Tuesday Sep 26, 2023
Tuesday Sep 26, 2023
Your neck is like the tower of David,
Built with rows of stones
On which are hung a thousand shields,
All the round shields of the mighty men. (So 4:4)
Our working text for the Footsteps of Messiah is the Song of Songs. From the above text, we previously connected the shields of a thousand generations with the offspring of Abraham, the righteous remnant in each generation forming the faithful shield of their generation. These are faithful warriors of the Word. Deuteronomy gives us insight into how Israel is instructed to prepare for war:
- “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you. When you are approaching the battle, the priest shall come near and speak to the people. He shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’ The officers also shall speak to the people, saying, ‘Who is the man that has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would dedicate it. Who is the man that has planted a vineyard and has not begun to use its fruit? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would begin to use its fruit. And who is the man that is engaged to a woman and has not married her? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would marry her.’ Then the officers shall speak further to the people and say, ‘Who is the man that is afraid and fainthearted? Let him depart and return to his house, so that he might not make his brothers’ hearts melt like his heart.’ When the officers have finished speaking to the people, they shall appoint commanders of armies at the head of the people.
- When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace. If it agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you. However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it... (Dt 20:1-12)
Before a soldier could go to war, he was required to enjoy the fruit of his labors. A soldier who built, planted, and betrothed without consummating the joy of his labors expected to die in battle, an attitude that would discourage his fellow soldiers. Comfortable shelter, food and drink, and a family relationship are the building blocks of human joy. The feast time of Sukkot teaches this pattern. Every family comes to Jerusalem to commemmorate the Divine provision of food, drink, shelter, and family relationships, including the extended family who will share in the offerings along with strangers, aliens, Levites, and even the kohanim:
- “There also you and your households shall eat before the LORD your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.” (Dt 12:7)
- “You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes; for you have not as yet come to the resting place and the inheritance which the LORD your God is giving you. When you cross the Jordan and live in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies around you so that you live in security, then it shall come about that the place in which the LORD your God will choose for His name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you will vow to the LORD. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion or inheritance with you. (Dt 12:8-12)
In the passage above, there are some interesting questions: If Israel is at peace, then why instructions for war? What do the Three Questions suggest about the spiritual state of the nation at war? Why is joy so important in a festival of shelter, food and drink, and family?
Each question asked of a soldier involves his “wife”: house, vineyard, and betrothed. Each of those in certain contexts represents one's wife. A wise woman builds her house; a man's wife is his vineyard (Ps 128:3); his betrothed is his future wife with nothing left but the consummation of the marriage to complete it. It's not as if such a man is lazy; quite the contrary! He has labored hard to build, plant, and consider a family. He simply hasn't allowed himself the final commitment to fully enjoy it! These are the gifts of Adonai to human beings. He gives us the ability to build, plan, create, and imagine. Part of the joy is in that process, but the crown of joy is to eat the fruit of one's labor. Strangely, it is the Feast of Sukkot that celebrates the partnership of Adonai and His People to build, plant, and live in intimate relationships.
If a young man works, yet refuses the fruit, instead leaving it for someone else, he is cutting himself off from faith in the root and fruit of blessing. Not only is he entitled to it, he is OBLIGATED to it. It is as if he plans to die in battle, a hidden mindset that will discourage his fellow soldiers on the day of tribulation. This hidden fault can be exposed by the priest and remedied if he will go back and enter into joy in the commandment. If not, he will likely die in battle and another man will enjoy the blessings of fulfilling his unfulfilled mitzvot, which ironically, is what the hopeless soldier expects to happen.
Sukkot is about embracing the joy of offspring, whether one's own household or the household of faith, even those just curiously sitting in. Sukkot defies the fear of death. Sukkot says that the Holy One will shelter us in His sukkah on the day of trouble; He will feed us and give us drink without sorrow; He will betroth us in righteousness. The blessings He's enabled us to set before our families and friends is the proof of even greater blessings of peace and prosperity yet to come if we believe and obey His Word.
Having joy in the commandments is a type of armor on the day of battle. Don’t live a life of ascetism in the Name of Heaven. Fast when you must, but like Yeshua, don’t refuse the joy of this life for which he was criticized:
- But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds. (Mt 11:16-19)
Others want us to conform ourselves to the childish emotional flavor of the day. Instead, we conform to “it is written.” There is a time and season to everything, appointed times for fasting and feasting. Do not be so consumed with tribulation that you fail to invest in joy, nor so gluttonous as to refuse days of sober fasting and intense prayer for war. This life is a brief investment window from which we will continue eternally to enjoy its yield from the Root of Jesse and his fruit which the Father has placed in our hands.
Your joy at Sukkot is part of the battle plan. Arm yourself with a lulav. Can't you just imagine Yeshua sitting among his parents, his brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins, and all his disciples and their families in Jerusalem at Sukkot, laughing big belly-laughs while he watches the nieces and nephews romping around the barbecue pit? What a mitzvah! What a war hero!
Wars of Kings is a foundation for using the template of the first Exodus to understand the Greater Exodus and the accompanying plagues in the Book of Revelation. Click on Wars of Kings to go to the first segment of the Wars YouTube video. Last week's teaching explained up to plague five, and this week's video will continue the plagues, providing examples from our time to connect with the texts.
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