Month 3:1, Rosh Chodesh, Year:Day 5941:60 AM|
2Exodus 4/40, (Omer Count - Shabbat #6)
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 26 May 2017
Rosh Chodesh III
To be Right or to Be Transformed
Chag sameach Rosh Chodesh kol beit Yisra'el and mishpachah. And may the grace and peace of our Messiah be with us all!
A Deadly Year Ahead
Welcome to the third month of this deadly biblical year - deadly for those who have neither believed nor prepared. And when the collapse comes, as it must and shall, it will probably all be over within 48 hours, most likely over a weekend. There will be one world on Friday evening and a completely new one economically. socially and politically the following Monday morning. The banks will close on Friday and on the following Monday morning either all electronic bank accounts will be wiped clean or the price of food and other commodities will shoot through the roof. And what paper and non-precious metal money you still heve will will be worth 10 per cent of less of its former value.
Get Your Gardens Going
The good news is that summer is here, at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere, so I hope you are all gardening on as large a scale as you can with a view to canning and storing for a possible winter of major discontent.
In Search of a Prophetic Word
Usually at Rosh Chodesh I share a prophetic davar (word) from Yahweh if I get one but I really don't have anything specific to add to what I said yesterday at shabbat. And if there is one thing I have learned, the hard way, is never to 'push' Yahweh for anything.
The Mishpatim Yahweh
There were, anciently, times - usually in national emergencies - when a king might consult a navi (prophet) for guidance but no one has asked anything of me recently and Yahweh has not given be very much beyond what He has already given in considerable detail over the last few years. I think primarily, of course, of the Mishpatim Yahweh or the Judgments of Yahweh. What's coming is coming and that's about it. And no one will be able to claim that they were not told in considerable detail what to do. Assuming we have done everything physically possible, all that's left is to get right with Elohim (God)...and what could possibly be more important than that?
Getting Back to a Restored Image
The holiness or set-apartness of the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones), which is even more important at a time of impending national calamity, depends essentially on getting back to the restored image of Elohim (God) in them. I've talked a lot about this recently, particularly at the last Chag haMatzah (Feast of Unleavaned Bread) when I spoke to you about restoring the divine image in believers. How does this restoration came about? Mostly through prayer and contemplation balanced by what William Sykes called "a costly spirit of service" . To pray in such a manner is, to quote Kenneth Leech, "to open oneself to the possibility of becoming set on fire by the Spirit (Ruach)" .
Moses' Midianite Endowment and Meeting With Yah'shua
I don't know how that sounds to you but all I can do is endorse the sentiment with a hearty 'Amen!' Yet none of us can ever predict or know beforehand how or when such a 'firing up' might take place. We don't know exactly how long into his Midianite exile Moses was when he had his 'burning bush' experience but one thing that is likely is that he was not seeking for it, let alone having any idea how, if at all, Yahweh would manifest Himself to him. Though we often describe that encounter as a malak or angel manifestation, in reality the Being in the flames spoke in a manner that suggests it was more than a mere malak (angel) or messenger. He speaks with a voice in such a way as to most certainly identify Himself with Elohim (God). Further, we know now, based on related manifestations in the Bible, that the one calling Himself the "malak (angel) of Yahweh" ("messenger of the LORD" - Ex.3:2) is to be identified with the pre-incarnate Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), who, unlike other messengers or malakim (angels) is uncreated and is therefore Himself Elohim (God) like Yahweh the Father.
A Theophany in a Flame of Fire
The fact that the Qadosh (Holy, Set-Apart) Messenger appears "in a flame of fire" (Ex.1:2, ESV) is a sign of Elohim's (God's) presence. It is the same fire that will later manifest as a pillar to lead and protect the Israelites in the First Great Exodus (13:21-22). This is a theophany - a physical manifestation of Deity - and it will change Moses' life, and the destiny of Israel, forever.
Preparing to Be Sent Out With a Supernatural Covering
That's what we need too and I am hoping it's what you desperately want. We want to be changed, empowered, fired up, anointed and sent forth. Why should the Second and Last Exodus be any different from the First? It's not only logical, given what Scripture prophecies what will happen in this great end-time gathering and journey, but Yahweh tells us it will actually happen again:
The Millennial Branches
"In that day the Branch of Yahweh shall be beautiful and glorious; and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped. And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called qadosh (holy, set-apart) - everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. When Yahweh has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then Yahweh will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a chuppah (covering). And there will be a sukkah (tabernacle) for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain" (Isa.4:2-6, NKJV).
The Branch spoken herein is the both the Messiah, Yah'shua (Jesus) (Jer.23:5; 33:15; Zech.3:8; 6:12) - the Greater Branch - and the righteous Remnant - the Lesser Branch (consisting of many small branches). These are not the Old Covenant qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones). The Messiah springs from Yahweh and His rule spreads across the world as the Remnant springs from Messiah and is sent out. What we're seeing here is a depiction of the Millennium.
An Unimpressive Beginning
This is not something that happens instantaneously but is spread out over two millennia. The beginnings of the Messiah, like that of the Remnant itself, are unimpressive:
The First and Last Remnants and Their Anointings
"For He grew up before Him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him" (Is.53:2, ESV).
Both describe Yah'shua's (Jesus') first coming as well at the first Remnant 2,000 years ago and the end-time Remnant that is appearing now. Both start unimpressively....until they are anointed by the Ruach (Spirit) - the first with the First Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') anointing and the second with the First Messianic Sukkot (Tabernacles) one that is yet to come. The first manifested as tongues of fire so we may assume the last one will be fiery too though in what form it will take, and with what result, remains to be seen.
The Remnant as Fruit
Isaiah 4, though chronologically written before Isaiah 53, is describing a later event (it is quite common for the nevi'im/prophets not to write in chronological order). So though His beginnings are unimpressive, His triumph will be beautiful and glorious. The 'fruit of the land' are the Remnant qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) - is is they who will have this cloud by day and the flame by night to guide them in the Second Exodus, which cloud and flame shall remain in the land thereafter as a witness that Messiah is spiritually and physically present. Notice that Isaiah uses the word "assemblies" in the plural - this same manifestation of the Presence will be over every assembly of Israel - over every tribe, every clan and every family. Imagine that - meeting together like this and having that cloud or pillar or fire over us, not just as something visible but as something to be experienced and felt!
Being Left Behind is Best
All of these people are described as "survivors" (v.2), meaning they are a remnant that have passed through tribulation and calamity - they haven't been whisked away in some imaginary 'rapture'. They're the 'crême de la crême' not second-rate believers unworthy of rapture. The ones who are 'taken away', as Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself testified, are the sinners, not heaven's special, entitled pets, but the very opposite:
Blessed to Be Survivors
"No one knows about that day or hour [of the Second Coming], not even the malakim (angels) in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Master will come" (Matt.24:36-42, NIV).
Indeed, Yahweh also said to Isaiah:
So these survivors - this Remnant - are what's left-over in a global-type Sodom and Gomorrah event. And there were precious few survivors from that event.
"If Yahweh of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah" (Is.1:9, ESV).
The Isaiah 4 Event
I wonder if we have truly grasped the momentousness of the Isaiah 4 event? This isn't just about the final gathering, the Second Exodus, the Second Coming or even the first resurrection, momentous those these will be. There's a complete reveral of history, a complete undoing of all sin right the way back to the first sin committed after the Flood for "the Master shall have washed away the filth...and cleansed the bloodstains" (Is.4:4a, ESV), even though the context of the revelation is Jerusalem and the covenant land. The whole planet has been polluted - spiritually contaminated - from millennia of sinning and blood-letting, and yet all of this has been telescoped prophetically into the world's chosen, representative nation.
Cleansing by Fire
And the method of cleansing? "by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning" (Is.4:4b, ESV). So additionally in this one chapter in Isaiah is telescoped not only this final redemeption of the world but also the whole issue of sin stretching back to Eden itself. This, then, is the permanent remedy of the cross, applied to Yahweh's people, so that such language as "take away" (Is.3:1,18) will never be necessary again.
Removal of the Rebels at the Millennium Termination
There will never again be the need to "take away" sin because it will be accomplished there and then by the Messiah's return. The only "taking away" left to be done will be the execution or removal of those who rebelled at the end of the Millennium after Satan and his hosts are released for a short time to test all those born during the Millennium. Why will there be no possibility of redemption for them? Because they will have had the living Messiah living amongst them, they will have had all the evidence necessary for saving emunah (faith) but even then they will choose evil. There is no ignorance on their part and therefore no escape from the fire sent to burn the inner man.
Creation of the New Universe
Thereafter Yahweh "will create" (4:5) something incredible - a permanent, fiery covering, tabernacle, booth, tent or sukkah that's also called a chuppah in our text, a wedding canopy, because what follows is an allegorical wedding of Messiah with the faithful Remnant, the children of the first resurrection. And at the end of the Millennium, with the last rebels extirpated forever, there will be a creation of a new world - a complete overhaul of the planet in which the old is dissolved and something completely new is made on the original creation template. The planet becomes celestialised - glorified - restored to its original place as the literal centre of the moral, spiritual and physical universe. No distinction will be made between 'spirit' and 'matter' for they will be merged into one continuum, like our own glorified bodies to come.
A Universal Transformation
We can't begin to imagine the scale of all this. The transformation isn't just of this little planet but of the solar system, galaxy and universe. All created things, from stars to atoms, will be realigned and phased into the new resurrected reality. Seeing this world transformed will be remarkable enough, not to mention our currently feeble, mortal bodies, but the entire universe? Quite how much of this transformation we will understand remains to be seen but it occurs to me that there will be awe and amazement the likes of which humanity has never experienced before. Imagination must, of necessity fail us. We cannot possibly grasp it yet we will be witnesses of it. Amazing!
How to Survive and Prosper
Which brings me back to us to the here-and-now. What is next? What of this day we are living in, the first day of the third month of this current biblical year? We started by discussing the necessity of Yahweh creating His restored image in us, which is what everything is about. What are we - unresurrected, tempted by the flesh on a more or less constant basis, afflicted by entropy and decay in our physical being, feeling very, very vulnerable indeed? How are we to make it in such surroundings of uncertainty where enemies lurk to destroy? What level of perfection is expected of us and how are we to accomplish it? How will we survive and prosper?
What Transformation is Required?
These are the age-old questions and the answers are all in our Bibles. Yahweh expects His people to undergo transformation - we are not allowed to remain as we are. There is no stasis in the Kingdom. Things aren't 'settled' or 'resolved' in this fallen state, and like a building in need of constant repair and maintenance, so our souls are in need of daily attention. Without this, we slide, under the gravity of the flesh, back toward the abyss, until that abyss is removed when Yah'shua (Jesus) returns. What is the transformation that Yahweh demands? A change of character, disposition and outward appearance.
The Transformed Patient
My former Anglican chaplain at University College, Oxford, relates a story by way of illustration:
Those Who Look to Yahweh
"I remember visiting a patient in hospital, and before leaving, he asked me to pray for him. I did so, with the laying on of hands. This was repeated again in the following weeks. Soon there was a noticeable change in his features. Healing was taking place and he was being transformed. This is difficult to put into words but it was as though light was emanating through him, and he was becoming more peaceful and serene.
He was discharged from hospital, and after a period of time, took up the threads of life again. A year later his wife rang to say her husband had just died, but there was no need for me to visit her straight away. She went on to explain her husband had had a serious haemorrhage, and was readmitted to the hospital. According to the nurses he should have been on pain killers but he declined them and said he was all right. He knew he was going to die, but was not afraid, and maintained his peaceful demeanour. When she and her son visited him, both were aware of light radiating through him. When he died, she went to her vicar, and asked for a special funeral. She said her husband had died in faith and she wanted the funeral to register this and be a joyful occasion. The vicar complied and the funeral was a celebration. When I saw her shortly afterwards, I was surprised by her appearance. She, too, had been transformed and her face was radiant." 
I am reminded of the testimony of David who observed:
Regenerated Believers in History
"I sought Yahweh, and he answered me;
He delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to Him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and Yahweh heard him;
He saved him out of all his troubles.
The malakh (angel) of Yahweh encamps around those who fear Him,
and He delivers them" (Ps 34:4-7, NIV).
This is the transformation that the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) makes, recognisable in its most basic form - a radiant face - which everyone can see and be astonished by. Did not the face of Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself shine "like the sun" (Mt.17:1-2) when His glory was revealed to His three talmidim (disciples) on the Mount of Transfiguration? Peter, James and John were astonished because they had never seen anything like that before. Yet a measure of this revealed glory may be seen radiating from the faces - shining forth - of all truly regenerated believers. Wasn't this the appearance of the first martyr, Stephen?
The Wise Man
"All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of a malak (angel)" (Acts 6:15, NIV)
His face radiated light. It was sublime. Solomon likewise testified:
The Shining of Wisdom
"Who is like the wise man?
Who knows the explanation of things?
Wisdom brightens a man's face
and changes its hard appearance" (Eccl.8:1, NIV).
This wisdom, which is a Ruach (Spirit) 'thing', is in contrast to mere intellect, which we discussed yesterday. Wisdom shines, it radiates, because it is the same light of emet (truth) and ahavah (love) that illuminates the faces of those who walk in submitted emunah (faith).
Meister Eckhart's Testimony
In the dark ages, before the Reformation, when Western Europe was Catholic, there lived a wise man whom history has come to know as Meister Eckhart. His birth name was Eckhart von Hochheim and he became a well-known theologian, philosopher and mystic. He lived in the 11th and 12th centuries in Thuringia, Germany. Because he was 'different' he was tried before the infamous Roman Catholic Inquisition, as so many good people were in those days. From his own prayers, meditations and experiences he concluded that a true man of Elohim (God) could consistenly be found to possess at least five charactertics:
Eckhart's Five Signs
- 1. He never complains;
- 2. He never makes excuses when accused - he leaves the facts to vindicate him;
- 3. There is nothing he wants in earth or heaven but what Yahweh wills Himself;
- 4. He is not moved in time; and
- 5. He is never rejoiced - he is joy (simcha) itself." 
I had to do some careful thinking when I first read his testimony. Never to complain is, perhaps, a hard one, because it is the default condition of the flesh. I had to chuckle this morning when I got up when my wife challenged me not to complain about the world to our visitor because she did not know what was in my sermon and this was Eckhart's first 'sign'. Never to make excuses when accused - that's a typical fleshy response too. Desiring nothing in earth or in heaven save what Yahweh wills for us... all of these, it must be obvious, require death to the self, because without Messiah in us, these are impossible things to do! Yet when we do them, our faces cannot shine Yahweh's shalom (peace). Not being 'moved in time' was Eckhart's fourth observation and that I intepret to mean that such a soul is consistent in his emunah (faith), not chopping and changing with every gust of theological or circumstantial wind. And finally, he is never 'rejoiced' - he doesn't have to seek simcha (joy) because he has become it.
Transfiguration, Not Rightness
What are we to make out of all this? It is remarkably simple: the central idea of the Besorah (Gospel) is not about being justified - being made right - but about transfiguration. The three apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration did not go asking Yah'shua (Jesus), Moses and Elijah hard questions about life, or what their approval ratings were; and even though Peter made a silly though sincere remark about making some booths for the three of them (because it was the Feast of Tabernacles), all they needed to see was the glory in these three. All they needed to see was the light shining in their faces. And that was all they needed to know that Yahweh's approval and blessing was there, in them, and that they were there especially to be witnesses.
Dying to Self
Being 'right' theologically, important though it may be so as not to believe and practice lies, is not, in the end, the main thing. What's important is that Yah'shua (Jesus) is shining through you. Meister Eckhart was a neoplatonist Catholic - he had lots of theology that was wrong, but he knew Messiah. In the days of our ignorance the Light may yet shine through us because the most important things are not points of doctrine but a life of humility and surrender in Messiah. And that comes from dying to self and living for Him. We shine when His image is restored back in us and that's what it's all about. And when that happens, our behaviour changes. We don't have to force simcha (joy), because we are simcha (joy). We don't have to force ourselves to love, because we are ahavah (love). We don't have to force ourselves to be patient because we have learned to be content with whatever we have and in whatever situation we find ourselves in. We don't have to worry about tomorrow because our reality is timeless - it's the reality of our Master. We don't need to protest innocence when falsely accused because we know we are the innocence of the One who died for us, who was sinless, and who lives in us. And we don't need to complain, because in Him we have all we could ever need.
The Greatest Gift We Can Give
The man whom William Sykes spoke of, to whom he administered in hospital, did not make a full recovery. When he left this earth, it was his time to go. What was important was that Messiah's image was in him and He radiated His presence. And that's because he lived in His presence. It 'infected' his wife too, and doubtless others around him. That is the greatest gift we can give, by infecting others with His ahavah (love) and His shalom (peace).
Go and Irradiate People with Love!
So I repeat, the central idea of the Besorah (Gospel) is transformation and transfiguration, not 'being right'. The only 'rightness' is in Yah'shua (Jesus) because the only way we can possess 'rightness' or 'righteousness' is through Him, for He alone is righteous. Yah'shua (Jesus) wants to enter us and transfigure us so that we can literally irradiate others with His presence - irradiate everyone we come in contact with!
We Must Be Perceived
That means, in order to be a witness, we need to be perceived by those around us. Thus Maurice Maeterlinck adds this important thought:
Drawn By Life, Agitating the Darkness
"It is far more important that one's life should be perceived than that it should be transformed; for no sooner has it been perceived, than it transforms itself of its own accord" .
What the people perceive, then, and are drawn to, is the quality of chayim (or life) radiating out of us, and if it is the eternal chayim (life) of Yah'shua (Jesus), it will draw souls to us like magnets. But be careful. People are also atracted by other non-spiritual, psychic forces in fallen man, so there are different kinds of attraction. So we can't make 'attraction' a general rule of thumb. For one thing, the eternal chayim or life of Messiah in a soul will agitate the spirit of death in others, because the spirit of death is a kind of 'life' itself, albeit 'anti-life'; and that dark life is demonic, so the presence of Elohim (God), perceived by those in darkness, who love their darkness, will agitate the demonic in them. You have only to consider how different kinds of people reacted to Yah'shua (Jesus), or to Stephen - they were either overflowing in adoration for Him or were beathing murder against Him.
Nevertheless, part of those who are in darkness will be attracted to the light in a true believer because it will be ministering to a legitimate need, or at least hold out the promise of ministry. Typically such a presence ignites a civil war in the soul, for the soul of man desires the salvation and chayim (life) of Messiah, but the demons will at the same time violently resist, cause confusion and stir up dark passions.
Don't Measure the Presence
Finally, we need not be anxious over how much of His presence we have in us, and certainly we should neither seek to measure it nor compare it with how much we think others have. Yahweh does not hurry over things. He is not anxious or worried. Time is His, not ours, a point that I think Meister Eckhart was making. And we, little creatures that we are, have been called to be transformed into His nature by divine imaging through His Son by sharing in that sacred chayim (life). What is it that transforms us? What is the agent of change within us? It is the ahavah (love) that He pours into our hearts. It is this ahavah (love) that slowly but surely transforms us into becoming like Him.
Yet Sin Remains
Yes, sin is still there, resisting this transformation, so knowing how to, and actually saying 'no' to sin as 'yes' to ahavah (love) and emet (truth) is what counts. By living in the selfishness which is the Adamic nature - the flesh , the carnal disposition - means preventing our transformation into the Divine Ahavah (Love) of Messiah. It means cooperating with the demonic agenda of dehumanising us in small but deadly increments. Until we are transformed, sharing the life of Elohim (God), we shall be of this world and not of heaven. And I don't think that's what any of us wants.
So there you have it, chaverim: the choice to be right or the choice to be transformed. May we not be blinded to the obvious or seduced by the lie. May Yahweh take us and use us as we relinquish daily more and more self-sovereignty. And the more we release quickly, so much the better. Have a blessed Rosh Chodesh! Amen.
Comments From Readers
 "This is gold" (LB, UK, 27 May 2017)
 William Sykes, Visions of Faith: An Anthology of Reflections (The Bible Reading Fellowship, Oxford: 1996), p.219
 Ibid., pp.260-261
 Meister Eckhart, in Franz Pfeiffer, Meister Eckhart, Vol.1, trans. C.de B.Evans, John M.Watkin (1956), p.336
 Maurice Maeterlinck, The Treasure of the Humble, trans. Alfred Sutro (George Allen: 1897), p.185