Luke 1:5 Note that Zachariah belonged to the priestly division of Abijah. I Chronicles 24:10 places Abijah as the eighth division in the monthly rotation of priests serving in the Temple. After the Exile and rebuilding of the Temple, this was changed to a two-week rotation. So Zachariah would have been in the temple in late June to early July, by our modern calendar.
Luke 1:26 The angel Gabriel appears to Mary six months after Zachariah was serving in the Temple. Yeshua was conceived around the time of Hanukkah (our December), which celebrates the “Light that came into the world”. Nine months later places the birth of Yeshua at the time of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) which is now usually in late September to early October.
Luke 2:7 Hebrew word for ‘manger’ or ‘stable’ is ‘sukkah’ (Gen.33:17). Jerusalem became overcrowded during the three pilgrimage festivals of Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Tabernacles). This crowding included the area around Bethlehem, since it is close to Jerusalem. Yeshua was born in one of these temporary shelters.
Luke 2:21 The eighth day after the seven days of Sukkot is a special High Holy Day. Yeshua was circumcised on that day. John 1:14 says ‘The Word became a human being and tabernacled with us’.
Traditionally between Passover and Pentecost, each week of counting the Omer is dedicated to a spiritual quality to which we aspire. Turning these qualities toward Yah, we see these qualities fully embodied in Him, and a verse for each day of the week relates that quality to the pictograph meaning of the relevant Hebrew letter:
Here is a printable copy: Omer Count with Verses
In today’s Triennial cycle reading Acts 1:10, Yeshua told the disciples to wait for the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit. This was fulfilled 50 days later at Shavuot. The “Promise of the Father” is a phrase used during the Passover Seder, made to the the one who finds the Afikomen — Yeshua, the buried and resurrected Messiah. Anyone who finds Yeshua will be given the Holy Spirit.
“With numerous signs for 40 days Yeshua was seen” by the disciples. 10 days after His ascension was Shavuot, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit — flames of fire above their heads, speaking in tongues, preaching in the streets, and thousands being saved!
v. 1-5 An anguished prayer for healing from sickness – very appropriate for those suffering from the Covid-19 virus pandemic. Even if you are not sick, all of us are being hurt by the impact of this global crisis. Many are in quarantine or self-imposed isolation (v. 6-7 ‘like a bird alone on the roof, awake at night’). Even food tastes like ashes (v. 9) – one symptom of Corona virus is loss of taste and smell. Those who are sick may feel rejected and far from joyful fellowship with God (v. 10). The darkness seems to be closing in… many have died. Is there any hope?
v. 12-22 A sacrifice of praise! Make a declaration of faith that the Lord ‘will arise and take pity on Zion (his people) for the time has come to have mercy on her!’ The result is v. 15 – ‘The nations will fear the name of YHVH and all the kings (leaders) your glory.’
v. 18 Record the response to this prayer… ‘so that future generations and people yet to be created will praise’ Him. Is there a purpose or positive outcome from the current pandemic? The theme of the Bible begins in Genesis 12:1-3, ‘all nations will be blessed’. Will you join in this Psalm 102 cry to the Lord on behalf of our stricken planet (that he made, by the way, v. 25) so that the final verse 28 becomes reality when ‘the children of your servants will live securely and their descendants be established in your presence’. Imagine, no more plagues, no more fear or loss, confidence in his presence like the Hebrews beneath the cloud of glory that stood above the Tabernacle in the wilderness (turn to the next reading). Come Yeshua!
Numbers 8:1 – 9:21
The ‘parashah’ begins with the dedication of the Levites as priests. This involved offerings representing repentance from sin and consecration to the Lord (v.8, 12). They were ‘taken in place of the firstborn of Israel’ (v.18) who were ‘passed-over’ when the Egyptian firstborn died.
Note that the Levites were presented as a wave offering, which was part of the peace offerings the people would bring (see Leviticus 7:28-36). It’s been jokingly said that Aaron must have been extremely strong to lift and wave hundreds of young Levites in the air! The priests were the people’s peace offering, set apart to be holy. If you are a believer in Yeshua, then you too are a priest, set apart to stand in the gap between lost people and the plagues resulting from the world’s sin (various forms of Corona virus – SARS, MERS, Covid-19, etc. – all genetically stem from eating non-kosher creatures).
Chapter 9 introduces Pesach (Passover) as a festival, exactly one year after it first happened in Egypt, and now when the Hebrew were in the wilderness (v. 5) totally dependent on God. Verses 6-14 make a provision for anyone who misses it to observe it one month later. This was in response to those who complained, ‘Why should we be cut off from the blessing (or protection?) of Passover?’ (v.7). They knew firsthand what had happened in Egypt that set the Hebrews free and certainly did not want to be left out a year later! How about you?
Verses 15-23 describe THE CLOUD. It moved over the Tabernacle on the day it was first put up. When the cloud lifted, the newly-dedicated priests disassembled the tabernacle, then when it started moving, they marched beneath the cloud with Israel following in carefully ordered divisions of tribes. At night, the glowing cloud lit the entire camp and must have been visible to non-Hebrew watchers for miles around. Everything the people did was ordered and illuminated by the Lord’s word… and there were no plagues such as now afflict all humanity. Hm! What does that mean for us? Turn to the next reading….
Amos 5, Judgment! Israel fallen (v.2)! War! Exile! “But if you seek the Lord, you will survive’ (v.6). Why has this disaster happened? ‘You who turn justice to wormwood, and throw righteousness to the ground’ (v. 7). Notice the Hebrew X pattern here – justice trampled into the dirt, righteousness becomes a bitter memory. The same ‘X’ is repeated as a positive version in v.24 – ‘let justice well up like water and righteousness like a flowing stream’. Living water required for a Jewish mikvah or baptism is water that flows continuously from its source. Justice becomes living water, and righteousness wells up from the Source.
How to survive the disaster is repeated in v. 14-15 – ‘Seek good and not evil…, love good, uphold justice.’ Warnings of the Day of the Lord follow (v.18, 20), linked to ‘I utterly loathe your festivals… offerings… songs’ (v.21-23). Being very religious was not good enough to avoid the exile ‘beyond Damascus’ which soon followed for the Northern kingdom of Israel. They were not worshiping according to God’s Word. Perhaps, we’d better find out what it really says! So what do we do now? Pray!
I Kings 8 & 15 Shlomo’s (Solomon’s) Dedication Prayer for the Temple.
v. 2 – ‘month of Etanim, the seventh month’. This would have been during the final three Biblical festivals (Lev. 23, Dt. 16) at the end of the harvest season. Wheat had been gathered, stubble and thorns in the fields burned, pilgrims heading for Jerusalem. This ancient Hebrew name for the seventh month (now replaced by ‘Tishrei’ from the pagan Babylonian calendar), may have been a plural form of ‘atun’ (furnace). Root letters are aleph (leader), tav (covenant), nun (life). The seventh month is preserved in our modern calendar as September (Latin ‘seventh’, counting from the Biblical new year… this continues with Octo, Novo, and December as numbers). It’s the final call to get attuned to the Leader of the covenant of life!
v. 8 – note what’s missing from inside the Ark!
v.10 Priests could not stand to do their service when the glory filled the temple.
v.23 ‘You keep covenant… show grace, IF they live in your presence with all of their hearts’. Again, religious observance without faith is not good enough.
v.33 ‘IF they turn back, acknowledge your name, and pray….’
v.43 ‘so that all peoples of the earth will know your name and fear (believe) in you’. Again, the theme of the Bible is the gospel to ‘all nations’, as mentioned in Ps. 102 notes above. Repeated in v. 60.
v.62 – 66 Huge feast for everyone! ‘and the people went home filled with joy’.
I Kings 15 Bad story of what happens when people don’t do what God says in his Word. Continued in the churches, struggling to finally get it right….
Revelation 2 & 3
Ephesus – ‘…lost your first love’ (v. 4) But you hate what the Nicolatians do (Nico – conquer others with false, impure teachings) – I hate it too.’ v. 6
Smyrna – ‘you will face an ordeal… remain faithful and I will give you a crown of life’.
Perganum – ‘teachings of Bilam… and Nicolatians’. Again, stick to what the Bible actually says, rather than some paganized version! v. 17 ‘To him winning the victory, I will give some of the hidden manna.’ (help from the Spirit!)
Thyatira – ‘you tolerate that Jezebel woman, deceiving my people!’ v. 23 “I give to each of you what your deeds deserve”.
Sardis – ‘what you are doing is incomplete in the sight of my God’ v.2 But, ‘He who wins the victory will be dressed in white and I will not blot his name from the Book of Life’ v.5.
Philadelphia – v.10 ‘You did obey my message about persevering. I will keep you from the time of trial that is coming on the whole world to put the people living on earth to the test.’
Laodicea – v. 16 Lukewarm! v. 19 ‘I rebuke and discipline everyone I love; so exert yourselves, and turn from your sins! Here, I’m standing at the door, knocking…. v. 21 ‘I will let him who wins the victory, sit with me on my throne…. v. 22 ‘those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the messianic communities’.
The longest and most intense of the Yom Kippur services is called Mussaf. It corresponds to the additional sacrificial offerings that were brought in the days of the Temple (see Numbers 29:7-11).
The intensity of Mussaf reaches its most climactic moment at the prayer called the Kedushah, in which we raise our voices in concert with the angelic multitudes who constantly surround God throne, crying, “Holy, holy, holy!” Thus we sanctify God’s name on earth just as it is sanctified by the angels in heaven.
Here, at the Kedushah, is the moment that catches you by surprise. The prayer leader (called the chazzan) suddenly begins to describe how the Messiah, through his intense suffering, piercing, and wounds, procures forgiveness for our sins.
The rabbi does not stir or act alarmed. The congregation continues in fervent prayer as if nothing unusual has happened. That is because this is a portion of a common Yom Kippur prayer called Az Milifnei Vereshit that has been used in synagogues for centuries.
This prayer elaborates on a concept found in the Gemara, in b.Pesachim 54a and b.Nedarim 39b: “Seven things were created before the world was created: the Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the throne of glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah.” This prayer also alludes to the assertion of the Sages (b.Sanhedrin 98b) that Yinnon is one of the Messiah’s names (based on a creative interpretation of Psalm 72:17)
The passage can be found in volume 2 of the famous Machzor Kol Bo:
Then, prior to creation,
he established the Temple and Yinnon.
The Talpiot above from the beginning,
he prepared before any people or language.
He decided to let his presence reside there,
to guide the mistaken in straight paths.
If the wicked are reddened (by sin),
let them wash and be cleansed beforehand.
If (God’s) fierce wrath is incited,
the Holy One will not awaken his full rage.
So far, our wealth has depleted,
but our Rock has not touched us.
Our righteous Messiah has turned away from us;
we have acted foolishly; there is no one to justify us.
Our iniquities and the yoke of our transgressions
he bears, and he is pierced for our transgressions.
He carries our sins on his shoulder,
to find forgiveness for our iniquities.
By his wounds we are healed,
forever a new creation; the time of his creation.
Bring him up from the circle;
lift him out of Seir.
To summon us to the mount of Lebanon
a second time through Yinnon. (translated by Aaron Eby)
Kedushah, which means holiness, is the sanctification of God’s name during the Amidah prayer. Below is the text for when it is said during weekday morning services.
נַקְדִּישָׁךְ וְנַעֲרִיצָךְ כְּנֹעַם שִׂיחַ סוֹד שַׂרְפֵי קֹדֶשׁ, הַמְשַׁלְּשִׁים לְךָ קְדֻשָּׁה. כַּכָּתוּב עַל יַד נְבִיאֶךָ: וְקָרָא זֶה אֶל זָה וְאָמַר: קָדוֹש, קָדוֹש, קָדוֹש, יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת. מְלֹא כָל הָאָרֶץ כְּבוֹדוֹ. לְעֻמָּתָם מְשַׁבְּחִים וְאוֹמְרִים: בָּרוּךְ כְּבוֹד יְהֹוָה מִמְּקוֹמוֹ. וּבְדִבְרֵי קָדְשְׁךָ כָּתוּב לֵאמֹר: יִמְלֹךְ יְהֹוָה לְעוֹלָם אֱלֹהַיִךְ צִיּוֹן לְדֹר וָדֹר, הַלְלוּיָהּ.
We will sanctify You and revere You, like the pleasant conversation, of the assembly of the holy Serafim (angels) that recite holiness thrice before You. And as it is written by Your prophet: And one calls to the other & says: Holy, Holy, Holy is the L·rd of hosts. the entire world is filled with His glory. Those facing them, give praise & say: Blessed is the honor of the L·rd from His place. And in Your holy words it is written, stating: The L·rd will reign forever, your G·d, oh zion, for every generation, Halleluy·ah. (Praise G·d!)
אַתָּה קָדוֹשׁ, וְשִׁמְךָ קָדוֹשׁ, וּקְדוֹשִׁים בְּכָל יוֹם יְהַלְלוּךָ סֶּלָה. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יֹהֵוָהֵ, הָאֵל הַקָּדוֹשׁ: בעשרת ימי תשובה: הַמֶּלֶךְ הַקָּדוֹשׁ
You are Holy, and Your Name is holy, and Your holy ones will praise You every day forever. Blessed are You L·rd the Holy G·d.
Minchah, the afternoon before YOM KIPPUR
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before You HASHEM, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Ps 19:15)
אֱלֹהֵינו Our God and the God of our forefathers, may our prayer come before You, and do not ignore our supplication for we are not so brazen and obstinate as to say before You HASHEM that we are righteous. Rather, we have sinned. (Ps 88:2, Ps 55:1, Ps 106:6)
We have turned away from Your commandments and from Your good laws but to no avail. (Job 33:27)
What can we say before You, Who dwells on high, and what can we relate to You, Who abides in the highest heavens – for indeed, everything that is hidden and revealed You know. You know the secrets of the universe, and the innermost mysteries of all the living. You test thoughts and emotions, and nothing is concealed from Your eyes. And so may it be Your will HASHEM that You pardon us all our iniquities and atone for all our willful sins. (Prov 20:27)
Numbers 15:37-40 ~ The LORD said . . . “Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels (‘tzitziot’) on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tzitzit. You will look upon them to remember all the commands of the LORD.”
Deuteronomy 22:12 ~ “You are to make for yourself twisted cords on the four corners of the garment you wrap around yourself.”
Sephardic wrapping of tzitzit uses the numbers equivalent to the Hebrew letters of the sacred Name: Y H V H ~ 10 5 6 5
To make, cut 3 equal lengths of cord (around 3’ each); double them in half. Cut another half length, and knot it with a whole length of blue cord.
Tie a double knot around a loop in the center of the 4 cords. Wrap 10 times (‘yod’), pulling through each wrap to hold it.
Double knot and wrap 5 times (‘hey’). Double knot and wrap 6 times (‘vav’). Double knot and wrap 5 times (‘hey’); may finish with a double knot. Trim white cords, leaving the blue cord a bit longer.
1/21/17 – Looking toward our homecoming: Leviticus 25:54 says slaves go free in the JUBILEE year (the year of homecoming). A few verses later Leviticus 26:4 says He sends the rains so the earth yields its PRODUCE. And in Exodus 19:13 “When the RAM’S HORN (horn signaling homecoming) sounds a long blast, they may go up on the mountain.” All three words derive from the Hebrew verb root, y.v.l., meaning “bring home”. What a jubilee, what produce from Him, sound the shofar, He’s bringing us home!
10/8/16 – Like baptism, the offerings summarized at the end of Leviticus 7 are an outward expression of our inward condition. In today’s Psalm 77 (Triennial Cycle) this expression of our human condition and failings is appropriate as we look toward Yom Kippur. And the sense of our failings gives way to wonder — Mika Mocha: “Who is like You” indeed! The Ten Days of Awe is a wonder-ful place to be spiritually.
10/1/16 – Today’s Psalm 76 reassures believers that while the judgment of Yah is fearful for the wicked, it is deliverance for the humble. This is analogous to the sun — a fiery furnace at close hand, but life for us. Which side are we on? Do we know His voice? Psalm 51:4 says God’s judgment is justified and clear; man sins against Him only. In fact, anything we’ve done out of our own will is sin, rebellion against God. Leviticus 6:6 notes that the burnt offering is to be a perpetual fire, not to go out. Is our fire still burning?