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March 12, 2018

Spring in Israel

Springtime in the Land of Milk and Honey.


“Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, ‘This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household…Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it…Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:1-3, 6-7, 13).

A. This coming Saturday, 17 March is Rosh haKhodashim—the “Head” or “Beginning” of months in the Hebrew religious calendar. There are no records of this particular day ever having been celebrated as a “holiday” in Israel (After the Captivity, Rosh HaShana, the head of the agricultural new year came to be celebrated on the day of the Feast of Trumpets in the fall). There was certainly no command to “celebrate” it in a special way. Yet being aware of its significance and keeping it holy—set apart—was critical. From this day the dates for all of the “set times”, the “festivals of the LORD” throughout each year were to be calculated. As seen above, it was on this day that, in preparation for the first of these festivals, each Israelite household began counting towards the tenth day, when a lamb would be set aside until the evening of the 14th day, when it would be slaughtered to provide blood for the Passover. It was also on this Beginning of Months a year later (as read at the end of last week’s Torah Portion, Exodus 40:17-38), that the Mishkan—“Dwelling Place”/”Tabernacle” was completed and raised, and the Presence of the glory of the LORD came down into the midst of His people!

PLEASE PRAY: AS ISRAEL THIS WEEK ENTERS HER “BEGINNING OF MONTHS” and Jews begin preparation for Passover, that there will be a grace over them drawing them into an awareness of the times and seasons of their God. As we enter the season of Passover, pray that the veil obstructing them from the true significance of the Passover Lamb would be drawn back…that they will see clearly and with understanding the “blood which is a sign” for them, and turn to Seh haElohim hanoseh hatat haOlam—“The Lamb of God who carries away the sin of the world!”


From this “head of months” each following month was known to the Hebrews by its number (First Month, Second Month, etc.). Occasionally their old Canaanite names were used: Aviv – 1st Month (Exodus 13:4, 23:15, a name now used for “Springtime” in Israel); Ziv – 2nd Month (I Kings 6:1, 37); Ethanim – 7th (I Kings 8:2); Bul – 8th (I Kings 6:38). After the captivity in Babylon, the returning Jews adopted the Babylonian names used on Jewish calendars today, beginning with Nisan (Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7)

The beginning of each Month—the time of the “New Moon”—“Rosh Khodesh” is obviously an important day in the timings of the Lord. Numbers 28:11-15 carefully lists instructions for special offerings beyond the normal daily ones, which were to be presented on that day. The first of each month seems also to have been a day of special gathering for the Hebrew people—a “day of gladness” heralded by sounding of the silver trumpets (Numbers 10:10)! Psalm 81:3a calls for sounding the shofar on Rosh Khodesh— in the context of “singing aloud to God our strength, making a joyful shout to the God of Jacob, raising a song and striking the drum, the harp and the lute!” This was not to be observed in a spirit of mere religious legalism as it obviously had come to be in Isaiah 1:14 where God was no longer pleased with the celebration. Yet, a careful reading of Ezekiel 45:17-18; 46:1,3 (from this week’s special Haftarah) makes clear that, whatever may be the ultimate nature, time period and significance of the Temple described there, Rosh haKhodashim and Rosh Hodesh remain important to God, and for His people in honoring Him. There, it is a time for making offerings, for cleansing the Sanctuary, a time in which the people of the land shall worship at the entrance to this gateway before the LORD on the Sabbaths and the New Moons (Rosh Khodesh).

We find the beginning of each Hebrew Month to be an ideal time:

*For offering up thanksgiving to the Lord for His mercies over the previous month.
*For entrusting the new month to His care; for praying and proclaiming over it what He directs.
*For asking His Spirit to search us and purify anew our inner “temple” in preparation for His free dwelling and operating in and through us during the coming month.
*To enter into the “Gateway” of the New Month with Thanksgiving, Praises and Worship. For bringing to Him a “firstfruits” offering as we enter in!

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