TABERNACLES/SUKKOT AND NEW BEGINNINGS
We have just concluded a month, Elul, of soul-searching, daily reading of Psalm 27 and daily shofar blasts to prepare for the High Holy Days.
Last year Grace and I were privileged to be in Israel for September and October to celebrate our 50th anniversary on Rosh Hashanah, and Sukkot in Jerusalem.
This year we worked with Bridges for Peace to provide an educational Feast of Tabernacles experience here in Winnipeg from October 1st to the 4th. (You can find updates of this event on the Bridges Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Bridges-for-Peace-Canada-148849075257460/timeline/). We experienced the Presence of God's Holy Spirit throughout this time, but particularly on the Sunday evening Simchat Torah celebration; truly confirming, inspiring and energizing! Next year in Winnipeg! One day we will all be in Jerusalem for these celebrations!
Grace and I also enjoyed on-going communication with very good friends who are presently spending the month of the High Holy Days in Israel this year. They are so Blessed.
But I must get to the subject at hand; unfolding world conditions are creating an intensely thought provoking context for the Sovereign LORD Almighty's appointment to meet with His people for the High Holy Days this year. (I'll get back to this context later).This time of the year is always a time of reflection, self-examination, repentance and REJOICING; a time to review what our God has done in the past, thank and praise Him, then look forward to what He is about to do; we are commanded to do this with JOY.
Grace and I, and many close friends, are in a transitional stage of opening our hearts and minds to something the growing early Church lost, well not "lost" as much as deliberately separated itself from; that is, the fact that God actually gave His people appointed times in which He called them together to meet with Him; those times being the FEASTS OF THE LORD. The early church clearly understood that these Feasts were God-given times to meet with Him, and they celebrated them faithfully. Weekly, of course, they celebrated Holy Sabbath; monthly, the Rosh Chodesh, then seven times during the year, they, following Yeshua and His Disciples, celebrated Passover/Pesach, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Weeks/Pentecost, in Spring, then Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah, Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur and Tabernacles/Sukkot, in Fall.
For us, the Torah and Haftarah reading has been a time of revelation again this year.
I will share some of those personal revelations.
On Saturday, October 3, 2015, 20 Tishrei, 5776, on the Hebrew calendar, the Haftarah reading is Ezekiel 38:18-39:16. As most of you know, this is the famous Gog/Magog final war passage.
The LORD declared in Joel 3:
"In those days and at that time,
when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
I will gather all nations
and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
There I will put them on trial
for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel,
because they scattered my people among the nations
and divided up my land."
Ezekiel 38 and 39 seem to be a description of that very time when YHWH gathers the Nations around Jerusalem for their Judgement.
In world news we read and hear that President Vladimir Putin, Russia, has transferred submarines bearing nuclear armed missiles and a large array of military equipment and personnel into the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Syria, and built perhaps the largest Military base in the region on Syrian soil, brought in enough S-300 missiles to enforce a No-fly zone over Syria and northern Israel. Russia now has a much larger military force active in the region than the US.
That sounds somewhat like Ezekiel 38 to me.
In response to a post by Caroline Glick a few days ago, I wrote on my Facebook, October 8th:
"Whether the decision, described in the Jerusalem Post article, will accomplish the Sovereign LORD's purposes or not, remains to be seen; it is certainly not the sort of decision we would expect from Torah Observant Leadership.
Through the Prophet Zechariah, the Sovereign LORD says:
“I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.”...
That "Holy Mountain" is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem; it is the Mountain on which Abraham was called, by YHWH, the God whom he had followed from his home in Mesopotamia to Canaan, to sacrifice his miracle son Isaac, (YHWH provided a substitute); it is the Mountain on which King David purchased a threshing floor from Araunah the Jebusite so he could build an altar to sacrifice to the "LORD my God"; and it is the Mountain on which King David's son Solomon built the Temple, (about 950 BCE), which Nebuchadnezzar destroyed about 400 years later in 586 BCE, and Ezra & Nehemiah rebuilt; only to be finally destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE; it is the Mountain on which 2 Muslim edifices currently stand, and it is under Muslim control today.
For this mountain to be under the control of anyone, other than sovereign Israeli control, is not in line with what YHWH says in Zechariah 8, quoted above.
THEREFORE, there is huge reason to PRAY: "Father, Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven"!
"You who call on the Lord,
give yourselves no rest,
and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth." (Isaiah 62)."
To spiritualize that Zechariah passage to mean the Church, as in Jerusalem=Church, simply makes no sense to me since Israel is again a Nation; that, incidentally, still belongs to YHWH as her REDEEMER.
Since 1967, Jerusalem again belongs to the Descendants of Abraham; and YHWH's Covenants with the Patriarchs, according to the text, are ETERNAL/EVERLASTING Covenants. There is such a close connection, that LAND and PEOPLE seem in some texts, actually, to be interchangeable. In Ezekiel 36, YHWH clearly states that when His LAND and His PEOPLE are separated, His HOLY NAME is "profaned" among the Nations; therefore, "for the sake of [His]Holy Name" He will restore them to their land. In the next chapter, YHWH says that "They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever." The Restoration is not some temporal event that will come to an end. When the Eternal Creator of the whole Universe uses the term "forever", it has a different ring than if I would use it regarding anything "belonging" to me.
The Arab violence in Jerusalem, and other areas of Israel, that is beginning to be called the 3rd Intifada, is, understandably, centered on the Temple Mount because that Mountain is at the center of YHWH's unfolding plan to REDEEM the world through Jerusalem.
Since I am a follower of Yeshua Ha Mashiach, I believe, of course, that Yeshua's Kingdom and rule emanates from His throne in the Heavens, it is a Kingdom beyond this world; but the Prophets are very clear, for example, the Zechariah passage quoted above, that there is coming a time in the unfolding of Divine History on earth, when Messiah will come to Jerusalem, "and David my servant will be their prince forever", to establish His Kingdom. He is, after all, not just the "Lamb of God", but at the same time the "Lion of Judah". He is not one or the other, but BOTH.
Now that the High Holy Days are concluded for another year, we are in the time of Beginnings in the current Torah and Haftarah portions.
I have just learned, from Rabbi Tuly Weisz, that the first letter in the Torah, Bet, and the last letter, Lamed, together are the word "Heart"; Torah is the HEART of YHWH!
Since Elohim, God, the Almighty Creator, "In the beginning created the heaven and the earth.", it all belongs to Him and He has the right to give any part of it to whomever He choses; therefore, we all, including the Arab people who are trying to make a case for a separate "Palestinian" identity and claim to the land, simply need to accept that designation; the "Mountains of Israel", Judea and Samaria, belong to YHWH, and He will not allow His land to be divided up and given away.
Then in the Haftarah reading, Isaiah 42:5-43:10,
"This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
“I am the Lord; that is my name!
I will not yield my glory to another
or my praise to idols.
See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
I announce them to you."
The Creator is speaking to His people/servant, Israel, in the context of returning them to His LAND.
So, despite to Sound and Fury of Geo-Political leaders and the events they are designing against Israel, YHWH's returning people, they must focus on their REDEEMER and follow His ways, and He "will take hold of [their] hand" and Protect them.
Therefore, we Gentiles, the nations, to whom the Sovereign LORD says, in Isaiah 49,
"I will beckon to the nations,
I will lift up my banner to the peoples;
they will bring your sons in their arms
and carry your daughters on their hips."
have both a role to play, and confidence, together with Israel, that His ETERNAL PLAN is unfolding under His SOVEREIGNTY.