Dear Beloved Ones in Yeshua,
A God Who Comes Down
As we approach Shavuot, one of the three Shalosh Regalim (sha-LOASH reh-gah-LEEM), the Pilgrimage Festivals commanded by God in Exodus 34:23, one thought keeps resounding in our hearts and minds: We serve a God who comes down! He came down on Mount Sinai to give His people the Law, but that was not the first time that our God came down. He has a history of leaving His heavenly throne to make contact with His beloved creation. God is love and love comes down. No other god condescends to lower himself to the level of sinful humans as our God does!
The first mention in the Torah of God coming down is found in Genesis 11:5, in reference to the Tower of Babel. The whole earth had one language at that time. The people all agreed to build a city and a tower reaching to the heavens. They wanted to make a name for themselves, to be their own gods. God was not pleased. He said, “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city” (Genesis 11:7-8). Man’s pride made it necessary for God to leave His throne and deal with the future ramifications of sin.
A few chapters later we see God coming down as a smoking oven and a burning torch to make an everlasting covenant with His friend Abraham (Genesis 15:17). He came down as the Angel of the LORD to rescue Isaac from being slain (Genesis 22:11-12). He came down to wrestle with Jacob at Jabbok before he was to meet his brother Esau, who had determined to kill him (Genesis 32:24). He came down to speak to Moses from a burning bush (Exodus 3:4), and gave him the reason for His descent, “So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey…” (Exodus 3:8). Our God comes down to deliver His people and bless them.
Coming Down on Mount Sinai
We celebrate God coming down on Mount Sinai on Tuesday, May 30, 2017 (Erev Shavuot), and Wednesday, May 31, 2017 (Shavuot). Some people also celebrate a second day of Shavuot on June 1, 2017. As the Lord came down on Passover to free His People from physical bondage, He came down on Shavuot to free His People from the spiritual bondage of idolatry and immorality. He did this by giving them rules to live by, His teachings, His Torah. Before there was Torah, God’s People did not know what God considered sin. The Torah was His gift to them. The festival is called Hag Matan Torateinu (HAG mah-TAHN TOE-rah-TEY-new), the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah.
While the Bible does not explicitly say that the Torah was given on the feast of Shavuot, traditional rabbis, by careful calculations, came to the conclusion that the Israelites were given the Law at Mount Sinai on the sixth day of Sivan, 50 days after the Passover, in the third month since leaving Egypt. “In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai.” “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.” (Exodus 19:1, 10-11).
The God of Israel came down (ירד yered), to give the Torah to His People. On Shavuot, in Jewish communities throughout the world, the biblical account of the revelation at Sinai is read during synagogue services. God’s covenant with Israel and the Ten Commandments are emphasized. Some Jewish communities observe an all-night vigil called “Tikkun Lel Shavuot” (tee-KOON lel Shah-voo-OAT), during which the Torah is studied.
The covenant that God made with Israel when He came down is often compared to a wedding. The Tikkun Lel Shavuot is the bride’s bedeken (beh-DEH-ken), her preparation for the wedding ceremony. On the day of Shavuot, the Bridegroom (God) gives His bride (Israel) a marriage contract or ketubah (keh-TOO-bah), the Torah. Hence, Shavuot becomes an anniversary of the spiritual marriage between God and Israel.
A Cry for God to Come Down
The Hebrew prophets spoke of a day when salvation would come to Zion, when God’s People would turn from their rebellion and idolatry and seek His face. “Indeed the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the world: ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, surely your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. And they shall call them the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD’” (Isaiah 62:11). Until that day, Isaiah cried out to God to save His People, forgive their sin, to look down from heaven and be merciful. We hear the cry of his heart in the following verses, “Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down!” “For since the beginning of the world, men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God beside You, who acts for the one who waits for Him” (Isaiah 64:1, 4).
Isaiah is pleading with God as a Father (Isaiah 63:16, 64:8), praying not only that He would come down and save His children, but also punish their enemies (Isaiah 64:2).
God Reaches Down to Rescue
Our God reaches down to rescue us when we are in trouble. No one knew this truth better than King David. He expressed His love and gratitude to God in both 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 18, which contain the song that David wrote after God saved him from Saul and his other enemies. “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry entered His ears.” (2 Samuel 22:7) David said that God responded with His arrows—lightnings—and uncovered even the foundations of the earth. “But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning.” (2 Samuel 22:17, The Message Bible)
God has a long reach! When we are drowning, He comes down. He hears our cries for help. He loves us as much as He loved David. Maybe more!
Bread Came Down From Heaven
Bread Came Down From Heaven
The only solution to man’s sin problem was one final, all encompassing, act of love. God Himself would put on human flesh and come down to earth to be the sacrifice, the atonement for the sin of the world. “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)
God’s Son is our Messiah. When questioned about the miraculous provision of manna in the wilderness, He said that He was the True Bread sent down from Heaven. “For the bread of God is HE who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Yeshua said to them, ‘ I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. For Ihave come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of the One who sent Me. Amen, amen, I tell you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat and not die. I am the living bread, which came down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever. This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:33, 35-38, 47-51)
Down from King to Servant
Yeshua came down. The Word (Torah) that was with the Father at creation (John 1:1), Who created all things (Colossians 1:16), Who is now seated at the right hand of the Most High (Mark
16:19, Matthew 26:64), humbled Himself to become a man so that He could be our Faithful High Priest. But first He became a servant, taking a lowly position to feel what we feel, to join us in the struggle of being human. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Messiah died, but He rose again. The Message Bible completes this thought in a powerful, contemporary way, “Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive He brings God down to us” (Romans 6:11). Down to us—and IN US—through His indwelling Spirit.
No other god stoops to wash the feet of his followers. No other god humbles himself to leave his palace and become homeless. No other god is Love. God’s mind is revealed in Philippians 2:5-8 in and exhortation by Rabbi Saul (Paul), “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” A long way down from Glory.
A Giant Leap of Love
When the God of the universe came down and clothed Himself in human flesh, His purpose was redemption. The incarnation was a supreme act of sacrificial love. There is a verse in the Song of Songs (3:9) which alludes to Yeshua’s earthly “chariot.” Jamie explores this on Day 12 of her new book, Kiss Me Again, which is finished and will be available in July. Below is the first half of Day 12:
“Of the wood of Lebanon Solomon the King made himself a palanquin…” Song 3:9
The bridegroom is called Solomon in verse 7, but “Solomon the King” in this verse. He is a “Bridegroom King,”and His bride is drawing attention to His majesty. The time has come for Yeshua’s bride to crown Him king, but king with a capital “K,” because our Yeshua is coming back as King of kings and Lord of lords. His desire is to be King of your heart, your Sovereign Lord, the One whom you seek to please above all others.
Yeshua was born to be King. He expressed this truth in John 18:37 when He said to Pilate, “You say rightly that I am a King. For this cause I was born…” At His birth, the King of Glory took on human flesh (symbolized by wood in the Scriptures) to become the chariot of our salvation. This is the incarnation—an important doctrine of our Messianic faith.
Our King came to earth out of love, to choose a bride for Himself, knowing that He would have to pay the highest price for her—His own life. Think how much you are worth! This needs to be the foundation of your self-worth, not the opinions of others, not your accomplishments, not your looks, but Yeshua’s love for you, His bride. You are of great value, like a precious jewel.
The wood of Lebanon mentioned in this verse is probably almug wood (also known as algum wood). This wood came from afar—from Ophir—just as Yeshua came to earth from afar—from Heaven. The chariot that He “made Himself” is called an aperion in Hebrew, אפריון, the only time this word appears in the Bible. It is a “loan-word,” probably from Persian or Greek, like the “loan-word” or “loan body” of Yeshua—on loan to humanity for 33 years.
We read in 1 Kings 10:12 that wood like this never came again to Israel after Solomon had Hiram, King of Tyre, send him great quantities by ship. Almug wood was strong and had an antiseptic quality, being impervious to most insects. Incorruptible wood. How appropriate to be the symbol of Yeshua’s humanity, of His pure, spotless manhood. Our God is an incorruptible God (see Rom. 1:23), who did not allow His Holy One, Yeshua, to see corruption (Ps. 16:10, Acts 2:27, Acts 13:35). We, the bride of Messiah, have been born again of incorruptible seed “through the Word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23).
King Solomon used the incorruptible almug wood in building his personal dwelling, the stringed instruments for the Levites, and a temple for the LORD—a holy place to house the presence of the God of Israel. Yeshua, our Shlomo, was just that. So are we! A King indwells us by His Ruach.
When our Bridegroom came to earth to become the chariot of our salvation, He knew, being God in the flesh, that like the almug wood that comes from trees growing in dry hills and rocky ground, He was that “root out of dry ground” spoken of in Isaiah 53:2. He also knew that before His chariot (His body) could carry His bride, it had to be cut down. “…For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken.” (Isaiah 53:8)
The miracle of God taking on human flesh is something to be proclaimed and celebrated. As Messianic Jews, we have decided that Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, is the best time to praise God for condescending to take on human flesh—a temporary sukkah—to identify with us in our sinful condition. Most scholars agree that Yeshua was not born in December, but rather in the spring or fall. We believe that it was the fall, due to internal biblical evidence. Whenever it was, the incarnation proclaims God’s great, great love.
Messiah’s Call to Come Down
Yeshua modeled “coming down” for His disciples. After an all-night prayer session with His Father, He chose His twelve talmidim (tahl-me-DEEM). “And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people…” (Luke 6:17). The Messiah then healed all who came to Him with diseases or tormenting spirits. “Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: ‘Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.‘” (Luke 6:20). The famous Sermon on the Mount that follows is a call to come down, to humble oneself, and stand on a level, lowly place. Not to think highly of oneself. To become like a child. To come down. To be like the Master.
Coming Down Again
After His resurrection, Yeshua taught His talmidim during 40 days and then told them to wait in Jerusalem for the Promise of the Father (the Ruach HaKodesh, ROO-ach ha-KO-desh).
While His disciples watched, the Messiah was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Two men, in white apparel, appeared and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Yeshua, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
Yeshua will return to the same city: Jerusalem. The prophet Zechariah saw that day: “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west…” (Zechariah 14:4).
Yeshua’s words to Jerusalem: “…you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD’” (Ba-ROOK ha-BAH b’SHEM Ah-Doe-NYE) (Matthew 23:39).
“Even so, come, Lord Yeshua!” (Revelation 22:20)
Blessings in the God who comes down,
P.S. The Spirit that came down at Shavuot in the Upper Room reversed Babel, and moved the Torah given at Sinai from the outside on tablets of stone to the inside on the human heart.