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Month 1:21, Week 3:6 (Sheshi/Kippur), Year:Day 5936:021 AM
HIGH SABBATH, Chag haMatzah (Firstfruits): Annual Moed #2, Day #7
Gregorian Calendar: Thursday 12 April 2012
Chag haMatzah 2012 VII
Jacob's Delight & the Gardener

    Continued from Part 7

      "There will be on every high mountain and on every high hill rivers and streams of waters, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that Yahweh binds up the bruise of His people and heals the stroke of their wound" (Isa.30:25-26, NKJV).

    Shabbat shalom brethren and sisters as we gather today as commanded to celebrate the seventh and final day of Chag haMatzah or the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As today's text reminds up, the seventh day is the day of healing, of the binding up of the wound of Israel. It is the day of completion. The seventh day of Chag haMatzah represents an end to the battle against sin. It is a day of restoration.

    I have called today's address to you, Jacob's Delight, because this is what Yahweh spoke to me early this morning when I was praying about about the davar (word) I should delivere to you all today. A little over three years ago I gave a series of key addresses called Jacob's Trouble which traces the history of the patriarch and the nation Yahweh founded through him. In it, we saw how how his unspiritual rival brother usurped his new name Israel, his authority, his glory and even his own family, stealing his 'wives' and children and claiming them to be his own. Any man experiencing such a thing is undoubtedly going to experience enormous grief - King David certainly did when his son Absalom usurped his kingdom, defiled some of his wives, and even sought to kill his own father. Absalom - what an irony that his name should mean 'Father of Peace' when he was the father of discord, misery and death.

    Chag haMatzah is the festival of sevenfold purification. When a thief stole from another, he was required to repay seven times what he stole:

      "People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving. Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; he may have to give up all the substance of his house" (Prov.6:30-31, NKJV).

    There are consequences for law-breaking even after we have received forgiveness from Yahweh for our sins through the blood of Yah'shua (Jesus). Just as murdering someone has repercussions beyond the actual death of the one whose life has been stolen - the grief and suffering of family and friends that can last the rest of their lives - so there are consequences for sin even after we have received pardon from the Throne of Grace. David committed adultery and murdered, the two most heinous sins in Yahweh's eyes, he repended in tears long and hard, and was forgiven, but the repercussions in his family and the nation over which he had charge lasted all his life and beyond. We must never, therefore, suppose that grace is cheap - a 'quick fix' for our stupidity, for it is not. Our mistakes - even after heavenly pardon - can last us all the days of our life. So never fool around with sin.

    The good news of Chag haMatzah is that even this can be fixed, but it is symbolically a 'seven year-long' purification. Purifiction and the zeal we are to have to be purified, is not just about the individual, but also about the family, the local community, the nation and ultimately the world, because we are all inter-connected. The reason Yahweh has to purge humanity at the very end, destroying a third of all human beings, is precicely because the whole community has to be purified and those who refuse will, like the proverbial rotten apple, spoil the rest unless extracted. That is why there is a judgment at the end into three primary kingdoms, as we have discussed in depth before, and why the third and lowest kingdom consists of literally thousands of mini-kingdoms.

    The seventh day of Chag haMatzah foreshadows the seven-day festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles) which is the Marriage Celebration of the Passover Lamb. Today is a foreshadowing of it and a reminder that even though we are far away from the Final Sukkot that we can nevertheless still taste its delights now. Life is six parts struggle and one part rest. Because we, who belong to Messiah, are still Jacob in the fleshy nature as we struggle with our sins, just as he did with the angel at Peniel, we are also Israel the Redeemed because of our trusting in Messiah. By our trusting we are empowered to overcome by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) dwelling in us. Though much of our life consists of 'Jacob's Trouble' a part of is consistently 'Jacob's Delight'. That part of us which is at rest and enjoying its inner sabbath enables us to continue the struggle to be purified until all is at rest.

      "Delight yourself also in Yahweh, and He shall give you the desires of your lev (heart)" (Ps.37:4, NKJV).

    It is with this redeemed part that we must approach Yahweh, not the fleshy part immersed in Jacob's troubles, and it is with this redeemed part that the righteous desires of our lev (heart) are granted by Him. Chag haMatzah is a reminder that we must grow step-wise, from one degree of sanctification to another, building upon that which we have surrendered to Yah'shua (Jesus) and which is saved, not yielding to the cravings of the fallen Adamic part on which we must continue to act until all is purfified by the blood of the Paschal Lamb.

    Having said that. I wish evangelicals hearing and listening to me to know that our security is assured provided:

    • 1. We have been born again - which is what Yom haBikkuruim is all about; and
    • 2. Keep our eyes on Yah'shua (Jesus) and are moving towards Him.

    To be secure in Him does not mean that we are 100% perfect nor does it mean that every little sin or failure means we have had it. Grace is extended to us while we continue to work out the fullness of salvation as represented by this seventh day of Chag haMatzah, which is presided over by the Ruach haShibi'i - the Seventh Ruach (Spirit) - who also presides over and represents Sukkot, the completion and end of our struggle that leads to our wholeness and perfection as human beings.

    Our security is in our initial - and most important - salvation...the moment we make a choice to trust Him fully, be immersed in Him by the Ruach (Spirit) (as represented symbolically by water baptism)...is what guarantees we are in right relationship with Him provided we do not cease the struggle, stagnate, and fall uncontrollably backwards into the dark pit of unsalvation again.

    This emet (strikes) hard against the doctrine of Calvinism, of which we spoke yesterday which would have you believe that no matter what you do, you can never lose your salvation - the 'once saved, always saved' lie. That is one reason I am implaccably opposed to Calvinism.

    The fact that you are trusting in Yah'shua (Jesus) and still struggling to work out your salvation is the proof that you are secure and will make it, no matter how long it may take. It's when you quit and fall back into Satan's realm that you need to be fearful. And even though, if you fall deep, you will always in some part of you retain a memory of your encounter with Yah'shua (Jesus), to which you can return to and resume the journey any time - if you let go enough you will forget and you will get lost. And yes, it is true, that someone who has been saved before does have an advantage, in one way, over the one who has never been saved...because they can recall the signs of salvation which the never-before-saved person has no experience of; but in another way they are at a disadvantage for the one who is in ignorance is not held to account by Yahweh and it is as though they had never sinned. Yahweh winks at their days of ignorance (Ac.17:30).

    So I want to first begin by assuring those who are struggling that what you are doing is normal and that this does not mean you have lost your salvation, or that you need to fear you might. Provided you have a repentant lev (heart) and return to Him and keep walking toward Him, you will make it. The seven festivals of Chag haMatzah are in part to remind you that this struggle may take a lifetime - it usually does - because Yahweh has tailor-made our life curriculum to fit into a life-span! Those whom He removes early from the race by taking them in death He does either because:

    • 1. They were too pure to remain here long;
    • 2. They were too weak and would have lost their salvation had they remained;
    • 3. They have fulfilled their mission; or
    • 4. Some other reason.

    Yahweh is, in any case, perfectly just and additionally provides that those who are cut short in years are given the opportunity to grow to full maturity and complete their span in the Millennium or by some other means. I share this for those who may have lost a little one, are grieving or are blaming themselves for what has happened. It is the Most High who alots our life spans for reasons known only to Himself.

    Jacob's delight consists in doing right and adhering to emet (truth), ahavah (love) and righteousness no matter what. Sometimes we have little more than a thread to cling onto, but cling onto that nonetheless. You will be justified and live to be satisfied that you did, even when everything has seemed utterly bleak. And Jacob's delight becomes Israel's delight when, for the faithful believer, the journey is completed. Jacob, like Messiah, is of one consistent spiritual disposition:

      "Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear" (Heb.5:7, NKJV).

    Though it has been a cold spring recently and our hopes of being outside to enjoy the post-winter weather have been dashed for a while, we are definitely approaching summer. This goes for us in our spiritual cycles too - we are approaching not only our last, seventh day of Chag haMatzah but one of the many 'sevenths' allotted to us throughout life.

    Anna Hart [1] tells the story of a man called Joel who was angry. He loved his garden in which he worked hard with loving care and attention to detail. He pruned his plants when needed, watered and muched, and protected them from the extremes of weather. So it was with a mixture of shock and disbelief that he stared at the disaster in front of him. His attempt at grafting had failed. What could at best be described as a 'dry twig' was brown and incapable of surviving, let alone thriving and producing fruit. Despire years of experience he had a failure on his hands, and Joel conceded he could do no more and that the best place for it was the compost heap.

    It's a fact. Grafting doesn't always work. It is used to try to combine two plants, usually to unite the strong and healthy system of one with a branch or shoot of the other. In biblical times it was common to graft olive trees. Wild olves would grow quite easily, with strong root systems, but with poor fruit. By contrast, cultivated olives could produce very good fruit but were not always strong. By grafting part of a cultivated olive into the wild olive the gardener could produce a plant that was strong and healthy, and which also produced good and plentiful fruit. Scripture uses this principle to teach us about obedience and how to be saved.

    The biblical Israelites - those descended from Jacob, the grandson of Abraham - were chosen to be Yahweh's people. Abraham was, of couse, a wonderful man with great emunah (faith), and described as the "friend of Elohim (God)" (Jas.2:23).

    We all know what happened down the centuries, and of the strengths and weaknesses of the Israelies and the individual tribes descended from the four wives of Jacob who were all very different in temprement. They all had the same, equal opportunities but not all chose to do what was right. They were warned that if they were faithful they would enjoy peace and prosperity (Dt.28:1-14) but that if they were disobedient and rebelled they would be taken into captivity (Dt.28:15-36). In the end they chose to disobey and to ignore His mitzvot (commandments).

    Yahweh is often likened to a Gardener and His people to a vine or to other plants. Yahweh required obedience from His people and this is likened to the plants producing good fruit. The prophet Isaiah describes the loving care Yahweh gave to His people - pictured as a vine - and His sadness at the poor fruit:

      "He dug it up and cleared out its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, and also made a winepress in it; so He expected it to bring forth good grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, please, between Me and My vineyard. What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes?" (Isa.5:2-4, NKJV).

    Yahweh was, and still is, the Perfect Gardener but the plant (the Israelite nation) did not bring forth good fruit. In spite of there being faithful individuals, the efforts of numerous prophets sent by Yahweh were of no avail as the Israelite people degenerated into disbelief and disobedience and were at length taken away into captivity. Years later a few of them of the tribe of Judah did return to the Promised Land but were still not fruitful. They demonstrated this in rejecting Yah'shua (Jesus) when He came. When Yah'shua (Jesus) cursed the unfruitful fruit tree and it whithered up and died (Mt.21:18-22), it was to indicate that the Kingdom Mandate given to the House of Judah was permanently at an end. And yet, in what can only be described as an act of complete insanity and willful disobedience all of its own, messianics and evangelicals alike are turning back to the House of Judah for inspiration and salvation. These were the people who cried out for Messiah to be crucified despite the fact He had declared Himself to be that promised Deliverer - the special descendant of Abraham - who was sent by Elohim (God) to be their King (Gal.3:16; Lk.1:32-33).

    By Yahweh's grace, this apparent disaster has actually been turned around for the good by a means - that Yahweh had planned from the beginning - which is horrific to those of a racially supremacist mindset. He called the Goyim or Gentiles - the non-Israelite peoples - and gave them a fantastic opportunity:

      "For as you (Gentiles) were once disobedient to Elohim (God), yet have now obtained mercy through their (the Judahites') disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy" (Rom.11:30-31, NKJV).

    In other words, new blood was introduced into Israel to counteract Israelite deficiencies! In his letter to the believers in Rome, Paul writes about these Gentile believers, likening them to wild olive branches grafted on the olive tree of Israel:

      "And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you" (Rom.11:17-18, NKJV).

    This analogoy is unusual because the Gardener is grafting wild olive branches onto the cultivated tree, to replace brances which He has broken off. This is "contrary to nature" (Rom.11:24, NKJV), and is probably depicted like this to emphasise the efforts to which Yahweh will go in order to save people. He does all He possibly can.

    Many marriages arranged by Yahweh also at times seem "contrary to nature" but that is because Yahweh has a greater plan that the unprophetic, unspiritual, carnal eye cannot see. Even in ordinary life, you can get connected to the most unlikely business partners but who together work the magic to make a company thrive. It requires great work to keep them together, just as it does the Gardener to keep a wild olive branch grafted into a cultivated tree. Meditate on this and you will see all kinds of fascinating truths! Yahweh has brought together ex-prostitutes like Rahab and wild blood like the Moabitess Ruth into matrimonial alliances with Yahweh's elect in order to produce extraordinary offspring! So do not despise unusual alliances by the world's standards! Nevertheless, those of the wild stock are warned not to boast because of the weaknesses and deficiencies of the cultivated stock:

      "Do not be haughty, but fear. For if Elohim (God) did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of Elohim (God): on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off" (Rom.11:20-22, NKJV).

    Indeed, let us well consider the goodness and severity of our Elohim (God)! The nation of Israel had agreed to obey Yahweh, but they failed. The offer of salvation is now offered to Israelites and Gentiles alike - on exactly the same terms. But we have no place to be proud or complacent. Yahweh did not spare the unfruitful olive branches of faithless Israel, so He will be - and has been - just as severe with faithless Gentiles. However, if we accept His offer and then continue to be faithful, He is kind and merciful.

    Abraham was promised the land for ever and in Hebrews 11 we are told that he will be given eternal life when all of Yahweh's promises are fulfilled. If we want to take part in the blessings promised to Abraham we need to have an active, obedient emunah (faith), like that of Abraham. Even after the horrors of their captivity in Babylon, the Judahites argued to Yah'shua (Jesus) that they had a special status with Elohim (God) because they were descended by birth from Abraham. However, Yah'shua (Jesus) retorted that the true descendants of Abraham were those who have emunah (faith) like Abraham:

      "They answered and said to Him, 'Abraham is our father.' Yah'shua (Jesus) said to them, If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham'" (John 8:39, NKJV).

    None of us deserve salvation. We have all done wrong - sinned - and so we all deserve death. Yahweh offers us the gift of eternal life and we need to do what He says in order to receive this amazing gift. The map shown in the festivals shows us exactly how to do this.

    Joel was an experienced gardener, but his grafting failed, and the plant died. Yahweh is the perfect Gardener and He does all He can, even by seemingly 'unnatural' means, to save us. He can do no more. Now it is up to each of us to try and do as He asks.

    Yah'shua (Jesus) told the Judahites, and those who claim to be them but who are not that because they had not received Him as their King they would lose their spedcial status:

      "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of Elohim (God) will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it" (Matt.21:43, NKJV).

    That nation is the Tribe of Joseph who has the toqef (authority) to organise the Kingdom in the last days. It will be recognised by its wisdom, truth-telling, ahavah (love) and spiritual power. It is arising everywhere in various stages of development. They - like everyone else claiming to be following Yah'shua (Jesus) must bear fruit to the glory and honour of Yahweh. And the fruit Yahweh wants is a changed life, purged of the leaven of sin by zealous purification through overcoming, as we try to love like Yah'shua (Jesus) IN Yah'shua (Jesus) (Gal.5:22-24), free of malice, hypocrisy and any notions of racial superiority. For the Nation of Joseph is, first and foremost, a set of character traits born of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit).

    I hope that you have had a blessed and rewarding Chag haMatzah and I look forward to be with you again at the summer festival of Shavu'ot (Weeks/Pentecost) on the 28th day of the fourth month (that's 17 July this year). May Yahweh bless you all!


    [1] Anna Hart, Don't Blame the Gardener! in Glad Tidings of the Kingdom of God (No.1535, pp.12-14)

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