Rabbi’s Reflections – Monday, March 23, 2020 

Shalom *|FNAME|*,

I’m starting to write to you today at 6:15am on Sunday morning.  If I finish before 6:00pm then I will publish at 6.  Otherwise, I will publish when I finish.  With the response to the Coronavirus, just about everything is subject to change.

Yesterday we changed the way we broadcast our Shabbat service, and we have plans to improve it further next week.  So far this week we have had 497 views and 97 likes.  Will you do your part to push us over 500 and 100 respectively?  Begging is not above me.  I think you need a FB account to see this.  https://www.facebook.com/shomair.yisrael/videos/1098020937218893/ 

Wisely and intentionally very few people attended yesterday, mostly leadership (both of the congregation and of worship).  While I am thankful for that, it put a huge dent in our offering.  We have never had a shortage at Shomair (in 22 years) and we don’t have one now.  But here is a suggestion.  

If you are a member at Shomair or wish to support the work of the Lord, we value your financial support.  Checks can be mailed to the synagogue at “Shomair Yisrael, 3811 Boyds Bridge Pike, Knoxville, TN 37914” or online offerings can be made at our website syknox.org.  There is a donation link at the bottom of the front page.  Thank you (as always) for your faithfulness in giving.  May your blessing be multiplied both to us, and back to you.  May the Holy Spirit breathe on every gift and every giver, in Yeshua’s name, amen. 

Well, last Saturday we finished my comments on Dan Juster’s 12 Pillars.  He actually made a book out of that teaching.  When Bill Wallace heard I was writing about it, he sent me a case of the books free of charge.  I may have about 15 left.  If you want one, let me know (just reply to this email or contact me at rabbi@syknox.org and I’ll get it to you free of charge.  I looked, but I don’t see any place where they are for sale.  If there is enough demand, I will ask Bill for another case.

So what’s next?  We are going to start counting the omer on April 12th.  For those who are new to Messianic Judaism, you might not be familiar with the term “counting the omer.”  I will explain fully here.  The command is found in Leviticus 23:15 “Then you are to count from the morrow after the Shabbat, from the day that you brought the omer of the wave offering, seven complete Shabbatot.”

There are two ways to count.  Everyone counts for 49 days, with the 50th day being Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, which is a major holiday.

Rabbi Trail:  The 3 major holidays are called “Chaggim Regalim” which “Foot (or leg) Holidays.”  These are the 3 holidays on which Jewish men are commanded to present themselves before the Lord.  Deuteronomy 16:16 Three times a year all your males are to appear before Adonai your God in the place He chooses—at the Feast of Matzot, the Feast of Shavuot, and the Feast of Sukkot. No one should appear before Adonai empty-handed.  In ancient times, this commandment was fulfilled by walking to Jerusalem, where the only Temple was located.

Exactly when we celebrate Shavuot (the 50th day, which is also called “Pentecost”) depends on when we start counting.  Modern Judaism follows the Pharisaic  custom of starting to count on the second day of Passover (which this year is on the evening of Thursday, April 9th).   But there is another way.  And that “other” way is the way I count.  

The following verse in Leviticus, from the verse quoted 2 paragraphs above, Leviticus 23:16, provides the answer we are seeking.  Leviticus 23:16 Until the morrow after the seventh Shabbat you are to count fifty days, and then present a new grain offering to Adonai.  There it is… “the morrow after the seventh Shabbat.”  If we start counting on Friday, then the 50th day is also a Friday which is the day after Thursday, and Thursday is not a Shabbat.  Because I always start counting on a Sunday, my Shavuot (50th day) is always “the morrow after the seventh Shabbat,” also a Sunday.  This year that will be Sunday, May 31st.

Enough about when we count; what are we counting?  We are counting blessings.  The omer is a measure of barley.  The barley harvest is early in the growing season.  God wants us to recount our blessings for a week of weeks.  Every year we do it differently.  This year we are going to spend a week on each of the seven biblical longings of the human heart.

The inspiration for our discussion will be the Bible and the book titled, The Seven Biblical Longings Of The Human Heart by Mike Bickle.   God has created us with desires.  Our lives are filled with effort to fill the empty places or to fulfill those desires.  God has given us His divine wisdom to fill the empty places His way.  

We get in trouble when we deviate from His planned response to our desires.  Instead, we follow our self will.  That is called lust.  It is Satan’s counterfeit to God’s perfection.  We frequently err by trying to remove, diminish, or suppress God given desires (longings).  It’s not the desires that are evil, it’s our effort to satisfy them in an ungodly way that is evil.  

In case you were wondering, that is what is on my mind this fine Sunday morning.  May we all be blessed during these days of trial.    

Week 13
Memory Verse: Joshua 24:14 “Now therefore, fear Adonai and worship Him in sincerity and in truth. Get rid of the gods that your fathers had worshipped beyond the River and in Egypt, and worship Adonai. 15 If it seems bad to you to worship Adonai, then choose for yourselves today whom you will serve—whether the gods that your fathers worshipped that were beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will worship Adonai!” 

* 61  3/23      Monday:        Joshua 5:10-15; 6 

62    3/24      Tuesday:       Joshua 7-8  

63    3/25      Wednesday:  Joshua 23-24

64    3/26      Thursday:      Judges 2-3 

65    3/27      Friday:           Judges 4

Rabbi Trail:  Wow, I didn’t realize how prophetic I am.  On Saturday I wrote an RR, which (it turns out) was more for the reading for today.  It took me a while to figure out what happened.  Now I’ll write about something from Joshua 6.

Question of the day:  And Joshua responded to God… “What was that?  Did I hear You correctly?  Is it march then blow or is it blow then march. Oh, and how many times on which days?  Can we go over this again?”

Answer:  We always have to hear God correctly if we hope to obey Him?  How unpopular it has become to obey God.  Joshua had to get it right.  Let’s listen in again on God’s message to Joshua.  Step by step.

  1. 7 priests with 7 shofars before the Ark.  (The instruction is to sound the shofar during these 6 days, but refrain from joining in with a shout.)  March around the city of Jericho once a day for 6 days. (Joshua 6:3-4a)
  2. On the 7th day, march 7 times around the city, blowing the whole time.  At the end of 7 circuits around the city, make a long blast of the shofars and have the people shout along.  (Joshua 6:4b-5a
  3. Watch the walls of Jericho fall and run straight ahead into the city. (Joshua 6:5b;15,16)  And do not plunder the city, but preserve the lives and possessions of Rahab the harlot and her household. (Joshua 6:17) 

Is that how we get victory; without a single weapon of war?  Just follow the instructions of God, and let Him do the fighting.  But wait, can a musical instrument be a weapon of war?  When a shofar is sounded in faith, God can use it.  The problem comes when we start to trust in the shofar instead of the Creator.

We remember the last verse of Proverbs 21.  Verse 31 A horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory comes from Adonai.  Seems like we should be required to do more than trust… but God.

But God says, Exodus 14:13 But Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid! Stand still, and see the salvation of Adonai, which He will perform for you today. You have seen the Egyptians today, but you will never see them again, ever! 14 Adonai will fight for you, while you hold your peace.”

Please join me in praying this will be our reality today.  In Yeshua’s name, amen.