Your heart in the presence of God (part 5 of 5)

 

Dreams are the language of symbols.  Looking at what symbols might mean in the context of scripture and its Hebraic roots, often reveals interesting insights.

As a recap from part 4, we have been looking at the ark of testimony and the things inside it.   First described in the book of Exodus, the book of Hebrews piques our interest in the ark and suggests that there is symbolic relevance.

Hebrews 9:3-5
3 Behind the second curtain, the tabernacle was called the most holy place.
4 It contained the gold altar of incense and the ark of the covenant, covered with gold on all sides, in which there was a gold jar containing the manna, Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.
5 The cherubim of glory were above it overshadowing the mercy seat. It is not possible to speak about these things in detail right now.

As I mentioned in the first of the series, I believe that the ark is a metaphor for your heart.

The ark along with your heart were created to bring glory to God and to be pure both inside and out.  The ark was coated with pure gold both inside and covering the ark.  Gold is a symbol representing purity and high value.

Your heart was created to be in the presence of God, 24×7, just like the ark.

The three items inside the ark were the pot of manna, Aaron’s rod, and the tablets of testimony.

In part 2, we established manna as a symbol for faith.
In part 3, we established the rod as a symbol for hope.
In part 4, we established the tablets as a symbol for love.

Faith, hope, and love are what is referred to be a “triad.”
There are a number of interesting triads in the new covenant.  In terms of dream symbols, the number three often represents the holy trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Yeshua said “I AM the way, the truth, and the life,” another triad.

I believe many things in the scriptures are intentional and that God knew what he was doing when he established numbers and details.  Yeshua said himself that not one jot or tittle would pass away until everything had been fulfilled.  The elements in the ark form a triad.  Are there other triads in the new covenant that we can connect with the triad in the ark?  I believe there are.

Not to get carried away with it, but there are some interesting symbols in the ancient Hebrew pictographs.  For example, the Hebrew pictograph for Father (“Ab” in Hebrew) is aleph-bet, symbolized by an ox head as a strong leader (aleph), and a house or dwelling place (bet).  The Father was to be a strong leader for His house.  “Coincidentally”, it also happens to be the first Hebrew word in the Strong’s concordance (#1).

אב

I was praying about which pictographs out of the 22 Hebrew letters would best represent faith, hope, and love, and here is what I believe I received.

1.  Faith is best represented by the cross (tav), as this is the truth that will set us free.  In the ancient Hebrew pictographs, the cross was a sign, mark, or memorial.

ת

The cross is a symbol of humility.  God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.  That is the truth connected to love and life.  It is the secret to every marriage and relationship.

2.  Hope is best represented by the seed (nun), as it correlates to offspring, heir, and sonship.

מ

This also matches very nicely to power and resurrection life. The promise of eternal life gives us hope.  Yeshua is known as the seed of Abraham, producing new life and many sons for its fruit (Rom 4, Gal 4).

3.  Love is best represented by the house (bet), as it represents belonging and being cared for as part of a family.

ב

Love is the way we are called to live our lives.  Love is what will impact others and is eternal.

 

Here are some pairings of triads which you might find interesting…

Faith  <-> Truth <-> Cross  <-> Son              <-> Manna
Hope  <-> Life    <-> Seed    <-> Holy Spirit <-> Rod
Love   <-> Way   <-> House <-> Father         <-> Tablets

See if the Holy Spirit leads you to other triads, i.e., righteousness, peace, and joy.  How do those words connect with the trinity?

It is these things in your heart which bring glory to God.  Faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.

To return to our original text in Hebrews, the scripture concludes that the old covenant is a shadow of the substance that is fulfilled in Christ.  In fact the thread of the text comes to these conclusions (Hebrews 10:19-24).

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus,
20 by a new and living way He has opened for us through the curtain (that is, His flesh),
21 and since we have a great high priest over the house of God,
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.
23 Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
24 And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works.

By believing, we have life in His name.  The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in you, if you have accepted His offer.  It is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  We are called to be like Christ who humbled himself for the sake of love.

To conclude, my encouragement to you is to spend time in the presence of God where your heart can find acceptance, hope, and your faith strengthened.  Every person is uniquely created.  As such, we experience God in different ways.  How can you creatively connect with the presence of God?  Take some time to rest in His presence, reflect, and be loved.  There, your heart will find life.

 

Your heart in the presence of God (part 4 of 5)

Tablets of Testimony

As a recap from part 3, we are looking at what Mosaic covenant symbols might mean in light of a new covenant.  Particularly, I wrote that the ark of the covenant is a metaphor for your heart.  The intended destiny for your heart is to be in the presence of God, 24×7.  Inside the ark were a pot of manna, a rod, and two tablets (Hebrews 9:4).  In this section we’ll look at the symbol of the tablets of testimony and how they map to love.

We just survived another Valentine’s Day that is supposed to be about love, but often isn’t.  I lost my wedding ring a few weeks ago.  After realizing its loss, I humbly asked people everywhere if they had seen it, to no avail.  After looking for the ring in every place I could think of, I had chalked up the loss as having been careless with it in my pocket.  As I was helping with tasks around the house on Valentine’s Day, my wife found my wedding ring on the floor of the bedroom.  As I reflected on it, it would appear that covenant (what a wedding ring represents), was God’s gift of love to me.  In new covenant scriptures, the writer John can be described as a mystic and represented by the sign of the eagle, would go on to pen that “God IS love” (1 John 4:8).  The tablets, like love were a sign of covenant, albeit with some marked differences.

As I have written about in other blogs, the law of commandments are often misconstrued by well-meaning people who take scripture in isolation and do not consider what I would call the full counsel of His word.  For example, while on hand Paul writes that the law is no longer the yardstick for righteousness (Rom 10:4), we have to consider that Jesus said that not one jot or tittle of the law would be done away with until everything has been fulfilled.  Jesus took the law and amplified it to be about issues of the heart.  Take Matthew 5:21-22 as one of many examples:

21 “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment.
22 But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Fool!’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, ‘You moron!’ will be subject to hellfire.”

While I have heard many teachings about the Ten Commandments, the teachings that I had heard never sat right with me until I heard a teaching indirectly from the late Pope John Paul II.  John Paul taught about the outward appearance of the law as the ethics of the law (loving God with your mind), and the inner truth as the ethos of the law (loving God with your heart).  The law reveals the condition of both your mind and heart, and is a holy tutor to lead you to the place of needing a savior to change your mind and to change your heart.  Once your mind and heart have been sanctified, there is no longer a need for that particular law.  Love is fulfillment of the law.

With that background, let’s look at a few scriptures which reveal the supernatural creation of the tablets and what their function might be in a new covenant context.

Exodus 31:18, 32:15-16
18 When He finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, He gave him the two tablets of the testimony, stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God.

15 Then Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides – inscribed front and back.
16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was God’s writing, engraved on the tablets.

To clear up what was written on the tablets, it was Ten Commandments as described in Exodus 20.  Deuteronomy 4:13 makes that clear.

13 He declared His covenant to you. He commanded you to follow the Ten Commandments, which He wrote on two stone tablets.

What is important is that you don’t miss that the finger of God wrote the tablets.  If you think that Moses carefully chiseled out what God told him to write, you have missed the sign.

I have a confession to make.  I got wrapped up in trying to know the form of that tablets.  There is all kinds of speculation about what the tablets were like, such as whether they were granite, lapis-lazuli, or sapphire, what form of language was used, and what was written on them.  I had a dream revolving being distracted by a blue bottle on top of an airplane that I was flying on.  It was a correction dream letting me know that I was spending my time outside the kingdom by the appearance of something (idolatry).  Doh!  Remember I have been teaching about symbols being about their function (Hebraic) more than about their form (Greek).  In seeking what the Holy Spirit would want me to know about the tablets, here are my impressions.

1) Focus on my word
2) The purpose of my word is that love is demonstrated.

I believe the closest metaphoric purpose that we have in a new-covenant context is one of fire.  His word is to burn in us like fire as love is fueled with passion.

Jeremiah 23:29
29 “Is not My word like fire” – this is the LORD’s declaration – “and like a hammer that pulverizes rock?”

Luke 24:32
32 So they said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?”

I have listed my take on the words that may have been written on the tablets, taking the Jewish perspective on the commandments.  There is debate on whether the original pictographs were used or the more modern version of the Hebrew language.  The English is for your benefit.

Loving God

  1. I AM Adonai your God.

א אנכי יהוה אלהיך

א אנכי יהוה אלהיך

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.

ב לא יהיהלך אלהים אחרים עלפני

ב לא יהיה לך אלהים אחרים עלפני

  1. You shall not take the name of Adonai your God in vain.

ג לא תשא אתשםיהוה אלהיך לשוא

ג לא תשא אתשםיהוה אלהיך לשוא

  1. Remember to keep the Sabbath day holy.

ד זכור אתיום השבת לקדשו

ד זכור אתיום השבת לקדשו

  1. Honor your father and mother.

ה כבד אתאביך ואתאמך

ה כבד אתאביך ואתאמך

 

Loving your neighbor as yourself

6.  You shall not murder.

ו לא תרצח

ו לא תרצח

7. You shall not commit adultery.

ז לא תנאף

ז לא תנאף

8. You shall not steal.

ת לא תגנב

ת לא תגנב

9.  You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

מ לאתענה ברעך עד שקר

מ לאתענה ברער עד שקר

10.  You shall not covet.

י לא תחמד בית רעך

י לא תחמד בית רעך

 

Again, the purpose of His word is that love is revealed to God’s glory and credit.  We are able to love because He first loved us (1 John 4).

There are two important number symbols regarding the tablets.  I believe there were five commandments regarding loving God and five commandments regarding loving others as we would want to be loved.  I believe there were five commandments on each tablet.  This is also in keeping with Jewish tradition.  In terms of symbols, five is considered to be the number of grace as revealed in the new covenant.  In context, the number of two is the number of witness or of testimony.  Without grace, it will be impossible to keep the law.  It will be the grace of God that empowers you to fulfill the call to love God and love others.  If you think you can love on your own without the grace of God, you have been self-deceived. Your heart will bear witness to the grace of God enabling you to love.  There are two parts to this heart.  You can not separate the command to love God from the command to love others.  If we have one without the other, the law has not been fulfilled.  Hebrews 8:10 describes the new covenant function of the tablets of testimony and is the fulfillment of one of the most amazing prophecies written in Jeremiah 31:33.

10 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.

One of the beautiful things that is revealed in this scripture is belonging as part of a healthy divine family.  It was in the heart of God to belong and be loved.

2 Cor 3:2-3

2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, recognized and read by everyone.
3 It is clear that you are Christ’s letter, produced by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God – not on stone tablets but on tablets that are hearts of flesh.

The tablets of stone, while glorious, were hard and rigid.  Now we can know that the purpose was always to be about love, and that it was to be soft and pliable.

Love in action brings glory to God.  This is what we were created for.

To be continued (conclusion)…

Your Heart in the Presence of God (part 3 of 5)

Aaron’s Rod Redo

DISCLAIMER:  This is a redo from the previous go around as I realized I didn’t have peace about the previous result and felt like I went down the wrong trail.  I’m not the first man to admit he was wrong.  🙂  I like this version much better.  It starts the same, but finishes in a different place.

As a recap from part 2, we are looking at what Mosaic covenant symbols might mean in light of a new covenant.  Particularly, I wrote that the ark of the covenant is a metaphor for your heart.  The intended destiny for your heart is to be in the presence of God, 24×7.  Inside the ark were a pot of manna, a rod, and two tablets (Hebrews 9:4).  In this section we’ll look at the symbol of the rod and how this maps to hope.  By the way, rod and staff are mostly used interchangeably.

Numbers 17:1-8
1 The LORD instructed Moses:
2 “Speak to the Israelites and take one staff from them for each ancestral house, 12 staffs from all the leaders of their ancestral houses. Write each man’s name on his staff.
3 Write Aaron’s name on Levi’s staff, because there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral house.
4 Then place them in the tent of meeting in front of the testimony where I meet with you.
5 The staff of the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid Myself of the Israelites’ complaints that they have been making about you.”
6 So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and each of their leaders gave him a staff, one for each of the leaders of their ancestral houses, 12 staffs in all. Aaron’s staff was among them.
7 Moses placed the staffs before the LORD in the tent of the testimony.
8 The next day Moses entered the tent of the testimony and saw that Aaron’s staff, representing the house of Levi, had sprouted, formed buds, blossomed, and produced almonds!

Of course, in context, the staff is seen as a symbol of authority.  Authority was being contested.  Yet, whose authority was it, man’s or God’s?  Reading further in the text reveals that the purpose of the supernatural demonstration was to stop their grumbling.  We, however, are looking for a life-giving understanding of the symbol in the context of a new and better covenant.  Yeshua came to bring abundant life not condemnation.

As we discussed in a previous section, the Hebraic way of understanding a symbol is looking at what something does.

The Hebrew word translated here as rod or staff comes from the Hebrew word ‘Matteh.’  It can also translate as tribe, branch, or vine.  However, in this case its natural function doesn’t help understand the symbol.  We will need to look at how God used the symbol in previous scriptural references.  In Exodus 4, God supernaturally transforms Moses’ staff into a snake and back into a staff again.  God’s power and authority were demonstrated.  In the beginning of Exodus 3, Moses was tending sheep giving us the impression that this ‘matteh’ had the appearance of being an ordinary shepherd’s staff.   Later in Exodus, we see Moses and Aaron seemingly sharing the same staff as more signs are given towards Pharoah, such as turning the Nile to blood (Exodus 7).  Generally speaking the usage of the word ‘Matteh’ in scripture was for ruling and exercising dominion.

Why are the Israelites complaining?  What is this really about?  The complaints begin with Miriam in Numbers 12 regarding Moses being the only one to hear from God.  It continues to build with the sons of Korah not being content with their roles as Levites and not being the chosen one to go into the temple.  Really?  Or perhaps would they like to run things differently.  What I see at the heart of all this is jealously, even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense.  With great privilege comes great responsibility.  One wrong move on Aaron’s part and the others would have to drag him by his ankles out of the temple, dead on arrival.  I wouldn’t want Aaron’s job.

Why are they jealous of Aaron?  I believe it is because he was chosen.  Don’t we all want to be chosen?  Don’t we all want to be special and have some sense of powerful purpose?  I think many of us fear a life without meaning.

In context, I believe Aaron’s rod represents the hope of God’s power.  I believe we all have a need to feel powerful.  That’s why superhero movies are so popular.  Powerlessness leads to hopelessness.  If we see God’s power demonstrated even once, it gives us hope that he will do it again.

About five years ago I prayed for a family member whose hand was stuck with arthritis and pain (think claw).  I watched as I held her hand, prayed, and waited for God to heal her.  After a bit I could see all the inflammation draining out of her hand.  To the astonishment of both of us, all the pain and inflammation left her hand and full mobility was restored (it had been crippled for about eighteen months).  Her healing remained months later.  The most beautiful part of the whole process was the Holy Spirit whispering to my heart that the healing was just an expression of His love for her.

Having seen that power demonstrated gives me hope that God will do it again, even if I haven’t seen it since then.  I experientially know that He can.

In the new covenant Paul writes that the same power that raised Jesus from the lives in you.

Hope in a body resurrected is certainly part of what we are to carry in our hearts.  In context, God took a dead stick and supernaturally brought it to new life.  Like the rod, God has the power to raise you from the dead and bring you into a resurrected life.

We don’t need to fear and worry about our health or what the future holds.  The world worries about those things.  One of the scriptures that helps me to focus is 2 Timothy 1:7, “He hasn’t given us a spirit of fear [or worry], but of love, power, and a sound mind.”

The promises of God can give us hope as an anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6:19).  A promise that gives me hope and stabilizes my heart is when Yeshua tells me “never will I leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

In our text, the rod supernaturally sprouted buds, blossoms, and even produced almonds!

In Israel, almond trees would first begin to blossom in the month of Adar (February) after the coldest and darkest month of the year.  The almond tree was a sign of hope and marked the new season of life.

Almonds were the fruit of the branch.  The fruit of hope and remaining in Yeshua.  Like the branch in the ark, the fruit is to be eternal and born of hope.

As we remain in Yeshua, we will bear fruit.

John 15:16
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name, the Father will give you.”

There are specific things that God has called you to do (Ephesians 2:10).  I am not called to those same things as you are.  In fact, comparing ourselves with others does not often bring life.  Jealousy and strife resulted from the Israelites going after Aaron’s calling.

Remaining in His presence will encourage your heart.  As you remain in this place of hope, fruit will happen.  It won’t look the same as the fruit that I am called to bear, but it will be good and look like life.

Your heart belongs in the presence of God.  Ask Him what He would say to you.  Ask Him what it means to have your hope in Him.  Hope looks like something.

To be continued (tablets)…

 

Your Heart in the Presence of God (part 2 of 5)

As a recap from part 1, we are looking at what Mosaic covenant symbols might mean in light of a new covenant. Particularly, I wrote that the ark of the covenant is a metaphor for your heart. The intended destiny for your heart is to be in the presence of God, 24×7. Inside the ark were a pot of manna, a rod, and two tablets (Hebrews 9:4). In this section we’ll look at the symbol of manna and how this maps to faith.

Exodus 16:31-32

31 The house of Israel named the substance manna. It resembled coriander seed, was white, and tasted like wafers made with honey.

32 Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: Two quarts of it are to be preserved throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread I fed you in the wilderness when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.

The Hebrew word for manna is pronounced ‘men’ meaning “what is it?” Manna has the Hebrew root expression ‘mah’ which means “what.” Bread and wine are rich symbols that followers of Yeshua take in to their hearts during communion. The wine represents our acceptance of Yeshua’s blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. That part is pretty straight forward. I would suggest that many of Yeshua’s followers don’t really know what to make of the bread. Like the house of Israel, we ask “what is it?” If you are like me you may have wrestled with the account in chapter 6 of John’s gospel many times. In the context of communion, my working definition of taking in the bread is that of an exchanged life. An acceptance and trust of His life for ours. But what does manna symbolize in it’s original context?

A Hebraic way of thinking is looking at what something does or its function. A Greek way of thinking is looking at its form or appearance. For dreams and this exercise, what is the function of manna in the original text of Exodus 16? We will also look at how Jesus redefines the symbol towards Himself in John 6, where He proclaims “I AM the bread of life.”

The function of manna was to demonstrate God’s supernatural ability to provide Israel with life from heaven. In particular, in context, the people of Israel were going through a wilderness season, i.e. a time of drought and testing.  Like the ark, the pot was a container.  They generally needed to have enough to make it one day at a time.  The Israelites had to learn to rely on this supernatural provision for forty years.

So the manna provided for Israel in the wilderness. So what? What does manna mean to me in light of the new covenant?

I believe manna represents God’s ability to sustain me when I go through times of wilderness in my life. The manna hidden in my heart represents the faith that I carry regarding the faithfulness of God.

These wilderness seasons are not exclusive to me. I believe that everyone will go through a wilderness season at some time in their lives, whether we like it or not, or even believe it or not. Jesus is described as the first born of many siblings (Hebrews 2:11).

Jesus, as our prototype, also went through this same season of wilderness and testing (Matthew 4). Regarding the manna, Jesus quoted this passage from Deuteronomy when He was being tested in the wilderness.

Deuteronomy 8:3

3 He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

An interesting thing to note is that the word “word” is not in the Hebrew. I believe the last phrase would be more accurately translated “man lives by everything that comes from the mouth of God (Yahweh).

If you search the scriptures for life-giving references to the phrase “mouth of God”, you will find the following expressions: creation (something from nothing), instructions, the mouth of a prophet, and His promises. That which comes from the mouth of God generally needs to be received in faith to bring life to your heart.

He speaks his word through many forms and ways. Scripture is one of the obvious ways. One thing that the world wants the church community to admit is that God is bigger than the Bible. How big is your God? The Bible can give us instruction but does not automatically provide an experience with God. That comes through relationship. God can prophesy through man, nature, a sign, a donkey, a vision or a dream. For example, the prophetic word for Joseph’s life came to him in the form of a dream (Psalm 105:19).

If the function of the manna in Exodus was to give life from heaven, the expression of life is magnified in Christ in John chapter 6.

John 6:31-35,47-51

31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

32 Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the real bread from heaven.

33 For the bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 Then they said, “Sir, give us this bread always!”

35 “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.

47 I assure you: Anyone who believes has eternal life.

48 I am the bread of life.

49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.

50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die.

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

 

Whereas life from manna was temporary, the true bread of heaven gives us the assurance of eternal life for everyone who believes.

The most important word that you can carry in your heart is Christ. It is Christ, the Word in you, that is the hope of glory.

He is faithful and able to perform His word spoken to your heart, including His ability to give you eternal life.

Few of us would choose or deliberately initiate a difficult wilderness season, yet it is there that God demonstrates His ability to sustain us and show Himself faithful. I believe that his word coming to pass during a wilderness season teaches our hearts a living faith that a land of ease can not.

Like the Israelites, a wilderness season is met one day at a time.  We need encouragement (having our faith-tanks full) to take each day as it comes.

What are the dreams and promises that God has spoken to your heart? What are the scriptures you need to encourage your heart?

Jesus is praying for your heart.

To be continued…