Friday, January 13, 2017

Rhythm of the Kingdom

In the previous post, we looked at the phrase “permanent regulation through all your generations,” to recognize that these things were established as an unending part of the lives of YHVH’s people.  Among the primary instructions that bear this declaration are the descriptions of the Feasts of the LORD (Vayikra (Leviticus) 23).

I believe YHVH designated these times to connect earth with heaven.  When his disciples asked Y’shua to teach them how to pray, one of the phrases Y’shua included was “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-13)  As children of his kingdom, we are meant to live and operate according to the rhythm of heaven.  Y’shua said his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), and that we are also therefore not of this world.

REALITY CHECK and true confession:  Even today, after decades of studying the Bible and walking with the LORD, I would have sworn that the phrase “in the world but not of the world” is an actual verbatim verse of scripture.  It is not.  It is based (I guess) on John 15:19, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”  And on John 17:14-16, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
There is no arguing that we are IN the world, even while, through Y’shua ha’Mashiach (Jesus Christ) we are not OF the world.  So the much-used phrase is accurate.  It is just not scripture.

My point is that we are already NOT OF THIS WORLD.  You can rest easy about your NOTW sticker.  Since we are not of this world, our lives should be governed by the rhythm of the kingdom to which we belong.  YHVH showed us what that rhythm is in His Word (Torah). 

There is a daily rhythm – sunset to sunset.  Read Genesis 1.  As the activities of each day of creation were described, we are told “the evening and the morning were the nth day.”  Easy to overlook, but it means that each day ends and the next begins with the setting of the sun.  We are actually somewhat confused in this daily rhythm because, well, when does the day begin?  At midnight?  That is what we tell ourselves.  When we rise from sleeping?  When the sun rises?  When we get to our workplace?  Can we learn to greet the new day when the sun is setting?  The world around us operates outside the rhythm YHVH established at creation.  Perhaps we can find ways to begin recognizing the daily rhythm the way YHVH apparently intended it.

There is a weekly rhythm – Shabbat to Shabbat. Have you ever considered the seemingly arbitrary nature of the seven-day week?  One day is based on the rotation of the Earth.  One month is based (roughly) on the moon’s orbit around the Earth.  One year is based (roughly) on the Earth’s orbit around the Sun.  What is the seven-day week based on?  It is so because YHVH made it so.  Humans of various societies have tried to impose a different schedule of days and weeks, but their attempts never succeeded.  YHVH ordained the seven-day week, and this is the chief reason that Shabbat is so important.

There is a monthly rhythm – new moon to new moon.  When the moon has reached its smallest sliver of light reflection (waning), and as the reflected light begins to enlarge again (waxing), that is when each new month begins; i.e., the birth of the “new moon.”  Granted, the Gregorian calendar to which we are all accustomed and which most of the WORLD uses as its standard, does not follow the waxing and waning of the moon.  But YHVH’s calendar does.  And he calls us to celebrate Rosh Chodesh – the beginning of each month – with the blowing of the shofar, to recognize his ordination and governance of light and darkness.  Also, accurately marking the beginning of each month is the only way to be sure we are keeping his designated times (moedim; appointed feasts) according to his schedule!

There is a yearly rhythm – the procession of the seven feasts, spread across natural changes of seasons.  The month of Aviv (now called Nisan) is the first month of the biblical year, according to Exodus 12:2.  At the full moon (Nisan 14), we are to celebrate Pesach (Passover), then for the next seven days the Feast of Matzah (Unleavened Bread), and including the Feast of Firstfruits, which comes on the day after the regular Shabbat in the middle of Matzah.  On the Feast of Firstfruits we begin “counting omer”; i.e., 49 days (seven weeks), then we celebrate Shavuot (Pentecost) on the fiftieth day (an annual mini-Yovel!).

Then come the “Fall Feasts,” Yom Teruah (Feast of Shouting) on Tishri 1; then ten days later, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement/Covering); then four days later begins Sukkot (Feast of Booths), which is another seven day celebration.  There is so much rich meaning, detail, and prophetic fulfillment embodied in these celebrations.  They no doubt each deserve their own separate blog entry.

There is the Shmittah rhythm – seventh-year Shabbat.  Instructions for this are given in Sh’mot (Exodus) 23:10-11; Vayikra (Leviticus) 25:1-7; and D’varim (Deuteronomy) 15:1-6.  It is difficult to know how this instruction is to be applied in our modern WORLDLY culture, but it is given to us by YHVH.  It is part of his plan for our lives.

There is the Yovel (Jubilee) rhythm, which takes place every fifty years.  Seven Shmittah cycles (49 years), then the Yovel year.  Instructions regarding Yovel are found in Vayikra (Leviticus) 25:8-55.  This cycle is also difficult to walk out in modern society, but it has major implications for the understanding of the last days.

The Kingdom of Heaven exists in eternity, outside the boundaries and limitations of time.  Yet, YHVH has created this time-based rhythmic rotation for us while we dwell here subject to the constraints of time.  YHVH has his reasons for establishing this kingdom rhythm.  And the enemy of the kingdom, haSatan, has done and continues to do all he can to confound us IN THE WORLD so that we lose our kingdom equilibrium.  Yet YHVH offers us the ability to tap into that eternal balance through his gift of Torah, his work in Y’shua ha’Mashiach, and the infilling and empowerment of his Ruach haQodesh.

The writer of Hebrews quotes Haggai when he states “One more time I will shake not only the earth but heaven, too!” (Hebrews12:26)  Then the author reminds us that we belong to an unshakable kingdom.  The rhythm of the kingdom is the means YHVH has provided for us to stay connected and learn to walk more and more according to the true principles of the kingdom, in light, life, and love.


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