Month 9:01, Rosh Chodesh, Year:Day 5937:238 AM|
ROSH CHODESH IX (Teshi'i haChodesh)
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 3 December 2013
Rosh Chodesh IX
Priorities of the Machazichim
Chag sameach Rosh Chodesh kol beit Yisra'el and may the grace and shalom (peace) of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) be upon you all.
Actual and Imminent Disasters All Around
As watchmen upon the towers of Israel we are all watching - or ought to be watching - for the signs of impending danger. There is a great deal to be scanned, isn't there? We are watching for signs that the economy is about to implode and note that things are getting worse not better; we are watching the skies for comets (ISON) and rogue dwarf stars (Nibiru) and have noted that meteorites and fire balls are becoming more frequent along with earthquakes and floods; and we are watching our lawless politicians and rulers so that we may know what to do and when. We're also very, very concerned about Fukushima which may actually be the greatest physical danger of all we are facing as it's increasingly looking as though a complete meltdown is inevitable and unstoppable - the whole of the Pacific Rim is in danger. So great is this disaster that it may destroy nations and entire biological habitats - it wouldn't surprise me if most of Japan and much of the Philippines isn't evacuated to those empty cities in China and most on the west coast of the USA and Alaska have to be evacuated eastwards. Marine life is moving east across the Pacific to avoid all the contaimation in the west.
Watching Your Spirits
But above all we are - or should be - watching our spirits and guarding the mitzvot (commandments) to make sure that we are walking on the Derech (Way) as we ought to be and we are - or ought to be - continuing to fulfil the commission to win souls for the King and the Kingdom.
Yahweh's Instructions Through Nehemiah Part 1
Upon their return from exile in Babylon to the devastated but still promised land, the leaders gathered the people together and made sure that what mattered was what got done. Though the context is the Old Covenant  the principles and divine tavnith (pattern) are still applicable in the New. We're going to run through some of these verses so that we, as a people, can get our priorities focussed. I want you to especuially notice what the priorities were:
General Priority: Guard the Commandments
"Now the rest of the people -- the cohenim (priests), the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim (temple assistants), and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Torah (Law) of Elohim (God), their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding -- these (the machazichim, separated ones) joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in Elohim's (God's) Torah (Law), which was given by Moses the servant of Elohim (God), and to observe and do Alef-Taw all the mitzvot (commandments) of Yahweh our Master, and His chukkot (ordinances) and His mishpatim (statutes, judgments): We would not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons; if the peoples of the land brought Alef-Taw wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, or on a qodesh (holy, set-apart) day; and we would forego the seventh Alef-Taw year's produce and the exacting of every debt" (Neh.10:28-31, NKJV & ATOT).
This is a description of the priorities of those who are Yahweh's machazichim, His 'separated-out' ones and we would do well to take note of where our priorities currently lie and to adjust them accordingly. So what are the priorities? In the general sense, to covenant to obey (as we do each Shavu'ot and as we did at our first Bar or Bat Mitzvah) to obey all of Yah'shua's (Jesus) B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant) mitzvot (commandments), mishpatim (ordinances) and mishpatim (statutes, judgments).
Please also note the positioning of the three Alef-Taw's  in this text, remembering that Alef-Taw signifies Yah'shua (Jesus), the Alef-Taw or Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. They are specificallt linked to:
In other words, these are specifically being highlighted or underlined as belonging to Yah'shua (Jesus).
- 1. All the mitzvot (commandments) (v.29);
- 2. Wares (items for sale) or grain (v.31a); and
- 3. The Sabbatical (7th) Year (v.31b).
Specific Priority #1: Daughters and Sons
As soon as we come to the specific priorities, we notice two things: firstly, a covenant not to give our daughters to pagan or unbelieving husbands, and not to take pagan or unbelieving daughters for our sons. Notice the order too - the greatest care must be given to our daughters first because they are the more vulnerable and the more likely to be hurt and the more likely to surrender or compromise their emunah (faith, belief system, lifestyle) in order to please and honour their unbelieving husbands to avoid conflict. So the FIRST PRIORITY is to make sure that our daughters and sons are married to believers! Why? For two reasons: the first, for their own salvation and happiness because mixed marriages are either miserable or compromised...or both; and second, because when mixed marriages result, then the Kingdom is diminished and weakened as these chidlren go out into the world and become absorbed by it, abandoning their Messianic Israelite heritage. For those returning exiles in today's passage, it would have been like going back to Babylon and having learned nothing after 70 years of punishment.
Specific Priority #2: The Sabbath Day
The second priority is what? Observing the Sabbath in the manner and on the day (i.e. the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th days of each month) commanded by Yahweh! And specifically, they were not to transport or sell goods - which belong to Yah'shua (Jesus) as they are marked with Alef-Taw - on the Sabbath day - which is His Day (Mt.12:8; Mk.2:28; Lk.6:5) and specifically not allow unbelievers to do the same on their land. They agreed not to purchase from unbelievers (let alone rennigade believers) on the Sabbath or indeed on any qadosh (holy, set-apart) day such as on New Moons (like today) or on the festivals.
Consequences of Failing the First Two Priorities
The proper observance of the Sabbath is the outward, visible foundation of the messianic community and the messianic society as a whole which must of necesity co-exist with unbelievers until the Final Gathering. If we marry off our children to heathen and if we fail to observe the Sabbath day properly we are shooting ourselves in the foot because everything we build up will only be torn down, thus nullifying all out work, making our labour in vain.
The Sabbatical Seventh Year
And then, as more than just a tag to the committment to observe the Sabbath properly, there is the committment to exercise real emunah (faith) to not harvest on the Sabbatical Year but to trust Yahweh's promise to provide a double portion in the sixth year that will provide all our needs for the seventh. This mitzvah (commandment) is as much about trusting as it is about adequately resting and devoting time to those things we might otherwise be tempted to neglect like our families because of our compulsive busy-ness. The Sabbatical Year, to which Alf-Taw is also attached, indicating its great importance, is something we need to look more closely at:
Once again the Alef-Taw's indicate to whom the land and its increase belong to - Yah'shua (Jesus)! - and He has ordained that the grain and the olive and grapes (v.11) are for Him to distribute to whom He will...specifically, to the poor and to the wild animals. Thus there are Sabbath Days and Sabbath Years that we are to observe.
"Six years you shall sow your Alef-Taw land and gather in its Alef-Taw produce (increase), but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove" (Ex.23:10-11, NKJV).
Qualifications of Ministers
So there we are - our first two priorities are our children and the Sabbath Days and Years! Could anything be clearer? No success in life can ever compensate for failure in our families and homes, and that includes success at being ministers of the Besorah (Gospel)! The minister must meet the needs of his family first before his flock to even qualify as a minister...which of course means he must be married!
Investing Quality Time with Children
"It is necessary, therefore, for the congregational Mashgiach Ruchani (spiritual overseer, pastor, elder, bishop) over the Adat haYahweh (House of Yahweh) to be without reproach, ba'al ishah/ishim (master of his woman/women, wife/wives) (that is, he must be kedushah and tahorah - heterosexual, exclusive and true), drug-free and clear-headed, a man of seichel (wisdom, intelligence), practiced in derech eretz ('way of the earth', good behaviour) and hachnosas orchim (hospitality), skilfull as a moreh (teacher), not a shikkor (drunk) indulging in wine, not violent but forebearing and eidel (gentle, courteous), not a ba'al machlokes (quarrelsome person), not covetous (lover of money, miser). He must be a ba'al bayit (master of his house) who can manage his own household well, having his banim (chidlren) in submission with all respect. Now if anyone does not have knowledge to manage his own household, how will he be a menachel ruchani (spiritual administrator) who can give oversight of the Kehillah (Assembly, Congregation) of Yahweh? He must not be a neophyte (new convert) in the emunah (faith) [of Messiah] lest, having become a ba'al gaavah (haughty person), he might fall into the din haSatan (the judgment or verdict of the Adversary/Accuser/Satan). Now it is necessary for him to have a keter shem tov (good name) with the outsiders, lest he might fall into reproach and a pakh (pitfall, trap) of haSatan (the Adversary, Satan). Messianic Shammashim (Servants, Deacons) similarly must be respectable men or derech eretz (well behaved), not double-tongued, the Shammash (Servant, Deacon) not a shikkor (drunkard) indulging in wine, not a lover of dishonest gain, keeping the sod haEmunah (mystery of the faith) with a clear matzpun (conscience)" (2 Tim.3:2-9, based on OJB, NKJV and NCV).
Obviously, if we are going to ensure that our children marry fellow believers, then we need to invest quality time with them teaching the Besorah to them and making sure that the Messiah's Kingdom of Ahavah (Love) in-the-Home is the fist Kingdom-building that we ever do. That's as much the responsibility of the fathers as it is the mothers.
Yahweh's Instructions Through Nehemiah Part 2
Let's continue reading to see where the next priorities lie:
Specific Priorities #3 & 4: The House of Yahweh, Tithing and Regular Work
"Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to exact from ourselves yearly one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of our Elohim (God): for the showbread, for the regular grain offering, for the regular burnt offering of the Sabbaths, the New Moons, and the set feasts; for the qodesh (holy, set-apart) things, for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our Elohim (God). We cast lots among the cohenim (priests), the Levites, and the people, for bringing the wood offering into the house of our Elohim (God), according to our fathers' houses, at the appointed times year by year, to burn on the altar of Yahweh our Elohim (God) as it is written in the Torah (Law). And we made ordinances to bring the Alef-Taw bikkurim (firstfruits) of our ground and the bikkurim (firstfruits) of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of Yahweh; to bring the firstborn of our sons and our cattle, as it is written in the Torah (Law), and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks, to the house of our Elohim (God), to the cohenim (priests) who minister in the house of our Elohim (God); to bring the bikkurim (firstfruits) of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oil, to the cohenim (priests), to the storerooms of the house of our Elohim (God); and to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities. And the cohen (priest), the descendant of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive Alef-Taw tithes; and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of our Elohim (God), to the rooms of the storehouse. For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the [wave] Alef-Taw offering of the grain, of the new wine and the oil, to the storerooms where the articles of the sanctuary are, where the cohenim (priests) who minister and the gatekeepers and the singers are; and we will not neglect the house of our Elohim (God)" (Neh.10:32-39, NKJV & ATOT )
The third priority is the House of Yahweh which is the work and ministry of the Kingdom in the B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant) whith the emphasis on consecrating our bikkurim or firstfruits, and our firstborn, to Yahweh, as a reminder that everything belongs to Him and we are but stewards. We are reminded of the importance of tithing which of course means that we are not to be idle but have regular work, as the two go hand-in-hand. We are to work six days a week and rest on the seventh as He commanded. (You'll notice that there is no such thing as a 'week-end' or 'Saturdays' and 'Sundays' in Messianic Israel). The tithing is to be properly divided into three parts - a third for the ministry, a third for the poor and a third for the festivals so that we can both travel to them (if they are far off) and have enough food to feast on. This is one reason we have our conferences during the three pilgrim festivals, and particularly the two longer ones at Pesach and Sukkot.
Summary of Our Priorities
So let us summarise what Yahweh's priorities are in our lives:
Division of the Tithe
- 1. In the general sense, obey the New Covenant Torah;
- 2. In the specific sense,
- a. Devote quality time to families to make sure our children marry believers and continue the work of wittnessing of the King Messiah and building His Kingdom;
- b. Observe the Sabbath and the Sabbatical Year;
- c. Have regular work and paying an honest tithe (this applies to ministers too);
- d. Devote ourselves to building the House of Elohim (God) - the Messianic Community - through evangelism and discipling.
I would ask you therefore today to reconsider your priorities and to covenant to abide by them, increasingly so as difficult and trying times confront us more and more. For if we do not have our priorities right, having our house built on a rocky foundation, we will be swept away when the storms come (Mt.7:24-27). This is my prophetic davar (word) to you all today - please diligently imitate Yahweh's servant Nehemiah's instructions and be strengthened and blessed as good Machazichim (Separated Ones), in Yah'shua's (Jesus') Name. Amen.
 There are those who object to the covenant established through Moses being designated as 'old' - they are principally those messianics who believe that the B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant) is not New but 'Renewed' - that is to say, a Renewed 'Old' Covenant. And whilst it is true that the word pair 'Old Covenant' is not to be found anywhere in Scripture, it is clearly and unambiguously implied in Hebrews: "When [Yahweh] uses the word 'CHADASHAH' (New) He has thereby made the B'rit haRishovah yeshanah (lit. '[first] Covenant of Their Ancestor obselete', i.e. the 'Old', Mosaic Covenant) and a B'rit thus made aging, is near to being yakhlof (vanished)" (Heb.8:13, OJB). Or to use another translation which gets the sense across clearly and accurately: "By speaking of a new covenant, He (Yahweh) implies that the first one (covenant) is already old. Now anything old only gets more antiquated until in the end it disappears ('vanishes', NKJV)" (Heb.8:13, JB). Something that's getting old, dying and disappearing can't be 'renewed' any more than you can revive a disintegrating corpse. For the New to exist the Old must vanish or die.
 See Mystery of the Alef-Taw: Establishing the Right Foundations
 Gregory T. Riether, The Aleph-Tav Old Testament (Virtual Bookworm Publishing, College Station, Texas: 2012)