Going Up? Remember to Come Back Down.

In Genesis 28:12, Jacob has a vision of the heavens open, as we read:

וַיַּחֲלֹם, וְהִנֵּה סֻלָּם מֻצָּב אַרְצָה, וְרֹאשׁוֹ, מַגִּיעַ הַשָּׁמָיְמָה; וְהִנֵּה מַלְאֲכֵי אֱלֹהִים, עֹלִים וְיֹרְדִים בּוֹ

“And he dreamed; and a ladder was set up on the earth; and the top of it reached the heavens, and behold, the angels of God ascended and descended on it.”

In John 1:51 Messiah references this dream, and identifies Himself as the ladder.

What is the message here? Why the word order of ascending and descending? Wouldn’t it make sense to reverse the order?

The message is rather simple, but profound. Ascending spiritually is relatively easy; coming back down, is another story. The desire would be to stay in that heavenly dimension, free from the distractions of natural life, remaining in the presence of God.

Yet, that is the point. We ascend to the heights of heaven in order to bring the fruit of that journey back to the natural world, so that others will taste and see that He is good (Ps. 34:8).

Biblical faith is not meant to be a cloistered enterprise untroubled by the turbulence of life; but rather, walking upon life’s turbulence in faith with Messiah, the Ladder.

So we go up, in order to come back down; and we do so in Yeshua.

Be well. Shalom.

Where the Two Meet.

Where the Two Meet.

Countenance. We are all familiar with the word; but what exactly does it mean? A dictionary would say: a persons face or facial expression, indicating emotion, mood and even character. Satisfactory I suppose, but what of it’s usage in biblical verse?

In Numbers 6:24-26:

יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ

יָאֵר יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ

יִשָּׂא יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם

“The Lord bless and protect you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift His face to you, and give you peace.”

The word “his face,” פָּנָיו/panav, sometimes translated as “countenance,” appears twice in this blessing. Why?

The first instance, in the second line, is connected to the gift of grace found in His presence. The second, in the third line, is the lifting of His face to you, as in a fatherly embrace. Both instances expressing His looking to you in relationship: the first as King, the second as Father.

In some schools of Jewish thought the face is where the body and soul meet – the face, then, is the interface between the physical and spiritual, the timeless within the realm of time.

How so? Face in Hebrew is פָּנִים/panim, is a plural word, not singular. With regard to Moses in Exodus 33:11, the Lord said that He speaks to him, פָּנִים אֶל־פָּנִים, face to face. Again, plural in both instances, literally “faces to faces.”

When we speak together, we are not only speaking to the physical substance of the person before us, but also the soul of the person – the completeness of who they are. To behold the face is to behold the fullness of the life before you. When we seek His face, it is not only to the idea of face that we are familiar, but to behold the radiance of His loving being (I Jn. 4:16).

Countenance, then, in biblical language is not just facial expression, but a manifestation of the soul in the physical realm.

And when we behold Yeshua, we behold the presence of the Father within the realm of time (Jn. 12:45; 14:9).

Panim, the face, is the meeting place of the two: the physical face, and the face of the soul.

Be well. Shalom.

Waking Up Holy

Sometimes holiness can appear entirely too holy, unapproachable, unattainable, untouchable even; especially as depicted in art and movies. Holy as an adjective describes the condition of the noun. In the Bible, holy is a condition based entirely on relationship to the Lord. In Leviticus 19:2 the Lord says to Israel,

קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ:  כִּי קָדוֹשׁ, אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם

“You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”

Each evening and morning I thank the Lord for life and salvation, for using me in the unfolding revelation of His will on earth in even the smallest of ways. Knowing that He has sanctified and saved me in His Son by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9), it could seem a daunting task to get out of bed and face the turbulence of the day and not make Him look bad, heaven forbid! Yet, that is exactly what He is expecting us to do.

Holiness is not stillness or disconnection from life, and the turbulence of the day; but rather, even more profound connection with it, answering His call to be holy in life as He is holy.

How? Imitating God, by following Messiah, as beloved children (Eph. 5:1-2) means that we are in a battle to subdue our very human urges to behave in a manner incompatible with His character. Often, it is the witness to this struggle, His grace in action, that draws others to His holy mountain; after all, if He can do a miracle in me, why not you or them?

Here is the good news:

1. In Messiah there is assurance of acceptance and renewal.

2. The Messiah sent the Holy Spirit to prepare, make holy, and strengthen His Bride.

3. The command in Leviticus 19:1-2, echoed in I Peter 1:16, reveals that in faith holiness is attainable, yet not in ourselves or by our strength.

4. Holiness in daily life is the outworking of the condition of the inward, renewed man as we face the trials of today.

Let us, then, be thankful for the relationship with the Father that makes us holy, and the gift of the Holy Spirit who continues to conform us to the image of God’s Son (Ro. 8:29)in holiness.

Waking up holy does not mean that you will behave perfectly today, but that today offers more opportunities to smooth out the yet jagged edges of your life by His grace – and as long as there is grace, the mercy of the Potters hand is still at work.

Be well; shalom.