Baby Yeshua in a Manger

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

image

Blood Moons, Shemitah Year, and the Feasts of YHVH: The Importance of Living in Torah

From the Summoned by the King Women’s Conference on October 3, 2015
PowerPoint Slides: Blood Moons, Shemitah Year, and the Feasts of YHVH

Blood Moons Prophecy

The Blood Moons, Feasts of YHVH, and the Shemitah Year

Tonight, Sunday, September 28, 2015, the final blood moon in the 2014-2015 tetrad will occur over the evening sky. In this (longer) post, I hope to explain the importance and history of these blood moons.

A Sign to YHVH’s People
In Genesis, YHVH set the precedent that the sun, moon, and stars are to be signs or signals to us of the times and seasons in which we are living.

And Elohim (God) said, “Let lights come to be in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and appointed times, and for days and years, and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth.” And it came to be so. And Elohim made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night, and the stars. And Elohim set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And Elohim saw that it was good. And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, the fourth day. Genesis 1:14-19

He made the moon for appointed times; the sun knows it’s going down. Psalm 104:19

What is a Blood Moon and Why is it Important?
A blood moon is when the Earth comes between the sun and the moon. And the sun is shining through the atmosphere of the Earth and casts up on the moon a red shadow. And so the moon appears to be red.

Such moons appear several times in scripture.

In the book of Joel, God says there will be “wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire…the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”

In Acts, the Apostle Peter repeats that verse from Joel. And the book of Revelation says that during the Great Tribulation, “the moon will become like blood.”

Tetrads
A tetrad is when 4 total lunar eclipses happen back-to-back in a short amount of time. Although single blood moons happen fairly regularly, a tetrad of moons appearing so closely together is extremely rare. There have only been a handful of tetrads that have occurred over the past 500 years.

Even more rare is when a tetrad of blood moons all coincide with the Biblical Feasts. Since the time of Yeshua, only 7 of these kinds of tetrads have occurred. And in the past 1,000 years, only 3 other such tetrads have occurred — we are currently in the 4th tetrad occurrence — and there will not be any more tetrad blood moons on Biblical holidays in our lifetime. According to many rabbinic and Biblical scholars, these tetrads always signify turning points in Jewish history.

The current tetrad of blood moons is as follows:

Passover (April 2014)

Sukkot (September 2014)

Solar Eclipse (March 2015)

Passover (April 2015)

Sukkot (September 2015)

*Note: traditionally, the moon represents judgment for Israel and the sun represents judgment on the nations*

The Feasts
Passover
Passover begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month Nisan – the first month of the Biblical year. This feast day commemorates the Lamb Sacrifice in Exodus where the Angel of Death passed over Israel while the firstborn in Egypt were slain. It also is the same day the Lord Yeshua (Jesus Christ), our lamb sacrifice for sins, was crucified.

While in Egypt, the Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a perfect lamb without defect and, upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord knew to pass over the first-born in these homes.

When the Pharaoh freed the Israelites, the Word tells us that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for their bread to rise, so they did not add leaven (yeast) to their bread. In commemoration, during Passover, no leavened bread is eaten, for which reason Passover was called the feast of unleavened bread in the Torah or Old Testament. Instead, matzo, flat unleavened bread, is eaten during Passover.

As believers, we celebrate this as time of freedom from our sins that were covered by blood of Yeshua. The story of Passover and Yeshua’s sacrifice are stories of redemption, restoration, and forgiveness. But they aren’t separate. The sacrifice of Yeshua is another layer or a continuation of the one started all those years ago in Egypt. Through Yeshua we see the fullness of YHVH’s plan being accomplished.

Yeshua, the blameless, spotless Lamb came to earth and was our Passover sacrifice so that we could be restored to our Heavenly Father. He redeemed us from a life apart from Him and from the sin that keeps us in bondage.

Biblically, Shavuot (Pentecost), Pesach (Passover), and Sukkot (Tabernacles) are the 3 Feasts of YHVH which were required to be celebrated in Jerusalem.

Sukkot (Tabernacles)
The feast of Sukkot begins on Tishri 15, the fifth day after Yom Kippur. It is a joyous feast day while Yom Kippur is one of the most solemn of Holy days. Sukkot is a feast day with a festival atmosphere. It marks a season of rejoicing. Sukkot means booths and refers to temporary dwelling places the Jews gather into during this holiday. Most Christian Scholars believe the “Feast of Sukkot” is the feast that will mark the second coming of Yeshua when He returns with His saints on white horses at Armageddon.

During Sukkot, we are instructed to sleep in sukkahs or tents/booths under the stars in order to remember when our ancestors were delivered by YHVH’s Mighty Hand out of Egypt and slept under the stars. YHVH, Who is our covering, is seen as the sukkah Who stands over and protects us. Sukkot is also known as the “Wedding Feast.” For believers, we know this as the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb” that we will celebrate at a future Sukkot.

Blood Moons in History
The following dates are when four blood-red TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred during the Biblical Feasts of YHVH. While other partial solar and lunar eclipses occurred during this time, only TOTAL lunar eclipses have been included.

It should also be noted that the significant events mentioned can happen before, during, or after the blood moons. While the blood moons happen at specific times we have already been given (the Feasts of YHVH), we are not given the specifics on what or when the significant event will take place.

162-163 AD: Martyrdom, Diaspora, Famine, Great Plague
Four TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred on Passover and Sukkot in 162 – 163 AD, coinciding with some of the worst and most brutal persecution of Jews and Christians in the history of the Roman Empire. In the spring of 162 AD, the Tiber River in Rome flooded leaving destruction and famine in its wake.

Also during this time, the Antonine Plague – a plague the Roman army brought back from a war campaign in Syria — killed between five and eight million people, a third of the Roman population.

795-796 AD: Defeat of Muslim Empire by Roman Empire; Millions of Jews and Christians Martyred
Four TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred on Passover and Sukkot in 795 – 796 AD during which time King Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire established a buffer zone between France and Spain, ending centuries of Arab invasions into Western Europe and halting the expansion of Islam into Europe.

The Jews were relatively free under Charlemagne and even held high positions in his court. After the death of Charlemagne, however, Catholicism took over, thereby ending much of the freedoms enjoyed by the Jews.

842-843 AD: Fall of Holy Roman Empire
Four TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred on Passover and Sukkot in 842 – 843 AD. Shortly after the eclipses the Vatican and other cities in Rome were attacked and looted by an Islamic invasion from Africa.

Also notable during this time, the eighth Abbasid caliph and the Byzantine Emperor Theophilos (who were at war with each other) both died in 842. Shortly after Emperor Theophilos’ death, his four year old son, Michael III, took the throne (through a council of regents led by his mother, Empress Theodora). Empress Theodora quickly reversed her late husband’s ban on worshipping images and icons and reinstated the idolatrous practice as one of the “Christian principles of belief.”

860-861 AD: 2nd Defeat of Muslim Empire by Europe; Millions Jews and Christians Martyred
Four TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred on Passover and Sukkot in 860 – 861 AD. Shortly after these eclipses occurred, the Byzantine Empire defeated Arab armies at the Battle of Lalakaon in Turkey and permanently stopped the Islamic invasion of Eastern Europe.

Also in 860 AD, Emperor Michael III (now 22) sent delegates to a council in Constantinople to clarify the issue of worshipping icons and images. The result was a period of friction between the Roman and Greek Catholics, which ended in a split between the two groups in 869 AD.

1493 – 1494: Spanish Inquisition
Four TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred on Passover and Sukkot. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain ordered all Jewish people to leave the country.

Christopher Columbus’ diary opens, “In the same month in which their Majesties [Ferdinand and Isabella] issued the edict that all Jews should be driven out of the kingdom and its territories, in the same month they gave me the order to undertake with sufficient men my expedition of discovery to the Indies.”

At the end of July in 1492 on the 9th of Av, about 200,000 Jews were expelled from Spain. Tens of thousands of refugees died while trying to reach safety. In some cases, Spanish ship captains charged Jewish passengers exorbitant sums, then dumped them overboard in the middle of the ocean. In the last days leading up to the expulsion, rumors spread throughout Spain that the fleeing Jews had swallowed gold and diamonds, and many Jews were knifed to death by robbers hoping to find the hidden treasure in their stomachs. Many other Jewish refugees, however, fled and settled in cities like Thessalonica and Smyrna.

1949 – 1950: Rebirth of Israel
Four TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred on Passover and Sukkot. During this time frame The Arab-Israeli War took place just hours after Israel had become a nation again for the first time in 2,000 years.

On 14th May, 1948, Israel declared its independence. Less than 24 hours later, the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded the country, forcing Israel to defend the sovereignty it had regained in its ancestral homeland. In what became known as Israel’s War of Independence, the newly formed, poorly equipped Israel Defense Forces (IDF) repulsed the invaders in fierce intermittent fighting, which lasted some 15 months and claimed over 6,000 Israeli lives (nearly 1% of the country’s Jewish population at the time).

During the first months of 1949, direct negotiations were headed by the United Nations between Israel and each of the invading countries, except Iraq who refused to negotiate with Israel, resulting in armistice agreements with each country.

Accordingly, the Coastal Plain, Galilee and the entire Negev region came under Israeli sovereignty, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) came under Jordanian rule, the Gaza Strip came under Egyptian rule, and the city of Jerusalem was divided, with Jordan controlling the eastern part, including the Old City, and Israel controlling the western sector.

1967 – 1968: Six Day War; the Retaking of Jerusalem
Four TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred on Passover and Sukkot. During this same time, the Six Day War took place, which resulted in Israel reuniting Jerusalem. As Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria prepared to destroy the Jewish state, Israel invoked its inherent right of self-defense and launched a preemptive strike on June 5, 1967 against Egypt in the South.

The defensive strike against Egypt was followed by a counter attack against Jordan in the East and the defeat of Syrian forces entrenched in the Golan Heights in the North. At the end of six days of fighting, previous cease-fire lines were replaced by new ones, with Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights now coming under Israel’s control. Jerusalem, which had been divided under Israeli and Jordanian rule since 1949, was also reunified under Israel’s authority.

Summary of Tetrads Since Yeshua

162-163 Persecution of Jews and Christians by Rome; Famine and plague in Roman Empire

795-796 Islam’s advance into Western Europe stopped

842-843 Roman Empire and Vatican attacked by Islamic invasion

860-861 Islam’s advance into Eastern Europe stopped

1493-1494 Jews expelled from Spain; Birth of the New (Western) World

1949-1950 Rebirth of Israel; Victory over Arab armies

1967-1968 Six Day War; Victory over Israel’s Arab enemies; Reunification of Jerusalem

2014-2015 ?

Shemitah Year
To add even more significance to this time, this year marked the ending of the Shemitah year, or the year of release. According to Leviticus 25:1-4, every seventh year (the shemitah year) was a Sabbath year. In this Sabbath year, the land was to rest and all debts accrued during this time were released. But after a time, the Israelites eventually stopped observing the Shemitah Sabbath year. Jeremiah 25:4-11 tells us that the consequences were the blessings of peace and planty in the Land of Israel were removed, the destruction of Jerusalem, and eventually the captivities of Israel.

Biblically, the punishment for not observing the Shemitah year by releasing all debts and not planting the land is not limited to financial consequences – like I mentioned with Israel, war or some other consequences is also a possibility but money is the most obvious tie – however, most scholars are leaning towards the possibility of financial disaster.

September 2015 marked the end of the current Shemitah year. As I mentioned, many scholars believe that the end of the current Shemitah year will signal global financial crisis. As I’ve recently watched the DOW and stock market, China has been manipulating their yen, which in turn, causes our markets to go crazy. Recently, the DOW opened and closed at the lowest its been in quite some time. It’s extremely difficult for our markets to recover because of how the Chinese are manipulating their yen.

Grafted In
The occurrence of the blood moons on YHVH’s Feasts does not mean that the Second Coming of Yeshua will happen at Tabernacles 2015 (although, perhaps at a future feast). But the blood moons do give us a pattern of Jewish persecution/war followed by new land/blessings for Israel.

The eclipses of the sun and the moon during this past year give us dates which we cannot deny or manipulate. But I think the most important thing is to not to get too caught up on or focused on date-setting but rather the warning YHVH is sending us. Clearly, something significant is coming that He is trying to warn and/or prepare us for, but He doesn’t want us in panic or confusion. Ultimately, what we really should be focused on is the wake-up call the Lord is giving us and on preparing for what the Bible tells us is to come so that we do not become like the foolish virgins of Matthew 25.

But we won’t know the warnings of the Father unless we are celebrating the feasts.

The Bible speaks of being “grafted in” to the House of God. That doesn’t mean that we are automatically placed in some separate spiritual House of God. It literally means we become a part of Israel. Only a son/daughter will receive the blessing of the father. Only the heir will inherit from the father…to him who has ears to hear, let him hear what the spirit is saying. If we do not consider ourselves part of Israel, we are not a legitimate child and we have no claim on an inheritance.

“And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, have been grafted in among them, and came to share the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. And if you boast, remember: you do not bear the root, but the root bears you!” – Romans 11:17-18

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of Elohim, and if children, also heirs – legitimate heirs of Elohim, and co-heirs with Messiah, if indeed we suffer with Him, in order that we also be exalted together.” – Romans 8:16-17

Torah is for all those who live under the covering of YHVH, the God of Israel; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Torah is for all of Israel…even the wild branches that have been grafted into the natural olive tree.

Our natural inclination of the flesh is to avoid the law and do what we want. Our flesh doesn’t like being told what to do; we don’t want rules and boundaries. But what YHVH asks of us is that we submit ourselves to obedience to His Word and His desires. Just as a wife submits herself to her husband out of love and respect, so we too, as the Bride of Messiah, must also submit ourselves to our loving, faithful Bridegroom.

Blood-Moon-Rising

The Blood Moons and the Rapture

After reading this post, several readers have asked if I believed that the occurrence of the tetrad of blood moons on the Feasts of YHVH was a signal that the rapture will happen in September 2015 or sometime this year.

Bottom line up front: NO, I do not think that the blood moons in this current cycle of tetrads is evidence or a prediction that the rapture will occur in the immediate future.

With that said, I’ve always had a hard time with the concept of the rapture because Biblically it doesn’t line up with other Scripture and there is no reference to it occurring in Revelation. Several years ago, I did some very basic research into the origins of the rapture and discovered that the concept of the rapture came from a very young girl on her deathbed in Scotland. Margaret MacDonald was a very young girl when John Darby, the founder of the Plymouth Brethern, heard of her “visions from God” and traveled to Scotland to meet her. I’ve also heard that MacDonald was very ill and on her deathbed when these “revelations from God” began to appear to her — at the height of her illness her fever was so high that she began having hallucinations. John Darby, brought back these “visions” and ideas and provided the foundation for what would become known as the pre-tribulation rapture.

Now, back to the blood moons. The occurrence of the blood moons on YHVH’s Feasts does not mean that the Second Coming of Yeshua will happen at Tabernacles 2015 (although, perhaps at a future Sukkot). But the blood moons does give us a pattern of Jewish persecution/war followed by new land/blessings for Israel.

The eclipses of the sun and the moon during this past year give us dates which we cannot deny or manipulate. But I think the most important thing is to not to get too caught up on or focused on date-setting but rather the warning YHVH is sending us. Clearly, something significant is coming that He is trying to warn and/or prepare us for, but He doesn’t want us in panic or confusion. Ultimately, what we really should be focused on is the wake-up call the Lord is giving us and on preparing for what the Bible tells us is to come so that we do not become like the foolish virgins of Matthew 25.

Photo Credit Nehemiah Gordon

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*
Yom Teruach Golden Gate

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!

 

Field at Sunrise

Elul: When our King is in the Field

On Sunday, July 16, 2015, the new moon was spotted in Jerusalem. This marked the start of the sixth Biblical month of Elul (pronounced E-lool). The month of Elul is a time of teshuvah or repentance. It is the preparation time before the High Holy Days of Yom Teruach (Day of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Coverings/Judgement), and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). Elul means to search, as in to search our hearts through introspection. It is a time to reflect on the past year and to prepare for the “Days of Awe,” a time marked by repenting from the failings of the past and resolve for the future.

This is also traditionally the time Moses spent on the mountain in preparation to receive the tablets and is considered the month of the Bride. A shofar, or ram’s horn, is traditionally blown every morning during the month of Elul to serve as a wake-up call for those who are spiritually asleep, to awaken the people from complacency, and as a call to repentance.

The month of Elul is a difficult one. It’s marked with trials, pressing, and testing. It’s a time when we ask YHVH to search us and reveal to us the wrongs we have committed in order to repent and correct these issues. During the month of Elul, YHVH relates to us in a more open and compassionate manner than He does during the other months. This is the month where our King is in the field.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi offers this anecdote:

The king’s usual place is in the capital city, in the royal palace. Anyone wishing to approach the king must go through the appropriate channels in the palace bureaucracy and gain the approval of a succession of secretaries and ministers. He must journey to the capital and pass through the many gates, corridors and antechambers that lead to the throne room. His presentation must be meticulously prepared, and he must adhere to an exacting code of dress, speech and mannerism upon entering into the royal presence.

However, there are times when the king comes out to the fields outside the city. At such times, anyone can approach him; the king receives them all with a smiling face and a radiant countenance. The peasant behind his plow has access to the king in a manner unavailable to the highest ranking minister in the royal court when the king is in the palace.

When our King comes to the field, He communes with us in our environment and circumstances. Every other day, we must go to Him and abide by the rules and protocols of the palace. But during Elul, He comes to us and meets us in our environment. Our circumstances become tools that are used in such a way that we are taught important lessons that we otherwise wouldn’t learn or that would take much longer to learn. The purpose of these lessons is to 1) make us ready for our encounter with our King at the wedding feast of Sukkot, 2) to bring us to repentance, and 3) to draw us closer to Him.

Often times during Elul, things that seem out-of-the-blue or random will happen. For instance, that person you haven’t heard from in years suddenly calls you or sends you a text. You hurt your back doing something you routinely do. You have a random fight with the person you’re closest to and never fight with. All of these things seem random and out-of-the-blue, but during it Elul it could actually be God trying to get your attention.

It is important, however, to see these events and circumstances with the right mindset. YHVH isn’t trying to punish you for something you’ve done wrong; rather, He may be trying to shine His spotlight on an area in your life you haven’t been able to see.

For instance, the back can represent carrying a burden that is too heavy. The lower back, in particular, usually represents anger. Perhaps God is trying to shine light on a burden you shouldn’t be carrying, a burden that is too heavy for you to carry alone, or your anger in a specific area of your life. Perhaps YHVH wants you to mend the relationship with the person you randomly hear from after years of silence. Maybe YHVH used your closest friend to push a button on an issue you never dealt with in order for you to finally deal with it.

This is a time of introspection and fervent prayer. As we draw close to YHVH, we are to ask Him to search and reveal to us the areas that need attention in our lives. YHVH is faithful to reveal our issues to us through circumstances, through the people He has put in our lives, and through revelation in prayer. But in the midst of things, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. I would encourage you to keep some sort of journal or take notes on what happens during this time. It can be difficult to process and connect the dots between everything that happens but a journal can help you refer back and give you some perspective as you work through it all.

Elul is a very trying time. But if we can persevere to the end, our reward will be great. I’m reminded of the 10 virgins in Yeshua’s parable. Five of the virgins were foolish and hadn’t prepared themselves to meet the Bridegroom, while the other 5 had prepared and made themselves ready. Their reward was joining the Bridegroom at the wedding feast.

So even in this difficult month, I pray that we will all do the hard work of cleaning out our hearts and removing the junk that YHVH reveals to us. If we will be the faithful and obedient Bride that prepares herself, our Bridegroom will be faithful to meet us at the Wedding Feast of Sukkot.

Jaffa Gate

In the Void: Reflections from Israel

Do you ever struggle with finding your purpose in the day-to-day things? Do you ever feel like the things you do every single day don’t really matter? I think we all feel this way during the various seasons of life, but it’s especially difficult in the weeks following Sukkot.

In the months leading up to Sukkot, we intensely prepare. We must first walk through the extremely difficult month of Elul then we celebrate Yom Teruach and continue preparing for the Day of Atonement. We are then closely examined on the day of Yom Kippur and conclude the season with the marriage celebration of Sukkot. But throughout all this time, we have purpose. We are driven on by our preparations for Yom Kippur and Sukkot; our preparations to be found pleasing to our Bridegroom on that day. Even the smallest of our actions and circumstances take on significance.

But after Sukkot? What do we do in the ordinary days? How do we find purpose in the monotony of our daily routines?

This is what the Temple Institute in Jerusalem had to say about the days following Sukkot:

The current month of Mar Cheshvan is the only month of the Hebrew calendar that does not feature even a minor observance – not even a fast day. Especially given the fact that this month comes right after the action-packed month of Tishrei – which is host to the High Holidays and Sukkot, with its high-profile, action-oriented mitzvoth [a good deed] – this month of Mar Cheshvan seems particularly drab and colorless… a fitting introduction to winter. After the rush of adrenalin we experience in Tishrei that manifests itself in every aspect of our prayers and spiritual pursuits, is this month not something of an anticlimax?

From “Mar Cheshvan: The Dedication of the Third Temple” https://www.templeinstitute.org/marcheshvan-and-the-third-temple.htm

What this tells me is that everyone struggles at times with finding purpose. There are seasons that come and go; mountain tops and valleys low. But in the midst of every season, we can find hope and purpose for the future.

Her Gates are Empty…
So this year on my trip to Israel, I stayed a few extra days in Israel alone after my group had gone home. It was a wonderful time spent reconnecting with YHVH and simply resting in His Holy City. It was exactly what I needed.Jerusalem Parade

It was a completely different experience than the trip I had just been on. The day my group left, so did the other tourist groups that had come for Sukkot. Suddenly, Jerusalem was calm; quiet. I had never seen it so still before!

During our time together in Israel, our group had participated in a parade honoring Israel with the participants representing nations from around the world! It’s quite the amazing experience to see the nations of the world gather in Jerusalem to celebrate the nation of Israel.

We also saw the Water Libation ceremony, which has not taken place in over 2,000 years, performed by the Third Temple Institute inWater Libation Priests Jerusalem. We walked the same path that the priests and kings of old would have walked and watched at the Pool of Siloam as the priests drew water with the silver vessels and danced with the hundreds of people who came to celebrate this miraculous occasion! As a reference point, the Pool of Siloam was the same water source used during the Temple periods for TemplWater Libatione ceremonies. It was also the place where Yeshua healed the blind man.

Our group also stood on the Temple Mount where we were shielded by His hand from prying eyes and were allowed to worship on the Temple Mount. To convey just how much of an extraordinary miracle this is, let me describe Temple Mount protocol.

Only in the past year have Jews even been allowed to walk on the Temple Mount. When Christians go on the Temple Mount, Bibles are confiscated…so leave them in your room. There is absolutely NO prayer allowed on the Temple Mount by Jews or Christians. And there are Muslim plain clothes police always roaming the Temple Mount checking and watching for these things.

So for us to have a few brief minutes to FREELY worship on the Temple Mount is more of a miracle than I can describe with words!

Climbing MasadaI climbed Masada, found the Ark of the Covenant (not the real one, of course), prayed at the Holy of Holies, got caught in a Palestinian riot, went to an Israeli concert, saw archaeological digs of 1st Century villages, and rode the waters of the Sea of Galilee. The list could go on and on and on but you get the point. We were busy. We saw a lot of amazing things. Each one of us experienced miracles in our lives. We received the healing touches we needed and we experienced YHVH and His love in ways like never before.Ark of the Covenant

But then, the party was over. The people left and Jerusalem went back to day-to-day life. The streets that just days ago had been filled to the breaking point with people, were empty. The gates that had been flooded with people from the nations of the earth, were bare. The city had gone quiet. The atmosphere was still. It was almost as if the city itself was also resting from the festivities of the previous weeks.

But even though the gates of Jerusalem were empty, her heart, and the heart of her King, was full.

…But Her Heart is Full
One of the things YHVH spoke most clearly about with me was resting. I struggled with finding things to do for myself on the days after my group went back home. I kept asking Him which museums to go to, or if I should take any day trips. I wanted to be busy and doing something…anything.

But then His voice came through so clearly and so gently.

“Rest.”
“What? I can’t rest. I need to find things to do.”
“Why?”
“Because I don’t want to waste my time.”
“Would it really be wasting your time to rest with Me?”

I was cut straight to the heart with that one. He was right. I needed to rest. I had been non-stop for weeks in preparing for this trip and then the actual trip itself. I was tired and needed Him to mend me. He showed me that it’s never a waste of time to rest…especially with Him. And even more especially with Him in Jerusalem.

So I decided to rest. I would take my time getting ready in the mornings and would ask Him where He wanted me to go that day. He always led me somewhere peaceful where I could be with Him. The time I spent alone with YHVH in Jerusalem was priceless.  It was a time to renew my love for Him; a time to be refreshed by Him. And I desperately needed that.

As the days went on, He began to teach me an important lesson about being still. image

Sometimes I feel that if I am doing nothing, then I’m wasting my time or not doing anything worthwhile. But what I fail to see is that strength is found in stillness and trust. In quietness, I can better hear His direction. When in the void, I can hear Him clearer than ever before. When I allow myself to be still and embrace the nothingness, it is then that I am able to receive His direction for the next steps He wants me to take.

As I walked the streets of Jerusalem, and again noticed how quiet everything was, I began to reflect on Jerusalem’s emptiness.

Being in Jerusalem after Sukkot is like being the last guest at a party after all the other guests have gone home. It’s quiet and peaceful; more real somehow. It’s during this quiet time that you can talk with the Host in a different way than when He was hosting the party. It’s more intimate. You get to see the house as it always is; when there aren’t any guests and only the family resides there. You get a private look into what it’s like to be in the House during the day-to-day.

I was again reminded that the gates of Jerusalem were empty but her heart, and the heart of Her King, was full.

In the Void
So how do we find meaning in the void? How do we find purpose in the mundane seasons? How do we come off the highs of life into the regular days? How do we go from standing on mountain tops to sitting at a desk all day?image

How do we find this same fullness even when our own gates are empty?

A few days ago, in yet another confirmation of the lesson YHVH is trying to teach me, I read from Frances J. Roberts’ devotional Come Away, My Beloved. I think this particular devotion, narrated in our Beloved’s voice, says it best.

“Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 6:17

My beloved, you do not need to make your path, for I go before you. Yes, I will engineer circumstances on your behalf. I am your husband; I will protect you, care for you, and make full provision for you.

I know your need, and I am concerned for you; for your peace, for your health, for your strength. I cannot use a tired body, and you need to take time to renew your energies, both spiritual and physical. I am the God of battle, but I am also the One who said, “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 4-:31).

I will teach you, as I taught Moses on the back side of the desert, and as I taught Paul in Arabia. In the same way, I will teach you, and it will be a constructive period, not in any sense wasted time. Like the summer course to the schoolteacher, it is vital to you in order to become fully qualified for your ministry.

There is no virtue in activity in and of itself – nor in inactivity. I minister to you in solitude that you may minister to others as a spontaneous overflow of our communion. Never labor to serve, nor force opportunities. Set your heart to be at peace and to sit at My feet. Learn to be ready but not to be anxious. Learn to say “no” to human demands and to say “yes” to the call of the Spirit. These may sometimes be at variance. Do not be distressed by the misunderstanding of people. Let Me take care of them Myself. They too must learn this same important lesson, and you can help them by setting the example; but if you try to please them by answering every demand, you will both fall into the same snare.

I am a jealous God, and I am always at peace with Myself. I would have you also to be at peace with My Spirit within you. As you give Me My rightful place and do not allow others to intrude, you will be at peace with Me. Be very serious in this. I am not speaking to you lightly. I was never more earnest in any message I have brought to you. Do not fail Me. I have brought you this message at various times in the past. It was never more urgent than now.

For people are experiencing a new awakening, and they are searching for My Truth more than ever. I must speak through My prophets; and if they are not set apart for Me, how can I instruct them? Yes, I will nourish by the brook as I nourished Elijah; and I will speak to you out of the bush as I spoke to Moses and reveal My glory on the hillside as I did to the shepherds.

Come away, My beloved; be like the doe on the mountains; and we will go down together to the gardens.

So even when I’m in the void, He is preparing me for the next step; for the next season of my life. And just like the gates of Jerusalem, even when all is still and quiet around me, I can find fullness and strength by allowing Him to restore me. In His arms, I am rejuvenated. In His presence I am made whole again.

So even in the void, will your heart be full?