Rabbi’s Reflections – Wednesday, September 16, 2020
We find this text at the beginning of the book of Revelation 1:3 How fortunate is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and those who hear and keep what has been written in it—for the time is near. Within this verse, we find the call to “read, hear, and keep” the prophetic words.
In Hebrew the word for “read” is “Koray” which also means to “call out.” Add to that the idea that to “keep” means to protect, defend, and watch over. In fact, it is the first name of our congregation, “Shomair.” (Sidenote: the last name of our congregation is “Yisrael,” a name found throughout the Bible.)
But we have not discussed “hearing” yet. In the Bible, (and consequently, I believe in the kingdom of God also) there is no such thing as passive hearing. Biblical “hearing” is always interactive. It more closely resembles taking heed in your heart than something done with your ears. When we truly hear something, we take it to heart and it makes a difference in our lives.
Of course the book of Revelation is filled with symbols. Some of them are explained, but all of them are explainable. The best explanations come from the Bible itself. The Word of God reveals the meaning of all things. Here is an obvious one… Revelation 1:20 “As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden menorot—the seven stars are the angels of Messiah’s seven communities, and the seven menorahs are the seven communities.”
Revelation 1:3 ends with these words, “for the time is near.” Next Sunday we will have lesson 5 as we teach discipleship through a study of Song of Songs (from now on, I’m just going to call it “Song”). We are doing this to 70 students at once because “the time is near.” The “Song” is a Song of Songs. It’s the greatest song ever. We don’t have the tune, but we do have the lyrics.
It is a Psalm, written by Solomon from wisdom he received from God. The story is the greatest love story ever told. It’s about how the “Beloved” (Yeshua) wins His Bride, called the Shulamite in the Song. She is named after Solomon himself (His Hebrew name is “Shlomo”), but in reality her body is the body of the faithful Jewish and non-Jewish followers of Yeshua HaMashiach.
The teaching is taking so long because just like the book of Revelation, there is much symbolic language. Each phrase and each word within each phrase needs to be unpacked, contextualized and fully explained so that the depth of this love relationship is fully revealed and savored. Let me give you one example and that will be all for today.
Song 1:13a My lover is my pouch of myrrh. Myrrh is a death spice. It’s mention here in the Song is a reference to Yeshua’s crucifixion. And where is this solemn truth of Yeshua’s crucifixion? The answer is in the second part of the verse. Song 1:13b passing the night between my breasts. That’s right, the Shulamite is speaking of how near the crucifixion is to her heart. All of us must read, hear, and keep the “bitterness” (myrrh is a bitter aromatic) of Yeshua’s death close to our hearts. Let’s continue to take great care, as we value the revelation of the Song.
Memory Verse: Acts 2:42 They were devoting themselves to the teaching of the emissaries and to fellowship, to breaking bread and to prayers.
186 9/14 Monday: Acts 2-3
187 9/15 Tuesday: Acts 4-5
* 188 9/16 Wednesday:Acts 6
189 9/17 Thursday: Acts 7
190 9/18 Friday: Acts 8-9
Question of the Day: What made Stephen special?
Answer: There are so many good answers to this question. Stephen was one of the first 7 appointed deacons. In Hebrew the word for “deacons” is “Shamashim.” It means “servant.”
Rabbi Trail: A common mistake is made in the singular. The singular of “Shamashim” is “Shamas.” When we add the “im” ending, the dot over the letter “shin” changes sides and the “sh” becomes an “s.” End RT.
Beyond Stephen’s selection as a Shamas, is this verse, Acts 6:8 Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. In fact, so much grace and power that Stephen was arrested and a false witness was provided as testimony against him. We will see tomorrow that Stephen witnessed to the priests and scribes for what was recorded as 52 verses of Scripture (in Acts 7). Then Stephen was crowned with a standing ovation from Yeshua. But, like I said, that is for tomorrow.