Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, April 10, 2021
Day 2 of counting the Omer
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל סְפִירַת הָעֹֽמֶר
Baruch Atah Adonai Elohenu Melech Ha-Olam, Asher Kid’shanu B’mitzvotav, Vitzivanu Al Sefirat Ha-Omer.
Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by his commandments and commanded us about counting the counting of the Omer. Today is one week and no days of the counting of the omer.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sat10 April-2021 28th of Nisan, 5781 Parashat Shmini
Le 11:1-47 2 Sa 6:1-7:17 Heb 7:11-28
Identity Matters by David Harwood
Before building the first floor of a new home contractors wait until the poured concrete is at least halfway cured. I don’t want to rush ahead in presenting and applying more truths.
We have been looking at these foundational identity-matters: child, brother, friend. That is who you are to the One who abides in you. It is the Ruach Elohim, Himself, who revealed these truths. Faith-filled humility dictates that you wholeheartedly agree with these descriptions. As you put down false perceptions and pick up His evaluations the foundation of a solid inner-narrative begins to settle and become stable.
Bowing to Elohim’s declarations of who you are and receiving these realities, is part of the initial process of examining and discerning “what is pleasing to the Lord (Ephesians 5:10b TLV).”
Usually, an exhortation to repent and submit to Adonai‘s instruction is connected with turning away from something the hearer likes and embracing something he/she dislikes. For instance, the thief likes stealing more than he likes working. Look at Ephesians 4:28.
The one who steals must steal no longer—instead he must work, doing something useful with his own hands, so he may have something to share with the one who has need. (Ephesians 4:28 TLV)
Rabbi’s note: Regarding the previous verse, a “thief” is not like a “cat burglar” but one who is stealing resources without being productive himself. Everyone is consuming, but not everyone is producing. Paul is admonishing everyone to produce. End RN.
What these posts are urging is that you yield to something that is ennobling, positive, relationally enhancing, and true. You are to build your inner-narrative, your heartfelt personal story, viewing yourself in the relational roles of 1) a child to a Father, 2) a brother, or sister, to a Brother, 3) a friend to a Friend. Furthermore, you are to evaluate yourself charitably, encouraging yourself as you would encourage someone you cared about. You are to imitate God in the way you perceive yourself. You are loved as you are and in the process of being shaped by your Creator into the full glory of these identities.
If you’ve read previous entries then you must have prayed that your words, and innermost meditations, concerning yourself would give God’s indwelling presence joy. Since that is so you may righteously expect help in apprehending these identities. I know this may get so repetitive that it may tend to be overlooked, but just look at this prayer:
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before You, Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:15 TLV)
What a prayer!
Consider the nature of the Holy One who dwells within you, and is working from within your soul. Adonai has become your stability (Rock) and the one who rescues you (Redeemer). Paul told his disciples to take seriously the fact that it is God, Himself, who is working in them.
work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For the One working in you is God—both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12b–13 TLV)
He is working in you and He will strengthen your words and thoughts that please Him. Our task is to cooperate. We do not want to frustrate God’s enabling-favor. It is possible to do so.
His grace toward me was not in vain. No, I worked harder than them all (1 Corinthians 15:10b TLV)
we also urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1b TLV)
How might we guard against nullifying our experience of God’s grace in these identity-matters? We really do need grace.
One way enabling-favor (a form of grace) is imparted is through God’s word. Paul spoke of the word of God’s grace which, when received, is able to build you up.
Now I commit you to God and the word of His grace, which is strong to build you up (Acts 20:32a TLV)
Let’s briefly reconsider the standard for our inner speech. Notice, again, how God’s word is able to impart favor to those who hear it.
Let no harmful word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for building others up according to the need, so that it gives grace to those who hear it. (Ephesians 4:29 TLV)
Your inner-dialog can build you up. Some truths may be taken for granted, but when seriously considered they can make a significant difference in our lives. Please concentrate on these elementary truths of your relationship to God: 1) a child to a Father, 2) a brother, or sister, to a Brother, 3) a friend to a Friend. Let’s work towards getting these matters settled.
Advance: Here are some basic Biblical instructions about spiritual growth.
First of all, progress takes effort. Practice these things—be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be clear to all. (1 Timothy 4:15 TLV)
None of us have arrived. Not that I have already obtained this or been perfected, but I press on… (Philippians 3:12 TLV)
We need to grow. Yeshua did. And Yeshua kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luke 2:52 TLV)
Some aspects of truth are gentle and nourishing. Now hear this! It is not a cop-out to concentrate on them.
like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. (1 Peter 2:2–3 NAU)
We are called to concentrate on the King’s kindness. How unexpected! We can grow through spending time meditating upon truths that comfort. It is like mother’s milk to a babe. As you digest His kindness, His revelations of who you are, you will grow. We do ourselves a disservice if we expect instant change. There is no doubt that we can cross a threshold in our inner-narratives, but the renewing of our minds takes time.
The following is a commonly applied formula concerning spiritual warfare.
I will send the hornet before you, which will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites and the Hittites, from before you. … But little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you are fruitful. Then you will possess the land. I will set your border from the Sea of Reeds to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates River. Make no covenant with them or with their gods. (Exodus 23:28,30–31a,32 TLV)
The big truths contained in small, but profound, biblical re-understandings are like hornets designed to drive out what would resist the actualization of your true inner-narrative. It is God who determines the perimeters of who and what you are to Him. As you are faithful in the words of your mouth and your heart’s deepest thoughts you will bring your soul into harmony with the God who is Truth. It may be that you have made agreements with harmful inner-narratives. They are like covenants. In the name of Yeshua, renounce any covenants with these type of thoughts.
View this transformative process as if it were a military campaign. Paul wrote that we are involved with a prolonged spiritual conflict. We are waging war, not encountering sporadic skirmishes. We are laying siege to fortified lies. I think the Complete Jewish Bible gives the best translation of 2 Corinthians 10:4. Take a look. It gives the sense of a military campaign similar to Israel’s conquest of Canaan.
because the weapons we use to wage war are not worldly. On the contrary, they have God’s power for demolishing strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4 CJB)
Canaan’s city states were often like fortresses. Our mental strongholds are similar. We are called to demolish our inner lies’ defenses, conquer rotten thought patterns, and consolidate the gains.
If you have begun to more thoroughly integrate the truth of who you are into your inner narrative then I encourage you to take your stand in the ground you’ve gained.
… after you have done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm then! Buckle the belt of truth around your waist… (Ephesians 6:13b–14a TLV)
Ground has been gained. You must defend it.
To review, the process is a) expose and reject the lies; b) replace them with truth; c) consolidate; d) advance.
Go forward. There’s more land to be possessed, more strongholds to be destroyed. There are more opportunities to give God’s presence pleasure through your words and meditations.
How can you go forward? First, consolidate.
The familiar tends to be comfortable. Change often feels awkward. Transitioning from living with lies to living in truth is like Israel’s exodus from Egypt to the promised destination. Israel was more comfortable in bondage.
You may need to take stock of your soul’s apprehension of your true identity.
This may be a new word: soliloquy. A nuance of this word is to have an inner conversation wherein you interrogate yourself. I encourage you to be bold and honest. Trust the guidance of the Ruach ha-Kodesh. Ask yourself the following.
With which true-identity do you relate to most easily? Child, brother, or friend?
Which of these true metaphors causes your heart to respond favorably most frequently? Child, brother, or friend?
Get the answer for yourself.
Expose yourself to the truths revealed in these biblical relational pictures.
Work with that description by repeatedly bringing it to mind. Cause it to be the subject of your inner dialogue and should you find yourself slipping into what we referred to as rotten inner speech (Ephesians 4:29), rehearse the truth.
Do it again.
Ask ADONAI for clarity and power.
This is going to be good.