Welcome to 2016 in Yeshua’s name!
We try to make our January newsletter especially meaningful since it sets the tone for an entire year (albeit on the secular calendar)! The Lord gave us an interesting Hebrew word for this month: matok מתוק (pronounced mah-TOKE), SWEET. It is His desire that 2016 be a “Sweet New Year” for each one of His children. In Hebrew that is, shah-NAH ma-too-KAH.
Perhaps you are wondering, “How can 2016 be a Sweet New Year with a world falling apart at the seams?” The answer: When God is in the midst, any situation, no matter how bitter, can be sweet. He is Good, and He is Light in the midst of darkness. He is All-Powerful Love. Yeshua promised His talmidim (disciples) that they would triumph through Him, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The Apostle John also reassured us of the sweet victory that is ours in Messiah, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). SWEET!
Bitter Waters: Made Sweet
The first time mah-TOKE, sweet, is used in the Torah is in Exodus 15:22-25. The children of Israel had passed through the Red Sea into the Wilderness of Shur where they traveled three days without finding water. They were thirsty. They were weary. “Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’ So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.” Moses exhorted the Israelites to diligently heed the voice of the LORD, do right in His sight, and obey His commandments. God’s response was, “…I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you” (Exodus 15:26). In Hebrew, “Ani Adonai Rofekha, ANEE Adon-NYE row-FEY-kha.”
Are there any “bitter waters” in your life? Are you thirsty? Is there a need for healing? We believe that this passage from the Torah is for you—our Jewish Jewels family—a promise of sweetness in 2016. When Yeshua died on the “tree of sacrifice,” the bitter waters of sin were made sweet—once for all time. When we drink of His life-giving water, we enter into abundant life. There is not only healing from sin in the atonement, but healing of sickness as well. Psalm 103:2-3 becomes a daily reality in Messiah, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.” SWEET.
Bitterness is also healed on the tree of sacrifice because it is there that God gives us the power to forgive. Letting go of bitterness is possible because of Yeshua’s death and resurrection. The Lord wants us to remind you of Isaiah 38:16-17, “…You will restore me and make me live. Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; but You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.” Forgiveness is a choice. We can do all things through Messiah who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13).
Bitterness poisons. (See Acts 8:23.) Forgiveness sweetens. (See Ephesians 4:31-32.) Be saved in 2016! Be healed in 2016! Forgive in 2016!
Our Prayers: A Sweet Aroma
The phrase, “sweet aroma,” is found throughout the Torah, in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. It refers to the burnt offerings that the children of Israel were to make as the Lord commanded Moses, “And you shall burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD; it is a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD.” (Exodus 29:18)
The burnt offering was an act of worship. The Hebrew word for sweet in “sweet aroma” is not mah-TOKE, but nee-kho-AKH. This word translated as “sweet” in the KJV, is translated in other versions as “delight,” “soothing,” or “pleasant.”
A “sweet aroma” also rose up to the LORD from the altar of incense. (See Exodus 30:1.) Adonai told Moses, “Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it.” (Exodus 30:7). When Solomon built the Temple, he said, “Behold, I am building a temple for the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to Him, to burn before Him sweet incense, for the continual shewbread, for the burnt offerings morning and evening…” (2 Chronicles 2:4)
Today, we are the temple of God, dedicated to Him. The sweet incense, the burnt offerings, that take place in us are called “prayer.” Our prayers rise, like incense, before the Father. They are a “sweet aroma” to Him. We join the psalmist in saying, “May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the LORD.” (Psalm 104:34). As the “Temple of the Ruach HaKodesh,” we say, “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” (Psalm 141:2)
Our prayers are nee-kho-AKH to God, soothing, pleasant, a delight, “…the prayer of the upright is His delight.” (Proverbs 15:8). Our God wants to answer our prayers in 2016, “He heeded their prayer, because they put their trust in Him.” (1 Chronicles 5:20) “The LORD has heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.” (Psalm 6:9)
God’s desire: “Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7)
The prayers, that rise up in faith before the throne of God, are spoken of in the final book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Revelation 5:8) A sweet aroma to our El Shaddai, Almighty God!
His Words: Sweet To Our Taste
The psalmist expressed it this way, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103) May we live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord in 2016 (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4). The final verse of Song of Songs chapter 5 speaks about the mouth that utters the sweetest words in heaven and earth, “His mouth is most sweet. Yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem!” (Song 5:16)
Since Messiah’s mouth is sweet, and His words are sweet, the prophet Jeremiah said, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart…” (Jeremiah 15:16) When Jamie wrote the song that begins each of our Jewish Jewels programs, she added, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them, they tasted sweet; they satisfied me…” SO SWEET.
We are thrilled at the sweet word from the Word that the LORD gave us for our Jewish Jewels family in 2016. Sweet Sixteen for sure. Here it is—Psalm 16:
- Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.
- O my soul, you have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from You.”
- As for the saints who are on the earth, “They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”
- Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god; their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, nor take up their names on my lips.
- O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot.
- The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance.
- I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
- I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
- Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope.
- For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
- You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
His Fruit: Sweet!
Song of Songs 2:3, referring to the Beloved, says, “I sat down in his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” Sit down. Relax. Rest. Abide under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalms 91:1). “Taste and see that the LORD is good…” (Psalms 34:8) We need to do more of this in 2016.
We have been chosen by God to bear sweet, lasting fruit (John 15:16). The fruit is not our fruit, however, but the Spirit’s fruit. Our model for fruit—the gold standard—is Yeshua. He embodies the fruit of the Spirit, outlined in Galatians 5:22. We see all this and much, much more in the life of Yeshua:
His LOVE…in dying for our sin
His JOY…at seeing people made whole
His PEACE…in the midst of storms
His LONG-SUFFERING…with disciples who “did not get it!”
His KINDNESS…in the way He dealt with Peter
His GOODNESS…in touching the untouchables
His FAITHFULNESS…in always doing His Father’s will
His GENTLENESS…with the woman caught in adultery
His SELF-CONTROL…when tempted by the evil one
May we taste of Yeshua’s sweet fruit this year. May 1 John 4:17 become flesh in us, “…as He is, so are we in this world.” Most of all, may the sweetest fruit of all—LOVE—increase as we abide in Yeshua’s shade (Song 2:3). “And walk in love, as Messiah also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” (Ephesians 5:2)
Our Father wants to give us a priceless gift in 2016. A promise from Proverbs is being extended to us in love, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.” (Proverbs 3:24). Read the following two verses for more fear-defeating words! But God is especially focusing on our sleep. Many times I recall a line from a poem I memorized in high school, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge: “Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing, beloved from pole to pole.” So true. A good night’s sleep is such a blessing.
At a seminar on “Burnout” for leaders in Messianic ministry, we learned some fascinating facts about sleep. In 1860, the average person slept 9 1/2 hours per night. Today, the average is 6 1/2 hours. Modern man (woman) is not getting enough sleep. Consider what Ecclesiastes 5:12 has to say, “The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.” Does our abundance keep us awake? Our financial worries? The light from all our electric devices that disrupt sleep patterns? The stress of living life in the fast lane? Our lack of physical exercise? Too many hours in front of TV, and not enough hours out walking in the fresh air Fear of the future? Fears for our families?
The promise of Proverbs 3:24 for us in “Sweet Sixteen” is NO FEAR, SWEET SLEEP. Let us thank the Lord, and receive His promise by faith! May we all end 2016, having slept much more and feared much less, with the testimony of Proverbs 13:19 on our lips, “A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.”
We all have dreams. We dream when we are asleep, and when we are awake. Our God has sweet dreams for us—dreams filled with hope and a future. (See Jeremiah 29:11.) He also has dreams for His People Israel. These dreams were eloquently expressed in a song which was voted the number one song of the 20th century. Until recently, we had no idea that the song had anything to do with Israel and the Jewish people.
It does! “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was written by Yip Harburg, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants who lived in New York. The music was written by Harold Arlen, a cantor’s son. Together, the two men reached deep into their immigrant Jewish roots to write a prophetic song about Jewish survival, just as the Holocaust was beginning in 1939.
“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high. There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue.
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.
Someday I’ll wish upon a star, and wake up where the clouds are far behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops, away above the chimney tops, that’s where you’ll find me.
Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow. Why, then, oh why can’t I?
If happy little bluebirds fly, beyond the rainbow, why, oh, why, can’t I?”
The Land in the song: Israel. The singers of the lullaby: Jewish mothers. The dream: Next year in Jerusalem. The chimney tops: the Holocaust. Birds fly over the rainbow: The Jews who could not escape the Holocaust. A dream come true: Less than 10 years after “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was first published, the State of Israel was reborn.
Blessings in our Sweet Savior,
P.S. Forgiveness, book by Rodney Hogue, will show you how to forgive in 2016!
Touching the Heart of God, by Paul Wilbur. A book about the King, His Kingdom and His calendar.
Walk on Water, music CD by Deborah Klein-Iantorno and Vince Iantorno: anointed Messianic music.