Posts Tagged With: Sukkot

Sukkot: Hidden in the Shade of God

Col. 2:16-17 (LITV) Then do not let anyone judge you in eating, or in drinking, or in part of a feast, or of a new moon, or of sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of coming things, but the body is of Christ.

In my last post, I tried to help the reader to understand that not all darkness is evil. Sometimes darkness simply implies what is hidden from our natural (and spiritual) sight. A shadow, like Paul mentions above, falls into that same category. In a godly sense, the shadow is cast by the heavenly reality. The last thing one would desire to do is to speak evil of the shadow, for that shadow is the testimony of heaven.

Ironically, that’s exactly what many well-meaning Believers do when they read the above verses from Colossians. They seek to do away with the shadow because they think it detracts from the reality. I am an amateur artist. Proper shading turns a 2-D piece of art into something that appears 3-D. It gives the piece depth, making it a more realistic representation of the actual figure. Shadows are vital to help one see the reality.

My good friend, Dr. Robin Gould, wrote an excellent BEKY Book explaining the context and culture of Colossae called Colossal Controversies. I urge you to get a copy and give it to those that are perplexed by your obedience to Torah, especially if they’ve been taught that verses such as Colossians 2:16-17 imply that the shadow is useless.

What was the Biblical context of the word “shadow” for a first century Torah observant Jewish Pharisee? After all, that’s how Paul described himself.[1] When he spoke of one’s eating, drinking, partaking of feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths, and connected them to both a shadow and Messiah, this was no small matter. When we understand this significance, we too, will joyfully set our sights on “the things above,” the reality… by following the earthly shadow given by Adonai.

Col. 3:1-4 (TLV) Therefore, if you have been raised up with Messiah, keep seeking the things above—where Messiah is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Focus your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Messiah in God. 4 When Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him, in glory!

Rather than denigrating the dietary laws, feasts, Sabbaths, and new moons, Paul’s message to the Colossians was a powerful testimony of their eternal benefit and protection. To fully appreciate the portrait that He paints, let’s start with the beginning.

The First Shadows

The first Adam, male and female, were created in the image of God. Their mandate was to fill the earth, take dominion, and rule over all its creatures.

Gen. 1:27-28 (NASB) God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Man and woman were created in HIS image. The Hebrew word for image is tzelem. The following is The Complete Word Study Dictionary’s entry[2] for tzelem:

H6754

צֶלֶם ṣelem: A masculine noun meaning an image, a likeness, a statue, a model, a drawing, a shadow.The word means image or likeness; its most celebrated theological and anthropological use was to depict human beings as made in God’s own image (Gen 1:26-27; Gen 5:3). People continue to be in His image even after the fall, although the image is marred (Gen 9:6), and still serves as the basis of the prohibition not to kill human beings.

It is used metaphorically to depict persons as shadows, phantoms, or unknowing, senseless, fleeting beings carrying out the motions of life (Psa 39:6 [7]); unless they have hope in God (see Psa 39:7 [8]). In a similar vein, the wicked before the Lord are considered as mere dreams or fantasies (Psa 73:20).

The word is also used in a concrete sense to depict images cut out of or molded from various materials. The word describes the images or idols of foreign or strange gods (2Ki 11:18; Amo 5:26). The people of Israel produced images used as idols from their own jewelry (Eze 7:20; Eze 16:17). Israel was, on its entrance into Canaan, to destroy all the molten images of the heathen (Num 33:52). In Eze 23:14, this word refers to pictures of Babylonians that enticed the people of Israel into apostasy when they saw them (Eze 23:14).

Mankind is the shadow of Elohim. In Hebrew thought, this isn’t about one’s appearance, rather it one’s purpose and actions. YHWH placed within mankind (both male and female) a shadow or likeness of His character and will. We are His representatives in the earth, His image or shadow bearers. Shadows mimic the reality. Thus, one’s words, deeds, actions, and fruit will either confirm or profane His image. This is why tzelem can also mean a graven image or an idol:

Ex. 20:4 (NASB) “You shall not make for yourself an idol (tzelem), or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. (See also Lev. 26:1, Ezek. 16:17, etc.)

The common Hebrew word for shadow is tzel. It is just like the word for image above without the mem.

H6738 צלtsêl  Brown, Driver, Briggs Definition: 1) shadow, shade 1a) shadow (on dial) 1b) shadow, shade (as protection) 1c) shadow (symbolic of transitoriness of life) Part of Speech: noun masculine A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H6751

Tzel can be a literal shadow or shade, but just as in English, it can be figurative. It is in this sense that David and other Psalmist speak of God’s shadow being a place of refuge and protection:

Ps. 91:1-2 (NKJV) He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

Ps. 36:7 (NASB) How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.

It is vital to understand what is and isn’t Adonai’s shadow. If His shadow is a secret place of refuge, like the wings of a mother bird, who wouldn’t want to run and hide there? I wouldn’t call this a “mere” thing. Isaiah, speaking of the future of Zion, makes some interesting connections in Hebrew between God’s House and His shadow:

Is. 4:4-6 (NKJV) When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, 5 then the LORD will create above every dwelling place (makon, like mishkan) of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering (chuppah). 6 And there will be a tabernacle (sukkah) for shade (tzel –shadow) in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.

God’s Tabernacle, Sukkah, and Chuppah are all shadows of protection. His sukkah is the shadow that protects one from the heat; it is a refuge and shelter in the storm. This passage also recalls when the children of Israel faithfully followed their Husband in the wilderness[3] as He was a cloud by day and a pillar fire by night. These shadowy pillars protected, led, and covered the people.

The reason one is commanded to dwell in booths or sukkot during the Feast of Sukkot is so that all future generations will know that YHWH made the Children of Israel dwell in sukkot when He brought them out of Egypt. He doesn’t want His people in any generation to forget, so there is something very important about this appointment.

Lev. 23:42-43 (NKJV) You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.’ “

Oddly, the “tents” that Israel dwelt in while in the wilderness are never called sukkot. They are called ohalim, literally tents, or a mishkan, a tabernacle/dwelling place. (For example, see Exodus 18:7; 33:10, Numbers 33:10; 16:27, etc.) This peculiarity has sparked some interesting explanations by the sages. Rabbi Eliezer believed that the sukkot that HaShem made Israel dwell in was His “clouds of glory,” the Ananei HaKavod. Rabbi Akiva disagreed and said that the sukkot were the literal tents that Israel set up in the wilderness. (Sukkah 11b)

Perhaps they are both right. The word sukkah comes from the following root[4]:

H5526 ךּכַסָsāḵaḵ: I. A verb meaning to cover. It means to hide something or to shield something: the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant was covered by the wings of cherubim (Exo 25:20); God’s hand covered and protected Moses (Exo 33:22). It is used of separating off an area with a curtain or hanging (Exo 40:3, Exo 40:21). Figuratively, it shows God shielding those who trust Him (Psa 5:11 [12]; Psa 91:4); He covers Himself in anger (Lam 3:43) or with a cloud(Lam 3:44) II. A verb meaning to stir, to excite. It means to rouse up, to spur on in the context of the Lord’s action (Isa 9:11 [10]; Isa 19:2). III. A verb meaning to weave together. It describes the Lord’s activity in creating a child’s fetus within the womb (Job 10:11; Psa 139:13).

Sukkot is also the name of a place. In fact, the first stop Israel made after leaving Egypt was Sukkot.[5] Inherent in the meaning of this word is the idea of covering, concealing, hiding, and protecting. Paul says that our lives are “hidden in Messiah,” but will one day be revealed when He is revealed in glory (kavod). When the resurrected Messiah left the earth, it was a “cloud” that received Him. Two angels told the disciples that when He returns, it will be in the same manner.

Acts 1:9-11 (NASB) And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

Mark 13:26 (NASB) “Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory.

Shadows and clouds are equivalent expressions in many cases. They both cover, hide, conceal, and protect. Hebrews 12 calls those that had faith and trust in Adonai a great “cloud of witnesses.” In Isaiah 4 above, it is specifically the sukkah that is called a shadow (tzel). To further this connection, Adonai chose a specific person to be the craftsman or builder of His Tabernacle in the wilderness.

Betzalel

Ex. 31:1-5 (NASB) Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, 5 and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.

Betzalel’s name means, “in the shadow of El/God.” His father, Uri, means fiery and Hur means white textiles.[6] Like Messiah, he was from the tribe of Judah. The names of his father and grandfather (fiery and white) also connects Betzalel with Yeshua, the one with blazing white robes and fiery eyes. His was filled with the Spirit of God, and was called to be a craftsman or builder of the House of God. Betzalel is certainly a “shadow” of Yeshua, the son of a carpenter, the spirit-filled builder of Adonai’s House.

Betzalel, the one in the shadow of God, built the earthly shadow of the Heavenly Temple. Ponder that for a moment. The shadow built or created the shadow, so that the people could draw near to God. The pattern of the Tabernacle was shown to Moses on the Mountain top. He was instructed to carefully make it after the heavenly pattern. (Ex. 25:40; 26:30; 27:8) Shadows should mimic the reality perfectly. If we are the shadow or the Temple of God on the earth, then Betzalel has much to teach us. Paul uses this imagery in the following passage.

1 Cor. 3:9-17 (NASB) For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident;for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

If we are the shadow or image of Messiah in the earth, then like Paul, we too, should look at our lives, walk, and ministry[7]as if we are builders of His House and Kingdom. As I’ve written previously, if we aren’t building, we are tearing down.

Pr. 14:1 (NASB) The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.

At the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, the Apostles and Elders gathered together to consider what should be done with the Gentiles that were joining their ranks. Peter reminds them that God’s choice was to use his mouth to declare the Gospel to the Gentiles. (This is what Peter’s Vision in Acts 10 was about.) Then, Barnabas and Paul gave testimony of all they had witnessed among the Gentiles. After careful consideration, James gives his answer or judgment on the matter by quoting Amos 9.

Acts 15:14-17 (NKJV) Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: 16 ‘AFTER THIS I WILL RETURN AND WILL REBUILD THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID, WHICH HAS FALLEN DOWN; I WILL REBUILD ITS RUINS, AND I WILL SET IT UP;  17  SO THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, EVEN ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME, SAYS THE LORD WHO DOES ALL THESE THINGS.’

Notice that Amos and James, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, prophesy that the nations turn to HaShem BECAUSE He is rebuilding the Tabernacle of David. This is what Mashiach, the Builder, does. Adonai’s desire all along has been for His House (Tent/Tabernacle/Temple) to be a House of Prayer for ALL nations.

Is. 56:6-7 (NKJV) “Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants—Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant— 7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

 “For God so loved the whole world,” has been true from the beginning. When King Solomon (another shadow of Yeshua) dedicated the House of Adonai, he did not forget the foreigners.

1 Ki. 8:41-43 (NKJV) “Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for Your name’s sake 42 (for they will hear of Your great name and Your strong hand and Your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this temple,  43  hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name.

When we understand that the mountain, the holy hill, the tent, Tabernacle, Temple, House, the Cloud, the Smoke, His Wings, Dwelling Place, Messiah, and many other beautiful analogies are all speaking about the same thing, and have from the very beginning, and that their purpose and function all teach the same message as a shadow of the heavenly reality, the Bible makes so much more sense.

Sometimes Adonai does something spectacular with His shadowy wings and the realm of heaven kisses the realm of earth. Interestingly, the writers of the Apostolic scriptures call this “to overshadow.”

Overshadow

While studying Torah Portion Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11–34:35) last year, I had the pleasure of learning from Rabbi Sariella Creeger. In the message, she mentioned Betzalel and connected his name with the message given to Miriam (Mary) before conceiving Yeshua.

Luke 1:35 (NASB) The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 

What happened to Miriam when God “overshadowed” her was not unlike what happened when He filled Betzalel with His Ruach. Both were given the heavenly pattern to build the Tabernacle or Dwelling Place of God among His people. They were both “builders” of the House of Adonai. Both Houses were a shadow of the heavenly reality. Both Houses or Temples made a way for the people to draw near to God.

As a side note, I should mention that there are numerous correlations between the womb, the Tabernacle, and intimacy with YHWH. This is true even in the definition of sakak, the root of sukkah, outlined above. Author, teacher, and pastor John Diffenderfer, delivered an amazing message to Mercy Collective in Nashville, TN on Shavuot 2017 called God’s Womb, the Tabernacle, the Bride, and the FeastsI encourage you to watch it; the metaphor is stunning!

A son (ben) and a house (beit) in Hebrew both come from the same root, banah, which means “to build.” Understanding, as in the Spirit of Understanding (Ex. 31:3, Is. 11:2), also derives from the root banah. Do you see the connection? Building a house and building a son (a people) are the same thing. Neither can be accomplished without the Holy Spirit of Binah.

When training someone to perform a new job or task, we often have them “shadow” a seasoned or experienced person in that trade or field. This is how one learns. If we skip the training, it will affect our job knowledge and performance in a negative way. But if we shadow (mimic/mirror) the successful, experienced employee or boss, we too, will prosper.

This reminds me of young girl watching her mother care for her younger sibling or a young boy watching his father build their house. Innate in each is the compulsion to imitate their parent. The young girl likely has baby dolls with toy milk bottles, diapers, and changes of clothes. This is her “shadow nursery” where she practices caring for her future family. Without the reality of her mother’s faithfulness to care for the next generation, this young girl would have nothing (good) to imitate. Either she wouldn’t have a shadow nursery, or her nursery would be distorted by a lack of understanding of what a mother actually does.

The young boy likely has a toy carpenter station with plastic hammers and nails, fake wood planks, and rubber saws. This is his “shadow woodshop” where he learns to care for his future family. Like the young girl, he can only be the shadow of what he sees. If the father is absent, he might think the hammer is used to hurt others. On the other hand, if the reality is a good father, the boy might grow to not only build the house of his family, but many others.

We might laugh at this analogy, but this whole world is a shadow of the heavenly reality. The shadow is the proof or evidence of what we cannot yet see.

Heb. 11:1-3 (NKJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

When the Ruach HaKodesh overshadowed Miriam, the Greek word used was episkiazō. This word comes from the Greek word skia, shadow. Skia is equivalent to the Hebrew word tzelem. Thayer’s defines it below.

G4639 σκία, skia

1) shadow 1a) shade caused by the interception of light 1b) an image cast by an object and representing the form of that object 1c) a sketch, outline, adumbration. Part of Speech: noun feminine

Visualize standing outside with your back to the afternoon sun. Your body blocks the light in front of you, producing a dark, phantom-like representation of your form. If you raise your hands, so does your shadow. If you squat, so does this shady figure. While the shadow mimics your actions and outline, it cannot convey or capture the many colors, textures, and other things that truly make you, you. It cannot move or act of its own accord. And, as long as the light shines on you, you can’t escape or out run your shadow. It is connected to you completely.

Have you ever tried to touch your shadow? There is nothing there. Yet it is proof that something is there… you. This is how the Spirit realm appears to humans (most of the time). Other things in nature give a similar parable, like wind and clouds, both of which are used in the Bible to describe the Holy Spirit. The creation week, the Tabernacle, the Temple, and Yeshua are all a type of “shadow” expressing the reality of Elohim (God) and His Throne. They are proof that there is indeed another realm, far more real and tangible than the world in which we live and breathe. They are the pattern one is meant to learn in order to know YHWH, and discern between the truth and a lie. This enables one to be the true shadow of God. (Ezek. 43:10)

YHWH, speaking through Isaiah, compared Israel to the precious building materials of the Temple and Jerusalem. Yeshua, the son of God, compared Himself to the Temple. Paul compared our bodies to the Temple, and John describes the Bride, Adonai’s people, as the New Jerusalem. All are true and none supersede the others. Each of these shadows is vital to the complete picture of the heavenly.

John 2:19-22 (NASB) Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”  21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.  22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

Is. 54:10-12 (NASB) “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the LORD who has compassion on you. 11 “O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires. 12 “Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, And your gates of crystal, And your entire wall of precious stones.

 The Overshadowing Cloud

Overshadowing occurs in a different, yet similar fashion at the Mount of Transfiguration. In the following account, look for the themes of Sukkot, and key words such as mountain, cloud, a voice, glory, overshadow, build/make, revelation (awake), etc. Where have we read about these things before? Is it a coincidence that this occurred on the “eighth day”?

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Luke 9:28-36 (NASB) Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.  29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming.  30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. 33 And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not realizing what he was saying. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen. (Compare with Mat. 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-13)

The cloud that formed and “overshadowed” the disciples is the same Greek word used in the account of the Holy Spirit overshadowing Miriam (Mary). In the transfiguration, Yeshua is the bright light that casts a shadow of glory visible to Peter, James, and John. They “see” into the Spirit realm, the reality of Who Yeshua is (revelation). Time as we (and they know it) no longer applies, as even Moses and Elijah (Torah and the Prophets) are standing and talking with Yeshua on the mountaintop.

The disciples had two responses to this glorious vision. Peter speaks up and offers to BUILD or make three tabernacles or dwelling places for them, not realizing what he was actually seeing. It is Sukkot, but what he sees is the reality, not the shadow. While he’s speaking, a cloud overshadows them, which brings about their second response: FEAR. They were afraid. (Aren’t we always afraid, since the garden?) Then, a voice speaks from the cloud. As Rabbi David Fohrman would ask, “Where have we seen these words before?”

Ex. 19:9 (NASB) The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever.” Then Moses told the words of the people to the LORD.

Ex. 19:16-19 (NASB) So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder (voices) 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 (a voice).

Ex. 24:15-16 (NASB) Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud.

Dt. 18:15-16 (NASB) “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. 16 “This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’

In Jewish thought and teachings, the “revelation” is Mount Sinai, because that is where God revealed Himself to the entire nation of Israel.[8] Mountain tops are images or shadows of the Temple or Throne of Adonai, the place where He dwells and speaks to His people. Mount Zion is the Temple Mount in the natural, though there is still a heavenly reality. God’s Presence (Shekinah) is likened to clouds, smoke, and fire. His voice is compared to thunder, a loud shofar or trumpet blast, and even the sound of rushing water.[9] Experiencing His majesty causes mortal man to tremble.

In a sense, the entire nation was overshadowed by Adonai’s awesome Presence, Cloud, and Glory at Mount Sinai. Peter, James, and John experienced a similar preternatural revelation as they were overshadowed on the mountain of Transfiguration by Adonai’s Cloud. Like ancient Israel, they too, heard a Voice that reminded them of Deuteronomy 18:15-16 (listed above). But this wasn’t the first time that a voice spoke of the Son in the hearing of the disciples, nor would it be the last.

Mat. 3:16-17 (TLV) After being immersed, Yeshua rose up out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Ruach Elohim descending like a dove and coming upon Him. 17 And behold, a voice from the heavens said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased!”

Just after His triumphal entry, but before His death, John records this account:

John 12:27-30 (NASB) “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 “Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, “An angel has spoken to Him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.”

Glory in Hebrew is the word kavod. It means weighty or heavy, and often manifests as a cloud (or smoke). Yeshua’s prayer was for Father’s Name to be glorified. In Hebrew thought, it’s not the pronunciation of His Name that brings Him glory; rather, He (and His Name) are glorified when one obeys Him completely, no matter the cost. When the glory of YHWH filled the Tabernacle and Temple, it was a Presence so weighty that Moses, the priests, and the people couldn’t enter the space or stand to perform their services. One day, the whole earth will be filled with the holy glory of Adonai.

Num. 14:21 (NASB) But indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD.

This will be a time when the shadow and the reality are One, the fulfillment of Yeshua’s prayer. This is the New Jerusalem, the heavenly, coming to earth, the display of Adonai’s splendor and glory. When His glory is revealed marvelous things happen. Even our shadows can cause miracles, and it’s not by our power or might, but the glory and power of the Ruach HaKodesh.

Acts 5:15-16 (KJV) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. 16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

Peter, in this instance, was truly walking in the image of Elohim as even his skia, tzelem, or shadow was full of the Holy Spirit that healed the people, the House of God. I believe that is the desire of all that follow Adonai in Spirit and Truth. A true disciple wants to be the shadow of Yeshua as He is the shadow of YHWH. When He raises His right arm, we mimic His action, just like a shadow. When He speaks, we speak. We He is silent, we are silent. Where He goes, we go. That is the way of shadows.

It might seem odd at first to think of yourself as a shadow of Yeshua. It might seem odder still that he desires a shadow to build His House by making even more disciples after His image. But that is the calling, beloved.

Mat. 28:16-20 (TLV) Now the eleven disciples went to the Galilee, to the mountain Yeshua had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped; but some wavered. 18 And Yeshua came up to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Ruach ha-Kodesh, 20 teaching them to observe all I have commanded you. And remember! I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Everyone needs a mountaintop revelation of Adonai. That is what the pilgrimage festivals lead one to – Zion, the Temple, the House, and the Throne of Elohim. His mountain (Spirit) overshadows, envelops, and fills faithful hearts with the heavenly pattern. It is the blueprint upon which His Kingdom is built.

Paul specifically calls eating, drinking, partaking of the feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths a shadow of the Body of Messiah. In other words, these are the things His Body does, because they reflect the heavenly reality. They keep one attached to the Head, Yeshua. The world hates the shadow and the reality, preferring a false light, the precepts of men, things that decay rather than the eternal.

Col. 2:18-23 (TLV) Let no one disqualify you by insisting on false humility and worship of angels—going into detail about what he has seen, puffed up without cause by his fleshly mind. 19 He is not holding fast to the Head. It is from Him that the whole body, nourished and held together by its joints and tendons, grows with a godly increase. 20 If you died with Messiah to the basic principles of the world, why—as though living in the world—do you subject yourselves to their rules? 21 Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!” 22 These all lead to decay with use, based as they are on man-made commands and teachings. 23 Indeed, these are matters that have an appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and humility and self-denial of the body—yet none are of any value for stopping indulgence of the flesh.

“The Seven Shepherds” Painting by Kisha Gallagher 2018

So, what are the sabbaths, new moons, and feasts a shadow of? What are they concealing and protecting?

Is it the body or reality of Messiah? The Gospel? The Kingdom? The Temple? The Mountain? God’s Throne? The Revelation? The Clouds of Glory? The Day of the LORD? Us?

The answer is YES! So, definitely do not let anyone judge you for doing the very things the Master taught and did. He is a good, good, shepherd.

Be like Betzalel, the son of white garments, a master builder of Adonai’s House. And, be like Miriam filled with the Seed of God, a builder of the Kingdom. Experience the fullness of the Transfiguration at the end of days (Sukkot), by following the cloud, His shadow, keeping the appointments (feasts), which are the cycles that take your feet to Jerusalem, so you can learn the pattern shown by Moses and Yeshua on the Mountain. And lastly, remember that you are hidden in Messiah (the House – Heavenly Jerusalem) as His tezelem or shadow. He is with us always even unto the end of the age.


 


[1]Philippians 3:5-6, see also Acts 23:6; 26:5

[2]The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament by Warren Baker. Retrieved using Strong’s number H6754 on E-Sword Bible software.

[3]Jer. 2:2 (NASB) “Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, “I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, The love of your betrothals, Your following after Me in the wilderness, Through a land not sown.”

[4]The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament by Warren Baker. Retrieved using Strong’s number H5526 on E-Sword Bible software.

[5]Ex. 12:37 (NASB) Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children.

[6]The actual meaning of Hur is unclear as there are several root words of which it could be derived. These roots deal with burning – literally or in anger, growing or making white – literally with textiles or pale in the face, or it could mean a hole or cavern. Based on (the man) Hur’s history in the Biblical text, I chose the meaning “white textiles.” Hur and Aaron helped Moses hold his hands up when Israel battled Amalek (Ex. 17:12), and he turns out to be the grandfather of the man that would be endowed to work in many crafts, including textiles. You can see chur or Hur translated as white fabric in Esther 1:6 and 8:15.

[7]All Believers have a ministry. Ministry is service and serving Adonai and His people. Everyone does this in some capacity as they are part of His Body, His House.

[8]Hopefully, this will inspire you to read the Book of Revelation with an adjusted perspective.

[9]I think it’s interesting that one of the Hebrew words for thunder is the same word as voice, kol. Some of the crowd in John 12 perceived the heavenly voice as thunder. Revelation, the mountain of God, the heavens, and His Throne are also accompanied by voices and thunder:

Rev. 11:19 (NASB) And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunderand an earthquake and a great hailstorm.

Rev. 14:2 (NASB) And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Change of the Year

The Eight Day

Gen. 1:4-5 (NASB) God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

 The first six months on Adonai’s calendar includes all of His moedim (feast days) and the primary part of the agricultural year when the various harvests are reaped. This is compared to the Light or the Day. As the last Great Day of the Feast (8thday), this is both the “end” or “going out” of the year, and the beginning of a new cycle, one day.

Ex. 23:16 (KJV) And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.

Ex. 34:22 (TLV) “You are to observe the Feast of Shavuot, which is the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, as well as the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.

Dt. 14:28 (NASB) “At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town. (Context of previous verses places this in the fall.)

Dt. 31:10-11 (NASB) Then Moses commanded them, saying, “At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing.

Rather than arguing that the above verses are in competition with the Head of Months or the Biblical New Year in Nisan (Aviv – Ex. 12:2), Tishrei marks a change or turn of the year in a different way. There is no contradiction in Abba’s Word. He says what He means and means what He says. The only fault is man’s understanding and limited logic (especially in the west with dominant Greek thinking).

The sixth month is akin to the erev (evening) of the day, when it is growing dark, a time for rest. In Genesis chapter one, each day begins with darkness or the evening. Thus, it should be no surprise that the greater cycles of new moons (months) and years begin the same way. Even the first verses of the Bible depict this truth. First there was darkness, chaos, formlessness, then Light and order.

Gen. 1:1-3 (NASB) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

Our Creator is a God of order, cycles, and patterns. Those that teach cycles contrary to His order (changing the timing of the day starts, weeks, months, and years) are deceived and so they deceive. While they might think they’ve stumbled upon some “new” light or revelation, they have fallen for the folly of darkness, seeking to draw others to themselves like a moth to the flame.

One of the appellations for Rosh HaShanah or Yom Yeruah (Trumpets) is Yom HaKeseh or the Hidden Day. Things hidden can be compared to darkness, just like the darker night one experiences during the new moon sliver, which this festival celebrates. Sadly, the physical darkness (new moon) of this hearld of the fall feasts, has become a point of confusion and controversy even in name and observance. Do you think this is a coincidence?

The fall feasts look forward to the coming return of Messiah, resurrection, and the Day of the Lord. All of these glorious things, including the revelation of Yeshua the Messiah and the Throne of God are associated with darkness.[1]BUT, this is not to be confused with evil. There is a hiddenness, a concealment, a covering, cloudiness in this season. Like the erevof the evening, there is a mixture of light and darkness.

In the erev, it is harder for humans to see in the natural. We should expect no less to be true in the spiritual. Thus, I encourage you not to get involved with the many disputes that arise at this season. They are fruitless deceptions dressed in false humility, righteousness, and holiness.

If the first six months of the year are the light or daytime of the year, then the coming six months of the year are a time of night or darkness. Creation is a witness to this truth. The trees and plants release their leaves to rest and prepare for a new “day” in the spring. Some animals go into hibernation, a deep sleep, awaiting the “day.” In winter, there is less light, and (spiritual) food is more difficult to find unless one stored up treasures while it was still day (spring/summer/feast cycle).

Pondering upon these things, and considering the struggle many have in grasping hold of the “joy” that we are commanded to have during Sukkot, inspired this writing. Since this season should be marked by rejoicing and joy, one should expect to be tested in this area at Sukkot. I’ve spoken to several people that have a sense of foreboding, cloudy vision, and a bit of terror or worry because they are wrestling with finding “joy” right now. If you identify with this battle, I hope this post will encourage you. Just because we find ourselves in a battle with darkness, doesn’t always mean that we have sinned, are being punished, or have missed the mark.

Fear was the first emotion felt after the fall, so it will always be one’s first inclination in matters that appear “dark” or hidden to us (change, the unknown). Humans fear the dark, and the year is turning or changing toward the night at this season. If you sense a change, shift, or if your spirit seems to be in a state of “unrest,” perhaps it is due to the natural and spiritual rhythms of Adonai’s calendar. Do not despair. By looking at what the Bible says about light and darkness, we can gain confidence, encouragement, and insight into these coming months; and we can know that we have nothing to fear in the darkness.

The Dichotomy of Light & Darkness

On the surface, the difference between light and darkness is obvious. Light equals good and darkness equals bad. We are told that the Torah is a Light (Pr. 6:23), just as the Living Torah, Yeshua, is the Light (John 1, Luke 1:79). We are to be a light to the world just as our Master is the Light of the World (Mt. 5:14, John 8:12). If we are Messiah’s, then we are the children of light (Eph. 5:8)

The forces of darkness are evil, but God is the Light that pierces the darkness (John 1:5). Darkness is often equated with the lost, sin, ignorance (blindness), a troubled soul, sorrow, prison, trouble, pestilence, rebellion, death (the grave), evil, judgment, and stinginess. (Job 10:21, Ps. 82:5; Ps. 88, Ps. 91:6, Ps. 107: 10-14, Ps. 143:3, Pr. 2:13; 4:19, Ecc. 2:14; 5:17, Is. 5:30; 8:22; 29:18; 42:7; 59:9-10, Jer. 13:16; 23:12, Lam. 3:1-2, Ezek. 32:8, Amos 4:13, Mt. 6:23, etc.)

That seems black and white, easy peasy, light = good, darkness = bad, right? While most of the time this is true, it is not always the case. We must consider the entire counsel of God or we will make some grave errors in judgment, which leads to fear and condemnation.

Remember that we are in a fallen world where deception is prevalent and the enemy masquerades as an “angel (messenger) of light.” We live in a culture where there are those that who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter and deceive many. (Is. 5:20) This is why we so desperately need the wisdom and understanding from the Spirit of God.

Is Darkness Ever Good? 

When Abram received the covenant of pieces, it was EREV, when the sun was going down. As darkness approached, our father of the faith FELT horror and dread.

Gen. 15:12 (NKJV) Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him.

Obviously, this account was not evil, but it was ominous for Abram, though wonderful at the same time. When Adonai walked through the pieces, Abram was in a “deep sleep,” a prophetic state, an awesomeness. (For more on this, click here.) Normally, man sleeps when it is dark. But this is also a time when God speaks to man in dreams and visions. Sometimes dreams are terrifying. Do not be quick to assume that these are of the enemy.

Job 7:14 (NASB) Then You frighten me with dreams And terrify me by visions.

Job 33:14-18 (NASB) “Indeed God speaks once, Or twice, yet no one notices it. 15 “In a dream, a vision of the night, When sound sleep falls on men, While they slumber in their beds, 16 Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction, 17 That He may turn man aside from his conduct, And keep man from pride; 18 He keeps back his soul from the pit, And his life from passing over into Sheol.

Feeling horror or fear is not always an indicator of judgment or something evil. Abram was receiving the covenant and he was afraid! If the father of our faith felt fear when in the presence of HaShem, how much more so will we feel fear in His weighty presence?

Fallen man, including those that have been redeemed, often perceive God’s Presence as “darkness.” Not that it’s evil, but it is heavy and glorious (kavod), difficult to perceive, hidden- yet felt, cloudy and thunderous. In a word, it is AWESOME.

Ex. 20:20-21 (NKJV) And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” 21  So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.

Our God dwells in thick darkness. He speaks and gives His covenant from this cloudy mist! Moses reminds the children of this account in Deuteronomy.

Dt. 4:10-13 (NKJV) Especially concerning the day you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’ 11 “Then you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness. 12 And the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice. 13 So He declared to you His covenantwhich He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.

Dt. 5:22-24 (NKJV) “These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly, in the mountain from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and He added no more. And He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me. 23 “So it was, when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, that you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders. 24 And you said: ‘Surely the LORD our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice

“Luchot HaBrit” Painting by Kisha Gallagher 2018

from the midst of the fire. We have seen this day that God speaks with man; yet he still lives.

David recalls this account this way:

2 Sam. 22:10-14 (NKJV) He bowed the heavens also, and came down with darkness under His feet. 11 He rode upon a cherub, and flew; and He was seen upon the wings of the wind. 12 He made darkness canopies around Him, dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. 13 From the brightness before Him Coals of fire were kindled. 14 “The LORD thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered His voice.

 Ps. 18:9-11 (NKJV) He bowed the heavens also, and came down with darkness under His feet. 10 And He rode upon a cherub, and flew; He flew upon the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness His secret place; His canopy around Him was dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

 This kind of darkness depicts how God and His Throne are concealed from man. He is unknowable and difficult to perceive; and yet, He chooses to reveal Himself, His voice, His covenant, His Torah, because He loves us. The darkness that surrounds Him protects us from being consumed by the brilliance of His glory and righteousness.

Ps. 97:1-2 (NKJV) The LORD reigns; Let the earth rejoice; Let the multitude of isles be glad! 2 Clouds and darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.

Seeds grow while buried in the darkness of earth. Beasts and mankind grow in the dark waters of the womb. Adonai, the Great Sower and Giver of Life, knows each one as they form and mature to sprout from the ground and burst from the womb. Dark places are where life grows!

Ps. 139:12-13 (NKJV) Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You. 13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.

Is. 45:3-7 (NKJV) I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the LORD, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel.

4  For Jacob My servant’s sake, And Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me.

5  I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me,

6  That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting That there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other;

7  I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.’

Hidden things, secret things, concealed things are all a type of darkness. These things are like treasures buried in the earth, formed by great heat and pressure, priceless jewels and metals awaiting the time that one will carve them out of the dirt, stones, and mountains. Once polished and cut to precision, what was once concealed in deep darkness shines and sparkles with the ability to refract glorious light. This is what good teachers, like the Chazal, do for us. They take what was a rough, dull, and cloudy stone, and turn into a prism that refracts the light into streams that we can glean from and understand, so we are transformed and renewed.

Dan. 2:22-23 (NKJV) He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him. 23 “I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, And have now made known to me what we asked of You, For You have made known to us the king’s demand.”

Is. 42:16 (NKJV) I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.

Do not fear the darkness. Do not fear the change that is in the air. Do not fear dreams of the night. This coming season is for digging into the dark depths to uncover what is concealed. Enter the dark cloud and let the Word wash and transform your face to reflect His glorious light.

Pr. 25:2-5 (NASB) It is the glory of God to conceal a matter (davar –word), But the glory of kings is to search out a matter (davar). 3 As the heavens for height and the earth for depth, So the heart of kings is unsearchable. 4 Take away the dross from the silver, and there comes out a vessel for the smith; 5 Take away the wicked before the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness.

This is the Eighth Day; an end and a beginning. The scroll of the davar (word) is rolled back to the Beginning. The cycle starts in the darkness in Genesis 1, and the erev of the year. But, it is faithful to the Creator’s rhythm of Light piercing the darkness, renewal, and revelation. Be altogether joyful!


[1]Consider Joel 2:2, Amos 5:18-20, Zeph. 1:15, also look up the revelation on Mt. Sinai, and the revealing of God’s Throne in the Book of Revelation. All involve darkness, clouds, and thunder.

 

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim, new moon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Awake, O’ Sleeper!


Song of Songs 5:2 (NASB) “I was asleep but my heart was awake. A voice! My beloved was knocking: ‘Open to me, my sister, my darling, My dove, my perfect one! For my head is drenched with dew, My locks with the damp of the night.’

One of the themes of Elul, especially leading up to Rosh Hashanah or Yom Teruah, is being aroused from sleep, a stupor, or mystically, from the grave. Yom Teruah, often dubbed the Feast of Trumpets, literally means “the day of the awakening blast.” While the ultimate manifestation of arising from “sleep” is bodily resurrection, other figurative or spiritual applications are equally valuable to our walk with Messiah.

I was blessed to have recently joined the ladies of “The Hidden Voice of Hadassah” on Messianic Lamb Radio. (Listen here.) AviGayle O’Hare mentioned a podcast she had made the previous week on Jonah. This intrigued me as Jonah is the haftarah on Yom Kippur, the end of the forty days of teshuvah. (You can listen here by clicking the title “You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide.”)

Sometimes, hearing the Word is different than reading the Word. When AviGayle read the words of Jonah chapter one, a particular section captured my attention. (See the bolded text below.)

Jonah 1:3-6 (NASB) But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. 4 The LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up. 5 Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep.6 So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god.Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.”

When Jonah flees the commandment or Word of YHWH to go to Nineveh, he boards a ship headed to Tarshish. Because of his disobedience, Adonai caused a storm with great winds to threaten the ship and its occupants. Despite this dire circumstance, Jonah falls into a “sound sleep” below deck.

Have you ever been on a ship at sea during a storm? I’ve been on a cruise ship that avoided the worst of a storm, but the waves still managed to cause us to rock and sway far more than was comfortable. Many grew deathly sea sick. Sleep eluded most people until the waters calmed. So, how is it that when the rest of the crew was awake and panicked, that Jonah fell into a sound sleep and managed to stay in that condition? We will come back to this question later. First, let’s examine sleep in the Bible and let the Word interpret itself.

The Creator sovereignly chose to create mankind with the ability and NEED for sleep. On average, we sleep about a third of lives. That is a massive chunk of time! Getting a good night’s rest improves one’s cognitive abilities and decreases the likelihood of disease and sickness. According to various scientific studies, someone lacking sleep is equivalent to a drunk. Judgment skills and motor function are severely impaired.[1]We NEED sleep. True rest rejuvenates and restores one’s mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Perhaps this is why the Hebrew word for dream, chalom, is nearly the same as shalom in spelling and meaning. But, that’s a topic for another post.

The Hebrew words for normal sleep are yashen and shenah.

Strong’s H3462 יָשֵׁןyâshên A primitive root; properly to be slack or languid, that is, (by implication) sleep (figuratively to die); also to grow old, stale or inveterate: – old (store), remain long, (make to) sleep. Total KJV occurrences: 19

Strong’s H8142 שֵׁנָא  שֵׁנָה shênâh (The second form used in Psa 127:2); from H3462; sleep: – sleep. Total KJV occurrences: 23

While Strong’s links these two words together and suggests that the latter (shenah) is rooted in the former (yashen), there is another possibility that I find quite intriguing, particularly in relation to the season of teshuvah and the upcoming feast of Yom Teruah or Rosh Hashanah. Carefully look at H8142 above. Now, look at the Hebrew word shanah, the word for year and to repeat, and its verbal root:

Strong H8141 שָׁנָה   שָׁנֶהshâneh  shânâh (The first form being in plural only, the second form being feminine); from H8138; a year (as a revolution of time): –    + whole age, X long, + old, year (X -ly). Total KJV occurrences: 812

H8138 שׁנהshânâh BDB Definition: 1) to repeat, do again, change, alter. 1a) (Qal) to change. 1b) (Niphal) to be repeated. 1c) (Piel) to change, alter. 1d) (Hithpael) to disguise oneself. Part of Speech: verb A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: a primitive root

The words for sleep, repeat/change, and year are related. There are other words that fall into this family that are also interesting. You can read more about them here. How does sleep (shenah) relate to change or repetition (shanah)? Well, for starters, we sleep over and over again in a repeating daily cycle, so the repetition is obvious.

Does sleep change one in some way? Modern science could answer this question with empirical evidence supporting the notion that sleep restores the mind, body, and emotions, which is a change for the better. If this is true in the natural, then it must also be true in the spiritual. In some way, sleep restores and changes one spiritually. While I believe dreams play a strong role in this nocturnal process, this post will stick to the related activity of sleep and deep sleep.[2]

Now that we’ve connected sleep (shenah) to change (shanah), what about the Hebrew word for year, shanah? A year is also a repeating cycle, a revolution of time that is like the previous cycle, but new and different, a change. Since we are approaching Rosh Hashanah, the change or turn of the year[3], which is also the time of the awakening blast, I couldn’t help but to point out this word play to my readers. I don’t believe in coincidences.

This is the season to make a change, to turn, to repeat the things that need to continue, to stop and change the things that need to be corrected. Spiritually speaking, this is WAKING from slumber. It is becoming conscious of the reality of one’s sin and consequent death. It is, as King Solomon recorded in the Song of Songs, being asleep with a heart that is awake ready to receive the King, our Beloved. Rambam[4]said it this way:

“Even though the blowing of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah is a Biblical decree, it hints at something, i.e., ‘Wake up, sleepers, from your sleep! And slumberers, arise from your slumber!  Search your ways and return in teshuvah and remember your Creator!  Those who forget the Truth amidst the futility of the moment and are infatuated all their years with vanity and nothingness that will not help and will not save, examine your souls and improve your ways and your motivations! Let each of you abandon his wicked ways, and his thoughts which are no good.’”- Mishneh Torah, Repentance 3[5]

My prayer for you in this season of teshuvah leading up to the High Holy Days is to be fully awake and aware of what is in your own heart. Yeshua is Light, and light reveals what is in the darkness. May we be sensitive to the gentle discipline of the Holy Spirit and be merciful with our neighbors that struggle in their slumber. May the blast of the shofar pierce your heart and soul so that sincere change occurs. Notice how this verse from Isaiah reflects the message of the Shulamite woman in Song of Songs quoted at the beginning of this post, and the direct references to waking and resurrection.

Is. 26:19 (NASB) Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.

More Hebrew Words for Sleep

Sleep is a strange and wonderful thing. Sentient beings laying down, closing their eyes, and becoming unaware of the conscious world around them is rather mystical when one meditates upon this phenomenon. It’s not difficult to see why sleep became an idiom for death in the Bible.

So far, we’ve looked at two words for sleep, yashen and shenah. Now, we will examine the first mention of sleep in the Bible. It is found in Genesis 2:

21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept (yashen); then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. (NASB)

The Hebrew word translated as “deep sleep” is tardemah.[6]This word is only found in seven places in the Bible. The context of the first mention above makes it clear that this is no ordinary sleep or rest. In fact, YHWH is the cause of this trance-like state. It’s second use is equally compelling.

Gen. 15:12 (NASB) Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. (Context is the Covenant of the Pieces)

Both Adam and Abram are a type of Messiah. Adam’s tardemah results in him receiving a bride. Abram’s tardemah results in him receiving a nation (descendants) and the Land of Promise. Mystically speaking, Adam and Abraham “died” (deep sleep) to receive the covenant of marriage (his house), descendants, and a land. In fact, terror and great darkness was felt by Abraham. Did Messiah suffer anything like this?

While Messiah’s death was literal rather than figurative, the lives of these ancient fathers prefigured Messiah’s work. His suffering and death also resulted in a covenant, a bride, a people, and the Land. In fact, Messiah’s work was far greater in that He overcame the whole world, even sin and death (the grave)!

The other instances of tardemah demonstrate that God uses this type of deep sleep in other ways as well.

 1 Sam. 26:12 (NASB) So David took the spear and the jug of water from beside Saul’s head, and they went away, but no one saw or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep (yashen), because a sound sleep from the LORD had fallen on them.

Job 4:12-14 (NASB) “Now a word was brought to me stealthily, And my ear received a whisper of it. 13 “Amid disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men, 14 Dread came upon me, and trembling, And made all my bones shake.

Job 33:15-18 (NASB) “In a dream, a vision of the night, When sound sleep falls on men, While they slumber in their beds, 16 Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction, 17 That He may turn man aside from his conduct, And keep man from pride; 18 He keeps back his soul from the pit, And his life from passing over into Sheol.

Pr. 19:15-16 (NASB) Laziness casts into a deep sleep, And an idle man will suffer hunger. 16 He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, But he who is careless of conduct will die.

Is. 29:10 (NASB) For the LORD has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, the seers.

A deep or sound sleep can result in a divine message from the Creator, but it can also prevent one from waking or experiencing what is happening in the conscious human world. It also seems that one can fall into this type of sleep in a figurative way by being lazy, idle, or because of rebellion. One thing is certain based on the complete mention of this noun: this is a spiritual or supernatural type of sleep.

Tardemah comes from the verbal root radam. While radam can mean to sleep naturally, it is also used figuratively for death, of a stupor, confusion, or of a prophetic trance-like state. Consider the following definition and verses:

H7290 רָדַםrâdam A primitive root; to stun, that is, stupefy (with sleep or death): – (be fast a-, be in a deep, cast into a dead, that) sleep (-er, -eth). Total KJV occurrences: 7

Jdg. 4:21 (NASB) But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died.

Ps. 76:6 (NASB) At Your rebuke, O God of Jacob, Both rider and horse were cast into a dead sleep.

Pr. 10:5 (NASB) He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

Dan. 8:18 (NASB) Now while he was talking with me, I sank into a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me and made me stand upright.

Dan. 10:9 (NASB) But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon as I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.

Radam is the word for “fast sleep” and “O sleeper” in the Young’s Literal Translation below. This is the type of sleep that Jonah fell into on the ship headed to Tarshish.

Jonah 1:5-6 (YLT) and the mariners are afraid, and cry each unto his god, and cast the goods that are in the ship into the sea, to make it light of them; and Jonah hath gone down unto the sides of the vessel, and he lieth down, and is fast asleep. 6 And the chief of the company draweth near to him, and saith to him, ‘What—to thee, O sleeper? rise, call unto thy God, it may be God doth bethink himself of us, and we do not perish.’

Near the beginning of this post, I asked how Jonah could be sleeping when chaos and eminent danger were upon him in the conscious human world. Based on the type of sleep that Jonah experienced (radam), his rebellion and lack of compassion put him in a stupor, much akin to death. In other words, Jonah was spiritually “dead” long before he was swallowed by the great fish.

Jonah wanted Nineveh to suffer. He desired strict justice for these ancient Assyrians, not the compassionate mercy that He knew YHWH was known for. In Jonah’s mind, these people deserved to be punished and wiped off the map. The last thing he wanted to do was be the mouthpiece or vessel of the Holy Spirit to offer them repentance. This was true even after YHWH had had compassion upon Jonah by hearing his prayer from the belly of the fish, a figurative death.

Nineveh[7] was one of three major ancient Assyrian cities. Since the discovery of the Library of Ashurbanipal,[8]many clay tablets with text and reliefs from the centuries near the time of Jonah makes it evident what sort of wickedness provoked God to want to destroy it.[9] But, YHWH’s mercy warned them of their coming destruction through the reluctant prophet Jonah.

Jonah is an intriguing character. On the one hand, we chastise him for his lack of concern for 120,000 ignorant souls.[10] How could anyone be that compassionless? On the other hand, we are guilty of the same rebellion and lack of compassion when it comes to those that have hurt and betrayed us. The truth is that, if we could, most of us would call down fire from heaven to rain upon the heads of the ignorant, cruel, and wicked. Hurting people often revel in hurting back.

Ironically, Jonah or Yonah in Hebrew means “dove,” the universal symbol of peace, shalom. He was called to a heathen (pagan) city, and he had no love or compassion for them. It was only by proverbially dying that he did as he was told. But even this didn’t pull Jonah out of his stupor. In chapter four, he was angry that the people repented!

Jonah 4:1-4 (NASB) But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. 3 “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” 4 The LORD said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”

I think it’s interesting that Jonah basically quotes Exodus 34, but leaves off the part where Adonai says, “He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” We often have a skewed sense of justice. It’s as if we are afraid that those that have hurt us will not get what we think they deserve. We forget that vengeance belongs to Adonai.

Ex. 34:6-7 (NASB) Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

Lev 19:16-18 (NASB) ‘You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD. 17 ‘You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. 18 ‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.

When you’ve screwed up or hurt someone, would you rather receive strict justice or mercy? Will you grant the same request to your enemy? Even if they have committed great atrocities toward you or those you love? That is the question. And, it’s one that Jonah would have rather died than to have seen actualized. He repeats this three times in chapter four. This is not the evidence of a changed heart, regardless that he fulfilled his commission to Adonai.

Jonah is a book with a mighty message at this season. While God certainly gave Jonah a second chance despite his rebellion and disobedience, Jonah couldn’t bring himself to sincerely offer the souls of Nineveh the same. He reveled in the idea that God was going to destroy them for their wickedness.

Jonah 4:3-5 (NKJV) Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” 4 Then the LORD said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 5 So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter (sukkah) and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city.

Beloved, if you have been deeply wounded, hurt, betrayed, or suffered horrific abuse at the hands of another person or people group, please consider Jonah. Though he knew the truth, and eventually preached it to a people he hated, he still held out hope that they would die in their debauchery. He even built a SUKKAH, sat in its shade, and instead of recalling that Adonai had Israel dwell in sukkot after delivering them from Egypt[11] (something they didn’t deserve), he longed to see the destruction of an entire city.

I wonder if we have done the same? Have we sat in our own satisfaction and self-righteousness, thinking it was a fine covering, forgetting whom we serve and the GREAT mercy He bestowed upon us? Have we been asleep when chaos is shaking our lost neighbors? Have we judged people and people groups that have acted wickedly and danced at the thought of their demise? If so, now is the time to WAKE UP! These secret relishes belong to darkness, sleep, and death.

Repent AND Forgive before you sit in your sukkah or there will be no true joy, no real waking life, only the desire for sleep. The Book of Jonah ends with HaShem asking Jonah a rhetorical question.

Jonah 4:11 (NASB) “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”

If you want to be forgiven, forgive. If you want to receive mercy, extend mercy. If you desire God’s compassion, give compassion. When you’ve been broken, hurt, or betrayed, this becomes extremely difficult. This week, Sombra Wilson shared her testimony of radical forgiveness on Renewed Radio. If your pain has placed you in rebellion or a stupor, a trance-like sleep (death), and it is preventing you from moving forward, I encourage to listen to her testimony.

May the Faithful One bring you and yours into complete unity, health, and restoration before the upcoming High Holy Days. May your deeds be complete. Messiah, speaking to the 5thassembly of Sardis (Red Ones) in the Book of Revelation that corresponds to the 5th festival of Rosh Hashanah (Yom Teruah)[12] says:

Rev. 3:1-6 (NASB) “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. 4 ‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

May you be inscribed for a good year!

 


[1] What Happens to You When You Don’t Sleep for Days

[2] Job 33:15-18 (NASB) “In a dream, a vision of the night, When sound sleep falls on men, While they slumber in their beds, 16 Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction, 17 That He may turn man aside from his conduct, And keep man from pride;  18  He keeps back his soul from the pit, And his life from passing over into Sheol.

[3] You can read more about why Yom Teruah is also called Rosh Hashanah in the footnotes and comments of this post.

[4]Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon), the author of Mishneh Torah (Sefer Yad HaHazaka).

[5] Mishneh is also related to the words sleep, change/repeat, and year! It means repetition.

[6] H8639 תַּרְדֵּמָה tardēmāh: A feminine noun referring to deep sleep; a sound sleep. It refers to a deep unconscious state needed, usually, for rest. God may bring it on in special circumstances (Gen 2:21; Gen 15:12; 1Sa 26:12). It is a common event in the middle of the night and may be accompanied by dreams naturally or from God (Job 4:13; Job 33:15). Laziness, a moral problem, can result in a person falling into this state (Pro 19:15). It is used in a figurative sense of a moral and spiritual stupor (Isa 29:10).

[7]Gen. 10:11

[8 Ashurbanipal: The Oldest Surviving Royal Library in the World with Over 30,000 Clay Tablets

[9 Nahum, Nineveh and Those Nasty Assyrians

[10] Jon. 4:11 (NASB) “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”

[11] Lev. 23:43 (NASB) so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.'”

[12]See The Creation Gospel Workbook One by Dr. Hollisa Alewine.

Categories: Moedim, Renewed Radio | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Vinedresser, the True Vine, and the Branches

The month of Elul is often called the month of repentance, as it is a time to prepare for the upcoming High Holy Days of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, and the last great festival of Sukkot. This traditional period of return is an opportunity to examine one’s life and the fruit that is being produced. What needs to be uprooted? What needs to be pruned? What needs to be nourished? It’s the season to set things right with Adonai and our fellowman. While these things should be a daily exercise, the moedim (feast days) direct the path of the righteous to dedicate this season, the time of harvest, to give an honest account of one’s soul.

The moedim center around agriculture and harvest. During the month of Elul, Adonai our King is “in the field” and people are His planting. We are His vineyard, and He is looking for fruit that will be judged at the High Holy Days. While the King is in the field, He is particularly accessible, as near as a co-laborer and a friend. Yeshua says, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” During Elul the vintage begins; may we submit to His tender affections, pruning, and cleansing before He returns to the Throne of Judgment on the High Holy Days. His desire is for us to enter Sukkot, the figurative end-time harvest and wedding feast, clean and sealed in Him with a heart that is altogether joyful.

 

John 15:1-15  “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  2  “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.  3  “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  4  “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  5  “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.  6  “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.  7  “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  8  “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.  11  “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.  12  “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.  13  “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.  14  “You are My friends if you do what I command you.  15  “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

 

Deut. 16:11-15  and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name.  12  “You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.  13  “You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat;  14  and you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your towns.  15  “Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.

 

 

Categories: Moedim, Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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