Sunday, June 19, 2011


To start with, let us look again at a portion of last week’s letter; Shemot - Names. In the Bible one’s name was often connected to one’s identity. YHVH chose to answer Moses’ request, regarding His identity, by revealing to him His name, “I Will Be Whom I Will Be”, or “I AM” (Ex. 3:14). Moses was drawn out of the water by Pharaoh’s daughter, and was therefore named by her “Drawn Out Of” (Moshe). Later, when he was asked to deliver the people of Israel out of Egypt, the first thing that YHVH told him to do was to enlighten the ruler of the land as to their true identity. “Tell Pharaoh, thus says YHVH ‘Israel is My son, My first-born’” (Ex. 4:22). To let my people go …. er…. know, who they were, was the order of the day then, as it is now. This is also the overriding theme of Batya Wootten’s book, “Who Is Israel and Why You Need to Know”.

Why is it so imperative that we know who we are?

Most of the great Greek philosophers’ quest for knowledge revolved around this question, "who am I"? This issue was, and still is at the forefront of man's concerns, as we see in the modern day disciplines of psychiatry and philosophy. However, these latter, in much of their probing processes are like those blind characters that Yeshua referred to, who were trying to lead others as equally visually impaired. In recent years, a book called “Man’s Search For Meaning” became quite popular in educational circles (and in general). This remarkable little book was written by a Holocaust survivor; world-renowned psychiatrist, Vitor E. Frankl. On the cover of the book there is a quote from the Los Angeles Times: “…the most important contribution to psychiatry since the writings of Freud.”

Frankl describes his harrowing years in the Nazi extermination camp of Auschwitz. Everything that he and others had known themselves to be was stripped from them, especially their identity as human beings. With a number replacing their name, they found themselves in a situation where maintaining their identity became crucial for survival. During the three years of his incarceration Frankl was not aware that he had lost almost his entire family to the fires of this hell. However, through this experience he gained some simple, but profound insights into mankind’s grope for a higher meaning in life. Amidst his comrades, who in some cases struggled to survive and in other cases gave themselves up to death, he was able to detect in the depth of man’s being a duality which he describes thus: “In the concentration camps, in this living laboratory and on this testing ground, we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself” (p.213). When there was nothing tangible to cling to, for purpose or meaning, there were still those who had the resolve to live.

In the face of death, the driving force for their survival was, according to Frankl, based on three things: Doing a deed; experiencing a value, and suffering. As he watched men live and die in the most appalling conditions imaginable, he defined “man’s search for meaning” (or in my words, man’s search for his true identity), in these words: “Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By the spiritual act of love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, that which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true” (p. 176-177).

The scriptures tell us that “YHVH IS LOVE”. Interestingly, they do so in exactly the same three ways discovered by Dr. Frankl. Our God brought us out of Egypt with a strong and mighty hand - doing a deed. He showed us His love, kindness, goodness, mercy, patience, justice - demonstrating His values. And then, He himself came and suffered, identifying with our sufferings, as He still does today.

Victor Frankl ends his book with these lines: “Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who has invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who has entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the ‘Sh’ma Yisrael’ on his lips” (p. 214). Yes, our Father who inhabits the heavens is Holy and has called us His sons; His firstborn sons. He tells us to listen - “sh’ma Yisrael”. The main reason that we do not act or behave like sons is because we do not really know who we are. “We have died and our life is hidden in Him, but when He, who is our life is revealed then we will be like Him in glory” (Col. 3:3-4). How are we to become as He is? By believing what He reveals to us about Himself. For the truth is, in Spirit we are as He is.

Our “son of man” part has been deceived into believing lies about our true identity. An enemy has sowed these untruths into our mind. When these seeds begin to grow they become an integral part of our thoughts and behavior. Yeshua has come to reveal these lies and to speak a liberating truth, setting us free from the grip of fear and pain. If Satan worked so hard to keep us oblivious to our true identity in the “natural”(damaging our souls), how much more so now, that we have a new identity also in the spirit, as sons of the living God!

While here, in His earthen vessel, Yeshua was called “Son of Man,” yet He came as the “Son of God”. Like Yeshua, we too have a dual identity, it therefore behooves us to discover the truth in regards to each one, as together they have an ongoing destiny to fulfill, while we are here on this earth. To know who we are, as the seed of Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya'acov and also to know who we are in the Messiah, brings into focus the full intentions of the redemptive plan of YHVH.

As Son of Man, Yeshua humbled Himself and became obedient even unto death on the cross. He made Himself of no reputation and took on the form of a bondservant, and although as the Son of God, being in the form of Elohim, He did not consider it robbery to be equal with His heavenly Father. So let this mind be in you which was also in Messiah Yeshua” (ref. Phil.2:5-8).

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2).


Monday, June 6, 2011


The book of Bereshit (Genesis) ends the story of the patriarchs, or does it?

Moses continues the story of our Hebrew ancestors after three and a half centuries of a break in their recorded history. During this period we have no knowledge of any religious or political practices that held them together as an identifiable people, except that YHVH was watching over them, along with their Egyptian overlords. YHVH promised Ya’acov (Jacob) that in Egypt He would multiply his seed and that it would become a nation. In order to accomplish this purpose YHVH gave them, through Yosef, the best of all the land of Egypt.

Many generations had come and gone when the narrative of their history picks up again. In spite of the long time passage, YHVH was still identifying the multitudes as the “twelve sons of Israel”, “the b’ney (sons of) Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them” (Ex 1:7). This one statement affords us an immediate glimpse into the God of Israel’s faithfulness, not only to the promise that He made with Ya’acov, but also to the covenant that he made with Ya’acov’s forefather. “For when God made a promise to Avraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.’ That by these two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, and encouragement who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope that had been set before, these we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Heb. 6: 13-14,18-19a). Having our faith anchored in this covenant of YHVH’s faithfulness through blessing and multiplicity, we are shown the pathway that extends “beyond the veil”, opening the eyes of our understanding that we might behold His kingdom where Yeshua reigns.

The title of this second book of the Bible is “Shemot” – “Names. In these opening lines of “Shemot” we are having our minds trained to understand the Hebraic thought pattern in the form of the “seed principle”. In other words, the life of the father is in his progeny. Thus, no matter how many are in the multitudes, the Elohim still sees the one whom He called by name, and on whom He bestowed the blessing of fathering the many. Yitzhak was called to father a chosen nation -“Ya’acov”. This nation was destined to become a kingdom of kings and priests after the order of Melchizedek. Yeshua the Messiah of Ya’acov was the forerunner who entered in, through the sacrificing of Himself in order to bring many of the sons of God into the glory of His kingdom, which would then be made manifest in and through them as a nation on the earth.

Last week, in one of the teaching sessions, a visitor popped in to debate the Two House teaching. We happened to be studying Genesis 48, where Ya’acov, with his hands on Ephraim and Menashe’s heads, was blessing Yosef. She thought that Menashe’s blessings were exclusively for him, and that Ephraim’s was solely his. She could not put the two together, as her mind was accustomed to Greek-style categorizations. Comprehending the integration of the two blessings as one in the life of the father, and their (prophetic) extension to the entire House of Yoseph, was beyond her scope. It was amazing to watch, but it provided an opportunity that demonstrated how much in need we are of the renewal of the mind.

In the Scriptures, a word of prophecy is living and active, and even though unseen, it does not fade away just because we think it had seen its full realization in a specific historical even. A fulfillment of a prophetic word, therefore, in a certain episode does not exhaust YHVH’s ultimate purpose for that word. We many times limit the prophetic range of His Word by subjecting it to our rational Hellenistic thinking. Asking ourselves the Who, What, When, Where and How is a very effective way to study the Scriptures, but we must always inquire of the Holy Spirit to give us His understanding as well, for although the Word relates to time it is not bound by it, for it is interminable. There is some wise counsel in the book of proverbs that says: “Trust in YHVH with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him” (Prov. 3:5-6a). This is especially true while reading and studying His Word.

What’s in a name, could very well express why the sages gave this title, “Shemot”, to the book, which we incorrectly call “Exodus”. We have noted in previous letters that names are very significant, as can be seen in the burning bush scene, where YHVH is introducing Himself to Moshe. “Then YHVH said, ‘Do not draw near this place. Take your shoes off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the Elohim of your fathers--the Elohim of Avraham, the Elohim of Yitzhak, and the Elohim of Ya’acov.’ And Moshe hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon Elohim” (Shemot 3:5-6). YHVH was identifying Himself by the names of Moshe’s forefathers, (notice there is no concept of grandfathers or great grandfathers, just as there is none with seeds coming out of one father; it too is singular). The Creator, for the first time was introducing Himself by name to a man. Here is the scriptural rendering of this episode: “Then Moshe said to the Elohim ‘Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, `the Elohim of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, `what is His name?' what shall I say to them?’. And the Elohim said to Moshe, ‘I will be whom I will be’” (commonly translated “I AM”), which is an all inclusive, but a somewhat evasive and obscure title. Seeing that the Elohim is the “all in all” of life, He could be known by many names. In other words, Elohim is saying to Moshe, ‘everything that you are experiencing in this present moment of your conscious life is Me’. Then He continued, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, `I AM has sent me to you.'" What a way to dispel the darkness, by believing that God is all in all, that He is my life and the first cause of my experiences! Paul said it another way, as he addressed the seekers of knowledge in the Areopagus in Athens, to whom he explained who their “unknown God” was: “The One who made the world and everything in it, and Who is Lord of heaven and earth, and does not dwell in temples made with hands, nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needs nothing, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things…for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:24-25,28). In other words “He is all and in all” (Col. 3:11).

YHVH knew that the sons of Israel could not identify, nor understand that name alone, so He combined the “I AM” with the names of the Patriarchs, which is the name He chose to be His witness, His memorial, His inheritance, His name sake. “Moreover He said to Moses, ‘thus you shall say to the children of Israel: `YHVH the Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Avraham, the Elohim of Yitzhak, and the Elohim of Ya’acov, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.'” (Shemot 3:15-16). Is His name to be remembered as “I Am”, or is His name to be known as “Elohey Avraham, Elohey Yitzhak,and Elohey Yisrael?

Moses went back to Egypt with very explicit instructions: “Tell Pharaoh (the prince and ruler of all Egypt) that Israel is My son, My first born, then go in My name to deliver My son (singular) so that they (Israel the many-membered son) may serve Me”. (Ex. 4:22-23). Moses received his name by being “drawn out” of the water. We too have been drawn out of the waters of darkness and have been called, like Moses, to carry a message to the Pharaoh of this world, the prince and power of the air. “Israel is My son, My first born, the first fruit of the new creation life. I am calling them to return to Zion and fulfill their destiny as a “royal priesthood and a holy nation, a people for My name sake to serve Me in the Land.” Go, in the name that is above every name, for I AM, YHVH!


“Then the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel shall be gathered together, and appoint for themselves one head; and they shall come up out of all the nations from which they have gone, and return to the land of their fathers. For great is the day of Jezreel!” (paraphrased from Hos. 1:11)