Resting with God: Filling Our Empty Cups

I have never understood the importance of resting in YHVH more than in the past few weeks. It is here, in this place of stillness and rest that He restores my soul; that He refreshes my being.

“YHVH is my Shepherd; I do not lack. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my being, He leads me in paths of righteousness.”

Throughout the week, we empty ourselves to our work, family, friends, volunteering activities but on Shabbat YHVH refills our cups. If we never let Him lead us to these still waters and lay in green pastures with Him we miss out on having Him refill our cups. And if we go several weeks without being made whole and rejuvenated, it’s a recipe for disaster.

“When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil. For You are with me. Your rod and Your staff comfort me.”

If we don’t rest in Him, eventually you reach a point where you can’t go on anymore — and this is not the best plan YHVH has for us. He has so much He wants to bless us with and so much love to fill our cups with. But do we let Him?

What does it mean to rest in Him? It’s not just about not going to work and sitting home and doing nothing all day. Resting in Him means connecting with Him. It means establishing and cultivating your own personal, intimate relationship with YHVH. It means taking time away from work, the stressors of the week, our to-do list and even all our godly work to simply be with Him. If we don’t actually connect with Him, we’re not really being filled by Him. And if we’re not being filled by Him, we will remain empty. When we are empty, we have nothing to give to Him or others.

Unfortunately, I’ve found this out the hard way. Even though I observe Shabbat and take time to read the Torah portion each week and study His word, I wasn’t doing the work to really connect with Him — and that’s the real key to unlocking the mystery of Shabbat.

No other people or religion has anything that compares to the beauty that is Shabbat. It’s called the weekly festival; a special time between YHVH and His people. It is on Shabbat that we are given a gift — the gift of connecting with our God and King in a way not possible during the rest of the week. A time where we can cast our burdens on Him, let go of the cares of this world, and lean completely on the One who holds the universe — and our lives — in His hands. But if we aren’t taking the time or putting forth the effort to connect with Him, then we miss this precious gift from our Father.

I’ve missed the fullness of this gift and have felt the emptiness as a result. But this week, I commit to drawing close to Him and just being with the lover of my soul. What about you? Do you hear Him calling to you? He desires to be with you. He longs to love you and be loved by you.

“You have anointed my head with oil, my cup runs over. Only goodness and loving-commitment follow me all the days of my life. And I shall dwell in the House of YHVH forever!”


 

The Birth of a Savior: For Unto Us a Son is Given

Many believe the Bible does not say when Yeshua (Jesus) was born and because of this, claim Christmas is as good a time as any to celebrate it. But what if the Bible did spell out when Yeshua was born? What if all it takes is looking at Scripture with an understanding of how YHVH’s system operates, specifically the timeline of His feasts? The following is the Biblical timeline for the birth of our savior.

Let’s read Luke 1 together and I’ll give you some explanation along the way.

There was in the days of Herodes, the sovereign of Judah, a certain priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And it came to be, that while he was serving as priest before Elohim in the order of his division, according to the institute of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to burn incense when he went into the Dwelling Place of YHVH.    Luke 1:5, 8-9

Often times, we gloss right over some very important pieces of information that are critical to our understanding of the Bible simply because we don’t understand its importance! Here, we see that Zechariah is a priest of YHVH in the division of Abijah. According to the pattern that David established through his son Solomon, the priesthood of YHVH was divided into 24 divisions. Each division would come to serve YHVH in the Temple one week twice a year. There were also three times a year when all 24 divisions would serve together because YHVH commanded that on these feasts, all of Israel would gather together: Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot.

There were always priests serving in the Temple because there were continual sacrifices offered to YHVH. Therefore, if each division served two weeks out of the year and there were three weeks that all the priests served together, the entire year was covered (24 x 2 + 3 = ~ 51 weeks). The Biblical calendar, which is centered around the moon not the sun as is our Gregorian calendar, is approximately 11 days shorter than our sun-centered calendars of today. Therefore, this 24 division setup allowed for the Temple service cycle to start with division 1 every single time a Biblical new year began.

1 Chronicles 24 tells us when each of these 24 divisions would serve in the Temple.

And David, with Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Aḥimelech of the sons of Ithamar, divided them according to their offices in their service. And there were more leaders found of the sons of Eleazar than of the sons of Ithamar. So they divided the sons of Eleazar into sixteen heads of their fathers’ houses, and the sons of Ithamar into eight heads of their fathers’ houses. And they were divided by lot, one group as another, for there were officials of the set-apart place and officials of Elohim, from the sons of Eleazar and from the sons of Ithamar…the seventh [lot] to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah, the ninth to Yeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah. 1 Chronicles 24:3-5,10

This scripture tells us that Zechariah was in the 8th division of the priesthood and would come to serve in the Temple the 8th week of the year. An interesting side note, is that the division of Yeshua would have immediately followed Zechariah’s division in the Temple service. Leviticus 23:5 tells us that Passover occurs in the second week of the first month and verses 15-16 tell us that Shavuot is 7 weeks after Passover. Therefore, the 9th week of the year would be the approximate time of Shavuot (Pentecost) every year. This means that Zechariah would have to work two weeks in a row every year because of his Temple division coinciding with the requirement for all Israel to be in Jerusalem for Shavuot.

Going back to Luke 1:8-9, we see that Zechariah was serving in the Temple and was chosen by the casting of lots to bring incense to the altar of incense. This was a very special job because whoever brought the incense to the altar was allowed to make one personal request of God that was guaranteed to be granted. However, once a priest was given this privilege, he could never have this job again. We see from Luke 1: 13 that Zechariah’s one request was for his barren wife, Elizabeth, to have a child.

But the messenger said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard. And your wife Elizabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

Luke 1:23-25 tells us that after his time serving in the Temple, Zechariah went home and Elizabeth conceived.

And it came to be, as soon as the days of his service were completed, he went away to his house. And after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived. And she hid herself five months, saying, “YHVH has done this for me, in the days when He looked upon me, to take away my reproach among men.”

Shavuot occurs roughly about the May/June time every year on our calendars. This means that by the time Zechariah finished his division’s Temple service and made the journey home, several weeks had already passed and it was roughly July/August time when Zechariah returned home and John was conceived.

And the messenger answering, said to her, “The Set-apart Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you. And for that reason the Set-apart One born of you shall be called: Son of Elohim.

“And see, Elizabeth your relative, she has also conceived a son in her old age. And this is now the sixth month to her who was called barren, And Mary said, “See the female servant of YHVH! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the messenger went away from her.

And Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered into the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And Mary stayed with her about three months, and returned to her home. And the time was filled for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Luke 1:35-40, 56-57

These above verses tell us that Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel in Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy. Remember, Elizabeth became pregnant roughly in July/August; six months later would be roughly December/January right around the time of Hanukkah — the Feast of Dedication and Lights. What a perfect time for the Light of the World and the Son of God to be conceived!

We then see that Mary stayed with Elizabeth and Zechariah three months and then went home. After this, Elizabeth gave birth to John. If Elizabeth conceived around the time of June/July, then nine months later would be approximately March/April – right around the time of Passover.

Now let’s read the story of the birth of Yeshua from Luke 2.

And it came to be in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus for all the world to be registered. This took place as a first registration while Quirinius was governing Syria. And all were going to be registered, each one to his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth to Judah, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, who was engaged to him – being pregnant. And it came to be, that while they were there, the days were filled for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born Son, and wrapped Him up, and laid Him down in a feeding trough, because there was no room for them in a lodging place.

And in the same country there were shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And look, a messenger of YHVH stood before them, and the esteem of YHVH shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. And the messenger said to them, “Do not be afraid, for look, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all people. “Because there was born to you today in the city of David a Savior, who is Messiah, the Master. “And this is the sign to you: You shall find a baby wrapped up, lying in a feeding trough.”

And suddenly there was with the messenger a crowd of the heavenly host praising Elohim and saying, “Esteem to Elohim in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased!”

And it came to be, when the messengers had gone away from them into the heaven, that the shepherds said to each other, “Indeed, let us go to Bethlehem and see this matter that has taken place, which the Master has made known to us.”

And they came in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a feeding trough. And having seen, they made known the matter which was spoken to them concerning the child. And all those who heard marveled at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary kept all these matters, considering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, boasting and praising Elohim for all they had heard and seen, as it was spoken to them.

And when eight days were completed for Him to be circumcised, His Name was called Yeshua, the Name given by the messenger before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her cleansing according to the Torah of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to YHVH – as it has been written in the Torah of YHVH, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called set-apart to YHVH” and to give an offering according to what is said in the Torah of YHVH, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

And see, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and dedicated, looking for the comforting of Israel. And the Set-apart Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Set-apart Spirit that he would not see death before he sees the Messiah of YHVH. And he came in the Spirit into the Set-apart Place. And as the parents brought in the Child Yeshua, to do for Him according to the usual practice of the Torah, then he took Him up in his arms and blessed Elohim and said, “Now let Your servant go in peace, O Master, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen Your deliverance, which You have prepared before the face of all the peoples, a light for the unveiling of the gentiles, and the esteem of Your people Israel.”

And Joseph and His mother were marveling at what was said about Him.

And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “See, this One is set for a fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against – and a sword shall pierce through your own being also – so as to reveal the thoughts of many hearts.”

And there was Ḥannah, a prophetess, a daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, and had lived with a husband seven years from her maidenhood, and she was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not leave the Set-apart Place, but served Elohim with fastings and prayers night and day. And she, coming in at that moment, gave thanks to YHVH, and spoke of Him to all who were waiting for redemption in Jerusalem.

And when they had accomplished all matters according to the Torah of YHVH, they returned to Galilee, to their city Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, being filled with wisdom. And the favor of Elohim was upon Him.

And His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Festival of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the practice of the festival. Luke 2:1-42

These verses are very informative in terms of what the details reveal. For instance, look at how many times the author specifically mentions that Joseph and Mary raised Yeshua according to YHVH’s Torah. They were completely obedient. They did not take part in the mixed worship that some of the other Hellenized Jews had adopted at this time. They remained completely set-apart and holy to YHVH.

Next, let’s talk about the shepherds. Not in Biblical days and not today do shepherds watch over their field by night in the dead of winter! Going back to what we have already learned about Mary’s pregnancy, we know that Mary conceived at Hanukkah (December/January time). Meaning that nine months from then would be September/October – the time of YHVH’s feast of Sukkot!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim. He was in the beginning with Elohim. All came to be through Him, and without Him not even one came to be that came to be.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from Elohim, whose name was John. This one came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all might believe through him. He was not that Light, but that he might bear witness of that Light. He was the true Light, which enlightens every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of Elohim, to those believing in His Name, who were born, not of blood nor of the desire of flesh nor of the desire of man, but of Elohim. And the Word became flesh and pitched His tent among us, and we saw His esteem, esteem as of an only brought-forth of a father, complete in favor and truth. John 1:1-14

These verses tell us that not only were the births and lives of John and Yeshua intertwined from the beginning, but that Yeshua “pitched His tent among us.” Some versions will say “He tabernacled among us.” The word “Sukkot” means tabernacle. It’s the time of year where people build sukkahs or tents/temporary dwellings and live in them for a week to remember how YHVH brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and delivered them from their bondage. This wording did not happen by chance or coincidence. It is a reference to the lost sheep of Israel (who understand His Torah) that Yeshua came to us at Sukkot.

Something else that both Luke 2 and John 1 have in common are two characteristics given to Yeshua. He is called both a Light and a Divider.

…a light for the unveiling of the gentiles, and the esteem of Your people Israel…And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “See, this One is set for a fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against – and a sword shall pierce through your own being also – so as to reveal the thoughts of many hearts.” Luke 2:32,34-35

He was in the world, and the world came to be through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. John 1:10-11

Yeshua is and always has been the Light to those who seek Him and His truth; but He has also been a Divider which tests the hearts of man in order to separate the sheep from the goats.

There are a lot of Christians who, when presented with the facts about the pagan origins of Christmas, say that they are not celebrating Christmas with this intent but, rather, they are celebrating Christmas as the birth of the Savior. They go on to say that since the Bible doesn’t specifically say when exactly Jesus was born why not just celebrate it at Christmas.

But if, after the presentation of the facts, you still won’t change your mind about Christmas then perhaps you should reevaluate why you really celebrate Christmas. Is it really to honor our savior or is it to make yourself feel good? God specifically spells out how much He hates the ways of the nations of the world and goes to great lengths to warn His chosen people against following these ways. Why then, after learning the truth about these abominable traditions that have been passed down and seeing Scriptural evidence that our Savior was not born at Christmas, would you continue to celebrate it? Is it because of the happy, jolly way it makes you feel? Is it that warm, fuzzy feeling you get this time of year? What is more important? The way you feel or the way He feels?

“For unto us a child is born; a son is given.” He gave His very life in spite of His own desires in order to do His Father’s work and save us all from sin. Why then do we insist on corrupting His Holy life with our pagan practices? Why do we insist on putting ourselves and our wants and our desires and what makes us feel good ahead of our Heavenly Father? That is idol worship in its truest, most basic form.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of Elohim, to those believing in His Name, who were born, not of blood nor of the desire of flesh nor of the desire of man, but of Elohim. John 1:12-13

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7

The New Moon and the Feasts: A Calendar of 2015’s Fall Feasts

I thought I’d write this post to clarify the dates of 2015’s Fall Feasts. Rabbinically, Yom Kippur will begin Tuesday – Wednesday, September 22-23 and the Feast of Sukkot will begin Sunday evening, September 27. However, according to Leviticus 23, the dates for YHVH’s Feasts are always established in relation to the new moon. Furthermore, in Genesis, YHVH set the precedent that the sun, moon, and stars were to be signs for His “set-times.”

“God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate day from night; they shall serve as signs for the set times – the days and the years; and they shall serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth.’ And it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the stars.” Gen.1:14-16

These two great lights are the sun and the moon, respectively. The word for ‘set times’ here is moedim (appointed times) which is the very word that Yahweh chooses to use to describe His festivals. One more passage that speaks of these two lights is found in Psalms 104:19: “He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows when to set.”

This passage clearly sets the moon apart as the main marker of the seasons, while the sun is to mark the day. The moon that reflects the light of the Sun confirms throughout the month as it waxes and wanes that the created order is not chaotic. Its visible rebirth each month is very orderly and precise, but not absolutely predictable. Therefore, each month has a degree of expectancy about it.

If you read my last post about Yom Teruach (a.k.a. the day and the hour which no man knows), then you’ll know that this particular holiday cannot start until the new moon is spotted. This year, after much anticipation (and several delays), the new moon was finally spotted the evening of Tuesday, September 15, 2015. The days for Yom Kippur and Sukkot are dependent on Yom Teruach and when the new moon is spotted. Yom Kippur is always on the 10th day of the month while Sukkot is always on the 15th day of the month. Therefore, according to the pattern YHVH established in Leviticus 23, the following days will be the Biblical dates of the Fall Feasts:

Yom Teruach: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 (sundown) – Wednesday, September 16, 2015 (sundown)
Yom Kippur: Thursday, September 24, 2015 (sundown) – Friday, September 25, 2015 (sundown)
Sukkot: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 (sundown) – Wednesday, October 7, 2015 (sundown)

Chag Samaech! L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem

Joyous festivals! May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year!

*Photo Credit: Nehemiah Gordon in Jerusalem*

The Day and the Hour Which No Man Knows

Tonight, Sunday, September 13, 2015, the new moon is expected to be seen in Israel. The new moon will officially mark the beginning of Yom Teruach! Many people incorrectly know this day as Rosh Hashanah or “the Head of the New Year.” However, Biblically, this day was known as Yom Teruach or the Day of Trumpets. Because of this deliberate change, many people miss out on the true meaning of this important High Holy Day.

The Anti-Christ and the Changing of YHVH’s Timetable
According to YHVH’s Word, the new year is actually to begin in the spring time at Passover.

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between the evenings, is the Passover to YHVH. Leviticus 23:5

YHVH called the month in which Passover occurs the “first month.” The month we just began, Tishri, is the seventh Biblical month and is not the new year but, rather, the month containing the 3 fall feasts of the 7 annual feasts of YHVH.

Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you have a rest, a remembrance of blowing of trumpets, a set-apart gathering. You do no servile work, and you shall bring an offering made by fire to YHVH.’

And YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, “On the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be a set-apart gathering for you. And you shall afflict your beings, and shall bring an offering made by fire to YHVH. And you do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before YHVH your Elohim. For any being who is not afflicted on that same day, he shall be cut off from his people. And any being who does any work on that same day, that being I shall destroy from the midst of his people. You do no work – a law forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It is a Sabbath of rest to you, and you shall afflict your beings. On the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you observe your Sabbath.”

And YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Booths for seven days to YHVH. On the first day is a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work. For seven days you bring an offering made by fire to YHVH. On the eighth day there shall be a set-apart gathering for you, and you shall bring an offering made by fire to YHVH. It is a closing festival, you do no servile work. These are the appointed times of YHVH which you proclaim as set-apart gatherings, to bring an offering made by fire to YHVH, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a slaughtering and drink offerings, as commanded for every day – besides the Sabbaths of YHVH, and besides your gifts, and besides all your vows, and besides all your voluntary offerings which you give to YHVH. Leviticus 23: 24-48

So how did this change occur? Daniel 7:25 tells us that the spirit of the anti-Christ is to change the appointed times of YHVH. By changing YHVH’s appointed times, or getting rid of them altogether, the enemy keeps us oblivious to the season we are in. If we don’t know the season or times we are in, we can’t properly prepare. If we don’t properly prepare, we risk being caught unaware when the Bridegroom comes for His Bride.

and it [the beast] speaks words against the Most High, and it wears out the set-apart ones of the Most High, and it intends to change appointed times and law, and they are given into its hand for a time and times and half a time. Daniel 7:25

In 325 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea. The result of this council was a new religion that blended the Nazarene faith (the belief in Torah and Yeshua the Messiah which the early apostles and who we call the first “Christians” would have actually have been called) with Mithraism (paganism) and created what we now know as Catholicism. This council is where modern Christianity got it beginnings. Constantine and his council took the true faith and gospel of Yeshua that the disciples had preached (which never parted from Torah) and mixed it with their pagan religion to create a new form of sun/son worship. This new religion changed the holy days of YHVH to the holy days of sun worship…hence Sunday being the new holy day/Sabbath.

As we read in Leviticus 23, YHVH had already established His timetable and His Holy days. The Feast Days of YHVH, or moedim in Hebrew, are the timetable YHVH uses. Significant events in His story always coincide with the Feasts. In Matthew 16:1-4, Yeshua admonishes the Pharisees and Sadducees for understanding the signs of the weather but not understanding the signs of the God. Let this not be the case for us. May we humble ourselves and seek after YHVH’s times and not our own.

What is Yom Teruach?
Yom Teruach is the Day of Trumpets. When you see the word “trumpet” in the Bible, it is almost always referring to a shofar or a ram’s horn. The sounding of a shofar signifies a significant event is about to take place. A shofar was blown to gather all the tribes of Israel together for a meeting with YHVH, religious ceremony, or battle. It was used in battle to direct soldiers. It is also frequently used to wake those who slumber from their sleep. On Yom Teruach, the shofar is blown 100 times and is blown every morning during the previous month of Elul in preparation. It is truly a wake-up call to those who have ears to hear.

Yeshua warned us of a future Yom Teruach.

And immediately after the distress of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give its light, and the stars shall fall from the heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Adam shall appear in the heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth shall mourn, and they shall see the Son of Adam coming on the clouds of the heaven with power and much esteem. And He shall send His messengers with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. And learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that the summer is near. So you also, when you see all these, know that He is near, at the doors. Truly, I say to you, this generation shall by no means pass away until all this takes place. The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but My words shall by no means pass away.

But concerning that day and the hour no one knows, not even the messengers of the heavens, but My Father only. And as the days of Noah, so also shall the coming of the Son of Adam be. For as they were in the days before the flood, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also shall the coming of the Son of Adam be. Then two shall be in the field, the one is taken and the one is left. Two shall be grinding at the mill, one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Master is coming. And know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Because of this, be ready too, for the Son of Adam is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him. Matthew 24:29-44

Many people who do not have an understanding of Torah inaccurately explain that Yeshua was telling His disciples that we can never know the day He will return. This is why it is imperative that we not only understand but also live Torah. It is the basis for everything we say we believe. It is YHVH’s timetable and compass that will point us to our Messiah.

The “day and the hour which no man knows” was and still is a Hebrew idiom or nickname for Yom Teruach. Why? Yom Teruach is the only feast that begins on the first day of it’s month. In order to know when a new month begins, the new moon must be spotted in the sky. In Biblical days, a watchman would stand outside every night in his watchman’s tower and look for the sliver of the moon that indicates the new month had begun. Even today with our fancy NASA calendars and advanced technology it’s still impossible to know exactly what day the new moon will appear. This explains the nickname the day and the hour which no man knows.

When Yeshua said this, it would have been no mystery to the disciples or anyone obeying Torah to understand what He meant. They would have immediately known He was referring to a future Yom Teruach.

In Biblical days, once the watchman spotted the new moon, he would then blow the shofar and word would spread across Israel that the feast of Yom Teruach had begun. Because it is a holy day and treated as a Sabbath, all workWatchman New Moon would immediately cease. Therefore, when Yeshua said that two would be in the field and one would be taken and the other left, He was saying that one would leave His work and head to the Temple and the other would ignore the shofar and stay in the field. Most Christians are sadly taught that this is referring to the rapture. Again, without understanding Torah and YHVH’s timetable, it’s near impossible to truly understand prophecy, the words of Yeshua, or decipher the times and seasons we are living in.

Yom Teruach and the Fall Feasts
Yom Teruach also marks the beginning of the fall feasts. As we read in Leviticus 23, we celebrate Yom Teruach on the first day of the month, then on the 10th day of the month we celebrate Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and the 15th day Sukkot (Tabernacles) is celebrated.

The 10 day period between Yom Teruach and Yom Kippur is called the 10 Days of Awe. This is YHVH’s mercy to His Bride as she prepares to come before Him on Judgment Day. It is believed that the Books of Life and Death are opened by God on Yom Teruach and they are closed on Yom Kippur — the righteous being inscribed in the Book of Life, while the names of the wicked are “blotted out.” As I’ve mentioned in other posts about Elul, the month of Elul is a month to emotional healing and repent/forgive. If, for whatever reason, you still haven’t finished this process, YHVH gives you 10 more days before Judgment Day to make things right.

After Yom Kippur, Sukkot is celebrated. Sukkot is known as the Wedding Feast and is a week long celebration. It is an extremely joyous time! Having this understanding of the LORD’s feasts and His timetable makes the connection between “the day and the hour which no man knows,” Judgement Day, and the Wedding Feast of the Lamb a little more clear and interesting doesn’t it?

YHVH doesn’t want His people in the dark. He doesn’t want us groping around in confusion trying to make sense of His plan. He is not a God of confusion, but, rather, of order and organization. He gives us clear instructions and signs to guide us in our journey. But in order to understand these instructions and road signs, we must first have an understanding of Torah. Sadly, we have been taught that Torah is a burden and something that doesn’t apply to us, but without Torah, it’s nearly impossible to truly understand the words of Yeshua and the New Testament.

Most of us keep Torah whether we know it or not. We believe murder, adultery, stealing, lying, cheating, etc. are all wrong, yet we allow ourselves to get hung up on just a few points. But if we take a step back, and really consider what Torah entails, we see that “this command which I am commanding you today, it is not too hard for you, nor is it far off. I am commanding you today to love YHVH your Elohim, to walk in His ways, and to guard His commands, and His laws, and His right-rulings. And you shall live and increase, and YHVH your Elohim shall bless you in the land which you go to possess.” Deuteronomy 30: 11, 16

Let us not be like the Pharisees and Sadducees who could not discern the signs God had given them. Instead, let us awaken from our slumber and prepare ourselves that we will not be found unaware when our King returns. Let us not be like those outside the House of God who do not know and understand the day and the hour in which we are living. Let us rejoice, celebrate, and give thanks to YHVH for His loving-faithfulness and continue doing the hard work in these last 10 days before Yom Kippur.

Gemar Chatimah Tova! May your final sealing (in the Book of Life) be good!

 

Elul: A Season of Forgiveness and Repentance

During this time of Elul, we ask YHVH to search us and reveal ANY wrongs that we have not yet made right, any areas of our lives we still need healing in, and any issues we have not yet resolved in order to make them right. Most often, teshuvah, is translated as “repentance;” however, this doesn’t accurately capture the fullness of this word’s meaning. Teshuvah means to return – to God, to His ways, to our original state of purity as intended by God.

Inevitably, hurt and pain enter our lives. We become broken and parts of our original-self are strewn about, seemingly beyond repair. We do what we can to try getting past the pain; we “forgive” the person who hurt us and we allow God to heal us. We ask for forgiveness and repent for what we’ve done. So why, then, does it seem that there are some people and circumstances we can’t seem to get away from? Why does it seem like we keep going around the mountain again and again over the same issue?

The only way we can truly be mended is to make teshuvah or return to YHVH. Even when others hurt us and we feel we aren’t at fault, the hurt and brokenness we experience creates a disconnect between us and that person, which in turn creates a disconnect with YHVH. It is only through turning to God and allowing Him to walk us through the process of forgiveness/repentance can the necessary healing take place.

One of the most difficult parts of Elul is realizing there are still hurts and wounds in our life we thought had been addressed years ago – hurts that have both been inflicted on us and that we have inflicted on others. Often times we allow for surface level healing or forgiveness to take place without ever addressing the root of the issue. We pick the flower off the dandelion but never pull the root out of the ground. As a result, the weed keeps popping back up. It can be hard to revisit these old wounds but by facing them, and not avoiding them, true healing and forgiveness can occur.

In the Hebrew tradition, there are three levels of forgiveness/repentance. While the levels are connected, they each offer their own unique challenges. The cycle of forgiveness is a living process that is completely dependent on our actions, so you may find yourself going back and forth through these phases as you forgive/repent.

Slichah
The first stage in the process of forgiveness/repentance is slichah. In Hebrew, this means to pardon. In fact, if you ever spend time in Israel and need to say “excuse me,” you will actually say “slichah.” It is the most basic level of forgiveness/repentance. Its primary focus is on man; specifically the other person involved in the situation. When in this initial phase, it can often feel chaotic and difficult to make sense of things. Before we can deal with the root of the matter, we must forgive/ask forgiveness of the other person in the situation.

When we look at the gematria* for the word slichah, the picture we get is that through faith, grace, mercy and our confidence in YHVH, covenants of new beginnings are established between men. Furthermore, the Shepherd teaches the man who surrenders how to build a wall that divides him from the outside chaos.

This is a beautiful picture describing how pardoning someone/asking for pardoning can bring healing and new beginnings in a relationship. More so, through the process of slichah, God can also teach us how to build walls that keep us from outside chaos. However, these are not the emotional walls that we put up to keep people and relationships out but, rather, these are the walls that keep us in the Father’s House and stop us from returning to the hurt we have experienced or inflicted.

These walls are comparable to being in the Father’s House. There is a wall that divides us from those on the outside of His house. This is similar to the parable of the wedding feast. Inside are the honored guests who accepted the invitation to the marriage feast; outside the wall are those who rejected the invitation where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If You, LORD should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness (slichah) with You, that You may be feared. Psalm 130:1–4

Mechilah
The second level of forgiveness/repentance is mechilah, from the root word mochul meaning circle or cycle. In Hebrew, this word means to abolish or wipe away. In this phase, God teaches us how to let go; to be free from the power that others hold over you. The focus of mechilah is on you. In my opinion, this is the hardest level of forgiveness because for most of us it is very difficult to get over the obstacle of one’s own self.

Many times we hold on to the hurts and justify why shouldn’t let them go. Or we hold on to the guilt of what we did and refuse to believe that we could be given forgiveness. When we let go of this hurt and guilt, we are finally able to receive a vital piece of healing within ourselves. We are letting go of the power that others hold over us and instead returning that power back to YHVH.

The gematria* for the word mechilah gives us this picture: The coming plan of YHVH for new beginnings brought through confidence in YHVH’s covenants of faith, grace, and mercy. Further, the Shepherd becomes the wall that divides the man who surrenders from the outside chaos.

By allowing the hurt and guilt to be wiped away, YHVH can then bring about His new beginnings through faith, grace, and mercy. By completely surrendering to His healing, we also see that YHVH becomes the wall that divides us from the outside chaos. Notice that in this level, there is no mention of others like in the first stage. In this stage, you let go of everything else and come face-to-face with YHVH alone.

Show me favour, O Elohim, according to Your kindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash me completely from my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You alone, have I sinned, and done evil in Your eyes; that You might be proven right in Your words; be clear when You judge. See, I was brought forth in crookedness, and in sin my mother conceived me. See, You have desired truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You make me know wisdom. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I am clean; wash me, and I am whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness, let the bones You have crushed rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my crookedness. Create in me a clean heart, O Elohim, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:1-10

Kapparah
The third and final stage of forgiveness/repentance is kapparah, which means to make atonement. After doing the hard work in the first two stages, it is in this final stage that we can be made whole again. While we certainly need YHVH’s help in every stage, it is this stage where He takes center stage and where only He can do the necessary work. In this stage, we must let go of the broken pieces of our lives — other people, ourselves, guilt, shame, and hurt — and let YHVH take over and make us whole again.

The gematria* shows us that kapparah is the faith, grace, and mercy that will restore the balance between us and others and us and God through new beginnings. And also that the man who completely surrenders and allows his mouth to be tamed by YHVH will be raised up as the head.

This tells me that when we allow ourselves to forgive and be forgiven, we are made whole again, we have balance restored in our relationships, and we are given a new beginning! That is true freedom! We can also see that the person who completely surrenders to the process of forgiveness/repentance and allows their mouth to be tamed, will be raised up by YHVH.

The Word tells us, “out of the mouth, the heart speaks.” For this reason, YHVH tames and softens the heart of the one who forgives/repents. This means that once you have truly forgiven/been forgiven, you cannot bring up the matter anymore. It is over and done with. You cannot make snide remarks or hold it against people in any way. You cannot allow the enemy to use it to bring guilt and shame on you any longer. By surrendering to forgiveness and the softening our hearts, we let our hurt, anger, guilt, and shame go. It is as far as the east is from the west. Only then can YHVH make us “the head and not the tail.”

On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you. Leviticus 25: 9b-10a

Coming Full Circle
The process of forgiveness/repentance is not easy – it takes a healthy dose of courage to make it through. But once you do, the end result is a beautiful, spotless, whole Bride – purified through the refiner’s fire.

Did you notice some common themes for the different levels of forgiveness/repentance? Faith, grace, and mercy are concepts we can see throughout the process. It took me a while to see the connection, but now I understand that it takes an incredible amount of faith, grace, and mercy to forgive someone for what they’ve done or to forgive yourself for what you’ve done. But just as Yeshua extended faith, grace, and mercy to us, so we must now extend it to others and ourselves. It’s no wonder that all along the way YHVH reminds us to never lose sight of these.

New beginnings also had a prominent role in the forgiveness/repentance process. I believe this is because YHVH doesn’t want us to remain stuck where we are. He wants us to move forward – always growing stronger through the purification and refining process.

I think this also shows us that YHVH has a different perspective than us on what forgiveness/repentance truly means. We tend to view our hurt or guilt as something that sticks with us and never really leaves us. We pick up the pieces and try to move on, albeit a little worse for wear.

But YHVH wants us to completely move forward! To never look back, to never be that person again, and to never let anyone but Him have power over us. In His infinite mercy and grace, He gives us a completely new beginning! It’s up to us to take hold of it by making teshuvah and returning to Him.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19

Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

*In Hebrew, there is a depth to each word that is missing when translated to English. Each Hebrew letter has a word picture and a numerical value attached to it. The gematria, as this is called, allows us to see a deeper level full of rich meaning for Hebrew words and the Scriptures. If you would like to learn more about gematria or are curious how I arrived at my conclusions, please email me or comment below.*

Elul: The Month of the Bride and Emotional Healing

The sixth Biblical month of Elul is often considered “the month of the Bride.” It is a special time of tenderness between the King and His Bride; a time where Bridegroom and Bride can connect in a very intimate and different way than in the rest of the year. In fact, Elul is considered to be an acronym for Song of Solomon 6:3, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. Ani L‘dodi V‘dodi Li (אלול).”

Before her wedding day, a bride goes through a time of preparation. She must make sure everything is ready and in place; that the food is prepared for her guests and that her dress is perfect to meet her husband. But there are inward preparations she must make as well. Is she ready to be a wife? Is she prepared to be joined to another person for the rest of her life? Is she prepared to be her husband’s helpmate? For us, as the Bride of Yeshua, we too go through a time of preparation during the month of Elul which includes a time of emotional healing.

Kidneys
Biblically, emotions are closely connected to the kidneys. Often times, the word for kidney is inaccurately translated as “heart,” “mind,” or “soul” in the Bible. Certainly there is some overlap between the kidneys and the heart, but it seems that the kidneys are more restricted to the emotional center of man, while the heart is more concerned with the thoughts and attitudes of man. Consider the first use of “heart” in Genesis 6:5: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Other verses seem to confirm this idea.  Genesis 8:21 “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”; Genesis 27:41 “…and Esau said in his heart,”; Psalms 14:1 “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.”; “out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders….”

In Hebrew, the word for “kidney” is kilyah. It is the feminine form of the word kelîy – which means tool, vessel, or weapon. In a literal sense, kilyah is the kidney organ. Figuratively, it is the seat of man’s emotions. In Hebrew psychology, the kidneys are viewed as the seat of man’s emotions, the innermost being, the soul, the central location of the passions, the seat of human joy and grief, as well as the seat of moral & ethical character. As the Creator of this moral and ethical capacity in each of us, YHVH examines the kidneys to determine each individual’s attitudes and motives, and to determine the appropriate reward or punishment. Appropriately, the kidneys figured prominently in the offering of sacrifices upon YHVH’s altar.

Because of the important connection to man’s emotions, it’s important to examine the function and role of the kidneys not only in our physical health but our emotional health as well. Keep in mind that what happens in the physical is often a mirror of what happens in the spiritual — so be thinking about the spiritual application of the physical ailments and the kidneys as our emotional center as we go on.

Kidney Damage and Emotional Health
Physically, the kidneys filter out waste from the body, so when the kidneys’ functioning is impaired it quickly becomes a dangerous situation. Some kidney problems happen quickly, such as when an accident injures the kidneys. Losing a lot of blood can cause sudden kidney failure. Some drugs or poisons can make the kidneys stop working. Acute Kidney Injury may lead to permanent loss of kidney function. But if the kidneys are not seriously damaged, acute kidney disease may be reversed.

Most kidney problems, however, happen slowly and over time. A person may have “silent” kidney disease for years and never know. People with Chronic Kidney Disease may go on to develop permanent kidney failure. They also have a high risk of death from a stroke or heart attack. Think about it…a person with long-lasting kidney/emotional damage is at a high risk for stroke or heart attack. A stroke kills the brain/mind and a heart attack kills the heart.

There are two major causes of kidney failure: diabetes and high blood pressure. Diabetes can be caused by poor diet, being overweight and emotional stress, among other things. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the body and it contributes to hardening of the arteries and the development of heart failure. While diabetes is the result of not being able to properly process and high blood pressure is the result of excessive amounts of pressure, both can be caused by factors related to emotional stress.

So let’s think about this in a spiritual sense. If we experience emotional trauma, whether in a specific situation or over a long period of time, we are at risk for shutting down emotionally and becoming emotionally unhealthy. When our emotions fail, our mind and heart fail as well. However, if we maintain a healthy lifestyle of being in the Word, drinking the living waters of life, and strengthening our spiritual muscles, then our kidneys will work as designed: to flush out the toxins and poisons that inevitably enter our bodies.

Kilyah and Emotional Healing
In Hebrew, there is a depth to each word that is missing when translated to English. Each Hebrew letter has a word picture and a numerical value attached to it. The gematria, as this is called, allows us to see a deeper level full of rich meaning for Hebrew words and the Scriptures. Below are the word pictures and numerical values for the letters that make up the word kilyah or kidneys.

כליה

כ (Kaph): open palm; to bend, open, allow or tame

ל (Lamed): shepherd’s staff; teach, yoke, bind, toward

י (Yod): arm/closed hand; work, throw

ה (He): man with arms raised; look, reveal, breath

 *To bend and allow to be tamed by the shepherd’s staff which teaches, yokes and binds us to the work revealed to the man with raised arms.*


 כ (Kaph) 20: – balance between YHVH/man and man/man ten times over

ל (Lamed) 30: covenant ten times over

י (Yod) 10 – confidence in YHVH

ה (He) 5 – faith, grace and mercy

*Kidneys restore a balance between YHVH & man and man & man ten times over and establish a covenant of confidence in YHVH of faith, grace and mercy.*

What we see from the gematria is that our kidneys/emotional health determines if we will yield ourselves in complete surrender to the Shepherd and the work that must be done. When we completely surrender to the work of emotional healing during Elul, our kidneys then restore balance in our relationship with God and others. When our kidneys/emotional being is healthy, we can then filter out waste and allow the purification process to take place.

Kilyah and the Month of the Bride
So what do the kidneys and emotional health have to do with the month of the bride? In order for the Bride to be prepared for Judgment Day she must be found to be without spot or blemish. She must also wash herself clean and be clothed in white for her Bridegroom at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. This requires her to remove any spot or blemish from her life.

The month of Elul is a gift from YHVH in which He gives us the time, opportunity, and circumstances to accomplish this cleaning and repentance. Our Bridegroom is not only concerned with our physical and spiritual health, but with our emotional health too!

Our mind-body-soul connection is undeniably important. However, as believers, too often we get so focused on our spiritual health that we neglect our physical or emotional health. While they are all connected, they are also uniquely individual. Emotional healing is just one aspect of our health that YHVH may choose to address during Elul — but emotional wounds are often the most neglected because they are the most difficult to uproot. Whatever area of your life YHVH chooses to shine His spotlight on, I encourage you to fight the urge to downplay the issue as “not that big of a deal” or to dismiss the way God chooses to get your attention as merely a coincidence. But as Gibbs from NCIS would say, “Rule #39: There’s no such thing as a coincidence.”

The Freedom of Letting Go

Passover is all about being released from bondage, and today as I was doing some last minute passover cleaning, I came across some food items that had been hidden so long in the back of my pantry I had forgotten they were even there! Some of these items were leaven but most of them were non-leaven items I see every day and know that I never use them. I found countless boxes of pasta that I never eat (which makes me question why I bought them in the first place!) but I never throw them out. It was during my cleaning for Passover that I could hear a still, small Voice telling me to “let it all go. If you don’t use it, need it, or want it…let it go.”

Letting things go is really difficult for me. I’m one of those people who keep everything because “you never know” or “just in case” or because it has so many good memories. But the things I don’t get rid of only take up valuable space that I could be using. So why don’t I let them go?

Thousands of years ago, the Israelites had to face the same question. They were leaving a place they had called home for 400 years and were walking away from traditions and a way of life they had adopted as their own. They were leaving all this to follow a God they barely knew and go to a place they weren’t even sure existed. Talk about scary!

The Israelites reached a point in their exodus of freedom that we all reach when we walk away from people or things that we’ve had in our lives for years. It’s that scary place when you feel empty but the thing that used to fill that void in you is no longer there. We’ve all been there. The person you used to turn to is no longer there to call on the phone. The people or places that once brought comfort can’t or don’t hold that place in your life anymore. It’s scary and sad and confusing. What do I do? Where do I go? Who do I turn to?

It’s so easy to judge the Israelites and say they should have turned to YHVH…especially after all the miracles they had seen. But think of all the modern-day miracles you’ve seen in your life. And, yet, how many times have you turned away from God?

It would be really easy to say that in those moments of struggle and sadness that the solution is to simply turn to YHVH. But turning to YHVH is not the hard part. It’s easy to turn to YHVH. The hard part is turning away from the things that used to hold that place.

Too often we make our struggle into something it’s not. We say that because we struggle leaving things behind it must mean that we haven’t really chosen God. But that’s not always the case. Letting go of someone or something, the leaven in each of our lives, is a very difficult emotional process. But just because it’s difficult and you struggle, that doesn’t mean you haven’t chosen YHVH. It means that you’re human…and humans struggle.

We all have leaven in our lives we need to get rid of. Some will be easy to let go of and some will be far more difficult. It will take time and great effort but I believe YHVH wants His people free from emotional, spiritual, and physical bondage in this Passover season.

It was an interesting lesson for me that most of the items I let go of this Passover were not actually leaven, but, rather, things that I simply didn’t need anymore. I bought them at a time when I needed them but it’s been a while since they served any useful purpose to me. It’s an important lesson for each of us to understand, that even if something is not blatant sin (i.e. leaven) it still may need to be removed from our lives. It may have been in your life for a season and a purpose, but that time may have passed.

So turn to Him when things get tough and don’t despair when your heart longs for the things left behind. The key is to not go back to those things when your heart long for them. That’s how you end up building a golden calf and wandering in the desert for 40 years. And that’s not the plan God wants for you this Passover.

This Passover, YHVH desires freedom for His people Whom He has called out from among the nations. Will you let go of the leaven in your life?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares YHVH. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Passover Simplified

Passover is a little less than one week away which means that it’s time to do our last minute spring cleaning to get all the leaven out of our houses and hearts. And if you’re anything like me, I get so confused about what’s considered a leavening and what’s not that I usually rely on my sister to tell me what’s allowed for Passover and what I need to get rid of; but instead of bugging her with the same questions again this year, I decided to create a list of leaving agents of my own!

I know it’s easy to look at the process of removing the leaven in our homes as somewhat ritualistic and just an all-around hassle even though we know its a necessary process that ultimately benefits us. Traditional Judaism has very confusing lists for leaven and complicated instructions how to clean at Passover. I’ll admit that I tend to get a little discouraged and extremely overwhelmed with all the different opinions of what’s considered leaven and what’s not during Passover. Some say no beans but rice is ok, while others say no rice but beans are ok. Some say anything that even appears to “puff up” when water is added (such as oatmeal, beans, rice, etc) is strictly prohibited; hence, the prohibition against almost all grains during Passover. But I’m not sure that this is completely accurate.

Personally, I feel that the process of getting rid of leaven has become way too complicated in religious circles. And when this happens, it takes away from the true purpose and focus of Passover: Yeshua and His sacrifice of love for our sins.

I believe that YHVH intended His rules to be fairly straightforward; we are the ones who complicate them. Sometimes we over-complicate things when we try to do the right thing and make everything perfect. But when we over-complicate things, not only do we take the joy out of keeping Torah in our own lives, but we take away the joy from others as well. We are meant to be a light to the world, but if we are grumbling about the hassle of cleaning and complaining about what we can’t eat (for one, whole week of our lives!), we send the wrong message to those who are watching us. Not a very good light if you ask me.

Yes, we are to remove the physical leaven from our homes and we should take the process seriously, but we shouldn’t be so focused on the outward physical leaven that we forget about the inward spiritual leaven. This is also a time to search the deepest corners of our hearts and ask YHVH to reveal the leaven that is hidden deep within us. Leaven represents the sin we hold onto in our lives but it also represents pride. This is the season of removing the things that “puff us up” and keep us far from Him.

In Exodus 12, YHVH instructs His people about His Passover.

13 And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I shall pass over you, and let the plague not come on you to destroy you when I smite the land of Egypt.

14 And this day shall become to you a remembrance. And you shall observe it as a festival to YHVH throughout your generations – observe it as a festival, an everlasting law.

15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. Indeed on the first day you cause leaven to cease from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that being shall be cut off from Israel.

16 And on the first day is a set-apart gathering, and on the seventh day you have a set-apart gathering. No work at all is done on them, only that which is eaten by every being, that alone is prepared by you.

17 And you shall guard the Festival of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I brought your divisions out of the land of Egypt. And you shall guard this day throughout your generations, an everlasting law.

18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, in the evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month in the evening.

19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, that same being shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether sojourner or native of the land.

20 Do not eat that which is leavened – in all your dwellings you are to eat unleavened bread. (emphasis mine)

In verse 14, YHVH specifically says that this day is to be a “festival to YHVH forever.” Passover, like the entire Torah, is not about us; it’s about Him. Our Father and King has requested that we observe this day with Him. And it was during this festival, centuries later, that He gave the greatest Passover gift to His people: the redemptive blood of Yeshua, His Son, as the Passover Lamb. What more reason to celebrate and be joyful could we need?

So here it is; the list I will be using to (hopefully) simplify things a little this Passover. I make no claim that this is the “ultimate Passover list” or that I am the authority on Passover leaven. But this list helped me at a time when I was struggling with how to observe Passover and rid my home of leaven.

I had become so focused on leaving agents instead of YHVH and the joy of Yeshua that I was in danger of missing the whole point of Passover. I tend to over-think things so YHVH had to remind me to refocus my priorities, fix my gaze on Him, and let Him lead me in how to follow His commands. Even though I’m sharing this list with you all, I encourage everyone to seek the Lord and let Him lead and instruct you. You may disagree with my list or have other items that you remove from your homes, but my hope is that everyone will do their own research about leaven and make a decision about how to celebrate Passover in your own homes.

And this Passover, let’s commit to simplifying things and bring back the joy of our Salvation Yeshua!

Chag Sameach Pesach!
“Happy Passover!”

Leavening Agents

 Commonly used leavening agents in food:

  • Yeasts, including: baker’s yeast and active dried yeast
  • Ammonium carbonate
  • Ammonium bicarbonate
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate)
  • Dipotassium carbonate
  • Monocalcium phosphate
  • Potassium carbonate
  • Potassium bicarbonate
  • Sodium aluminum phosphate
  • Sodium aluminum sulfate
  • Sourdough

Leavening agents found in non-food items:

  • Preparation H (has yeast)
  • Cat and dog foods with yeast
  • Toothpastes with baking soda

False Leaven
Below are foods or ingredients not leavened, although some people mistake them for leavening or leavened foods. Biblically speaking, they pose no problem:

Puffed cereals: Some food products are “puffed up” by mechanical means but cannot be used as a contact spreading agent. They are just puffed up by air and are not chemically leavened. They include: popcorn, beaten eggs, and air puffed cereal like puffed rice or wheat. Double check your cereal, however, to ensure there is no actual leavening.

Brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae:) is an inactive yeast, meaning the yeasts have been killed and have no leavening power. It is the yeast remaining after beer making. It is used as a nutrient supplement to increase the intake of B vitamins. Brewer’s yeast comes powdered (the most potent form), in flakes (best for health shakes), and in tablets.

Yeast extract (autolyzed yeast extract): When yeast cells die, they automatically break up, a process called autolysis, in which the yeasts’ digestive enzymes break their proteins down into simpler compounds. What remains is a collection of protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer.

Soda pop: Although its name says “soda,” soda pop is not leavened as if with bicarbonate of “soda.” It is made with water that has been infused with carbon dioxide in a non-leavening process.

Yom Teruach vs. Rosh Hashanah

Today, September 26, 2014, the new moon was spotted in Israel. This means that Yom Teruach is officially here! For many, we rejoice because the month of Elul is finally over! Not that we don’t enjoy being pressed and tested to our limit but by the end of the month you are counting the hours until it will all be over. Regardless of why you are rejoicing, Yom Teruach is a time for celebration. But many people miss out on the true meaning of this High Holy Day.

Many people know this day (incorrectly) as Rosh Hashanah or literally the Head of the New Year. However, Biblically, this day was known as Yom Teruach or the Day of Trumpets. According to YHVH’s Word, the new year is actually to begin in the spring time at Passover.

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between the evenings, is the Passover to YHVH. Leviticus 23:5

YHVH called the month in which Passover occurs the first month. This month, the seventh Biblical month, is not the new year but, rather, the month containing 3 of the 7 feasts of YHVH.

Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you have a rest, a remembrance of blowing of trumpets, a set-apart gathering. You do no servile work, and you shall bring an offering made by fire to YHVH.’

And YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, “On the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be a set-apart gathering for you. And you shall afflict your beings, and shall bring an offering made by fire to YHVH. And you do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before YHVH your Elohim. For any being who is not afflicted on that same day, he shall be cut off from his people. And any being who does any work on that same day, that being I shall destroy from the midst of his people. You do no work – a law forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It is a Sabbath of rest to you, and you shall afflict your beings. On the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you observe your Sabbath.”

And YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Booths for seven days to YHVH. On the first day is a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work. For seven days you bring an offering made by fire to YHVH. On the eighth day there shall be a set-apart gathering for you, and you shall bring an offering made by fire to YHVH. It is a closing festival, you do no servile work. These are the appointed times of YHVH which you proclaim as set-apart gatherings, to bring an offering made by fire to YHVH, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a slaughtering and drink offerings, as commanded for every day – besides the Sabbaths of YHVH, and besides your gifts, and besides all your vows, and besides all your voluntary offerings which you give to YHVH. Leviticus 23: 24-48

So how did this change occur? Daniel 7:25 tells us that the spirit of the anti-Christ is to change the appointed times of YHVH. By changing YHVH’s appointed times, or getting rid of them altogether, the enemy keeps us oblivious to the season we are in. If we don’t know the season or times we are in, we can’t properly prepare. If we don’t properly prepare, we risk being caught unaware when the Bridegroom comes for His Bride.

and it [the beast] speaks words against the Most High, and it wears out the set-apart ones of the Most High, and it intends to change appointed times and law, and they are given into its hand for a time and times and half a time.

In 325 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea. The result of this council was a new religion that blended the Nazarene faith (the belief in Torah and Yeshua the Messiah) with Mithraism (paganism) and created what we now know as Catholicism. This council is where modern Christianity got it beginnings. Constantine and his council took the true faith and gospel of Yeshua that the disciples had preached (which never parted from Torah) and mixed it with their pagan religion to create a new form of sun/son worship. This new religion changed the holy days of YHVH to the holy days of sun worship…hence Sunday being the new holy day/Sabbath.

As we read in Leviticus 23, YHVH had already established His timetable and His Holy days. The Feast Days of YHVH, or moedim in Hebrew, are the timetable YHVH uses. Significant events in His story always coincide with the Feasts. Yeshua admonishes the Pharisees and Sadducees for understanding the signs of the weather but not understanding the signs of the times. Let this not be the case for us. May we humble ourselves and seek after YHVH’s times and not our own.

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and trying Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. And He answering, said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘Fair weather, for the heaven is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Stormy weather today, for the heaven is red and overcast.’ You know how to discern the face of the heaven, but you are unable to discern the signs of the times! A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and went away. Matthew 16:1-4

So what exactly is Yom Teruach? Like I said earlier, Yom Teruach is the Day of Trumpets. When you see the word “trumpet” in the Bible, it is almost always referring to a shofar or a ram’s horn. The sounding of a shofar signifies a  significant event is about to take place. A shofar was blown to gather all the tribes of Israel together for a meeting with YHVH, religious ceremony, or battle. It was used in battle to direct soldiers. It is also frequently used to wake those who slumber from their sleep. On Yom Teruach, the shofar is blown 100 times and is blown every morning during the month of Elul in preparation. It is truly a wakeup call to those who have ears to hear.

Yeshua warned us of a future Yom Teruach.

And immediately after the distress of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give its light, and the stars shall fall from the heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Adam shall appear in the heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth shall mourn, and they shall see the Son of Adam coming on the clouds of the heaven with power and much esteem. And He shall send His messengers with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. And learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that the summer is near. So you also, when you see all these, know that He is near, at the doors. Truly, I say to you, this generation shall by no means pass away until all this takes place. The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but My words shall by no means pass away.

But concerning that day and the hour no one knows, not even the messengers of the heavens, but My Father only. And as the days of Noah, so also shall the coming of the Son of Adam be. For as they were in the days before the flood, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also shall the coming of the Son of Adam be. Then two shall be in the field, the one is taken and the one is left. Two shall be grinding at the mill, one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Master is coming. And know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Because of this, be ready too, for the Son of Adam is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.

Who then is a trustworthy and wise servant, whom his master set over his household, to give them food in season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, having come, shall find so doing. Truly, I say to you that he shall set him over all his possessions. But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant shall come on a day when he does not expect it, and at an hour he does not know, and shall cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites – there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 24:29- 51

Ok…so let’s dissect a few key parts of this scripture. Many people who do not have an understanding of Torah attempt to explain what Yeshua was telling His disciples. This is why it is imperative that we understand and live Torah. It is the basis for everything we say we believe. It is YHVH’s timetable and compass that will point us to our Messiah.

The “day and the hour which no man knows” was a Hebrew idiom or nickname for Yom Teruach. Why? Yom Teruach is the only feast that begins on the first day of it’s month. In order to know when the new month begins, one must first spot the new moon in the sky. In Biblical days, a watchman would stand outside every night in his watchman’s tower and look for the sliver of the moon that indicates the new month had begun. Even today with our fancy NASA calendars and technology it’s still impossible to know exactly what day the new moon will appear. This explains the nickname the day and the hour which no man knows.

When Yeshua said this, it would have been no mystery to the disciples or anyone obeying Torah to understand what He meant. They would have immediately known He was referring to Yom Teruach.

In Biblical days, once the watchman spotted the new moon, he would then blow the shofar and word would spread across Israel that the feast of Yom Teruach had begun. Because it is a holy day and treated as a Sabbath, all work wouldWatchman New Moon immediately cease. Therefore, when Yeshua said that two would be in the field and one would be taken and the other left, He was saying that one would leave His work and head to the Temple and the other would ignore the shofar and stay in the field. Most Christians are sadly taught that this is referring to the rapture. Again, without understanding Torah and YHVH’s timetable, it’s near impossible to truly understand prophecy, the words of Yeshua, or decipher the times and seasons we are living in.

Yom Teruach also marks the beginning of the fall feasts. As we read in Leviticus 23, we celebrate Yom Teruach on the first day of the month, then on the 10th day of the month we celebrate Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and the 15th day Sukkot (Tabernacles) is celebrated.

The 10 day period between Yom Teruach and Yom Kippur is called the 10 Days of Awe. This is YHVH’s mercy to His Bride as she prepares to come before Him on Judgment Day. As I’ve mentioned in other posts about Elul, the month of Elul is a month to resolve issues and deal with your junk. If, for whatever reason, you still haven’t finished this process, YHVH gives you 10 more days before Judgment Day to make things right.

After Yom Kippur, Sukkot is celebrated. Sukkot is known as the Wedding Feast and is a weeklong celebration. It is an extremely joyous time!

So, now that Yom Teruach is upon us, rejoice, celebrate, give thanks to YHVH for His loving-faithfulness and goodness. But don’t forget to continue doing the hard work and take advantage of these last 10 days before Yom Kippur. Be blessed!

Chag Sameach! Happy Feast Days!

The Spirit and the Bride of Shavuot

In my last post, I talked about the love story between Boaz and Ruth that happened during Shavuot. But there is another love story that takes place during the season of Shavuot. This is a love story 5,000 years in the making. The story of a King who is scorned by His beloved bride and vows to redeem her to Himself. The story of a King’s waiting that transcends time and space…a price He willingly pays in order to reclaim His precious bride. This is the real story of Shavuot: No one has greater love than this — that he should lay down his life for his friend. It is the love story between YHVH and Israel.

In order to tell this love story that is taking place between YHVH and His people Israel we will explore the similarities between the first Shavuot that occurred at Mt. Sinai and the Shavuot that took place in Jerusalem in the Upper Room. To begin, let’s take a look at the passages describing both events.

Exodus 19: 3, 5-6, 10-20
And Moses went up to Elohim, and YHVH called to him from the mountain, saying, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob, and declare to the children of Israel: ‘And now, if you diligently obey My voice, and shall guard My covenant, then you shall be My treasured possession above all the peoples – for all the earth is Mine – and you shall be to Me a reign of priests and a set-apart nation.’ Those are the words which you are to speak to the children of Israel.” And YHVH said to Moses, “Go to the people and set them apart today and tomorrow. And they shall wash their garments, and shall be prepared by the third day. For on the third day YHVH shall come down upon Mount Sinai before the eyes of all the people. And you shall make a border for the people all around, saying, ‘Take heed to yourselves that you do not go up to the mountain or touch the border of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall certainly be put to death. Not a hand is to touch it, but he shall certainly be stoned or shot with an arrow, whether man or beast, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, let them come near the mountain.”

And Moses came down from the mountain to the people and set the people apart, and they washed their garments. And he said to the people, “Be prepared by the third day. Do not come near a wife.” And it came to be, on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain. And the sound of the ram’s horn was very loud, and all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with Elohim, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. And Mount Sinai was in smoke, all of it, because YHVH descended upon it in fire. And its smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and all the mountain trembled exceedingly. And when the blast of the ram’s horn sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and Elohim answered him by voice. And YHVH came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And YHVH called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

Acts 2: 1-8, 12-21, 37-41
And when the Day of the Festival of Weeks [Shavuot] had come, they were all with one mind in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from the heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and settled on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Set-apart Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them to speak. Now in Jerusalem there were dwelling Jews, dedicated men from every nation under the heaven. And when this sound came to be, the crowd came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying to each other, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how do we hear, each one in our own language in which we were born?” And they were all amazed, and were puzzled, saying to each other, “What does this mean?” And others mocking said, “They have been filled with sweet wine.” But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and said to them, “Men of Judah and all those dwelling in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen closely to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you imagine, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall be in the last days, says Elohim, that I shall pour out of My Spirit on all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams, and also on My male servants and on My female servants I shall pour out My Spirit in those days, and they shall prophesy. And I shall show wonders in the heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: blood and fire and vapor of smoke.

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and splendid day of YHVH. And it shall be that everyone who calls on the Name of YHVH shall be saved.’ And having heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the emissaries, “Men, brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each one of you be immersed in the Name of Yeshua Messiah for the forgiveness of sins. And you shall receive the gift of the Set-apart Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are far off, as many as YHVH our Elohim shall call.” And with many other words he earnestly witnessed and urged them, saying, “Be saved from this crooked generation.” Then those, indeed, who gladly received his word, were immersed. And on that day about three thousand beings were added to them.

After comparing the two texts we can see there are quite a few similarities, however, there are five main parallels I want to discuss. The first parallel is fire. At both Shavuots, fire was present. At Mt. Sinai, we are told that YHVH Himself descended as fire. He was the fire that engulfed the mountain. In the Upper Room, tongues of fire descended upon the disciples. We can deduce from the texts that if YHVH descended on the mountain as fire it’s a safe conclusion that He was also the fire that descended on the disciples in the Upper Room.

A common misconception is that until this day in the Upper Room, the Holy Spirit was not present in the world. This simply isn’t true. We read at various points in the Scriptures where it is clearly stated that the Spirit of God was present – before the outpouring in the Upper Room. Some of these instances, include the creation of the world (and specifically the creation of man), the Psalms consistently declaring the praises and wonders of His Spirit, and references in Haggai, Nehemiah, Zechariah, and Isaiah that the Spirit of God taught and directed Israel. In addition, the Spirit of YHVH filled the people with the knowledge of how to build the Temple and its furnishings, the Spirit instructed Moses how and whom to appoint as the 70 elders, and Joseph, Joshua, Saul, David, the Judges of Israel, and the prophets of YHVH are all said to have the Spirit of God upon them. These are just a few examples to show how extensively the Holy Spirit of God was present in the world before the Upper Room. The list, however, could go on forever.

Fire is also usually related to cleansing and judgment. Think of all the times we see fire used as a tool of YHVH. Is it possible these were also instances of the Holy Spirit of YHVH? What does it tell us about the connection between judgment, His Spirit, and cleansing/purification?

In both cases, after the Spirit of YHVH appeared, YHVH then presents His people with the Torah. At Mt. Sinai the Torah was given on stone tablets through Moses. In the Upper Room, the Torah was written on the hearts of believers directly through His Spirit.

Deuteronomy 31:16-21 tells us that YHVH knew Israel would break the covenant that was written on stone tablets.

And YHVH said to Moses, “See, you are about to sleep with your fathers. And this people shall rise and whore after the mighty ones of the strangers of the land into the midst of which they shall enter, and forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. Then My displeasure shall burn against them in that day, and I shall forsake them and hide My face from them, and they shall be consumed. And many evils and distresses shall come upon them, and it shall be said in that day, ‘Is it not because our Elohim is not in our midst that these evils have come upon us?’ And I shall certainly hide My face in that day, because of all the evil which they have done, for they shall turn to other mighty ones. And now write down this song for yourselves, and teach it to the children of Israel. Put it in their mouths, so that this song is to Me for a witness against the children of Israel. And I shall bring them to the land flowing with milk and honey, of which I swore to their fathers, and they shall eat and be satisfied and be fat, then they shall turn to other mighty ones, and they shall serve them, and scorn Me and break My covenant. And it shall be, when many evils and distresses come upon them, that this song shall answer before them as a witness. For it is not to be forgotten in the mouths of their seed, for I know their thoughts which they are forming today, even before I bring them to the land of which I swore to give them.”

These verses indicate that YHVH knew the covenant written on stone tablets would be broken. He knew before they ever sinned against Him that their necks would be stiff and their hearts would be hard. However, YHVH also foretold of a time when He would renew this covenant with His people and would write His Torah on their hearts.

“See, the days are coming,” declares YHVH, “when I shall make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them,” declares YHVH. For this is the covenant I shall make with the house of Israel after those days, declares YHVH: I shall put My Torah in their inward parts, and write it on their hearts. And I shall be their Elohim, and they shall be My people. And no longer shall they teach, each one his neighbor, and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know YHVH,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares YHVH. “For I shall forgive their crookedness, and remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34

YHVH says that He is going to make a new – or renewed – covenant with the House of Israel. Notice, however, that YHVH’s new covenant still involves Torah. The new covenant that we as believers are part of still requires us to guard and observe YHVH’s Torah. It is common doctrine in today’s churches that Christians no longer have to keep Torah as part of the new covenant under grace. But clearly, YHVH never said such a thing. YHVH tells us that He intends to release His people from their captivity and that He would then write His Torah in our inward parts and on our hearts. He is essentially saying that He will make Torah a part of us; that it will be so precious to us and so inseparable from our lives that it actually becomes part of our makeup; that we can never be separated from His Torah.

Tradition has it that when the Torah was given on Mt. Sinai, it was given in 70 different languages. Perhaps this is also foreshadowing of the captivity in which Israel would find herself. It is because of this captivity foretold by YHVH that it became necessary for the disciples to speak in many languages. Yeshua had to send the disciples out to the nations because that is where the captives of Israel were! This is why it so important to believe that we are part of Israel…just as Ruth did.

And He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all have to be filled that were written in the Torah of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it has been written, and so it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His Name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these matters. And see, I am sending the Promise of My Father upon you, but you are to remain in the city of Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:44-49

And meeting with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “But you shall receive power when the Set-apart Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judah and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:4,8

Yeshua told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the promise of receiving the power of the Set-apart Spirit came upon them. Only when this happened could they begin to spread the message of the Good News! Why did they have to wait in Jerusalem? Firstly, Shavuot was a feast that is celebrated in Jerusalem – Yeshua was instructing His disciples to keep Torah. Secondly, judgment – and blessing – are first for the house of Israel and then for the surrounding nations. Likewise, the Good News began in Jerusalem and was sent out from there.

One of the major elements of the Good News is redemption and restoration. We learned from the story of Ruth and Boaz that the season of Shavuot is a season of redemption and restoration. To further this point, we learn that in Jerusalem 3,000 people were added to the assembly of believers. Why is this 3,000 number important? At Mt. Sinai, there were 3,000 missing from the House of Israel to receive the Torah because of the sin of the golden calf.

And he took the calf which they had made, and burned it in the fire, and ground it into powder, and scattered it on the face of the water and made the children of Israel drink it. And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?” And Aaron said, “Do not let the displeasure of my master burn. You know the people, that it is in evil. And they said to me, ‘Make us mighty ones who go before us. For this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, let them take it off.’ And they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out.” And Moses saw that the people were let loose, for Aaron had let them loose, to their shame among their enemies. And Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Who is for YHVH? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves to him. And he said to them, “Thus said YHVH Elohim of Israel: ‘Each one put his sword on his side, pass over to and fro from gate to gate in the camp, and each one slay his brother, and each one his friend, and each one his relative.’ ” And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. And Moses said, “You are ordained for YHVH today – since each one has been against his son and his brother – so as to bring upon you a blessing today.” Exodus 32:20-29

Once the people of Israel were redeemed, they could then offer their first-fruits to YHVH. At Mt. Sinai we see this take place by the marriage covenant that was established. In Jerusalem, we see this demonstrated by the ingathering of the lost sheep of Israel; the ingathering of exiled Israel from the nations.

In both cases, we are the first-fruits being offered to YHVH. It is a time of the giving of the harvest. We are the harvest that is being offered. But we cannot bear fruit if we are not first connected to the Vine.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. Every branch in Me that bears no fruit He takes away. And every branch that bears fruit He prunes, so that it bears more fruit. You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you. Stay in Me, and I stay in you. As the branch is unable to bear fruit of itself, unless it stays in the vine, so neither you, unless you stay in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who stays in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit. Because without Me you are able to do naught! If anyone does not stay in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up. And they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you stay in Me, and My Words stay in you, you shall ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. In this My Father is esteemed, that you bear much fruit, and you shall be My taught ones. As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Stay in My love.

If you guard My commands, you shall stay in My love, even as I have guarded My Father’s commands and stay in His love. These words I have spoken to you, so that My joy might be in you, and that your joy might be complete. This is My command, that you love one another, as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: that one should lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, for all teachings which I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name He might give you. These words I command you, so that you love one another.” John 15:1-17

The Holy Spirit has always played an important role in Shavuot and, as we can see from these two examples, is an integral part of the covenant between YHVH and Israel. Once we allow the fire of YHVH to cleanse, judge, and declare us purified, only then are we able to receive the Torah of YHVH that keeps us from sin and allows us to draw near to YHVH. It is YHVH’s desire that we love and guard His Torah to such a degree that it becomes inextricable from our very being. Torah becomes who we are; it becomes the very essence of our being.

Once we hear and receive this message of Torah and redemption in our own language, then we become the redeemed of Israel and are restored to our rightful place under the covering of the Most High God – YHVH El Elyon! It is only then that we can offer ourselves as first-fruits to YHVH to serve in His Kingdom and to declare the Good News: that the captives of Israel have been freed by the power and blood of Yeshua haMashiach – Yeshua the Messiah!

Offering ourselves to YHVH is the ultimate gift of love we can offer Him. “No one has greater love than this: that he would lay down his life for his friends.” By giving Him our lives, our hopes, our fears, and everything that we will ever become, we are saying “I choose you. I choose all that You are and all that You have for me. You will never cease to be more than enough for me; You are all I will ever need or desire. I choose to love You and obey You. I choose to lay down my life for You.” This “sacrifice” becomes our wedding vow to our King. And that is the real love story of Shavuot.

Boaz and Ruth: A Shavuot Love Story

The story of Ruth and Boaz is a beautiful story of redemptive love and devotion. It is a story that demonstrates the redeeming power of love, devotion, and obedience. The story of Ruth is commonly read during Shavuot for several reasons. The first reason is the physical harvest that occurs in story. The “courting” of Ruth and Boaz takes places during Shavuot. The second reason is the spiritual harvest that takes place in the story. This is demonstrated when Ruth accepts and joins herself to Torah, and simultaneously the God of Israel, and becomes grafted into Israel. Through the union of Ruth and Boaz, not only did we receive Messiah Yeshua, but we can also glean much insight into the season of counting the omer and Shavuot.

A Few Things from Torah Before We Begin
Before we begin, there are a few things we need to first understand from Torah.

  1. Laws of redemption (Lev. 25:32-55)
  2. Laws of Shemittah and Jubilee years (Lev. 25:4, 10, 23)
  3. Laws of family inheritance (Num. 27:8-11): if a man died without a son, the inheritance would be transferred to the daughter, and since Ruth was the widow of Machlon, she was the legal heir of the line of Elimelech. In other words, if Boaz could be persuaded to marry Ruth, then he could redeem the land and save the family from being obliterated in Israel.
  4. Laws of yibbum or “levirate marriage” (Deut. 25:5-10): Naomi understood that Boaz was a “near kinsman” to her husband Elimelech, and therefore he was qualified to redeem her land from those who presently were leasing it. Recall that the Torah allowed for the redemption of land based on its pro rata value before the year of Jubilee. The “law of redemption” required that a next of kin had the duty to redeem (buy back) the land of their close relative if the relative was in such financial difficulty that he was forced to sell it: ‘If your brother becomes impoverished and sells some of his property, then his near redeemer shall and redeem what his brother has sold” (Lev. 25:25). Since Naomi was destitute, she needed to persuade a close relative to redeem her land for the legacy of her family’s name in Israel.
  5. Various farming laws regarding leaving food for the poor and the stranger (Lev. 19:9-10; 23:22; Deut. 24:19)
  6. God’s repeatedly stated commandment that Israel must be holy and not assimilate with surrounding cultures (Exod. 34:12; Deut. 7:1-6; 14:2, etc.). This restriction applied not only to the seven Canaanite nations (Deut. 7:1; 20:17-18), but also to the descendants of Lot (i.e., Amnonites and the Moabites), since they showed enmity to Israel when they first came to the land (Deut. 23:4-6).

Indirectly, then, the story of Ruth provides a strong message to Christians: to understand the story of redemption, you must first understand the Torah and its commandments!


The Story of Ruth
The story takes place during the time when judges ruled Israel, before the monarchy was established. In Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, there was a man named Elimelech who lived with his wife Naomi and his two sons Machlon and Chilyon. There came a great famine in the land and Elimelech decided to lease out his land and move his family to the land of Moab, where he died shortly thereafter. His sons each married a Moabite woman; Chilyon married Orpah and Machlon married Ruth. Soon, Elimelech’s sons died too, leaving Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth as widows.

Naomi decides to go back to the land Israel and urges her two widowed daughters-in-law to return to their fathers’ homes. Orpah returns to her people but Ruth remains devoted to Naomi. Despite Naomi’s warning that Ruth would be regarded as an outcast in Israel who would likely remain a perpetual widow, Ruth refused to be dissuaded. Once Naomi understood Ruth’s heartfelt resolve, she accepted Ruth’s decision, and the two women arrived in Bethlehem in the early spring, during the time of the barley harvest in Judah.

“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you” Ruth 1:16-17

Naomi sends Ruth to glean in the fields. Boaz sees Ruth while she is working and is immediately drawn to her BUT he doesn’t yet know if he has a claim to her…..that will be revealed to him later. But he does decide to keep her close to him…and good thing he does because YHVH eventually reveals to him (with a little help from Ruth and Naomi) that he is, in fact, the kinsman redeemer for Ruth!

Boaz and Ruth have a type of courtship during weeks of the barely harvest – during the counting of the omer. Boaz was a “near kinsmen” to Naomi’s late husband Elimelech (perhaps the son of Elimelech’s brother), so he had a legal claim to redeem the land. Moreover, Boaz had a legal entitlement to marry Ruth, but he needed to be persuaded to do so.

Ruth also had a legal right to ask for Boaz to perpetuate the family line in Israel by marrying her. Before Boaz could do so, however, Ruth had to express her “legal intent” by claiming him as her “near kinsman.” In preparation of this significant event, Naomi instructed Ruth to beautify herself and present herself before Boaz at the end of the harvest, when the harvesters would be joyfully celebrating God’s provision – during the holiday of Shavuot. After the feast, Ruth was told that Boaz would sleep at the threshing floor and was instructed to lay at his feet and pull his covering over her feet to symbolize her claim.

And Boaz ate and drank, and his heart was glad, and he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. And she came softly and uncovered his feet, and lay down. And it came to be at midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself, and saw a woman lying at his feet! And he said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your female servant. Now you shall spread your covering over your female servant – for you are a redeemer.” And he said, “Blessed are you of YHVH, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, not to go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do nRuth and Boazot fear. All that you say I do for you, for all the people of my town know that you are a capable woman. And now, it is true that I am your redeemer. However, there is a redeemer nearer than I. Stop over tonight, and in the morning it shall be that if he does redeem you, good – let him do it. But if he is not pleased to redeem you, then I shall redeem you, as YHVH lives! Lie down until morning.” Ruth 3:7-13

 

Boaz then discusses the matter with the man that is the nearer kinsman redeemer in the presence of the town elders. The nearer kinsman redeemer refuses as it would jeopardize his own inheritance. And Boaz said to the elders and to all the people,

“You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Kilyon’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Na‛omi. And also, Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to raise up the name of the dead on his inheritance, so that the name of the dead should not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his place. You are witnesses today.” And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, “Witnesses! YHVH make the woman who is coming to your house as Rachel and as Leah, the two who built the house of Israel. And prove your worth in Israel and proclaim the Name in Bethlehem. And let your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, of the seed which YHVH does give you from this young woman. And Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife.” Ruth 4:9-13


The blessing given to Boaz suggests that God’s plan of blessing overcame the weakness and frailty of all the people involved. Isn’t it encouraging that no matter what your struggle, no matter the battle that wages all around you, God is more than able to accomplish the promises He has made?


Lessons About the Counting of the Omer and Shavuot
As you can see, there are many things that the story of Boaz and Ruth reveal to us about this season of counting the omer and Shavuot. Here are just a few:

Joining Ourselves to YHVH, Israel and Torah
It is a time to leave our old ways behind us and join ourselves wholeheartedly to the God of Israel…to YHVH. It was through Ruth’s obedience to the laws of Torah that allowed her to find life, love, and blessings beyond that of anything she could have imagined. Once Ruth vowed to join herself to YHVH, the ways of Torah, and to the people of Israel, she was able to fulfill her destiny of bringing forth the line that would bear the Savior of the world. In the same way, we too will never be able to fully walk out the calling on our lives until we join ourselves to YHVH and His ways.

Care and Provision
Once we fully and completely join ourselves to YHVH and walk in His Torah, the blessings and provisions that YHVH promised would follow can now freely flow forth. Ruth was obedient not only to Naomi and Boaz, but also to YHVH. Through her obedience and servitude, YHVH’s care and provision were afforded to her. She was obedient in her time of mourning and her time of waiting. She didn’t jump the gun and she didn’t question the instructions given to her. She was obedient and was richly blessed because of it.

Rejoicing
Shavuot is a season of rejoicing in YHVH’s provision and guidance. Through Ruth’s story, we see that the counting of the omer is a season of waiting. Shavuot is the subsequent celebration and fulfillment of the promises we have anticipated and prepared for.

Finding Favor with Our Bridegroom
Ruth did not go after other lovers – even in her precarious situation. She had dove’s eyes for Boaz. We too need to have dove’s eyes for YHVH. We cannot go after other lovers but instead seek to please YHVH and find favor with Him alone.

Redemption Through Our True Kinsman Redeemer
When we think of redemption in the story of Ruth, we tend to focus on Ruth alone being redeemed. However, there were actually several things that were redeemed in this story. The land that belonged to Elimelech’s family – to include Ruth and Naomi – was redeemed. Naomi’s family line and lineage was redeemed – and even produced King David and Messiah Yeshua! Last, but certainly not least, both Naomi and Ruth were redeemed from a life of widowhood. They were taken from a season of death and mourning to a season of life and rejoicing! So you see, redemption of persons was not the only thing that needed to be redeemed by Boaz. Through Boaz’s willingness to be the kinsman redeemer, we see that property, family lineage, and people were all redeemed. This shows that YHVH is not only concerned with our spiritual welfare but our physical as well. In the end, everything we have is His and YHVH will not let His treasured possessions be lost forever; He will redeem what is His and restore all things.

Ultimately, the story of Ruth provides a powerful message to believers: to truly understand the story of redemption, you must first devote yourself to YHVH and His commands!

This is part 3 of 5 in the Shavuot series.

First Fruits of Shavuot: Giving Our Best to YHVH

In my last post, I began the topic of Shavuot by showing how we all as believers in Messiah are made part of the House of Israel by being grafted into the olive tree. As members of Israel, the Torah –or God’s Word—is, indeed, for us too! In this post, we will talk about the giving of first fruits at Shavuot and how we can offer our own first fruits to God.

Leviticus 23 summarizes the feasts – or appointed times – that YHVH calls us to celebrate.  The below verses are describing Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the bringing of the first fruits at Shavuot (highlighted portion).

“These are the appointed times of YHVH, set-apart gatherings which you are to proclaim at their appointed times. ‘In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between the evenings, is the Passover to YHVH. And on the fifteenth day of this month is the Festival of Unleavened Bread to YHVH – seven days you eat unleavened bread. On the first day you have a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work. And you shall bring an offering made by fire to YHVH for seven days. On the seventh day is a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work.’

“And YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and you shall say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I give you, and shall reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest to the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before YHVH, for your acceptance. On the morrow after the Sabbath the priest waves it. And on that day when you wave the sheaf, you shall prepare a male lamb a year old, a perfect one, as a burnt offering to YHVH, and its grain offering: two-tenths of an ĕphah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to YHVH, a sweet fragrance, and its drink offering: one-fourth of a hin of wine. And you do not eat bread or roasted grain or fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your Elohim – a law forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

“And from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, you shall count for yourselves: seven completed Sabbaths. Until the morrow after the seventh Sabbath you count fifty days, then you shall bring a new grain offering to YHVH. Bring from your dwellings for a wave offering two loaves of bread, of two-tenths of an ĕphah of fine flour they are, baked with leaven, first-fruits to YHVH. And besides the bread, you shall bring seven lambs a year old, perfect ones, and one young bull and two rams. They are a burnt offering to YHVH, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet fragrance to YHVH. And you shall offer one male goat as a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old, as a peace offering. And the priest shall wave them, besides the bread of the first-fruits, as a wave offering before YHVH, besides the two lambs. They are set-apart to YHVH for the priest. And on this same day you shall proclaim a set-apart gathering for yourselves, you do no servile work on it – a law forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.” Leviticus 23:4-21

Counting of the Omer
The counting of the omer begins on the first Shabbat after Passover. An omer is a unit of measurement. During the counting of the omer, an omer-measurement of barley was offered in the Temple every day until Shavuot. You count 7 full weeks…meaning you count 49 days. The 50th day is Shavuot – many might know this as Pentecost which is Greek for “50” or “the 50th day”; in Hebrew Shavuot means “weeks”.

The importance of counting the omer is oftentimes overlooked. But one way to look at it, is that counting the omer is an important part of preparation for Shavuot. It was on Shavuot when the children of Israel received the Torah and, later, the prophetic outpouring of the Spirit read about in Acts 2.

One thing we as Americans have a hard time understanding is the concept of preparation and the time we spend waiting as we prepare. We want to rush through seasons and don’t understand the profound nature of waiting. As we count each day of the omer, it creates a sense of expectancy within us. If we truly take the time to count the omer, we will not try to rush forward from Passover to Shavuot and miss the lessons that can only be found in the waiting of preparation. Instead, we will learn to walk out each day and live in every moment as we wait for the appointed time. It makes waiting seem less difficult as we begin to see the importance of every, single day and the role each day plays in getting us to the ultimate goal.

Shavuot
Shavuot is the day that the children of Israel received the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is a holiday that in modern times is unfortunately overlooked. However, this is certainly no small festival and there is great reason to rejoice and celebrate. In fact, this is one of 3 feasts that YHVH required us to go up to Jerusalem to celebrate; sounds like this feast is VERY important to YHVH.

In order to come before YHVH, the children of Israel had to prepare for 49 days, including having to refrain from anything that would make them unclean in the final 3 days. For those that were obedient, their reward was the gift of the Torah. We talked last week how important the Torah is; how Torah tells us what sin is, how it lights our path, directs our steps, and allows us to draw closer to YHVH. No wonder Shavuot is so important to YHVH.

Later, we read in Acts 2 of the disciples who, just days before had been walking with the resurrected Messiah, were celebrating Shavuot. We are told they were all gathered together of one mind to celebrate Shavuot. Had they not been keeping Torah and been obedient to YHVH’s commands to keep His feasts, they would not have been at the right place at the right time in order to receive the prophetic spirit of Joel 2. We will talk more about this in another post.

First Fruits
In ancient times, the grain harvest lasted seven weeks (49 days) and was a season of gladness. It began with the harvesting of the barley during Passover and ended with the harvesting of the wheat at Shavuot. Shavuot was thus the concluding festival of the grain harvest. During this time of first fruits, an offering of two loaves of bread from the wheat harvest is made on Shavuot.

Ceremony of First Fruits, Bikkurim
Shavuot was also the first day on which individuals could bring the Bikkurim (first fruits) to YHVH. The Bikkurim were brought from the Seven Species for which the Land of Israel is praised in Deuteronomy 8:8: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.

In the primarily farming society of ancient Israel, Hebrew farmers would tie a reed around the first ripening fruits from each of these species in their fields. At the time of harvest, the fruits identified by the reed would be cut and placed in baskets woven of gold and silver. The baskets would then be loaded on oxen whose horns were gilded and laced with garlands of flowers, and who were led in a grand procession to Jerusalem. As the farmer and his entourage passed through cities and towns, they would be accompanied by music and parades. First Fruits Going to Temple

The ceremony of Bikkurim conveys the children of Israel’s gratitude to God for His provisions, for the first fruits of the field, for His guidance throughout the year in their own lives, and for His guidance for the nation as a whole.

Shavuot & Firstfruits in Our Own Lives
Are we offering YHVH our best? Are we offering Him our firstfruits? Are we giving Him our best or are we scraping the bottom of the barrel? Psalm 106 is a good reminder to us to stop allowing other things to take precedence over YHVH. It is a reminder to offer up to YHVH our first fruits from a thankful heart; not just on Shavuot, but every day.

Praise Yah! Oh, give thanks to YHVH, For He is good! For His kindness is everlasting. Who does relate the mighty acts of YHVH? Or declare all His praise? Blessed are those who guard right-ruling, Who do righteousness at all times! Remember me, O YHVH, in the acceptance of Your people; visit me with Your deliverance, to see the good of Your chosen ones, to rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, to make my boast with Your inheritance. We have sinned with our fathers. We have acted perversely; we have done wrong. Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; they did not remember Your many kindnesses, but rebelled by the sea, the Sea of Reeds. But He saved them for His Name’s sake, to make known His might. And He rebuked the Sea of Reeds, and it dried up; And He led them through the depths, through a wilderness. And He saved them from the hand of the hater, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And waters covered their adversaries; not one of them was left. Then they believed His words; they sang His praise. They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel, but greedily lusted in the wilderness, And tried God in the desert. And He gave them their request, but sent leanness within their being. They forgot God their Savior, the Doer of great deeds in Egypt.” Psalm 106: 1-15; 21

We read throughout the Bible of YHVH’s faithfulness and loving-commitment; we read of how He never fails us and we tend to focus on that when we need something. But do we ever stop to think about how we fail Him? How we don’t always show Him the same loving-commitment or faithfulness He shows us?

We put others before our relationship with Him. We let other things get in the way of drawing near to Him. We let our emotions cloud our vision till it’s so small there isn’t room for anything else. And then, after we have reached a point of desperation, we remember Him. We remember His faithfulness and His loving-commitment. He has been there the whole time waiting for us; beckoning us to draw ever-nearer to Him.

Why don’t we wait? Why do we let so many other things get in the way? Why do we so easily forget the wonders He has done in our own lives? We read how the children of Israel forgot the wonders and miracles of YHVH and we think that we could somehow do a better job than they did. But there is nothing new under the sun…would we really be any different?

“They then despised the pleasant land; They did not believe His word, and they grumbled in their tents, they did not listen to the voice of YHVH. So He lifted up His hand in an oath against them, to make them fall in the wilderness”Psalm 106: 24-26

“They did not destroy the peoples, as YHVH had commanded them, but mixed with the surrounding nations and learned their works, and served their idols, and they became a snare to them. And they slaughtered their sons and their daughters to demons, and they shed innocent blood; the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they offered to the idols of Canaan; and the land was defiled with blood. So they became unclean by their own works, and went whoring by their own deeds. And the wrath of YHVH burned against His people, and He loathed His own inheritance.”Psalm 106:34-40

Put aside the iPhone. Turn off the TV. Get off the couch. Stop letting family and friends interrupt your time with YHVH. Put Him first and see what a difference it makes. What would happen if we cultivated our relationship with Him as much as we do our Facebook “friends?” Why do we faithfully watch our favorite TV show and never miss an episode but constantly miss or cut short our time with God? Why do we always have time for the things that don’t really matter but never seem to have enough time to worship our King? I am guilty of all these things too.

“Many times He delivered them; but they rebelled in their own plans. So they were brought low for their crookedness. But He would look on their distress, when He heard their cry, and remember His covenant for their sake, and relent according to the greatness of His kindness. And He would let them find compassion, before all those holding them captive. Save us, O YHVH our Elohim, and gather us from among the nations to give thanks to Your set-apart Name. To exult in Your praise. Blessed be YHVH Elohim of Israel from everlasting to everlasting! And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ Praise Yah!”Psalm 106:43-48

We cannot let the distractions of this life trip us up. Why do we think we are the exception to the rule? That we can put other things before YHVH and not call them an idol? Why do we think we are invincible or that the rules and standards somehow don’t apply to us? Time is short and our calling and purpose too important. If we are not prepared, YHVH will find another. He won’t have time in the middle of the battle to call a time-out and get you prepared; you have to be trained and ready to go when the battle begins!

When the battle starts, I want to take my place fighting alongside my King! I don’t want to be put on the side lines, thinking the entire time how if I had just shut off the distractions or gotten off the couch I could be fulfilling the role and destiny I was meant to play. How incredibly sad would that be? Let’s vow to be ready. Let’s make more of an effort to build, strengthen, and prioritize our relationship with YHVH. Isn’t He worth it? Doesn’t He deserve more than our half-hearted attempt?

He deserves our first fruits.

This is part 2 of 5 in the Shavuot series.