Blessed into Blessing

The כֺּהֲנִים/cohenim, the levitical priests, served God in place of the firstborn sons of Israel, called to that service after the sin of the golden calf. They would minister before the Lord and the people, as intermediaries between heaven and earth. Adopted as firstborn sons, by their service, they would raise up and continue the Father/child model of discipleship.

Perhaps the longest continually spoken blessing in the world was given by God to Aaron, and his sons. It has been spoken for some 3,500 years; in both the synagogue and the church.

Called the בִּרְכַּת כֺּהֲנִים (birkat kohanim), the priestly blessing, it is at heart, a short blessing reminding God’s people of His protection, His grace, and His fatherly embrace that lifts us up in and for peace.

It reads:

יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ

יָאֵר יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ

יִשָּׂא יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם

“The Lord bless and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His face upon you and give you peace” (Num. 6:24-26).

The Torah specifies that God is doing the blessing, while the priests speak it:

וְשָׂמוּ אֶת-שְׁמִי, עַל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַאֲנִי, אֲבָרְכֵם

“And they will put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them” (Num. 6:27).

According to tradition, a blessing increases what we already have, and the priestly blessing connects today to tomorrow. We have life today, may He increase it for tomorrow.

As Messiah Yeshua/Jesus was ascending to heaven, Luke records, “And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven” (Lk. 24:50-51).

Here we see Yeshua blessing His disciples by “lifting up his hands.” In rabbinic literature, the priestly blessing is also known as nesiat kapayim, the “lifting of the hands.”

Yeshua, our High Priest (Heb. 4:14-16), lifts His hands in blessing over “the congregation (ecclesia) of the firstborn who are written in a scroll in heaven” (Heb. 12:23), among whom He is the Prince and perfecter (Heb. 12:2), the “firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Ro. 8:29; cf. Col. 1:15, 19; Eph. 1:10-12).

As Peter explains, “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession …” (I Pet. 2:9). You have been chosen, adopted (Ro. 8:14-15) into heavens priesthood, to serve Him here and now, connecting heaven to today and tomorrow, to build up the lives of those around you.

Your position at birth matters not. Born-again by faith in Messiah, all who call upon His name are now adopted, repositioned, and set for ministry, priestly service, to speak words of His blessing, coupled with actions of blessing delivering His provision (Jas. 2:14-17).

If you are reading this, you are blessed. Yes, you are. You are also an adopted and renewed priest in Messiah, part of that congregation of the firstborn, now doing a priestly service before the Lord and before people (Ro. 12:1; 15:16).

In Jewish tradition, for grace after meals there should be bread on the table, as a sign that God will again increase and safeguard what we have, food.

What bread is on our tables? What bread is before us? The Living Bread from heaven, Yeshua. The source of all blessing, life, and peace. May He continue to increase His presence in our lives, so that we continue to be a blessing in the lives of others.

You have been blessed into blessing. May it be, כן יהי רצון, “according to His will.”

Be well. Shalom.

Trails-less Traveled 5

Trout Lake Mountain Bushwhack and Chub Mt. Revisit.

It’s been nearly two years since my last Trails-less Traveled post. After a busy week, and a busy morning, including planting and weeding in the garden, I slipped over to a favorite spot on route 10 in the Town of Arietta to hike out to Trout Lake Mt.. I have climbed many mountains in that area, and visit there often, as it is close to home. Trout Lake Mt. is visible as I travel route 10, across a wetland that runs alongside the road, and has some nice rock outcroppings that are very enticing.

The “backside” of Trout Lake Mt. Is on the right side of the pic.

So this morning I took some bearings from my map, made a plan, had lunch, and hit the road. Having climbed several neighboring mountains, I knew the herd path out in the general direction well, and the outlet crossing where I would leave the herd path and head into the woods (see pics). While it may seem that a direct route from the Chub Mt./Lake parking area would reduce distance, having paddled that area, I know that there is a wetland and a deep, beaver infested (well, they do make their presence known), water crossing that is not possible unless one wants to swim. So out, around and up to the desired mountain I headed.

The bushwhack from the water crossing (see pics) would be 2.4 miles out and back; not a difficult distance. With a full canopy of leaves above, and everything leafed out at ground level, having the correct bearing, and a solid mental picture of the surrounding geographical features, natural backstops, and siderails to aid in direction, is vital. I chose to follow the shoulder of Sherman Mountain, then a quick drop to being the ascent up Trout Lake Mt. as the most obvious route.

I’m standing on the herd path which goes to the right, but my path is directly ahead!

Having done a quick measure of the expected mileage between points, I engaged my Fitbit at the trailhead, which allowed me to accurately gage expected arrival times to my predetermined points of travel, to include the summit of Trout Lake Mt.

The wooded high point of Trout Lake Mt.

When properly done, and executed, it is amazing how accurate compass coordinates are, not surprising really, but super fun! As I approached the wooded summit of Trout Lake Mt. I could see rock outcroppings along the shoulder of the summit that looked so enticing to say, “There it is!” But no, I carried on, to the high point, confirmed with GPS. Then off to some nice lookouts facing Good Luke Mt. and Cliffs, as well as State Brook Mountain, all on the opposite side of route 10.

Looking toward State Brook Mt.

I spent some time up top, until I could not stand the swarm of horse flies, or dear flies, any longer. Then, since I had planned to head over to Sherman Mt. after and the flies were just too annoying, I did a reverse (or back) azimuth, basically setting my compass to the opposite bearing than I headed out with, back to the water crossing.

Uneventful, and I ended up exactly where I had entered the bushwhack. At that point I visited the beautiful clearing that the water passes through, and admired the scenery for a time (see pics), then moved on.

As it was early, and I had changed plans by not going over to Sherman Mt., I decided to revisit Chub Mt, a local rock climbing favorite. For its size, it is a wonderful mountain to climb. The numerous rock climbers who visit the mountain have made some beautiful and easy to follow herd paths, that end just short of the summit. The path I took today was right along the top of the wall that they climb, so views of Trout Lake Mt. and Sherman Mt. are plentiful (see pics). A quick up and down, then back to the car.

Trout Lake Mt on the left and Sherman Mt on the right. from Chub Mt.

The total mileage of today’s adventure was 5.6 miles, with a 2.4 mile bushwhack. On this beautiful day, it was perfect … except for the flies!!! … and a nice soul boost.

While I would only recommend bushwhacking to experienced backcountry adventurers, going out to the backcountry on marked and groomed trails can be very refreshing. Still, even on a short adventure, always make sure that you have the “10 essentials” in your pack, just google it, and someone who knows where you are going.

Even on today’s short outing, I had everything I needed in my chest pack, and in my 20 liter backpack was everything I would need to survive a night in the woods in the event of an emergency. Thankfully, I was able to enjoy a cold drink and a candy bar when I got back to my Jeep!

Get out there! There is so much to explore!

Be well. Shalom.

We Are Not Alone.

No, I am not going to write an X-Files themed faith post, but the truth is out there, and up there, while also being right here. Now to the matter at hand.

People often wonder about the many censuses found in the Bible. Those dry accountings of people in ancient times. The accounting is important, and connected to biblical promise, but they also point us to something beautiful.

Messiah Yeshua/Jesus taught, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny and not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:29-31).

When something is important to you, or dear to you, you check it, and care for it. The Lord counts His people so that each individual is reminded that He knows them, and has personally looked upon them. We matter to Him.

Yeshua goes further in His explanation, you were not just counted, but He has numbered the hairs of your head. What is He conveying?

Have you even snuggled with your child? Slowly stroking their hair? This is the level of intimacy and closeness Yeshua is referencing. You have not been numbered as some type of inventory; rather, you matter so much that the Father has seen you with such closeness as to know a seemingly insignificant detail.

Still, there is something more to a census, and its inclusion in the biblical record. It reminds us that we are not alone. We are part of a family, joined together for support, to be there for each other.

We are numbered in an innumerable Body (Rev. 7:9), precious in the sight of God and mattering more than we could ever know.

You matter. You are counted. You are precious. You are loved. He has called you by name. He gave His Son for you.

We are not alone.

No matter what you face today, your Father in heaven is there, stroking your hair, letting you know it will be alright (Matt. 10:31). May that be a comforting truth, not out there, but right here where you are.

Be well. Shalom.