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Friday, September 30, 2016

Elul - are we achor el achor or are we panim el panim (back to back or face to face) - as we go into the new year? Come and See...

…Lessons from the Wilderness Volume Tweleve… [1] [2] [3] [4]

Gleanings from Elul 5776

Song of Solomon 6:3 (Tanakh)

3I am my beloved’s
And my beloved is mine;
He browses among the lilies. [5]
Song of Solomon 7:11 (Tanakh)

11I am my beloved’s,
And his desire is for me. [6]


The Month of Elul is almost gone: the new year is beckoning. It has been, well, a hard month for me. That is why I am breaking up our study on the Prayer to our Father, to take a small bit of time and reflect on this past month, the new beginning, and the 10 days of introspection that leads us to Yom Kippur and beyond.

Let me quote here from an article written by Sara Esther Crispe if I may:

“…The month that we are now in, Elul, is the key to unlocking the inner and most potent meaning of the heart. As is well known, the Hebrew letters that make the word “Elul,” aleph, lamed, vav and lamed, are an acronym for the phrase (from the biblical Song of Songs) ani l’dodi v’dodi li, which means “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.”
This beautiful and romantic phrase is that which represents our relationship with our Creator, which is often paralleled to that of a husband and wife, a bride and groom, in our individual lives.
The Zohar explains that at the beginning of Elul we are achor el achor, meaning “back to back,” and by the end of Elul we are panim el panim, “face to face.” But how can it be that we are back to back? Wouldn’t that imply that G‑d has His back turned to us as well? How can we say such a thing, when this is the month in which—as chassidic master Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi teaches us—“the King is in the field”? Is it not the month when G‑d is more accessible than ever, when He is waiting for us to greet Him, when He is there for us in the “field” of our everyday lives?
The fact that we are described as “back to back” and then “face to face” is an incredible lesson…” [7]

Indeed, she goes on to say this incredible statement: “…when we feel angry, hurt, abandoned, whatever the root of our pain may be, we turn our back. When our back is turned, we have no idea of the state of the other…”[8]

That is me – that is my state this month. What should have been a joyous time, knowing my King is in the field, accessible, and willing to hear my needs and sooth my hurts, I feel as if we have been achor el achor this entire time and my whole being has been out of sorts, out of the reach of my King, for how can one reach out to another if they are back to back? To be truthful, I have been afraid to turn around, afraid that all I’d see is my beloved’s back and not His welcoming arms. Instead of joy, all I’ve felt is the weight, the longing, the pain of an internal loneliness that only comes when G-d is silent. Why is the only presence I seem to be able to feel is the presence of – well - sin, my transgressions that separate me from my beloved, that keeps both of our backs turned? How can He be accessible to me if the rags of my righteousness are filth? Why would He want to be accessible to me?

There are things in my personal life that I cannot disclose – they involve family and the matter is between us, and not the world. But I can discuss what is within me, and it is a place that Christian writer A.W. Pink described best:

“…There are two sides to a Christians’ life: a light and a dark, an elevating and a depressing one… His experience is neither all joy, nor is it all grief, but a mixture of both…”[9]

Let it be known here, I do not consider myself a Christian – I am a Messianic believer. I live for the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Israel by adhering to the Torah of Moshe and following the Messiah He has sent, Yeshua. That being said, I don’t have a problem with studying from Christian sources or Jewish ones either. There is something to learn from both – if you know how to connect the dots. Here is where it all comes together for me – Elul and the mixture of joy and grief, the searching of my soul, the cleansing of the trash that I have accumulated from just living in this broken, fallen world. I had hoped to see Him panim el panim at the end of Elul, but instead I’m afraid to turn around.

Why? Light and dark, joy and grief – these are what I struggle with, these two conflicting parts of my walk with Machiach. On one hand, I see how the sweet indwelling presence of the Ruach haKodesh, G-d’s Holy Spirit, helps to comfort me yet on the other, I have to come face to face with that which also indwells all of us – and that is sin. 

Let us see from this perspective:

Romans 7 (the Complete Jewish Bible)

7 Surely you know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who understand Torah—that the Torah has authority over a person only so long as he lives? For example, a married woman is bound by Torah to her husband while he is alive; but if the husband dies, she is released from the part of the Torah that deals with husbands. Therefore, while the husband is alive, she will be called an adulteress if she marries another man; but if the husband dies, she is free from that part of the Torah; so that if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress.
Thus, my brothers, you have been made dead with regard to the Torah through the Messiah’s body, so that you may belong to someone else, namely, the one who has been raised from the dead, in order for us to bear fruit for God. For when we were living according to our old nature, the passions connected with sins worked through the Torah in our various parts, with the result that we bore fruit for death. But now we have been released from this aspect of the Torah, because we have died to that which had us in its clutches, so that we are serving in the new way provided by the Spirit and not in the old way of outwardly following the letter of the law.
Therefore, what are we to say? That the Torah is sinful? Heaven forbid! Rather, the function of the Torah was that without it, I would not have known what sin is. For example, I would not have become conscious of what greed is if the Torah had not said, “Thou shalt not covet.”v But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, worked in me all kinds of evil desires—for apart from Torah, sin is dead. I was once alive outside the framework of Torah. But when the commandment really encountered me, sin sprang to life, 10 and I died. The commandment that was intended to bring me life was found to be bringing me death! 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me; and through the commandment, sin killed me. 12 So the Torah is holy; that is, the commandment is holy, just and good.
13 Then did something good become for me the source of death? Heaven forbid! Rather, it was sin working death in me through something good, so that sin might be clearly exposed as sin, so that sin through the commandment might come to be experienced as sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the Torah is of the Spirit; but as for me, I am bound to the old nature, sold to sin as a slave. 15 I don’t understand my own behavior—I don’t do what I want to do; instead, I do the very thing I hate! 16 Now if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am agreeing that the Torah is good. 17 But now it is no longer “the real me” doing it, but the sin housed inside me. 18 For I know that there is nothing good housed inside me—that is, inside my old nature. I can want what is good, but I can’t do it! 19 For I don’t do the good I want; instead, the evil that I don’t want is what I do! 20 But if I am doing what “the real me” doesn’t want, it is no longer “the real me” doing it but the sin housed inside me. 21 So I find it to be the rule, a kind of perverse “Torah,” that although I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me! 22 For in my inner self I completely agree with God’s Torah; 23 but in my various parts, I see a different “Torah,” one that battles with the Torah in my mind and makes me a prisoner of sin’s “Torah,” which is operating in my various parts. 24 What a miserable creature I am! Who will rescue me from this body bound for death? 25 Thanks be to God [, he will]!—through Yeshua the Messiah, our Lord!
To sum up: with my mind, I am a slave of God’s Torah; but with my old nature, I am a slave of sin’s “Torah.”[10]

I struggle with this body of death every day.  It is not just in the body that I live in but also is the body of death that is this world and the culture of it that you and I live in.  Every day we are surrounded by its evil; it calls out to us from every magazine, every movie, every television show and radio station we listen to or watch.  We get blasted by the pornography on the internet, on our cell phones, in music and books.  Everyday our souls are under attack and are beaten down by this never ending call to sin.  It is so easy to pass by a church or synagogue but a few of us can’t seem to be able to pass the bar or casino. We look up into the heavens and say “Oh I’m glad I’m not like this person, the homeless, the down-trodden!”  and we shake our head in disbelief at what they do yet we won’t even take a look at our own lives; we are back to back with the lost.

 I’m going to be blunt now brethren, hear me and hear me good – there is not one of us in this world today, myself included, that is not committing suicide, by turning our backs – we are just doing it slowly, so slowly we don’t even see it.

Every time we take a drink – we are killing ourselves.
Every cigarette we smoke – we are killing ourselves.
Every time we watch or read pornography – we are killing ourselves.
Everything that we put into our eyes that does not glorify G-d – we are killing ourselves.
Every time we engage in sex outside the bounds of marriage – we are killing ourselves.
Everything and anything in which we do if it does not exalt
the Living and True G-d is killing us.

We are killing ourselves even in the way we dress: how you ask?  Look at what you wear – does it edify G-d, or is it full of the symbols of death, skulls and flames?  Do we dress modestly, or do we dress to impress, to attract others to us, the allure of our bodies? 
·         If we are not reflecting the holiness of G-d in how we dress, we are killing ourselves! 
·         By our disobedience to the Word of G-d, by our failure to bow our knees to G-d and His Messiah, we are killing ourselves! 
·         If we are not daily picking up our cross and mortifying the deeds of the flesh by dying to ourselves – then truly, truly I say – we are killing not only our bodies, but also our souls.

Children: if you disrespect and disobey your parents – you are killing yourselves.
Parents: if you are not living a life of Godliness – you are killing yourselves and your children.

Fathers and husbands: if you are not submitting yourselves to the headship of Yeshua ha’Machiach and taking on the hard role of the spiritual leader in your house, if you are not protecting and cherishing the greatest gift G-d has given you –your wife-  you are killing yourself and your family.

Mothers and wives:  if you are not standing beside you husband as his help-mate – not behind him or in front of but by his side, and coming in agreement with him as he takes his role as leader of your family, and if you don’t back him up as he makes right decisions based upon the word of G-d (and these are the only ones you should support) – you are killing yourself, him, and your children.

I must add this here: no man has the right to abuse his wife or children. Submission to the G-dly role of a husband does not mean that a woman becomes chattel, or property. It means she allows him to be the man G-d intends him to be and helps him along the way. Truly then are both one flesh, one mind, working for the good of the whole. Anything else brings heartache and darkness.

Young men: if you are lending yourselves to unrighteousness, to partying, to swearing, to fighting, to drink, or smoke, or drugs (any drugs) or sex outside of marriage – you are killing yourselves.

Young ladies: if you are compromising your walk with Yeshua by going along with anything that I’ve already said – you are killing yourselves, and the future, 
for you will be the mothers of the future one day;
Do not sell yourselves short for a promise of love; if they really love you, they, the young men, will honor you and wait for you, and put a ring on your hand in marriage; 
don’t kill the future. Un-planned pregnancies hurt everyone; and abortion is sacrifice unto Moloch - young ladies - don't give yourselves to any, be strong.

Congregation:  if you are not interceding every day always praying before the Father for the souls and needs of those around you – you are killing yourselves and them.

Pastors and teachers: hear me
If you are not teaching Torah, the instructions of G-d;
If you are not preaching against sin;
If you yourself do not hate sin with all of your might and being;
If you are not preaching the whole counsel of the Living Word of Truth;
- You are killing yourselves and your flock -

Sin dwelleths within us…  O why I ask, O why O G-d do you leave this sin, this poison within me!  Why must all  struggle so?

There is an answer for the struggle; it's purpose is to keep me humble, to cast down my pride so that my soul will be preserved.  It is so that my eyes are not lifted up upon my haughtiness and my arrogance, but are lifted upon The Father, and the Son who bore all my sins.

Within me is no good thing – it is only by His will, by His grace and mercy do I even draw another breath!  I pick up His book, His Holy righteous Word and I have to know one thing:

It is one book.

The Torah, the Law of Moshe, has to guide my life, or I will do what I do not want to do for “…the law (Torah) is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good…” [11] If I go against what is holy, I will kill myself, for without the Torah of G-d, I can only draw from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil;

…and this tree has slayed me from the very beginning …

This tree bids me to choose what is good or what is evil:

·         I think I know what is right – but it kills me.
·         I do what I think is right – and it kills me.
·         I try to be holy in my own way – and I only kill myself.

All these things I do are because I try to decide for myself what is good and what is evil…

This tree is killing me
And it is killing you

There is only one thing that can save us – His Presence.

“…O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the bodyd of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord…”  [12]

In Matthew 28:20, Christ tells the disciples:

“…lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen…” [13]

These words are meant for all believers; let us take a closer look at this marvelous promise…

“Lo!” - (Behold He says!) Oh mark well, consider what I say carefully…

“I” -  Who am I? I am the lover of your soul, your Kinsman redeemer, the one who shed His blood for you – the Creator, Maker of all things, the Holy One of Israel – “I”…

“am with you” – Not away from you not as someone who just drops in now and then, but WITH you, besides you, in you – and I send My angels to watch over you and guard you, My Spirit I send to comfort and guide you, My Blood shall cover you…

“alway” – All the days, continually, completely, Forever…

“even unto the end” – The end of your earthly travels, to the end of your life and beyond…

“of the world” – If heaven and earth pass away will I leave you? Never.  Never.  No matter what you might do, if you are mine.

“Amen” – Sealed. Finished; I have spoken it as Truth, promised to you by the One who cannot lie…

‘…lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen…” [14]

There is no greater promise, no greater gift for in this one statement, nothing more can be added or needs to be said.

He promised His presence – always.  It is in our own lack of understanding of this most cherished promise that we continue to struggle with the sin that dwells within.  The only way that this sin can have any power over us is in our failure to know Who it is that is with us…

Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

10     nFear not, ofor I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ [15]

Two presences.  Light and dark, sin or righteousness through Messiah Yeshua.

A broken heart sometimes cannot see but only one - cannot feel the arms that hold as the back is turned – yet there is One who sits upon the throne that sees all broken hearts – and a broken and contrite heart He will not despise.

So do I have the courage to turn around, at the end of Elul? Does this searching of my heart, the weight I feel mean that He is not near to me? Is my brokenness a sign that he has left me alone?
How will I ever know if I won’t turn around?

REPENT, T’shuvah…

O turn ye sinner from the darkness that threatens to overwhelm you!

REPENT! T’SHUVAH -Return!

…For the unknown is killing me…

T’Shuvah!
Return!

O I cry to Him for Mercy!
O I cry to Him for Grace!
O I cry out for His Shed Blood to Redeem me from the horrors of sheol!
O I cry to Him to come and dwell within…

…T’Shuvah…

We all need to.
Put down that fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
And come with me to plant ourselves beside 
the Tree of Life from which flows rivers of Living Water…

Let us together turn around, and take the chance
To see His arms open wide.
His back was not to us,
But His face shines upon us.

Repent, for the Kingdom of G-d is at hand,
And the Almighty G-d is calling.

Will He be a sweet presence in your heart, healing and comforting, at this, 
the end of Elul, and the beginning of the new year?

As Yom Kippur approaches is He our comfort
Or will He be a consuming fire?

On this Yom Teruah, turn around and see, crown Him as King of kings and Lord of lords.
I have, and I am my beloved’s and He is mine.

Beloved, may the Lord richly bless you, and keep you and give you His Shalom this day…

…Amein…




[1] Authors note: Use of information from Jewish-themed websites should not be construed as these sites endorsing or confirming any thesis introduced by the author of this epistle. I present the information from their respective sites for instructional purposes only and/or to aid in the readers understanding of the subjects discussed. The inverse is also true – by using these sites in no way confirms or denies that this author holds to all things found on these sites – but brethren, we all can learn from one another, Jew and Gentile; may it be so in shalom and love and respect.
[2]  Author’s note:  Throughout this study I’ll be using the Net® Bible and the Net® Notes: within the notes you’ll see symbols like this: ( א B Ψ 892* 2427 sys). These are abbreviations used by the NetBible© for identifying the principal manuscript evidence that they (authors and translators of the NetBible©) used in translating the New Testament. Please go to  https://bible.org/netbible/ and see their section labeled “NET Bible Principals of Translation” for a more complete explanation on these symbols and other items pertinent to the way the NET Bible uses them.
[3] Author’s Note: In these studies, I have used the notes that come along with the passages I cite from the sources that I cite: these need a bit of a disclaimer though. As in all things, not everything that is footnoted is something that I necessarily agree with, especially if it contradicts what I believe pertains to any matters of the Torah or the commandments of G-d. I give you the notes as they are written by the authors of the material I cite from, so that you can see the information contained within them. It truly is not my place to edit or correct them; if they state anything that is in opposition to what I teach, then so be it. I will address these issues if requested, but for the sake of brevity (as if any of these posts of mine are brief ) I insert them and let them stand as they are. If I don’t agree with them, why do I include them you might ask? I don’t believe in censuring anyone’s opinions or scholarship; as I would not want mine censured, so I will not do to that to another. As Rabbi Hillel once stated, “What is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is the whole Torah. Go and learn it.” Torah leads me to respect others, even if I disagree; it leads me to present both sides of the coin, even if it could mean I’d lose part of the argument. That is not to say I should not challenge something I believe contradicts the truth of G-d’s word; that I will do in the main body of my epistles; that is where my gentle dissent belongs. Most (but not all) of the differences will come when I quote from the NET® Bible (but not exclusively); it has a decidedly Western/Greek mindset to it, but as a wise man once said “How do you eat chicken? Swallow the meat and spit out the bones…” I do though want to present the NET® notes because there is a wealth of information and research contained within them that I hope you find helpful.
[4] One may wonder why I omit the “o” when I write the title “G-d”. While there are many who say that to leave out the “o” is a sign of being under the influence of the Rabbis who forbid saying the name of Yahveh, I say, one must come to a conclusion on their own, and do as their heart convicts them (within the bounds of G-d’s word of course). I believe in the power of the name of the Most High – the name of Yahveh – and in uttering it in awe and reverence, yet find no contradiction in my soul for the hyphenated title “G-d”. I have written it both ways – stopped doing it, and now I have returned to the practice – as I said, one must follow the conviction of their heart. I do not disrespect anyone else’s opinion on this matter, and regardless if you think it wrong or right, I ask for the same respect. Let each be fully persuaded in their own mind and heart – and let G-d sort it out with each believer. For now, this is right for me, till the Father corrects - or confirms; I am after all, a work in progress. Shalom. 
[5]  Jewish Publication Society. (1997, c1985). Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures : A new translation of the Holy Scriptures according to the traditional Hebrew text. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.
[6]  Jewish Publication Society. (1997, c1985). Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures : A new translation of the Holy Scriptures according to the traditional Hebrew text. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

[8] …Ibid…
[9] From Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. XXVII, February 1948 by Arthur W. Pink, reprinted by Chapel Library, Pensacola FL
v Exodus 20:14(17), Deuteronomy 5:18(21)
[10] Stern, D. H. (1998). Complete Jewish Bible: an English version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) (1st ed., Ro 7). Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications.
[11]The Holy Bible : King James Version., electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version., Ro 7:12 (Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995).
d the body...: or, this body of death
[12]The Holy Bible : King James Version., electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version., Ro 7:24-25 (Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995).
[13]The Holy Bible : King James Version., electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version., Mt 28:20 (Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995).
[14]The Holy Bible : King James Version., electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version., Mt 28:20 (Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995).
n  Is. 41:13, 14; 43:5
o  [Deut. 31:6]
[15]  The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.