Adom, Dam, Adama, Adam

Red, blood, soil, Adam – the play on word is clear in Hebrew. Since Red is “Adom” and Soil (Dust, Earth) is “Adama”, some scholars believe that in the beginning the color of the earth was red, due to its richness and fertility. Hence “Dam” (blood), and of course “Adam”, who was created from this red earth.

In Leviticus 17:11, Moses makes an interesting declaration:

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have appointed it to you to make atonement on the altar for your lives, since it is the lifeblood that makes atonement. (CSB)

Apparently, our very soul is in the blood. What a mystery! After all, blood is tangible, while the soul is abstract. The word “soul” is not always accurately translated in English. For some reason it sometimes appears as “life”, or “a person”. I went through my entire Bible and marked all the verbs attached to this noun: the soul is the part in our being that sins, hurts, loves, being poured out in prayer, grieves, vexes, wills, and much more.

But this mystery, i.e. that the soul is in the blood, actually does make sense. After all, it was perfect blood that had to be shed in order to cover our brokenness, our sins and our hurts. It was not enough to just sacrifice a heart, or kidneys or some other organ that is usually considered to be the seat of the human soul. No, blood had to be poured out.

The Voice of Blood

Let’s go back to the very first sin. Why did God curse the earth, the soil, and not just the sinners? Adam was created from the earth, and was destined to cultivate and maintain it. After the fall, that earth brought up useless plants, and Adam had to invest much work to bring forth enough harvest to sustain his household.

The second sin in human history resulted in an unusual declaration God makes: “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground” (Gen. 4:10. NIV), He said to Cain.

The first sin brought a curse upon the earth and the destruction of harmony between it and man. The second sin, that of Cain and Abel, made things even worse, as it contaminated the soil with blood, and uprooted Cain from the soil he was born to cultivate. No more continual dwelling. Cain switched into a lifestyle of a nomad. What a punishment for a farmer, that was now compelled to change his vocation. The Bible doesn’t tell us, but perhaps he became a shepherd, and started keeping the flock of the brother he did not keep? Just a thought. Much like most of this blog; different thoughts about blood, humanity, and land.

Later on Cain builds a city (Gen. 4:17). This was another step furthering the disconnect between man and land, as building a city means surrounding oneself with a wall and structures, instead of nature. The disconnect just deepened  from one generation to the other, to the point that nine generations after Adam, in the days of Lamech, the earth was considered cursed (Gen. 5:28). Then came the Flood, which not only destroyed all of mankind save Noah and his family, but also demolished everything man has built and cultivated upon it.

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A Soil Defiled by Bloodshed

Why is it that God cannot bear blood being shed over soil without covering it? I wonder if its the same with any type of soil around the globe, or only when it comes to the soil of the Promised Land…

He commanded Israel to let its soil rest every seven years. No other nation was commanded to do so with their land. And when we were not careful to observe this commandment, He had uprooted us, so that it can rest (Lev. 26:34-35).

So, why does a soil need to rest anyhow?

Blood Vengeance  

Than there is the whole set of regulations concerning blood vengeance. How does the shedding of more blood, of another soul, cover for blood that was already shed?

Blood vengeance was not designed to remove the violent person from society in order to prevent the next murder, as is done by the modern prison systems. It was designed to take care of the murder that had already taken place, which goes against everything we esteem in our western minds.

The OT provides a solution in case the identity of the murderer was unknown. The closest town to the place where the body was found was to be determined. Then, the elders of that town were to take a heifer that has never been worked, bring it down to a flowing stream and to a field that has never been plowed or planted, and there break its neck (Deut. 21:1-9). Oy vey!

Why was it so important that the heifer’s life be taken in a field that has never been plowed or planted? According to the Mishna, once the heifer’s blood was shed, that soil was forever forbidden to be cultivated and used for agricultural needs.

A Destiny Connected To a Soil 

So why does the earth itself need to be redeemed?

Rejoice, you nations, with His people, for He will avenge the blood of His servants; He will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for His land and people (Deut. 32:43).

What is the connection between the soil of Israel and the destiny of the Israeli people? Could we have realized this destiny and fulfilled it apart from this piece of Land, without living on it? Or can that eternal destiny be awaken in us only when we walk the Land through and through, cultivate and protect it? Is that why God first brought us back here and now He is bringing us back to Him?

Toiling, Worship and Fruition

In Genesis 2, where the word Adama is first mentioned, we are commanded to work and toil it. The Hebrew word used here is the same one used to worship and serve God. The root is AVD – עב”ד.

The Bible uses the same terms to describe fertility of the earth and that of a woman. Both have a belly – a womb. A seed is sown in both of them, sprouts and grows. In Deuteronomy 28:4 and 30:9 the fruit of the earth and the fruit of the womb are mentioned side by side.

The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock – the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks (NIV).

Memorial Days

This week Israel commemorates two major events in our modern history: the Holocaust, and the casualties of wars and terror attacks. All throughout Israel, flags will be lowered to half mast, the siren will be sound and we will all stop what we are doing and focus on our national mourning. So much blood has been shed on this soil, it is saturated in blood.

As Memorial Day will end, the flags will be raised up high. We will all find a technological way to celebrate the birth of the kingdom of Israel for the third time, 72 years ago, through the bloody price of death toll.

Does Israel Have a Soul?

The Bible often refers to Israel as “she” – a woman whom God had found, washed, cleansed, than betrothed and as her dowry gave her a piece of Land for an inheritance. She later betrayed Him, and was punished. And now she is a widow, not because she does not have a Husband, but because she does not recognize Him as such.

God of course promises to restore her from her widowhood (Is. 54:4), not just spiritually but also physically, back in her land (“Adama”). This process requires so much repentance and cleansing.

The Blood of The Innocent

Since the establishment of Israel as a nation, we have killed more babies than Nazi Germany did. Can you believe it? We have so much blood on our hands, and have defiled this land with so much blood. The Corona season has led many in the local body into repentance, especially regarding abortions. For the first time, to the best of my knowledge, Arab and Jewish women met together (via zoom, of course) to address this issue.

"They Just Stood There," 36x36, Acrylic and Combined Media on Stretched Canvas

As we cleanse our hearts and stand in the gap for our people’s groups, we find the faith to see this land open her belly once more, this time not in order to swallow more blood, but to bring forth a harvest that will stem out of purity and will not thirst for more bloodshed.

I like the way my friend Briskilla describes it: “The Lover of our souls had shed His Soul into the soil. His sound echoes through it and starts replacing the cry of the other bloods that were shed. It brings forth from the belly of the soil a completely different kind of harvest – a Bread of love and obedience”.

Hermann Nitsch, 2016 Acrylic on Canvas (with painted Shirt) 78.7 x 118 inches (200 x 300cm) - Marc Straus Gallery


* To find our previous posts on Holocaust and Soldiers and Terror Victims Memorial Days, check out our posts index

 

Orthodox Jews and the Corona Passover

Passover started tonight. Since most Israeli Jews celebrate it with their loved ones, our government decided to block passage on all roads throughout the country, as of last night. The concern is that this will cause another outburst of Corona.

The shut down raises up questions, mostly for the Orthodox community. Due to the new regulations they are not allowed to perform many of their Passover rituals: Hag-Aa-Lah (a process of making utensils and dishes kosher and pure by immersing them in boiling water in the synagogue’s court); Bi-Oor Cha-Metz (the burning of unleavened bread); immersing in the Mikveh; praying at the wailing wall, etc.

Many such rituals have been ruled by the Rabbis since the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. With no ability to sacrifice and shed blood, the nation needed a way of cleansing and purification.

On top of that, they cannot meet together, not even the minimal required number of 10 to form the Minyan (quorum), that enables them to say certain prayers.

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(Olivier Fitoussi, HaAretz)

The Rabbis have taught for centuries that prayer and study of the writings of the Sages is what preserves our nation, protects us, cleanses us. Now they find themselves at a strange junction, forced by circumstances. The majority of corona infected patients in Israel are from the Orthodox community, mostly because of their crowded lifestyle and struggle to adhere to the new regulations.

One example: every year, on the morning of Passover eve, they collect the unleavened products they still have at home and burn them in a special community waste bin. Actually, they ensure their homes are rid of any leaven a few days earlier, and they leave a few crumbs in a hidden place in order to perform a ceremony. The crumbs are collected on Passover morning, taken to the bin, and burned by a special man, appointed for the task. But this year it was forbidden, so the Rabbis declared that the crumbs can be flushed down the toilet.

I like this solution, but that raises up new questions. If this solution works, than who needs the complicated and expensive provisions they declared as necessary all these years?

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Burning of the leaven
(Photo credit: JDN)

An exceptional picture caught my eyes last week:

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Spraying and disinfection for Corona at the Western Wall
(Photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/ REUTERS, HaAretz)

They are spraying the Western Wall, The center of Jewish prayers for centuries. If prayer is indeed the mean to achieve cleansing, than no spraying should be needed here. This should be the safest place on earth these days. And yet…

A few decades before the Temple was destroyed God had provided a solution, His ultimate mean of cleansing. But the majority among the Jews could not see it because of a severe punishment Israel was under back than, and is still under. It is called “Hidden Faces” (see Faces or a Mask? (A Midrash for Shavu’ot)

The neighborhood I live in, in the center of Jerusalem, has many community synagogues. They are all shut and inactive. I see some of their regular members walking around, keeping distance from one another, longing to go back to routine. And it stirs up in me a prayer that I never really prayed for them:

Abba, what an amazing plan you got into action when you sent your son as our Passover Lamb. You have granted me such a measure of grace when you chose to reveal Him to me as my Jewish savior; when you softened my heart so that I could bring Him into my heart, into my home. I am praying for the same grace over the Orthodox community.

I am not asking that you will help the observant Jewish community find peace where they are disturbed and restless. On the contrary, I am asking that you will use this unique time to stir within them a deep awareness, a sobering understanding that there must be a different mean of cleansing than those they relied on all these years. If the Western Wall needs to be cleansed and the other rituals can be replaced by simpler actions, than shake some of their foundations, and cause them to lift their eyes higher, above the rulings of their Rabbis, and to seek the God that does not change His mind and does not depend on circumstances. I ask it in the name of The Lamb, who paid the price in full.

Communion and Two Altars (2)

(Altar Series   |   part 2)

Egypt, Second Millennia BC

After more than 400 years, the ability of the Hebrews to control their lives was so limited. Maybe they could choose what their lunch would consist of – be it fish, melons or cucumbers (Num. 11:5), but from sunrise to sunset there were guards whipping them, telling them where to go and what to do. After centuries of enduring this routine – they were slaves not just circumstantially, but mentally as well.

One miraculous day God answers their cries, and leads them to a promised land. These broken hearts, with a limited ability to make decisions, initiate, make any kind of change, turn within a short span of time to a nation, children of God, priests and warriors. How did this transformation transpire?

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The answer is the Tabernacle. God commanded them to erect a structure in their midst, and then set each of its instruments in its destined place. As chaos made room for order, an amazing thing we all long for happened – God filled that structure with His glory.

Here and Now, These End of Days 

In some ways we too are enslaved, longing to put an end to our wanderings. Our menu may include more than fish, melons and cucumbers, and on more sane days we can even choose which restaurant to go to. But there are still these vicious guards within us, who keep a watchful eye, decide how we act and what we do and have an amazingly loud voice within us.

Oh, how we yearn that whoever looks our way will not see our shortfalls and sins, but only the glory of God filling us. Not shame and guilt, but a thick cloud of glory.

For God’s glory to tabernacle in us we have to get to the Holy of Holies. Which means we need to do what the priests did in the Old Testament. They did it externally, on behalf of the nation. We are called to do it internally, as we are all priests unto Him. How do we do that?

“The Pattern Which I Show You”

“Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I show you” (Ex. 25:9).

On mount Sinai God provided Moses an explicitly detailed list of materials, shapes, measurements and colors. He also showed him an actual Tabernacle, a large and perfect one that was not created by man, and that exists still today (see Heb. 8:2, 5; 9:11).

The English uses various alternatives when it translates the verb “to tabernacle”. Sometimes it is translated into dwell, make a home, abide. But in Hebrew it is almost always about Tabernacling. For exmple:

“Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will tabernacle among you,” declares the Lord.“Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will tabernacle among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you”  (Zec. 2:10-11).

The pattern God used back then is still valid. We first need to present before God the materials we have in our personal wilderness. For the Israelites these were mostly the bent, lean and thorny acacia woods. These are most likely a carpenter’s nightmare, but that was the only building material available where they were. For God that was certainly sufficient. After all, the goal is His glory to be seen, not our abilities.

He does not expect us to produce cedar trees we do not have, or import them from elsewhere. That’s what David did in order to erect a magnificent temple, but this was not God’s original format for worship.

So How Do We Do that?

Communion sums it up well. It did not start when Yeshua commanded His disciples to remember Him. It started millenniums earlier, when God turned these slaves into priests and warriors.

Moses sprinkled blood on everything, even on the priests’ ears and thumbs; So it always starts with blood (even the 10 plagues, interestingly, started with blood). And it ends with a torn flesh, that made a way for His Glory to be seen.

So when we take the Wine and the Bread, we should sprinkle blood on a certain piece of flesh inside us that needs to be torn. That will make a way for the King of Glory to enter in and tabernacle within us.

Let me connect this post to my previous one and say at this point: Communion runs between both altars – the Bronze and the Golden one.

The Brazen Altar of Blood 

Moses’ words are echoed in what Yeshua said to His disciples shortly before Passover (Matt. 26:28):

“Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you” (Ex. 24:8).

Moses said it after taking blood from that Brazen altar, which atoned for those who regretted their sins. That was then. How do we do it today?

Here is a very short explanation of what needs to take place within us as we apply each instrument found in the Tabernacle.

We build an Altar of bronze within us when instead of accusing and isolating ourselves in face of insult and pain, we take responsibility of our reactions to what other people’s actions stir within us. Simply put, we sprinkle His blood on our wounds by choosing to respond with repentance and forgiveness.

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When we take communion, we remind ourselves the price Yeshua paid so that we do not have to repeatedly slaughter and sprinkle blood by the altar; that His blood is readily available.

All we have to do is remember and internalize. All of the Jewish calendar and the various Biblical ceremonies are an appointed opportunity to remember what has already been achieved, or what will be done. Communion is no exception.

The Laver

This is where the Word should wash our understanding (Eph. 5:25-27b), until gradually our thoughts align with His.

The Screen

When we regularly sprinkle Yeshua’s blood over our thorns (by repentance and forgiveness), and wash in the Laver (through study of Scripture), at some point the screen inside us between the court and the Holy Place is pushed aside. This is when we enter into a more intimate place with God.

The Menorah

Every day, at dusk, the priest would light the Menorah, and every morning he replaced burned wicks and cleaned the candlesticks (Ex. 30:7-8). We too must face it regularly and allow the Holy Spirit to shed His light on our hearts. That is when we start recognizing lies and wrong perceptions that make us tick (lies such as: God loves everyone, but not me; He is faithful… but not to His promises to me).

The Table of Showbread

12 loaves of bread were put on the table and replaced once a week (Lev. 24:5-9). The Table also represents the Word, but in the form of bread. At this point we need to replace what was exposed by the Menorah with God’s truth.

However, it is not enough only to recognize what Truth stands in contrast to these lies. We must also consume that Truth, take it in to deep places within us, that are hidden from sight.

“You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom” (Ps. 51:6).

Yes, God wants His truth to reside in the innermost parts. In another psalm David phrases it even better:

I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my intestines (Ps. 40:8).

The Hebrew does not speak here of the heart, but of David’s digestive system. When God’s truth is chewed and swallowed, it becomes an inherent part of us, it changes us from within. Our struggles and pain are the way our loving Father rebukes His children to bring them to repentance (Rev. 3:19). He uses hardships to remind us how hungry our intestines are to the true Bread that comes from heaven.

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When I build a Tabernacle within me (as I deal with one problematic issue or another), I literally set a table at this stage: I prepare a stack of cards with verses that declare the exact opposite of the lie that was exposed by the Menorah.

I love the way Jeremiah phrased it:

Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (15:16).

The Golden Altar of Sweet Aroma

This is the peak of the process. Here the priests burned incense that ascended as a sweet aroma. Today it happens when we give thanks and intercede, but only if it stems out of a place that was once hidden and sealed, and is now full of Truth. At this point I usually thank God for the way He used some of my thorny areas to expose rotten roots that lied in my innermost being, and for the Truth I found at the Table.

As I chew this Truth, it gradually becomes a part of me. Thus, in a very practical way, a part of God’s Word, the Word that had put on flesh and came to this world to tabernacle among us (Jn. 1:14a), becomes a part of me.

The Veil

An unusual thing happened when Yeshua’s flesh was torn on the cross. The veil in the Temple was torn as well (Mt. 27:51). There was no more use for it, as the path to our destination, to the Holy of Holies, was opened wide at that very moment. From then on, whoever enters the Narrow Gate, can continue the process with full confidence all the way to the Holy of Holies.

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The rituals and the process of worship that took place in the Tabernacle found their culmination on the cross. There – everything happened all at once. The Entrance Gate was provided, blood was shed, flesh was torn, and all the in between became available to us.

Which is why we can now enter boldly the Holiest in a new and living way which Yeshua consecrated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh. Yes, we can draw near with a true heart and in full assurance of faith because by our faith in Him our hearts are sprinkled from an evil conscience at the Brazen Altar and our bodies washed with pure water at the Laver (see Heb. 10:19-20, 22). Hallehu Yah!

Glory

Father of glory, give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation that we might know You (Eph. 1:17). What a privilege it is to know that Your glory can fill the very places in our lives that cause us so much shame.

We want to live our lives between the two Altars, with the assurance that Your blood purifies us and Your Word washes our understanding. That your torn body, when it tabernacles within us, gradually fills us with Your Glory, grace and truth (Jn. 1:14).

Blessed are You, our God, King of the universe, for satisfying the desire of every living thing (Ps. 145:16), for bringing forth the true Bread of life from the earth, and the true Vine; for setting a banquet Table within us every time we invite You into our innermost being.

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From altar to throne
By SigneSandelin, DevianArt

Lift up your heads, all these locked gates within us, so that the King of Glory will come in.