Psalm 77:1–6, I cried out to Elohim. This is the expression of frustration, despair and anguish on the part of the troubled saint, who is crying out to heaven for help, comfort, understanding in the midst of his trying circumstances of life.
Psalm 77:4, You hold my eyelids open. From the perspective of the anguish-ridden saint, he feels that YHVH is partially to blame for the his condition.
Psalm 77:5, I consider the days of old. In the midst of anguish and a troubled soul, it is constructive to reflect over one’s past history. What lessons can be learned from history? It is impossible to learn lessons from the future, since it has not happened yet, so one can only go back in history to seek wisdom and understanding.
Psalm 77:6, Song in the night. Night is a biblical metaphor or Hebraism for evil, distress, obscurity, and uncertainty about the future. Even in such times, joy is to be found if one looks for it.
Meditate within my heart. In the midst of this anguish, the saint goes inward or inside himself (into his personal spirit to hear the still small voice of YHVH from within in search of answers to his woes. Meditation in the eastern religious and new age sense involves, among other things, “becoming mindful” via deep breathing, relaxation or various bodily exercises and configurations, while focusing one’s mind intently on some object, a sound or mental image, or by blanking out the mind totally, so to speak, thus opening up one’s inner being, so that revelation can come from the outside through some supernatural source. This is a slick but perverse counterfeit of biblical meditation. Yes, biblical meditation involves quieting down one’s soul (the furtive anxiousness and easily distracted tendencies of one’s mind, will and emotions; see Ps 131:2), but this is so that one can hear from the Spirit of Elohim free of outside distractions. True biblical meditation involves, “breathing in” the Spirit of Elohim, who will then give one divine revelation (John 16:7–14). Whereas the Hindus and Buddhist relax themselves and focus on breathing to receive “divine revelation,” the saint relaxes himself (often deep breathing can help in this process), and then focuses on the Word of Elohim and “breathes in” or invites the Spirit of Elohim to give oneself true divine revelation.
My spirit. In difficult times, it is time to search deeply for answers and direction. One goes upward by going inward—into the spirit and then up to the Spirit of Elohim to which one’s spirit is connected.
Psalm 77:7–10, Will YHVH cast off forever? The psalmist expresses more anguish and despair concerning his situation.
Psalm 77:10–11, My anguish…I will remember.In times of personal anguish when YHVH, the Most High or Elyon seems far away and that he has turned a deaf ear to one’s cries, this is the time to encourage oneself by remembering his mighty right hand works that he has performed for us in past and how he has answered blessed and delivered us by answering our prayers, intervened in our lives amazing and supernatural ways.
Psalm 77:12, Meditate on all your works. The psalmist spends more time meditating on the goodness and greatness of Elohim. This is guaranteed to elevate one’s soul out of the psycho-emotional pit in which one finds oneself.
Psalm 77:13, Your way O Elohim is in the sanctuary [Heb. kodesh].This is a reference to the holy place of Tabernacle of Moses, which reveals the seven steps in YHVH’s plan of salvation for mankind, and to bring us to the Father through Yeshua the Messiah, which is the basic good news, gospel message. The tabernacle is literally a three-dimensional gospel tract designed to engage and inspire people physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually to step onto the path and begin the journey that leads us to our Father in heaven. By studying the Tabernacle of Moses we learn the glorious mysteries of heaven’s plan of salvation, the wonder of the gospel message and the central that Yeshua the Messiah plays in the process of redeeming mankind and uniting him with the Elohim.
This can be referring to the sanctuary or holy place of the Tabernacle of Moses where Moses encountered the divine presence and received instructions from Elohim. However, since Scripture now views the saint as the temple of the Holy Spirit, and since the temple in Jerusalem is long gone, the term sanctuary can also refer to going into the inner sanctum of one’s personal spirit through biblical meditation, listening prayer and studying the written word from Elohim. When we commune with Elohim on this deep and intimate level, he reveals himself to us in powerful ways and confirms to us that he is an Elohim who performs wonders on behalf of his people, even in times of distress, anguish and despair.
Psalm 77:14–20, Your arm redeemed your people. YHVH redeems his people from the hands of their enemies as he did with the children of Israel at the Red Sea. When the floods of the evil one are about to overtake the saints, YHVH will deliver them miraculously one way or another. The people of YHVH must never lose sight of this. Even as YHVH delivered his people from Pharaoh’s armies and the water floods of the Red Sea before, so he will do so again in the end times (see Rev 12:13–17). Yeshua the Messiah is the arm of YHVH Elohim that has redeemed his people in the past, and continues to do so.
Alone in a Dark, Strange House
Have you ever found yourself groping and stumbling around in a totally dark, strange room without a light? You’re running into walls and furniture, stubbing your toes on things looking for a light switch or the door? Similarly but on a spiritual level, many people have left the comforts and familiar surroundings of the mainstream church system with some vague notion of returning to the Hebrew roots of their faith only to find themselves in such a dark house. Welcome to the house of the so-called Messianic or the Hebrew roots movement!
Many of us have been in this new spiritual house asking ourselves questions like: Where are we? Where are we going? What’s next? Who’s out there? Am I alone?
Shifting from a traditional church-system paradigm and lifestyle to that of that of a more first century or Hebraic one as modelled by the early believers in the Book of Acts and apostolic leaders isn’t an easy to do. There are a lot of questions and unfamiliar territory to traverse. Am I moving into cultism? Legalism? Too much Jewishness? Or some bizarre new religion or what?
Perhaps knowing the transition zones or spiritual growth stages that you will likely go through, as most of us have, might be like someone handing you a flashlight in that dark house. Even a little light on the subject might save your toe from getting stubbed and keep you from doing a nose plant on the floor! Not only that, knowing the stages most people inevitably go through when making the transition from a traditional Sunday Christian orientation to a Torah-pursuant one just might…
help us to stay on course spiritually, so that we won’t get stuck in one stage of spiritual development and fail to move to the next stage.
help leaders to see where people are at in their path to spiritual maturity, and help them to move to the next level.
help those who have advanced through these stages to be gracious and helpful to those who have not yet done so.
Here are the stages, as I see them. Each one’s personal experiences may vary a little, and the order of the steps may be slightly different for each person, but I think that most of us can relate to these steps of spiritual transformation to one degree or another. I know, because I’ve been through these steps myself!
The Eight Stages of Coming Out of Spiritual Babylon
1– Awakening Stage: Hearing the Sound of the Shofar and the Call of the Bridegroom
At this stage, we begin to awaken to our spiritual heritage—to the Jewish or Hebraic roots of the Christian faith.
We begin to develop a love for the land of Israel, the Jewish people as well as the Hebrew Scriptures.
We become aware of our need to return to YHVH’s ancient and good spiritual (Torah) paths (Jer 6:16), which predate Constantine Christianity and the traditions of men that are contrary to the Word of Elohim that often characterize much of what has been associated with our past church involvements. We realize that we have strayed spiritually from YHVH’s biblical paths of Torah-Truth and bought into many lying doctrines and traditions of men (Jer 16:19) that were taught in our Christian church experience.
2 – Anger Stage: Our Fathers Have Inherited Lies
We become aware that our spiritual fathers have inherited lies (Jer 16:19). Namely, we discover that the church has lied to us about our Hebraic heritage and YHVH’s Torah-instructions that he revealed to Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and the patriarchs and then to Moses and the children of Israel. We come to realize that the mainstream church has withheld much in the way of YHVH revealed biblical Truth from us, and has substituted for that Truth man traditions of men and pagan ideas. If not careful, anger against the Christian church—our brothers in the faith—can set in and overtake us.
Some people, at this point, will begin to despise, denigrate and even hate the Christian church and Christians. Some don’t even believe that there are any Christians who are saved. In the process, many Hebraic-minded people become judgmental and bigoted toward Christians who still adhere to anti-Torah belief systems. In anger and bitterness, some people will even turn away from what correct Truth the church does have (e.g., the message of Yeshua, the cross, the basic gospel message, the message of love, etc.) and toss out the proverbial baby with the bath water. Sadly, some people will turn away from belief in the New Testament, the gospel message and the truth about the deity and messiahship of Yeshua.
3 — Exploratory Stage: Learning About the Roots of Our FaithContinue reading
David, the author of the majority of the psalms in the Bible, along with several other psalmists, were men who followed hard after Elohim. No less than Elohim himself called David a man after his own heart (1 Sam 13:14–16). The spiritual cup of David’s heart as well as the hearts of other psalmists were full and overflowing with passion for Elohim, which expressed itself in quantifiable, extreme and radical ways by today’s Western standards. What can we learn from such individuals, and how can we come to this same place of passionate and enthusiastic (meaning “inspired or possessed by God”) devotion to YHVH Elohim?
David did not merely express his passion for Elohim intellectually in the psalms through music and poetry, for Scripture records that in one case he actually removed his kingly robes that hindered the movement of his arms and legs, and danced leaping and whirling, almost naked, with all of his might in the streets of Jerusalem praising and worshipping YHVH to the disdaining scorn of his less than passionate wife. Needless to say, after that incident, David refused to have intimate relations with his wife ever again to the day of her death (2 Sam 6:23). This was likely because her heart was in a very different place than that of her husband, and he could never get close to her again. This incident demonstrates the seriousness with which David took his passion for YHVH and how he viewed those close to him who were of a dissimilar or antithetical passionate disposition.
To be sure, David was not the only Hebrew given to outward displays of passion. The Hebrews, in general, like many inhabitants of the Near East to this day, were a dynamic and emotionally passionate people, whose lives were a river that customarily overflowed its banks with a emotionally enthusiasm for their Creator. David was a quintessential stereotype of this cultural norm. But many of the Hebrew prophets demonstrated a similar emotional exuberance when urging the Israelites to return to YHVH and to worship and obey him only. This passion worked itself out in many seeming bizarre stunts in their attempts to capture the attention of a people who had lost their passion for Elohim. For example, on one occasion, Isaiah prophesied virtually naked through the streets of his city for three years warning Israel of its impending doom (Isa 20:3). One prophet even adorned himself with iron horns and then prophesied to the kings of Israel and Judah (1 Kgs 22:11). Once Jeremiah prophesied with a wooden yoke wrapped around his neck (Jer 22:11). Another time, YHVH instructed Ezekiel to build a model city of Jerusalem and to construct siege walls and battering rams to symbolize the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians (Ezek 4:1–4). After that, YHVH commanded Ezekiel to lay on his left side for 390 days and then on his right side for another 40 days to symbolize YHVH’s judgment against Israel (Ezek 4:4–6). If that was not enough, during this time, YHVH instructed Ezekiel to eat only beans, lentils, millet and spelt baked on a fire fueled by human excrement (Ezek 4:9–12). These are just several example of the extreme passion with which the biblical people of Elohim were willing to serve and obey their Creator.
Admittedly, in our day, YHVH is seldom asking his people to engage in such extreme practices as the ancient biblical prophets did in service to him. But sadly, most people are not even passionate enough to do the minimum that YHVH expects. For example, how many people are willing to put aside their electronic devices to which they are addicted along with their other secular activities long enough to pray for an hour a day as Yeshua instructed (Matt 26:40–41)?
Make no mistake, we are capable of becoming passionate about many things that are of interest to us—things that we really want to do, and we definitely make time in our busy schedules for these things. We can spend hours glued to our television and computers screens watching movies, engaged in social media on our electronc devices, listening to podcasts, watching sports events, playing video games and the like. In fact, today how many people hoot and holler acting crazy cheering their favorite sports team, but when it comes to being fanatical for YHVH, well, “that’s emotionalism” and “I’m not that kind of person,” we tell ourselves. “What will people think of me?”
There is no lack of distractions out there whose octopus-like arms laden with suction cups will grab us and suck us in to its jaws, while drawing us away from seeking YHVH. Why is this? Its is because too many of us have let our hearts become hard and cold for Elohim and as a result of this we have fallen into a state of lukewarmness, lost our first love for Yeshua along with the joy of our salvation.
So what is the aim and goal of this brief written homily? It is to hold up in front of each of us a mirror in which to see ourselves, and then to compare what we see with what pleases YHVH Elohim as recorded in Scripture, and thus hopefully to challenge each us to repent of our lassitude and incite us to “break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek YHVH, till he come and rain righteousness upon you,” (Hos 10:12). Our as Jeremiah chides us to do, “For thus saith YHVH…Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to YHVH, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings,” (Jer 4:3–4). Or as Yeshua warns us, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent,” (Rev 2:4–5). These are sober and challenging warning words from our Messiah!
Do you long to see and experience spiritual revival in these days of overwhelming darkness and evil? Well, revival starts in the heart of each individual as each of makes the conscious and determinate decision to seek YHVH and to allow him to revive us. Revival starts with YOU! Selah and amein.
How intense is YOUR worship of YHVH Elohim?
Shout joyfully to YHVH, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.…Shout joyfully before YHVH, the King. (Ps 98:4, 6)
Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous judgments. (Ps 119:164)
Oh come, let us sing to YHVH! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.… Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.…Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before YHVH our Maker. (Ps 95:1–2, 6)
And her saints shall shout aloud for joy. (Ps 132:16)
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless YHVH. (Ps 134:2)
I will praise You with my whole heart; before the gods [or mighty ones] I will sing praises to You. (Ps 138:1)
Let them praise His name with the dance. (Ps 149:3)
Let the high praises of Elohim be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand… (Ps 149:6)
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance… (Ps 150:4)
How intensely passionate are YOU in seeking YHVH Elohim?Continue reading
Amidst geo-political turbulence, divine protection and a heavenly lifeline exists for the saints.
What is the overall message of this psalm? Even though the chapter subheading of my NKJV Bible, for example, describes this psalm as “God the refuge of his people and conqueror of the nations,” there is a deeper, more inspiring message to be discovered here that this title misses. Let’s dig into this precious morsel of the Word of Elohim to discover what this life-changing message is.
When it comes to discovering the hidden, golden nuggets in Scripture, one must be willing to become a spiritual hardrock miner, who is not averse to the difficult work of picking away at the seemingly unyielding and implacable rock and soil to uncover the mother lode of hidden treasure underground. Like digging for gold, the deeper one digs into Scripture and the more time and effort one invests in the process, the more likely one is to pull the unspeakably valuable treasures out of the spiritual bedrock of the Bible. I have been digging into this Rock of Ages daily for more than fifty years, and my heart and mind still tingle and pulsate with enthusiasm (please look up the meaning of the word enthusiasm for a cool nugget of truth that reveals why I purposely chose this word) when I discover new treasures buried therein.
To uncover these nuggets that lay below the surface words of Scripture, it is critical to understand an important fact: There are at least four layers of understanding to be found buried in the Word of Elohim. Let’s discover and briefly explore what these are.
Laying on the surface of Scripture, we find the peshat or literal meaning of what has been written. For example, a literal man named Noah built a literal ark of wood that floated on a literal flood of literal water, Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, and Yeshua was a carpenter’s son from Judea who lived in the first century. On a moral or philosophical level, the ten commandments, for example, are literal rules of righteous conduct that apply to our daily lives.
Digging deeper, we come to the next level as we drill down deeper into the Word of Elohim. This is the remez or suggested or hinted at meaning of a scriptural passage. For example, the Torah talks about “an eye for eye” when it comes to criminal justice. This may be taken literally to mean that if you injure someone’s eye, your eye is to be similarly injured as payment for your crime, thus evening the scales of justice. Moreover, an injured eye does not require the death penalty, and the crime of murder requires more than a slap on the wrist. So what this verse is really saying or hinting at beyond its literal or peshat level meaning is that the punishment must fit the crime.
Drilling down deeper into the bedrock of Scripture, we next come to the drash (the Hebrew word meaning “search”) level of Scripture. This often involves understanding a biblical passage from an allegorical or homiletical level. For example, even though Noah built an ark and survived divine judgment against men’s wickedness in it, there is an allegorical understanding to this story as well. Noah can be viewed as a Messianic figure who saves those who believe his message of repentance and righteous living, and are thus accorded an escape from divine judgment, even as Yeshua the Messiah does the same for those who believe him and place their trust in him.
At this point, it must be noted that although many scripture passages that have a peshat-level meaning can also be translated allegorically, some scriptures were written only with an allegorical meaning. For example, Elohim in several Scriptures is described as a having wings under which the saints can take refuge, or as a rock or fortress for his people. Similarly, Yeshua is likened to a door, and the saints are to be the salt of the earth. Obviously, these descriptions are not to be taken literally, but to be viewed as similes and symbolic metaphors.
The fourth or final level of scriptural understanding is the sod or hidden or mystical level. The book of Revelation, for example, contains many drash and sod level passages. The 666 mark of the beast passage of Revelation chapter thirteen is such an example. To this day, biblical scholars are still trying to unveil the meaning of this mysterious verse. Is it literal or symbolic? Is there a numerological meaning to 666? If so, how and what does it apply and to whom? Many theories have been proffered, but the exact meaning still remains a mystery.
This has been the briefest introductory overview to the four levels of biblical interpretation. Suffice it to say, when one reads the psalms (or any scripture passage for that matter), to better discover the deep treasure hidden therein, it is beneficial to keep these principles in mind.
To my mind, as in hardrock mining in search of a vein of gold, only after hours or even days of quiet, prayerful, meditative reflection, while at the same time keeping the principles of peshat, remez, drash and sod in mind will such a psalm as this one yield its priceless treasures of divine revelation—its manna from heaven, so to speak.
The writers of the psalms were deeply thoughtful and reflective; they didn’t just fling words indiscriminately like mud up against a wall hoping that something would stick. Although the different sections of Psalm 46 my seem disjointed and disconnected, the psalmist’s juxtapositioning of seemingly unrelated topics invites or even begs the reader, like all thoughtfully constructed poetic literature, to reflect on, ponder and dig deep to discover the author’s hidden often enigmatic or verbally encrypted message.
So now let’s see what heavenly treasures we can uncover from Psalm 46.
In the first section or block of thoughts in Psalm 46 (vv. 1–3), the psalmist-artist paints a picture in the reader’s mind. He presents us with the solidity of Elohim and the idea, as disconcerting as it may be, that earth may not be as immobile and permanent as it seems and we may wish it to be. Anyone who has lived through an earthquake, a volcanic eruption, a typhoon or hurricane, flood, mudslide, forest fire or such knows this to be true. Those of us who witnessed the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in 1980 know this fact well. As a teenager, I stood on the top of that pre-eruptive mountain that was subsequently blown to smithereens and scattered as fine dust across the face of the globe. Twelve hundred feet of the mountain’s summit is now missing, whole glaciers are gone, melted into water and mud, and there is now a gaping gouge in the mountain’s north and northeast sides. Nothing on earth seems as permanent and unmovable as it seems—even a giant mountain like Saint Helens, but now a good section of it blew away in an instant. Only Elohim and his Word are immovable rocks that neither the slow forces of erosion or sudden cataclysmic events like volcanic eruptions can dislodge and change.
In the opening verses of this psalm, the author contrasts the permanence of Elohim with the impermanence and transitory nature of the earth. Even though to the average person’s thinking the earth itself and the mountains that sit thereon seem immovable and permanent, they really are not. And this is the point the psalmist is making here. The remez or hint level of this idea is that if we view the mountains as permanent, then how are we to view the governments and nations of this earth? After all, elsewhere in Scripture, mountain are metaphors for the governmental systems and nations of men. Neither are as permanent or immovable as the Creator of the universe and the spiritual dimension at which he exists.
In the next block of thought in this psalm (vv. 4–6), the author suddenly switches gears and paints another word picture for the reader to consider. On the surface, this tableau seems totally unrelated to the first. But is it really?Continue reading