Thursday, January 27, 2011

Under the Shadow of His Wings

The Lord has directed my attention to Psalm 91 in the last couple of months. This idea of protection and being under the shadow of His wings is a place I want to be! A close friend of mine recently got a word from the Lord, "Take cover!". We often talk about what we hear the Lord telling us and what we are learning from His Word. Oh, I love this! I immediately thought of this Psalm. Here is part of it (Psalm 91:1-8) but read the whole thing in your Bible:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, 'My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.' For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.
I love to cross reference passages and see what insight I can gain from it. The verse that spoke to me the most was verse 4 speaking of covering me with his pinions or feathers and under His wings, finding refuge. When I looked up the cross reference it took me to 1Kings 8:7 and the ark of the covenant. This is the place where the Holy One's throne is and where the cherubim are casting their shadow over the ark of the testimony, which contains the Ten Commandments, but is covered by the mercy seat. What I absolutely love about this picture is that the mercy seat is over, covering the law. It doesn't get rid of it. Just like Yeshua's blood covers us in our weakness in obeying the Law perfectly. The ark was placed in the tabernacle, which is a picture of Messiah, but also ourselves. The heart or center of the tabernacle is the ark where in the Law should be written on our hearts as Jeremiah 31:31 says and where grace, definitely abounds!

So, I have been asking what that really means. I was drawn to Yeshua's statement (which always makes me cry) when he laments over Jerusalem, "How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!" (Matt 23:37) Do you hear His heart here? How much He wants to protect and guard and save His people? But they were not willing! This is an absolutely heart wrenching lament! With those three words of truth, Yeshua gives us more understanding as to the fact that it is a choice we make to come under the shadow of His wings. What I am seeing here, is that we have a choice by obeying or not obeying His Word/Voice and if we are obedient, we are truly under His authority and protection. If we don't obey or choose to ignore His voice, we are not under His wings. He will NOT force us to be there, it is a choice we make. The place of safety is the very heart of God, the ark, which is a picture of His throne, our hearts (if we call Him our Lord and Savior) and the place of obedience as that is where the Word of God lives!

Isn't that also true of our children? If they obey and follow our commands, they will be protected? If they don't they are prey for the enemy and are without our protection and covering? Isn't it that simple? If I tell my toddler not to run into the road, but he does and gets hit by a car, it is his disobedience which put Him outside of the protective covering, the parental authority in this case, which if he had obeyed, would save him much pain and even death! It is pride that keeps us from coming under the authority of His wings, because we think we know better. But we don't.

Anyone raise chickens? A few years back we had around 40 free range chickens running around our farm. If a hawk or something dangerous comes near, the mother hen will do just that, take those chicks and shield them from danger by placing them right under her wings. Don't you love how God uses symbols and images in His Word that we can easily see in nature all around us?

The Lord then took me to another passage. The Passover story....again. He keeps drawing me there I believe for many reasons. One of which I believe has to do with my dream (see the post A Time of Separation Coming). Prophecy and history moves in cycles and God's Word, especially His Torah is so important because as Isaiah 46 says, "the end is revealed in the beginning". Time is cyclical to God. The Hebrews were under the shadow of His wings in the story of Passover, as they obeyed the Word of the Lord, through Moses, to put blood on their doorposts. They had to obey His Word, and believe what He said to be true, that is what saved their lives, literally. It was God that was literally over them, like a hen protecting her chicks from danger, while the destroyer went by killing all the firstborn of those who did not put the blood of the lamb on their doorposts! Yeshua in Hebrew actually means SALVATION! His blood applied, does save! But it must be applied to be effective.

My Rabbi (teacher) explained that the wings of the prayer shawl are symbolic of this covering. This is most likely what the woman with the issue of blood grabbed hold of as "there was healing in His wings" when she was healed by Yeshua (Jesus).  Yeshua was Jewish and wore a prayer shawl with these longer strands hanging down on the corners of it. Crowds gathered all around just to touch the hem of His garment because He was the Anointed One and healing just flowed. I love the picture of being covered by a prayer shawl, and going into that secret place where I am ministered to in His presence. Definitely a picture of "taking cover" and being under the shadow of His wings!

I am dwelling in the shelter of the Most High, sticking as close as I can. Close, so I can hear His voice clearly in these days ahead. I am convinced obedience to what He tells us will be life saving in the coming months and years. Are you resting under the shadow of His wings?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How I Began My Journey Into Hebrew Roots

A few people have asked me recently how this all started and why I am embracing my Hebrew roots. What does that even mean, right? Well, even though that is a long story, I will try to at least give a background, as in the preface to a good book. By the way, I read those prefaces and introductions! I personally love the story behind the story as it explains the motivation behind the author's writing. Here is my attempt.

The first Passover I observed piqued my interest in all the Feasts of the Lord described in Leviticus 23, as the celebration was so rich in symbolism and meaning. All of the elements of a Passover Seder have deep significance and it is a wonderful telling of redemption, one in which I enjoy remembering. I love how the story of Exodus parallels our spiritual birthing process and redemption.

The Hebrews were in slavery to Pharoah which parallels our slavery and bondage to sin. I love how God not only rescues them from slavery but in the process is wooing their hearts. Not only does He want them out of Egypt, but more so I think, He wants Egypt out of them! It is only then that they will follow Him out of bondage and into the wilderness. The first three plagues were experienced by both the Egyptians and the Hebrews and then in the 4th - 10th plagues He makes a distinction between them. By the way, as a side note, Isaiah 46:10 says God "declares the end from the beginning". That was a new revelation to me! Since then, I have been looking at the beginning to help me understand the patterns that may help interpret the end of the story. Most people would never dream of reading the end of the chapter of any book to understand the end, they would go to the first chapter and keep reading. I wonder how we could even think we could possibly understand the end of His story without a firm grasp of the beginning?  It is my opinion that Adonai already told the end of the story in these books and Exodus is particularly pertinent I would think.

So, getting back to my story. Passover is a retelling of this redemption story. All the elements are there. There is baptism (crossing through the Red Sea), redemption on the other side as new creations. Then as they traveled, both the homeborn (Hebrew) and the stranger (mixed multitude that also came with them), Adonai took them and gave them His Torah, His Laws at Mt Sinai. There is the pattern. Redemption first, instructions after. Most people think of Torah negatively, but it really means instruction or teaching, not just rules and law. There at the foot of Mount Sinai they entered into covenant with Adonai, which is a picture of the Ketubah, the marriage covenant written down describing each person's part in the covenant. There is so much detail and depth here that I could write pages and pages on just this story!

I have always been interested in end time prophecy. But more so in the last few years after receiving some dreams from the Lord. I really began studying the Feasts of the Lord:  Sabbath, Passover, Firstfruits, Weeks, Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Booths (Leviticus 23) in depth initially because of my interest in prophecy. As I studied I realized that these Feasts were described as "mow'ed" which are divine appointments and rehearsals for things to come. God has a calendar! That alone was revolutionary to me!!! And He is always faithful to keep His appointments. These appointments are not for the Jews alone as He says they are not "Jewish Feasts", but they are HIS Feasts and we are invited to join in and keep that appointment. He so wants to meet with us! He reveals so much to us through these Feasts. Yeshua completely fulfilled the spring Feasts of Passover (His death), Firstfruits (His resurrection) and Weeks (Pentecost) to the very day. As the passover lambs were led into the temple for slaughtering as they had done for thousands of years, Yeshua was being slaughtered and hung on a tree. So too, I have no reason to believe that God will not keep His other appointments and completely fulfill the fall Feasts to the very day. These fall Feasts are rehearsals of things to come in the end of days. That is another book in itself!

As I studied these Feasts and Hebrew words and meanings I began celebrating all of them and it was amazing all that I was learning! I was completely enthralled with it all. Sad too that I feel I had not been taught any of the significance of these in my 25 years of going to Bible believing churches. In a way, if I am to be honest, I kinda felt jipped! I felt like a huge amount of incredibly deep and meaningful celebrations and heritage was taken away from me because I was taught these were "Jewish" celebrations. If we are grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel as Romans 11 clearly says, then we too have that heritage! Abraham is our father and we are His children, if we have given our lives in submission to Yeshua and have been redeemed by His blood.

I began to read other books related to the Feasts and the King of the Jews (see Recommended Reading list on my blog). The more I read and researched the Jewishness of Jesus and the Hebrewness of the Bible, I was astounded at how it helped me understand passages that were fuzzy to me before. I also realized and had to repent, that while I never would have considered myself a "Jew hater" by any means, I had read the Bible through "anti-semitic glasses" which I didn't even know I had on and which really hindered my understanding of the text. This is hard to describe really. On another post, I hope to give some concrete examples from biblical texts. There were several passages that I unknowingly had an anti-Jew or anti-Pharisee bias that I didn't realize and it turned the meaning of these scriptures upside down. My theological boat was rocking. But I didn't mind since Yeshua was the one doing the shaking!

I have enjoyed reading and researching the history and culture of the pre-70 AD synagogues (before the destruction of the Temple and believers started to scatter). I wanted to understand how those believers operated and what they believed before they basically split into Jews going one way and Gentile believers going another. Many factors involved here. I also came to understand that there were heretical teachers (Marcion, etc) that did a lot of damage and helped to keep the split between Jew and Gentile going. Kind of like Darwin's influence, once the damage was done, it was basically irreversible. The Roman Emporer, Constantine, also helped by officially declaring Sunday the new Sabbath in "veneration of the Sun" and the decree of the Council of Nicea was very antiSemetic indeed. Understanding the history of this time period helped me to see how the present was shaped and by whom. I didn't like what I saw. The reformation didn't go far enough...but that is another post!

In the midst of this study, I completely fell in love afresh with my very Jewish Messiah and began to feel more a part of His family as I understood His traditions and celebrations. I began celebrating the Sabbath and doing other things which I am sure has totally confused my friends (!). I am not doing them in a legalistic way, but out of love and what I feel is obedience to what He is calling me to right now. I have begun to worship and call "home" a Messianic fellowship where Jews and Gentiles worship together as one in Messiah. I LOVE IT!

What I am finding is that as I chose to walk in these ancient paths, celebrating the Feasts, Sabbaths and walking in these ways others deem "Jewish", (I consider them biblical and God's Word doesn't change) I am hearing Him speak to me more clearly than ever before. I am experiencing His presence, His peace....His Shalom! The word Shalom doesn't just mean peace, it means blessing in every area of life, fullness, wholeness, completeness. There are abundant blessings to all those who walk in His ways as they truly are higher than ours. Yeshua took the punishment for our disobedience, but didn't take away the blessings for obedience.

Recently I learned that my maiden name is an actual Hebrew word which means "proven". There are indications that on the maternal side I may have some Jewish ancestry as well. Interestingly, and yet not surprisingly, many drawn to their Hebrew roots find out that there is such ancestry previously unknown to them until they started digging. Yahweh is doing an amazing thing in our day, which is the fulfillment of prophecy. He is drawing Israel, those dispersed among the pagan nations, the 10 northern tribes if you will, back to Torah, back to Himself. He is causing those to remember who and whose they are and shed the pagan practices they have adopted as their own and return (teshuvah or repent) to Yahweh and observe the commands. I was recently asked if I was Jewish. My response? Yes, I am in my heart. Living within me is my Jewish Messiah, Yeshua. He was a Torah observant Jew and He calls me to follow Him and walk in obedience, which is the demonstration of my love for Him. An apt response considering all He has done for me. Romans 2:29 comes to mind, "but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the HEART, in the Spirit, not in the letter, whose praise is not from men but from G-d."

The New Covenant in Jeremiah 31 clearly states that the law would then be written on our hearts. That filling of the Ruach HaKodesh is what gives us the desire, knowledge and power to obey His Word. The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy will take place in its fullness when Yeshua comes again but we can experience that now as we walk in the Spirit by faith which will never contradict His Law/Word.

Okay, there is your preface! I promise the next post won't be that long :) In any case, I hope that answers a few questions!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Time of Separation Coming

What an incredible time to be alive. There is a sense in my spirit of being chosen for such a time as this. The LORD speaks to whomever He pleases. He gives dreams and visions to believers and unbelievers and can even speak through a donkey! In Joel 2:28-29, he speaks of a time when "your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit". It seems that there are more dreams and visions and prophecies coming forth than ever in history in our day.

What are some of the themes of these messages? Well, I can only say from my perspective and limited viewpoint, but there does seem to be some unity in the message. Destruction and judgment is coming. We live in perilous times. From David Wilkerson's "Urgent Warning" to so many others, the message seems clear to me. This is a time for repentance, obedience, seeking the Lord and being on our knees. The time is so short. The Lord recently told me, "Make straight the path for I am coming! The paths are all crooked now." I am amazed at the continuity of the Word of God. It is the same message being spoken before His first coming as now, before His second coming. Repent. He is coming soon. And His winnowing fork is in His hand. He is coming to do some separating!

Not a warm and fuzzy message, I realize, but truth is often like that. When the Lord gives you a warning that something is coming, with it, comes the responsibility to share it. So with that, I give you, with fear and trembling, a dream the Lord gave me back in October 20, 2009. I do this to be responsible, but also to see if anything resonates with you and to get your feedback. Feel free to comment!

I was on a high mountain looking down into a large valley below. It was evening and there were lights in the towns and villages below. I was with a group of believers and we were looking out into the valley. Suddenly, a huge plume of fire and smoke erupted in the valley, then another and another all around in different places. We turned to flee the area and got into vehicles. When I got into the car to drive, there was a man sitting in the passenger seat. He had a newspaper of sorts on his lap. I asked him, "What day/time is it?" He replied to me, "40/40".  I remember thinking I didn't understand that at all. As we drove away, looking back at the destruction, I saw ash falling all around us, but not hitting our vehicle. Somehow, I felt safe and protected. We ended up meeting other believers at a house that was visibly shaken. I found the man that was in the car with me and asked him what 40/40 meant, and he replied, "Passover. A time of trial and testing, but God's people will be protected."

The dream seems fairly straightforward to me. Although, at the time, I didn't understand what 40/40 meant. Numbers are always important in scripture and in dreams. 40 is a number we know something about. This number always represents, trials, temptations, testing. I am thinking of 40 years wandering for the Hebrews, 40 day temptation of Yeshua, Noah's flood, etc. When numbers are repeated, it is for emphasis sake, meaning double of what the number represents. That is a warning in itself.

Then of course, we have the Passover mentioned, which is very significant. I have been studying and celebrating all of the Feasts of the Lord now for about a year. Read Leviticus 23 to understand what these are. The first 3 spring feasts have been fulfilled by Messiah to the very day. He was crucified on Passover, rose on Firstfruits and then the Holy Spirit was given on Shavuot (Pentecost). We await the fall feasts as we know that His second coming and end time events will correlate with these fall Feasts of the Lord. Leviticus tells us that they are not Jewish feasts, but they are HIS Feasts. Many historical events of importance have happened on days related to the biblical calendar/Feasts of the Lord. Many people don't know, as I did not, that God has a calendar and He always keeps His appointments! He is faithful. The Hebrew mind and the Word of God works time in cycles, not in a linear way the way we normally think. These feasts are divine appointments and rehearsals (mow'ed) that the Lord wants us to keep as they often correlate to important events.

 Interesting as I think about Passover, it was a time when Adonai distinguished between the Egyptians and the Hebrews. There was a clear distinction after the 3rd plague and on through the rest of the plagues right through the crossing of the Red Sea when the Holy One of Israel triumphed over Pharoah and his chariots. This was a time of judgment, testing, separating, redeeming.

The dream seems to be a warning of what is to come. Does this mean this event will happen on a Passover? I don't know. But I do think it could mean that. The next Passover is soon approaching, April 18-19, 2011.(I give two dates because a day to the Lord is evening to evening, encompassing two of our days as we know them to be.)

I have had other dreams with earthquakes, strange storms and other events, but this one was more detailed. I don't know what this means in terms of if it is a terrorist attack, natural disaster or something else. What do you think it represents? What are you sensing and hearing from the Lord?

Malachi 3:16-4:4 says this,
      "Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. 'They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.  Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.  For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. (Here is the part that is usually left out because this is an end times future event, referring to this next verse 4) Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for ALL Israel."
Those who are His treasured possession will be spared and a distinction made between two kinds of people. Those that fear Adonai and serve Him are those who keep His commands, including those given to Moses, also a servant of Yahweh. Evidently, we needed a reminder that Moses' laws were part of our responsibility to keep during this time, or Adonai would not have said it! I believe this is a Word for us today in these last days leading up to the Day of the Lord, "remember the law of my servant Moses"! This is a prophetic end time scripture, but I don't think I have ever heard verse 4 quoted in this context. Seems like this verse has been conveniently forgotten.

I am thinking of all the parables of Yeshua written in the New Covenant regarding separating the good and bad fish, wheat and tares, wise and foolish virgins, faithful and wicked servant. All of these describe those who are IN the kingdom, not outside of it! Yeshua is giving us a warning here, that a sifting, separating and distinction will be made from the sheep and the goats among those who call themselves "His people".  The sheep are those who follow Him because they recognize the Good Shepherd's voice. Yeshua came for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matthew 15:24) He came to turn the hearts of the lost sheep to Him and to follow Him as He became the Word made flesh. A truly living and active Word!

May we obey ALL that He has commanded us and be able to hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master!"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why am I in the desert?

I have been drawn to a desert of sorts these past few years. My "Valley of Baca" (Psalm 84:6), so to speak. It has been a very difficult season of life, yet, in that place, I have found Yahweh afresh! By His loving hand, I believe He placed me in this wilderness to teach me and minister to me in ways I could never have received if I had (longingly) stayed where I was.

In this place, I have learned to be nourished from the very Bread of heaven. I have learned to hunger and thirst for righteousness. I have drawn deeply from the well in the middle of this dry and thirsty land, and am finding, delightfully, that the well never runs dry! Adonai is truly sufficient to meet ALL my needs, even though there are many.

I am convinced that the time is short and we are living in the last days. I am even more thankful that the Lord has been training me to be sustained by Him alone. Feasting on His Word, drawing me to obey in new areas I had previously ignored, and causing my roots to go down deep. In the desert there is not much water available to a weary traveler, at least not much on the surface where it is visible and easily accessed. In the desert, to survive, you absolutely have to dig and go down deep to find that water! It is a matter of life or death. True in the natural, but even more true in the spiritual!

What is true, as Shaul (Paul) tells us, in the natural is also true in the spiritual (1 Cor 15:46). A large tree was uprooted and fell in my back yard a few weeks ago. What a powerful image in the natural of spiritual truth! Every time I look outside my kitchen window, which is often, I see this uprooted, dead tree sprawled across my snow covered lawn. It reminds me daily that if I am not rooted deeply in my faith in Yeshua the Messiah and in my Hebrew roots (as Romans 11 says Gentiles are grafted into the Olive Tree/Israel and we don't support it, but Israel is the root that supports us), then I have absolutely nothing supporting me, nourishing me and giving me life! Trees, interestingly enough, in scripture are like people. As Psalm 1:3 says, we are to be "trees planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither." What kind of tree/person is it that doesn't wither? The verse beforehand tells us that it is the one whose "delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night."

My fear is that many, like me,  have tried to support and nourish themselves apart from their Hebrew roots, apart from Israel and the Olive Tree. It is an impossible endeavor which only leads to death! I too have done this, unknowingly, for many years of my life as a believer. After 25 years, I am finally able to say that I am fully embracing my heritage and feel fully rooted in my faith! What an incredible experience this has been! There are no words to express it all, but I will say it is invigorating and refreshing. I feel alive in ways I have never felt before.

So, this wilderness place that Adonai took me too, while painful and traumatic, turned into the most life-giving, truth-imparting trip of my entire life! I stand amazed at His incredible love and faithfulness to me. He is all sufficient, able to meet every need. What an incredibly loving heavenly Father I have! Oh, how He loves you and me.