Month 7:17, Week 3:2 (Shanee/Matzah), Year 5935:188 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 14 October 2011
Sukkot 2011 III
Shadows of Hidden Things
Continued from Part 2
Without a doubt I have not only never had 'flu so badly but never has it affected my perspective of Sukkot so dramatically. When you are ill a lot of your fleshy defences go down and you start asking questions you might not otherwise ask. You are vulnerable and weak and amazingly Yahweh can reach parts He might not otherwise reach. Lying in bed, as I have been forced to, has resulted in all sorts of strange questions popping up in my head, and last night in particular I was asking things about shadows both as a theologian and as a scientist.
The Hebrews have their own word for 'shadow' (of course) and it's 'sel which, because of the climate in which the Hebrew language evolved, also means a 'defence'. Now we all know what a shadow is: any solid object or body interposing itself between the sun or light and another body casts a shadow. Shadows are, moreover, constantly varying until at last, perhaps even suddenly, they cease to exist:
Darkness and gloominess are associated with shadows and thus with the "shadow of death" (Job3:5; 16:16; 24:17; Ps.23:4). However, the word rendered 'shadow' here is not from the Hebrew sel but salmût which properly speaking means "deep darkness" and so we need to make a clear distinction between the two. Today I wish to talk of shadows not as 'evil' things but as merely inferior, limited and temporary but still having importance to help us see invisible things better. This is certainly the sense I wish to address today.
"Now therefore, our Elohim (God), we thank You and praise Your glorious Name. But who am I (Solomon), and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You. For we are aliens and pilgrims before You, as were all our fathers; our days on earth are as a shadow (temporary), and without hope" (1 Chron.29:13-15, NKJV).
"Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue (because of his mortality)" (Job 14:1-2, NKJV).
"My eye has also grown dim because of sorrow, and all my members are like shadows (frail and temporary)" (Job 17:7, NKJV).
Two days ago I spoke a little about the Yahweh's portable Temple or Tabernacle in the wilderness which, like the more solid temples of Solomon, Zerubabel and Herod that followed it, were always to be understood as a 'sel or shadow of a higher reality. Likewise, the ritualistic ceremonies performed in these structures are described as "a shadow of the good things to come" (Heb.10:1, NKJV). The contrast between the shadow and the reality we can also understand in the comparison that is made about Yahweh Himself and the "play of passing shadows" (Jas.1:17, NEB):
We need to clearly remember the difference between the actual reality and its shadows especially as we look at the system of temple worship and Levitical priestly administration that was the now defunct Mosaic Covenant. We must appreciate the shadows for what they point to but never substitute them for the higher reality. When that happens, spiritual fossilisation has set in and the thick veil that once separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place is once more drawn across, negating the work of Messiah.
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:17, NKJV).
Let me tell you what has been happening to me over the past three days. As many of you know, Yahweh has given me the gift of seership. I am shown visions on a fairly regular basis. But once the 'flu set in, the seership mechanism became very jumbled up. I talked about this the day before Sukkot. Last night, as I watched the pictures swarming in my mind with no apparent direction, it suddenly dawned on me that what I was seeing were shadows and not the substance itself. Not that I was complaining about the gift of seership, for I absolutely was not - it has been a huge blessing. But what I suddenly realised was I needed was much more of the actual substance of reality. Now you all know the passage I am going to quote but I am going to share it with you anyway:
The shadow that was the Mishkan or Tabernacle was visible but the reality it portrated was, and remains, invisible to the physical senses. That reality is only seen by the spiritual eye. As those who claim to be walking in the B'rit Chadashah or New Covenant, we must see in the invisible, and the only way we can do that is by emunah (faith) which is both the substance or reality of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen with our eyes.
"Now emunah (faith) is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By emunah (faith) we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of Elohim (God), so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible" (Heb.11:1-3, NKJV).
Last night I awoke about 3.30 a.m with a very heavy cough and so had to get up. I spent the next couple of hours thinking and praying about shadows. In my mind's eye I took a ball and held it up between a strong light source and a white piece of paper fixed to a wall. I visualised a circular shadow cast by that ball on the paper, and drew a line around the circle. I put the 3D (three-dimensional) ball down and then took the piece of paper and cut out the circle. I then rotated the 2D (two-dimensional) circular piece of paper until it was perpendicular with the light projector and cast another shadow onto another piece of paper. This time the shadow was a line. I marked the 1D (one-dimensional) line with a pencil once more, put down the circle, and then cut out the thin line with a pair of scissors. Finally, I repeated the entire proceedure with the line, turned it so that it was perpendicular to the light source, and cast one last shadow: a 0D (zero-dimensional) spot. I had gone as far as I could in arriving at a shadow of a shadow of a shadow. In science we call this process reductionism - getting down to the basic units of the universe, specicially, sub-atomic particles. Physicists are searching for the so-called 'God-Particle' but they will never find it - they are looking in the wrong direction! Reductionism only leads to little packets of energy. And as honest materialists have discovered to their frustration when it comes to living things particularly, the whole is always greater than the sum of its individual parts.
What, you might ask, was the point of this exercise? To illustrate an important emet (truth) and tavnith (pattern) about the created universe. If we extrapolate this model backwards then physical objects must themselves be a kind of 'shadow' of yet a higher fourth-dimension (4D), and dimensions beyond that going back to infinity and to the Ultimate Reality that is Yahweh-Elohim Himself.
So do the physical you and I have a higher reality? Definitely, it's called our spirit. And because it is spirit it is invisble and cannot be analysed with physical tools. Imagine, if you can, living in a world of shadow - as the shadow of your physical self cast onto a piece of paper on the wall. The world you inhabit - the shadow - is very basic, very simple, as compared to the complexity and colour and extra-dimensional world of the physical body. A shadow can never understand what has created it any more than the physical body can understand the spiritual. Your physical brain will always be baffled or resort to fairy tales like evolution. The spiritual is far more complex than the physical! As a Biochemist who has sought to understand the chemistry of life I find that concept mind-boggling. On my office wall Ia have a chart of Metabolic Pathways designed by D.E.Nicholson in 1970 showing some of the tens of thousands of different biochemical reactions that take place that I had to learn as a student at Oxford. It is colour-coded to make it more comprehensible. With what we know today it must be several more times as complex than it was when I was a young scientist. Today we are still amazed by the complexity of the body, and as Gero Miesenböck, Waynfleet Professor of Physiology and Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford University, England, recently admitted in an interview, said: "We have no idea how the brain works" (Oxford Today - The University Magazine, Trinity Term 2011, Vol.23, No.3, p.10). And I doubt we ever will using physical, reductionist tools.
A few years ago when I was receiving physiotherapy for my fibromyalgia and was lying on the floor doing exercises, I was shown the most amazing vision by Yahweh. I was taken into a woman's womb and was shown what reality it inhabited in the spiritual: I saw a universe of zillions of stars and galaxies. I was overwhelmed! At that moment I realised that as our physical body compares to the dimensions of the physical universe as a whole, so our spiritual body compares to the physical one. It is simply zillions or orders of magnitude larger! And if that isn't mind-boggling enough, can you imagine, then, how big the spiritual realm is as a whole, and how big Yahweh is? Perhaps that is why we are, after all, to fear Him? (Ps.111:10)
And we get so lost in this tiny, piddly little shadow universe of matter. As scientists we seek to understand it by accumulating and assembling facts without properly appreciating that a fact is simply the hard outer covering or coating of something infinitely more important, namely, MEANING. And meaning is the soft living substance inside a fact, the substance that emunah (faith) is made of. Since we are both physical and spiritual (one day to be inseparately combined in a new Resurrection World of Total Reality), fact and meaning are the driving cogs of living. The atheists deny meaning, ascribing all to cold, heartless, random chance, and thus they themselves become shadows of real life and living, for their food is but outer shells.
Let us return to my experiment last night with the light source and the piece of paper as I want to take this model to another level of sophistication. The screen on which the shadows were projected is our mind - our brain. It is where we do all our data processing, thinking and analysing. It is two dimensional itself and works in pictures (even though it created the holographic illusion of three dimensions). We see these pictures on a screen all of its own somewhere between our two eyes, what occultists call the 'third eye'. Just close your eyes and start visualising something and you will see it is so.
Let's go back to the original experiment with the ball. This time project the image onto a piece of thin while plastic and get someone to distort the plastic - to crumple it up a bit. The circular shadow is still there. Trace the circular shadow with a marker pen and then take the plastic down off the wall. The circle is all in pieces like a fragmented mirror. Trying to reconstruct the true substantial object (the ball) from this jumbled up mess is totally impossible. Yet this is precisely what happens when people reject the plain emet (truth) of Scripture, believe in lies, and then wonder why they can't make any sense of the world. There is no discernable tavnith (pattern) in the image - and whilst when you reduce it two times more you will again arrive at the spot or dot, you cannot do the same in the opposite direction - you cannot get a glimpse at the higher dimension it is reflecting. And therefore you will never make sense of life because the meaning of life can only be understood in terms of the higher dimensions. If you take the negativistic, nihilistic view of life which is true atheism, you will be forced to the cynical conclusion that "life is a bitch, and then you die". And of course - what else could you conclude since there is then no meaning to either suffering or simcha (joy)?
I did more experiements with this model but this will suffice to make the point. Shadows are not in themselves 'bad' - at least not the biblical sense of 'sel. And they are a part of our school of learning. We have to learn to see reality from many vantage points. However, Yahweh does not want us to remain in them. After a certain point, I lost interest in Biochemistry and physical science, not because it wasn't interesting then or isn't still interesting now but because I have found a higher reality and that is much more interesting! It is, after all, realer.
As we celebrate the Hebrew festivals in the manner Yahweh has commanded us, and especially now at Sukkot, we must not become so enamoured or raptured by them that they become the 'main thing' for us instead of what they are actually portraying. The New Covenant version of the festivals concernes much higher dimensions of Yahweh's Order. That is what principally interests me.
And a final piece of advice: if you want to get to the unadulterated tavnith (pattern) of festivals like Sukkot, stay right away from Jewish traditions. The moment you add to the simplicity of Yahweh's original revelation in Torah, you start crumpling up that piece of white plastic and make it impossible to reconstruct the original. All you get is a jumbled mess. Indeed, stay right away from Judaism altgether because this religion is not by a long shot the original emunah (faith) of our fathers from Tanakh (Old Testament) times. It is badly corrupted with Babylonian occultism and Molech worship. The moment you get caught up in the Judaism craze, as most Messianics do, you condemn yourself to a kaleidoscope of false and confusing tavnith (pattern) that keeps you trapped in lower dimensions of reality and thinking, not to mention all the problems you get from a different set of demons to those that already plague orthodox Christianity's pagan mix.
Which brings me back to what I was experiencing last night. Just as I grew bored with Biochemistry, so I realised I had grown bored of viewing Yahweh's Kingdom in the shadows that are mental pictures. I still value and accept my gift with gratitude but I am no longer content to view it as my primary gift. Who wants a photograph of someone in place of the real person?
The purpose of the festivals is to provide pointers for us so that we can more readily and naturally dwell in the spiritual than in the physical. And I don't mean to exclude the physical or to retreat into a monastery. False religions claim this to be a superior form of spirituality. As Bible believers we accept the spiritual (supernatural) and the physical (natural) form as a whole - however, we have to learn to get our priorities and foci right. I want to live more in the supernatural without diminishing the natural.
Sukkot is a resurrection event - spiritual and physical inseparately connected, an event that must occur if we are to dwell forever with our Messiah, who is resurrected and the firstfruits or bikkurim thereof. That is why I am talking about this subject now, to get you to fix your gaze higher than perhaps you have done before, and especially messianics who tend to get all wrapped up in the traditions of Judaism. Those who are serious about wanting to become the children of the first resurrection really do have to do this because the remnant must operate in this dimension not just to survive but also to be glorious, and thus bring great glory to Yahweh and His Messiah!
This has already been a steep learning curve experience for me this Sukkot and I am only just accepting that I was meant to be seriously ill so that Yahweh could better get my attention. Things have not quite turned out as we planned this Sukkot but for myself I can honestly say that they are turning out better.
Let us therefore try to wind this up to maintain an overall perspective. You cannot have a shadow without having light. When there is no light, there are no shadows - just deep darkness. In the same way, when we lack Yah'shua (Jesus), the Light of Yahweh, and the Light of Emet (Truth) He gives, neither will we see the shadows nor be able to percieve any kind of form. All we will have is deep darkness. Thus to atheists and most of those into false religion, the shadows and types of the Torah will all be mumbo-jumbo, superstitious nonsense. Liberal theologians will then, for the most part, simply see Sukkot as no more than an agricultural festival belonging to a primitive society.
It is only as the Light of Messiah comes into our eyes that we can begin understanding the shadows. What seemed bizzare (and maybe even cruel) rituals suddenly start turning on lamps in our minds. Then we begin to slowly understand that the shadow is connected to something greater than gives it its form. Remember, a shadow cannot exist by itself, but is always connected to something interposing between it and the Light of Emet (Truth).
The same is true of Yahweh's moedim (appointments) and of divine tavnith (pattern) in general - these are not empty disconnected 'things' that just happen to be 'there'. They are shadows, and shadows are always connected to something greater and more complex to enable us to understand them first as babes (the shadows) and then as spiritually mature adults (the reality).
One last thing I need to mention - do you remember that the word 'sel (shadow) also means 'defence'? Shadows are a defence in the days before we are enlightened. provided we walk in them. Even in the days of our ignorance, we are safe because we are covered. That is why doing Sukkot and the other moedim is important even before you understand what they mean. The Hebrews, therefore, especially valued these things, for they knew how Yahweh blessed them when they did, which is why David says again and again how precious the Torah is to him and why he loves it so much - He knew wherein lay his safety for the Torah was Yahweh's Way and his All.
"For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known" (1 Cor.13:9-12, NKJV).
It takes time to learn these things, here a little, there a little, one step at a time, which is why consistent Scripture study and prayer are important. When I was a boy I made a sundial and had to learn how the shadows changed as the sun altered position in the sky. At different times of the day, as at different times of our life (depending on our spiritual maturity), shadows for the same object may look different. Shadows may look a lot 'longer' and distorted for instance in the morning or late afternoon, when the sun is low, so we must make adjustments in the way we teach people who are at different levels of understanding when it comes to the meaning of the shadows and types of Torah. As the Sun of Righteousness continues to rise in our lives, bringing healing in His wings (Mal.4:2), we begin to see the shape of the shadows take on the proportions of the object more correctly. And then, at midday, when the sun has risen in its fullness, the shadows get so short that they almost disappear, as at the equator! Then we have understood the shadow and have stepped into the fully blazing light of the Ultimate Reality! The shadow is at our feet and the sun is on our heads!
This was a much longer discourse than I had planned but I hope you were blessed by it nonetheless. Having now prepared the conceptual ground, I want to soon take us into the meaning of the symbols of the Divine Sanctuary. Then, I hope, you will not only begin to see how extraordinarily beautiful divine tavnith (pattern) really is but that you will want to passionately live it out too, so that you can walk, and exist, and breathe and find simcha (joy) - the real version, not the counterfeit psychic one (they are hard to discern at first, believe me!) in that Ultimate Reality which is our Elohim (God) through Yah'shua (Jesus) our Master! Amen.
Comments from Readers
"Awesome...so well explained -- love your statement, 'we must appreciate the shadows for what they point to but never substitute them for the higher reality'" (AK, Australia, 15 October 2011).
Continued in Part 4