Tag Archives: Moses

Feast of Trumpets

Feast of Trumpets

Strange name for a feast, unless you’re a jazz fan, then maybe you’d relate better to Feast of Saxophones. However, the feast is really not about the instrument, but the experience of God’s voice—His instrument. Before I continue, I will add that the feast is to be celebrated on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishri. (Lev 23:23), which happens to be September 10 in 2018.

Let’s start our story some two months after the Israelites have left the bondage of Egypt. They find themselves at the base of Mt Sinai. It was on this same mountain that Moses first encountered God. It was from a burning bush on this mountain that God began His conversations with Moses. These conversations would continue for forty years, but arguably the conversation God would have now at Sinai, not only with Moses, but with all Israel, is the most significant communication recorded in the bible.

The sages say that this conversation occurred on the first day of the seventh Hebrew month, Tishri, after the exodus from Egypt. This makes sense when you consider the time frame and that there is no other recorded historical event involving a trumpet other than the Sinai experience around this time. Also, God declared the observance of the feast shortly thereafter and before any other trumpet events, for example, Jericho.

So, given that this Sinai conversation is why the Lord commands the day to be observed, let’s consider it in more detail. The Israelites have been milling around the base of this mountain for the last three months. They’re still getting use to the freedom thing, collecting their mana every day except Sabbath and probably getting pretty bored. The context for the experience of the preeminent God conversation takes place over days of preparation as described in scripture.

Since they got here, their leader Moses has most likely made a few trips up the mountain looking for that burning bush and wondering, “now what?” It’s been a pretty awesome, almost incomprehensible unfolding drama since he was last here. He left being the shepherd of a herd of sheep, now he’s got responsibility for twelve tribes of his kinsmen adding up to maybe a million or so people. Looking down he sees them, they are spread out all around the base of this mountain and growing restless.

On one of these trips up the mountain God speaks to Moses giving him His vision and plan for the newly liberated people. Moses shares the plan and contingencies with the elders and gets a confirmation of agreement and reports back to God.

The stage is now set for God to reveal Himself to the people. This revealing is to affirm Moses as leader, but most importantly God will personally present His expectations of the people. These expectations will be an outline, not only for this people, but for all of His created humankind for the rest of eternity. Are you getting the magnitude of the conversation? How can the significance of this event be best communicated?

Speaking of a stage, can you imagine a better stage than this mountain rising up out of the desert floor? From this stage God delivered, by His voice that epochal communication, the Ten Commandments. This voice was modulated from an intense, terrifying trumpet-like sound down to an intelligible voice, which I’m sure still had plenty of volume to be easily heard and understood.

God choose not to stand on the stage in person, but, for divine drama, He draped it in cloud and darkness with some lightening flashes and fire for effect. God introduced Himself by the sound like a trumpet or more likely like a shofar (a ram’s horn, the original trumpet). Whether it emanated from Him personally or other heavenly personage I don’t know. But the same Hebrew word translated as trumpet “blast” is later translated in Exodus 19:19 as God’s “voice.” So, it does not seem too much of a stretch to me to believe the sound was from God.

I will not go into the consequences of the people’s experience and response to God’s manifestation on the mountain. I do believe the metaphor of the trumpet or shofar is very apt and perfectly appropriate for designating the feast’s identity. However, the paramount significance of the feast is the opportunity for me to reaffirm my agreement with and the embracing of God’s Law. It is a day for rejoicing in His goodness, His mercy and His loving kindness. Blowing my shofar might just help me underline my agreement with this event.

How to Judge a Prophet

How to Judge a Prophet?

Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist and John the Revelator to name a few, are all bible prophets. Many of their prophecies are yet to be fulfilled. Then there are those today, men and women, who are referred to as prophets. 

Their admirers have no trouble with the prophet title. Their detractors are very often vehement in the expression of their detraction of the individual and the title. They seek to expose any cracks in the work of the prophet. Triumphantly announcing a particular prophecy did not happen as prophesied and therefore the prophet is a fraud and subject to the Torah prescribed death penalty. 

Forgetting for the moment that not keeping the Sabbath also incurs the death penalty, what might have been the reason for inserting the Torah instruction concerning the “false” prophet? It seems the only time God gets really fired up about this prophet question is just before the Israelites enter the promised land—big pagan territory. Every one of the -ites they will meet has gods, altars, priests, rituals—lots of opportunity to be confronted by “prophets” of a god. Truly a need here to sound the alarm. In the narrative, up until now, the Israelites really don’t have a good track record against foreign gods—remember the golden calf, the Midianite gals?

So, Yahovah gives them two warnings, almost in the same breath, as they are standing at the Jordan’s shore:

Deuteronomy 13:1-5
“If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass (think of Pharaoh’s magicians), of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away (nice way of saying it) the evil from your midst. (Parenthesis are mine) 

Deuteronomy 18:17-22
“And the Lord said to me (Moses): What they (the gathered Israelites) have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet who PRESUMES to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it PRESEMPTUOUSLY; you shall not be afraid of him. (Parenthesis and bold added)

I think the operative word here, particularly in the verses in Chapter 18  is presumes. Let’s take a look at the Hebrew word Moses used that gets translated into English as presumes. 

PRESUMES:  Strong’s h2102. זוּד zûḏ; or (by permutation) זִיד ziyd; a primitive root; to seethe; figuratively, to be insolent: — be proud, deal proudly, presume, (come) presumptuously, sod.
AV (10) – deal proudly 4, presumptuously 3, presume 1, proud 1, sod 1;
Englishman’s  Concordance
to boil, boil up, seethe, act proudly, act presumptuously, act rebelliously, be presumptuous, be arrogant, be rebelliously proud(Qal)to act presumptuouslyto deal arrogantly (with ‘al’)to defy proudly (with ‘el’)

Now, Ill put on my New Testament hat as that’s the expanded Torah standard taught by Yeshua. As Yeshua would say, “It all comes down to the condition of the heart!” Is the prophet speaking from a heart of insolence, pride or anger? We might be on shakier ground than the prophet if we try to compete with God in assessing that heart condition. And, in my opinion, God is looking at the condition of the prophet’s heart more than the words he speaks.

God calls the believers to be a kingdom of priests and prophets. There is also the office of prophet. Unless a person operating in that prophet office speaks arrogantly or is speaking in utter disregard of what God is saying, the lack of perfect hearing is not a sin—for which I’m thankful. 

If a person is speaking for God and not against him there seems to be much more scripture calling followers of Yeshua to encourage, uphold and support one another rather than to be so quick in pointing out fault. We followers are really to be in the world, not of it (or like it). 

If you are a believer and don’t like the way another believer dresses, their accent, their hair style and really even their message, I would caution circumspection in your criticism. You really should communicate your concerns with them directly and not through social media. Praying for them is not a bad option either, but trying to get a crowd to agree with your vilification is not in my opinion WWJD!

DISCLOSURE
All of the stock market “prophets” make a disclosure at the end of their prophesy as to the investment they have, don’t have or intend to have in the security they’ve just touted. 
This is my disclosure:
Over my 44 years as a believer I have invested heavily in harsh judging, criticizing and gossiping about other believers, regardless of their calling. I have never really studied what the word said, until now, especially about prophets. I could always be counted on to pick up a stone. After repenting, I will now be investing heavily in avoiding that critical, judgmental, self-righteous spirit. This will be my long term investment strategy. 

My Thoughts on Yom Teruah

My thoughts on Yom Teruah
Yom Teruah (Trumpets or Rosh HaShanah) is the fourth of seven annual appointments (feasts) which the Lord has set to intentionally meet with His people. During the Gregorian (Western) calendar year of 2016 the feast is celebrated beginning at sundown October 2. This is the first day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. Each annual celebration renews in me a desire to more fully understand and embrace this feast.

First I will make a brief observation that this is my Messianic sense of the feast. I say “my” Messianic sense to be sure it is understood as being my experience and not necessarily a belief of others who profess a Messianic understanding.

Next, just to be clear, as a self-proclaimed Messianic, I am saying I believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is God come in the flesh, the promised Messiah. His shed blood, death and resurrection are God’s provision (grace) which enables me to keep God’s Word-Torah. This standard of conduct was recorded by Moses and amplified by Yeshua and the Apostles. My keeping of Torah frees me from the curse which would otherwise result from my imperfect ability to keep the commands.

The instructions to keep this fall feast are sparse—we are told to keep it annually as a memorial observed as a Sabbath (Lev 23:24 and Num 29:1). In Judaism it is kept as a New Year observance. It also ushers in the Ten Days of Awe in preparation for the next feast, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).

The word “memorial” used in the scripture connotes something that has happened which you want to remember. It may call for a resolution to remember so that it will not happen again. My brief word study of scripture brought up the first mention of trumpet as being at Mt. Sinai (Ex19, especially verse 13 and following). This was the mighty sustained, ear-piercing, rock-splitting shofar blast, trumpet blast, to announce God descending onto the mountain to speak to those gathered at its base. It is His first tangible appearance since He indirectly manifested through His miracles in Egypt. This Egypt scenario had resulted in the Israelites being freed and brought to this location before the mountain. The outcome of God’s visit from the mountain is recorded in Exodus 20:19—the people speaking: “You (Moses) speak with us (those assembled), and we will hear; but let not God speak with us lest we die.” Thus began 1500 years of indirect communication through priests, prophets and others (donkeys, for example) before the appearance of God come in the flesh—Yeshua!

I believe that year after year I and my generations have been called by the shofar blast on Yom Teruah to personally embrace and reaffirm the indwelling presence of Creator God—a memorial, if you will, to remind me not to reject Father’s desire to live big in me.

This celebration becomes then an annual heart check for stoniness—yet at the same time a day of unbounded joy because my God wants, desires and has provided for this personal, indwelling relationship through Messiah Yeshua.

What a blend of introspection, repentance, joy and celebration—let the shofar sound!

Seek First the Kingdom

Seek First the Kingdom

Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said Ex18:24

Rabbi David Forman makes an interesting proposition out of the dialogue between Moses and his father-in-law Jethro. Jethro counsels Moses on appointing judges to relieve his burden. He throws in the caveat “and God so commands you.” There’s a strong possibility Moses didn’t seek God’s counsel. Moses himself writes that he did all Jethro had said about appointing the judges. He records nothing about seeking God first. Is it possible this significant oversight in seeking God when coupled with Moses’ yielding to his soulish response to strike the rock rather than speaking to it (Nu 20:11) was what kept him out of the promised land? If Rabbi Forman is correct in his interpretation, and I believe he is, a very important point is being made. When you have been called by God for a task He equips you and strengthens you to perform it. Either Moses was not called by God to do all the judging or else it seems Moses did not trust God for the ways and means to perform the task of judging.

God can and does send us a messenger, but it is our responsibility to go to God to be sure it is His message that is being delivered. Moses fell on his face before God when confronted by other challenges, but it would seem Moses seriously missed petitioning the Lord in this very important scenario. Is it possible he was in presumption in the first place in undertaking the responsibility of judging? Possibly it was his brother Aaron who should have been given the task. The priests in time would become the last resort in the appeal process.

How many times have I undertaken a project that at the time seemed so right. Then, with the passing of time the grand idea became a seemingly impossible burden. How easy it is then to “hear counsel” for a solution to get me out of my mess. “Lord, please help me to learn to submit every ‘good idea’ to you before I leap into it. And if I do leap first, let me be quick to repent and seek Your plan for extrication.” I’d hate to miss the promised land because I failed to first fall on my face before Yahweh!
Makes you wonder what was on Yeshua’s mind when He is recorded by both Matthew and Luke as admonishing to seek first the kingdom. (Mat 6:33 Luke 112:31)

Sins of the Fathers

Sins of the Fathers

In the Torah portion Chukat (Num 19:1-22:1) we find the Israelites for the second time approaching the river Jordan and entry into the promised land. But again as over 40 years ago they cry out, “If only we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! Why have you brought up the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink.”(Nu 21:3-5) How many times has Moses heard this grumbling lament from God’s chosen?

The first time is recorded as being sometime in the second month after their miraculous deliverance from Egypt; after the manna starts falling and quail has been provided. They’re thirsty and cry out, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (Ex 16:2)

You might ask, “How could this new generation have possibly forgotten all the lessons learned for disobedience, rebellion, idol worship and lack of faith that has been experienced these past forty years?” The answer would seem to me to be one of sowing and reaping. It was Yahweh’s judgment in Numbers 14:29 that: “The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above.” Couple this with Yahweh’s pronouncement in Exodus 34:7 after the golden calf incident: , “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” (italics added) –the sins of the fathers would come home to roost—there would be a reaping.

At the time of this last iteration of water lack complaint, the entire assembly which had engaged in the pilgrimage of faithless wanderings was gone. Every one who had been twenty years of age or older was gone. Only Caleb and Joshua remained. Even Miriam and Aaron were gone. Moses’ denial of entry into the promised land was sealed. As an aside I questioned how Eleazar was still on the scene (Nu 26:1). Was he not clothed in priestly tunic along with his father, Aaron, and his brothers Nedab and Abihu? (Ex 29:9) Yes, he was, but he must have been less than 20 at the time of the Sinai census.

Back to my theme. We can so easily see the failings of the fathers from the perspective of Moses’ recording of the historical events which occurred as many as 3500 years ago. We can take admonition as to the need to avoid idol worship, disbelief and rebellion, but there is one other truth we must also come away with: the urgency as fathers and mothers to warn, admonish, cajole, entreat, implore, oh, yes, and pray for our children that they not walk in our sin—in the sins of their fathers.

In Yahweh’s pronouncement in Exodus 34:7, the operative word is visiting. This changes the charge from sin being a certainty to one that says our children and our children’s children will be visited. They will be tempted to sin as we have sinned—including their generational history of sin..

I submit that one of two things happened in the forty years of desert wanderings by the Israelites. Either the fathers were so self-absorbed and fatalistically oriented that they did not practice the instruction of the Shema and teach their children. Or, the children did not heed the teaching and admonition and failed as the opportunity (temptation) to repeat the sins of their parents were presented to them (visited upon them). The Shema is the ancient prayer/command from Deuteronomy 6:6-9 prayed today in Judaism and by Messianic believers alike. It says we are to teach our children.

An additional observation can also be made of the responsibility of our teen agers. Eleazar, the High Priest, at the time of the crossing over of the Jordan, was by then a man at least in his 50’s. He, along with all his contemporaries who were in their teens at Sinai and who also observed the response to the spies’ report, could have been a powerful influence on this second and third generation preparing to enter the promised land. They were now the leaders. Their voices should have forcefully warned the community of the danger of challenging Yahweh and Moses’ leadership. The record seems silent—the visiting was again successful. Today’s teens must not be oblivious to what is happening outside their world. They must observe and prepare for that day when their voice should be sounded to avoid the mistakes of our spiritual history—our sin.

Yahweh has made every provision for us to take heed and take a positive action. Has not the blood of Yeshua given us a perfect shield against the forces of the visit? Yes, but as with every generation, the human spirit must be alert and active, the will exercised to withstand successfully the attack of the visit—the sins of the fathers. The blood of Yeshua will stop the “visitors” from becoming “residents.”