Riding Camels

As the days are becoming cooler and football games are beginning to visit our weekends, the sweltering heat of summer is behind us, and Fall is smiling and waving to welcome us. Hello old friend – how I’ve missed you!

Years ago, as Fall was arriving, a busload of our listeners joined a few of the Victory staff and together we journeyed to Israel and eventually made our first visit to Jerusalem. We made so many great memories and some special friendships. One of my favorite stops was the Mount of Olives, just above the Temple area, on the way to Bethany, where Jesus would travel back and forth when He was in the area.

It’s where the brave of heart, and those not afraid of heights, can experience the joy of camel riding. I will never forget watching Corrie and a new friend climb atop the hump of a camel. It stooped; they climbed on; and it stood up – way up; there was the sound of laughter but quickly both joy and terror filled Corrie’s eyes. She had always loved riding horses, but it was quickly clear that camels are not horses.

As the Fall arrives, the Biblical Calendar is also ready to flip to a New Year – from 5782 to 5783. I love to study Hebrew numbers and letters – especially those involved with each year. In nearly every book of the Bible, God uses numbers and word-pictures as a story beneath the story, a thread that is woven from beginning to end, predictive markers which cause us to turn aside to look, like Moses did at the burning bush, so that we hear God’s directing voice.

The 3 in 5783 is the Hebrew word [gimel], which speaks of the Holy Spirit. The ancient pictograph of [gimel] had the shape of a CAMEL. The Hebrew word for ‘camel’ is [גמל] [gamal] and not surprisingly, one of its meanings is ‘to be lifted up’. The root of the word for pride is [גאה] [ge’ey] and it means to lift up one’s strength, to increase, to be exalted. But [gamel] also means to produce, to do good, and to reward (or “deal bountifully”).

So, what kind of year is headed our way? There’s a lot more to [gimel] to share so I’ll be joining Q in the Morning this Friday at 7:00AM to break down Rosh Hashanah 5783, including a prophetic look at the coming year.

I do have one special request that accompanies a huge thank you. Your giving has helped us almost make it through the tough Summer months. I say “almost” because we are still a few weeks away from our Fall Victory Partner Days (and by the way, we have a beautiful treat for you that week). But we need your help to cross rightly into Fall.

If you can give a special gift now, it would help us so much to do this amazing and wonderful work of ministry. Could you [gamel] (deal bountifully) toward us today as God has supplied? If you have already given recently, please continue to pray for provision, and know we are so thankful for you!  Please Donate Now!

The First Day Ever

by Ray Haynes

Today is a BIG day! 5,783 years ago, today it was quite literally the first day ever. It was when God began creating the heavens and earth when He said, [āmar hāyâ ‘ôr] “Let there be light”. Yes, seriously that was today!

Technically, since “the evening and the morning were the first day”, yesterday evening was the beginning of the first day. Which means tomorrow will mark the very first “Day 2” ever when God separated the waters above from those below.

On Friday, which marks the very first “Day 3”, God made dry land, grass, herbs, and fruit trees, I’ll be joining Q in the Morning at 7:00AM on Friday to share about creation, but mostly about Rosh Hashanah (Day 6), which begins this Sunday evening September 25th and continues until Monday evening.

If Day 1 was the beginning, what’s so special about Day 6? You are! 5,783 years ago, on Day 6 Rosh Hashanah God created all the land animals and most importantly man, Adam and Eve. 4,000 years later Rosh Hashanah would also mark the birth of the second Adam, Yeshua Jesus (2,025 years ago).

On Friday, I’ll show you how we can determine that date, track the Wise Men’s expedition as well as Joseph and Mary’s journey; follow Abraham and Isaac up a mountain; determine how Hebrew numbers provide a prophetic perspective on the New Year of 5783; and we’ll discover all the reasons Rosh Hashanah  is called the Feast of Trumpets and Yom Teruah.

But for today, let’s keep our eyes and ears attune to today (Day One – 5083 years ago) and discover exactly what God meant by “Let there be light”, three days before He made the sun, moon, stars, and filled the universe with light.

So, obviously the Biblical Calendar is a little odd because the first month Tishrei doesn’t start with Day 1 when God said, “Let There Be Light”. Instead, the first day of the month of Tishrei is Rosh Hashanah, which occurs on Day 6 when God Created Man. Compared to making you, the first five days were just introductory. Not to say the introduction wasn’t crucial; we couldn’t survive if not for those five days.

Amazingly, almost everything else began during five days of the month of Elul. The Four Letters that spell Elul [alef, lamed, vov, lamed] are an acronym for the phrase in Song of Songs 6:3: [Ani L’dodi v’dodi li] which translates, “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.” If you ever wonder how He feels about you, Adam, Eve, or the best and worse of mankind, we are “His beloved” – the ones He treasures the most.

In addition to the romantic acronym, the month of Elul also has the imagery of “The King is in the field”. Which is to say, it is when God draws near to look closely at how we are tending the fields – the specific blessings and responsibilities that He has given us.

Just like it was in the Garden, He wants to walk and talk with us. Which means there is an element of being judged, but He isn’t summoning us to a judgment seat; He is coming to the field where we are to be most approachable so we can truly know Him in His mercy.

Let’s glance back and peek at what was before time began. Before creation, there was only God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit); nothing else and no one else existed…not even darkness. I know, you’re thinking, “But how could there not be darkness?” How is God described? “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5. Before time and space, God filled up everything with His presence and that presence was and is light – and in Him is no darkness at all!

So, if the Bible says God always existed, before darkness, where did darkness come from?
Isaiah 45:7 tells us, “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, Yehovah, do all these things.”

Probably darkness was the very first creation of God, before He created the universe itself. Why did He create darkness? God is holy. That means He is set apart, unique and there is no one like Him. It also means that He is unapproachable. “The King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power.” 1 Timothy 6:15-16

Darkness was created for a very specific purpose. Before God could create the universe, He had to enable the creation to survive being in His presence. Simply put, God couldn’t create anything that wouldn’t immediately be destroyed by His presence, so…He created darkness as a sort of shield or safety zone.

Psalm 18:11, “He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.” Psalm 97:2, Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.”
So, in Genesis 1, when we arrive at the creation of the universe, we are first introduced to darkness, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep.” And then He began creating: “And God said, “[āmar hāyâ ‘ôr] Let there be light,” and there was light.”

If you’re wondering what that looked like, well light is a lot more than what our eyes can see. The light spectrum includes radio waves [or sound itself – like the words “let there be…”], microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, x-rays, gamma rays, and other electromagnetic radiation. The “Light” of the first day wasn’t a what, it was a Who – It was Yeshua Jesus – the Light of the world. For the first few days, the “Light” that was “The Son” was probably not visible.

Isaiah 60:1-2 gives us a hint, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.” So, when was He visible? On Day 6 – He was the glory [shekinah] that clothed the man and woman.

We’re really just scratching the surface of the miraculous first day of creation. There are literally layers we could look at. One of the more fascinating aspects of creation is the first words of Genesis (In English), “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In Hebrew, [Bereshit bara Elohim et ha-sha-ma-yim v’et ha’aretz].
There are two Hebrew letters [אֵת]  joined together as a stand-alone word directly after the word God (Elohim). These are the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet Aleph and Tav. Aleph-Tav joined together is one of the most common words found in the Hebrew scripture. Aleph-Tav is transliterated as “et”, but it is silent, and there is no English translation.

Why are Aleph and Tav here in the very first words? Before God could create anything using words, He needed to create language. He would create and use the 22 Hebrew letters/numbers from Aleph to Tav to speak everything into existence.

But is there a reason they occur together the first time they’re used? The Aleph-Tav “combined as a word”, occurs around 7,181 times in the Tanakh (Old Testament), most often as part of covenant events where God is directly involved.

Many Hebrew scholars argue that the use of Aleph-Tav is purely grammatical in nature; that it’s mostly used to point to the object of a sentence. That’s true. But not always. In fact, there are hundreds of chapters in the Tanakh with direct objects but no Aleph-Tav’s.

Many famous rabbis throughout history (including Akiva and R.S. Hirsch) taught “the Aleph-Tav was a mark of the hand of the Almighty with profound spiritual significance.” I agree. The evidence suggests the Aleph-Tav is something astonishing in biblical text. There are many reasons to suggest that they may be choosing not to see something that draws attention to the Messiah who they missed.

Interestingly, Rabbis call Genesis 1:1 “the first Menorah”. Each word is a candle and Aleph-Tav is the candle in the middle which is called the helper which you use to light the others.

When Jesus spoke to the Apostle John on Patmos in Revelation 1:8 (and also in 22:13), the Greek reads, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”

But if you read the ancient manuscript of Revelation in Hebrew (which is in the British Library), the English translation reads: “I am the Aleph and the Tav, the beginning and the ending,” says Yehovah Elohim, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Which brings us back to Revelation 1:12-13, When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest.” Sounds a lot like Aleph-Tav truly is the helper candle in the middle.

So, clearly Yeshua Jesus is the Aleph-Tav from God’s first breath in Genesis to His final words in the Revelation. But there are a couple of even more profound reasons to pay attention to those two little letters.

In Genesis, when we are introduced to Jacob and Esau, the Aleph-Tav are in front of each of their names. But after Esau sells his birthright and blessing to Jacob, the name of Esau is used another 78 times, but the Aleph-Tav are never there again, because his birthright and covenant are gone.

The presence of the Aleph-Tav is the same with Ruth. The first 10 times her name is used, there is no Aleph-Tav. But when Boaz redeems her, the Aleph-Tav is added in front of her name.

The Aleph-Tav is always near the name of God, and it means “the Strength of the Covenant.” It’s in Zechariah 12:10 “and they shall look upon me Aleph-Tav whom they have pierced…”

If you look back at Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” there is another Aleph-Tav toward the end. [Bereshit bara Elohim et ha-sha-ma-yim v’et  ha’aretz]. This second Aleph-Tav has the letter [vav] attached – [v’et].

The [vav] attached to the Aleph-Tav is used to join and link clauses’ subjects. In this case, the “vav” is connecting the heavens [ha-sha-ma-yim] and the earth [ha’aretz]. And what is the Hebrew word pictograph for vav?

It is a nail or peg used for joining, attaching, and securing things. Yeshua Jesus connected the heavens and the earth through His death and resurrection.

When we take receive Him into our heart and take communion, we are literally taking His name as ours, and putting our hope in the strength of His covenant – just like a Jewish couple at their wedding share a cup of wine and then smash the cup so no one else can ever enter that covenant.

When we say, “I do” and drink the wine of communion we are saying “I do” at His altar. And He is adding the Aleph-Tav to our name. And as His children and His bride, it’s our new last name.

There is so much more to talk about! I hope you can join me this Friday morning at 7:00 AM on Q in the Morning for Rosh Hashanah 5783.

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