Back From Celebrating Sukkot in the Wilderness

Shalom dear ones in Yeshua. Sandi and I are back from celebrating Sukkot 2021 in the mountains and high desert of Central Oregon not too far from where we live. Our children and a couple of close friends gathered around us as we camped in our travel trailer. While out of “Babylon,” we did not have access to the internet, so I was not able to upload any blog posts. Now it is time to play catch up.

Here are a few phots from our sukkah-ing in the wilderness en route to the Promised Land of our spiritual inheritance. Please enjoy.

This is an early morning view of a foggy meadow not far from our campsite in Western Oregon where we spent the first part of Sukkot before we escaped to the high desert country of Central Oregon (about 200 miles SE of our home.

The following pictures are from along the river a few minutes walk from our campsite.

An early morning view of the river with frost on everything.
Another morning from the same spot on the river. I took these photos during my early morning prayer walks.
The high desert in bloom.
A 100 foot tall waterfall we viewed while on a hike in the mountains.
Nathan with the Cascade mountains in the background. I have climbed almost all those those mountains in my younger days.
Nathan with Kaeli, our youngest daughter, who came out from North Dakota to spend Sukkot with Sandi and I along with our other children.
Nathan looking through a hole in a rotten trunk of a large maple tree.
 

Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement)— Opening the Treasure Chest!

The Gospel Proclaimed in Leviticus 23:27–32

When you were a young child you were no doubt curious about the world around you. There was so much to see and learn about. What was more exciting than exploring that world by going on trips to new places or even spending hours investigating and playing in a nearby a forest? Let’s become curious and teachable again like children we used to be and now explore Leviticus 23:27–32 where we find the command to observe the Day of Atonement (Heb. Yom Kippur) to see what surprising nuggets we can find here. In the simplicity of this text, we will discover outlined the entire gospel message of salvation prophetically foreshadowed some 1500 years before the birth and death of Yeshua the Messiah.

The text of Leviticus 23:27–32 is highlighted in bold with explanations following.

Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement [Heb. kippur]. (v. 27)

Yom Kippur is about atoning, reconciliation and purging, which is the meaning of kippur. Purging who of what? We’ll soon find out.

It shall be a holy convocation for you… (Lev 23:27) 

Yom Kippur is a commanded assembly or a sacred convocation for YHVH’s people. It was made holy not by men, but by the Creator of the universe. Men can’t make anything holy, for men aren’t holy. Only the Holy (Heb. Kadosh) One of Israel can do this. The Day of Atonement is also a divine appointment (Heb. moed, Lev 23:2) as determined by the YHVH Elohim. It is a time when the Creator demands to meet with his people. Humans who miss it defy the Creator’s commands.

…you shall afflict your souls (Lev 23:27)

Afflict is the Hebrew word anah meaning “to oppress with the idea of humility or meekness in mind coupled with the idea of a suffering life rather than with one of worldly happiness and abundance” (The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol. 2, p. 682). 

So what is this soul that we are commanded to afflict? Each human has a soul (1 Thess 5:23). Your soul is who you are. It is what makes you unique. It is your personality, your emotional makeup, your mental abilities and your willpower. Your soul determines what you say, do and think. Yeshua called it the heart of man (Matt 12:35; 15:19). It is attached to and in charge of the human body. It tells the body what to do, saw and think. The soul is the source of sin in each person; it is the soul that sins (Ezek 18:4).

Why does YHVH command his people to afflict their souls (i.e. to go one day without food and water) on Yom Kippur? The reason for this is that the soul must be put down, or sublimated and brought under the control of the Word and Spirit of Elohim if man is to have a spiritual relationship with the Creator, which can eventually result in man receiving eternal life and membership into his heavenly kingdom. Yeshua taught his disciples that “he who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for [Yeshua’s] sake will find it” (Matt 10:39), and that “whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for [Yeshua’s] sake will find it” (Matt 16:25). The sinful soul (the mind, will and emotions) of men is what prevents man from coming into a spiritual relationship with the Creator. That is why the proud, self-righteous, rebellious, lawless and willful soul of man must be afflicted and humbled, so that it can be brought under the control, power and influence of the Word and Spirit of Elohim, so that man can experience the abundant life in this world and the next (John 10:10). This is why the carnal, sinful soul of man has to be starved. By learning to control our physical appetites through fasting, we can learn better how to control the sinful passions of our carnal natures. This is what the baptism for the remission of sins ritual is all about. It’s about death to the old sinful man and coming alive to one’s personal spirit or inner man through legal and spiritual identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua through the aid and influence of Elohim’s Set-Apart Spirit (Gal 2:20; 1 Cor 5:17). In Romans 6:3–11 we read,

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into the Messiah Yeshua were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as the Messiah was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with the Messiah, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that the Messiah, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to Elohim. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to Elohim in the Messiah Yeshua our Lord.

…and offer an offering made by fire to YHVH. (Lev 23:27)

This is referring to the animal sacrifices that were made on Yom Kippur where animals were slaughtered and laid on the altar in the Tabernacle of Moses as an offering to Elohim. This ritual teaches us two things. The first is that the innocent animal that was sacrificed on the altar was a prophetic symbol pointing to Yeshua’s death on the cross. His death atoned for or purged man of his past sins and redeemed man from the death penalty that comes upon him because of that sin. We read in Leviticus 16 that on Yom Kippur the high priest sacrificed animals on the altar in the tabernacle as a sin offering for himself and the children of Israel. He then sprinkled its blood before the mercy seat in the holy of holies, which pictured the throne of Elohim in heaven. This in every way points to Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross for man’s sins, and Elohim’s acceptance of that death in payment or exchange for the penalty for man’s sins, which is man’s death.

The next thing that this offering by fire alludes to is that afflicting the soul is a picture of the saint dying to carnal, sinful nature. Each of us must be willing to lay his life on YHVH’s spiritual altar by “present[ing] your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to Elohim, which is your reasonable service” (Rom 12:1). What is it to be a living sacrifice for Elohim? It involves dying to oneself (i.e. one’s carnal and sinful passions) and not only accepting Yeshua as one’s Savior, but as the Lord or Master of one’s life as well. Many people want the Savior part of Yeshua, but not the Master part. It comes as a package; you can’t have one without the other. If Yeshua is not your Master, then he is not your Savior either. One can’t have the Savior without the Master. If Yeshua is truly one’s Savior, then he will also be one’s Master. This is because he bought and paid for each of us with his life, and he now has the legal right to tell us what to do. When you accepted him, this was a legal transaction. If you want salvation from the death penalty you brought on yourself by your sins, you must also accept heaven’s terms and conditions to free you from that death penalty. There is no other way. People lie to themselves if they think they can chart their own course of “spirituality” and make up their own rules to find a relationship with their Creator some other way. It doesn’t work that way! Every other way is a satanic counterfeit that leads to death and eternal separation from Elohim.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Set-Apart Spirit who is in you, whom you have from Elohim, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify Elohim in your body and in your spirit, which are Elohim’s. (1 Cor 6:19–20)

[K]nowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of the Messiah, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Pet 1:18–19)

And you shall do no work on that same day… (Lev 23:28) 

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Happy Yom Teruah 2021!

The new moon as sighted from my backyard on the evening of September 8, 2021

The moon does not lie! Men’s calendars do, however, when it comes to the times and seasons of Elohim. They obscure divinely revealed Truth as they come and go from the scene.

Over the millennia, calendars get changed and reconfigured based the whims of human vicissitudes, but the heavenly bodies, which are in reality a giant timepiece that YHVH Elohim created, never change. They are as reliable now as they were in the time of the Yeshua and before and going all the way back to the beginning of time for determining the set-apart, kadosh (holy) times and seasons of YHVH.

For these reason, I get excited when I see the new moon of the seventh month on YHVH’s biblical calendar. It tells me that I’m meeting the Almighty on the exact day that he set in stone long ago to celebrate Yom Teruah, the Day of Shofar Blowing or Shouting.

But what’s the big to do all about? Why all the shouting and shofar horn blowing?

It will be on this day in the not too distant future that Yeshua the Messiah will be returning in power and glory, and when he will gather his righteous saints—both the living and the dead— together to meet him in the air. NOW THAT IS SOMETHING TO SHOUT ABOUT!

To learn more about Yom Teruah and how to celebrate it, go to

https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/yom_teruah.pdf

or watch this video

 

Have a Joyous Shavuot/Feast of Weeks/Pentecost 2021!

Free resources from Hoshana Rabbah to help you have a more enlightened and meaningful Shavuot/Pentecost:

 

Preparing for Shavuot/Pentecost—Insights from Exodus 19, 20 and Acts 2

To fully understand Scripture and to extract its applicable meaning to us, we must insert ourselves into the scriptural narrative and ask, what can I learn from this and how does it apply to me?  With such an inquiring mind and an open heart, the still small voice of the Spirit of Elohim will begin to whisper insights into our spirit and mind. 

This is how the Word of Elohim comes alive to us and how we find spiritual direction—light in the darkness—to guide us in the path of life. With this in mind, let us now discover what we can learn from Exodus chapter 19 as the children of Israel prepared to meet YHVH Elohim on the day of Pentecost (or Shavuot—its Hebrew name).

Insights from Exodus 19

Exodus 19:3, Moses. The name Moses/Moshesh literally means “drawing out or rescued.” What was Moses drawn out of or rescued from? From the waters of the Nile River in Egypt. Water can be a biblical metaphor for humanity, and Egypt a metaphor for Satan’s world. That is to say that Moses was drawn out of or rescued from the seas of humanity. YHVH then used Moses to rescue, draw forth or fish the children of Israel out of the same sea of Satan’s world. 

Exodus 19:3, Moses went up. Even before Elohim called Moses, he was willing to go up. Elsewhere in the Psalms, we learn that if we incline our hearts toward YHVH, he will incline himself toward us. Yeshua promised that all those who ask, seek and knock will be rewarded accordingly.

Exodus 19:3, From the mountain. YHVH not only exists, but he exists above the earth on a proverbial mountain far above the human plane. Isaiah declared that YHVH is “high and lifted up.” He is calling us to come up to him. Will we go up to him, or do we love this world too much to answer his call to come up? Twice David the psalmist asks and then answers the question, who will ascend the hill or mountain of YHVH?

YHVH, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; he who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear YHVH; he who swears to his own hurt and does not change; he who does not put out his money at usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved. (Ps 15:1–5)

Who may ascend into the hill of YHVH? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from YHVH, and righteousness from the Elohim of his salvation. (Ps 24:3–5)

Are you a spiritual mountain climber, or one who is content to be a spiritual low-lander preferring to inhabit the basement of life?

Exodus 19:3, From the mountain. YHVH not only exists, but he exists above the earth on a proverbial mountain far above the human plane. Isaiah declared that YHVH is “high and lifted up.” He is calling us to come up to him. Will we go up to him, or do we love this world too much to answer his call to come up?

Exodus 19:4, Brought you [Israel] to myself. YHVH’s purpose for calling Israel out of Egypt was to bring them to himself. One cannot be of the world and the same time be in Elohim. Yeshua said that his servants cannot serve two masters—Elohim and this world (or mammon). He also declared that though we are in this world, we are not to be of this world. Though we live in this world physically, we are not to be a part of, loyal to or identify with this world spiritually.

Exodus 19:5, If…then. The agreement between Elohim and Israel known as the Mosaic or Siniatic Covenant was conditional. His blessings upon Israel and his elevating them to favored nation status was conditional upon their obeying his voice and walking in covenant with him. It was based on relationship. Is not everything in life that we do based on conditional agreements and relationships with other people and the world around us? There are things we have to do if we want certain outcomes. If we fail to do them, then we pay the price. This includes marriage agreements, employer-employee relationships, friendships, buying a car or house, staying behind a guardrail on the edge of a cliff, following the driving rules of the road, obeying the laws of the land, taking care of our bodies, eating and not eating certain foods, and the list goes on and on. Why should we think that our relationship with our Creator is any different? If we follow his rules, we will be blessed, and if we do not, we will suffer the consequences.

Exodus 19:5, Obey my voice…keep my covenant. Too many times we are inclined to think of the Bible in terms of dos and don’ts—laws and rules. If we stop mid-sentence in verse five, this is what we come up with, and this is off-putting to most people who are naturally averse to rule-keeping. However, obedience to YHVH and his commandments is simply a means to an end as the second half of this verse shows us. It is about relationship with our Creator—about blessings, life and eventually immortality. 

Exodus 19:5, Special treasure to me. Why does YHVH want to bring you and me to himself? He wants us to be his own treasured possession. What is your treasured possession? If your house was burning down or you had to flee immediately and could take only one possession, what would it be? That is how YHVH views those who seek and follow him, but much, much more.

Exodus 19:5, Above all people. YHVH exists in heaven, on a proverbial mountain. He invites his people—those who answer his call—to come up to him. He has shown us the way—his way, the way of Torah (i.e. obeying his voice and keeping covenant with him), which is the way up to him. When we come up to him, it will put us above the people around us. That is why the Bible always speaks of “going up to Jerusalem” or “going down to Egypt.” Heaven is above this earth; the earth is below heaven.” Those who are citizens of the kingdom of Elohim are at a higher spiritual plane than those who are of this earth or world. It does not mean that Elohim’s saints are better than anyone else. It just means that they are walking at a higher level spiritually, and that they have been saved by his grace—his unmerited pardon, and that he has divinely enabled them to obey him. Let no man glory in his, wisdom, might or riches but only in the fact that he understands and knows Elohim (Jer 9:24).

Exodus 19:5, For all the earth is mine. Why does YHVH add this phrase after the previous one? What is his point? As the Creator of all things, everything belongs to him; therefore, he determines the rules and on what basis he will elevate people to a special status before him. He delivered Israel out of Egypt and chose Israel to be his own treasured people conditional upon their obeying his voice and walking in covenant with him (v. 5). All of the other religions, man-made philosophies and spiritual paths notwithstanding, there is only one way to Elohim; it is his way.

Exodus 19:6, Kingdom of priests…a holy nation. YHVH had a purpose for elevating his people to that of favored nation status. It was not so that they could just revel in his blessings eating, drinking and making merry until they passed from this mortal scene. No. YHVH had a end game plan for his people then, and he still has the same plan for his people now. It is to taste and see that YHVH is good, that obeying him brings blessings and then to share that good news with those around us. If you are a follower of Yeshua, are you fulfilling your role as his a part of his royal priesthood, holy nation and his own special people to proclaim the praises of him to those who are still dwelling in the darkness of this world and to help bring them into the marvelous light of his Truth as Peter proclaims (1 Pet 2:9)? Or are we just reaping the benefits of YHVH’s grace upon our lives, and living our lives for our own self-centered benefit without fulfilling our end of the deal to be spiritual salt and light to those around us? Is our relationship with YHVH a one-way street where we expect all the benefits without giving anything in return? If so, ask yourself this: How does such a relationship work in a marriage or friendship where one party does everything and the other party does nothing in return? How long can this last before the one doing all the giving says, “Forget it, I’m out of here! This one-sided relationship is no longer worth my time or effort.” Eventually, YHVH will say the same thing to those who are only takers and not givers. They will hear the words, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.”

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Want to learn more about the seven biblical feasts?

Over the past 20 years, I, along with the help of my wife, have put together an abundant array of resources to help you to understand and then to celebrate YHVH’s biblical feasts. Here is a list of these FREE resources and the links to find them. Happy studying and then doing for the glory of YHVH, the advancement of his heavenly kingdom and for YOUR spiritual growth and development into the fullness and stature of Yeshua the Messiah!

Happy studying and may you be filled with joy as you learn more about the ways of YHVH and how to step deeper into the river of life in serving and obeying him!

Prayer.
 

The Feasts YHVH, NOT the Jewish Feasts!

Leviticus 23:2, My feasts [Heb. moedim]. YHVH calls these feasts his feasts. They’re not men’s feasts or the Jewish feasts! They came from YHVH and belong to him. When men pervert YHVH’s feasts by mixing in pagan traditions, they’re no longer YHVH’s feasts, but men’s feasts (e.g. Isa 1:13–15; Amos 5:21; Hos 2:11). When men pollute his feasts and appointed times, YHVH says that he hates them because they’re no longer his feasts (Isa 1:14–15).

In Ezekiel 20, we see that YHVH’s feasts (or sabbaths) are a covenantal sign between YHVH and his people (Ezek 20:12) that they were to live by (Ezek 20:11), yet which Israel, in rebellion, refused to do while in the wilderness. Instead they defiled his sabbaths by, presumably, not doing them and doing other things on those holy days (Ezek 20:13). Israel’s rebellion against YHVH with regard to their refusal to keep his sabbaths brought upon them YHVH’s judgments (Ezek 20:13). 

In other words, it was YHVH’s will for the Israelites to keep his sabbaths in the wilderness, but because of their idolatrous rebellion, they refused to do so. In fact, YHVH calls refusing to observe his sabbaths idolatry and for this sin (along with other sins), the Israelites had to wander in the wilderness for forty years (Ezek 20:15–16). In profaning his sabbaths, YHVH accuses the Israelites of despising his Torah (Ezek 20:16). YHVH then goes on to urge his people to not follow the example of their rebellious forefathers, but rather to walk in all of his Torah commands (including his sabbaths, Ezek 20:18–20). Because of their profaning his sabbaths, he punished them by scattering them in exile among the heathens. Those modern saints who refuse to keep YHVH’s Sabbath and feasts are walking in the same sin as the ancient Israelites. Often people who refuse to keep YHVH’s feast days holy do so because the feasts conflict with their secular activities (such as their jobs). YHVH calls this idolatry and being like the heathen (Ezek 20:30, 32). In the end times, YHVH is going to separate his people out from the heathen and bring them back into covenantal agreement with him including obedience to his sabbaths (Ezek 20:33–38). He will purge from his people those rebels who refuse to obey him including keeping his sabbaths (Ezek 20:38), which are a sign of his covenantal relationship with them.