Rabbi’s Reflections – Monday, April 13, 2020 

Shalom and Chol-HaMo’ed Same’ach (Happy Half-Holiday),

Counting the Omer – Day 2

Here is the proper blessing to be said each day.  This is how Jewish people fulfill the command to count.

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 the counting of the Omer.  Today is two days and no weeks of the counting of the Omer.

Our destiny in Messiah Yeshua is to be conformed to His image.  Romans 8:29 For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  Part of being created in His image is that we are created with longings, also called desires.  Psychologists have always recognized this, but mostly they refuse to give the glory to God.  

Walk into any bookstore, (Go ahead, I dare you, they’re all closed.  But when you could…) it’s easy to find a large “self-help” section filled with “how to” books.  “Self-help” is the world’s response to satisfying or quenching these God-given desires.  Self-help can be separated into two categories.  

First, they try to teach us how to behaviorally modify (quench) our desires.  Or secondly, they try to teach us how to operate in our own strength.  Like fad diets, self-help may work for a while, however; it is eventually unsustainable because the flesh is weak.  Self-help addresses the flesh, never the root or origin of the issue.  

God created man in His image and likeness.  Any place or time our lives do not reflect His fullness, a restlessness arises.  That restlessness is God’s call to achieve our destiny in Him, which is to be like Him. 

Now let’s take a look at our first longing.  God created us with a desire to know that we are enjoyed and desired by Him, even in our weakness.  This is confirmed with a description of “heart strings” in Hosea.  God is speaking… Hosea 11:4 With human cords I was drawing them, with bonds of love, and I became to them as One lifting a yoke from their jaws. I bent down to them and fed them.

“With bonds of love,” God became one of us.  God loves you.  (John 3:16) Grab onto that.  Do we need to add something to that thought?  No, His love is complete, perfect, whole and lacking nothing.  This is an excellent description of “Shalom.”  We are created out of His love and nothing we ever do can change that.

God’s desire is for us to love Him.  God loves us and He wants us to love Him.  1 John 4:10 This is love—not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atonement for our sins…. 19 We love, because He first loved us.

As we mentioned yesterday, to understand and appreciate the power, the elegance of His design, and the beauty of God’s love, we must understand where these longings originate.  Hint: they originate in God.

Jeremiah 31:2(3) “From afar Adonai appeared to me.” “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore; I have drawn you with lovingkindness (grace – “Chesed”).

Only hours before His crucifixion, Yeshua offered this prayer after his last seder (supper).  John 17:23 I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them as You loved Me. 

God’s love requires a response.  And that response is a grace response.  God puts within us the desire to love Him by obeying Him.  John 14:23 Yeshua answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling with him.

God is calling ALL of us (who believe the truth) to have the Heart of David  Psalm 56:10(9) Then my enemies will turn back in the day I call. This I know—that God is for me.  We have to KNOW that “God is for me (us)!”

Psalm 27:10 Though my father and my mother forsake me, Adonai will take me in…. 13 Surely I trust that I will see the goodness of Adonai in the land of the living.   We must find that place of rest in His love.  

David trusted the DRAW of God.  Yeshua said it too….  John 6:44 No one can come to Me unless My Father who sent Me draws him—and I will raise him up on the last day.  Have you ever sensed the Father drawing you?  Each of us has a testimony of how God called us to Himself.  Part of that story is the drawing of God.  He pulls us to Himself with the strings of our hearts.  Those strings are birthed into our very DNA.  Remember Hosea 11:4 above?  Read it again. 

Even Satan knows the power of God’s draw.  In Psalm 2 we read a quote from the enemies of God described as the kings of this earth….  Psalm 2:1 Why are the nations in an uproar, and the peoples mutter vanity? 2 The kings of earth set themselves up and rulers conspire together against Adonai and against His Anointed One : 3 “Let’s rip their chains (bonds) apart, and throw their ropes (cords) off us!”  

“Their ropes” are understood within the context to be God’s cords.  Man didn’t put them there and man does not control them, even if we think we do.   A look at the Hebrew (Psalm 2, like all of the Psalms is written in Hebrew) reveals “His Anointed” is “His Mashiach” (aka “His Messiah” or “His Christ”).  Psalm 2 is one of the great Messianic prophesies, and look how it starts, with a description of the battle over our heart strings.

God really does love us, and He loves us too much to allow our preciousness (SELF) to become a (false) god.

In the Confessions of St. Augustine, we find an excellent summary for our subject for the next 7 weeks.  What is God’s ETERNAL PURPOSE for the longings? 

“Thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless till they REST in Thee.” 

Please come back tomorrow for more.

Week 16
Memory Verse: 1 Samuel 17:46 This very day Adonai will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and take your head off you, and I will give the carcasses of the Philistines’ camp today to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth. Then all the earth will know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and so all this assembly will know that Adonai delivers not with sword and spear—for the battle belongs to Adonai—and He will give you into our hands.”

76    4/13      Monday:        1 Samuel 17-18 

77    4/14      Tuesday:       1 Samuel 19-20 

78    4/15      Wednesday:  1 Samuel 21-22  7th Day of Pesach (holiday)

79    4/16      Thursday:      1 Samuel 24-25:1

80    4/17      Friday:           1 Samuel 28;31

Question of the day:  What does it mean when an Israeli says “I don’t want them to put their eye on me?”

Answer:  The “eye” can be an examination of every detail.  Who can stand up to an examination of every detail?  The verse that brought this up is 1 Samuel 18:9 So Saul eyed David from that day on.

Let me change subjects, but tangentially related.  There is also a superstition connected to this.  In Hebrew we say “B’li Ayen Harah” meaning “without an evil eye.”  In Yiddish we say “Keinehora” meaning the same thing.  It is believed (but falsely) that complimenting someone will invite “bad luck” on them.  David was complimented by the women singing over his accomplishments and Saul was offended.

First we don’t believe in luck (good or bad).  Secondly, we should be liberal in our praise of others without fear that Satan will bring a curse.  

The top part of the RR today was long, so this will be short.  I love the story of David and Goliath.  David’s focus is on giving glory to God.  Hear David’s words… 1 Samuel 17:46 This very day Adonai will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and take your head off you, and I will give the carcasses of the Philistines’ camp today to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth. Then all the earth will know that there is a God in Israel.

That moves me to tears.  I hope you enjoyed reading these two chapters  like I did.  Blessings, R. Michael.