Springtime in the Land of Milk and Honey.
* We thank you for your prayers regarding the volatile situation with Gaza of which we wrote last week. In God’s mercies, the situation has cooled, and although Israel still has a large array of armor ready on the border, it now seems that, barring another serious incident, a major incursion is not likely at this time.
PLEASE PRAY: That He “who makes peace in His high places” (Job 25:1), the Prince of Peace, who alone enforces peace along the borders of Zion (Psalm 147:14), will hold back the powers of violence which would seek to unleash a war with Israel outside of the timings and purposes of the LORD.
* A week from Tuesday, April 9th, is Election Day in Israel. Votes cast by Israelis on this day will winnow the 43 parties (!) currently registered down to only those receiving three or four seats, which will form the 21st Knesset. President Rivlin then will choose which party (likely the one receiving the most seats) he judges has a leader most capable of successfully building a coalition of at least 61 seats (There are 120 in the Knesset). That leader then has a limited number of days in which to form his coalition. As Messianic Believers we must honestly say that we do not at this time see before us a clear and obvious choice. We are in need of Divine insight. One doesn’t necessarily vote for the party containing one’s choice for Prime Minister—it can be just as important to support another party which would be strong enough to enter the coalition and bring balance to the government.
PLEASE PRAY: That God will bring into office in Israel this month a government with a nucleus who fear God, men and women of integrity who will seek to govern the land in righteousness; who will seek the council of the Most High in carrying out their responsibilities; who, as in days of old, will listen to Words sent to them by true messengers of God. Pray for a Prime Minister and cabinet to come into place which will be influenced and act according to the priorities of God for Israel during this season!
* This week President Yair Bolsonaro is making his first state visit to Israel with a large entourage from Brazil. As we have written in previous Updates, President Bolsonaro is a strong supporter of Israel, and has vowed to bring his nation into a place of strong alliance with her. During this trip the President is opening for his government an official office of trade, technology and innovation in Jerusalem. He states that he considers this a step in the direction of fulfilling his promise eventually to move his nation’s embassy to the capital.
PLEASE PRAY: That God will speak deeply to President Bolsonaro, an avowed believer, regarding His Covenant Land, both during and following his visit here. Pray that he will have guidance and courage in bringing his nation into the place of alliance and blessing which God has for it with Israel. Because Brazil is the largest producer of beef approved for Muslim use in the world, he has been under strong pressure from Muslim nations not to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by moving Brazil’s embassy there.
ROSH HaKHODASHIM—ISRAEL’S “BEGINNING OF MONTHS.”
“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. ROSH HaKHODASHIM
This coming Saturday 6 April 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; it is not called “Head of the Year” but “Head of Months.” ** 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 mo’adim—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!”
** After the Captivity in Babylon, Rosh Hashanah, the “head” of the agricultural new year came to be celebrated on the 1st of the 7th month, the Feast of Trumpets, in the fall. That is also the day upon which the number for the Hebrew year changes.
B. ROSH KHODESH
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; See below) 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!