Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, May 8, 2021

Shabbat Shalom,

Counting the Omer – Day 35

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 counting the counting of the Omer.  Today is five weeks and no day of the counting of the Omer.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)

Sat 8 May-2021   26th of Iyar, 5781 Parashat Behar-Bechukotai

Le 27:16-34 Jer 16:19-17:14 Jn 14:15-27

Eternal Life and Clay Vessels by David Harwood

We do not know the full extent of the salvation we experience. If we were filled beyond measure with the Ruach ha-Kodesh, and were the subject of numerous angelic visitations, we would still only “know in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9a). 

Obviously, some things are difficult to fully fathom. In fact, there are things revealed to us by the Ruach “into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12c). Although, as of yet, the full comprehension of eternal matters are not ours, the sense of them can be communicated. Here’s an analogy: Toddlers may experience their parents’ love, and gradually learn to rely upon that love. But those two-year-olds could not possibly imagine the depth of their parents’ devotion. Still, the child can get a sense of it. They can experience it.

It is that way with God’s love and our relationship to the God who loves us. 

Eternal Life 

An important identity-matter is that you are a person who knows the God who loves you. That is eternal life. Meditate on this: you have eternal life. That is quite a statement. What a brilliant aspect of a godly inner-narrative. 

So there would be no misunderstanding, Yeshua defined eternal life:

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Yeshua the Messiah, the One You sent. (John 17:3 TLV) 

Eternal life produces a holy immortality. Immortality, in and of itself, is like being indestructible forever. Eternal life is different from eternal existence. Eternal life is a relationship with the eternal, immortal God. A consequence of that is immortality. There is no such thing as eternal life outside of a relationship with the eternal God.

Is immortality a goal worth pursuing? Yes, as long as it is a consequence of eternal relationship. Paul wrote Roman house churches encouraging this pursuit. 

He will pay back each person according to his deeds. To those who by perseverance in doing good are seeking glory, honor, and immortality—eternal life. (Romans 2:6–7 TLV)

Paul pursued eternal life. He confided his high goal. He wrote:

My aim is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the sharing of His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death— if somehow I might arrive at the resurrection from among the dead. (Philippians 3:10a TLV)

Notice, Paul was not presenting himself as being without any personal interests. He was concerned about his eternal destiny. You are totally within the bounds of legitimate concern if you want to live forever in a relationship with God. Your Father wants you to be in relationship with Him forever. We know that Yeshua defined everlasting life as the result of God’s saving act. Although familiar, it does not get any better than this verse:

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 TLV) 

Having believed, you passed from death to life. This happened through the establishing of a relationship with your Creator. 

The type of relationship you have is described in unity-language. An identity-matter that is relevant to your inner-narrative is this: you are united to the Lord. Helping us get the sense of this is the point of several biblical metaphors. For instance, Yeshua said, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5a). A branch derives its life from the vine from which it grows. Paul put it plainly. He wrote that “the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:17). 

I rarely use the word, sublime, but this really is sublime. Our being brought into some sort of organic unity with the Lord is a reality reinforced by the Messiah. It is important to stress that this is not a non-personal unity as if some sort of immortality serum were mysteriously injected into your soul. This is a face-to-face unity. It is likened to that of a wife toward her husband.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32This mystery is great—but I am talking about Messiah and His community. (Ephesians 5:31-32 TLV

Language is limited. Paul gave it his best shot in Galatians 2:20.

I have been crucified with Messiah; and it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me. And the life I now live in the body, I live by trusting in Ben-Elohim—who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:19b-20 TLV)

Deliberately, consciously, add this to your inner-narrative. You have eternal life. You are united to the Messiah. This is sublime.

From the Sublime to the Tragi-Comic

The Ruach ha-Kodesh, Himself, testifies to our relationship with God.

The Ruach Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:16 TLV)

And then, there’s what we live with that has a different type of witness. 

Clay Vessels

Let’s recall that we are made of dust and described as clay. In and of itself, clay is not all that impressive. You are clay, but you are chosen clay, created to contain treasure – God, Himself. The ultimately valuable has hidden Himself in everyday earthenware. 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, so that the surpassing greatness of the power may be from God and not from ourselves. (2 Corinthians 4:7 TLV)

Most are aware, every day, of being common clay. We are vulnerable and weak. Morally, relationally, physically, and spiritually we do not accurately reflect the pristine glory of the imperishable holy God.  Still, we are instructed to embrace biblically revealed realities that help form a godly inner-narrative. This requires a righteous retraining and a realistic restraint in the midst of gratitude for what God has made us to be. True humility is a love of the truth. Part of the truth we must integrate into our souls is that we are flawed vessels who are going to be that way until the resurrection. 

We must deal with our emotions and self-evaluations in the midst of experiencing our shortcomings.

It is understandable that at times we might be frustrated, even angry, with ourselves. However, if this is ingrained we may need to go back to the beginning of these meditations. I would suggest that, anyway.

Yes, everything is not beautiful in its own way, but you are still beloved, chosen, and God’s unique possession. You have a future that begs accurate description because of our unfamiliarity with what is being glorified. God loves you and because of His love for you is patient with you. If He were not, and the Messiah’s blood was not more than sufficient, there would be no human beings in God’s Kingdom apart from Yeshua, Himself. 

We all fail in many ways (Romans 3:23). Look at what James wrote about our speech.

For we all stumble in many ways. If someone does not stumble in speech, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. (James 3:2 TLV)

Let’s isolate this: “For we all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2a). Can I get a witness? You are not alone. We all blunder and often have to live with the consequences.

Despite your stumbles you are a significant representation of your Creator. You were created to be lovely to Him. You are loved enough to provoke God’s favor. You are so valuable to Father that He gave the only begotten One to die in your place at Calvary. And God deliberately dwells within you, even uniting you to Himself so you might share His everlasting life.

Your ultimate worth is revealed in the revelation of God’s estimation.

Meanwhile, don’t expect too much from mere clay. With a clear conscience we can say, “I may be clay, but I have been chosen by God to be His vessel, and my dignity and worth is magnified through the treasure I contain.”

By the way, it may be helpful to cultivate a gentle sense of humor concerning your foibles.

Embrace these truths. Meditate upon them. Apply them to yourself. Be grateful. As you do, you will give God’s presence pleasure. Remember, your inner demeanor is to be deliberately kind, helpful, compassionate, and favorable toward yourself. 

Here’s a quick review:

You are chosen to be God’s child.

You are chosen to be the Messiah Yeshua’s sister/brother.

You are chosen to be Yeshua’s friend.

You are chosen to be God’s home.

You are chosen to receive God’s Ruach

Here are today’s emphases:

You are united to the Lord.

You have an eternal relationship with the Father and the Messiah

You are like a clay jar that hides a treasure of inestimable worth.

And sometimes the treasure shines through.

Ask Him for help.

Abba, in the name of Yeshua, may the words of my mouth and my heart’s deepest thoughts give Your presence pleasure. 

Cause my inner demeanor to be deliberately kind, helpful, compassionate, and favorable toward myself.