Saturday, November 26, 2011

Opening the Seals

Opening the Seals

Growing up in a Christian environment, then later becoming a “spirit filled” believer I learned that Yeshua is always before the father interceding on our behalf. Every time I went to repent and take communion, I had in my mind the picture of Yeshua on hands and knees pleading with the Father to forgive me. However, having returned to the whole counsel of YHVH, reading and studying the Torah, I now have a different image of our High Priest as He stands before Elohim. Let us take a look at two of His ‘vestments’ which will put into perspective how we are represented before YHVH.

The description of the high priest’s regalia in Exodus 28:11-12; 36 and 39:30 features an item which is rendered like (the “like” being added by the translators) engravings of a signet. The reference here is to the two onyx stones that were placed on his shoulders, with the names of the tribes etched on them as “memorial stones for the sons of Israel” (verse 12). In this way, the high priest would approach YHVH on behalf of His people. The second item that is rendered in an identical manner has to do with the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, which was inscribed with “Holiness to YHVH,” also like “an engraving of a signet.” Here too it says, “it shall always be on his forehead, that they [Israel] may be accepted before YHVH.”

“Like an engraving of a signet” is rendered “pituchey chotam” in Hebrew - the engravings of a seal. Digging a little deeper, we discover that whereas “chotam” is a seal, “pituchey” (engravings of…) originates from the root (peh, tav, chet) meaning “to open” or “opening.” So, how is it that a “seal” and an “opening” signify the onyx stones as well as the engraving upon the high priest’s crown? Do these two seemingly opposing terms allude to something beyond that which meets the eye? Do they make their ‘joint appearance’ elsewhere in Scripture?

In Job, for example, there are descriptions of YHVH meting out justice to the earth’s inhabitants on the one hand, and controlling the order of the universe on the other. It says that He shakes the ends of the earth (as one would shake a tablecloth), turning it over like one would a clay seal. This is the “shaking” of the wicked off the earth (ref. 38:13-14). In verse 31 He declares that He is the One who “loosens the belt of Orion.” The literal Hebrew word there for loosening is “opening.”

Not coincidentally, the bride in Solomon’s Song is likened to a sealed fountain (4:12), while she herself implores her beloved to set her as a seal upon [His] heart” and “a seal upon [His] arm” (8:6). He, on the other hand, “knocks, saying, ‘Open for me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one…’” (5:2).

Interestingly, the two forefathers of the first fruit remnant, Judah and Joseph, were also ‘marked,’ respectively, by “pituchey-chotam” – opening and seal. “When the famine was over all the face of the earth … Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians” (Genesis 41:56). However, he would not have been able to do all that had he not been “freed by the ruler of the people” (ref. Psalms 105:20). “Freed” or “let go” there is literally “and it was opened up for him.” When Tamar, in her act of righteousness, masqueraded as a whore, she demanded that Judah leave with her several pledges. One of those was a “seal” (ref. Genesis 38:18), without which she could not have proven her innocence.

Thus we see that whether Israel is depicted as a bride with her beloved Bridegroom, or in the ‘form’ of the ‘two houses,’ Yeshua’s seals and their ‘openings’ are being featured in relationship to His people.

The next encounter with opening and seals is found in Revelation Chapter 5, where only Yeshua is seen worthy of opening the seals of the “book.” What was it that enabled Yeshua to carry out this most important task, which no one else could execute? “For You were slain, and have redeemed us to Elohim by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our Elohim; and we shall reign on the earth" (5:9-10). That which qualified Him to open the seals was what He had accomplished by having given up His life, redeeming for His Father those who are to be kings and priests and who would reign on earth.

As we know, there were seven seals altogether. Upon opening the first four, dire calamities and disasters were unleashed upon the earth, as did the opening of the sixth one. Before the opening of the seventh seal, we encounter “seals” once again. Remember Job’s “four corners of the earth”? In Revelation 7:1-4 we read about the “… four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth…Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living Elohim. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our Elohim on their foreheads.’ And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed…” (emphasis added). “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…” (7:9).

In the “opening of the seals,” Elohim is starting to give free rein so that disasters could plague our planet, for the sake of those who are represented by the two ‘opened-seal’ onyx stones, while at the same time opening a process of sealing these ones whose stones His High Priest Son is bearing before Him.

A few years ago, a warning went out that Turkey was going to become a major player in the “axis of evil.” Yes, we need to watch for wars and the rumors of wars as Yeshua said, but we also must know that our High Priest is standing before the Father with the onyx stones, on His shoulders and the golden band with “Holiness unto YHVH” on His forehead. Yeshua is in charge of opening the seals, and for the timing thereof while having us, His beloved Israel right at the focus of these events.

Let us of the redeemed remnant who have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, who are privileged to be incorporated into this age-old ongoing process, sing this Shabbat along with the twenty-four elders: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing... be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!" (Revelation 5:12-13). Let the Joshua and Caleb companies stay steadfast and immovable always abounding in the work of YHVH, with our King of kings and High Priest marching ahead during these troublesome times!