On Monday evening, April 7, the new moon was sighted in Israel. This new moon heralded the first month of the biblical Hebrew calendar, the month of Nisan. In the eyes of the LORD, this then was the beginning of a new Hebrew year.
In his weekly forum on the web, Rabbi Chaim Richman, Director of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem recently posted this piece:
"Two history making events took place on the first day of Nisan, within the space of one year. The first was when G-d, for the very first time directly engaged the entire nation of Israel and commanded them to begin marking time from the new moon of Nisan. Though still in Egypt, this marked the beginning of the end of Israel's exile as G-d has re-engaged the people. He takes them out from exile and places them in His world, as it were, the desert. But man is meant for this world and to exist indefinitely on the rarefied level that the Israelites now found themselves in was simply not viable. In order to make permanent and eternal their convenant with G-d, He had to be brought into man's world. And this is the intention of the tabernacle: to make a place, around which the entire nation is arrayed, in which G-d's very presence can dwell and be made manifest to the people. This is what took place on the first of Nisan, in the second year in the desert. And this is what G-d desires most of His children: to be welcome in this world.
And now we know why spring occurs each year during the month of Nisan: "The heavens rejoice and the earth is glad." (Psalms 96:11) The heavens and earth are rejoicing because G-d is "happy." His "dream" his been fulfilled. His children have returned to Him, and He to His children. Therefore we make the blessing in the month of Nisan: "Blessed are you, G-d, King of the universe, in whose world nothing is lacking, and has created beautiful things, and goodly trees for man to take pleasure in." What could possibly be lacking in a world in which G-d is present and His presence is manifest? Even the flowering trees, like the two witnesses who testify to the appearance of the new moon, these two trees that we bless, like all of nature, are witnessing G-d's nearness. Witnessing and rejoicing."
Does your heart soar, as mine did, when you read what Rabbi Richman wrote? God desires MOST to be made manifest to His people in a tabernacle where He can dwell! Oh, I just wrote of this a few days ago, didn't I? I wrote how we who are in Messiah Yeshua now ARE living tabernacles where God dwells! Filled with His Spirit, we invite Him to dwell within us, we "welcome Him in this world." Glory!
In the second part of the good Rabbi's post he mentions the number two twice: "two witnesses who testify to the appearance of the new moon," and "two trees that we bless, witnessing God's nearness." How thrilling to see the Rabbi writing of the "two" so prevalent in Scripture - and to know in my heart that these "two" are the very ones spoken of in Romans 11 (the two olive branches) and Ezekiel 37 (the two sticks) and Zechariah 4:3 and 4:11(the two olive trees). Zechariah 4:14 says, "These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth."
Many of us believers were out looking for that new moon, which begins the month of Nisan and sets the timing for the Passover Feast and all the feasts to follow - witnessing and rejoicing! And the rabbis of Israel were out looking for that new moon too - looking forward to the Passover when they will recall their deliverance from bondage in Egypt - witnessing and rejoicing! Indeed we are the two - the Church of Yeshua and the Jewish people - the two trees, like all of nature, witnessing God's nearness!
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
My heart is racing. It feels like it did when I was standing in front of 200,000+ Nigerians in Africa, coming forward to accept the Lord Jesus for the first time. Yet, this time it is only one. Suddenly I understand what Jesus meant when He said, "What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off!" (Matthew 18:12-13).
Not only do I deeply relate to that Scripture today, but I also fully grasped for the first time why the Father has had me working in our small town chiropractor's office for the past several months. Many days I've questioned Him, "Is this where you really want me right now, Lord?" and I confess I haven't heard any answer. But all along He's been showing me. First I began praying for the Lord to prosper this practice where I'm working, and He began answering that prayer in showers of blessings that the doctor could not ignore! It opened the door for me to share my faith, and at this point I am openly praying with and over her for our patients and for all the hurdles that have had to be overcome. Then, last week a patient heard me speaking to someone about the Jewish roots of our faith, and she got very excited. She told me she has had a hunger to learn about this for a long time, and wondered if I'd be open to offering a Torah study for several people from her church. Two days ago another patient noticed my necklace with the name Yeshua in Hebrew letters. He recognized that it was Hebrew and asked me what it spelled, and I told him. With raised eyebrows he said, "Wow. My family is Jewish. I'd like to talk to you sometime."
You'd think all this would have been enough to convince me that I am planted exactly where Abba Father wants me - but what happened today was the event that left my heart racing. A patient who wanted to try my "Detox Recipe" that I use for chronic viruses and infections asked if she could come by my house later in the afternoon to pick up a sample. She is suffering from ear infections that won't go away. I gladly invited her to stop by. When I answered my doorbell, she stood there with her mouth open, looking at the mezzuzah and the plaque that says "Shalom" on my doorpost and exclaimed, "Are you Jewish?" I answered, "No, but I worship the Jewish Messiah Yeshua." She was genuinely shocked and responded, "My maiden name is Cohen. I don't believe in Jesus. But I didn't grow up understanding my Jewish faith either. We used to color Easter eggs in my house, and I knew we were just all confused!"
She continued to glance around my living room, eyeing the menorah and the shofar on my coffee table, and the prayer shawl that just happened to be where I left it on the couch last night. "Wow...this is amazing. But I don't worship three Gods. I think there's only one." I asked her if she'd ever read Isaiah 53. She said she's never really read the Bible at all. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, I gave her a copy of Isaiah 53 I have printed out - and a copy of Asher Intrater's article from Israel last week entitled "Head of the Church and King of Israel." Asher writes, "The mystery of the kingdom of God develops out of Yeshua's two-fold nature: both the Son of God and the son of David. It is in the perfect combination of being both divine and human that we find salvation and destiny. On the one hand He is God; on the other hand He is a Jew. Note that the mystery of the reconciliation of Israel and the Church is IN HIM."
Building bridges to bring the two families of God together is my heart's cry. That is the restoration of all Israel! That's why my heart was racing! In my living room stood a person who was about to come into the fullness of this understanding for the first time - through her Cohen family (which means "priest" in Hebrew) and through the love that was reaching out to her for the first time in the Person of Yeshua. I put His arms around her and held her. I told her we would talk again after she'd had a chance to read. And she blurted out, "I am SO excited! I've wanted to understand this all my life!"
Like I said, my heart is racing - like Yeshua, I am happier about that one sheep...!
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