She felt this was justice. Why should the other woman get to enjoy raising a son when she was robbed of this pleasure? It’s not fair. If I can’t have a child, why should she have this privilege?

1 Kings 3:26 (NASB) Then the woman whose child was the living one spoke to the king, for she was deeply stirred over her son and said, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him!

King Solomon’s sword cut through to the heart of the matter without ever taking a swing. The woman whose child was living had great racham, tender mercies, like the womb (rechem) for her son. She was willing to give the wicked woman her son if only he could live. She was more concerned about the life of another person than for the great injustice the other woman was exercising against her. She was willing to endure jealousy, robbery, and great loss than to see her son perish. This is humility, the opposite of the arrogant spirit operating in the other woman.

That’s how Solomon’s sword divided between wisdom from above and wisdom from below. Earthy, fleshy wisdom seats SELF on the Throne. It abhors God’s sovereignty, especially in tragedy and “unfairness.” Like a toddler, it views the trials, hardships, and unfairness of life as an affront to her wellbeing and happiness. She is too immature to consider that God uses such situations as goads to grow and mature one into the image of Messiah. It’s a painful and humbling process to be sure. Being threshed like wheat against a stone “feels” bad to the flesh and to the sensibilities of the earthy man.

In a similar way, CT cannot deal with the sovereignty of God. It just doesn’t fit into their worldview. The God of the Bible would be considered the greatest oppressor of all, since He and He alone allows people to be hurt, oppressed, injured, rejected, and marginalized. Indeed, this IS the problem that most atheists have with God. They cannot fathom His goodness in this fallen, broken world. They accuse Him of being a tyrant, when in reality, it is the free will of man and sin that brings chaos, division, oppression, and evil into our world.

Consider the woman with the dead child again. Her answer to unfairness and pain was to cause another woman to suffer. In her mind, this was justice. It evened the playing field, something critical theorists champion. If I can’t have it, no one can. That is the heart of social justice today. It is saturated in covetousness, the tenth of the Ten Words (Commandments). If everyone is the same, then maybe I won’t be jealous or yearn for something they have. This is greed, which Yeshua calls the “evil eye.” (Matthew 6:19-34)

Mark 7:21-23 (NKJV) “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Matthew 20:14-16 (NKJV) Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good? 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.

Adonai desires that we wake up or be awake and sober, not woke. To be spiritually sober, one cannot mix another spirit or worldview with His truth of “it is written.” The earthly waters of man’s wisdom will never mix with the heavenly oil of the Holy Spirit. Dreams from God (and righteous justice) are restorative for every person involved, despite worldly “social” statuses. But, restoration often requires painful soul correction. It is deeply personal, not social. Righteous correction is healing and brings shalom, not condemnation. (The latter being a primary fruit of CT.)

Justice of the People

The seventh assembly in the Book of Revelation is called Laodicea. Interestingly, the name Laodicea is mentioned seven times in Scripture. If you recall, she was the most wicked of the bunch even though she bore the perfect number seven. Her completeness was in wickedness, not righteousness. And, her name only exemplifies her character. Laodicea means, “Justice of the People” or “Place of People of Common Fairness.”[1] It is a compound of laos (people, group, tribe) and dike (justice). Dike was the goddess of avenging justice in Greek mythology. She is often called “Lady Justice.”

Dike judged “based on socially enforced norms and conventional rules, human justice.”[2] This is easily compared to “wisdom from below.” She is often depicted as a young woman holding a balance scale, while her Roman counterpart is also blindfolded, figuring impartiality in justice. The irony is that Yeshua called the Laodicean’s blind and in need of eye salve. Apparently, the social justice they championed was anything but righteous justice.

Revelation 3:14-22 (NASB) To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The pride of the Laodiceans is so thick that it is easy to choke on it. Perhaps, that is why Yeshua says He will vomit them from His mouth. Imagine an entire community that believes their justice for the people has made them ALL wealthy, rich, and in need of nothing. Perhaps, they redistributed all their wealth equally or based the shares upon one’s social identity. They smugly believe that they have solved the world’s great injustices – all those things that are visible on the outside. (Cutting the baby in half is never the right answer!)

Over and over again, Yeshua is concerned about the inner man, not the outside of the cup or outward appearances or social groups/identities. The latter focus makes one wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, like Dike.  Jewish wisdom stresses that those who respect God should not show partiality toward people – for any reason. Literally, this means not to, “accept the face of people.” Outward appearances and identities are wisdom from below, earthy of man, not God.

The refined gold, white garments, and eye salve cannot be purchased with worldly goods or morals. They are spiritual, and very costly to the ego and flesh nature. They involve great self-sacrifice. In the natural, earthy realm James and godly wisdom challenges one to endure tests and trials of the flesh, hardships, and even sufferings, because we CAN trust in the sovereignty and goodness of Adonai. He promises great rewards for overcoming this “momentary affliction.”

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NASB) For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

In James’ day, the zealots and revolutionaries promoted a paradigm of violent retaliation, which they claimed to be religious and wise, but James urged the poor and oppressed to respond by waiting on God. (James 5:7-11) Godly wisdom isn’t violent or threatening or riotous. (Acts 19:21-41) It doesn’t lash out or slay with words or deeds.

At the end, miketz, despite their debauchery and hypocrisy, Yeshua loves the Laodiceans. He reminds them that He rebukes, corrects, admonishes, and educates/disciplines those whom He loves. By repenting of their false sense of justice, there is great reward. For those that overcome, there is a place at His table and on His Throne. Suffering isn’t a message that anyone’s flesh wants to hear, but it is the very thing that produces oil for one’s lamp.

While we should certainly stand in the gap for the marginalized people of the earth, feed the poor, tend to the sick, and champion liberty for all captives, we must ensure that bitterness over injustices hasn’t mingled or leavened our dough. (Pro. 31:8-9) Fruit reveals the seed, and the tree. The seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Don’t fall for the false gospel of CT. Man’s problem isn’t oppression; it’s SIN. The tree of knowledge of good and evil offered hidden “wisdom” that Chavah (Eve) thought she was lacking. The fruit was “pleasing to her eyes.” CT offers to enlighten and open one’s eyes by viewing the world through the lens of the oppressor or the oppressed. It allows one to relish in their judgment of other people and justify their hatred. Once you partake of the fruit, you become “woke” – just like Adam and Chavah.

Genesis 3:7 (NASB) Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

Like Laodicea, their wokeness only revealed that they were naked. The wisdom the tree offered was earthy, natural, demonic. The first Adam (man and woman) tried to make their own coverings of sown fig leaves. They basically covered themselves in the leaves of the tree of wisdom from below. In other words, they trusted it more than God. Hence, their fear of Him in the next few verses.

The Torah of Adonai is called a “tree of life” and its parchment sections are called leaves. When one covers their person with its wisdom, it produces clean, white linen garments of righteousness. In the Book of Revelation, it is THIS tree whose leaves will bring healing to the nations. God’s Way is the Only Way. His Truth is the only thing that will lead one to Life, Restoration, and Wholeness. No wisdom of man, no matter how clever or cunning, can do that. Look at the fruit – seeing some good doesn’t mean that there isn’t also evil present. Do not be deceived.

Meanwhile, when faced with a decision in righteous justice, ask yourself, “Which woman am I? What am I fighting for? Am I speaking and fighting from a place of pain and loss? Will me receiving the justice I think I deserve cause an injustice for someone else?” Don’t cut the baby in half.

James 4:1-12 (NASB) What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil (diablos – false accuser/slanderer) 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. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. 11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?


[1] Thayer Definition: Laodicea = “justice of the people.” 1) a city of Phrygia, situated on the river Lycus not far from Colosse. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 66 A.D. and rebuilt by Marcus Aurelius. It was the seat of the Christian church. Part of Speech: noun proper locative. A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from a compound of G2992 and G1349

More on Laodicea: https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Laodicea.html#.X90WoC2cZN0  “Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott’s A Greek-English Lexicon lists what appears to be a variant or at least a related term: Λαοδικος (laodikos), meaning tried by the people.” Indeed, people love to be the judge. May we NOT be like Laodicea.

[2] https://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/Minor_Gods/Dike/dike.html

Categories: Torah Portions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Bread of Affliction

This is the bread of affliction 
that our fathers ate in the land
of Egypt. Whoever is hungry, let 
him come and eat! Whoever is 
needy, let him come and celebrate 
Passover! Now, we are here; next
year may we be in Jerusalem! 
Now, we are slaves; next year may
we be free men! (The HaLachmah Anya - the invitation to eat-
in the Passover Haggadah)

 

This article is based on a quick message at our local new moon gathering. You can listen here: New Moon Meeting Nisan 2019

Adonai calls matzah the bread of affliction. He requires His people to eat it for seven days every year to recall the hasty exodus from Egypt, and His mighty judgments that wrought Israel’s freedom. Messiah compared His body to this bread, and also told His followers to partake and remember. (Mt. 26:26) Why does Adonai want us to celebrate by eating bread that reminds us of affliction? Why is this “bread” at the heart of the Passover Seder and the following seven days of unleavened bread?

Dt. 16:3 (NASB) You shall not eat leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat with it unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), so that you may remember all the days of your life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt.

 Affliction is the Hebrew word oni from the root anah:

H6040 (Brown-Driver-Briggs) עני ‛ŏnı̂y: 1) affliction, poverty, misery 1a) affliction 1b) poverty Part of Speech: noun masculine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H6031

Hebrew Word Study H6031 עָנָה ‛ānāh: A verb indicating to be afflicted, to be oppressed, to be humbled. It refers to being oppressed, in a state of oppression. It means to bow down, to humble oneself, to be humbled (Exo 10:3; Isa 58:10). In some senses of the verb, it means to inflict oppression, to subdue, to humble someone: of Israel’s oppression in Egypt (Gen 15:13; Exo 1:11-12); to deal with persons harshly, to oppress them (Gen 16:6); to humble a woman (Deu 21:14); to afflict, humble oneself (Gen 16:9; Lev 16:29; Psa 132:1). It is used of raping a woman (Gen 34:2). It is possible to humble oneself, to afflict oneself by fasting (Ezr 8:21; Dan 10:12). The psalmist was often disciplined by affliction from God (Psa 119:71); the Suffering Servant of Isaiah was afflicted by the Lord (Isa 53:4).

Oni or Affliction

The first mention of oni is in Genesis. Consider the context of the following account:

Gen. 16:4-11 He (Abram) went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight.  5  And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her sight. May the LORD judge between you and me.”  6  But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight.” So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.  7  Now the angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.  8  He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.”  9  Then the angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.”  10  Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.”  11  The angel of the LORD said to her further, “Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has given heed to your affliction.

The second mention is also in Genesis:

Gen. 29:31-32 Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.  32  Leah conceived and bore a son and named him Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.”

In each of these cases, two women are struggling with one another. One man (husband) is involved, and he favors one woman or wife. Each woman has an “affliction” or hardship that she suffers in this life. One, though loved by the man, is childless and barren. The other woman is either unloved or a mere handmaiden given to the man as a surrogate. Adonai gives the handmaid and the unloved wife a child. Both boys are named for Adonai recognizing their “affliction.” Ishmael (Shema – el) means “God hears,” and Rueben (Ra’ah Ben) means “see a son.” YHWH hears and sees affliction and gives new life, as a result. 

But the other women, the beloved wives, are not left to wallow in despair and remain childless. They, too, eventually have sons, but not right away. Adonai required them to wait on Him and His timing. Their progeny includes the promised (covenant) son, Isaac (laughter), and Joseph (gather, add, increase) – both types for Messiah.

The third mention involves children as well, but notice the twist:

Gen. 31:42-43 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had not been for me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, so He rendered judgment last night.  43  Then Laban replied to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, and the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day to these my daughters or to their children whom they have borne?

Much like Pharaoh, Laban presumes to “own” all that is Israel’s or Jacob’s, including the new life, which is the children and the flocks. Jacob understood that all his toil and labor and changed wages was an oni, or affliction under the rule of Laban. He also recognized, like Hagar and Leah above, that Adonai saw his affliction and acted on his behalf.

The fourth mention:

Gen. 41:51-52 Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.”  52  He named the second Ephraim, “For,” he said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

Joseph understood Egypt to be the “land of affliction.” Though at the time of the birth of his sons he enjoyed the lofty rank of second in all the land of Egypt and served under a Pharaoh that loved him, Egypt wasn’t home. Being the right hand of the king paled in comparison to being with his family. And yet, that’s where he suffered trouble. His brothers sold him. He was mocked, disliked, and ultimately betrayed by his own flesh and blood. Egypt, for Joseph, began with servitude and then imprisonment. Adonai saw Joseph’s affliction and made him fruitful in a foreign place.

Do you see a theme emerging? 

The first four mentions of oni (affliction) are connected to children (fruit), usually their physical birth. Affliction is supposed to have a favorable result – a very favorable outcome – such as children, which are NEW LIFE. We call child birth a delivery. Birth pangs, contractions, sweat, and toil, will accompany new life. The deeper, spiritual message is: deliverance will require the same types of affliction.

The Hebrew root of oni is anah (defined above). Take a look at its first mention:

Gen. 15:13 (NKJV) Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.

When terror and great darkness fell upon Abram during the cutting of the Covenant of Pieces, he had just been told that he would indeed have an heir that would come forth from his own body – despite Sarai’s barrenness. But, his descendants would certainly be strangers in a land that wasn’t theirs for four hundred years. They would serve this people and suffer affliction at their hand. Can you imagine? Hopefully, we can. This is the pattern for the children of Abraham. Affliction, but also:

Gen. 15:14 “But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.

And afterward… This is a phrase we need to remember. Afflictions, trials, and tribulations WILL come. (John 16:33) But that’s not where Adonai wants us to focus. We will eat the bread of affliction just as surely as Messiah is the matzah. We eat it, because it is the staff of life, our sustenance. Though it may be bitter to the stomach (flesh), it is sweet on the tongue of the righteous. (Ezek. 3:1-4, Rev. 10:8-11) Consider Jeremiah:

Jer. 15:15-16 You who know, O LORD, Remember me, take notice of me, And take vengeance for me on my persecutors. Do not, in view of Your patience, take me away; Know that for Your sake I endure reproach.  16  Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.

Jeremiah was afflicted by multiple enemies within Israel and without. But he knew that he had to eat the bread, the word of Adonai. And afterward, it “became” a joy and the delight of his heart. All pain, all affliction, is birth pain. It is meant to result in JOY, just like the birth of child. Paul knew this truth very well.

Rom. 5:3-5 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;  4  and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;  5  and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

2 Cor. 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  17  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,  18  while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Eating the matzah, the bread of affliction, isn’t a punishment. It teaches the children of Abraham the Way of New Life, Birth. It teaches what comes “and afterward.” As you go through the Seder each year, the matzah is transformed, just as you are spiritually. It ceases to be the bread of affliction; and instead, becomes the bread of faith, hope, renewal, transformation, and new life.

The third step of the seder is eating Karpas dipped in salt water. It is a reminder of the tears and sweat of bondage. The fourth step is Yachatz, the breaking of the middle matzah. The reminder of affliction and the necessary breaking comes before the fifth step, which is the telling or maggid (testimony). Read that again – consider the process.

The order or seder IS our order; it shows the way. We are afflicted and broken. Messiah was afflicted and broken for us. This is the pattern to reach “and afterward” – our testimony and joy. Look at the fifth step, the telling/testimony again:

After the matzah is broken, the larger piece becomes the hidden Afikomen, and the remaining piece is held up high. (Both picture Messiah) Then, a grand invitation is announced to the whole world – this is the beginning of the telling, the testimony:

This is the bread of affliction that our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat! Whoever is needy, let him come and celebrate Passover! Now, we are here; next year may we be in Jerusalem! Now, we are slaves; next year may we be free men! (The HaLachmah Anya – the invitation to eat- in the Passover Haggadah)

The next time you are afflicted, remember:

Ex. 3:7-8 The LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.  8  “So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.

Adonai sees your affliction. He is aware of your suffering. He has “come down” to deliver you. He will “bring you up” to the Land that flows with milk and honey.

 

Chag Sameach Pesach!

 

More on Passover

Rosh Chodesh Nisan 5779 (2019)

The Four Cups of Passover

Hezekiah’s Passover


More Verses on Affliction

Do you see the theme?

Exo 3:17 (NASB)  “So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”‘

Exo 4:31 (NASB)  So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped.

1Sa 1:9-11 (NASB)  Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the LORD.  10  She, greatly distressed, prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.  11  She made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.”

Job 36:15 (NASB)  “He delivers the afflicted in their affliction, And opens their ear in time of oppression.

Psa 9:11-15 (NASB)  Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion; Declare among the peoples His deeds.  12  For He who requires blood remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the afflicted.  13  Be gracious to me, O LORD; See my affliction from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death,  14  That I may tell of all Your praises, That in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in Your salvation.  15  The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made; In the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught.

Psa 22:24 (NASB)  For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from him; But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.

Psa 25:16-18 (NASB)  Turn to me and be gracious to me, For I am lonely and afflicted.  17  The troubles of my heart are enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses.  18  Look upon my affliction and my trouble, And forgive all my sins.

Psa 31:7 (NASB)  I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness, Because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul…

Psa 119:50-51 (NASB)  This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.  51  The arrogant utterly deride me, Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.

Psa 119:92-94 (NASB)  If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction.  93  I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have revived me.  94  I am Yours, save me; For I have sought Your precepts.

Psa 119:153-154 (NASB)  Resh. Look upon my affliction and rescue me, For I do not forget Your law.  154  Plead my cause and redeem me; Revive me according to Your word.

Psa 132:1 (NASB)  A Song of Ascents. Remember, O LORD, on David’s behalf, All his affliction

Isa 48:10 (NASB)  “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

 

 

 

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