Friday, July 6, 2018

Walking Backwards


Those of you who have read last week’s posting “Whose Tent?” may be wondering where all this is going. Why do we have to be talking about history all the way back to Noah or even to Adam? Why are we not looking forward to the wonderful things in store for us in the future? If life were linear that would be the direction to go, but in this creation everything is cyclical, and hence has to return to its original source. This is why in Scripture there are many “re” words that are used to describe this process: repent, return, renew, restore, regenerate etc. Other terms that may be added to the above are: restitution, recovery, rectification and redressing. Restoration, inherently, requires a ‘going back’, a ‘return’. As we had previously mentioned, at the Bney Yosef National Congress we heard a teaching on the boomerang.  Just recently we have come across a statement that describes the boomerang idea in a more theological way - “redemptive reversal”. Is it a return to the place where all went well, and where we would like to be again, or is it a return to the place where everything went wrong, a place and a condition that demands ‘repair’? If we examine Scripture, it seems that the latter is more often the case.

Thus, in order for the ‘repair’ to take place we are required to revisit certain pivotal junctions - in returning and rest you shall be saved” (Isaiah 30:15).  “Tikkun” means to repair. In spiritual terms it means “restoration”. Restoration, for its part, involves repentance. That, as we all know, is “teshuva”, which means “return” (and in Modern Hebrew “answer”).

Jeremiah 31:21 clearly announces: "Set up signposts*, make landmarks; set your heart toward the highway, the way in which you went. Turn back, O virgin of Israel, turn back to these your cities.” Along this road, “the way in which (we) went”, we are required, as life carriers of our ancestors, to set landmarks of remembrance and repentance so that we may repair the past. Scripture is not short of examples that illustrate this principle, both theoretical and literal. In some of those cases one has to also follow the language closely (as sometimes the message of the ‘return’ is seen only in the Hebrew). Let us examine a few examples.

In the days of the Judges there was a famine in Beit Lehem (judgment in the house of bread). The family of Elimelech moved to Moav, where the sons Mahlon (sickness) and Chilion (annihilation) violated Torah by marrying Moabite wives. Shortly thereafter they (as well as their father) died.

When Naomi, the widowed and bereft wife and mother, heard that “YHVH visited His people to give them bread” she went back to the House of Bread, with the daughter in law who vouched fidelity to the Elohim of Israel. In the House of Bread they both were sustained and rewarded plentifully from the fields of Boaz (“strength”, “might”). Shortly after that the property of Elimelech (Naomi’s husband) was recovered and redeemed by Boaz (the kinsman redeemer), while Ruth married Boaz according to the levirate law. The fruit of that union, a child by the name of Obed (Oved), was pronounced a “child of Naomi”, in place of the sons that she lost (especially the firstborn). What’s more, Ruth’s passage ‘in the footsteps of Abraham’ (leaving father and mother, following the Elohim of Israel, and going to an unknown land) changed her status from “nochria” (foreigner) to a “mukeret” (acknowledged, recognized) – both words stem from the same root (n.k.r). By her heart attitude and action Ruth, the Moabitess, may have also reversed the edict against her people (Deut. 23:4), as in Jeremiah 48:47 YHVH says: “I will bring back the captives of Moab in the latter days”. Here we have a picture of redemptive reversal.

In the Book of Esther, likewise, we see how Esther and Mordechai the Benjaminites were able to rectify their ancestor’s Saul’s disobedience when commanded to “utterly destroy Amalek”.  Instead Israel’s first monarch spared the life of the Amalekite king, Agag.  Esther and Mordechai, on the other hand, were put in position to see to it that Haman the Agagite would meet a different end than his forebear. As Benjaminites, Mordechai and Esther also ‘returned the favor’ to Judah (the Jews), by being instrumental in rescinding the edict of the annihilation.  Judah, the man, many years before came to the rescue of his brother Benjamin when the life of the latter seemed to be on the line (in the feigned incident of the stolen cup).  When Judah stepped in he was willing to forfeit his own life for his brother’s.

These are but a few corrective responses in the pathway of Tikkun. When the “virgin daughter of Israel” whose sin is wiped away (having been cleansed by the blood of the Redeemer) is asked to go back the way by which she went, she is given an opportunity to "clear the way for YHVH in the wilderness; (to) make smooth in the desert a highway for our Elohim” (Isaiah 40:3).  But as we know (and have mentioned more than once), the highway for our Elohim goes way back, past our progenitor Abraham, all the way to Adam. There, along the way, we ‘run’ into our ancient forefather Shem.  We have to be mindful of the need to make a stop at that junction too, take notice of it and put up a landmark (which was the reason for our recent article “Whose Tent?”).

In the past we have written about the significance of the waters of the Jordan rolling back to a place called Adam when the nation of Israel crossed over to the land of Israel. So let us reiterate: Could it be that the present restoration of the whole House of Israel and the return to the land signifies a ‘reversal movement’, like the backward walk of Shem and Japheth in order to avoid looking at, and covering their father’s shame/nakedness? Moreover, are we to face squarely the cause of the shame-covering that involved our forebears Adam and Eve? If that is so, it gives rise to the question: Are we to continue ‘backwards’ to the point where the spirit realm of darkness - “sin” - entered creation’s waters through the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Are we in this generation the ones chosen from the foundations of the earth to do the works that were prepared for us at that same time?
Ephesians 1:4: “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”
Ephesians 2:10: “For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua (Spirit of the Son) for good works, which Elohim prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Man - “male and female” were given dominion over all living things and were to be channels of living water (waters from above) to all creation. Their relationship with the Creator made it possible that from them would issue life giving fountains or springs. But when they took of the fruit of the tree of knowledge they became a conduit for the spirit of darkness – sin - to enter into the creation, thus polluting its pure waters. From then on the creation has been suffering and groaning, crying out to be redeemed by YHVH’s sons.  “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of Elohim. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of Elohim” (Romans 8:19-21).
So, as those who have eternity in their hearts (Ecc. 3:11), rather than go back to the future, let us go forward to the…. past in cooperation with the One who “declares the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:10).

*Signposts are “tziunim” – plural, and “tziyun” - singular. Very close to “Tziyon” – Zion. Could these signposts relate to the “paths that go through the heart” (Ps. 84:5, literal translation), and that lead to Zion (see v. 7)?  As the returning “virgin daughter of Israel” makes her ‘backward’ track is she to place the “mark of Zion” everywhere she goes for the purpose of making known the Name of the Elohim of Zion?

3 comments:

  1. As we by faith each day, put to death (acknowledge it was crucified on the stake) our sin nature and choose instead to walk in newness of life (that blessedness "of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm in Messiah that which in Him having been chosen before the foundation of the world that WE WOULD BE HOLY AND BLAMELESS BEFORE HIM" Ephesians 1) there is great joy and rejoicing and worship and praise in experiencing his Majesty!

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  2. I'd say your onto something BIG. It reminds me of a tag ending of a song by Matisyahu from his Spark Seeker album. It's the "speaking part" at the end of the song Breathe Easy … a man and a child speak and both say it's time to walk backwards into the future. Link to album https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBSDgoOAd2w Click on the song Breathe Easy which is located at the Breathe Easy - 31:48 time mark. This was "our" Erev Shabbat song my late husband and I listened to AFTER I lit the 2 candles and blessed the night and the light from each of the candles. I called the one candle creation and the other redemption.

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  3. Beautiful! I was just thinking on the bus this morning.....if we could ( any of us) go back and stand in Adom’s or Eve’s shoes...what would we do differently...🧐...think in it a long while....
    Then do exactly that right here right now. Maybe you thought.. if I were them, and xxx I would call out to Abba and invite HIM into the conversation...what ever it is... start doing it differently today. I agree, all of life is a cyclic journey...until we break away from the old habits, patterns and surrender ALL to HIM...then we are ready to let HIM take us into HIS best for us...it’s the waiting for it that gets us in trouble... like Saul ... we often become impatient and begin to “manipulate “... things in order to conjure our own resolution rather then HIS 🧐... at least that was what I thought today.. is it right? I’m open to input 🙏🏼

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