Why the Seasons?

Why the Seasons?

                In Genesis 1 we read that from the beginning of creation, God gave day and night, stars, moon, sun and seasons dominion. God then created mankind and gave them dominion, rule and authority over vegetation, agriculture, birds, animals and fish for food and provision.  But the day and night, stars, moon, sun and seasons He did not give mankind authority to change.

                Have you ever noticed the Harvest moon?  Twice a year, Spring and Fall, the phenomenon known as the Harvest Moon, the Spring Biblical Feasts correspond with the Spring Harvest moon and the Fall Biblical Feasts correspond with the Fall Harvest moon.

                In Genesis 2:3 we read that the six days of creation were for the purpose of preparing.  More can be said for the account of how Adam and Eve chose to obey the voice of the deceiver and disobey God, resulting in expulsion from the Garden of Eden – a place of God’s kingdom where God ruled in perfect shalom.  Now, they and we must live out the consequences of their choice for humankind as fallen people living in a fallen world. The good news is that God’s goodness and faithfulness have never been changed.

                Immediately after they experienced the shame of their nakedness, something that was not present in the Garden and world God created that was good, God in His mercy clothed them.

                Yes, they were banished from the Garden of Eden but the “Way of Life” that is inculcated into the “Tree of Life.”  He graciously provided for us through His choosing a people, Israel, through whom He would reveal the true nature of His character and love for humankind and through which Messiah would come.  He provided His laws and statutes to teach them the “Way of Life.”  They were to be the vehicle through which He would reach ALL humanity and all people to have restored relationship with Himself. That has been and always will be His goal, to welcome us back to the Garden of Eden, so to speak, where in His Kingdom rule, we can eat freely from the Tree of Life and be satisfied.  When Messiah returns to judge the earth, He will then create a new heaven and earth where those whose names are written in the Book of Life will be able to eat freely from the Tree of Life.

                While we still remain living in this fallen state in a fallen world, He still rules.  Even His seasons reflect His rulership. Through His times, seasons and Biblical Feasts, we are provided with the continual opportunity to learn from Him and draw closer to His Kingdom rule in our lives.

                We have just come through a 40-day season of introspection and time of repentance culminating in the Day of Atonement.  30 days after Elul 1 that started the time of reflection, we celebrated Rosh ha Shanah, a day to blow the trumpets.  This is both a time of celebration, knowing that the truly repentant will receive atonement, forgiveness and have our names written in the Book of Life.  But it is also an alarm, signaling the seriousness of producing the kind of repentance that is not just toward God but with our fellow humans as well, thus producing fruit in keeping with repentance.

                For those who have come to know and understand the redemption price that was paid in full by Messiah Yeshua/Jesus on Passover, there is both a great comfort of assurance that our names are written in the Book of Life, but also present, as we still live in this fallen state and world is the deceiver.  Have you ever noticed that his voice gets louder and louder to attempt to derail Messiah’s Beloved Bride before that great and awesome day when Messiah will return to judge the wicked and create a new heaven and new earth, removing the curse that started in the Garden when the first humans rebelled?

                We are now in the season of Sukkot, started just five days after Yom Kippur, a season of recalling the goodness and provision of God when the Israelites dwelt in temporary and flimsy structures, called Sukkot, and were unable to provide for themselves, yet they were fed with angels’ food and water flowed supernaturally to give them life.  It is a time for celebrating God’s goodness to us by tabernacling or dwelling with us in our very fragile and vulnerable lives now and a time of hope looking forward to when He will return to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and establish His People Israel where all nations and people will come to worship Him there as one Bride celebrating our union with Him and with one another in perfect shalom.

                There are other Feasts, times and seasons that will teach us so much more about His designated pathway to living in the Kingdom of God and enjoying the fruit of the Tree of Life.  We look forward to Hannukah (aka the Festival of Lights) , that Yeshua/Jesus also celebrated, remembering the miracle of one days supply of oil lasting 8 days to celebrate a delayed Sukkot after the Temple had been cleansed and worship restored to Israel.  We look forward to Passover when the first born were saved from the Angel of Death by the blood of the Passover lamb on their doorposts.  Later, Yeshua (Jesus) Messiah became The Passover Lamb for all humanity.

                We look forward to Shavuot/Pentecost which occurs 50 days following the wave offering that occurs on Firstfruits, the day after the Sabbath following Passover.  Yeshua (Jesus) was resurrected on Firstfruits which is why the term “firstfruits” is linked with Him throughout the Epistles.  As prophesied by Ezekiel in 36:24-27 regarding a new heart and Jeremiah 31:32 where Torah would be written in their hearts, this is what occurred on Shavuot to all the Jews whose hearts were opened to Him as they gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot.  Much later, even the God-fearing gentiles received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that was given to the Jewish Messiah followers on Shavuot.

                So, why celebrate the Biblical Feasts of the Lord? Because God established the times and seasons and instructed us to follow Him, learn from Him and be prepared for His Kingdom rule that will be established when Messiah returns.

                In Genesis 1, we read that God gave the moon and sun (seasons) to rule the earth. Even in our pre-fallen condition, humans were only given authority over agriculture, animals, birds and fish.  The seasons and what they require remained in God’s authority to choose, not people.

What is “The Full Armor of God”?

What is “The Full Armor of God”?

            Most Bible believing followers of our Lord, Yeshua (Jesus) have been taught about God’s armor described in Ephesians 6. The visual model most often used to describe it is that of a Roman soldier.  But would Paul, a Jewish Messiah follower focus his model on what was clearly in the natural an adversary to all who followed Messiah?

            As a Pharisee, he was well-learned in the Hebrew Scriptures.  Just as Yeshua (Jesus) brought a fuller understanding of the Scriptures to those He taught, so would Paul have done.

            Eph. 6:14-17 lists this armor as ‘the belt of truth around the waist, the breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the Good News of shalom, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.’

            Let us now look at key passages from the Tanakh (aka Old Testament.)  Isaiah 11:5 says, “Also, righteousness will be a belt around his loins, and faithfulness the belt around his waist.”  Isaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces shalom, who brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” Psalm 28:7 says, “Adonai is my strength and my shield.”  Psalms 91:46 says, “His faithfulness is body armor and shield.”  Isaiah 59:17 says, “He put on righteousness as a breastplate and the helmet of salvation on his head.”  Isaiah 49:2 says, “He made my mouth like a sharp sword.  In the shadow of His hand He hid Me.  He made Me a polished arrow.  He has hidden Me in His quiver.”

            A Roman soldier served a self-exalted sinful ruler who waged earthly war on his own behalf and purpose.  Peter referred to Messiah followers as a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).  A priest served The Holy God and his garments reflect the attributes and power of God alone, not ours.

            Images carry subtleties that influence our perspective.  When applying the referenced garments of those who engage in spiritual warfare using a foreign, even hostile worldly image, it is easy to misapply the purpose of our armor and fail to place all trust and confidence in God’s mighty power (Eph. 6:10) and forget that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places (Eph. 6:12). It is so we can resist the temptation to wage war on our own worldly terms and stand in the promise and authority of God who rules, trusting in Him. 

Let us look again at His armor. 

Belt of Truth – Yeshua (Jesus), for He is the righteous one. Isaiah 11:5

Breastplate of righteousness – Isaiah 59:11

Feet shod with God News of Shalom – Yeshua (Jesus) said He was bringing Good News of shalom meaning wholeness, completeness, soundness, sufficiency, satisfaction, harmony, peace, holistic well-being, announcing ‘God Reigns!’ Isaiah 52:7

Helmet – salvation Isaiah 59:17

Sword of the Spirit – Me refers to Yeshua (Jesus). Isaiah 49:2

Shield – His faithfulness is a shield around us. Psalm 91:46

When we don’t know the Biblical foundation of the New Covenant Scriptures found in the Torah, Prophets and Writings (Tenakh/Old Testament) and know God’s perspective in what Paul knew and communicated, we will look for what is familiar and relatable to us who are distant from God and utterly sinful from the womb.  We will miss the whole point and create our own ‘form’ (not based in truth) of righteousness.  But there is no on righteous but the Lord Himself.

Phil. 2:6-11 says we are to have the same attitude that Yeshua (Jesus) Messiah had. “Who, though existing in the form of God, did not consider being equal to God a thing to be grasped.  But He emptied Himself- taking on the form of a slave, becoming the likeness of men and being found in appearance as a man.  He humbled Himself – becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Yeshua (Jesus) every knee should bow, in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and every tongue profess that Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah is Lord – to the glory of God the Father.”

As His followers, should we do any less?

2 Cor. 10:3-6 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but powerful through God for the tearing down of strongholds.  We are tearing down false arguments and every high-minded thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.  We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah.”

So, how will we now understand and apply God’s armor?

All Scripture quotations taken from The Tree of Life Version