Tehillim 145:18 “YHWH is near to ALL who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” My journey in discovering the attributes of Yahweh began last year when I fell horribly ill. Not only was I ill but my life was a dizzying ball of anxiety and fear. It was in these moments where Yah came for me so dramatically and where I learned the depth of the different sides of Him. Our God is a multi – faceted, complex, wonderful God who is AWE – some! It is in our times of deepest sadness, sorrow, tribulation or distress where we often truly learn about the different attributes of Yahweh. I am on a journey in discovering and enjoying these attributes of Yah but I have been led to share with you by the leading of His Ruach, personal meditations on these different attributes. May it strengthen you as you walk with this Wonderful God and His Precious Son, our Savior Messiah Yeshua...... Shalom in Him!
November 12, 2013
YHWH – Shalom
Let’s face it, all of us will at one some point in our lives, face a crisis situation. It could be sickness, loss of some kind, trauma, death, an accident, something fearful or life threatening. It may even be facing up to fear itself by doing something completely out of your comfort zone, like speaking in front of a crowd when you fear speaking in public. Crisis, trauma or fearful circumstances take various forms, the one thing they all have in common however, is the ability to strip us of peace and a sound mind if we allow it to. Fear or anxiety seems part of life, while the occasional stressful or fearful situation may blow in announced, for others anxiety may be a routine part of life, with debilitating consequences. In psychology we call this, anxiety disorder.
Just this morning I was reading about a particular individual mentioned in the Brit Chadasah (Renewed Covenant). This particular individual was named John Mark and I happened to pick up his story through the exchange between Rav Shaul (Paul) and Barnabas in Acts 15:36-41. In this particular situation Shaul and Barnabas are in a heated disagreement with regards to their second missionary journey. Barnabas insists that they take along a useful assistant named John Mark, Shaul however flatly refuses. This disagreement results in a split between Shaul and Barnabas, both go their separate ways and both set off on separate mission trips. The split in decision came about as a result of John Mark’s behaviour on the first missionary trip these guys took together. John Mark deserted these men after their very first stop and he ran back to his home in Jerusalem.
Barnabas is willing to give John Mark a second chance (John Mark was in fact Barnabas’ nephew) but Shaul was adamant about John Marks inability to change. Shaul was proved wrong some years later and these men were eventually reunited and worked side by side for the Kingdom (Colossians 4:10). John Mark, although he had hit the ground running on the first trip, he later went on to become a trusted, second generation pillar and leader within the Netzari community. He went on to work with Kepha, Shaul and Barnabas and he wrote the gospel of Mark, dedicated to recounting the life and works of Messiah Yeshua.
What made John Mark run initially from such a gallant task? I believe it was “fear.” Fear of the unknown, John Mark was young and missionary trips are not for the weak of faith. This led me to thinking about another young man, an unlikely, fearful hero named Gideon. When the Messenger of Yah appeared to Gideon at Oprah, He greeted Gideon by saying “Yahweh is with you, brave man” (Judges 6). Gideon himself spins around and responds with “me brave? You must be looking for someone else!” Gideon was fearful, anxious, and timid; much like John Mark, Gideon was always running, and I think these characters are much like some of us sometimes and that is okay. It is okay because the Messenger of Yah does not greet Gideon by calling out who Gideon is rather, He greets Gideon by calling him what He will become. He greets Him through the eyes of God and there is a huge difference between how Yah sees us and who we will be, as opposed to how we see ourselves and who we think we are. But the change comes in us only when we push through and push in to Him.
Gideon fearful and small, received the reassurance that most of us desire, the reassurance that we can “calm down, your God is with me, you will not die, do not fear.” Armed with this reassurance, Gideon built an altar there to Yahweh and called God – YHWH Shalom. Do you notice the fact that Gideon did not call Yahweh – the God who gives peace but he rightly proclaimed that YAHWEH HIMSELF IS PEACE. Allow that to sink in for a moment. Our God, the One we know and serve – He alone is the peace we so desperately crave, He Himself is a beautiful, perfect peace. Yahweh gave us that perfect way of Peace when He gave us the promised Messiah.
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 11:10
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.
Yochanan (John) 16:33
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you willhave tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Yeshayahu 12: 2 -3
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. YHWH himself, is my strength and my defence, He has become my salvation.With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
There is no shame or guilt in feeling afraid sometimes, or feeling anxious or getting scared. In those times and moments Yah opens His arms to us and says come, come in to the arms of the One who Himself is Shalom, perfect peace. Yeshua promises us that peace is our portion; we need to run in to Him and in to His promise of peace. He is Yahweh – Shalom, let His peace enfold you and allow yourself to be held by Him and to be seen by Him as the one who has victory over all your fears. Allow Him to wash you, to mould you and to enfold you; until you finally become the brave, fearless, pillar and warrior that you are!
Our God of Peace is always near to us – where are you running with your fears today? Maybe it is time to change direction.......
November 27, 2013
A Comforting Mother
Tehillim / Psalm 17: 6 - 8
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings...
I love sitting outside on the veranda outside my house. During the summer months we have some visitors in the form of some very naughty birds that nest in our gutter. They nest in an overhanging area that is too far up from the ground so we have little choice but to leave them there.
While sitting outside one afternoon I heard the familiar sound of the baby birds cheeping frantically for their mom. When I looked up at the nesting area, the mother bird popped out of her hole and took off at a high speed. About a minute later she was back, but not empty handed or should I say – empty beaked. She had returned with food in her mouth, but before she jumped back in to the nest she very cleverly perched on a tree about 10 metres from the nest and her beady eyes scanned the air waves for predators. After some time she popped over to the nest dropped the food off and in to baby beaks and off she sped again. I watched this scene for over an hour and a half until I grew tired from her exhausting, conscientious flight.
As I sat marvelling at the committed faithfulness of this mother bird – I heard Abba Yahweh say something so precious to me. He told me how much he loves His children and how He is so much like that comforting mother bird. He is always working on our behalf, always feeding, always taking care of our enemies, always on the lookout for predators seeking to overtake us and always caring so pedantically about His children.
When I turned to His word, I found so many revelations of this nature of Yah, that it struck me as so comforting and so awe – inspiring that our God is not only our Father but He is also our Mother. Faithfully providing and taking care of us even when we cannot see it.
Tehillim 17 says that God keeps us as His apple and He hides us underneath the shadow of His wings. Devarim (Deuteronomy) 32: 10 – 11 echo similar thoughts, one cannot doubt that David who penned Tehillim 17, drew inspiration from this piece of Torah for his psalm.
Devarim 32: 10 - 11
In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.
On a deeper level, the wings often referred to in the Tehillim (Psalms) can stand as a symbol of the Taliet of Yahweh. The Rabbi’s of old suggest that God drapes Himself in a taliet (prayer shawl) of Light, which He uses to cover His children with. He pulls each one of His beloved children underneath His arm, so that His taliet is wrapped around them as a covering of protection. Essentially when a mother bird pulls her young in and underneath her wings, she is shielding them with her own body, with her own life and heartbeat, with her own being. The state of being a child in the arms of a loving parent is much like that state of being in your mother’s wings; it is a state of peace and comfort, fear is absent and love is present.
I want to leave you with one final thought. Genesis 1: 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
The Spirit of Yah hovered like a bird over the face of the waters, this image of the Ruach is the same image found in Devarim 32. It is the image of a soaring mother who cares for its young. You see, Yahweh cared for each one of us even before we were born. He planned our existence, the very moment of our birth, the very essence and timing of everything was held in His Hand, along with His Love and protection. Today we live in a world wrought with fear and pain this is because the world has turned its back on the only One who could ever care for them. For us who know our King and Saviour, we can rest in the fact that our God never slumbers or sleeps concerning us. No beloved, our God is pedantically feeding us, caring for us and protecting us, rest in His wings today and allow Him to feed you, nurture you and safeguard you from the troubles of this life. He is the only One who truly cares and who is qualified to be the best mother ever!
Shalom in Messiah!
January 20, 2014
YHWH – Tzur
The new year had just begun and I already had mountains to face, they looked overwhelming – so much so that despair was all around me. The Tehillim always lift me up and give me hope in times of hardship and confusion, so I opened the book of Psalms and began reading. A bible scholar once told me that a Psalm does not start in verse 1 but it starts right at the first line, which usually says something like “the prayer of Moses the man of God (Psalm 90) or “for the director of music, a Psalm of David (Psalm 4).” The introductory line is just as important to the Psalm as the rest of the verses are, because that line fills in the context of the Psalm.
While reading Tehillim, I was led to Psalm 142. It is a Psalm of deep anguish; it is a Psalm of desperation, of darkness and the desire for Gods salvation. The Psalm opens with the words “a maskil written by David in the cave.” These first lines grabbed me and I just let them hang in the air. Inside I felt as though I was in a cave – because a cave is a place of darkness, there is no light in a cave and there is no foresight or knowledge of escape. The Hebrew word for cave is Me’arah it means a place of desolation, no possessions, a place of nakedness and poverty. The root word for cave is the word naked, Arom.
David was running away from his arch enemy king Saul when he decided to hide in a cave in a place called Ein Gedi in the Dead Sea region. David understood what the Hebrews knew to be true, that a cave was not only a dark, desolate physical place but it also resembled a dark, desolate place within your soul. David was running desperately from a man (and an army) who were intent on taking David’s life. While pressed up against the cold, moist, slippery walls of the cave David felt hopeless and in despair. His heart was thumping in his chest and he was sweating in anguish but the situation was about to get worse – in walked his nemesis Saul himself. David was caught up in that naked place of desolation – crushed and perplexed by the weight of death. Interestingly enough – the Hebrew word for Sheol the place of death is also referred to as a cave. However, David did the one thing we should all do in times of trouble and despair – he cried out to the One who is the solid Rock. He cried out to YHWH –Tzur for deliverance and David was saved from his troubles and eventually crowned king of Israel. The same has been true for me in my situation, YHWH has showed up with miracles and each day I choose to cling to the Rock and turn my face towards the light, already life is returning and my soul is being renewed.
Tehillim / Psalm 18:1
YHWH is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in which I take refuge, my shield and the hornof my salvation, my stronghold.
Tehillim / Psalm 144:1
Praise be to YHWH my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.
If you are in a dark place, a place that is like a rocky cavern or a dark cave – do not cling to rock of fear, or despair rather push up and cry out to the Rock who is always steadfast. He will give you a divine exchange. He promises that those who hope and trust in Him will never be put to shame! He promises us beauty for ashes and the oil of joy instead of mourning, He promises a garment of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness and He promises to be there for us always.
There is a special Psalm that comforts me in times of trouble, it goes like this “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy (Psalm 62).”
Stand up and call out to YHWH – Tzur, our Rock who is in control of all things, you may just find that you have been in a dark cave but yet standing on the Rock all along.
Shalom in Messiah Aliyah*
The Hope of Israel
Proverbs 3:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”
Hope, what is hope? What does it look like? What does it feel like? And how can the lack of hope make the heart sick or depressed? To begin to answer these questions, we must first look at the Hebrew meaning of the word for hope. In Hebrew the word for hope is tikvah, it can be translated as hope or as a cord, it first appears in the story of Rahab and the scarlet thread which saved the lives of the Israelite spies. The root word for tikvah is kavah which means to look for, to wait for, or to hope.
If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that the world around us is a world filled with hopelessness, mankind is lost. Daily, the moral decay and senseless reality of life is reflected in newspaper articles and in magazines. Hopelessness is etched on the faces and in the hearts of the people; depression is at its all time high. Almost every person I meet out on the street is on an anti-depressant or a sleeping tablet; their lives are deformed by the form of hopelessness. There is no joy, no real happiness or true love. The heart of man is truly sick because their hope is not only deferred, it is completely lost. There is only one true Hope and Rabbi Shaul (Paul) was the one to proclaim it to us, this hope is the focus of this article.
Acts 28:20 “I asked you to come here today so we could get acquainted and so I could explain to you that I am bound with this chain because I believe that the Hope of Israel-- the Messiah--has already come."
There is only one Hope, the Hope of Israel and all mankind and that hope is Messiah Yeshua. Hope is a cord with which we are to be bound to Him, though our situations get tough and our seas get rough, we do not see as the world sees, rather we have the hope and the trust that Messiah Yeshua is with us in every situation. We are tied to Him with a cord of Hope. That cord of hope is the cord of salvation, a cord of deliverance – for Father has promised us that “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). The Talmud (Jewish oral tradition) states that after 30 CE (round the year Yeshua died) the scarlet thread that would turn white during the Yom Kippur service, never turned white again even until the temple was destroyed. This meant that the goat offered on Yom Kippur was never accepted by Yahweh, for the sins of Israel. This is because Yeshua was the only acceptable sacrifice that Yahweh required and He gave us the promise that through hope in Him, His life and His death – our scarlet sins and hearts, would be turned white representing purity. Through the Hope of Israel, all mankind was given a way back to the Father and through this Hope, we have hope. Hope that gets us through every tough test and every messy situation.
The Hope of Israel
Not only do we have daily hope for our lives, but we also have eternal hope – for the coming age when we will be with the Father eternally! For now, Yeshua’s stake is our place of refuge and hope, when we are weary and feeling as though hope is lost within us, we can rest assured that we can go and sit under the stake of Yeshua and drink from Him – new Life and Hope. May the One who is the Hope of Israel become your reality today and every day.
Listen to me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek Yahweh: look to the rock whence you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for when he was but one I called him, and I blessed him, and made him many.