Friday, February 11, 2011


Jan 29, 2010
In last week's letter, I mentioned Paul’s willingness to give up his life in Messiah for the sake of his brethren. It is hard to believe that anyone, after coming to faith and having revelation-knowledge of the “new creation” being, that we are in Yeshua, would be willing to lay it down for the sake of others. However, in the course of this week it dawned on me that Paul was willing to do that which was/is the kinsman redeemer's obligation, so that life could issue out of death.

The concept of “life out of death” is central to the redemption idea. Thus Paul became a witness, in his very being, to the traits which characterize the “new creation” person, brought forth in the image and likeness of his Redeemer, when he was willing to be cut off, or accursed, from Messiah “for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3). In essence, when Yeshua’s life through the Holy Spirit, invaded Paul, it came with the Redeemer’s willingness to give up his life, so that others may be its recipients. Paul made this principle also an essential part of his teaching: “always carrying about in the body the dying of the Yeshua, that the life of Yeshua also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Yeshua's sake, that the life of Yeshua also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:10-12).

Moses, too, acted as a redeemer par excellence, on behalf of the Children of Israel, when he addressed YHVH after the Golden Calf episode, begging Him to “forgive their sin -- but if not, I pray, blot me out [in their place] of Your book which You have written" (Exodus 32:32).

Our father Abraham laid down his life for the sake of his nephew Lot. This is seen after the battle, in which the four kings defeated the five kings. One of those was the king of Sodom, and since Lot was residing in Sodom, he was taken captive with all his belongings. Abraham, not only rescued his dead brother’s son, but also retrieved all that was lost by the five kings (see Genesis 14).

"No greater love has any man than he lay down his life for his brother" (1John 3:16). The one who is willing to do so is indeed acting as a kinsman redeemer, in the true sense of the word. Yeshua came as a first-born prince, and a potential kinsman redeemer in the family of Jacob/Israel. Why "potential"? Because He had to qualify through obedience; Yeshua had to show himself worthy in all matters pertaining to righteousness, by obedience to the will of His Heavenly Father, even to the giving up of His life. And so He said, “I come to do Your will” (Hebrews 10:7), and "I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:15).

These are characteristics of those who have been called into the redemption process. We, who claim to be the "body of Messiah," through the indwelling of His Spirit, have received this very nature and therefore should be willing to lay down our lives so that others might have life. However, what does that "laying down of life" translate itself into, in our daily experience? We have to walk in the Spirit by putting away the works of the flesh, which are seen as the deadly fruit (see Galatians 5: 19-21) of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The "execution stake's" lesson ought to guide us, causing us to identify with Yeshua when He said: "Forgive them they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Paul also says "that we are no longer to look at man after the flesh" (2 Corinthians 5: 16). This is not an easy transition, as sin is still working in us (ref. Romans 7:20), insisting that we identify ourselves with it so as to continue to be a vessel of its nature. At the same time, we really have no excuse for not gaining victory, as the power of another kingdom, which has come to destroy all the works of the devil, resides in us. The Spirit of the Redeemer reveals to us our death, when by faith we are identified to Yeshua's death, so that the life of Yeshua may manifest in our mortal bodies, thus bringing resurrection-eternal life to the rest of the family of Man. Daily we are challenged by the Word of Elohim to resist to the point of shedding blood (life is in the blood) in our striving against sin (ref. Hebrews 12:4), and to overcome by the blood (life) of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony, when we do not love our lives even to the point of death (ref. Revelation 12:11).

The messenger (the First and the Last, Who was dead, and is alive), reminds the congregation of Smyrna to be faithful even unto death, and that He will give to them the crown of life (ref. Revelation 2:8,10). Paul wept for those who did not press into death, in order to have the crown of life. He said of them that they were actually enemies of Messiah's stake. May we not be counted as the ones that he grieved over, but as those who join him in that pursuit of "life out of death". RIP



Between the dispersion of Israel (in 722BC) and deportation of Judah (in 586BC), YHVH raised up the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel through whom He explained in full to both houses the reasons for their predicament (in spite of the fact that the northern kingdom had already been sacked by then). At the same time, these prophets also laid-out, and elaborated on, Israel's future restoration and redemption.

In speaking to the elders of Israel, now beyond the Great River, Ezekiel reminded them of their history of disobedience and rebellion, but also how their Elohim had responded to their insurrection each and every time. YHVH had "acted for [His] name's sake, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom [Israel] lived, in whose sight [He] had made [Himself] known to [Israel]" (Ezekiel 20: 9). Before the Israelites came into the land of Canaan YHVH declared that He was not taking them there for their sake, nor because of their righteousness, but for His namesake, as they were a rebellious and stiff-necked people (ref. Deuteronomy 9: 5-7). However, He was still intending for them to be His witnesses to the nations, just as king David pointed out, that [YHVH] saved [us] for His name sake, so that His might and power would be known, along with His mercy and truth, for why should the nations say: "where is [Israel's] Elohim?" (ref. Psalms 106:8; 115:1).

Now, even though both houses of Israel were cast off, YHVH was continuing to watch over them, for He has not given up His covenants and promises to their ancestors. What's more, although His people had proven to be unable to uphold the Torah, YHVH obviously was not going to do away with His statutes, laws and ordinances, which govern His kingdom, His relationship with His people, nor their destiny. Because He was bound to His own nature and word, nothing was going to come in the way of His progressive plan, not even Israel's utterly fallen nature.

As we have seen all along, Israel was called and chosen as YHVH's firstborn nation, whose forefathers were of the firstborn linage (see chapter XI). They were His inheritance. YHVH even sealed His relationship with them with a very radical declaration: "Thus says YHVH, Who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar (YHVH of hosts is His name): ‘If those ordinances depart from before Me, says YHVH, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.’ Thus says YHVH: ‘If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says YHVH’" (Jeremiah 31: 35-37). But having said all this, YHVH had to embark on an undertaking that would transform the errant hearts which thus far have been in opposition to His plans and purposes.

Here is where a New Covenant comes into play. This covenant was not going to be like the one made in Sinai, which was contingent upon certain conditions and therefore dependent on Israel's ability to choose YHVH's righteousness, via a law written on tablets of stone. This new declared agreement was founded totally on YHVH's mercy and ability to remove the rebellious nature of sin from human hearts, and to grant forgiveness once and for all. The prophet Jeremiah records the terms of this new arrangement: "Behold, the days are coming, says YHVH, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah --"not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says YHVH. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says YHVH: I will put My Torah in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people…For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:31-34). What a radical promise! Thus the Torah, its laws and statutes, will no longer present an insurmountable challenge. It is the Torah which is at the very heart of the new covenant, as the recipients' new hearts will be Torah-compatible by nature and disposition.

Yet, most amazingly this New Covenant declaration came at a time when Israel was already in exile and Judah was also facing deportation. The peculiar and deliberate timing of announcing this covenant attested to its veracity, and guaranteed that YHVH Himself would carry it out. He promised through Moses that He would raise-up another prophet like him (ref. Deuteronomy 18:15; 18). As we have seen, Moses was YHVH's servant-deliverer from the slavery in Egypt. But now He needed a deliverer, a savior, to bring them out of their slavery and bondage to sin, and to their naturally evil inclination. He needed to bring in a firstborn, a kinsman redeemer who would qualify for this office. This one would have to be both a prince and priest, after the order of Melchitzedec.

Sunday, February 06, 2011


October 23, 2009

Around and around and around we go, where its stops no body knows...or do we? You may remember this little rhyme from your childhood. The reason that this came to my mind is because of living here, in Israel. No, I'm not referring to the peace process, although it too could fit the "bill".

What am I referring to? As we know, only Jews can legally come to Israel as new immigrants (immigration to Israel is called Aliya). Descendants of Jews (those whose mothers aren't Jewish, or those who have at least one Jewish grandparent) are also eligible, if they can prove it. In such cases, even though they will not be defined as "Jews", their right to immigrate will still be granted. However, all Jews or descendants of Jews must produce proof, by way of synagogue attendance documents, and/or Bar Mitzva, Jewish marriage or burial certificates, which are then subject to an Orthodox rabbi's approval and the relevant authorities in Israel. If your Jewish parents converted to Christianity, you are, as mentioned, still qualified to make Aliyah, though as a descendant of a Jew only. If you are a Jew who converted to Christianity, you could face a very serious problem in that the Aliya organizations would not only label you a non-Jew, but one who has chosen to forsake their "Jewishness" and is therefore a pariah to the Jewish People.

In Israel today many claim to know who is NOT a Jew, more so than who is a Jew, and thus the merry-go-round keeps turning. The Orthodox, along with the government, do not regard Messianic Jews as such. The Messianic Jews, for their part, say that the Jews, or Ephraimites who lost their identity, and who are claiming to have found it when they came to the Messiah of Israel, are not Jews. The Ephraimites, of course, do not view themselves as Jews, while many Jews believe that all Israelites, "lost" or found, still have to become Jews. Some Messianic Jews, who find their identity in Messiah, decry the Orthodox for not being "real" Jews, or the secular, as all of these do not follow the biblical Torah. Some Sephardic Jews believe that the Ashkenazi Jews originate from the ancient people called Khazars, and so are supposedly converts and not authentic Jews. And so it keeps going around… Now to make things even more interesting, some researchers are actually finding that the Afghani tribes, from which hails the Taliban, as well as many of the Palestinians could be descendants of Jews and of the lost tribes. Would you agree that there is a lot of confusion? Does YHVH have a solution for this mess?

Scripture says that "a house divided against itself cannot stand" (ref. Matt 12:25). Could this be another reason, why slowly but surely the nation of Israel may in a few short years become a Muslim country? Aside from the latter's incredible birth rate, there is one more factor on hand. In case you have not heard, the Hanif Religion of Abraham is embarking on an effort to unite Christianity, Judaism and Islam, under the one true god – "Allah", who "has no partners". Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed are the prophets of this religion with Mohammed being the last, although every generation has its messengers. I received an invitation to join them this past Sunday morning, probably as a result of sending (by mistake) last Friday's letter to someone in Jordan. If anyone is interested in the letter that was sent to me, I will forward it. It may be worth a read to see if this is the fishing net, that I pointed out in last Friday's letter, in reference to the first chapter of Habakkuk.

In writing to the Believers in Rome, the apostle Paul makes a statement that we too should take to heart: "I tell the truth in Messiah, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Messiah for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites [not only the Jews], to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Torah, the service of Elohim, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Messiah came, who is over all, the eternally blessed Elohim. Amen". (Romans 9: 1-5 emphases added).

How many of us carry this kind of burden for the children of Abraham "after the flesh, who are Israelites"? Paul then continues to define for us who he is actually talking about, please note that he uses "Israelites". "But it is not that the word of Elohim has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called.' That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of Elohim; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed" (Romans 9:6-8 emphasis added). Let me clarify, the children of Abraham after the flesh are not the children of Elohim. There is a difference between those born of the flesh, and those born after the Spirit. Then who are the children of Abraham after the flesh? They all are. However, the Word of Elohim has not failed, so Paul clarifies and differentiates between the flesh and the Spirit.

Who are the children of Promise? Paul explains his burden in a very clear cut statement: "For this is the word of promise: 'At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.' And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of Elohim according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, 'the older shall serve the younger.' As it is written, 'Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.'" (Romans 9:9-13).

YHVH calls His children after those who are born from the womb of Sarah, and then chooses or elects Jacob from the womb of Rebecca. Paul was willing to give up his life in Messiah for the sake of those who were already named, "the children of Elohim". Does that mean only the "Jews", or also the whole house of Israel which is identified as the progeny of Jacob, including the multitudes that are still in the nations, knowing or not knowing who they are…?

As mentioned in last week's letter, under the caption "Warning", we are in the days in which the Spirit is turning the hearts of the children of the promise to their forefathers. I pray that all of us will have the same burden that Paul had for his brethren. Remember, YHVH said that He would send a strong delusion. Did He have our day in mind? That delusion comes from the "good" of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The unity of the three religions may sound like a good idea, for peace on earth good will towards men. But is it? Take a look at what is happening in Nigeria at the moment, to sight only one example. Will another nation fall into the hunters' net - the sword of Islam - or will they get caught in their "fishing net" and join that religion?



October 16, 2009

An extraordinary experience that a friend of mine went through during Succot is the subject of this letter. Some of you might know or know of Hanoch Young. Hanoch is an orthodox Jew, with a Yah-given passion for this present move of the Spirit of restoring the "lost tribes of Israel" to their identity. Recently, shortly after making Aliya (immigration to Israel), Hanoch participated in a Succot tour of the Shomron (Samaria). If the experience that he had written about would have been relayed by someone from a different background, I may have brushed it off. But coming as it does, so uncharacteristically, from an orthodox Jew I do feel that it is credible and worthy of consideration.

Hanoch had this "experience" on Mt. Gerizim, about which he wrote: "Har Bracha, the Mountain of Blessing, [is] about 2,800 feet (850 meters) up, overlooking Shechem, [the place] where the blessings… of the Torah were heard..... I walked towards the edge of the mountain (not TOO Close), and stood there, praying for Ephraim, for what I thought was 30-45 seconds, or so......until my daughter Kyra came to gently inform me that I had been swaying back and forth with my arms wide, for over 10 minutes, and people were 'worried' about me! What I experienced, was the very first, and only, 'vision' I have had in my entire life. I had looked out from Har Bracha, and saw the empty hilltops and the Holy city of Shechem....but what I "saw" was a city of Ephramites and Jews...there were the distinctive red tiled roofs. I "saw" Ephramite housing, farms, industry and roads, connecting all of those areas. I saw the sides of the mountains, 'terraced' for farms, and I saw Ephramites bringing the Land back to HaShem......No, I didn't 'imagine' it in my minds, 'eye' - I actually SAW it, as bizarre as that sounds.....seeing cars move, hearing the sounds of construction, seeing school buildings.....I was beyond 'freaked out' and really didn't speak much for the rest of the afternoon, evening - I was so overwhelmed at what I had been privileged to glimpse - the future.....I CANNOT express the feelings of joy and elation I felt, although, I also can't express the 'heavy' and overwhelming feelings that it was ME, who had to somehow, someway help make this happen. Not in the long term, but NOW.......not that I was going to do it, but I had to someway 'get the ball rolling." (end of quote).

I spoke to Hanoch about the vision and he filled me in on a few more details. I could almost envision it myself. We have been in those areas many times, and the feeling that one gets there is of "something awesome in the making". Back in the early eighties, we used to drive into those areas and read Ezekiel 36 to the mountains, hills, ravines and valleys. I truly believe that we could be on the threshold of the fulfillment of those scriptures. But first YHVH must bring the beginning verses of that chapter (Ezekiel 36) to pass. That means that YHVH is going to have to deal with our brother Esau (Ezekiel 35) and friends (Psalm 83).

All this calls to mind words penned by the prophet Habakkuk: "For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal, and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay" (Habakkuk 2:3).


October 9, 2009

When a sudden revelation dawns on us, we are often inclined to view it as a "free burst" of the Spirit, having nothing to do with any prior influences. A small episode that occurred last Monday compelled me to reexamine that idea. When going through some old letters and papers that I had saved back in the seventies and early eighties, I came across a letter from a friend in which we were discussing a certain text from a daily reader called, "Daily Overcoming" by Ray Prinzing. The author may be termed an old-school Pentecostal holiness preacher, although I'm not sure if that is how he would have defined himself. Back in the beginning of my "walk", in 1973, his writings were a great encouragement to me, long before the days of understanding the two houses of Israel.

In order to find the above-mentioned text, I had to dig out an old worn out copy with half of its pages missing. But “alas”, the pages that I had made reference to, in that letter, were not in the book. I did, however, remember that at some point I had saved the loose leaves in a binder, and so I eventually found what I was looking for. Here is what I read from the March 2nd page, titled "Election of Race"…

"Walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, as for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations." (Genesis 17:1-4 KJV). This is solely done by God, He chose the man to become the father of a race – a race that He had purposed to use to bless all mankind. What a Testimony of this man who was so tested and tried, found worthy of his calling, to become the father of many nations, and through his seed all nations to be blessed. But as a nation, Israel was called while yet in the loins of Abraham, and not because of their own greatness, even as we read, "For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers…" (Deuteronomy 7:6-8). How sovereignly God chose this people to become His own elect [ref. 1Peter 2:9].

“Having been so chosen, bringing this people out of Egypt and into a land of promise, God worked many processes of testing proving what was in their heart, but as a nation Israel failed to fully qualify. They turned to serve other gods of the heathen about them. So He had to severely punish and discipline them, scattering them among all nations. "For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth" (Amos 9:9). But this is not the end, for God has fully used all the scattering, and has planned a time of gathering again, "what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" (Romans 11:15). Even now at present time He is drawing to Himself out of natural Israel those who become His Spiritual first fruits." End of quote.

Quite often we remain oblivious when a seed of the Word is sown into our hearts, where it may lay dormant until the mist of the Spirit causes it to germinate. I know now that even in the Lutheran Sunday School class, at the age of 6, when I was taught the Torah stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as well as about a young lad in a multi-colored coat, the impression that the Spirit made upon my soul at that tender age was already like the "deep calling to deep". May those scriptural seeds that have fallen into the ground of our hearts, and had begun to grow there, bear the fruit that Abba had intended for them. May we, like our father Abraham, be found faithful as we “daily overcome" in all our circumstances, giving glory to our heavenly Father through Messiah Yeshua.



October 1999

For me the call to repentance on Yom Teruah, and beyond, was accompanied by a strong reminder about one of Israel's most infamous kings, who was notorious for his sins and iniquitous practices, namely "Ahab". Generally, it is Ahab's wife Jezebel who gets most of the attention, but more than anything she was a help mate and a compatible reward to a rebellious Ahab. What's more, it must be remembered that she was a Sidonian, a daughter of an idol worshipping king who, in all likelihood, served also as a high priest of his idol (Baal). Here is the very unambiguous portrayal of Israel's ruling pair of the day.

"Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of YHVH, more than all who were before him. And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke YHVH the Elohim of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him"
(1 Kings 16:30-34).

It was in the day of this evil king, whose nation had also participated in the very same sins, that YHVH sent the prophet Elijah. It was while Israel was in bondage in idolatrous Egypt that Moses came on the scene. Yeshua, too, showed up during the height of Rome's decadence and evil practices of idolatry. Likewise, the contemporary conditions of the world, with its worship of humanism and the works of its hands, should give rise to the appearing, in some form, of an Elijah or a Moses in order to confront and deliver YHVH's people. Let me reiterate: Are we living in the times of the "two witnesses" (Moses and Elijah, see Revelation 11:3), and if they show up would we recognize them?

The Mount of Transfiguration scene could provide us with some clues as to what we are to look for. In this episode, Moses and Elijah are seen standing on each side of Yeshua while a voice speaks out of the cloud, declaring about Yeshua "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him" (Matthew 17:5). Why hear Yeshua, and not Moses and Elijah? Was YHVH pointing out that the words, as spoken by Moses and Elijah, were epitomized by "Yeshua the Word"? Was the Father implying that in the last days (the time of the “two witnesses”) Yeshua will be showing up again, only this time in a body of people that will represent Him as Moses the "Torah" and Elijah the "Prophets"? The religious leaders of Yeshua's day missed His first appearing, because they had it all figured out (or so they thought). How can we be sure that we are not missing his second appearing by misinterpreting or misunderstanding?

In Malachi chapter 4 we again see all three figures, this time as they appear at the end of the age. The reference to "the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings", in verse 2, recalls the Transfiguration scene where Yeshua's face shone like the sun (ref Matthew 17: 2). In verse 4 Israel is exhorted to "remember the Torah of Moses and the statutes and ordnances…for all Israel" before Elijah shows up (verse 5), who "will restore the hearts of the fathers to the sons and the hearts of the sons to their fathers" (verse 6).

Before we are tempted, like Peter, to enshrine Moses in one succah and Elijah in another, let us ponder peacefully what this last Feast is really all about - not the "shadow" but the essence (ref. Colossians 2: 16-17). Yeshua, Moses, and Elijah could be standing in our very midst, through the Spirit of Holiness that is “tabernacling” in us, while we are sitting in our succah in a park somewhere or in our own backyard. Just something to think about.


Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Sept. 18, 2009

Our first stop in the United States this past summer was in Oregon, where we were invited to a conference called "Love for Israel", with the main theme being "The Watchman". As we were examining the scriptures to use for our breakout session, YHVH led us to Habakkuk 2:1-2: "I will stand on my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to [literally "in"] me, and what I will answer when I am reproved. Then YHVH answered me and said: 'Write the vision and make it plain on tablets that he who reads it may run".

The watchman comes up with this statement against the backdrop of Chapter One, where we find him observing what is taking place in his own backyard, with hostility, iniquity, wickedness, strife, contention, lawlessness, and perverted justice being commonplace (see vs 1-4). But instead of attending to his task, the bewildered watchman lodges his complaint before YHVH, who apparently is not being moved by this evil. However, YHVH is about to address His messenger's grievance, but will do so in an unexpected manner. Thus He proceeds to declare: "Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days-- You would not believe if you were told" (1:5).

YHVH then goes on to describe in detail the astonishing phenomenon to which He had just alluded, that is, the "Chaldeans" whom He had been raising up. In today's geopolitical terms the land of the Chaldeans is the heartland of Islam. Here is how YHVH depicts this people group: "… fierce and impetuous people who march throughout the earth to seize dwelling places which are not theirs. They are dreaded and feared. Their justice and authority originate with themselves. All of them come for violence ("hamas"). They collect captives like sand. They mock at kings, and rulers are a laughing matter to them. They laugh at every fortress… (1:6-10). Responding to this prediction, the prophet/watchmen intones: "You, O YHVH, have appointed them to judge; and You, O Rock, have established them to correct…" (v. 12b). The watchman is now gaining understanding how the Judge of Israel will be dealing with His people who have strayed from His ways.

These "Chaldeans" are portrayed as hunters who are laying nets in order to capture their pray: "They take up all of them with a hook, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their dragnet. Therefore they rejoice and are glad. Therefore they sacrifice to their net, and burn incense to their dragnet…Will they therefore empty their net and continually slay nations without sparing?" (1:15-17 emphasis mine). The Hebrew word for "net" here is "cherem", being the very word that is used in Malachi 4:6: "And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children [Heb. – "sons"], and the hearts of the children [Heb. – "sons"] to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a "cherem" [generally translated "curse"].

Interestingly, the watchman, as he is described in Chapter Two verses 1-2 is watching to hear what YHVH would speak ("into him", as mentioned above). How does one watch to hear? Obviously YHVH is putting his messenger through a season of training. To be well prepared for his task he needs to become one with the vision. In fact, he is also being reproved, so that he would become the very "proof" of this vision (similarly, "proof" is also embedded within the Hebrew noun used here for "reproof"). Therefore when time comes for passing on the message, there will be an impartation, or infusion, of the vision. The vision will be so clear, that there will be no guessing as to what is being seen and heard. What's more, in the injunction of making the message "plain on tablets" (2:2) is a hidden reference to the Torah, as if YHVH is responding to the prophet's earlier complaint, "the Torah is ignored" (1:4). "Making plain" is "ba'er", which is used only in Deuteronomy 1:5 and 27:8, in both cases in relationship to Moses expounding on the Torah. The verb b.e.r. shares its root with the noun "be'er", which is a "well". Thus, the elucidated words of the Torah are likened to deep and thirst-quenching water. Additionally, the watchman is told to inscribe these Torah-based words on "lu'chot", tablets, the very same word used for the tablets that Moses brought down from the Mountain, as well as for the "tablets of the heart" (ref. Is. 30:8; Jer.17:1). Could these references to Torah also have something to do with the above-mentioned Malachi 4:4, where YHVH charges His people to remember the Torah of Moses and its commands and warns of the consequences of turning away from them?

Once the watchman is fully prepared to pass on the vision, "the one who reads it may run" (2:2b) with a good cause, because he is to issue a warning to YHVH's people, to turn from their evil and wicked ways. Hence they are described as "… the proud one, his soul is not right within him…Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man, so that he does not stay at home. He enlarges his appetite like Sheol, and he is like death, never satisfied. He also gathers to himself all nations and collects to himself all peoples. Will not all of these take up a taunt-song against him, even mockery and insinuations against him, and say, 'Woe to him who increases what is not his-- For how long-- and makes himself rich with loans?' Will not your creditors rise up suddenly, and those who collect from you awaken? Indeed, you will become plunder for them. Because you have looted many nations, all the remainder of the peoples will loot you-- Because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, to the town and all its inhabitants. Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house to put his nest on high to be delivered from the hand of calamity! You have devised a shameful thing for your house by cutting off many peoples; so you are sinning against yourself" (Hab. 2:5-10). This text is quite descriptive of what have been standard practices within the Judeo-Christian nations. The prophet Jeremiah warns that YHVH will first send the fishers, and then the hunters (ref. Jeremiah 16:16), which is once again a reference to Islam, as both Ishmael and Esau were hunters.

Will Ephraim, who has been dubbed "a watchman with my Elohim, a prophet;" (Hosea 9:8), pick up the mantle and follow through? Or will he be "a snare of a fowler in all his ways, [with] hatred in the house of his Elohim" (cont. Hos. 8)? Will he be the watchman/guard on Mount Ephraim who calls out, "let us go to Zion to YHVH our Elohim" (Jer. 31:6)? Or will he be likened to the "blind watchmen" and the "dumb dogs" who are "greedy" and "not satisfied" (Is. 56:10,11), much like those who were described above in Habbakuk 2:6,8,9 and 10?

At the Portland conference Ezekiel 33:7 was used as a launching pad: "Son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me". These words are couched in the following solemn context: "Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: 'When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet [shofar] and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet [shofar] and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet [shofar], but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet [shofar] , and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand" (Ezekiel 33:2-6).

On this Yom Teruah may the watchmen attend to their task and stand on the ramparts with the silver trumpets and shofars and blow a clear and distinct call to repentance (Daniel 9: 4-19; Nehemiah 1: 5-11; Nehemiah 9: 5-38)!



With the house of Jacob (Israel and Judah) now divided into two kingdoms, the word and will of the Elohim of Jacob will continue to guide their destiny in spite of their iniquities. As we follow their biblical history we must pay close attention to each of the prophets, as YHVH uses them to speak very specifically and explicitly to each house and sometimes to both at the same time.

The initial influence that Jeroboam, the first king, had over the northern kingdom is very significant, as he set the pattern of rebellion, idolatry, and adultery. Not only did he cause Israel to sin by setting up idols which he declared to be Israel's "gods", but he also broke off all relations with Judah, Jerusalem and the temple. Abolishing the Torah of Moses, he established his own priesthood along with feast days other than those decreed by YHVH (ref. 1 Kings 12: 25-33), thus "changing the times and seasons".

Jeroboam manifested the very heart of the people. Although his reign was only twenty-two years long, he left his legacy stamped in the very core of his kingdom. YHVH refers over and over to the "sin of Jeroboam" as the main reason for the judgments and curses that fell on the people and the land. The "sin of Jeroboam" can be summed up in one phrase - "replacement theology".

YHVH called upon the very aged and blind prophet Ahijah to bring a message of doom and gloom to the king and to the nation. It was this very prophet who earlier had symbolically handed Jeroboam the kingship over the ten tribes, by the gesture of tearing his garment into twelve pieces and giving him ten (ref 1 Kings 11:30). But now he delivered a very different prophecy:

"But you have done more evil than all who were before you, for you have gone and made for yourself other gods and molded images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back -- Therefore behold! I will bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male in Israel, bond and free; I will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as one takes away refuse until it is all gone…For YHVH will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the River, because they have made their wooden images, provoking YHVH to anger. And He will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned and who made Israel sin" (1 Kings 14:9-10; 15-16).

This was not the first time that YHVH had instructed a prophet to say these words. Moses, before Israel had ever entered the land, foretold of these days and the reasons for what was to befall the house of Israel: "Because they have forsaken the covenant of YHVH the Elohim of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them: And the anger of YHVH was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book: And YHVH rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day" (Deuteronomy 29: 25-28).

One of the main characteristics of the two kingdoms' mutual relationship was their frequent conflicts. During the reign of Jeroboam, and beyond, the kingdom of Israel warred against the kingdom of Judah. Ephraim, who was bitterly jealous of Judah, was the latter's chief rival. Years later, Isaiah would prophesy that one of the signs of the end times restoration of the two houses would be that this jealousy would depart, and as a result the enemies of Judah would be cut off (ref. Isaiah 11: 13).

In spite of this horrible disposition toward lawlessness in the house of Israel/Ephraim, YHVH's intent was to fulfill the covenant promises of multiplicity that He had made with their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. YHVH's word is attached to the life of the forefathers' seed/offspring, in spite of the fact that "although they knew Elohim, they [the offspring] did not glorify Him as Elohim… and their foolish hearts were darkened" (Romans 1:21). As we have already seen in some of the first chapters, YHVH hid his purposes in the realm of darkness until it was time to bring these purposes to the light. Paul refers to it as the "mystery of lawlessness" (ref. 2 Thessalonians 2:7). Likewise in this case; YHVH camouflaged His intentions for the house of Joseph under the covering of iniquity. He hid His people/treasure in the realm of spiritual darkness, that is the "power of sin", until He would remove it and bring His purposes into the light. "And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it" (John 1:5).

All the kings of the northern kingdom were evil and followed in the footsteps of Jeroboam. Perhaps the most famous was the team of Ahab and Jezebel and the latter's prophets of Baal. YHVH sent his two most renowned servants - Elijah and Elisha - to the northern kingdom of Israel. Interestingly, just before the coming of Yeshua He sent John the Immerser in the spirit of Elijah to the House of Judah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children (ref Luke 1:17). However, prior to "the great and terrible day of YHVH" He will send this same Spiritual anointing of the prophet Elijah to turn the hearts of the children, of all Israel, to the fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (ref. Malachi 4: 5-6) and to exhort them to "Remember the Torah of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel" (Malachi 4: 4).


Now, after having celebrated the Passover with our kinfolk (present and past), we find ourselves moving with them to the desert. Let us, therefore, take a look at what this portended for them, as well as for us.

After YHVH had moved by His mighty arm and brought His people out of Egypt, He immediately established kingdom rule over His nation. YHVH was going to be to them everything that they would need to make the journey. "I will be what I will be" said the blazing bush to Moses. Elohim then revealed Himself through the power of Moses' rod and the cloud by day and the fire by night, which would lead them through the entire journey. He was the wind that divided the Reed Sea and dried up the ground, He was the manna, the water from the rock as well as the rock, the fire on Mount Sinai, the voice that spoke like thunder, the finger that wrote the Ten Words on stone. He gave them a flawless judicial system that contained statutes, laws and ordinances for the community life of the nation, and for individual and family life. He also granted them their identity, along with their birthrights as a firstborn nation. But even more importantly, because of their propensity to iniquity as fallen Man, He became a tabernacle in which they could experience His love, mercy, compassion and power to forgive. The tabernacle was also an outward manifestation of a heavenly reality that YHVH would reveal in the future through His Son and our Messiah (see Hebrews chapter 9).

The apostle Paul makes reference to the importance of this period of Israelite history, as it is not only an example of spiritual realities, but it is also applicable to the restoration of the House of Judah and House of Joseph/Ephraim: "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Corinthians 10:11). By using the example of our forefathers, the apostle is showing us that our unity as a single nation is based on the statements: "For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was the Anointed One" (1 Corinthians 10:1-4). There are many proto types and pre-figurations which are gleaned from the wilderness journey, but in order to remain a united entity, with YHVH ruling as king over them, the basic foundational lesson that this nation had to learn was to "listen, remember and act" - in one word "obedience" to YHVH's kingdom rule.

"All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which YHVH swore to give to your forefathers. And you shall remember all the way which YHVH your Elohim has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you… that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of YHVH… Thus you are to know in your heart that YHVH your Elohim was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son" (Deuteronomy 8:1-3, 5).

The New Covenant writers did not depart from these statements, and reiterated to the redeemed remnant that YHVH required "obedience" to His Word. Stephen, one of the first martyrs of the faith, gave a complete run down of our forefathers' testimony and declared, "and our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him [Moses], but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt" (Acts 7:39). Paul too, writing to a community of believers who were tolerating immorality after being redeemed and brought out of that "cosmos" says: "For to this end also I wrote that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things" (2 Corinthians 2:9). Some of the "all things" are found in his letter to the believers in Colossia: "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an feast day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body of Messiah" (Colossians 2:16). Paul is telling the body of Messiah that they are to judge in these matters because the food restrictions, feast days, new moons and Sabbaths (not only the weekly ones) are prophetic of things yet to come, and therefore are to be kept according to the Word of Elohim.

The writer to the redeemed Hebrews, using an example of their forefathers in the wilderness says: "Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness" (Hebrews 3:8). This was a warning against "unbelief", which the apostle equates with disobedience that resulted in being prevented, by death in the wilderness, from entering YHVH's "rest" and inheritance.

Elohim's words, through Moses and the rest of the prophets, are still speaking to us today, and we would do well to pay close attention to them as there are consequences to disobedience: "As it is written in the Torah of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of YHVH our Elohim by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth" (Daniel 9:13). "And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19). "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it" (Hebrews 2:1).

On a more positive note, YHVH declared through the prophet Isaiah the potential benefits "if only you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river and your righteousness like the waves of the sea" (Isaiah 48:18). Regrettably, today many are falling into the same old behavior patterns that are described by Zechariah: "But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the Torah and the words which YHVH of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from YHVH of hosts" (Zechariah 7:11-12).

YHVH exhorts us to learn from the wilderness journey of our forefathers, and while we are on our own voyage, "remember the Torah of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel… lest I come and smite the land with a curse!" (Malachi 4: 4; 6b).



I'm sure we are all familiar with Yeshua's birth in an animal stable most likely for sheep. Was this His Father's way of introducing the destiny of His only begotten Son? Later in life, when John the Baptist saw Him, cried out: "Behold, the Lamb of Elohim that takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). In the earthly life of Yeshua this was the only time He was referred to as "the Lamb". However in the book of Revelation after He had ascended, into the heavens, it appears 26 times. The only two other instances are, one in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, when Philip over heard an Ethiopian eunuch, an emissary of the Queen of Ethiopia returning from worshipping in Jerusalem, reading Isaiah 53: 7-8. "He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth… He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living..."
Philip then shares with him about Yeshua. The other text is from 1 Peter 1: 17-19 "conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Messiah, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot".

It seems that all the Apostles recognized that Yeshua's blood was acceptable to the Heavenly Father for the purpose of reconciling man back to Himself. In other words He redeemed man, atoned for his sin and forgave man permanently for his sins, through the death and shed blood of Yeshua.

How could this be when in the Psalms it says that no man can redeem man? "No man can by any means redeem his brother, or give to Elohim a ransom for him-- for the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever—" (Psalm 49: 7-8).

The Psalmist points out that the blemished life in the blood of Adam, and all those born after his likeness, could not be acceptable to YHVH Elohim for the purpose of redeeming another man. Therefore if Yeshua's blood had the life of "Adamic" man, no matter how good he was as a person, he could not have qualified nor fulfilled the required holiness or perfection (see 1 Corinthians 15: 42-43). Even the high priests had to sacrifice an unblemished lamb before going into the Holy of Holies.

YHVH when He instituted the Levitical system of sacrifice necessitated the blood of a male lamb or kid, without blemish or spot, for the atonement for sin. Although they did not, of course, remove sin permanently, the priest had to sacrifice year after year. It was a foreshadowing of that which was to come.

The only life that fulfills or satisfies YHVH's legal standards for the redemption of the life of Adam is His own. Thus He conceived His life in the womb of a virgin, who was betrothed to a son of David – Joseph. When Joseph was told by the angel to take Miriam and not put her away, it was evidence that he was not the father. So when he took Miriam to be his wife, what he did, in fact, was adopt the child.

The Torah principle of the life of the father being in his progeny (Abraham's seed), is well grounded in scripture. Thus we can understand that Yeshua's life was the same as His heavenly Father's - YHVH Elohim, although that does not make Yeshua the Father. However it does make them one. To biological sciences the life in the blood is still a mystery, they know that the mother contributes half of the DNA and the father the other half of the physical chemistry of the blood. But the scriptures points to another factor and that is "life", which is the spiritual component. We believe that this was breathed into Adam, and became mixed with the spirit realm of darkness when he disobeyed his creator and ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Thus Adam passed on this defiled life through Seth to all humanity and this is why flesh and blood can not inherit the Kingdom of Elohim nor can he redeem another man with his blood. It seems from scripture that this defiled life comes through the male and not the female, as Yeshua only had the "life" of His Heavenly Father.

If Yeshua's conception was not from YHVH Elohim, Miriam would have had to have a relationship with a man, while she was betrothed to another, she thus would be an adulteress and a harlot, and her son a bastard. Yeshua in no way then could have been that Lamb that would have been acceptable in the eyes of Elohim. When Yeshua told Miriam after His resurrection not to touch Him, it was because He had not been to His Father yet. Yeshua was that "first fruit" offering on the first day after the weekly Shabbat so that we might be accepted before the Father, fulfilling the Scripture in Leviticus 23: 10-14.

May we celebrate with the Lamb, the Passover on the 14th day of the first month (Leviticus 23: 5), just as Yeshua commanded His disciples to prepare the Passover meal (see Luke 22:7). Later the apostles followed this order as well (see 1 Corinthians 11:23).


When Nimrod built Babylon he gathered and united the people together for the purpose of making a name for themselves (see Genesis 11:4). They were convinced that they had the power to control their own destiny. As I was listening to the victory speech of the President elect of the United States, I was amazed how he waxed eloquent in his attempt to bring hope to the nation. At the same time he noticeably stayed away from any mention of God, except when he ended with a "God bless you" and "God bless America". The rest of his speech was based on pure humanism. The prophet Isaiah warned Israel regarding this very thing, saying: "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20).

The philosophy of humanism is actually nothing less than a form of idolatry. In fact it is the worse kind of adulation, for when humanity worships itself it sends the whole creation into "gross, thick and black darkness". How so? Because unredeemed man is still a slave to the nature and power of Sin and certainly should not be the object of worship. In the beginning Man/Adam was given dominion over all living things that were created in the fifth and sixth days. However, he was not to rule over himself; that was the Creator's prerogative and position. Man was to be YHVH's servant, to bring His Life and Light to all living things. The glory that Adam manifested while walking with and worshipping his Elohim emanated the glory of the Creator, and was even transmitted to the creation. When Man fell out of relationship with his Master/Elohim, through disobedience, the whole of Man's cosmos fell along with it into a state of spiritual darkness. Man began to worship and to serve the creation rather than the Creator. "Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible Elohim for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures" (Romans 1:23).

In Psalm 106:20 it says that "they changed their glory into the image of an ox that eats grass". If man worships or serves an ox, he will receive the glory of the ox, thus keeping the creation at a very low level of life. However, in the last days, before the Light dawns, the Word tells us that gross darkness will be on the earth (ref. Isaiah 60:2). The reason for this deep darkness (as Paul explains in 1st Corinthians 15: 40-52), is that every thing that YHVH created has a glory, except for one - "natural Man". The latter receives his glory from that which he worships, as we noted in the above Psalm. Thus the reason for the gross darkness is that man is worshiping and serving himself, the creature, rather than the Creator.

We, who have been taken out of the kingdom of darkness and have been transferred to the kingdom of YHVH's dear Son Yeshua (ref. Colossians 1:13), are in a position to worship in Spirit and in Truth. Having been redeemed and placed in the Messiah in heavenly places, we are given the opportunity to again bring the true Light into this cosmos. The condition that our Master of Light places upon us is the same one that He had placed in the beginning - obedience to serve and walk with the Creator. If we give ourselves as a living sacrifice (ref. Romans 12: 1), through the obedience of faith, believing what is true about our death, burial and resurrected life in the Spirit of Holiness, we will again be the conduit of spiritual Light and Life to the creation. The creation is still groaning in travail waiting for the revealing of the sons of Elohim (ref. Romans 8:19). Who are they? "For as many as are led by the Spirit of Elohim, these are sons of Elohim" (Romans 8:14).

These sons are to walk in paths of righteousness, a righteousness that is not their own, anything else would constitute the sin of self-righteousness. They are to serve YHVH's righteousness. The Apostle explains this position of sonship in Romans 6: 16: "Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as bond servants for obedience, you are servants of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?"

Yeshua reminds us that one cannot serve two masters: "No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve Elohim and mammon" (Luke 16:13). When we apply this principle to Sin, we have to ask ourselves: is Yeshua indeed LORD/Master over us, or is it Satan? Paul is making it very clear; if we continue to serve Sin than our master is not Yeshua. Yeshua Himself illustrated this point by using the example of those who were doing mighty works in His name but yet were not known or acknowledged by Him, for their hearts were not in right relationship to Him (ref. Mathew 7: 21-23).

We are invited to be obedient servants to His righteousness. How is this righteousness defined? The answer is the "fruit of the Spirit" which is: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5: 22-23). If, for example, we serve impatience, which is an embodiment of an unloving nature that kills relationships, who is ruling in that instance? Right then it is certainly not Yeshua. We are to serve the Spirit of Holiness/Righteousness at all times, and do so voluntarily as He will not drag us along and force us into that position. It is up to us to be His obedient bond-servants: "For it is Elohim who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of Elohim in the face of Yeshua the Messiah. We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of Elohim and not of us" (2 Corinthians 4:6-7).



June 20, 2008

Toward the end of this Shabbat's Parashat Sh'lach Lecha ("Send for Yourself") we read the following: "Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. They put him under guard, because it had not been explained what should be done to him. Then YHVH said to Moses, "The man must surely be put to death; All the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp." So, as YHVH commanded Moses and all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died" (Num. 16:32-36). This man was said to be "gathering sticks"; He was "me'ko'shesh", of the root kash, which is "stubble" or "straw". Thus anyone picking up stubble, straw or sticks is of necessity having to stoop low.

Another instance of stooping to the ground and picking up "two sticks" is found in the story of Elijah and the widow woman of Zarephath, who in her desperation "gathered" ("mekosheshet" of the same above mentioned root) sticks upon which she was about to cook the last meal for herself and her son. But because of her faith and obedience to the word of Elohim that came to her via the prophet, "the bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of YHVH which He spoke by Elijah" (1 Kings 17:16).

Like the widow woman of Zarephath, we too, with the rest of the inhabitants of this planet, could be coming to a time of dire need. In fact in Zephaniah chapter 1 there is a sobering description of what is called there "the Day of YHVH": "The great day of YHVH is near; It is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of YHVH is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities and against the high towers. I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against YHVH; Their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like refuse. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of YHVH's wrath; But the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy, for He will make speedy riddance of all those who dwell in the land" (Zeph. 1:14-18).

Immediately following this somber prediction, a call is issued out: "Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation" (2:1). The address to the "undesirable nation" should immediately alert us as to who is being referred to here, as the whole House of Israel has been issued a bill of divorce by the Almighty (ref. Is. 50:1, Jer. 3:8). But isn't He also telling us here to "gather and be gathered" (literal Hebrew translation)? And doesn't it mean that He has forgotten all the treacheries of His People? Well, the gathering according to this passage, in the context of the Day of YHVH must take place in the same lowliness and humility that it took the widow woman, or even the defiler of the Shabbat, to pick up those sticks and branches. It is also the same lowliness with which our ancestors gathered the straw in Egypt while they were in slavery (ref. Ex. 5:12). What's more the "koshu ve'hit'ko'shashu" ("gather and be gathered") that we encounter here, is in a form that is somewhat different from what one would expect, which would be "koshe'shu" (as is found in all the other instances sited).

Why "koshu" and not "koshe'shu"? For non-Hebrew speakers this might sound like a triviality, but those who know the language can immediately pick the similarity between "koshu" and "kasheh", meaning "hard" or "stiff", which takes us to "k'sheh oref", that is "stiff necked"; a title that has been accorded us time and again by our King (e.g. Ex. 32:9; 33:3,5; 34:9). It is therefore no wonder that the Zephaniah text goes on to warn us:

"Before the decree is issued, [before] the day passes like chaff, before YHVH's fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of YHVH's anger comes upon you! Seek YHVH, all you meek of the earth who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of YHVH's anger" (2:2,3 emphasis added). The message resounds loudly and clearly. And while the decree is about to happen fast, and (His enablement of) humility and righteousness are unquestioned requirements, He still says that "it may be that you will be hidden". Thus, we cannot take for granted being "hidden" in the day of trouble, and neither can we "be settled in [our] complacency", because He warns us that He will punish those who do so (Zeph.1:12). Finally, verse 4 of Zephaniah 2 may alert us as to the timeframe of all of this: "For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon desolate; they shall drive out Ashdod at noonday…" If you live in Israel you hear those names daily on the "not so good" News!

Before the great and mighty trees of Judah and Ephraim come together (ref. Ez. 37:15ff), it will be the lowly gathering of sticks and twigs that will take place under the terms prescribed by YHVH only. We may be like the widow woman, humbly obedient and acting in faith, or, YHVH forbid, we can decide to do our own gathering in a way and at a time which YHVH has not designated and cast our lot with the individual described above in Numbers 15:32-36.