Month 7:8, Week 1:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5940:185 AM|
SHABBAT SHUVAH, TESHUVAH 37/39, 2Exodus 1/40
Gregorian Calendar: Wednesday 1 October 2014
Shabbat Shuvah 2014
from Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon, Sweden
Continued from Part 36
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and may the grace of our Master Yah'shua (Jesus) be with you all on this special sabbath, traditionally known as Shabbat Shuvah or the 'Sabbath of Return', the last sabbath before Yom haKippurim, which begins tomorrow evening at sunset.
As the Teshuvah Season Draws to an End
The season of teshuvah (repentance) also ends at sunset tomorrow evening and with it the long vigil of intense self-examination as we seek to make a proper spiritual return to the One we have forsaken in so many different, and sometimes unexpected, ways. Throughout the congregations of NCAY every Priesthood member will be called in for weighing today or tomorrow to give an account of his or her priesthood stewardship over the past year and to ensure they are walking worthily in their ordination. As the priesthood of Yahweh is qodesh (holy, set-apart) it is the duty of the Patriarchate to ensure that spiritual purity is preserved so that the channel with heaven may be kept fully open and that no Enemy pass through our gates to cause havoc. This is the time when priesthood licenses in NCAY are therefore endorsed for another year or revoked pending proper teshuvah (repentance).
New Logo of Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon
I wanted to begin today by introducing the new logo of Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon (MLT), the central congregation in Sweden of the international New Covenant Assemblies of Yahweh, which is really a combination of two symbols that you are already familiar with. The first, consisting of a living menorah (7-armed candlestick) with seven flames and seven doves, representing the seven Ruachot Elohim (Spirits of God) (Rev.1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6), with Yah'shua (Jesus) the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev.5:5) defending this Tree of Life (Gen.2:9), you are familiar with, as this has been the adopted logo of the New Covenant Assemblies of Yahweh (NCAY) organised last year when this ministry went international once again. In the course of the next year I hope to have opportunity to explain in even greater depth with you more of who the Seven Ruachot are and what they mean to our discipleship.
The V Symbol Explained
The second symbol some of you may remember from Shabbat Shuvah two years ago (2012) and which has appeared in a number of illustrations. It consists of a chevron or letter V with the letters a (alef) and t (taw), or the ta (alef-taw), the first and letters of the Hebrew alphabet that describe Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), who is the Beginning/First (a) and the End/Last t, in Greek the "Alpha and Omega" mentioned three times in the Book of Revelation (Rev.1:8; 21:6,13) .
Meaning of the Hebrew Letters
These two Hebrew letters also represent the first and last of the annual moedim or festivals, respectively, namely Pesach (Passover) and Sukkot (Tabernacles). Additionally, to complete the three Pilgrim festivals, the middle Hebrew letter m (mem) has also been incorporated to represent the middle or 'hinge' summer Pilgrim Chag (Feast) of Shavu'ot (Weeks or 'Pentecost'). Those of you who have carefully followed our devotionals, sermons and teachings over the years will know why these festivals are so important. Their deeper revelation and sacred tavnith is one of the key revelations that has come out of Mishpachah Lev-Tsion (MLT) which is why this has been incoporated symbolically into our new logo. You will notice that the Hebrew letters are coloured, corresponding as they do to the Ruach haRishon, Ruach haRevee and the Ruach haShibi'i, the first, second and third Ruachot (Spirits) who preside over the three Pilgrim Festivals.
Origin of the Chevron
The symbolism of the chevron or letter 'V' traces back to Shabbat Shuvah two years ago when as a family and ministry we were under a lot of pressure both spiritually and in the form of opposition from former members bent on our destruction. My mother was very ill and dying at the time, my health was failing, and I was close to the point of a physical breakdown and in desperate need of assurance from Yahweh. At the time the ministry conisted of no more than MLT and a few investigators, a condition we had been in for many years, rather like Moses in Midian during his 40 year exile, prior to Yahweh once again calling us to organise the work internationally. I was leaving my mother's house to return to my own, deep in thought and prayer, when I heard this terrific din, and looking up I could see thie huge gaggle of 69 geese flying in a perfect V-shaped formation, with 5 in the middle, as they headed for their wintering grounds in the south. As I looked up in amazement at this amazing and beautiful sight Yahweh told me that He would give me a full and complete Victory over my enemies, that the 5 geese in the centre represented His grace ttoward me and my family as well as being the 5 days before Yom haKippurim, the Day of Atonement and Judgment Day. He kept his promise and the latest round of persecution, whose purpose was to destroy my family and get me imprisoned, came to nothing, and we moved on to the Sukkot (Tabernacles) festival with simcha (joy) preserving our liberty. Like I said, there are other deep spiritual meanings to this V-shape that will talk about another time. I felt strongly led to adopt this symbol for this central assembly both in token of victory in previous times of darkness and in anticipation of future victories as the world descends into ever greater darkness at the end of this prophetic cycle.
The Meaning of Alef-Mem-Taw
There is one other important symbolic meaning of the letters tma (alef-mem-taw) for they spell out the Hebrew word EMET which means 'TRUTH'. Those of you closely follow the teachings of MLT and NCAY know that we emphasis the pursuit of emet (truth), a passion that stems back to my own early days even before I was born again, when I went into the Anglican Church of St.Mary's in Oxford and knelt at the altar and covenanted before Yahweh that I would search for the emet (truth) and not rest until I had found it. I found the living Emet (Truth), Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), was born again, and I am still hotly pursuing that emet (truth) which is in His Torah, in His Davar (Word) and in divine tavnith (pattern), a passion that I have never relaxed and never will, sharing everything I find with the world, save the deepest mysteries which are for the Congregation of Messianic Israel alone.
Gematria of Alef-Mem-Taw
Needless to say - because Yahweh's mysteries are infinitely deep - the letters tma (alef-mem-taw) spell out more than the primary Hebrew word emet (truth). These letters also correspond to the numbers 1-9-400 which add up to 410 which is the number of many other Hebrew words including the Hebrew yesha' meaning salvation, shafat meaning a judge, qadash meaning sanctify, qadosh meaning holy or set-apart, mishkan meaning tabernacle, shamayim meaning heaven, shalom meaning peace, derowr meaning liberty, melek meaning a king and many more of great prophetic significance to this work.
The Pictographic Meaning of the Letters
Even the letters themselves have a pictographic meaning that contain important spiritual truths connected with the festivals and our discipleship.
The Letter Alef
a (alef), with the value of 1, represents the unity of Yahweh and depicts a master, prince, or teacher, as well as the future tense 'I will'. This depicts the one at Pesach (Passover) covenanting to seek out Messiah - 'I WILL find Him' and is the start of the search of a seeker after emet (truth).
The Letter Mem
m (mem), which as I said it in the very centre of the Hebrew alphabet, represent water and immersion (baptism) because the one coming up to Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') in order to enter covenants of Torah-obedience, and to obtain the anointing of the Ruach (Spirit) in order to accomplish this, must first be born again or fully immersed in Messiah, as represented by the ordinace of baptism and as represented by the preceeding third annual festival of Yom haBikkurim (Day of Firstfruits). The letter m (mem) is also a prefix in Hebrew meaning, 'from' or 'the means by which'. We have come from the covenant to seek our Messiah at Pesach (Passover) and from the immersion and rebirth in Messiah at Yom haBikkurim (Firstfruits) and we have now entered our Bar-mitzvah or covenant to become a son or daughter of covenant, agreeing to obey the Torah, and we have received the anointing of BAPTISM OF THE RUACH (SPIRIT) AND OF FIRE to do so, so we now have the means to be obedient and to become overcomers and marke our way upwards to the t (taw) at Sukkot (Tabernacles) and so become the fully married Bride of Messiah.
The Letter Taw
The original pictograph for the letter t (taw) represents the seal of Yahweh, perfection, completion and the finality to make a mark - to play a meaningful part - as the Bride of Messiah in the Kingdom of our Elohim (God). It is the culmination, the fulfulllment of Yah'shua's mitzvah (commandment) to be perfect:
This is out enabling to be complete or whole as redeemed human beings in Messiah, even as Yahweh is complete and whole as our Elohim (God). This is what is meant by perfection. It's not possible without Yah'shua (Jesus) and is a righteous desire:
"Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt.5:48, NKJV).
Get Rid of Your Idols
"Yah'shua (Jesus) said to [the rich young ruler], 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me'" (Matt.19:21-22, NKJV).
In other words, make teshuvah (repent) of whatever is your idol and is coming between you and your Elohim (God), whether it is lawful (like having money) or unlawful (like adultery) in His eyes, and follow Yah'shua (Jesus) - become His obedient, faithful talmid (disciples).
Corporate Perfection Too: Echadness
But there is additionally another perfection we are called to, and it's a coporate one as husbands and wives, as families, and as the Nation of Messianic Israel. This Yah'shua (Jesus) made a central part of His High Priesthly prayer in Gethsemane, "I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in echad (one)" (John 17:23, NKJV). We have to learn to walk together in the harmony of His will and not our own, following our heavenly Head and our early heads in proper subjection to the heavenly Head.
A Lot in Taw
So all of this is contained in the letter t (taw), and more. Obviously this is a vast subject beyond the scope of this short sermon which we will reserve for another study as I wish return to, and focus on, our main theme of teshuvah (repentance) and shabbat shuvah (the sabbath of return) in the little time remaining.
The Contest Between Teshuvah and Teshukah and the Two Trees
There is a contest between teshuvah (repentance) and teshukah (desire), between desire for the Tree of Life and desire for the Tree of Knowledge. Teshuvah (repentance), in the final analysis, is the choice to relinquish the Tree of Knowledge in favour of the Tree of Life. This does not mean, as it might appear at first sight, that the Besorah (Gospel) is anti-knowledge, as atheists are wont to accuse. The difference is in priorities and how that knowledge is obtained.
Spiritual vs. Carnal Knowledge
Partaking of the Tree of Life brings, naturally, eternal chayim (life) but it also brings perfect knowledge. The difference between the two Trees is that one is spiritual whereas the other is carnal knowledge. Carnal knowledge implies intercourse with darkness and sin, as well as with righteousness, as a conscious and deliberate means to obtain enlightenment. Spiritual knowledge is obtained by exercising emunah (faith) in the Davar Da'at or the Word of Knowledge which is Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) Himself. It is a deliberate and conscious choice not to sin in order to gain the experiences that result in the eating of forbidden fruit that Satan declares to be necessary in order to become like Elohim (God) and so become independent gods in our own right (Gen.3:5). The problem with this kind of knowledge is that it always beings about death, both spiritual and physical. Yahweh puts a hedge around righteousness that excludes wickedness and commands us to remain, as it were, exclusively in that compound of righteousness. And that hedge is the mitzvot (commandments), His Torah (Law). Furthermore, the goal is not the Torah itself but the righteousness, which comes by trusting, that is contained within those boundaries. The fact that people sin and learn from their experiences in illegally partaking of the Tree of Knowledge is an incidental but very, very costly and painful benefit and is never Yahweh's perfect will. When Yah'shua (Jesus) was incarnated as a human being He did not come to show us how to sin and become existentialists through disobedience - to learn through sinning - but rather the very opposite. And He demonstrated His purpose by never sinning, by never breaking the Torah, when He was tempted as we are.
Mankind's Greatest Curse
It's important you clearly understand that there are two types of knowledge but that only one is qadosh (pure), leaving those who partake of it the godly way untarnished and unspoiled, as Adam and Eve obtained it before the fall. The other kind of knowledge, which Adam and Eve were tempted into by the serpent, exacts a heavy price and causes those who partake of it to run the risk of eternal separation from Yahweh because few there be who find their way home through emunah (faith) in Messiah. That is mankind's greatest curse. And it is worse for those who deliberately choose the deathly Tree of Knowledge so as to consciously and deliberately and rebelliously avoid doing it Yahweh's way. Isn't that what Judas tried to do, to force Messiah to conform to his vision of how His messiahship should be revealed to the world, forcing Him to demonstrate His Elohimhood (Godhood) by coming down off the cross before all those sceptical witnesses? Wasn't that his carnal method, one that would actually circumscribe His whole purpose of die and atone for our sins? And didn't Peter's carnal desire, in a moment of disconnecteness from Yahweh, want Him to follow a plan similar to Judas' demon-inspired one? (Mt.16:23; Mk.8:33; Lk.4:8) Those who deliberately sin in order to force Yahweh to show mercy and extend grace to them when they have had their 'fill' of wickedness, keeping Yah'shua (Jesus) as a Plan B rescue job in case their attempt at becoming an independent god fails, are doing no less than Judas, using Him to justify their rebelliousness, counting on the mistaken belief that grace cancels all justice. Grace cannot be exploited - it is only for those who genuinely repent, having obtained a vision of the magnitude of their pride and the awfulness of their betrayal.
Grace and Justice are Connected
Grace is never apart from justice, ahavah (love) is never apart from Torah, which is why the covenant to be Torah-obedient at Shavu'ot (Weeks) is a major turning event in a believer's discipleship. It is represented by the letter m (mem) that sits at the base of the V-letter - the journey to t (taw) from a (alef), from Pesach (Passover) to Sukkot (Tabernacles), has, from the New Birth to the Bride, to pass through Shavu'ot, the Torah, and the spiritual anointing that enables us to do so. It is also symbolically a descent, part of the life-long Chag haMatzah (Festival of Unleavened Bread) process of getting the leaven of sin out of our lives which is another way of saying we must make teshuvah (repent)! That making teshuvah (repenting) occurs on both arms of the 'V' - the descent into humility and acknowledgement that our only ultimate dependency can be on Messiah, and the ascent which is the approbation and justification from Yahweh that causes us to exult in simcha (joy) as we ascend the mount to the Bridal Chamber of Messiah at Sukkot (Tabernacles). So the downward arm represents surrender that leads us, through our emunah (faith), to obedience, and the upward arm represents glory and exaltation. This is such an imporant Besorah (Gospel) Principle, and the two are so intimately bound, that it is vital we represent them as sunning parallel, making this V-symbol even more potent a witness of this divine tavnith (pattern).
The Victory Over Temptation, Sin and Death
This morning, as two years ago, I watched the geese assembling as they prepare for their winter migration. They have not left yet but I suspect they will be done any moment now. As two years ago when I obtained the witness of the 'V', so today it is cold and overcast. Teshuvah (repentance), were we to represent it by a weather condition, would, I think, fit will with foggy, muggy and overcast weather. Things don't become clear, and we don't bathe in the rays of the sun of righteousness, until the process is completed. The 'V' symbol also represents our victory over the temptation of sin which can only come about because of Yah'shua's (Jesus') Victory over Sin and Death on the Cross:
Victory for the Overcomer
"For this [physical] material (body) which can decay must be clothed with imperishability, this which is mortal much be clothed with immortality. When what decays puts on imperishability, and what is mortal puts on immortality, then this passage in the Tanakh (Old Testament, Scriptures) will be fulfilled:
The sting of death is sin; and sin draws its power from the Torah (Law); but thanks be to Elohim (God), who gives us the victory through our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). So, my dear brothers, stand firm and immovable, always doing the Master's work as vigorously as you can, knowing that united with the Master your efforts are not in vain" (1 Cor.15:53-58, JNT/CJB).
Death is swallowed up in victory (Is.25:8),
Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting? (Hos.13:14)
The V-symbol is therefore also the symbol of the overcomer, one who overcomes the pull of the flesh and of the devil, who allows Messiah to put the carnal to death so that the Ruach (Spirit) can rise within and permanently unite the talmid (disciple) to his Master in an indissoluble bond, where the lure to sin is broken forever, and obedience becomes pure simcha (joy):
The Reverse Side of 410
"For whatever is born of Elohim (God) overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our emunah (faith). Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who has emunah (believes, trusts) that Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Son of Elohim (God)?" (1 John 5:4-5, NKJV).
I didn't tell you earlier that one of the gematric words that adds up to 410 is qashah meaning to harden, another is shacah meaning spoil and yet another is qeshiy meaning stubbornness. Indeed, there are several negative words associated with 410, and they are a warning of the downside of rejecting emunah (truth), or twisting and abusing it, or refusing to do anything about it. And I am speaking not just about the emet (truth) that is the Torah but the emet (truth) of what we are really like in our fallen condition as contrasted with what we are supposed to be like in our fully redeemed state in Messiah. So beware, don't allow what has been given to you by grace - Yahweh's undeserved loving kindness, His unmerited favour - to lead you to become cocky or arrogant because the knowledge (da'at) you have. Even after you have obtained knowledge the correct way, there is still the possibility of forgetting how you got it, and to start showing yourself off or even your ministry. The 'one-and-only-true-church' or '-assembly' or '-ministry' virus can often arise from our forgetting where all that we have that is tov (good) actually comes from.
We are the boast only in Messiah, never in ourselves or our giftings. And if you are really determined to boast of yourself, then do what Paul tells:
which is a roundabout way of making teshuvah (repenting)! Because you can't actually "boast" of weakness, it's a contradiction of terms, and Paul knew that when he said it to underline the folly and stupidity of man ever boasting about man. So don't boast, overcome all carnal tendencies through making teshuvah (repentance), let Yahweh break the madness of stubbornness on the anvil of His will, and understand that as in moving from one side of the letter 'V', from the to the that there is first a descending into humility until you hit the bottom of your pride before there is any ascending into the simcha (joy) of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. Understand it and do something about it!
"If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness" (2 Cor.11:30, NIV)
Grace Does Not Abolish Justice
And remember, remember, that Yahweh has not abolished Justice anymore than the Cross abolished Yahweh's Law of Torah - He has not separated it from Grace! And whilst Grace is always the head of Justice, once Grace is rejected, Justice and its inevitable consequences is all that is left which is bad news for the unrepentant sinner - and that is the business of the approaching Yim haKippurim (Day of Atonements). Yah'shua (Jesus) rather "sends forth justice to victory", a rather strong endorsement of it:
Renewal of Priesthood Licenses
"Behold, My Servant (Yah'shua/Jesus) whom I have chosen,
My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!
I will put My Ruach (Spirit) upon Him,
And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel nor cry out,
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench,
Till He sends forth justice to victory;
And in His name Gentiles will trust" (Matt 12:18-21, NKJV; cp. Is.42:1-4).
Brethren and sisters, we have serious business to transact this Yom haKippurim (Day of Atonements) unlike anything we have ever done at this time before. I tremble when I think about it as I look back and see how we have been prepared through much purging over the years for this time. Those of you who want your priesthood licences as Deacons, Deaconesses, Elders or Eldresses renewed, need to present yourselves to your local pastors for interviewing before Yom Kippur. And those who believe they have been called into Priesthood service need to likewise present themselves so that they may be examined and Yahweh's will obtained. The only condition is that you are a confirmed member in good standing (a son or daughter of the Shavu'ot covenant) which means you must have fulfilled the conditions that are a part of our Constitution .
There still remain a day and an afternoon before this season of teshuvah (repentance) ends and we are all compelled by Yahweh's invisible Hand to pass through the fire of Yom haKippurim beyond the veil to be judged by the ta (Alef-Taw), Yah'shua our Messiah (Jesus Christ). May you find grace in your teshuvah (repentance) as you ready yourself for the festival is my prayer in His Name. Amen.
Continued in Part 38
 These two letters, ta (alef-taw), appear untranslated in the Tanakh (Old Testament) in hundreds of locations and are very important spiritual markers. To find out where these are hidden from us in our English translations, get a copy of Gregory T. Riether, The Alef-Tav Old Testament (Virtualbookworm.com Publishing, College Station, TX: 2012)
 See The Constitution, 10th (2013) Edition, Article 8