Dear fellow feast-keepers,
The Voice of Leviticus 23
We are bombarded with many voices today, but only one really matters: the voice of God. This lifesaving, life-giving voice is mentioned the first time that the word VOICE appears in the Bible in Genesis 3:10. Adam said to God, “…I heard Your voice קול) kol, pronounced COAL) in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
Sin caused men to fear God’s voice. But forgiveness of sin in Messiah causes men to welcome it. In Yeshua, there is a close relationship with our Father. We dwell in Him. He dwells in us. We hear and obey His voice. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
As Messianic believers, we hear the voice of God speaking to us through His Word. He speaks in Leviticus chapter 23 concerning the feasts of the Lord. They are His feasts, more than just Jewish holidays. Sukkot סכות) sue-COAT) especially, as the final of the three annual Pilgrim Feasts, is a time of celebration for all the children of God. “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles, Hag HaSukkot הסכות חג) KHAG ha-sue-COAT) for seven days to the LORD” (Lev. 23:33-34).
Sukkot is all about dwelling—dwelling in God and dwelling in temporary booths (סכות sue-COAT plural; סכה SUE-kah singular). Dwelling in the Lord implies rejoicing in Him, a major feature of Sukkot. Leviticus 23 continues, “And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days” (Lev. 23:40). This bundle is called a lulav לולב (LOO-lahv) and is waved before the Lord amidst voices shouting, “Hosannah!”—from hoshiana נא הושיעה) hoe-she-ah-NAH), save now. Leviticus 23 continues, “You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God” (Lev. 23:42-43).
The voice that should be heard in every sukkah is mentioned in Psalm 118:15, “The voice (kol) of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.” The day is coming when the celebration of Sukkot will be required of all the nations of the world. Hear the voice of God speaking through the prophet Zechariah: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zech. 14:16)—Jews and Gentiles alike. The penalty for not keeping Sukkot—no rain. No blessing of God. (Zech. 14:17)
While Sukkot is very important to the Lord, most secular Jewish people today give little emphasis to the holy day. They celebrate Rosh HaShanah (Yom Teruah) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), but Sukkot? However, my Jewish neighbors began asking me about our sukkah at the beginning of September. They look forward to the joy, yet still do not understand the real source of the joy: dwelling in God, hearing His voice, having forgiveness of sin, assurance of heaven, and an understanding of His Word. May this year be the year of revelation for my neighbors!
The Voice of Joy and Gladness
Jeremiah 33:11 stood out to me this month: “The voice of joy, kol sasson ששון קול) COAL sahSOWN) and the voice of gladness, kol simcha שמחה קול) COAL seem-CHAH), the voice of the bridegroom, kol khatan חתן קול) COAL kha-TAHN) and the voice of the bride, kol kallah כלה קול) COAL kah-LAH), the voice of those who will say: “Praise the LORD of hosts, for the LORD is good, for His mercy endures forever …”
In the Hebrew mindset, there is no earthly joy like the joy of a Jewish wedding. A celebration of love. Covenant. God’s blessing on mankind. It is the bridegroom’s voice, via a ketubah כתובה) kehTOO-bah)—or marriage contract—that makes provision for his bride with promises of food, clothing, shelter, and dwelling as loving companions. The bridegroom’s voice, mentioned in the Brit Hadashah in John 3:29, is a source of joy to his friend, speaking of John the Immerser: “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.”
The Voice of the Bridegroom
Yeshua is our Heavenly Bridegroom. He came to earth to purchase a bride for Himself. He paid a bride price for us—mohar מהר) MOW-har)—His blood shed on the tree of sacrifice. The Messiah’s final words, as recorded in John 19:30, were “… It is finished!” Alexander MacLaren, a famous Victorian-era preacher, makes a beautiful comment on these words: “There is something in that dying voice a great deal deeper and more wonderful than the ordinary human utterance with which a dying man might say, ‘It is all over now. I have done,’ for this utterance came from the consciousness that all things had been accomplished by Him, and that He had done His life’s work.” Yes. Yeshua had paid sin’s debt in full and purchased a spiritual bride for Himself (the joy set before Him, even in the agony of paying such a high price). If Yeshua was speaking in Hebrew on the cross (which seems most plausible), the widely accepted Greek word tetelestai for “It is finished” might have been a Hebrew word instead. This word, from the root kalah (kah-LAH), means to finish, complete, or make perfect. It is also the root of the Hebrew word for bride, kallah. Could the Messiah’s final words have bridal overtones? (I think they do.) I believe that we were on the heart and lips of our dying Beloved.
What is the Bridegroom saying today, on Sukkot 2022? I hear the voice of our Heavenly Bridegroom Yeshua in the Song of Songs. Kol dodi דודי קול) COAL doh-DEE), the voice of my Beloved, says at the very end of the Song of Solomon, “You who dwell in the gardens, the companions listen for your voice —Let me hear it!” (Song 8:13). We are in the garden with our Lord. His vineyard. His garden enclosed (Song 4:12). A setting of natural beauty, green, outdoors, like a sukkah (Song 1:16). Dwelling with the God of the Universe. Our Messiah longs to hear our voice. “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely” (Song 2:14).
It has always been the desire of God to dwell with His people. At Sukkot we remember how the Lord dwelled with the children of Israel as they dwelled in sukkot following their Exodus from Egypt. “I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the LORD their God” (Ex. 29:45-46). To dwell in Hebrew is shakan שכן) sha-KHAN).
We, as believers in Yeshua, are now the dwelling place of God. “...For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people‘” (2 Cor. 6:16). How does God dwell in as well as among us? By placing His Spirit within us when we place our faith in the finished work of Yeshua on the tree of sacrifice and receiving Him as our Savior and Lord. The Apostle John explains it as follows: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt [tabernacled] among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Yeshua took on an earthly sukkah for us. He came as a man to identify with us in our sinful condition and atone for the sin of each of us. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-12).
The Bridegroom is saying that He wants to dwell in You and with you! He wants to hear your voice, and for you to hear His voice. He wants all of us—Jew and Gentile alike—to listen to His voice instead of the voices of tradition, legalism, accusation, fear, and manipulation. Maimonides, one of the most respected Torah scholars of all time, in his Guide for the Perplexed, made an astute comment on the voices that men listen to: “Men like the opinions to which they have become accustomed from their youth; they defend them and shun contrary views; and this is one of the things that prevents men from finding the truth, for they cling to the opinions of habit.” Abba, please deliver us from all lying, deceiving voices and help us to clearly hear the Kol Chatanu חתנו קול) COAL kha-tah-NOO), the Voice of our Bridegroom.
The Voice of the Bride
Kol Kallah. What about our voice this Sukkot? We have already seen in Song of Songs 2:14 that Yeshua says our voice is sweet. It should also be salty. Yeshua’s bride is exhorted concerning her voice—her speech—in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Each pre-believer. Sukkot in the natural is harvest time, the final harvest. It is the end-time spiritual harvest as well. It is time for the world to hear the voice of the bride extending an invitation far and wide to whosoever will. It is time to say, “Come.” “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him
who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).
We must not let our voice be silenced. We can speak up on behalf of unborn babies. We can vote for godly representatives. We can proclaim the truth of the Word of God. We can, by the Spirit of God within us, bless those who persecute us. We are called to bless and not curse. (Matt. 5:44) We can lift up our voices in prayer.
A fascinating book by Paul Keith Davis, The Voice of the Bride, explores our identity, anointing, and kingdom purpose for the last days. Davis has an interesting perspective on the bride of the Lamb. He sees the bride as a company of messengers who not only impart a truth but embody the truth. Divine character has been formed in this end-time bride through a baptism of trials. Relationship is her highest purpose. “To walk with God in the ‘cool of the day’ is still our foremost aspiration. It is in that place of ‘union’ that we are empowered to influence our culture and manifest His kingdom.” We are being called to come up higher at this “evening time” of human history.
As the Lord’s friends, we must speak His words. Davis explains: “Like Jacob, the Lord has destroyed our dependence upon human strength and changed our nature. A new name is being given, according to Revelation 2:17, to those who overcome in this fashion. Then we enjoy a perpetual covenant of His Presence. With His words in our mouth we become His voice on earth.”
God’s sold-out radical people, the Bride of Messiah, demonstrate the Spirit of Truth as He tabernacles in His bride to do through her all the great and wonderful things He did while on earth in human form. Messiah’s bride will arise to speak the truth in love with power and authority.
The Voice of World Jewry
I hear the voice of World Jewry mainly through the material that I receive from the World Jewish Congress (WJC). In their 2022 Special High Holiday Edition, they highlight what is happening among Jews worldwide, especially the instances of antisemitism. The WJC lifts up its voice on behalf of Jewish communities worldwide. Their motto is: “All Jews are responsible for one another.” Attacks on Jewish communities are nothing new. “Throughout history, difficult economic and social conditions have given rise to extremists who seek to scapegoat Jews and spread hatred and bigotry. Today, they use social media to reach out to ignorant and impressionable people across the globe.”
The World Jewish Congress has sounded the alarm against increasing levels of Holocaust denial and distortion, both on the internet and in public life. The organization regularly calls out the unfair, one-sided, biased treatment that Israel endures at the United Nations. WJC President, Ronald S. Lauder, encouraged world leaders to strengthen religious education, emphasizing that religion is in danger. “When young people are not learning the basic rules of decency, they gravitate toward the teaching of hate and intolerance. All of us have the power and responsibility to turn this around. This can only come through education.”
The traditional Jewish community is very concerned about antisemitism on university campuses. Jewish students have to hide their Jewish identity, are harassed, and are fearful of becoming targets. Jewish faculty members are intimidated and complaints of antisemitism are ignored.
A May 2022 survey showed that hatred against Jews in Germany reached alarming levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. One in five adult Germans and one in three 18-to-25-year-olds espouse antisemitic attitudes. COVID conspiracies fueled hatred of Jews, and Holocaust knowledge is in decline.
The Voice of Prisoners
Many of you may not know that Jewish Jewels has a prison ministry that began in the 1980s. Sheryl handles most of the correspondence with our incarcerated brothers and sisters and has been a great blessing to hundreds of men and women over the years. Just recently, Jessie, from Gatesville, Texas, asked us to pray for the Jewish women who are fasting and learning the Word in prison. Wesley, in Florence, Arizona, wants to know more about the Messianic Way. He is disillusioned with traditional Judaism and wrote, “The teachings of Judaism are teachings of rabbis out of books like the Talmud rather than the laws of G-d. Am I the only one who sees this?” Sheryl sent Messianic literature to Wesley. I was so blessed by his final comments, “Your newsletter was amazing this month! It gave me peace and made me realize what’s the most important thing, it’s my relationship with G-d. G-d is love in every way, he loves me and I’ll get through this holding his hand.”
The Voice of a Messianic Israeli
As we sit securely in our sukkot this year, our brothers and sisters in Israel have to be ready to leave theirs at a moment’s notice to flee to their bomb shelters (a tragic but necessary type of temporary dwelling). God showed His faithfulness once again during Operation Breaking Dawn as almost 1,000 rockets made it into Israel. Most fell in open areas. The Iron Dome’s success rate was 97%. In commenting on the latest episode with Hamas (the Hebrew word for violence), Shani Sorko-Ram Ferguson of Maoz Israel speaks, I believe, for the majority of Jewish believers who live in the Land. Her voice touched my heart. May it touch yours as well:
“Everyone knows this won’t be the last round. The rockets will rain down on us again—whether a week from now or in a few years. They will keep fighting and raising their children to fight us, and we will keep defending and raising our children to defend us. In the natural, there is no middle ground. They won’t stop and we won’t stop. They want our land and we have nowhere else to go. Our only hope is the promise God gave us that the day is coming when He will bring His peace to our shores.
We, Israel, are at the mercy of God’s plan for us. It is He who chose us to live in this land and worship Him here. He who brought us back from the nations and promised to cleanse us and give us a heart of flesh and move on us to follow Him. There is a force that does not want to see this prophecy fulfilled. A force that wants to see God fail in what He said He would do. What they fail to understand, however, is that the only thing God can’t do, is fail.” Amen!
Pray with me: “Abba, please help me hear Kol Adonai, the Voice of the Lord, clearly and intimately in Yeshua’s name.”
Rejoicing in the Word that became flesh
and TABERNACLED among us,