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Month 10:29, Week 4:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5939:296 AM
2Exodus 2/40, 4th Sh'mittah - Year 49/50
Global Judgment - Day #T-3
Gregorian Calendar Saturday 9 January 2016
An Appointment to Come
How We Can Prepare for the Millennium


    Shabbat shalom mishpachah and may the grace, peace and revelation of the Almighty be upon this fellowship and upon all those who consider themselves one with us in the Ruach (Spirit). May His blessings be upon all those who name the Name of Messiah and have been born-again of the Ruach (Spirit) and may blessings be upon all those seeking Him to know Him.

    The Proper Grounding

    As believers, I think we have a rather interesting perspective on life. First, we seek and live in reality, however harsh, repellant and distasteful. You cannot actually 'live' unless you know what's going on in that part of the real world where Yahweh has put you. At the same time, reality can, at times, be very bleak and something we would rather escape from for something much better. Since we cannot do that and maintain a proper perspective, we must also live in tiqveh or hope in Yahweh's promises. There are thousands of these in the Bible and we are admonished to cling to these and allow the Ruach (Spirit) to install them in our hearts in such a way as to give us a meaningful platform on which to operate in whatever circumtances we may find ourselves in. Because of what we know is coming, we can live in security and shalom (peace) no matter how difficult our circumstances. By grounding ourselves in the Grand Plan of the Ages, we allow Elohim (God) to unfold His work in us. It's also what gives us our common mind, our common purpose.

    The Song of the New Heavens and Earth

    A passage I particularly like, and one which gives me tiqveh (hope) in a world of disunity, especially in the Body of Messiah, is this one, which is written as poetry and may possible have been sung as a hymn:

      "For as the new heavens and the new earth,
      which I will make,
      shall remain before Me, says Yahweh;
      so shall your descendants and your name remain.

      "From one rosh chodesh (new moon) to rosh chodesh (new moon),
      and from one sabbath to sabbath,
      all flesh shall come to worship before Me,
      says Yahweh"
      (Isaiah 66:22-23, NRSV).

    The Creation Calendar Declared for the Millennium

    Most believers have this idea that the new world Yahweh will make will be completely unlike anything we have ever experienced and so may be tempted to not expect anything that is familiar other than the good relationships we have enjoyed on earth which we expect to be enhanced. I don't agree. Though everything will be glorified and purified in the world to come, the basic divine tavnith (pattern) will remain exactly the same as it was down here. First, as this passage and many other related passages make clear, the future is not in some spirit dimension - even if we may experience it in transition - but on earth where we will be marking time as we were supposed to have been doing before, by observing the moon to calculate each month and by observing the sun to calculate each sabbath. The Creation Calendar, universally spurned by unbelievers and rejected by most believers, will, Yahweh says, be essential to the true tavnith (pattern) of worship.

    Gehanna Juxtaposed Against the Millennial Paradise

    Not only that, but this future paradise, where the times and seasons continue to be measured as they were in mortality, is juxtaposed against 'the other place' which in traditional Christianity identifies with 'hell':

      "And they shall go out and look at the dead bodies of the people who have rebelled against Me; for their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh" (Isa.60:24, NRSV).

    An Upsetting Conclusion, Yahweh Judges With Fire

    And so the Book of Isaiah ends. It upset, and still upsets, the Jews so much that in their liturgical tradition they don't even read it! Instead they repeat a previous verse. And yet it does clearly echo some earlier verses:

      "For Yahweh will come in fire,
      And His chariots like the whirlwind,
      to pay back His anger in fury,
      and His rebuke in flames of fire.
      For by fire Yahweh will execute judgment,
      and by His sword, on all flesh;
      and those slain by Yahweh shall be many
      " (Isa.66:15-16, NRSV).

    Illustrated by Yah'shua

    Yah'shua (Jesus) cites this passage in the Gospel of Mark as a warning against those who trip up those young in the emunah (faith):

      "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in Me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter [eternal] life maimed than to have two hands and go to Gehenna (hell), to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut if off; it is better for you to enter [eternal] life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into Gehenna (hell). And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of Elohim (God) with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into Gehenna (hell), where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. For everyone will be salted with fire, [and every sacrifice will be salted with salt]. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it (or, restore its saltiness)? Have salt in yourselves, and be at shalom (peace) with one another" (Mk.9:42-49, NRSV).

    Gehenna, Hinnom and Hell

    "Gehenna", which most English Bibles translate as "hell", is the Latin translation of the Hebrew Hinnom which was a valley just south of Jerusalem's southwestern wall, where pagan cults had once held child sacrifices to Moloch, an abomination which King Josiah had tried to abolish (2 Ki.23:10; 2 Chr.28:3; 33:6). It latterly became the city refuse tip where both garbage and executed criminals were thrown. Because it was constantly burning, it later became to be associated, because of its graphic imagery, in Jewish apocalyptic thought, with death and eternal punishment for the unrighteous as seen in the Pharisaic pseudepigraphic work, the Book of Enoch (26:4; 27:2-3). Bodies must have been either burning or lying around decomposing and being eaten by worms in the Valley of Himmon (Gehenna, 'hell'), and the fact that the place was alight 24/7 would have created an image of un-ending misery. It was the extreme antithesis of everything good about Jerusalem. It inspired Catholic doctrine on the subject that was inherited by Protestantism that goes way beyond the original sense of the Scriptures.

    Grace Juxtaposed Against Judgment

    So the burning Valley of Hinnom, where the vilest of idolatry and murder was committed against children, is being used here as a picture of Yahweh's judgment against the wicked who will be cut down at the last day. Yah'shua (Jesus) uses this as an illustration of the kind of punishment that will be meeted out to those who destroy infants and those young in the emunah (faith) by setting stumbling blocks (e.g. false doctrines) before them. So great an abomination is this that it provokes the wrath of Elohim (God). It follows, in today's passage, the description of the Millennial Earth, to give contrast and to remind readers that where there is grace and salvation for the righteous, there is also, in parallel, condemnation and judgment for those who reject the Most High. And it must be remembered, wherever we see "worm" and "fire" depicted negatively in Scripture, that these are conventional descriptions of the terribleness of rebellion that leads to death (Jdg.16:17; Sirach 7:17).

    The Millennial Times and Seasons

    So this is a prophecy of the millennial future of the righteous and the wicked during the Millennium. The details of what happens after the Millennium are found largely in the Book of Revelation. So at and during the Millennium, the righteous will inhabit a new heavens and a new earth and they will follow the times and seasons of the moedim (appointments) in order to worship Yahweh in the fullness. It's not one of those Tanakh (Old Testament) predictions that has been fulfilled and is no longer applicable. The scene is the Millennial Earth. So if you refuse to observe the times and seasons in the way Yahweh has commanded them to be observed today, having been taught the emet (truth) and having seen it is the emet (truth), rejecting it because it is inconvenient, rejecting it because it means radically changing your lifestyle including, maybe. job(s) and career(s) and therefore location when you don't want to (because of the risks, laziness, fear, or for whatever reason), then how would you possibly feel comfortable in the millennial order, let alone expect be invited to be a part of it? Don't forget there is a price for rebellion.

    New Status, New Perspective

    People have told me that living the Creation Calendar is impractical in the modern world, and they are right. It does require a radical readjustment of living, but what is so strange about that? Doesn't the Besorah (Gospel) already require that? When you become a believer you reject the world and its way of being and adopt something entirely new. You view everything differently with your change in status because your allegorical Bridegroom expects it of you:

      "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with Elohim (God)? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of Elohim (God). Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, 'The Ruach (Spirit) who dwells in us yearns jealously'"? (James 4:4-6, NKJV).

      "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the ahavah (love) of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of Elohim (God) lives forever" (1 John 2:15-17, NIV).

    Major Life Changes are Demanded by the Bridegroom

    When you make a decision for Messiah, you have to make major life changes. Your behaviour changes as you obey and and you are expected to continue to change until you are Messiah-like. We are commanded to be separate from the world whilst interacting with it for witness and for other reasons. That includes not joining worldly churches and messianic synagogues which major on entertainment and say little or nothing about holiness. A.W.Tozer said:

      "A church fed on excitement is no New Testament church at all. The desire for surface stimulation is a sure mark of the fallen nature, the very thing Christ died to deliver us from."

    Tozer also said:

      "The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be HOLY (qadosh, set-apart). The whole purpose of God (Elohim) in redemption is to make us holy (qadosh, set-apart) and to restore us to the image of God (Elohim). To accomplish this He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon."

    Getting Off the Babylonian Grid

    Making such changes, including rearranging the times and seasons to peroperly worship Elohim (God), is impractical if you like the world system and being a part of it. But isn't Yahweh, right now, changing the world system? Is He not tearing much of it down in judgment? Has He not ordained a time up great upheaval and separation precisely so that His people can live His ways properly and without hindrance? The Millannial world is nothing like the Babylonian system we live in, and because it is difficult to go 'offline' from the latter, Yahweh will put us 'offline' so that we can metaphorically 'reboot' into the new way of being. We have to live off the spiritual grid of Babylon and learn dependency on Elohim (God) through self-sufficiency before all else. I admit, it's a big culture shock making the change, but so is repentance of any kind.

    Sanctifying Time and Space

    We can, as many argue, worship Yahweh anywhere and at any time. This is true. But He has also commanded us to assemble at specific times and seasons according to His Calendar for a unique and separated form of worship which is rooted in His divine purpose and heart. Only the Bride - the Remnant - will do this and in consequence enjoy the intimacy that comes through full, trusting obedience. It is not for you or I to dispute what is right and what is wrong. If it not for us to define what loving Yahweh is - He alone can determine that. It is not for you or I to judge a mitzvah (commandment) of Heaven by declaring it to be 'less important' because it requires you to coordinate your activities to accommodate a certain portion of divine time and space. Are not time and space His too? Did He not create them? Can He - and does He - not sanctify them too? Is there any part of His Creation that He cannot - and does not - sanctify for proper use? When you try to 'spiritualise' everything away - which is really just another way of declaring yourself to be 'holier than God' - by declaring that anything to to with the space-time continuum is somehow 'inferior' to the 'spiritual' life, you are stripping Yahweh's sovereignty off what He has created and and handing it over to either yourself or to Satan ... which amounts to the same thing. This is what the Gnostics did and are still doing today when they declare that 'spirit' is 'good' but all 'matter' is 'evil', no matter that Yahweh proclaimed His physical Creation was "good"!

    Relationship Between the Visible and Invisible

    Yahweh made it very clear in the Torah that whatsoever is dedicated to Him in the material realm is qodesh (holy, set-apart) and no more or less than anything else that is qodesh (holy, set-apart). In the grotesque 'holier-than-Thou' attitude we sometimes fall into, we get this idea that all that matters - or what matters the most - is 'invisible' because we mark down what is 'visible' and 'transientory'. Yet time is invisible, is it not? And Yahweh has commanded us to sanctify it. Our bodies are visible, but are they not "temples of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit)" (1 Cor.6:19) so long as they are alive. Our thoughts are invisible but we are commanded to take them captive and make them obedient to and for Messiah (2 Cor.10:5). In one sense, what is eternal is more important, but it is a mistake to think that what is temporary is not important so long as we are stewards of it and called to give an account of our use of it. Yahweh sanctified the physical temple of Solomon by sending His glory down on it in blinding Light. It is precisely our interaction with the visible that enables our invisible spirit to grow, otherwise we would never have been put in a physical world in the first place.

    Secondary Principles?

    It is a point of great interest in today's passage that this new moon and sabbath observance occurs within the context of the "new heavens" and the "new earth" and is a reminder to us that eternity includes a physical dimension, with time, albeit it in a new arrangement - a resurrection arrangement. This new state of affairs will, Yahweh says, "remain before Me" along with "your descendants and your name". Indeed, we may like to consider the possibility that what we have been taught in the churches and messianic synagogues might be a little out of sync with the New Reality that will be the resurrection world. We live by the tavnith (pattern) of the mitzvot (commandments) precisely because we want to be identified with, and be a physical and spiritual part of, this new reality, which the calendars of the Roman Caesars and Popes along with those of the Rabbis will not enable us to do this perfectly. Indeed, they will corrupt our perception and tiqveh (hope) of what is to come. Can we honestly say, then, that such matters as the Divine Calendar are 'carnal' or 'secondary'? You don't say that of any part of your body so why say it of Yahweh's mitzvot (commandments)? Is this too not a part of what it is to be immersed in His ahavah (love)?

    The Love of Carnal Pyramidal Hierarchies

    We, in the West, heavily influenced as we have been by Greek thinking over the millennia, have the unfortunate tendency to try to dissect and reduce everything, including 'love', to its components, forgetting that the eternal realm is beyond reductionism because it isn't just material. Yahweh glues the whole together and the moment you try to break it apart, Yahweh departs from it. We like pyramidal hierachies based on carnal values, no more so than in making judgments about the mitzvot (commandments) and about others. We derive a false security from it which is why society spontaneously evolves into hierarchies based on all kinds of values like celebrity status, wealth, beauty, brains, athletic prowess and raw power.

    A Representation of the Commandments

    Two or three years ago I designed a picture showing a series of concentric circles to illustrate the mitzvot (commandments) which unfortunately has been misinterpreted by many who see in it a hierarchy starting in the middle and working its way ourwards:

    The Actions of Love

    The false argument is advanced that we must first 'love' and then we can 'worry about' the other mitzvot (commandments) 'later'. However, this is not a hierarchy of values but a series of progressive summaries, each layer explaining the one nearest the centre. On the outer ring, for example, we find mitzvot (commandments) like being generous, graceful and humble. Can you say you will 'love' someone, presumably by means of some fuzzy feeling inside, and then claim you will show generosity, grace and humility 'later', the most important thing being the ecstatic feelings? Of course not. In Hebrew thought love is, in any case, not a 'thing' or a 'species' but an action. We 'love' only when such things as being generous, graceful and humble are the actions produced by our living.

    Pitting Commandments Against Each Other

    This I must absolutely stress and underline so that we don't go taking one set of mitzvot (commandments) and pitting them against another set. All the mitzvot (commandments) describe actions expected of the one belonging to Yahweh through Messiah because much has been given to us:

      "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded" (Lk.12:48, NRSV)

    Some More Weighty Than Others

    Yes, some mitzvot (commandments), like justice and mercy (Mt.23:23), are more weighty than others but the weightier ones do not exclude the less weighty ones (all the rest).

    Demands of the Saviour-Creator

    Yahweh has given us salvation through Yah'shua (Jesus) the Messiah including the gift of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and the gift of His ahavah (love). He has given us these things both as a gift and a stewardship. This is the "much". What is required, expected or demanded from us in return? Our obedience to the mitzvot (commandments)! Only the ones we choose? Of course not, all of them. Everything you see listed in the diagram, and much more, Yahweh demands from us. Can we refuse? You will see, amongst the graces of life like kindness, thoughtfulness, consideration for others, humility, generosity and the like, various other requirements that include observing the moedim (appointments), remembering from our main passage today that it is through ALL of these things that we offer worship. Worship is first and foremost obedience, not what we 'do' when we assemble to praise Him, important though praising is. Willfull disobedience of the mitzvot (commandments) plus happy-clappy singing and praising is hypocrisy. And this is the thing - all these things are a part of a compound whole. You don't first 'love', then 'love Elohim (God) and your neighbour, then obey the 10 Commandments and then obey the rest of the mitzvot (commandments) because there is no 'order' of learning or implementation. As soon as you know what Yahweh wants, you should do it immediately. Yahweh provides summaries to make it easier for us to understand, each layer or ring being defined more exactly in the layer or ring underneath it.

    Twelve Ways to Commit Murder

    Refusing to obey the plainly stated mitzvot (commandments) is simply rebellion and a failure to worship. And to teach others not to do them, especially new believers and children, is to put yourself in the category of murderer in Yah'shua's (Jesus) eyes. Murderer?! Certainly! "Thou shalt not kill" (Ex.20:13, KJV) isn't simply premeditated manslaughter, even though that is the primary p'shat (literal) sense. Murder can be committed in at least 12 way according to Scripture:

    • 1. Literally by our hand, as Joab - we are to guard our hand (2 Sam.20);
    • 2. By the mind - we are to guard our mind (1 Jn.3:15);
    • 3. By the tongue, as the Jews - we must guard our tongue (Jn.18:30);
    • 4. By the pen, as David - we must guard our pen and keyboard (2 Sam.12:9);
    • 5. By planning, as Jezebel - we must guard our planning (1 Ki.21:10);
    • 6. By poisoning - we must guard our poisons (Jas.3:8; Ac.14:2; Rom.3:13);
    • 7. By intention, as Herod - we must guard our intentions (Mt.2:8,13);
    • 8. By designing, as Saul - we must guard our designings (1 Sam.18:17);
    • 9. By consenting, as Paul - we must guard our consents (Ac.22:20);
    • 10. By not preventing, as Pilate - we must guard our preventive powers (Jn.18:38);
    • 11. By unmercifulness, as the man who takes away the sustenance of life - we must guard our mercy (Dt.24:6); and
    • 12. By leniency, as the judge who should have sentence´d the murderer but let him off, thus enabling him to commit more murders - we must guard out leniency [1].

    The Interconnectedness of the Commandments

    You see, all the mitzvot are intertwined as a whole. If you murder a man, you are simultaneously robbing his wife of her husband and his children of their faither. If you analyse every mitzvot (commandment) and then draw lines between those that are related or impact others, you will find a vast maze like the brain's neuronal system. They are all interlinked and cannot be picked off or separated without doing violence to multitudes of others, often redefining them. The inter-connectedness defines them. The Torah is a whole.

    The Adultery Illustration

    I often cite the example of adultery by telling people, who are greatly surprised and oftentimes in disbelief, that the Torah teaches that a single woman can never commit adultery. She can commit fornication or cause a married man to break his marriage vows, but she can never commit adultery. And you cannot understand why this is so without understanding the relationship of the mitzvot (commandments) to one another, and in this particular case to the principle of patriarchy.

    Meaning of the First Great Commandment

    That is why you cannot prize out the mitzvah (commandment) not to eat pork or the mitzvah (commandment) to observe the moedim (appointments) using the lunisolar calendar and at the same time claim you are actively and obediently loving Yahweh through actions as He expects. You cannot do these things and claim you are being obedient to the First Great Mitzvah (Commandment):

      "Love Yahweh your Elohim (God) with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30, NIV; cp. Dt.6:5).

    The Measure of Our Loving

    You do not define what loving Elohim (God) is, He does. And He does not say that the measure of your ahavah (love) is what you are feeling in your heart but in what you do in response. And if you adamantly refuse to stop eating pork or to observe the Creation Calendar after you have clearly understood that these two (for example) are expected of you, then you cannot claim to be loving Yahweh your Elohim (God) with all your heart, soul, mind and strength but only with the parts that you choose. It is as simple as that. They are all a part of an indivisible whole. Yahweh blesses the man or woman who does. It was why David was so blessed:

      "Oh, how I love your Torah (Law)!
      I meditate on it all day long"
      (Ps.119:97, NIV).

    Natural and Spontaneous

    This is why we love the Scriptures so passionately. Yahweh's Torah (Law), understood and enacted, consume us because His ahavah (love) moves through us when we do and we can never get enough of it. And the more we receive, the more we want to obey and translate into action. He multiplies the gifts and talents of those who do. And the more we do them, the more they become natural and unconscious to us, like the beating of our heart. This is what we spontaneously guard because we know it is the revelation of His heart toward us.

    Do It

    So then, here is the question the Master asks:

      "Why do you call me, 'Master, Master,' and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to Me and hears My devarim (words) and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears My devarim (words) and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete" (Luke 6:46-49, NIV).

    A Millennial Appointment

    I very much hope that you, like me, want an appointment in the Millennium, that you want to worship Yahweh in holiness (set-apartness) and emet (truth), anticipating with simcha (joy) each sabbath, new moon and annual festival that we will enjoy together with the Master then. For if we do not learn to obtain simcha (joy) in these things now, obeying the devarim (words) of the Master, how can we expect to obtain it when He returns, having willfully rejected them because they were 'too difficult' or 'too challenging'?

    As we end this final sabbath of the prophetic cycle, may Yahweh lead us into the perfect obedience that reveales the perfect ahavah (love) of His Being. May we be willing to receive it to share it. Amen.


    [1] Courtesy of Ian Paisley, Expository Sermons (Ambassador, Belfast, UK: 1996), pp.138-139

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