LENTEN MEDITATIONS 2016

LENTEN MEDITATION – 18 & LAST
THE OLD AND THE NEW

The Resurrection of Yeshua Moshiach is the sign of the division of humanity into two streams. One stream will become extinct like the dinosaurs. This stream is known figuratively as the Old Man or Old Humanity.

Another stream enters the same space the Moshiach entered, a state of being known figuratively as Eternity or Heaven. Yeshua called it Malkuth – the Kingdom. This future humanity, of which many of us are partaking having believed in the Moshiach, is known figuratively as New Creation or the New Man or New Humanity.

Yeshua Adonai said: I AM – the Door. I AM – the Way. I AM – the Resurrection and the Life. Everyone who is part of the Old Humanity with its culture of Decay and Death is invited to be transformed and integrated or grafted into the New Man, the Body of Christ. Enter in through the Door who is Yeshua, walk in the Way who is Yeshua, receive abundant Life in Yeshua.

This is the invitation to you and you when the New Humanity proclaims: Christ is Risen. May you respond by knowing and believing that “Indeed, He is Risen!” You will find an abundance entrance into the Kingdom, the Body of Christ.

It’s not the day or date that matters. It is the entrance into the Kingdom that counts.

Mathew 11:28 Come to me all who are burdened and struggling and I will give you rest.
Revelation 21:5 And He who was seated on the throne said: Behold I make all things NEW.
Christ is Risen. Indeed He is Risen.
Happy Easter to everyone of you.
Shalom.

LENTEN MEDITATION -17

THE SPIRIT OF HOLINESS IS THE SPIRIT OF LOVE.

The Spirit of G-d is given to us through the Incarnation, Death and Resurrection of Yeshua Adonai, the perfect manifestation of Love on this planet Earth. For the sake of His love towards humankind, He left everything and lost everything.
The Body of Christ is Love.
Song of Solomon 1: 2 Let him smother me with kisses from his mouth,for your love is better than wine.
The truth about the Resurrection of Yeshua Adonai on Easter Sunday is that the love demonstrated by G-d to humankind through His Only Begotten Son cannot be destroyed by forces that are driven by a spirit of hatred for the ‘other’, for those who are different. It is to demonstrate His love for the ‘other’ that Yeshua Adonai left Heaven and became a servant and a criminal on Earth.
This ‘other’ is always branded as evil or as dissent or non-compliance with the forceful manner in which the spirit of hatred operates to have its own way. The spirit of hatred cannot afford to allow differing philosophical points of view in the process of humankind’s desire and search for the Moshiach. Nor can that evil spirit allow the growth or progress of humankind through conversation into Shalom or the Kingdom (Malkuth-Shekinah).
No, this spirit of hatred insists that it is ALWAYS right, that it knows how to interpret the Scriptures, and demands that all must bow down to the letter and its directives… or else!
It was this spirit of hatred – which feeds off the arrogance of ‘certainty’ that ‘we are of G-d and all others are of the party of the Devil’ – that first demanded the crucifixtion of the Lord of the Universe – Yeshua Moshiach.
The ‘body’ that was possessed by this spirit of hatred was called the Pharisees. But that ‘body’ was also in alliance with other powers – Herod, Rome, the Saducees and the mob. They were all in agreement, in the end, that the Body of Yeshua Moshiach in which dwelt the Holy Spirit of Love must be destroyed. In this way, they hoped also to destroy the Holy Spirit of Love.
In the mysterious plan of G-d, the crucifixtion of the Body of the Moschiah in which dwelt the fullness of the Holy Spirit of Love was allowed. The spirit of hatred rejoiced for two days.
But on the third day, this spirit was thoroughly shamed for Yeshua Moshiach rose again from the dead by the power of the Spirit of Holiness which is the Spirit of Love.
Envy could not bind the Spirit of Love.
Mathew 27: 18 For Pilate knew that because of kinah (envy) they had delivered Yehoshua up.
Swords and clubs could not bind the Spirit of Love.
Mark 14: 48 And Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach answered and said to them, Do you come out with swords and clubs as against a shoded (robber) to arrest me?
False witnesses could not bind the Spirit of Love.
Psalm 37: 11 Edei chamas (witnesses of violence, false witnesses) rise up; they lay to my charge things, questioning me of that which I have no da’as.
Mark 14: 57 Some stood up and gave this false testimony: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple made with hands; and in three days I will build another one, not made with hands.’” 59 Even so, their testimonies didn’t agree.
Hatred could not bind the Spirit of Love.
John 8:45 Why do you hate me? Is it because I tell you the truth?
Torture could not bind the Spirit of Love.
John 19: 1 Pilate then took Yeshua and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted thorn-branches into a crown and placed it on his head, put a purple robe on him, 3 and went up to him, saying over and over, “Hail, ‘king of the Jews’!” and hitting him in the face.
4 Pilate went outside once more and said to the crowd, “Look, I’m bringing him out to you to get you to understand that I find no case against him.” 5 So Yeshua came out, wearing the thorn-branch crown and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Look at the man!”
The Cross could not bind the Spirit of Love.
John 19: 26 When Yeshua saw his mother and the talmid whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Mother, this is your son.” 27 Then he said to the talmid, “This is your mother.” And from that time on, the talmid took her into his own home.
The tomb of Death could not bind the Spirit of Love.
John 20: 16 Yeshua said to her, “Miryam!” Turning, she cried out to him in Hebrew, “Rabbani!” (that is, “Teacher!”)
This is the message that goes forth from the Body of Christ to all the world from the life of Yeshua Moshiach, His Death on the Cross and His Resurrection from the Grave.
G-d is Love.
1 John 4:8 Those who do not love, do not know God; because God is love. 9 Here is how God showed his love among us: God sent his only Son into the world, so that through him we might have life. 10 Here is what love is: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the kapparah for our sins.
Romans 5: 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in that the Messiah died on our behalf while we were still sinners.
1 Peter 4: 8 More than anything, keep loving each other actively; because love covers many sins.
John 13: 34 “I am giving you a new command: that you keep on loving each other. In the same way that I have loved you, you are also to keep on loving each other. 35 Everyone will know that you are my talmidim by the fact that you have love for each other.”
John 17: 23 I united with them and you with me, so that they may be completely one, and the world thus realize that you sent me, and that you have loved them just as you have loved me.
John 3: 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but rather so that through him, the world might be saved.
Shalom!

LENTEN MEDITATION – 16

IN HIM THE GENTILES WILL HOPE

Good Friday. Yeshua Moshiach died that ALL might be saved. That was the largeness in and largesse of His Vision and Praxis – His death on the Cross at Golgotha. Be careful not to look down upon or vilify any individual or group or community or nation. O Adonai, forgive us these errors. And ALL the nations will trust in Him. Shalom.
Matthew 12: 17-21
This was to fulfill what was spoken through Yeshayah HaNavi, saying, HEN AVDI ETMACH BO, BECHIRI RATZTAH NAFSHI, NATATI RUCHI ALAV, MISHPAT LAGOYIM YOTZI (Here is my Servant, whom I uphold, my Chosen One in whom my Soul delights, I will put my Spirit on him, he will bring Justice to the Nations, YESHAYAH 42:1) LO YITZAK VLO YISSAH VLO YASHMIA BACHUTZ KOLO (He will not shout nor cry out nor raise the sound of his voice in the street.) KANEH RATZUTZ LO YISHBOR UFISHTAH CHEHAH LO YECHABENAH LE-EMET YOTZI MISHPAT (A bruised reed he will not break nor a smoldering wick will he snuff out) until Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach leads mishpat (justice) to victory. And in his Name, HAGOYIM (the Gentile nations) will put their tikvah (hope) [YESHAYAH 42:1-4; YESHAYAH 11:10 TARGUM HA-SHIVIM]

Shalom!

 

LENTEN MEDITATION – 15
I HAVE BEEN YOUR DUPE
Jeremiah 20: 7 You fooled me, Adonai; I have been your dupe. You overpowered me, and you have prevailed. All day long I’m a laughingstock; everyone makes fun of me. 8 Whenever I speak, I have to cry out; I shout, “Violence!” and “Destruction!” Thus the word of Adonai becomes for me the cause of reproach and derision all day! 9 But if I say, “I won’t think about him, I won’t speak in his name any more,” then it seems as though a fire is burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I wear myself out trying to hold it in, but I just can’t do it.
The Lenten season, if observed in spirit and in truth, teaches me an incredible truth. I see I have been G-d’s dupe, a victim of His deception. “O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived” resounds in the heartspace.
What does it mean to be G-d’s dupe? It is to know that one’s deepest desires to be a normal, social, affable, toiling, comfortable middle class human being will be overthrown and consigned to nothingness.
It is to know that one’s talents, gifts, skills, ambitions, dreams, hopes, genius and such things will be consigned to emptiness and meaninglessness.
In this experience, whether one is rich or poor, everything is blown apart and thrown to the winds. It is not even an experience of fatalism as spoken of in that ominous old ditty I read as a child in a book my godfather had gifted, the moral of which was:
“King or beggar, rich or poor/That’s your lot, don’t ask for more.”
When G-d make you His dupe, you are bewildered by the things that happen to you, all of which makes you the laughing stock of both the pious and the impious. You fail in your secular and sacred spaces. Family and friends wonder what’s wrong with you and are wary of you. Worse, you are always your own enemy, you can get nothing ‘right’.
There are times you think or know that G-d is with you and suddenly – poof! – He’s gone! You wonder if He even existed in the first place, or was He just a figment of your imagination, temporarily, and you mistook it for faith?
Or worse, you plod on doggedly, pressing deeper into G-d’s Word and preaching it in season and out of season. And it gets you brickbats not from G-d’s so-called family, but friends, family and foes too. You will experience that you are ‘fooled’ at every turn, in the secular and the sacred.
And why?
Because the Word that G-d has implanted in oneself is like the flaming sword of the angel guarding the Tree of Life – it turns in every direction and whoever comes into contact with it gets thrust through or singed one way or the other. In some mysterious manner, things that are spoken for the betterment of others is seen by them as bringing violence and destruction upon them – violence to their patterns of thought and ways of living and destruction over it all. They interpret the invitation to obedience and transformation through the Word as a curse, as a prophecy of doom!
The Lenten journey of Yeshua Moshiach to the Cross was interpreted thus by family, friends, priests, Pharisees, Herodians and others. In the beginning they flocked to Him as he healed and did miracles. But slowly He too became the dupe of G-d as G-d made Him the laughing stock and what the people heard at his lips moved away from the gracious and came through to them as ‘violence’ and ‘destruction’. Thus the Lenten journey for the Master was akin to that of Jeremiah’s, only much more intense and primed for an effect far greater than any that Jeremiah had – in effect, the salvation of sinners and the redemption of humanity by means of the Moshiach becoming accursed in the sight of G-d and man.
Galatians 3: 13The Messiah redeemed us from the curse pronounced in the Torah by becoming cursed on our behalf; for the Tanakh says, “Everyone who hangs from a stake comes under a curse.”
John 2: 19 Yeshua answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.” 20 The Judeans said, “It took 46 years to build this Temple, and you’re going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the “temple” he had spoken of was his body.
Psalm 22: 7 But I am a worm, not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. 8 All who see me jeer at me; they sneer and shake their heads.
But the one who is a dupe of G-d has been forced into this place by G-d Himself. And he discovers, like Jeremiah and the Master, that even if he wishes to stop thinking about his being chosen and ordained for such an experience, it is not possible.
Jeremiah 20: 9 But if I say, “I won’t think about him, I won’t speak in his name any more,” then it seems as though a fire is burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I wear myself out trying to hold it in, but I just can’t do it.
Luke 12: 49 “I have come to set fire to the earth! And how I wish it were already kindled!
This is what the deception of G-d achieves. The talmid is stripped of all that he is, in his own eyes and in the eyes of others, and in him and, in his place, there burns only the Word of G-d.
Revelation 10: 9 So I went over to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10 I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it; and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; but after I had swallowed it, my stomach turned bitter. 11 Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”
Jeremiah 20: 8b Thus the word of Adonai becomes for me the cause of reproach and derision all day! 9 But if I say, “I won’t think about him, I won’t speak in his name any more,” then it seems as though a fire is burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I wear myself out trying to hold it in, but I just can’t do it.
Are you afraid of becoming the dupe of G-d? Fear not.
Say to Adonai: Here I am. I have become your dupe.
Shalom!

LENTEN MEDITATION – 14
THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER
Zechariah 12: 10 And I will pour out on the house of David and on those living in Yerushalayim a spirit of grace and prayer; and they will look to me, whom they pierced.
Lent is the season to be strengthened with might in the inner man through the Spirit of grace and prayer.
To have grace from G-d is to discover that you indeed have the Spirit of prayer, or ‘supplications’, as another translation put it. The form of the prayer or supplications is not important, but it is the ‘spirit’ that matters.
Because there is a form of prayer that has nothing to do with grace.
Mathew 6: 5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites, who love to pray standing in the synagogues and on street corners, so that people can see them. Yes! I tell you, they have their reward already!
That form of prayer that is not salted with grace is also revealed in the attitude of the heart.
Mark 11: 25 And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive your offenses.”
Prayer can be silent or loud, accompanied by tears and crying or be hidden as a deep groaning deep within. It can be a sweet hour of prayer, three times a day or seven times, or it can be just a lying down on one’s bed and sending up a thought to G-d, remembering G-d, in the twinkling of an eye, in the cycle of breathing in and out. It can be a secret prayer.
Secret prayer seems to have been a favourite practice of Yeshua Adonai. And He highly recommends it.
Mathew 6: 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
The deep inner groaning of a God-ward desire that would benefit humankind was also something that burdened the Moshiach.
Hebrews 5: 7 During Yeshua’s life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions, crying aloud and shedding tears, to the One who had the power to deliver him from death; and he was heard because of his godliness.
And then the secret of the Moshiach’s prayerfulness is taught us – that dependence on and gift of the Spirit of prayer – not just in Zechariah but in Romans too.
Romans 8: 26 Similarly, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we don’t know how to pray the way we should. But the Spirit himself pleads on our behalf with groanings too deep for words; 27 and the one who searches hearts knows exactly what the Spirit is thinking, because his pleadings for God’s people accord with God’s will.
So I understand that prayer is not so much about words as the heart and desire behind the words and sometimes there can be no words even with which to pray.
Mathew 6: 7 “And when you pray, don’t babble on and on like the pagans, who think God will hear them better if they talk a lot. 8 Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Stop the babbling, Start believing. Have faith in G-d who knows everything beforehand. Faith in the Moshiach must be established in the heart-understanding beneath the prayer itself. The faith that G-d knows what you are going through and what it is exactly what you need.
But what if I cannot believe thus? What if I just need something desperately? Fear not. Pray.
1 Samuel 1: 10 In deep depression she prayed to Adonai and cried… 12 She prayed for a long time before Adonai; and as she did so, ‘Eli was watching her mouth.13 Hannah was speaking in her heart — her lips moved, but her voice could not be heard — so ‘Eli thought she was drunk. 14 ‘Eli said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Stop drinking your wine!” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a very unhappy woman. I have not drunk either wine or other strong liquor; rather, I’ve been pouring out my soul before Adonai. 16 Don’t think of your servant as a worthless woman; because I have been speaking from the depth of my distress and anger.”
Depressed? Sorrowful? Humiliated? Misunderstood? Shamed? Isolated? Helpless? Unhappy?
Fear not. The Spirit of grace and prayer rests precisely upon such a one. So PRAY! Pour out your soul before Adonai. G-d will bow down his ear and hear and act. Pray a long time if you have to, till your countenance be transformed from sad to happy. Till the assurance that G-d has heard your prayer fills your empty heart.
1 Samuel 1: 17 Then ‘Eli replied, “Go in peace. May the God of Isra’el grant what you have asked of him.” 18 She replied, “May your servant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went on her way, and she ate, and her face was no longer sad.
Do you think G-d has been unjust towards you and is a hard nut to crack? Fear not. Harass Him. Pray!
Luke 18: 18 Then Yeshua told his talmidim a parable, in order to impress on them that they must always keep praying and not lose heart. 2 “In a certain town, there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected other people. 3 There was also in that town a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me a judgment against the man who is trying to ruin me.’ 4 For a long time he refused; but after awhile, he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God, and I don’t respect other people; 5 but because this widow is such a nudnik, I will see to it that she gets justice — otherwise, she’ll keep coming and pestering me till she wears me out!’” 6 Then the Lord commented, “Notice what this corrupt judge says.7 Now won’t God grant justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Is he delaying long over them? 8 I tell you that he will judge in their favor, and quickly!
And then, in the end, as you make ‘progress’ thanks to the Spirit of grace and supplications over you, then your prayers will become just like those of the Moshiach. More especially, if the path you have been granted is a painful one.
Luke 22: 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, let not my will but yours be done.”
Mathew 6: 9 You, therefore, pray like this: 10 May your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.
Finally, does the Spirit of prayer lead you to pray only for yourself? Does the Spirit not lead us into prayer for others? Yes, that too is necessary.
Isaiah 62: 6 I have posted watchmen on your walls, Yerushalayim; they will never fall silent, neither by day nor by night. You who call on Adonai, give yourselves no rest; 7 and give him no rest till he restores Yerushalayim and makes it a praise on earth.
Is anyone among you afflicted? Is anyone oppressed of the Adversary? Is anyone sick? Pray.
James 5: 15 The prayer offered with trust will heal the one who is ill — the Lord will restore his health; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
And what if, after all the exhortations, you find you still cannot or do not want to pray? Pray! Seek the gift of praying in tongues.
1 Corinthians 5: 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit does pray, but my mind is unproductive. 15 So, what about it? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind.
To me, Mother Mary is an example to follow in prayer. She pondered all the things that were spoken to her by G-d and happened to her in her mind. That is a form of prayer. And then, in Cana, when she saw the deep need of those at the wedding, a need which if unfulfilled would lead to shame and humiliation for them, she came with a prayer to her Son, Yeshua Moshiach. No frills and thrills about her prayer to Yeshua.
John 2: 3 The wine ran out, and Yeshua’s mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
Your wine or my wine may have run out. Or the wine of many may have run out. But Yeshua is there and the Spirit of grace and supplications is upon us to just go into His Presence and make known our needs to Him.
“I have no more wine.”
Then wait for Him to answer the need behind that prayer. Trust. Receive. Rejoice.
Mark 11: 24 Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, trust that you are receiving it, and it will be yours.
Shalom!

LENTEN MEDITATION – 13
SICK WITH LOVE
Song of Solomon 1: 1 Let him smother me with kisses from his mouth, for your love is better than wine. 3 Your anointing oils have a wonderful fragrance; your name is like anointing oil poured out. This is why young women love you — 4 “Take me with you. We will run after you.”
The Lenten season is the journey of two lovers, long lost and separated from each other, towards each other and towards a consummation. Both have to go through perils and pain in extremis to reach one another and melt into one another.
In actuality, one of the lovers is trapped within a sphere with many sheaths. And the other lover has to break through these sheaths to reach His Bride.
The outer sheath is called Earth. Once found within this outer sheath, the lover finds herself enmeshed in another sheath – one is not sure whether it is outer/inner or a combination of both – called the World. A third sheath within which she is imprisoned is called Flesh or Body.
And then, there is a mysterious someone or something who seeks to keep the lovers separated, forever, if possible. This person or force is known as the Devil or Adversary.
All that the trapped lover, the young woman, can do is desire a union with the Lover from whom she is separated. It has been a long separation. The ache in her heart began when she was a little child, then she came of age and her desire grew stronger inside of her. Now she has become a woman and her body and being long for her Lover with an insatiable hunger and thirst.
Mathew 5: 4 “How blessed are those who mourn! for they will be comforted.
The ache in her heart, in her breasts, in her bowels and in her womb is a deep state of mourning. This is what marks the Lenten season, a mourning. It is good to mourn every year thus, because the Bridegroom is yet to appear and the Bride must mourn the long separation. Though she be certain of the Bridegroom’s love and promises, it is the not being able to be together, the not being able to be perfectly one, the not being able to consummate the relationship, that kills her within.
Song of Solomon 1: 13 To me the man I love is a sachet of myrrh lodged between my breasts.
John 10:30 I and the Father are one.
She dreams of all that will be when her Bridegroom arrives finally. She doesn’t know when. All she can do is mourn and dream. And the dream is like reality to her.
She is always in His shadow, until He arrives. Till then, even that insubstantial shadow is sufficient. This is why many are happy with being under the Mosaic Law, it’s the shadow of the Moshiach, and they are happy to sit under that shadow. It brings some shade amidst the cruel sunshine and toil of the day, but it is not the Bridegroom himself. So the lover consoles herself with the shadow and her thoughts. Indeed, all her toil is, in a sense, because she is under the shadow. Under the shadow is a metaphor for toiling to keep the Law, an impossibility, in the hope of calling her Lover to herself more urgently and trying to prove her love to him in his absence.
Song of Solomon 2: 3b I love to sit in his shadow; his fruit is sweet to my taste.
Yet the shadow is unfulfilling and the toiling under the sun that casts the shadow only leads to suffering, tiredness and more mourning.
Song of Solomon 1: 6 Don’t stare at me because I’m dark; it’s the sun that tanned me. My mother’s sons were angry with me and made me look after the vineyards.
Song of Solomon 2: 5 Sustain me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love.
I am sick with love.
Are you sick with love? Has it been too long? How many eons have separated you from your lover? Has He even begun His journey towards you? The Jews made wine from raisins and she would steal some of it from the jars. It helped to ease the pain of separation and dull the longing. As for apples, she was well aware that she was not perfect if you stared at her. The straying to the forbidden was a constant threat to her love for the Bridegroom. Yet, while He delayed, she had no choice but to be sustained by raisins and apples. It happens.
But.
I am sick with love!
Song of Solomon 2:8 The voice of the man I love!
That voice unheard and yet heard! Not some words in a book. But words in the listening air. Not the text of the Pharisees and Scribes and priests and keepers of the Law. But the voice of the man I love! That’s different! Though He was not beside her to whisper those words to her, in her imagination she could see and hear Him speak.
Not the voices in the streets or the temples. But the voice of the man I love! A heavenly voice! A voice only a lover can know and hear, an invisible voice beautiful inside the head and heart, but the reality was something else as only she knew it, and only too well.
Song of Solomon 3: 1 Night after night on my bed I looked for the man I love. I looked for him, but I didn’t find him.
Thus, she wanders, demented, out of her mind. And none can understand this kind of obsessive love full of insatiable longing and impossibility made worse by the fires of the imagination, the fuel in the heart and the flames in the body. If you speak of such a love to anyone, they will have you committed to an asylum, or worse, they will attack you and rend you like wild dogs. Such love is transgressive!
Song of Solomonn 5: 6 I opened for my darling, but my darling had turned and gone. My heart had failed me when he spoke — I sought him, but I couldn’t find him; I called him, but he didn’t answer. 7 The watchmen roaming the city found me; they beat me, they wounded me; they took away my cloak, those guardians of the walls!
She is not ashamed of being naked for her Bridegroom; she wants Him to see her in all her naked glory. She wants to hear Him speak of her naked beauty.
Song of Solomon 4: 1 How beautiful you are, my love! How beautiful you are! Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats streaming down Mount Gil‘ad. 2 Your teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep that have just come up from being washed; each of them is matched, and none of them is missing. 3 Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks are like a pomegranate split open behind your veil. 4 Your neck is like the tower of David, built magnificently, on which hang a thousand bucklers, each one a brave warrior’s shield. 5 Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle grazing among lilies. 6 When the day’s cool breeze comes up and the shadows lengthen, I will get myself to the mountain of myrrh to the hill of frankincense. 7 Everything about you is beautiful, my love; you are without a flaw.
But as she waits trapped in the sheaths of Earth, World, and Flesh for him, she encounters the keepers of the prison, the Adversary. They beat her, wound her and strip her naked for their pleasure. These are those who are hunting for flaws in the lovers of Yeshua Moshiach. They have not understood His love that covers the multitude of sins; they have not understood the cloak that the Father threw over the Prodigal Son. They believe their task is to belabour the lovers of G-d, strip them naked, expose them and punish them.
Are you sick with love for Yeshua Adonai? Then always expect such treatment from the watchmen and guardians of the religious city of Jerusalem! The walls they have built are meant to keep the Bridgegroom out and keep His lovers imprisoned.
Women understand, perhaps, better than men what it means to love and love intensely. And the woman prevented from meeting the one she loves always looks for a messenger, another woman who understands her passion, to get a message across to the lover from whom she is separated. The Shulamite finds her allies and takes recourse to this means.
Song of Solomon 5: 8 I charge you, daughters of Yerushalayim, that if you find the man I love, what are you to tell him? That I am sick with love.
The message is simple, straightforward. What is to be told him?
I am sick with love.
What condition am I in this Lenten season?
There is a Bridegroom, Yeshua Adonai, whom I have never seen. If any of you see Him, tell him:
I am sick with love.
1 Peter 1: 8 Without having seen him, you love him. Without seeing him now, but trusting in him, you continue to be full of joy that is glorious beyond words.
Shalom!

LENTEN MEDITATION – 12
THE IMPERSONAL G-D

Psalm 115: 3 Our G-d is in the heavens: He does whatsoever pleases Him.
Psalm 125: 6 Adonai does whatever pleases Him, in heaven, on earth, in the seas, in all the depths.
Most Christians believe in a personal G-d and, yes, it’s a comfort. But as one presses into the Mystery, one will encounter not so much this personal G-d but an utterly impersonal entity.
When I say ‘impersonal’, I mean that which cannot be humanly grasped. All anthropomorphic projections one makes upon this entity, if at all it is an entity or being, fail in the final analysis.
One is left utterly puzzled and left hanging upon paradoxes. This is the space where Faith and Doubt become twins and Good and Evil play Yin and the Yang in the everlasting Circle of Life.
Of course, the Mosaic Law and, later, Christians have constantly tried to define and put a fix on both Good and Evil. And the mental and societal game goes on …
In the little understanding of G-d that I have been able to arrive at, the impersonality and imperviousness of G-d towards human beings is a central experience of the Lenten season.
The impersonality of G-d – some might define it as the ‘silence of G-d’ – terrifies many Christians. Evangelical Christians, especially, are most afflicted by the thought that G-d might be impersonal or might dwell in the darkness of silence and inaction. They rationalise that He has something better in store to follow the misery or ‘trials’ one goes through.
Modern-day Evangelicals especially fear the notion of the impersonal G-d because they are mostly interested only in the benefits that a ‘personal’ relationship (as they put it) with a ‘personal G-d’ can bring – health, wealth, power over other humans, a sense of being forgiven for all their inadequacies and ‘sin’, then a feeling of superiority from being ‘elect’, a subtle pride in being able to keep the Law or ‘doing the will of G-d’, becoming famous for doing good to individuals and in society, notching up rewards in Heaven, and so on and so forth.
But.
Isaiah 45: 7 I form light, I create darkness. I make well-being, I create woe. I, Adonai, do all these things.
Another translation says: I create good, I create evil.
If and when one encounters the impersonal G-d, it comes as a flash of light that He far surpasses human understanding of the concepts of Good and Evil. Human beings consider the Holocaust, for instance, as ‘evil’. To the impersonal G-d, it might have just been a part of His ‘creation’. Why am I terrified about seeing it this way? Did not the ‘personal’ G-d that most people worship, ‘allow’ all this to happen? Isn’t the allowing of evil equivalent in some sense to an endorsement of and ‘creation’ of evil? Towards what end? The usual interpretation is that the ‘evil’ that happens to human beings is the ‘judgment’ of G-d, the unleashing of the Angel of Death by G-d upon a sinful people! Is it?
What is ‘good’ and what is indeed ‘evil’? Are these not perceptions sought to be fixed and finalised, one way or the other, by humans stuck inside the prison of Time and who try to make sense or meaning of events that surpass comprehension? In the cosmic scale of things, what are the Holocaust or the genocides perpetrated against aborigines and Native Indians or any segment of the species through millennia? It happened and it continues to happen in the space-time continuum.
The impersonal G-d has to do with the notion of Timelessness. Can one trapped inside of Time comprehend the Timeless One?
John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; but the only and unique Son, who is identical with God and is at the Father’s side — he has made him known.
John 1: 14 The Word became a human being and lived with us, and we saw his Sh’khinah, the Sh’khinah of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.
The Christian argument then is that the way to knowledge of the impersonal is through the Incarnation, the Avatar, who makes possible the encounter with an impersonal, unknown, unseen G-d, personal. It has also been the argument in other religions and cultures. And yes, those who find a ‘personal’ G-d do well, for they find a kind of comfort therein, therefrom.
There remains, still, the Mystery of the impersonality or silence of G-d. Yeshua the Moshiach too, being human, had to experience this Mystery, which He called “Abba” (Father) and endure that knowledge of the Mystery which often imposed itself upon Him in a crushing manner. Hence, He confessed that He did not know all things.
The peak of the experience of the Moshiach’s understanding of the Mystery, the impersonal G-d, is expressed in Psalm 22.
Psalm 22: 1 My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me? Why so far from helping me, so far from my anguished cries? 2 My God, by day I call to you, but you don’t answer; likewise at night, but I get no relief.
Many spiritual Christian fathers, especially from the Orthodox and Catholic faith, who sought to delve deep into the Mystery inevitably encountered the impersonal G-d or the G-d who is silent to the devotee and in the face of disease, disaster, death and a horde of other horrors that human beings have to go through on this ‘blighted planet’. And like the Moshiach, they oscillate between the planes of the ‘personal’ and the ‘impersonal’ G-d. For instance, the Moshiach moves from his experience of abandonment to one of hope in His G-d and , further, to His Resurrection and His eternal Sh’khinah .
In the darkness of the silence of G-d, in His (I am well aware that I am using ‘personal’ pronouns for an ‘impersonal G-d’ but that is because of a constraint in language) being impervious to human perception and cognition and experience, dawned a very different understanding of the nature of G-d in the hearts and minds of these Christian fathers. For those in ‘the pursuit of G-d’, as A W Tozer put it, the encounter with the impersonal G-d is inevitable. At this point the lover of G-d feels entirely abandoned by G-d!
It is the A-HA moment.
Romans 2: 11 For God does not show favoritism.
Or, as another translation puts it: G-d is no respecter of persons.
Nothing is doctrinal or pat after such an encounter with G-d. One only has the numinous awareness that one’s encounters with the ‘absence’ or ‘silence’ or ‘indifference’ or ‘apathy’ of G-d goes beyond the feeling of being abandoned by G-d. What is happening, perhaps, might be that one is being stripped of religious doctrine or one’s dependence on a sign, a feeling, a symbol, a miracle, a relationship or fellowship that assures you that a ‘personal’ G-d is nigh to help you make it through the night. No, not necessarily.
The impersonal ‘absence’ of G-d is a narrow gate. It is here that one receives the invitation to and an initiation into a deeper life in G-d. It is a beckoning from the infinite to the finite for a possible consummation that might be brought about through the operation of the elements of Mystery – Faith and Love and Hope.
Matthew 7: 14 But it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Mathew 7: 13 “Go in through the narrow gate; for the gate that leads to destruction is wide and the road broad, and many travel it.”
Job encountered the impersonal G-d through the circumstances and experiences of his life. He was not fooled by the ‘poor comforters’ who spouted the usual doctrine and sought to comfort him with tales of the ‘righteousness’ and ‘goodness’ and ‘judgment’ of G-d. These were the religious people of his time. They were his friends. But they were a type of the Pharisees too. They thought they knew much about a ‘personal’ G-d whom they claimed to know personally. Job had been cast into the ocean depths, much like Jonah. His journey was difficult and his traditional knowledge and understanding of G-d had been shattered.
Job was encountering an absent G-d, a silent G-d, a G-d who hides Himself simply because He is beyond the Human.
Job 2:10 But he answered her, “You’re talking like a low-class woman! Are we to receive the good at God’s hands but reject the bad (evil)?”
Job 2: 14 At length, Iyov broke the silence and cursed the day of his [birth].
Psalm 22: 1 My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me? Why so far from helping me, so far from my anguished cries? 2 My God, by day I call to you, but you don’t answer; likewise at night, but I get no relief.
This Lenten season, if this is your experience, FEAR NOT! Just as you enjoyed your tryst with the personal G-d, now delve deeper into the Mystery, the ‘absent’ G-d, the ‘silent’ G-d, the G-d who does not answer your prayers, the unfathomable G-d, the impersonal G-d. This is the G-d who dwells in utter darkness. If you love G-d, go into the darkness. Fear not!
Isaiah 45 I will give you treasures hoarded in the dark, secret riches hidden away, so that you will know that I, Adonai, calling you by your name, am the God of Isra’el.
Yeshua was not afraid of this darkness. He knew what to do whether G-d was present or ‘absent’.
Micah 6: 8 Human being, you have already been told what is good, what Adonai demands of you — no more than to act justly, love grace and walk in purity with your God.
Being found as humans, whether G-d is personal or impersonal, there is a simplicity one can cling to in all circumstances.
Yeshua on the Cross, in the first verses of Psalm 22, tells us that the understanding of G-d goes beyond the personal, even to the impersonal, and to certain values and qualities.
1 Corinthians 13: 13 But for now, three things last — trust, hope, love; and the greatest of these is love.
Shalom!

LENTEN MEDITATION – 11

THE SPIRIT OF COMPASSION

Hebrews 5: 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and with those who go astray, since he too is subject to weakness.

This is spoken about the High Priest who is of the order of Malki-Zadek, Yeshua Adonai, He who is without beginning or without end.

Hebrews 4: 15 For we do not have a cohen gadol unable to empathize with our weaknesses; since in every respect he was tempted just as we are, the only difference being that he did not sin. 16 Therefore, let us confidently approach the throne from which God gives grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace in our time of need.

The need of the hour is this, to take my weakness to the High Priest and to know deep inside oneself that He is able to empathise, put Himself in my shoes, see things from my perspective, diagnose what is askew in me and, therefore, not condemn me in any way. That is mercy, that He watches over me and looks deep into my self and does not turn away from all the weaknesses and sin that He sees.
When I stand thus before Him, constantly and consistently, then slowly my eyes open to the grace that is being poured out over me and into me, grace that meets exactly that place of my hurting, that place of my disappointment, yea, even disappointment with G-d, that place of my failure, that place of my unmet expectations, that place where others have pierced me with words or deeds and left wounds that are ever open and festering.
Grace is the oil and wine that Yeshua Adonai pours into that space of our ever festering inner wounds. He has compassion on those who are astray and those who are ignorant. But He has even greater compassion on those who are wounded and extremely weak. He picks such people up from the wayside, on the road to Yerushalayim. He is well aware that the wounds were inflicted by robbers on those who had decided to tread the highway from accursed Jericho to Yerushalayim, to His temple to worship Him.

John 10: 10 The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, life in its fullest measure.
Ezekiel 16: 4 As for your birth — on the day you were born nobody cut your umbilical cord, washed you in water to clean you off, rubbed salt on you or wrapped you in cloth. 5 No one seeing you had enough pity on you to do any of these things for you — no one had any compassion on you. Instead, you were thrown into an open field in your own filth on the day you were born.
6 “‘I passed by and saw you there, wallowing in your own blood; and as you lay in your blood I said to you, “Live!” Yes, I said to you, as you lay in your blood, “Live!

Having found me lying wounded on that highway to His Presence, He then binds me up and carries me to the inn where I can find rest and recovery. At that inn, if I look out the window, then He opens my eyes to beauty, both His and of all creation. I am at peace.
What’s more, He pays a price to shower his grace and compassion on my wounded self. He diverted Himself from the highway He was on to see who it was who lay wounded and dying on the roadside. He quit His own journey and his own comfort and other duties to take care of me. He was willing to lose all for me. And then, having taken me to the inn, He pays for my wellness and well-being. And goes a second mile.

Luke 10: 35 The next day, he took out two days’ wages, gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Look after him; and if you spend more than this, I’ll pay you back when I return.’

This is of the essence of the heart of the Moshiach. He accepts discomfort, rejection, being outcast, being tortured and punished and even put to death, for my sake. He pays for my healing and upkeep. He is willing to pay any debts that accrue to me in that process. He is Yeshua Adonai. Of him, the Apostle Thomas, from whose spiritual lineage I have descended, said: “My Lord and my G-d.”
The sum and substance of all this is to remind myself this Lenten season that I am a recipient of the compassion of this High Priest. And as His grace covers me and in-fills me, His compassion seeps into my rotten soul so that it slowly becomes impossible to test, judge, condemn any human being for any sin.
Better still, He puts His pierced palm across my mouth when I am tempted to correct someone. And He whispers in my ear, “You don’t have to correct anyone. You’re not good at it. Learn compassion of me and leave it to me to help the wounded person. I can do it better than you any day because I have been doing it since the foundation of the world.”
If and when I understand this, I can escape the spirit that judges and condemns others, that measly spirit that always sees the speck in my brother’s eye, and encounter His Spirit of Compassion that removes the log in my eye so that my heart overflows with compassion towards all.

Romans 5: 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in that the Messiah died on our behalf while we were still sinners.
Mathew 9: 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Remember, EVERYONE is harried. Everyone is helpless. Everyone is seeking compassion desperately.
Yeshua Adonai saw this only too clearly and it broke His heart, so He broke His Body, and shed His Blood on the Cross. Thus a river of compassion could flow out to drown the world in His love. It is happening.

Luke 22: 19 Also, taking a piece of matzah, he made the b’rakhah, broke it, gave it to them and said, “This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in memory of me.”
What Yeshua meant was this: “Do this (partake of His Body and Blood) if you can affectionately remember the compassion I have had towards you.”

Does His compassion come to my remembrance? Then may His grace be upon me and in me so that I might have compassion on every human being too, however much I am tempted to judge, condemn and correct or curse them!

Psalm 18: 36 (35) “You give me your shield, which is salvation, your right hand holds me up, your humility (gentleness, compassion) makes me great.

Every time, I realise that I lack His compassion towards others, I must return to the Lord. He has something to teach me, He has something of His essence to impart to me.

Mathew 11: 28 “Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

This is the place of rest, this is the place where all my wounds can be bound by grace, by His oil and wine, the Holy Spirit and His Blood, where all my debts are paid and I can lay myself open to being filled with his Spirit of Compassion and it will flow as rivers of living waters from my belly.

This is the purpose of the Lenten Season and it will be fulfilled in me.

Ephesians 4: 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted; and forgive each other, just as in the Messiah God has also forgiven you.

Shalom!

LENTEN MEDITATION – 10

‘YOU DID NOT CHOOSE ME. I CHOSE YOU.’

Isaiah 63: 16 for you are our father. Even if Avraham were not to know us, and Isra’el were not to acknowledge us, you, Adonai, are our father, Our Redeemer of Old is your name.
This is the faith that works in the hearts of those who have found Yeshua Adonai or, to put it more accurately, those who have been found by Yeshua Adonai.
The world is filled with those who are so proud that, one day, at some point in time, they raised their hands and said something to the effect of “I acknowledge I am a sinner. Please, Adonai, forgive my sins because your Son Yeshua Moshiach died for my sins on the Cross. I receive you or accept you in my heart as my Lord and Saviour.” And then, for better or worse, they go around trumpeting that they are ‘born again’ and that everyone must follow in their footsteps.
It’s definitely for the better if they have found some kind of freedom from sinful entanglements and suchlike and then found others of their ilk for ‘fellowship’. It’s for the worse if they begin to organize Scripture into a Rule Book (which if others cannot ‘obey’ or do not want to obey, they castigate them!)  or they organize themselves into ‘sects’ and then look down on and proselytize ‘sinners’ or other sectarians.My, my!
I discovered many years ago that I had taken a turn for the worse after taking that turn for the better. That’s the deception behind this process. You begin well and end up in hell, not a tangible place, but a condition wherein you really think you’re the cock of the hoop because you are born again, a sectarian and a cut above all other sinful human beings! What a long way one has come then!
But I was brought out of that prideful deception when I received several hard blows from Yeshua Adonai! It was thus that I realized the import of the words He spoke earnestly to his talmidim.
John 15: 16 You did not choose me, I chose you; and I have commissioned you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last; so that whatever you ask from the Father in my name he may give you.
‘You did not choose me!’
Consider the depth of that statement. That is truth. There’s nothing in me that would desire or want to choose Yeshua Adonai. Yet, I find I desire Him. Yet I desire to follow Him. Yet I desire to be transformed into His image. All that surely is not from me. I did not choose Him. Not I. I am now established in this understanding.
‘You did not choose me. I chose you.’
Peter understood what it was to be chosen by Yeshua.
Luke 5: 8 When he saw this, Shim‘on Kefa fell at Yeshua’s knees and said, “Get away from me, sir, because I’m a sinner!”
Isaiah understood what it was to be chosen by Yeshua.
Isaiah 6: 5 Then I said, “Woe to me! I [too] am doomed! — because I, a man with unclean lips, living among a people with unclean lips, have seen with my own eyes the King, Adonai-Tzva’ot!”
Job understood what it was to be chosen by Yeshua.
Job 42: 5 I had heard about you with my ears, but now my eye sees you; 6 therefore I detest [myself] and repent in dust and ashes.”
Paul understood what it was to be chosen by Yeshua.
Romans 7: 24 What a miserable creature I am! Who will rescue me from this body bound for death?
When you have been struck down with this understanding, you become deaf to the words of those who are so proud of being born again and who consider themselves a cut above ‘sinners’. You become blind to all their claims. All that you can hear is the voice of G-d that speaks the truth about your being directly to you!
Job 38: 1 Then Adonai answered Iyov out of the storm: 2 “Who is this, darkening my plans with his ignorant words?
“You did not choose me. I chose you.”
A bright light from heaven strikes you down, you are blinded. As you grope about in this heaven-sent darkness, you find an Arm reaching out and touching you and a Voice says yet again:
‘You did not choose me. I chose you.”
Isaiah 42: 19 Who is as blind as my servant, or as deaf as the messenger I send?
Mathew 11: 19 The Son of Man came, eating freely and drinking wine — so they say, ‘Aha! A glutton and a drunkard! A friend of tax-collectors and sinners!’ Well, the proof of wisdom is in the actions it produces.”
Luke 15: 1 15 The tax-collectors and sinners kept gathering around to hear Yeshua, 2 and the P’rushim and Torah-teachers kept grumbling. “This fellow,” they said, “welcomes sinners — he even eats with them!”
Yeshua, Friend of sinners.
That’s the heart of G-d. That’s the heart of the Father.
Avraham may deny that he knows you. Those who claim to be Avraham’s seed may not want to know you and, if they did, they might despise you, the sinner. I have been there. Israel may not acknowledge you. G-d’s people may cast you out, look upon you as nobody, as nothing.
Fear not.
“You, Adonai, are our father, Our Redeemer of Old is your name.”
The tax-collectors and sinners kept gathering around to hear Yeshua and the P’rushim and Torah-teachers kept grumbling. Yeshua is the blind and deaf servant of the Father who is listening to the hearts of sinners and not keeping count of their deeds. Thus, He is able to speak into the hearts of sinners and lead them with compassion into His bosom.

Hebrews 5: 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and with those who go astray, since he too is subject to weakness.
Isaiah 9: (2) The people living in darkness have seen a great light; upon those living in the land that lies in the shadow of death, light has dawned.
Isaiah 65: 1 “I made myself accessible to those who didn’t ask for me, I let myself be found by those who didn’t seek me. I said, ‘Here I am! Here I am!’
Isaiah 6: 8b I answered, “I’m here, send me!” 9 He (Adonai) said, “Go and tell this people: ‘Yes, you hear, but you don’t understand. You certainly see, but you don’t get the point!’

But who will listen, then?
As always, it will be those whom He has chosen and not those who ‘chose’ Him. The tax-collectors and sinners will keep gathering around to hear Yeshua and the P’rushim and Torah-teachers will keep grumbling.

Mathew 11: 28 “Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Isaiah 63: 16 for you are our father. Even if Avraham were not to know us, and Isra’el were not to acknowledge us, you, Adonai, are our father, Our Redeemer of Old is your name.

This is the Lenten message. Do not be deceived.

Shalom!

LENTEN MEDITATION – 9

THE STONE THE BUILDERS REJECTED HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE

Isaiah 61: 1 The Spirit of Adonai ELOHIM is upon me, because ADONAI has anointed me to announce good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted; to proclaim freedom to the captives, to let out into light those bound in the dark; 2 to proclaim the year of the favor of ADONAI and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, 3 yes, provide for those in Tziyon who mourn, giving them garlands instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a cloak of praise instead of a heavy spirit, so that they will be called oaks of righteousness planted by ADONAI, in which he takes pride. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins, restore sites long destroyed; they will renew the ruined cities, destroyed many generations ago.

I am part of the ‘they’ mentioned in this section. That is my Lenten discovery.
There are two aspects to this discovery. One has to do with what has already been done in the inner parts and is being done in the inner parts daily. Another has to do with what will be done by those like me – the ‘they’.

What has been done and is being done?

I, the poor one, have heard the good news.
I, the brokenhearted, have healing.
I, the captive, has freedom proclaimed over and in me.
I, bound in darkness, have been penetrated by Light.
I have found the year of the favour of Adonai.
I have been avenged by our G-d.
I, the mourner in mourning, have been provided for with comfort, the oil of gladness.
I, sitting in an ash pile, have been garlanded.
I, heavy spirited, have been given a cloak of praise.
I, the bruised reed, have been called an oak of righteousness.
I have been planted by Adonai.
Adonai takes pride in me.

And I am only one of many. I am but one of ‘they’.

Together, they and I, will rebuild the ancient ruins.
Together, they and I, will restore sites long destroyed.
Together, they and I, will renew ruined cities, destroyed many generations ago.

If you ask me how all this will come to pass, I really do not know except that there is an assurance in my heart that this will be so.

Simply because what happened to Yeshua, His rejection, His humiliation, His murder, has worked out for the good of all those whom He has chosen to receive the free gift of faith and grace. And that includes all human beings.
The One who is rejected is the one who is able to bestow such wealth on sinners. Out of His poverty, I receive riches. Because of His Death, I receive Life. Lent is the journey that deepens my understanding of this Mystery.

Psalm 118:23 The very rock that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone! 23 This has come from Adonai, and in our eyes it is amazing.
Mathew 21: 42 Yeshua said to them, “Haven’t you ever read in the Tanakh, ‘The very rock which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone! This has come from Adonai, and in our eyes it is amazing’?
Isaiah 28: 16 Therefore here is what Adonai Elohim says: “Look, I am laying in Tziyon a tested stone, a costly cornerstone, a firm foundation-stone; he who trusts will not rush here and there.
1 Peter 2: 4 As you come to him, the living stone, rejected by people but chosen by God and precious to him, 5 you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be cohanim set apart for God to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to him through Yeshua the Messiah. 6 This is why the Tanakh says, “Look! I am laying in Tziyon a stone, a chosen and precious cornerstone; and whoever rests his trust on it will certainly not be humiliated.”

What we experience through the Lenten journey is also what we will receive or be immersed in at the end of the Lenten journey. Except that, as T S Eliot put it in the Four Quartets: “We shall not cease from exploration, And the end of all our exploring, Will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time.”

Luke 4: 16 Now when he went to Natzeret, where he had been brought up, on Shabbat he went to the synagogue as usual. He stood up to read, 17 and he was given the scroll of the prophet Yesha‘yahu. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of Adonai is upon me; therefore he has anointed me to announce Good News to the poor; he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the imprisoned and renewed sight for the blind, to release those who have been crushed, 19 to proclaim a year of the favor of Adonai.” 20 After closing the scroll and returning it to the shammash, he sat down; and the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 He started to speak to them: “Today, as you heard it read, this passage of the Tanakh was fulfilled!”

Isaiah 53: 9b Although he had done no violence and had said nothing deceptive, 10 yet it pleased Adonai to crush him with illness, to see if he would present himself as a guilt offering.

Shalom!

LENTEN MEDITATION – 8
WILL NOT THOSE WHO PLOT EVIL GO ASTRAY?
Proverbs 14: 22 Won’t those who plot evil go astray? But grace and truth are for those who plan good.
It’s not easy in the Lenten season to keep one’s heart focused on Yeshua Moshiach. There’s a lot going on out there, especially in India, that keeps impinging on one’s desire to follow the Moshiach. For instance, the rise of the fascist Hindutva movement is an evil spiritual wave that disturbs all those who are even mildly ‘spiritual’, across the spectrum of those who are seeking to know G-d and His nature more deeply day by day. And it is precisely when this evil Hindutva spirit is seeking to ‘possess’ the people of this land, and has already possessed many, that one ought to draw closer to the Moshiach.
Revelation 12: 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “Now have come God’s victory, power and kingship, and the authority of his Messiah; because the Accuser of our brothers, who accuses them day and night before God, has been thrown out! 11 “They defeated him because of the Lamb’s blood and because of the message of their witness. Even when facing death they did not cling to life. 2 “Therefore, rejoice, heaven and you who live there! But woe to you, land and sea, for the Adversary has come down to you, and he is very angry, because he knows that his time is short!”
This Hindutva Accuser has been around for quite some time and though it is busy forging accusations against a wide variety of people in India – Dalits, Muslims, students and other anti-nationals – the ones he fears most are the talmidim (disciples) of the Moshiach. Because, being a fallen spirit, already defeated in the heavens and having been cast down to earth, HE KNOWS THAT HIS TIME IS SHORT!
Further, this Lenten season provides the talmidim with the even deeper assurance that, even as they witness a rising tsunami of evil engulf the land, G-d’s victory, power and kingship and the authority of His Messiah, has already come. Thus, though this evil spirit presses in across the land, the talmidim are at rest for two reasons: one, that the Moshiach has already won the battle against the Devil, the Adversary, who inhabits the bodies of those who owe allegiance to Hindutva, and, two, this Devil’s time is short.
Indeed, the Hindutva Devil is very angry, precisely because its time is short. Its plans are already going awry, its dream of building a kingdom here in India is turning into a nightmare and soon it will be crushed under the Moshiach’s feet. The talmidim know this for sure, for a certain promise remains for them, especially during the Lenten season and despite the insanity that the Devil and his followers are unleashing across the land.
Romans 16: 20 And God, the source of shalom, will soon crush the Adversary under your feet. The grace of our Lord Yeshua be with you.
The long heritage of the talmidim of Yeshua Adonai is that they have faced this Adversary many a time across many nations – from the Roman empire to Arab kingdoms and even within the religion so called Christianity. And every time, the Adversary has been defeated because of the Lamb’s Blood and because of the Witness of the Talmidim. The Adversary has never been able to comprehend these divine weapons.
Yeshua testified of the Jews that they belonged to the Devil because they sought to persecute and kill Him and, later, they sought to kill His talmidim too. Rome sought to do the same to His talmidim. And, across the world, in many countries at different times this evil spirit has sought to not only deceive and bring evil upon all humans but especially to the talmidim. What does Yeshua have to say about this work of the Adversary?
Luke 11: 49 Therefore the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and emissaries; they will kill some and persecute others’; 50 so that on this generation will fall the responsibility for all the prophets’ blood that has been shed since the world was established,51 from the blood of Hevel to the blood of Z’kharyah, who was killed between the altar and the Holy Place. Yes, I tell you, the responsibility for it will fall on this generation!
And then there is a strong exhortation for the talmidim who go through such times when an angry Devil fills the hearts of a people with its evil spirit to do harm to the nation and the talmidim!
Revelation 2: 10 Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Look, the Adversary is going to have some of you thrown in prison, in order to put you to the test; and you will face an ordeal for ten days. Remain faithful, even to the point of death; and I will give you life as your crown.
One can trust this message sent to the talmidim by Yeshua. He himself faced the Adversary and defeated it on Golgotha. This Lenten season, the talmidim are following in His footsteps. They too must suffer and come to Golgotha, be crucified with their Master and be resurrected with their Master. When this happens, do not be surprised and do not ascribe the sufferings to sin. Not so! Realise, you are arrayed with the power from on high from Yeshua Himself to fight with and defeat yet again the Enemy already defeated in the heavens. Now it is time for this Enemy to be defeated yet again on earth by the talmidim by G-d’s power. That is why it is written:
Romans 16: 20 And God, the source of shalom, will soon crush the Adversary under your feet. The grace of our Lord Yeshua be with you.
Revelation 2: 26 To him who wins the victory and does what I want until the goal is reached, I will give him authority over the nations; 27 he will rule them with a staff of iron and dash them to pieces like pottery, 28 just as I have received authority from my Father.
Luke 12: 4 “My friends, I tell you: don’t fear those who kill the body but then have nothing more they can do. 11 “When they bring you before the synagogues and the ruling powers and the authorities, don’t worry about how you will defend yourself or what you will say; 12 because when the time comes, the Ruach HaKodesh will teach you what you need to say.” 32 Have no fear, little flock, for your Father has resolved to give you the Kingdom!
It’s good to see what goes on in the world and in the nation I am set in. It is easy to recognize the Adversary because the Ruach Ha-Kodesh is within me and all the talmidim. And it is certain that the Adversary has been defeated on the Cross by the Moshiach by His shed blood. And now, soon, the Adversary will be crushed under our feet because the G-d of Peace dwells in us. India will soon be rid of this plague. HE KNOWS THAT HIS TIME IS SHORT.
Proverbs 14: Won’t those who plot evil go astray? But grace and truth are for those who plan good.
Shalom!

LENTEN MEDITATION – 7

CURSED OR BLESSED?

Galatians 3: 10 For everyone who depends on legalistic observance of Torah commands lives under a curse, since it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the Scroll of the Torah.” 11 Now it is evident that no one comes to be declared righteous by God through legalism, since “The person who is righteous will attain life by trusting and being faithful.” 12 Furthermore, legalism is not based on trusting and being faithful, but on [a misuse of] the text that says, “Anyone who does these things will attain life through them.” 13 The Messiah redeemed us from the curse pronounced in the Torah by becoming cursed on our behalf; for the Tanakh says, “Everyone who hangs from a stake comes under a curse.” 14 Yeshua the Messiah did this so that in union with him the Gentiles might receive the blessing announced to Avraham, so that through trusting and being faithful, we might receive what was promised, namely, the Spirit.

If you listen very carefully to many who say they are followers of Yeshua Messiah, you will hear them speak of the pathway of legalistic observance of Torah commands. But they do this in the name of Yeshua, the Messiah. That’s when I must be extra careful not to come under the spell of such legalists.
Having begun by trusting the Messiah, I see a grave danger that I can easily fall back into legalistic observance of Torah commands. It has happened to many of my Christian friends. They have apparently stopped depending on Yeshua and his saving grace. Instead, they have carved His words onto the stones of their hearts, even as Moses did. Thus, they are ever eager and ready to pull out of their hats Torah commands and thrust them down the throats of those who are no longer looking for legalistic observances to keep but are seeking an authentic salvation from the power of sin.
The one bound by legalistic observances of Torah in the name of Yeshua is always self-confident in his ability and will to keep the commands and his assertions about the efficacy of the Torah Laws.
However, the one who looks to authentic salvation from sin has only a deep cry in his heart.
Romans 7: 24 What a miserable creature I am! Who will rescue me from this body bound for death?
What’s insidious and deceitful about the Torah commands is that those who have mustered the will to keep them are transmogrified into ‘lawyers’ and become self-righteous to boot. Their notion of following the Messiah is to have a list of commands they can fulfil by means of their conscious will.
This approach negates the whole notion of grace – the gift of the power of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh against the devil, the flesh, the world and the root of sin – granted by Yeshua freely to all who have hoped for the same.
The legalistic observances lead to the treadmill of a ‘gospel of works’. And if the treadmill works for those who have sought it and they build their muscles using the same, they believe that it is the ‘way’ to salvation instead of trusting or living in a moment-by-moment surrender to Yeshua, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
What does Yeshua say about such ‘lawyers’?
Luke 11: 46 Yeshua said, “Woe to you Torah experts too! You load people down with burdens they can hardly bear, and you won’t lift a finger to help them!
The interesting thing is that in the old days, these legalistic ‘experts’ weighed people down with Torah commands. Today, they have substituted Yeshua’s words for Moses or, worse, they have combined Torah commands with Yeshua’s words to create a new matrix of legalistic commands to be followed. Those who once received grace from the Messiah have made of the Messiah a new Moses and made His people the new Jews!
These ‘experts’ are excellent at loading people down with burdens they can hardly bear but they will not or cannot lift a finger to help them. But it is not so with Yeshua the Messiah! With Him, I can expect genuine healing and salvation and not the stop-gap feeling of ‘success’ that keeping the Torah commands can give, along with its toxic side-effects of ‘self-righteousness’ and thinking you are one up on the ‘sinners’.
Acts 2: 21 And then, whoever calls on the name of Adonai will be saved.
John 14: 6 Yeshua said, “I AM the Way — and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me. 7 Because you have known me, you will also know my Father; from now on, you do know him — in fact, you have seen him.”
What has this to do with legalistic observances of Torah commands? None, whatsoever. This is what the writer of Hebrews reiterates.
Hebrews 12: 2 looking away to the Initiator and Completer of that trusting, Yeshua!
When you stop looking to the Author of faith, then you look to Torah commands or you turn Yeshua’s words of life into Torah commands and put burdens on people like those lawyers of yore in Jerusalem.
Hebrews 7: 18 Thus, on the one hand, the earlier rule is set aside because of its weakness and inefficacy 19 (for the Torah did not bring anything to the goal); and, on the other hand, a hope of something better is introduced, through which we are drawing near to God.
Hebrews 7: 22 Also this shows how much better is the covenant of which Yeshua has become guarantor.
Galatians 3: 2 I want to know from you just this one thing: did you receive the Spirit by legalistic observance of Torah commands or by trusting in what you heard and being faithful to it? 3 Are you that stupid? Having begun with the Spirit’s power, do you think you can reach the goal under your own power?
This Lenten season, I can learn the simplicity of the Gospel of Yeshua Adoani, the Moshiach. And preserve myself from being turned away to legalistic observances that the ‘experts’ bring in His Name. Looking unto Yeshua, I can press on to that glorious goal that the Torah could not bring anyone to.
Lawyers and experts are harsh towards sinners and those who are ignorant. But the High Priest Yeshua is gentle and humble.
Hebrews 5: 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and with those who go astray, since he too is subject to weakness.
Psalm 18: (35) “You give me your shield, which is salvation, your right hand holds me up, your humility (gentleness) makes me great.
Isaiah 11: On that day the root of Yishai (Jesse), which stands as a banner for the peoples — the Goyim will seek him out, and the place where he rests will be glorious.
Look not to the Law, the lawyers, the experts, this Lenten season. Only have a cry in your heart that seeks an authentic deliverance from the power of sin (missing the mark or goal) and it shall come to pass that Yeshua Adonai will be your Deliverer.
Say this prayer from the depths of your heart:
Romans 7: 24 What a miserable creature I am! Who will rescue me from this body bound for death?
Then, thank Yeshua Adonai from the depths of your heart thus:
Romans 7: 25 Thanks be to God [, He will]! — through Yeshua the Messiah, our Lord!
Finally, go on trusting in what Yeshua has done for you and I on the Cross at Golgotha.
Galatians 2: 20 When the Messiah was executed on the stake as a criminal, I was too; so that my proud ego no longer lives. But the Messiah lives in me, and the life I now live in my body I live by the same trusting faithfulness that the Son of God had, who loved me and gave himself up for me.
Thus, all will be well and all manner of things will be well. You and I have escaped the curse of Torah commands and, instead, been blessed by the grace that is in Yeshua the Moshiach.
Shalom!

LENTEN MEDITATION – 6

WE HAVE AN ADVOCATE-INTERCESSOR

Luke 13: 6 Then Yeshua gave this illustration: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit but didn’t find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘Here, I’ve come looking for fruit on this fig tree for three years now without finding any. Cut it down — why let it go on using up the soil?’ 8 But he answered, ‘Sir, leave it alone one more year. I’ll dig around it and put manure on it.’
This is the story about Yeshua Adonai, the intercessor, the One who digs around the tree of life that you are and fertilizes you with divine manure so that you might have the increase, the fruit of the Spirit. It’s a good story to ponder on during Lent for it is more than just a story.
This season, I realize that Yeshua is buying more time for one like me – the fig tree that does not bear fruit when the planter comes looking for it. I am too the fig tree which the planter-man or G-d wants to cut down but He hasn’t been able to do so because of the Advocate, the Intercessor.
G-d has a complaint about this fig tree. He put a Man in charge of it but then when He came around for three years in a row (it might as well be thirty), He got fed up because that particular tree was in some way incapable of producing the fruit the planter wanted it to produce. So, G-d the planter tells the Man in charge of the vineyard, Yeshua Adonai. “Cut it down.” Worse, G-d the planter thinks that’s the best solution because He believes that this useless tree is using up fertility in the soil that other productive trees might use well. “Why let it (the useless tree) go on using up the soil?” He asks the keeper of the vineyard.
The planter-G-d is an image of how the Jews perceived G-d. That was an impatient G-d, a just G-d but also a vengeful, even malicious G-d. It was a skewed image of G-d and Yeshua came to project the express image of G-d.
John 1: 18 No one has ever seen God; but the only and unique Son, who is identical with God and is at the Father’s side — he has made him known.
The Jews had never seen G-d and, although they knew Torah and Moses, they didn’t recognize G-d who stood in their midst as Yeshua Adonai, the I AM.
John 8: 58 Yeshua said to them, “Yes, indeed! Before Avraham came into being, I AM!”
Hebrews 1: 3 This Son is the radiance of the Sh’khinah, the very expression of God’s essence, upholding all that exists by his powerful word.
Do not imagine that I am digressing. The Advocate-Intercessor upholds the useless fig tree; He buys more time for those who are useless. He spends more time digging around them, pouring into them the water of life, living waters. He bandages their wounds with oil and wine. He spends energy and even money on them till they are brought to health and to fruition. The Advocate-Intercessor is confident that He can bring back to life that which is dead.
John 11: 25 Yeshua said to her, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life! Whoever puts his trust in me will live, even if he dies; 26 and everyone living and trusting in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Lazarus too had become useless. He was dead. But the Advocate-Intercessor raised him back to life though everyone else had given up hope of any such thing happening.
Luke 7: 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead man was being carried out for burial. His mother was a widow, this had been her only son, and a sizeable crowd from the town was with her.13 When the Lord saw her, he felt compassion for her and said to her, “Don’t cry.” 14 Then he came close and touched the coffin, and the pallbearers halted. He said, “Young man, I say to you: get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Yeshua gave him to his mother.
Here was another useless dead fig tree, of no use to G-d or man or beast. End of story apparently for those who are Jews and who had their own interpretations and perceptions about the G-d Abraham and Moses claimed to know. They knew much about Him, enough to put him inside the prison of their Holy Book. They called that prison the Ark and carried it around. Till the Ark itself disappeared. Yet, there remained the prison of the text, the letter. So when, He upon whom the Spirit of G-d descended in the likeness of a dove and who came to baptize with the Ruach Ha-Kodesh came, they did not recognize Him, the great I AM.
John 5: 39 You keep examining the Tanakh because you think that in it you have eternal life. Those very Scriptures bear witness to me, 40 but you won’t come to me in order to have life!
The Jews kept looking into the prison of the Torah, into the prison of the Law, into the prison of the letter, for the Moshiach.
Hebrews 7: 19 (for the Torah did not bring anything to the goal); and, on the other hand, a hope of something better is introduced, through which we are drawing near to God.
2 Corinthians 3: 6 He has even made us competent to be workers serving a New Covenant, the essence of which is not a written text but the Spirit. For the written text brings death, but the Spirit gives life.
The work of the Advocate-Intercessor is this, that he shields and revives those who have been abandoned as useless – the outcasts, the chief of sinners, the abandoned ones, the ones with no succor, the ones ready to be devoured by a supposedly just and vengeful G-d.
But the Moshiach is the express image of the true G-d; the G-d the Jews knew very little about so much so that down the millennia, they still have not caught a glimpse of the Moshiach who walked among then, taught and healed and even now stands in the gap for both Jews and Gentiles, buying time for all the useless ones on the planet while He works overtime to bring them to fruition.
Are you a useless person like I am? Give no ear to those who desire to cut you down in your helplessness, even those who come in the name of G-d. There is another One and His mercy endures forever. He has bought time for you and I, He is working on you and I, He is digging around us digging deep into us, till the wellspring from on high comes right into us and becomes a deep well that will, in its turn, send forth living waters to others. Good enough? It’s enough for me.
John 4: 13 Yeshua answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I will give him will never be thirsty again! On the contrary, the water I give him will become a spring of water inside him, welling up into eternal life!”
John 7: 37 Now on the last day of the festival, Hoshana Rabbah, Yeshua stood and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to me and drinking! 38 Whoever puts his trust in me, as the Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being!”
I am happy to be that useless fig tree. The G-d of the Jews and people may think I deserve to be cut down. They may be right too. But then, the Keeper of the Vineyard is for me. He is Advocate and Intercessor. He buys time for me and He never fails in His work of reviving that which is useless and dead. That is the task He came for; the work for which He was anointed by the Ruach Ha-Kodesh.
Hebrews 7: 24 But because he lives forever, his position as cohen does not pass on to someone else; 25 and consequently, he is totally able to deliver those who approach God through him; since he is alive forever and thus forever able to intercede on their behalf.
Have you found this Advocate-Intercessor – the Moshiach, Yeshua Adonai? Worry not if you haven’t even sought Him. He is found by those who did not seek Him. If you are an outcast, useless and dead, He will find you, revive you and resurrect you. He will do it.
Shalom.

LENTEN MEDITATION -5

‘WHO TOUCHED ME?’

Luke 8: 42b As he went, with the crowds on every side virtually choking him, 43 a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, 44 came up behind him and touched the tzitzit on his robe; instantly her hemorrhaging stopped. 45 Yeshua asked, “Who touched me?” When they all denied doing it, Kefa said, “Rabbi! The crowds are hemming you in and jostling you!” 46 But Yeshua said, “Someone did touch me, because I felt power go out of me.” 47 Seeing she could not escape notice, the woman, quaking with fear, threw herself down before him and confessed in front of everyone why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 He said to her, “My daughter, your trust has saved you; go in peace.”
Lent is a season for healing. It doesn’t matter if G-d does not know about your perennial problem. It doesn’t matter if G-d is busy with other people and their healing. One must be able to surprise G-d with that deep desire to touch him trusting that healing is possible with G-d even if many, many years have gone by with all your prayers having been in vain and all the doctors of soul and body you have met or visited having failed to help you.
Such was the condition of this woman. Twelve years of nothingness. And yet, she had the ability to again and again hope in the power of a G-d who apparently had not heard her prayers for twelve long years. Of course, the Pharisees would have always had standard answers to such experiences of addiction, helplessness or physical infirmity that seems impossible to be cured.
1. You are a greater sinner than others.
2. You haven’t prayed hard enough.
3. You have depended on human ‘doctors’ for healing and not on G-d.
4. You don’t deserve to be healed because you have some ‘secret’ sin.
5. You do not have faith enough to be healed.
6. You must believe in these Scripture-verses (their proof-texts)!
And so on and so forth. How many times I have had to listen to such inanities from ‘super’ Christians! The super-spiritual ones, the righteous ones, the know-it-alls! I have met too many who have had their burdens added to by such ‘poor comforters’. They have always been able to make their diagnoses but they have never had any cure with them.
However, it is not so with G-d or His Moshiach. This narrative holds for me utmost hope. Because it suggests that those who are willing to ‘hope against hope’ or are ‘past all hope’ and willing to take the risk of pressing in through and beyond one’s condition of utter hopelessness, a place where there is nothing to see, no one to look to in tangible terms, nothing to feel or experience other than discouragement and despair, and nothing to even suggest that a cure might happen, are also included in the plan of the Moshiach.
Romans 4: 18 For he (Avram) was past hope, yet in hope he trusted that he would indeed become a father to many nations, in keeping with what he had been told, “So many will your seed be.”
In short, one who is hell-bent, as it were, to touch the Moshiach will always get to the target and be rewarded!
When such a person touches the Moshiach, or even just one of the tassels on His Robe, both G-d and His Moshiach are perhaps surprised and take note of a human who has dared to cross the threshold, who has taken hold of ‘life’, as it were, by the throat.
The narrative posits the incredible possibility that once can draw upon the infinite mercy and virtue of G-d through the Moshiach even if the Moshiach is unaware of who the person is exactly.
Deep calls unto deep.
Or perhaps, G-d the Father had been watching the person and her travails across 12 years. The Mosiach did not since He was constrained in certain situations by the Father’s will. Yet G-d’s favour towards her was manifested through the Moshiach. G-ds’s fullness of virtue which dwelt bodily in the Moshiach was drawn out by her by her faith/trust as from a well of living waters and she was healed!
This woman did not need to be instructed as that Samaritan woman at the well.
John 4: 10 Yeshua answered her, “If you knew God’s gift, that is, who it is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink of water,’ then you would have asked him; and he would have given you living water.”
The woman with the haemorrhage for 12 years had such a terribly empty bucket that she was willing to somehow anyhow dip it into well of the Saviour at any cost. So much so, the startled Saviour, hedged in by a crowd, knew that He had been touched at His compassionate core and virtue had gone out from Him to heal.
Luke 8: 45 Yeshua asked, “Who touched me?” When they all denied doing it, Kefa said, “Rabbi! The crowds are hemming you in and jostling you!” 46 But Yeshua said, “Someone did touch me, because I felt power go out of me.”
The infirmity of the woman over all those years had brought her to the point of humility that she did not want to be noticed by humans or G-d. So when Yeshua asked “Who touched me?” She was afraid.
Would she be punished for ‘stealing’ virtue and power from the Moshiach? Would the Moshiach be angry with her for not falling down before Him and not asking Him directly for succour?
Salvation always comes along with fear and trembling because one cannot fathom the Mystery of the Source – the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Ignorance of the deep mercy that wells up within and from the Trinity leads to fear and yet one must dare to risk all to draw up the Living Water from that well, even ‘steal’ the water if one’s need is so dire, break into the Presence!
Mathew 12: 3 But he said to them, “Haven’t you ever read what David did when he and those with him were hungry? 4 He entered the House of God and ate the Bread of the Presence!” — which was prohibited, both to him and to his companions; it is permitted only to the cohanim.
Though she did not know it, she had the requisite faith to touch the Numinous One, the Luminous One. Light entered her and she was out of the tunnel of darkness she had been travelling through for 12 years.
Therefore, this woman was given, apart from healing, the double reward of being brought right into His Presence, to gaze upon His face and to hear His gracious words.
Luke 4: 47 Seeing she could not escape notice, the woman, quaking with fear, threw herself down before him and confessed in front of everyone why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 He said to her, “My daughter, your trust has saved you; go in peace.”
One’s long-lasting affliction or infirmity or addiction or leprous condition might have caused one to hide from humanity and even desire not to be noticed by G-d or the Moshiach. But it is impossible for the heart of such a person not to leap up yet again in hope when the Moshiach passes by. Then, if such a one dares, go ahead and touch at least one of the tassels of His Robe.
Verily, verily, says the Moshiach, be healed this Lenten season.
Shalom.

LENTEN MEDITATION – 4

O YERUSHALAYIM, YERUSHALAYIM!

Luke 13: 34 “Yerushalayim! Yerushalayim! You kill the prophets! You stone those who are sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children, just as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you refused! 35 Look! God is abandoning your house to you! I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of Adonai!’”
Yerushalyaim. City of Peace. From here, Malki-Tzedek went out to bless Abraham, returning from the battle of the kings, with bread and wine. And Abraham paid him tithes. Little did Abraham realise that a long time down the line, from his line would come the Moshiach, the saviour of the world.
All he knew was that he had been chosen to receive certain revelations from the Most High G-d. It was by revelation and faith that he left Ur of the Chaldees and set forth, not knowing where he went. It was by revelation and faith in a G-d who had power to raise the dead, a G-d who had the power of resurrection, that he offered up Isaac as a sacrifice in his spirit. Abraham believed G-d and it was counted to him as righteousness.
Thus, a high priest without beginning or end, the King of Salem or Malki-Tzedek, came to meet him and honour him with the symbols of the Moshiach, bread and wine.
Genesis 14: 18 Malki-Tzedek king of Shalem brought out bread and wine. He was cohen of El ‘Elyon [God Most High], 19 so he blessed him with these words: “Blessed be Avram by El ‘Elyon, maker of heaven of earth. 20 and blessed be El ‘Elyon, who handed your enemies over to you.” Avram gave him a tenth of everything.
It was David of the line of Abraham that established Yerushalayim as the capital of the Hebraic kingdom. Yerushalayim was where Solomon built a temple for G-d. All this was in anticipation of the coming of the Moshiach and the redemption of, not just Yisrael and Yerushalayim, but all humanity.
Yet, when the Moshiach Yeshua Adonai came to Yerushalayim, what did he have to say about the City of Peace? Indeed, there were crowds to laud him but He knew what was in their hearts. He did not commit Himself to them. He also prophesied what His fate would be in Yerushalayim: It is unthinkable that a prophet should die outside Jerusalem! The Prince of Peace understood that He would be killed in the City of Peace which had turned into a City of Murderers.
Why must I heed what Moshiach said about Yerushalayim? Yeshua had set his face determinedly towards Yerushalayim. In the Lenten season, that is the direction in which my face too must be set. The disciple follows the Master.
Yerushalayim refers to the present condition of the individual human heart, easily prone to deceit and murder instead of peace. It also refers to the condition of the heart of the collective, of society. There is much talk about peace flowing like a river within the nation(s) or peace. People honour G-d with their lips but their hearts are far away from Him. There is a desire for peace but that which is practiced is contrary to peace. Because few have ears for the Prince of Peace.
Lent is the season to listen carefully to what the Moshiach says. Do you desire peace? You will not find it in Yerushalayim is what Yeshua says.
And what was the sin of the inhabitants of Yerushalayim?
They killed prophets.
They stoned the true messengers of G-d.
They refused to come to the peace of unity that G-d sought for them.
They stayed scattered as rival sects.
What was the Moshiach’s agony pertaining to the Holy City and its inhabitants? “Look, your house is being abandoned by G-d. You will be alone henceforth.” Desolation.
Luke 13: 35 Look! God is abandoning your house to you! I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of Adonai!’”
The inhabitants of Yerushalayim had been struck blind to the Moshiach who stood right in their midst offering them forgiveness of sins, healing, peace and unity!
Lent is the season where I take these words of the Moshiach seriously. Do I want my heart to be abandoned by the Prince of Peace? Do I want my family and house to be abandoned by G-d because I have chosen to be blind to the Presence of Moshiach at every twist and turn in the road of family life? Do I want my community, that apparently sets much store by peace and prosperity, to be abandoned by the Prince of Peace to perennial quarrelling, fear and failure?
Lent is a season for repentance and return to the Moshiach. Does it seem to you that it might take you some time to return to the Lord your G-d? That is alright, provided you are seeking after Him with all your heart. Time is not necessarily the key here but, rather, it is the condition of the heart. And the heart is deceitful and wicked. Yet, with the Moshiach there is healing. With the Moshiach, teshuvah is possible.
With the Moshiach, one’s heart can become the New Yerushalayim. It was this opportunity that the Jews missed and that you and I can miss.
Yisrael and its capital Yerushalayim had hardened their hearts against the Moshiach. As a result, Yeshua asserts that the purpose of His coming – to gather them with love and compassion into One Body through One Baptism and One Spirit – had been thwarted. So much so, they ran the risk of almost never being able to come to knowledge of the Moshiach and the Truth!
Luke 13: 35 Look! God is abandoning your house to you! I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of Adonai!’”
I must be careful not to stagnate in such a state. Lent can awaken me from this dangerous spirit of slumber that covered Yisrael and Yerushalayim. Lent can take me back right into the Presence of Adonai.
Joel 2: 13 Tear your heart, not your garments; and turn to Adonai your God. For he is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace, and willing to change his mind about disaster.
Joel 2: 25 “I will restore to you the years that the locusts ate, the grasshoppers, shearer-worms and cutter-worms, my great army that I sent against you. 26 You will eat until you are satisfied and will praise the name of Adonai your God, who has done with you such wonders. Then my people will never again be shamed. 27 You will know that I am with Isra’el and that I am Adonai your God,and that there is no other. Then my people will never again be shamed.
Hebrews 3: 7 Therefore, as the Ruach HaKodesh says, “Today, if you hear God’s voice, 8 don’t harden your hearts, as you did in the Bitter Quarrel on that day in the Wilderness when you put God to the test.
Luke 13: 34 “Yerushalayim! Yerushalayim! You kill the prophets! You stone those who are sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children, just as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you refused!
This Lenten season, oh, may it never be thus with me that I refuse to be gathered unto the Moshiach under his wings. There upon His bosom, like His talmidim John, I too can rest safe and in peace, comforted by the sound of the steady beating of His heart of love. You too are lovingly invited by the Moshiach to be gathered into His divine New Yerushalayim, very unlike the literal Yerushalayim in Yisrael that G-d has abandoned till the Moshiach appears again. In the New Yerushalayim, you will find a safe place of rest under His wings.
Shalom!

LENTEN MEDITATION – 3

LEAD US FROM DISTRUST TO TRUST!

Luke 7: 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, many [as they are], are forgiven her—because she has loved much. But he who is forgiven little loves little. 48 And He said to her, Your sins are forgiven!
Lent is the journey from unbelief to belief, from distrust to trust.
What is it you disbelieve? Who is it you distrust?
It is alright if you do not put your faith in any human being or if you distrust all human beings. But there is One who requires of you that you travel the near-infinite distance between distrust and trust.
It doesn’t matter if you begin with distrust or unbelief, first in G-d and then His Moshiach. That is where everyone begins. Take seriously what the King gravely told Alice in Wonderland: ““Begin at the beginning; and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
There is no other way I can enter the season of Lent without a deep enough acknowledgement of my own unbelief first in G-d, then His Son Yeshua Moshiach and, then too, the Ruach Ha-kodesh (Holy Spirit).
Mark 9: 23 Yeshua said to him, “What do you mean, ‘if you can’? Everything is possible to someone who has trust!” 24 Instantly the father of the child exclaimed, “I do trust — help my lack of trust!”
I must acknowledge that I live inside this contradiction. It is one thing to say “I do trust’, but it is also wisdom to come to the realisation that the Moshiach must ‘help my lack of trust’.
I must not deceive myself as a ‘believer’ and make the false claim that I am firmly rooted in the faith and cannot stumble or fail or be moved.
Ecclesiastes 7: 20 For there isn’t a righteous person on earth who does [only] good and never sins.
Romans 3: 10 As the Tanakh puts it, “There is no one righteous, not even one! No one understands,11 no one seeks God, 12 all have turned away and at the same time become useless; there is no one who shows kindness, not a single one! 13 “Their throats are open graves, they use their tongues to deceive.
They deceive themselves first and, then, others.
What then shall I say? The journey from unbelief to belief, from distrust to trust in the Most High G-d, His Son and the Ruach Ha-kodesh, does not lie in my hands.
Indeed, there can be cry from the heart that this journey may begin and continue and reach an end of plenitude. But that’s about all that is possible with a human being. The rest is up to the listening ear of G-d, His mercy and His ability to do the impossible.
Ephesians 2: 8 For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God’s gift. 9 You were not delivered by your own actions; therefore no one should boast.
Romans 11: 36 For from Him and through Him and to Gim are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 3: 27 So what room is left for boasting? None at all! What kind of Torah excludes it? One that has to do with legalistic observance of rules? No, rather, a Torahthat has to do with trusting. 28 Therefore, we hold the view that a person comes to be considered righteous by God on the ground of trusting, which has nothing to do with legalistic observance of Torah commands.
There! Once again, that emphasis on trusting? But I ask myself – trusting in whom and trusting in what?
First and foremost, I trust this that is written in the Tanakh about my self.
Isaiah 53: 6a We all, like sheep, went astray; we turned, each one, to his own way.
Next, I trust that which is written in the Tanakh about the Moshiach, the only begotten son of G-d.
Isaiah 53: 6b Adonai laid on him the iniquity/guilt of all of us.
Finally, I trust yet again that which is written in the Tanakh about what He did for me.
Isaiah 53: 5 But he was wounded because of our crimes, crushed because of our sins; the disciplining that makes us whole fell on him, and by his bruises (stripes) we are healed.
And that ’trusting’ is the gift of G-d! The coming alive of Tanakh as faith in my heart is a gift of G-d through the hovering of the Ruach Ha-kodesh over my formlessness and chaos and unbelief.
The proof of the ‘trusting’ cannot be tested in terms of behaviour. For the journey begins and continues within the cave of the heart, in the bosom and the bowels, in the inward parts.
James 3: 2 For we all stumble in many ways; if someone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who can bridle his whole body.
I cannot stumble if I examine myself and judge myself accurately like that father of the stricken child.And then I must confess my lack of trust!
Mark 9: 24 Instantly, the father of the child exclaimed, “I do trust — help my lack of trust!”
And sometimes, there is nothing to say to Yeshua Adonai. One can only stand behind Yeshua at His feet and the tears tell your tale.
Luke 7: 37 A woman who lived in that town, a sinner, who was aware that he was eating in the home of the Parush, brought an alabaster box of very expensive perfume, 38 stood behind Yeshua at his feet and wept until her tears began to wet his feet.
Luke 7: 48 Then he said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 50 He said to the woman, “Your trust has saved you; go in peace.”
Isaiah 53: 11b “By his knowing [pain and sacrifice], my righteous Servant makes many righteous; it is for their sins that he suffers.
So be it. Shalom!

MEDITATION – 2

THE BLIND AND THE DEAF

Isaiah 43: 8 Bring forward the people who are blind but have eyes, also the deaf who have ears.

When I think of all those who say that they hear G-d’s voice so clearly and when I listen to the stories told by those who have seen miracles and more in their journey with Adonai, I discover that I have nothing much to speak of in that vein.

It seems to me that I was born blind and deaf to G-d. True, there were times, seasons and years wherein I imagined that I could see the works of G-d and hear His voice. Based on those sensations, I sought to ‘serve the Lord’. But, apart from and in spite of all such endeavours and imaginings, I have learnt that in my being I am blind and deaf.

As the years pass by, it becomes increasingly clear to me that I was and am indeed blind and deaf and that which I claimed I saw and heard were illusions, perhaps even delusions. The net result of the journey can perhaps be couched best in the words of Kohelet, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Ecclesiastes 1: 2 Pointless! Pointless! — says Kohelet — Utterly meaningless! Nothing matters!

John 1: 18a No one has ever seen God; but the only and unique Son, who is identical with God and is at the Father’s side — he has made him known.

Yochanan’s testimony is that he had touched, talked to, walked with and listened to this unique Son who manifested G-d. And, he desires that everyone should believe in the Moshiach, the Incarnation.

For Yochanan, the Incarnation was true because of the Resurrection.

John 2: 18 So the Judeans confronted him by asking him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove you have the right to do all this?”19 Yeshua answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.”  22 Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his talmidim remembered that he had said this, and they trusted in the Tanakh and in what Yeshua had said.

The Lenten season leads to the Resurrection. But before one gets to it, one gropes along a strange road, scrabbling in the gravel and dust, unable to see or hear that to which so many seem to have easy access.

Unless one travels this road to Jerusalem, much like the man who was wounded and left for dead by robbers on that ‘holy highway’, one cannot understand what it means to be blind and deaf.

Simply put, to be blind and deaf means to be able to distrust and deny sensations that seek to deceive the soul, especially on matters concerning knowledge of G-d and His Moshiach. To be blind and deaf is to constantly and consistently acknowledge the Mystery and not claim to have unravelled it.

It’s an experience somewhat like that of Elijah’s, exiled to the wilderness and, spiritually speaking, to the cave of the heart. There, what one does is to stand at the mouth of the cave, survey the wilderness and just listen.

1 Kings 19: 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. Then the word of Adonai came to him; he said to him, “What are you doing here, Eliyahu?” 11 He said, “Go outside, and stand on the mountain before Adonai”; and right then and there, Adonai went past. A mighty blast of wind tore the mountains apart and broke the rocks in pieces before Adonai, but Adonai was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake, but Adonai was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake, fire broke out; but Adonai was not in the fire. And after the fire came a quiet, subdued voice. 13 When Eliyahu heard it, he covered his face with his cloak, stepped out and stood at the entrance to the cave. Then a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Eliyahu?” 

The one who is blind and deaf has not much to say to either G-d or man. He is ensconced in an inner space, an inner world. What is one to do in that inner place? Peter was not sure about that place; it was a place that Peter suspected that John had found upon the bosom of Yeshua; it troubled Peter.

John 21: 21 On seeing him, Kefa said to Yeshua, “Lord, what about him?” 22 Yeshua said to him, “If I want him to stay on until I come, what is it to you? 

Lent is that season in which one can rejoice in one’s blindness and deafness. In this way, one will not become too curious about what one’s brother or sister might be up to. There will be fewer questions, no desire to interfere or intervene in anyone’s life. It is a season in which one might get no glimpse of G-d or hear even a single word from G-d.

Except, perhaps, that first divine query that rang out in the Garden of Delight!

Genesis 3: 9 Adonai, God, called to the man, “Where are you?”

Or, perhaps:

1 Kings 19: 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. Then the word of Adonai came to him; he said to him, “What are you doing here, Eliyahu?”

The query is more than a sensation, feeling, intellectual rumination, spiritual imagining.

It is much more than Wind, Earthquake, Fire.

1 Kings 19: 13 When Eliyahu heard it, he covered his face with his cloak, stepped out and stood at the entrance to the cave. Then a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Eliyahu?” 

It is a transcendent query, not seen or heard but known in the bones. One can only cover one’s nakedness or one’s face in its light. And, if there is an answer to be given, it must include those given by fallen Adam in Eden and by righteous Job.

Genesis 3:  9 Adonai, God, called to the man, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” 

Job 42: 3b Yes, I spoke, without understanding, of wonders far beyond me, which I didn’t know.

When one has come to this acknowledgement, one may enter the spirit of Lent.

There, in the Lenten season, the Moshiach brings forth those He is not ashamed to call His people or bring them forward.

Isaiah 43: 8 Bring forward the people who are blind but have eyes, also the deaf who have ears.

These are the ones who are becoming like their Master, like the Servant, the Branch. These are the talmidim, the disciples of the Moshiach.

Isaiah 42: 19 Who is as blind as my servant, or as deaf as the messenger I send? Who is as blind as the one I rewarded, as blind as the servant of Adonai?”

Isaiah 29: 18 On that day the deaf will hear the words of a book, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.

Isaiah 35: 5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.

Luke 4: 18 “The Spirit of Adonai is upon me; therefore he has anointed me to announce Good News to the poor; he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the imprisoned and renewed sight for the blind, to release those who have been crushed, 19 to proclaim a year of the favor of Adonai.”

Shalom!

MEDITATION – 1

‘THEY HAVE NO WINE’

John 2: 3 The wine ran out, and Yeshua’s mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
That is what Lent is about. The realisation that ‘they’ or ‘we’ or ‘I’ have no more wine. The good wine had run out. And there was no bad wine around either.
Worse, it was meant to be a time or season of celebration. A marriage. Two becoming one. Two families getting united.
There was some joy all around but it was on the verge of turning into disappointment and recrimination. Those celebrating did not notice that everything was headed downhill or that soon the guests, both friends of the bridegroom and the bride, and the relatives on either side, would point fingers at each other. Love and camaraderie were about to come to an end.
And the bridegroom and bride would face their first test. Would the glue hold in the face of the chaos and upheaval that lay at their threshold?
But there were eyes watching over the scene. The eyes of Mary, the mother of Yeshua. Her eyes had been trained to notice trouble, to spot potential unhappiness. These were eyes that had penetrated the veil to see the angel Gabriel. Eyes that had gone beyond Gabriel to the Rhema of G-d that she would bear a Child and he would be called Yeshua, the Savior of His people. So, when she said “Be it unto me according to the Word of G-d”, she had accepted all that she would have to both endure and affect because of the Son she bore in her womb. Mary knew that ‘His Name shall be called Wonderful’.
Now, when she saw that the wine had run out, she knew who to go to and whom to tell the problem too. Was the wine running out her problem? Yes, for many at the wedding might have been her relatives. She did not want them upset and unhappy. But it was more than that, perhaps? Could the one who bore the Son not go beyond the selfish and feel for all who would be affected by the scandal of the wine running out? Didn’t she desire to protect the young couple in whose honour the celebrations had begun?
But why go and tell of the matter to her Son? Had she noticed through the years that He had his ears opened as the Servant, the Branch? It was into those ears that she breathed her concern: “They have no wine.”
John 2: 4 Yeshua replied, “Mother, why should that concern me? — or you? My time hasn’t come yet.” Some translations say that Yeshua spoke rather harshly and crudely to his mother whom he addressed as “Woman!” And yes, he did state that the wine running out perhaps did not concern him. Or, better still, that ‘His time’ had not come yet!
Did Mary know something that He did not? Or was it that His heart was moved for his mother or, more especially, her deep concern in the given situation? Perhaps both.
Did He then hasten his hour simply because of His mother’s faith that He held the key to the terrible situation? He had said that it did not concern Him and that His time had not yet come. And yet…
Mary had a word for her Son, secure in her faith that He had a solution to the problem. Better still, she had a word for those around Yeshua too.
John 2: 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
She knew for sure that her Son would do something to help those whose wine had run out, those about to slip from the place of celebration into the place of shame and sorrow.
There were six waterpots of stone there. By inference, they were empty. They were possibly empty because all the guests might have used up the water therein for their ritual purification.
Six is the number of humanity. Every human being a waterpot of stone, perhaps? A cold, strong exterior. An empty interior. Herein, there might have been water once. But the waterpots too had run out. They needed a refilling.
There is no water. They have no wine. What was to be done?
John 2: 7 Yeshua told them, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. 8 He said, “Now draw some out, and take it to the man in charge of the banquet”; and they took it. 9 The man in charge tasted the water; it had now turned into wine!
John 2: 9b The man in charge called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone else serves the good wine first and the poorer wine after people have drunk freely. But you have kept the good wine until now!”
Yeshua was and is the ‘now’.
The ever-Presence that turns emptiness into water and then water into wine.
Yeshua is the Good Samaritan, the Outcast, the Rejected One.
Mary, blessed be her name, is the one who intercedes with her Son for those who are about to plunge into confusion and unhappiness. Having told Yeshua what the problem was, she leaves it entirely to Him to sort out.
“Whatever He says to you, do it!” That is Mary’s watchword this Lenten season.
All of us are empty and need the infilling of Living Water and Wine.
Yeshua brings the “wine that gladdens the human heart” (Psalm 104:15)
Yeshua pours out “wine to the deeply depressed; let him drink, forget his poverty and cease to remember his troubles.” (Proverbs 31:6)
Yeshua is the outcast Samaritan who, when he sees those left wounded and helpless by robbers on the road of life, is moved with compassion.
“So he went up to him, put oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them.” (Luke 10: 34)
John 2: 11 This, the first of Yeshua’s miraculous signs, he did at Kanah in the Galil; he manifested his glory, and his talmidim came to trust in him.
What then are we to say on Ash Wednesday?
John 2:1 On Tuesday there was a wedding at Kanah in the Galil; and the mother of Yeshua was there. 2 Yeshua too was invited to the wedding, along with his talmidim. 3 The wine ran out, and Yeshua’s mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” 4 Yeshua replied, “Mother, why should that concern me? — or you? My time hasn’t come yet.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
I am empty. I lack water. I have no wine.
The mother of Yeshua sees me.
The mother of Yeshua goes and tells Him: He has no wine.
This is how Lent begins in my heart.
There, amidst the emptiness and the lack of water and wine, I hear what the mother of Yeshua says to the servants in the house: Do whatever he tells you.
What does that tell me?
Wait. The wine is coming. The good wine is coming. Now.
Shalom!

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