Monthly Archives: October 2012

Tekoa: piercing the figs to ripen the fruit

There are some lovely lessons that we can take to ourselves in our first reading today. This is a mini shadow of the Gogean invasion, and the setting up of the kingdom and the reign of Christ. In 2 Chronicles 20 we are taken back to the time of Jehoshaphat king over Judah. The armies of the Moabites, of the Ammonites, and of the Edomites of Mount Seir – the whole of Transjordan – invaded the land of Israel. Jehoshaphat and his people feared because they were greatly outnumbered, they would be wiped out if Yahweh does not help them.

Jehoshephat–Yah he is Judge–seeks Yahweh and prays to him, drawing on both: the words of Yahweh, as Joshua (Yashua or “Jesus”) is possessing of the land (Deut 4:29-31); and the prayer of Solomon when inaugurating the temple (2 Chr 7:14)–typical of setting up the religious order of the millennial reign of Christ.

Deut 4:29 But if from thence thou shalt seek Yahweh thy Elohim, thou shalt find him,if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to Yahweh thy Elohim, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
31 (For Yahweh thy Elohim is a merciful El), he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.

Friend Jehoshaphat is showing his understanding of what Yahweh wants. The land was given to the seed of Abraham; a “friend” or in the Hebrew, a lover of Yahweh! Which is reference to the first commandment, Love Yahweh thy Elohim…

In verses 15 to 17, Yahweh responds as all parents do the the pleas of their children, he cannot stand by while they are in danger. He shows them the “salvation of Yahweh”–Yashua–foreshadowing the latter day Immanuel, who will go forth in the midst of purged Israel, and drink from the waters of salvation (Yeshua).

Wilderness of Tekoa

Israel as a ripe fig (Hosea 9:10)

Verse 20, they are sent to the “wilderness of Tekoa”: wilderness is literally a place of thought, where they would be free from distraction to consider their lives; Tekoa means piercing, thinking of Amos who’s job it was to prick the unripe figs to cause them to ripen. Israel as a fig needed to be pricked before there fruits were ripened (Hosea 9:10). How often do we sleep, being comfortable with our lot in life, ignoring the scriptures becoming apathetic in our ways. Often it takes a sharp knock to startle us out of our slumber, and this is what Yahweh provided his people in the invasion of there enemies.

The people recognise this in there words “…for his Mercy is towards the Ohlam (Millennial reign of Christ)”. The word is rachem רחם, to womb (see the post on mercy), as a father he was doing what was good for there eternal benefit. We must recognise this in our lives too; Yahweh knows what is best for us and is shaping us by the trials of life… we should count it all joy whatever happens, knowing that all things work together for good to those that love Yahweh.

Isaiah 6 – the Seraphim: burning ones (context)

Introducing the vision

In this short overview of Isaiah 6 and the vision of the Seraphim שרפים (the burning ones), we look at: the context the vision was given, the meaning for the people of the time, and the message for us today! Starting with the context then… so why was the book of Isaiah written?

Isa 1:1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amotz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for Yahweh hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.

Yahweh is pleading with his people, his “children”, as their Father; By this revelation given to Isaiah–just as John received the revelation about his generation, and beyond–open the eyes of the faithful of the inhabitance of Judah an Jerusalem, a message to his servants, to show them things which must shortly come to pass.

One of several phases of the locust

There were to be four successive invasions by the Assyrians, which Joel sees as waves of locusts; a wave in each of the reigns of the kings mentioned here. They came from the north, eating the goodness of the land as they came. By the end, all of the northern tribes of Israel were taken from the land, and only a small remnant of the tribe of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem remained.

Uzziah

Now when we come to Isaiah 6, we find our vision is given around the time of the death of Uzziah king in Judah. In verse one we read:

Isa 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also Adonay(my lord) sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

How is this vision related to the death of Uzziah?

Uzziah עֻזִּיָּהוּ means “Yahweh is my strength”, and this describes the earlier part of his reign; he grew strong and powerful under the wings of the father. 2 Kings 15 seems to suggest that he changed his name towards the end of his reign. When coronated he was called Uzziah, but by the time of Menachem–the king of Israel and the first Assyrian invasion–he was referred to as Azariah עֲזַרְיָהוּ (which means “Yahweh has helped”). By adding another letter to his name, he now shared the same name as the high priest of the time!

Now why would he do this? Perhaps there is a clue in the first time the word “help”, ezer עזר is used in the psalms,

Ps 20:1 Yahweh hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the Elohim of Jacob defend thee;
2 Send thee help, ezer עזר, from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion

There are several prophecies of the saving of Jerusalem from there enemies by the “help” of Israel; Christ and the saints (Deut 33:7,26, Psa 121). At the time of the barbaric Assyrian invasion, the “day of trouble”, it would seem that Uzziah–now Azeriah–was associating himself with the prophetic Melchizedek, the king priest of Jerusalem, the seed of David. Through him he assumed that the people would be saved, and his “heart was lifted up to destruction” (2 chr 26:16). Taking upon himself the role of the high priest, he tried to offer incense in the temple to Yahweh! lifting himself up beyond that which was given to him, he was smitten with leprosy for the rest of his life, reminding him that all flesh is grass–Yahweh indeed was his strength!

This is a great lesson for us, where is our aim in life? do we strive to set ourselves up, is it our desire to be in the kingdom for Yahweh’s glory, or our own? The saints, symbolised in apocalypse by the 24 elders will “cast their crowns before the throne, saying… thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Apoc 4:10)

Nadab and Abihu: the cleansing work of the Seraphim

Uzziah represents the apostasy of the nation and it’s rulers at the time… flesh is no better now than it was then; our generation is also coming to a time of purging.

Alter of Incense (Timna Park tabernacle reconstruction: Israel)

Uzziah made the same mistake as Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10, when they offered strange fire; incense that Yahweh had not asked for. According to Luke 1:9,10, “the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense”. And “the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before” Yahweh (Apoc 8:4).

Both the prayers of Azeriah and the people were rejected, Isaiah 1 says, “bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me … I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. … And when ye spread forth your hands (in prayer), I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” (Isa 1:13, 15).

Fire, coming forth from the faces of the Cherubim burnt up Nadab and Abihu. Yahweh forbade Aaron–their father–to morn … but “let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning, saraph שרף, which Yahweh hath kindled, saraph שרף” (Lev 10:6). Why did Yahweh do this? We are told in verse 3, “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified”.

Whirlwind from the north, the vision of the Cherubim (Ezk 1)

Because of the wickedness of the people in turning their back on him and serving Baal, and offering their children to Molech burning them on the hands of the statue outside the gates of Jerusalem (city of peace), the people were to be purged with the burning fire of the Seraphim. In the words of Yahweh through Ezekiel when he, in prophecy, was to cut hairs from his head as a symbol of the people of Israel, “cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn saraph שרף them in the fire; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel” (Ezek 5:4). And it did, Ezekiel 1 is the vision of Babylonians consuming Jerusalem as a fiery whirlwind (Ezk 43:3).

Choosing to take upon ourselves the name of Yahweh in baptism, to be son’s and daughters of the most high, is a great responsibility. Bringing into disrepute the name of our Father is a very serious thing. Yahweh’s name must be seen as holy at all times!

Next we will look at the vision on the throne, the true king priest–Mel’chizedek

Character of Yahweh – Mercy רחם

After forty years of exiled — by his own people — Moses finds himself speaking faces to faces with the creator of the Universe. Only days ago the regional superpower (the Egyptian army) was buried under the waves of the red sea; washed up on the shores before them. Now he is shepherding a new nation — the people of Yahweh — under the guidance and protection of the glory in the cloud.

Now returning to the mount where Yahweh revealed his purpose from the midst of the bush, where they were to serve him (Exo 3:12). It is here were they would receive the law and the pattern of the tabernacle, the pattern of things in the heavens of the future age (Heb 8:5); and here where he pleads with Yahweh, “I beseech thee, cause me to see thy glory” (Exo 33:18). Moses wanted to understand Yahweh so that he can lead his people (:12-16)

Exo 34:4 – and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as Yahweh had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.

Notice how eager he was to see the visions of the Father! Yahweh has recorded a multitude of visions for us… are we trying to understand them with the same fervid zeal as Moses?

5 And Yahweh descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of Yahweh.
6 And Yahweh passed by before him, and proclaimed, Yahweh, Yahweh Ail (powerful), merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
7 Keeping goodness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

In Exodus 3, Yahweh explains the purpose of his name – that he will be manifest in a multitude. Now he explicitly declares his character, and also the character of the people he will raise up as his body!

Yahweh El — יהוה אל

First of all the proclamation starts with a double emphasis on the name — Yahweh, Yahweh El. So why the emphasis on “El”, the might or power? This is exactly what Moses associated with the name.

Exo 15:2Yah is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my El, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s Elohim (mighty-ones), and I will exalt him.

This is what Moses thought Yahweh was, and why Yahweh now labours the point in Exo 34:6. Yes Moses, I did destroy the power of Egypt and drown there army in the sea, but that’s not what my name is about Moses: mercy, grace, long suffering and abundance of goodness and truth! Yahweh does not have pleasure in the death of the wicked, but will by no means clear the guilty (Ezk 33:11).

In our series on the Name we saw the “what” of the name, here is the “how”. Yahweh explains what it is to manifest his name. And we plan on looking at each of these in detail.

Mercy רחם

The first characteristic is “mercy” in the AV. What does that really mean? We can look it up the English dictionary, but that would be pointless: we really need to know the meaning of the original  word. In this case the lexicons are also lacking, supplying definitions such as “to love”… but again what does that mean? Few can define such a word.

I would usually look at the root word (the verb) and see where that is used, often there is an event that we can empathise with, or some context that brings the word to life. However in this case that doesn’t really help — this is the root! So in desperation I checked the noun hoping it makes something clearer; rechem רחם, a mothers womb! To have “mercy” on someone is to “womb” them: to nurture, to teach, to protect, provide everything that that person needs to grow.  At this point tears were running down my cheeks.

At times the shear beauty of Hebrew still leaves me breathless…

The scriptures were not recorded to explain Nature; Nature was made to demonstrate scripture. The reason we have male and female, the reason we have parents and families, husbands and wives, children… is so that we may know Yahweh.

To follow this up further we could search through scripture to see where “mercy” is used elsewhere, to see many examples of how to be “merciful”. I would encourage you to do this search yourself, but due to time and space I’ll have to leave that to you for now.

Finally we look to ourselves, as we should do with all scripture. Do we show “mercy” — rachem רחם — to our brethren and sisters. We are doing if we are part of the Yahweh Elohim (1 John 5)! Furthermore we will also show the same loving care for the children of Israel; they will be taken once again as the “people” of Yahweh. And eventually all nations of the earth will become part of that body.

Note: I put “people” because the word does not simply mean a people as we know the word people, they never ceased to be the people of Yahweh, a people he created for himself. They did however cease, and will be restored again, as a “people”, am עם… but that’s another subject!

Next week, Yah willing, “grace”…

Passover lamb – firstborn priest

Exo 12:1 And Yahweh spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house.

We may read through this quickly and miss the important detail in verse 3. In the Hebrew it is more literally:

… and the men shall take to them a seh שה (small livestock, sheep or goat) for their fathers house, a seh שה for a house

So who which men are these, well they can’t be the fathers, and there is only one man per house fetching the seh שה. The answer appears to be the first born, which were sanctified to Yahweh (Exo 13:2). Later the Levites were sanctified in place of the first born (Num 3:12). It is reasonable then to assume that the role of the first born was the priestly role that the Levites took over.

The anti-type Christ, the first born of the family Yahweh Elohim, our passover lamb, who “by himself purged us from our sins” (Heb 1). As the first born he provided the lamb, himself, he is eaten by the whole family who by him are saved from the destroying angel (Exo 12:4). The covering of his blood protects the entrance to the household and those within – the Ecclesia. And just as the passover of old his bones were not to be broken (Exo 12:46).

A people for his Name

So far in part 1 we looked at why the Name is so important – we must know it to love it. Then in part 2 we delved into the etymology of the name as a normal Hebrew word, to find out what would have conveyed to the children of Israel… the answer is “Cause to breath!”. Then in part 3, we followed Yahweh’s explanation to Moses and see that the name Yahweh is the family name given to a multitude of Elohim (mighty ones).

The question is who is part of this family and what part can we have in this?

Breath of life

We have mentioned before that the Yahweh means “cause to breath!”. We plan to address the concept of “breath” in future word studies, for the moment we will draw attention to the beautiful link to the creating of man. Yahweh formed Adam’s body from the dust and he breathed life into him.

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