Author: Hollisa Alewine

Dr Hollisa Alewine – Footsteps of Messiah Part 98 (Return or Resurrection?)

Return or Resurrection?

Footsteps of Messiah

In the Footsteps of Messiah series, we’ve used the Song of Songs as a prophetic working text to help us understand the preparation of the Bride of Messiah: “Come with me from Lebanon, my bride…” (So 4:8)

Some passages of the Song describe the relationship between the Bride and her Beloved, and some describe the perfecting conditions in millennial kingdom. What is puzzling is how the resurrection of the righteous dead aligns with the more natural-sounding earth prophecies such as this one in Isaiah:

’For I know their works and their thoughts; the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory. I will set a sign among them and will send survivors from them to the nations: Tarshish, Put, Lud, Meshech, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have neither heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they will declare My glory among the nations. Then they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as a grain offering to the LORD, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,’ says the LORD, ‘just as the sons of Israel bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD.’ (Is 66:18-20)

The ancient boundaries of the coastlands (nations) were according to language and family:

From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations. (Ge 10:5)

In the millennial kingdom of Messiah, it appears that those boundaries don’t disappear. Maybe they are re-drawn according to the original assignments, or maybe the shifting of peoples and their languages results in re-drawing. I’m not sure whether that’s important, only that the boundaries of Tzion are established and respected.

Isaiah prophesies that all nations and tongues will gather. The only event(s) we know that fit this prophecy is the gathering to the House of Prayer for All Nations, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Zechariah 14:16 prophesies the nations will begin to observe the feasts of Adonai in the millennium. Zechariah’s prophecy seems a little more aligned with Isaiah’s vision of the millennium, a time that still seems very much within a perfecting, but yet physical, world.

How, then, do we see the Bride’s gathering into the cloud (1 Th 4:16) to remain in the Presence of Adonai versus being a “sign” for the gathering of the nations? Are we in the Presence of Adonai or active among the nations? Maybe it’s not an either/or question, simply one of learning from both prophecies.

A thousand years is a very long time.

A thousand years ago, the Vikings were terrorizing Europe and beyond by sea, and the Byzantine Empire still sailed the Mediterranean. There were castles and kings. The samurai in Japan were beginning to arise as a warrior class. The Mayans had not yet reached the pinnacle of their empire.

We’ve come a long way, baby Bride.

And the nations will have a long way to go in the millennium.

From the text in Exodus describing the giving of the Torah, an identity evolved of Israel as a Bride. In Jewish thought, Moses is the one leading the Bride out to meet the Bridegroom at Sinai. From here, the prophets (Je 2:2 among others) take up the Bride as an identity of Israel who is willing to do and hear the commandments of her Elohim. She’s saved from Egypt and bound in covenant of her free will. The New Testament Scriptures extend this identity and elaborate upon it.

Likewise, the Feast of Shavuot is seen as the time at which the Bride will be sealed. The Feast of Trumpets is the resurrection of those sealed and the righteous dead, but what of the ten days until Yom HaKippurim? Those days are seen as an opportunity for the “intermediates,” or as Yeshua calls them “lukewarm,” to repent and return to the Covenant before the gates close at the conclusion of Yom HaKippurim.

What are the sealed righteous doing during this ten days? According to some sources, Israel is like the indentured Hebrew servant, now free at the sound of the shofar on Yom Teruah in the seventh “year.” She spends the next ten days feasting with her Master and His family, and then when the Jubilee shofar sounds at Yom HaKippurim after ten days, she returns to her original inheritance. She goes home to her own territory in the Land.

The wicked and the unrepentant? Well, read the Book of Revelation.

What about those left among the nations from the tribulation? Zechariah 14:6 clarifies:

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”

If we pair the Isaiah prophecy with Zechariah’s, then it is the people of Adonai, survivors, maybe the Bride herself, who will be dispatched during the millennium to the nations to teach them the Word. They will need to be instructed in the Word in order to know how to approach the Holy City and the powerful Presence of Adonai that abides there:

Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the Torah,
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Is 2:3)

Just as Yeshua always taught and reasoned with the people in Jerusalem at the feasts, it sounds as if he will continue doing so. But again, how will the nations approach? In total ignorance of sin? The full power and glory of Adonai would kill them, probably even before they set foot inside a city gate!

Zechariah explains further about Sukkot in Israel and Jerusalem:

“In that day “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the LORD’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the LORD of hosts. Everyone who sacrifices shall come and take them and cook in them…” (Zech 14:20-21)

When the nations come to celebrate, they will cook festive meals: the Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot sacrifices. Just as the feast-meal plates were smashed in ancient times (pottery is like gravel around the site of the Tabernacle in Shiloh!) because they were only for holy use, so in the future the nations who come will have the opportunity to partake in the holy feasts. Who will prepare them to come in a state of holiness to hear Yeshua teach and share in the holy meals?

Isaiah saw this: “…the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory. I will set a sign among them and will send survivors from them to the nations…”

It’s unclear whether the “sign” from among the Israelites is the actual Bride or those who repented during the ten days. Whomever it may be, they are able to teach Torah and their skin will be full of the glory of Adonai. It is thought that the original skins of Adam and Eve were light, and only after sin were they covered with “animal skin.” The two words in Hebrew even sound alike: or:

skin – ???

light – ????

The transformed, sinless, resurrection physical skin shines a little of the glory of Elohim as at the Creation. The survivors from among the nations need to hear the Good News of Yeshua which is found in the Torah. The Torah will educate them in the critical details of holiness required to approach the Holy One. Whether it’s the Bride or the reformed lukewarm, they know the Word and can teach it. They can prepare the survivors of the nations to attend the feasts in holiness and rejoice.

Perhaps this is why we were born where we were and why we speak the language we speak. We know the language, the culture, the local customs and history of those locations. We can teach in a known tongue. We can prepare others even though that nation is no longer our home, for our home is in the Land of Israel. Could it be that we will rotate between enjoying our inheritance land and going on special teaching missions? These are things to contemplate if only to motivate us to learn every bit of the Word we can in preparation for our assignments.

An interesting detail is that those who are set among the nations to teach so that the nations’ survivors can see His glory are called a “sign.” A sign is an ot, something visible. It is a miracle sometimes, or evidence, an appearing. The nations who did not see the glory of Messiah Yeshua, the glory of the Father, have an opportunity to see it in the resurrected skins of their Torah teachers. They start with the little signs of glory, which motivates them to prepare and go up to hear Yeshua teach at the appointed Feasts of Adonai and worship in His Presence.

Being a sign is an important distinction. A sign has to be seen by everyone even if not comprehended by everyone. There will be no more alibis. The righteous teachers will likely have bodies like Yeshua’s, able to function in both realms, the natural world we see and the supernatural world which we rarely can see. Yeshua went into and out of realms whenever he needed to, but only when he needed to. If someone were trying to kill him, he could disappear into the spiritual realm. If he wanted to walk on water in a pesty storm, he did. If he needed to get somewhere fast, he just appeared there. Otherwise, he lived a very natural, visible life. He ate and drank, comfortable in both realms. He came in the flesh.

Our flesh, too, will be transformed. Nevertheless, it sounds as if we will have a very natural existence and will not rely on “superpowers” to get around unless it’s necessary. We will walk and ride with our students as Yeshua did. The nations will be so grateful for the signs that they will commandeer every kind of transportation to make pilgrimages with their teachers to Jerusalem at the appointed times:

“Then they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as a grain offering to the LORD, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,’ says the LORD, ‘just as the sons of Israel bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD.’”

All kinds of transportation are used in the millennium to arrive at the moedim: re-fitted war vehicles, ambulances, commercial vehicles, and even personal vehicles. While that may be a stretch…my main question is where would they park all those vehicles…the prophetic value is immense because it demonstrates the changed hearts of the survivors who seek the Word and keep the feasts.

Isaiah even prophesies that just as Yeshua was our own clean sacrifice, so those who are signs to the nations will be brought back to the Temple as clean “grain” sacrifices. Grain often represents the seed of the Word. Those who lead the nations to Jerusalem will be acknowledged as bearing the image of Yeshua and the Holy One, for they bear His Word in their vessels. They maintain their vessels in holiness, like the “clean vessels in Jerusalem and Judah.”

This returns us to our Footsteps of Messiah working text from the Song of Songs:

“Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, may you come with me from Lebanon. Journey down…(So 4:8)

“Journey down” in Hebrew is the verb tashuri. The scholars see a secondary reading to tashuri. Based on its used in the following passage, it also means a gift:

“Then Saul said to his servant, ‘But behold, if we go, what shall we bring the man? For the bread is gone from our sack and there is no present [??????????? teshurah] to bring to the man of God. What do we have?’” (1 Sa 9:7)

A gift is a teshurah, and in the verse above, the future King Shaul speculates that he has no gift great enough to bring a great prophet. What is the only gift that is great enough and holy enough for the nations to bring to King Messiah Yeshua?

Only the Bride.

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Dr Hollisa Alewine – A Better Torah Starter (with guest Timothy Herron)

A Better Torah Starter

Yitro

The Torah Portion Study Habit

This week’s Torah portion is Yitro, or Jethro, named after Moses’ father-in-law who had some very practical ideas for the fledgling nation. It should make us grin to see Moses fall into a very common trap, thinking he had to do everything on his own instead of assembling and teaching a team to help him carry the load.

Why do leaders do this?

Often it’s from a fear that he or she protects the sheep from harmful influences, others who might lead or teach the people astray. It’s a heightened sense of responsibility when the leader feels there is no one else qualified. Very understandable, but needs improvement.
Sometimes it is ego-centric. The leader likes being the leader and having everyone consult him/her on every issue. He/she likes the feeling of power that comes with being in charge. Needs heart improvement. The Father’s sheep are not there to boost our self-esteem.

There are probably lots of other reasons, but I suspect the best of Moses, which is what we should do. Suspect the best intentions. In spite of his good intentions, Moses was wearing himself out as well as those who need help and guidance! In fact, the sages say, Yitro is pointing out that it’s disrespectful to the people to make them stand in line all day. Don’t you feel disrespected when you have to sit in the waiting room for an appointment for hours? Your time is valuable, too!

And how many times did Moses have to repeat himself each day? What if everyone who had a similar question could be addressed in a particular court? Local judges could take on the responsibility of teaching the most common laws and applications so that it became common knowledge, like what happens when four cars approach a four-way stop at the same time. Not that they were driving cars in the wilderness. I’m sure it was donkeys or ATVs.

Yitro’s practical advice sparks Moses into training and setting up judges to help him carry the load so that he can become the Supreme Court to hear cases that the primary leaders and appeals courts couldn’t handle. This was a better way. Our medical system implements this model to train physicians. In a teaching hospital, you might first see a med student who does an initial exam and workup, then there will be an ascending level of expertise called in to treat the patient and train those learning: interns, residents, attendings.

Yitro’s name comes from yoter in Hebrew: more. Yoter tov is better, more good. More good better. Yitro reminds us that sometimes there is a more good better way of doing things, and that way is more respectful of people’s time, need, and their own responsibilities. Since the Israelites were newcomers to the Torah, they needed an appropriate level of instruction to get started.

This is a stop sign. It is red with white letters and has eight sides.
The letters spell STOP.
It means to come to a complete stop.
Look in all directions.
If more then one of you approach the stop sign at the same time, then let the donkey on the right go first.

Isn’t that easier and more good better than thousands of donkeys galloping around the wilderness trying to figure out which Hebrew word means “Stop”?

On this week’s Shabbat livestream, I’ve invited Timothy Herron to join us and teach a sample lesson from his Seedtime and Harvest workbook series designed for newcomers to the Torah. Like Yitro, Tim said, “There’s a better way to introduce folks to the weekly Torah portions.” Many people begin to study Torah haphazardly, or maybe they never start because they’re discouraged by all those Hebrew words we’re using and how comfortable we seem with feasts and commandments they’ve never studied. New language, new laws…no wonder it’s intimidating!

Tim’s workbooks ease in the beginner to Torah with smaller bites of information and an introduction to the structure of the Torah portions. The point is to help the learner establish a study habit instead of a reading habit. Anyone can read through the Bible in a year. Not everyone remembers or understands what he or she read at the end of that year. This Seedtime and Harvest “Torah Tuesday” series introduces good study habits and new words in a manner that the beginner can acquire without feeling overwhelmed:

Five volumes – one for each book of the Torah based on the 54 traditional Torah Portions.

Each volume contains:

Torah Portion name in Hebrew and English
Hebrew Mini which introduces the reader to Hebrew letters.
Nutshell is seven highlights of each portion.
Seven Readings from each portion with selected commentary
Suggestions for further study
Simple Thoughts by the author

If you’ve been looking for a good starter program for friends, family, or your Bible study, it is worth checking out this preview lesson on our Shabbat YouTube livestream. And if you’re looking for the accompanying videos to the study, they have now begun airing on Hebraic Roots Network. More will be added soon.

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Dr Hollisa Alewine – Footsteps of Messiah Part 97 (The Day of the LORD – Understanding the Chosen)

For believers in Yeshua who observe the Shabbat, we are reminded frequently…make that every week…that most of the world has not chosen to honor the Seventh Day as His chosen day. For many, they’ve simply not been taught about it. For others, they’ve been taught incorrectly. For others, they know, and they don’t choose to honor it. It’s a matter of choice. Our choices reflect both what we

1) understand

and/or

2) prefer

In the internet age, we are harassed multiple times per day to “rate” a product or a service. With a greedy disregard for the value of a purchaser’s time, the vendor expects to take a minute, five minutes, or even longer, for the purchaser to fill out surveys and questionnaires on preferences in order to help the seller adjust products and selling techniques to make more money.

Shouldn’t they be paying us?

I don’t work for free in my secular job, only in ministry. You probably don’t either. There is rarely an offer of more than a trinket of thanks in return for our valuable time, but sometimes we give it to them because we are flattered that someone would want to know what we think or we have an opportunity to vent even though a real human being is not likely to see or care what we write. In that sense, the business takes our money, takes uncompensated time, and then largely ignores the specific concern and buries it in a mass of number data. What a deal!

The process depends upon what we choose. Why did we choose that product? That company? That day? That salesperson?

Now here’s the question: Because we chose that particular product from that particular company on that particular day from that particular salesperson, does it mean we HATED every other choice?

Of course not. We simply did our shopping and research (hopefully), and we preferred one over the others. Choice. We found the right thing for us personally. Unfortunately, many approach Shabbat and the Word with a similar mindset. They see it as a personal choice of what best suits them rather than a process of learning what their Creator has chosen and mirroring His choices.

Esau is a great example of one who knew what to do, yet chose differently. This is why Esau, Edom, “The Red One” represents the untamed appetites of the soul: appetite, emotion, desire, and intellect. It is a tremendous life force designed by the Creator, yet in its design, the spirit of a man was chosen to rule over it. It doesn’t mean Elohim hates the soul in an emotional sense: quite the contrary! He loves us so much that He sent His Son to save our rowdy souls. The spirit of a man comes from above, from Elohim Himself. He wants that Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) to rule over the soul. He CHOSE that modality.

• The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi. “I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.” (Mal 1:1-3)

It can be confusing when reading Scripture to understand being “chosen.” In context, it can simply mean preferring one over the other, not hating the one who was not chosen. Because we associate hate with an extreme emotion, we lose the grasp that what is chosen is loved in the sense of preference and precedence in certain matters, and what is hated is what is ranked beneath it in certain mattters.

In our culture, we rarely use “hate” if the feeling of loathing and disgust is not attached to it. Herein lies the problem. The human experience is only a parable of reality, which is found in our Creator. Our experience of emotion, desire, and intellect only mirrors His, but His is perfect. When we see love and hate only as strong emotions, then we can miss the nuances of Scripture where He is teaching us the importance of good choices based on His preferences instead of ours. He’s not offering us a survey to find out which of the commandments we prefer or even if we prefer to do them at all. He’s observing us.

The times in Scripture when people felt rejected, they also felt unloved, so they acted in reprehensible ways. Kain killed Abel. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. King Saul tried to kill David, and so on. Their story is our story. The problem is that when Adonai expresses a preference for those who do His will instead of their own, we miss the issue, just like Kain. Kain knew what to do in order to have his sacrifice respected. That’s all he had to do. Choose and do what Elohim preferred. Here is another example of the choosing-lesson:

“He also rejected the tent of Joseph, and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, but chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved.” (Ps 78:67-68)

Joseph/Ephraim were not rejected as people, only their territory as the resting place of Adonai’s glory. Instead, the Judah/Benjamin territory was already chosen as The Place of the Temple Mount for the peoples to come worship. The Father loved Mount Zion, which means He loved His People…all His People who would go up there to worship. It would be a House of Prayer for ALL nations to worship. He loved the world. It is hard to accept “God so loved the world” if we trip over “He rejected Joseph and did not choose Ephraim.”

In context, the choice indicates the great plan of salvation and the geography of how it will be accomplished, not a qualitative assessment of everyone descended from Joseph. We do tend to get stuck when we’re not chosen for something, and if we can’t step back and decide

1) is it a “Kain Question,” of whether I need to modify my own behavior and choices to do better?

or

2) does it really have nothing to do with me and my choices, only how a greater plan is being executed? Divine plans and design.

The world really does struggle with words like Zion, Zionism, Zionist. Why?

• Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. (Is 62:1)

• Then the angel said to me, “Shout this message for all to hear: ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: My love for Jerusalem and Mount Zion is passionate and strong.’” (Zec 1:14)’

• “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: ‘My love for Mount Zion is passionate and strong; I am consumed with passion for Jerusalem!’” (Zec 8:2)

Zion and Jerusalem are the Covenant People walking in righteousness, assembling at “The Place.” The Father has passionate love for them, for they are instrumental to His ultimate plan.

Zionists are people who obey their Creator and choose what He chooses.

Righteous nations and people accept this pattern. Like Joseph and Ephraim’s territory, their rejection was not being left unloved and scorned, the way human beings hate, but to highlight the way of His choice so they could find that path of obedience to salvation in Yeshua, who will rule and reign from Jerusalem. The Father loves and chooses those who love and choose what He loves and chooses. It is His way of guiding the people of the earth to Him because He loves them all.

Jeroboam set up golden calves in Beth-El of Ephraim and in Dan because he didn’t agree with Adonai’s choice of geography or tribes and priests in the design. Because he did not love what his Creator loved or choose what He chose, he’d do anything to divert the chosen people from the chosen place so that they would lose their identity as those who loved and chose Zion (Tzion). “For out of Tzion shall the Torah go forth, and the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Is 2:3)

Those who reject Tzion and Tzionists try to dominate or control The Place and People, thinking it will destroy the terms of the Covenant, the Word, the Torah. Tzionism is to choose the Father’s plan. Since Judah has leadership, the nations believe controlling or exterminating Jews is the first step toward ruling the whole earth. After that, re-directing the obedience of the nations is next. Esau has always coveted his father’s love, yet did not love the Father enough to obey His plan. “Jacob” obeys, in which case the Father “loves” Jacob and “hates” Esau. In the earth-story, Isaac emotionally loved Esau in spite of his disobedience. In Biblical language, love and hate can be a matter of preference, not necessarily an emotion of hatred.

Let’s extend this principle to the Lord’s Day, Shabbat:

• “If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure, and speaking your own word…”

In the English text, “your own word” is a bit of a stretch from the simple Hebrew word davar. Take a look at the concise definition of davar:

?????? (H1696)

speech, word, speaking, thing

speech

saying, utterance

word, words

business, occupation, acts, matter, case, something, manner (by extension)

The translators are reading more into the simple word davar. They see “your OWN word” rather than word. The reason for this might be due to the many ways davar is translated in its many contexts:

The KJV translates Strong’s H1697 in the following manner: word (807x), thing (231x), matter (63x), acts (51x), chronicles (38x), saying (25x), commandment (20x), miscellaneous (204x).

What sticks out is the number of miscellaneous words davar is used for: 204!

A davar is a word. A davar is a thing. In Hebrew, the word is the thing.

In context, the translators see a contrast between Shabbat behavior, thinking, emotions, and yes, choices versus Days 1-6. It is not that Adonai rejects Days 1-6 to destroy them. Each of those days is full of goodness and good choices. He’s not un-creating Days 1-6. He is, however, choosing and designating Day 7 like he chose and designated a people and place called Tzion. We must choose to let His choosing prevail, and help advance even, the purpose of that choosing by also choosing to honor and enjoy it differently than the other six days of the week.

In fact, all the things we’ve prepared in the first six days of the week become part of Day Seven. If we didn’t prepare it on one of those other six days, then we don’t have it on Shabbat. It’s not a love-unloved, hated-not hated proposition in the sense of emotion, but of design. The soul was chosen for its purpose; the spirit was chosen for its purpose; the body was chosen for its purpose. They work together under the discipline of the spirit to live, not to chop off soul and body. We’d call that being dead!

Esau’s territory will be made a desolation as a discipline for not accepting the choices and design of Elohim. The soul will finally see the death and devastation in the body, formed from earth, that is caused when it does not choose to follow the Creator’s will and design. Likewise, all the 7s in the Book of Revelation hint to the devastation the world must experience in order to acknowledge His choices, starting with the first principle, Shabbat, the Seventh Day.

Understanding the many uses of the word davar, now it makes sense in context. “Your own words” are business words, occupation words, preparation words, the things you talk about and do on weekdays. We can reject those conversations and things in order to choose the words and things of Shabbat.

• The Gemara cites what we learned with regard to the following passage: “If you keep your feet from breaking, from pursuing your affairs on My holy day, and you call Shabbat a delight…, the Lord’s holy day honorable, and you honor it by not going your own way, from attending to your affairs and speaking idle words.” Mishneh Torah, Shabbat 113a:14

Idle words are reik, or empty, worthless. A word that would be valuable if spoken Sunday-Friday is worthless and empty on Shabbat. Words that would be valuable, honorable and delightful on a different day are not on Shabbat. By choosing the Shabbat and its instructions for ceasing from creative work, we exercise a choice to be chosen and loved.

We choose to rest in our salvation in Yeshua, knowing we cannot add or subtract anything from what was already finished on Day Six. All we can do is walk in and honor the Davar that was established “from the foundation of the world.” It is not ours to re-draw the boundaries either of Creation or the Word. It is ours to hear and do. To honor and respect. To delight in and rejoice in.

When we choose and love HIS Day, we have lots of personal choices WITHIN the boundary of Shabbat. What to eat, what to wear, who to have over for a meal, what Torah discussion we can have that is not idle, empty, controversial, or likely to kindle a fire. The Father’s love is strong, passionate, and eternal toward us. Chosen.

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Dr Hollisa Alewine – Footsteps of Messiah Part 96 (Double Life Pt 2)

This week we continue with “Living a Double Life”

To review: The challenge is that many of the commandments are given as nos, or the “you shall nots.” At least half of life is managing the nos, the boundaries, and the good fences that preserve our lives. 

If life is at least half no, then fostering a great relationship with the no commandments is the key. We can discipline ourselves to engage the nos with as much enthusiasm as the yeses, which really, is what makes a disciple. Just like Yeshua told Peter, we are transformed from a person who always wants to be in charge to one who is willing to be led of the Ruach HaKodesh in every circumstance, even down to the time and way we die.

Some disciples discipline the nos faster, and some not so fast. It is important, though, for if we cannot engage the simple commandments of yes and no, then how will we hear the more subtle still, small, voice of the Ruach HaKodesh is our daily dilemmas that don’t come with a chapter and verse attached to them?

This week, let’s look at another “commandment principle” of life: the possibility of living a double life. It starts with the first commandment given at Mount Sinai in Exodus 20:1-5:

Then God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them…’

The commandment is not to put another created entity as an “elohim” in front of Elohim, the only Creator. The idea is that there is nothing else created that could possibly be Elohim. By definition, Elohim is the Creator of all things, and a created elohim (judge, appointed ruler) is not. It is merely another created thing originating from Elohim. All other things go behind Him. He is the first, and there is no second to compare to Him.

Sometimes a glance at a more literal Hebrew helps. “You shall have no other gods before Me” is:

??? ???????????? ???????? ???????? ????????????

or

You will not be to yourself another god on My face.

When a human being fabricates an image from wood, stone, or other substance, or attributes the Ruach Elohim to an existing created substance such as a tree, water, cloud, etc., then the human has put a “face” on Elohim. The urge is so strong that this is the first commandment, a “yes” paired with a “no.” Yes, He is Elohim, and no, do not tamper with Him by fabricating an image to put a face on Him, for it will be inaccurate and a product of human imagination.

A philosopher once said that “imagination is man’s most God-like characteristic.” We can also say that based on the primacy of the first commandment, imagination is man’s most god-like characteristic, his primary place of vulnerability to idols.

The moment we put a face on Elohim, we become susceptible to idolatry, looking to that object for intervention on our behalf: success, health, sustenance, good, peace, prosperity, comfort, joy, etc. For instance, rather than partner with Elohim for our life-path of prosperity, prerequisite to putting His Kingdom first, we forge our own ideas about how much wealth we need and when we need it without regard for our spiritual discipline and agreement to put Elohim first in all things.

In ancient times, people sought out gods of prosperity, fertility, strength, war, and so on. Rather than partner with Elohim, “who teaches my hands to war,” (Ps 18:34) they consulted principalities and powers and made war. Because the worship of these entities requires the imagination, effort, time, and faith of the human being, the powers of the entity reflect the human who turns to it, not the true created ability assigned to that power by Elohim for it to manage its particular realm, whether in the heavens above or earth below.

Are there other powerful spiritual beings and human organizations in our universe? Yes. Are they the Creator and worthy of our time, attention, and resources? NO!

These entities are not ours to petition or order around. In selecting the attributes of certain entities, we put a human, animal, or other physical face on Elohim. While He is often hidden from human beings, He does not need a mask of our choosing. We desperately need to believe that so that we don’t live a double life, claiming to worship Elohim while putting our trust in other created entities. That is done today not so much by worshiping an object, but by putting faith in the leopard’s spots.

Remember our lessons on the beast kingdoms? The leopard was Greece. The spots were its organizations: medicine, art, philosophy, education, drama, military, government, politics, sports, music, etc. The Romans took those organizations and expanded them, and even when the Roman Empire fell, those systems are disseminated all over the world to influence and control human beings. Now human beings are conditioned to look to those organizations to supply every human need. When we put faith in them, they become a god on Elohim’s face.

They are to be used lawfully, not trusted.

We are in Babylon, the whole earth. The golden head of Babylon is still attached to the whole image: Babylon’s golden head; Medo-Persia’s silver chest; Greece’s bronze abdomen; Rome’s iron legs; and those organizations mixed with all humans made of clay are standing on the whole earth. When King Messiah, the Stone, smashes the feet of the world’s organizations being worshiped, then it will also tumble the cumulative effect of the whole image, and Babylon will be fallen once again.

Can we use these systems? Go to a doctor? Vote? Write and paint? Play sports? Defend our country? Receive an education? Absolutely! We are in Babylon, but we are not OF it. “Come out of her” is a yes commandment, but we can’t come out of the world itself without also saying some nos. Those iron and clay feet are everywhere. The key is don’t participate in Babylon’s sins:

“I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;’” (Re 18:4)

Being in the earth and its systems is inevitable; participating in its sinfulness is not. The Ten Commandments are the Cliff’s Notes of how to master the yeses and nos of the Word. Inevitably, all those organizations will be destroyed by King Messiah Yeshua. They are each being exposed even now. While they meet many needs, just like a created power in the heavens above or earth below, they are not Elohim.

When those organizations begin to exercise sinful power, influence, and control over human beings, especially because human beings WANT them to do so in order to derive the benefit, just like ancient idolatry, THEN they begin to function like a face on Elohim. It is our responsibility to never let these things replace our faith in Elohim as the Lord of Armies, the Healer, the Provider, the Creator, and the many names of Who He is to His Creation.

“To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him.” (Dt 4:35)

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Ain od m’ilvado.

There is no other beside Him.

There is nothing more than His oneness.

This week a rabbi explained the first commandment to have no other gods. He said it is to be double-minded! To think that any other power or force on earth is our source rather than the One who created us. That reminded me of something I memorized in high school:

James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (Ja 1:1-8)

Now that I’m older, I can read the contextual and symbolic phrasing.

The letter is written specifically to disciples of Yeshua in the dispersion, not in Judea. These believers are among the nations, not in the defined land of Israel itself. Emphasizing this, James (Ya’akov) describes them as being in a place the sea where “wind” tosses. The sea alludes to the nations, and the tossing wind is “ruach,” those created spiritual entities that rule them, such as the Prince of Persia. Each nation has its assigned ruler until it is shaken down just before King Messiah returns to set up his government on earth.

Wisdom, or “chokhmah,” is the first of the seven spirits of Adonai listed in Isaiah 11:2, the Holy Spirit. They are seven manifestations of the ONE Ruach HaKodesh, for the menorah was hammered from one piece of gold. James is giving believers an exhortation from the first commandment: There is only one Elohim; believe it!

Being among the wind-tossed sea of nations is to be vulnerable to those who have made spiritual powers into their gods by believing they had power independent of Elohim’s will, or they have created organizations to accomplish the same goals as those who worshiped idols of their imagination from ancient times. Indeed, those “princes” are responsible for their assigned territories, but they do not report to nor heed another created being. Only Elohim. There is none other. James knew we’d need this reminder not to absorb the nations’ reliance on their systems instead of our Creator Elohim.

An idol is nothing but an inaccurate, pathetic, self-serving, figment of the human imagination placed like one of many faces on Elohim. In these lands of exile among the nations, we are to turn to the Ruach HaKodesh, the Spirit of Elohim, Who is One, to meet all our needs in His time, not ours. In His quantity, not ours, When we begin to “work the system” apart from His perfect will in our lives, we’ll be double-minded. Like the Israelites, we will fall into fear and uncertainty. Although they said “We will do and we will hear” at the mountain,” there was still some double-mindedness.

Could they really do the yes and not do the nos? Even the first commandment, to believe Elohim created all things and would provide all things…even their perfection at the resurrection, was so unbelievable that they thought they’d die. They asked Moses to talk directly to Adonai and relay the messages and their answers. It is difficult to judge them. After all, do we really believe that we can be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”?

We have no control over the fact we’re in the exile and Babylon. What we do have control over is sin! Before we get past ten commandments to 613, we examine our hearts toward Elohim and His people:

Hear, O, Israel. YHVH our Elohim, YHVH is ONE.

You shall love… And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

In our hearts, we must accept that there is none other. First, Elohim is Creator. He created everything that is BEHIND Him, including our neighbor. Ain od m’ilvado. Once we accept that, then we can hear the Ten Commandments without dying. After that, we can learn the details of all 613 in the “seas,” the wilderness of the nations, our dispersion.

Elohim’s pre-eminence is the key to coming out of Babylon, to not placing our faith in human systems. We must evaluate whether any of those systems is influencing us or coercing us to sin. If so, the Word of the commandments will provide the answer as to whether we are being double-minded. Gradually, like Peter going to his own cross, we stop living a double life and thinking with a double mind. We quit placing our masks on Elohim.

Worry is evidence that the Ruach HaKodesh is still working on the second mind-mask whispering that Elohim is not fully to be trusted to be our Creator, Provider, Healer, Protector…and even the One Who will resurrect us to life when our worst fears come true. And isn’t that the key to not fearing? May Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. One mind. The worst fear, death, is our greatest hope. Ain od m’ilvado. No human being, principality, power, or human organization can resurrect us from the dead to live in the Presence of Elohim forever. Only ONE can and will.

The ONE we believe…and our doing is evidence of our believing…will bring us to perfection by His Ruach HaKodesh. What if we’re not entirely perfect when we die?

We’ll leave at least a few things not perfected. Otherwise, we’d be Messiah himself with the power of resurrection, but we’re not. We are depending on Yeshua’s sinless life to raise us sinless from the dead, not the other way around. Yeshua is the Living Word. The Word is the Torah. The Word is the Commandment. The yeses and the nos of Torah are life from the dead.

So next time we’re worried about the economy, war, family, disease, politics, and every other care of the world, we have an opportunity. The Ruach HaKodesh is giving us an open window to put Elohim first. The imposter mind is being exposed as a fake! The person worrying is not us. It’s just a man-made image-ination trying to put a distorted mask on our Deliverer. We need only a single mind in every trial: Ain od m’ilvado!

There is none other than Him!

Perfect.

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