Posts Tagged ‘Smyrna’

Parashah 53: Ha’zainu (Hear)

Deuteronomy 32:1-52

“Hear, oh heavens, as I speak! Listen, earth, to the words from my mouth! May my teaching fall like rain. May my speech condense like dew, like light rain on blades of grass, or showers on growing plants” (Deuteronomy 32:1-2).

Ha’zainu means to ‘hear’ and is directed to a corporate body.  The Song of Moshe recounts Isra’el’s sins and the consequences; he includes hope for the future redemption.  Moshe calls on heaven and earth, the witnesses of Adonai, to hear his words and ask they be like rain and dew –– living water that brings forth life.

“For I will proclaim the name of Adonai. Come, declare the greatness of our God! The Rock! His work is perfect, for all his ways are just. A trustworthy God who does no wrong, he is righteous and straight” (Deuteronomy 32:3-4).

Moshe proclaims the eternal name of the Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh –– yod-hey-vav-hey –– the name given to him on Mount Sinai (Exodus 3:16-17). He calls Him, The Rock! He is referring to the ‘Rock’ that followed the Israelites in the wilderness, the ‘Rock’ from which water flowed, and the ‘Rock’ that Moshe struck with his rod.

“He is not corrupt; the defect is in his children, a crooked and perverted generation. You foolish people, so lacking in wisdom, is this how you repay Adonai? He is your father, who made you his! It was he who formed and prepared you!” (Deuteronomy 32:5-6)

Adonai is perfect in all His ways while sinners stumble (Hosea 14:10). The problem is not with Adonai, but with His children who lack wisdom and act foolishly; they are a crooked and perverted generation. Is this how they treat their ‘father’ who formed them as a nation and has prepared them for the Promised Land?

Hebrew Word Pictures
Defect or moom – מעומ – mem, ayin, vav, mem
– chaos understand binding chaos

Crooked (Twisted) or iqquesh – עקש – ayin, kof, shin
– understand what is behind consumes

Perverted (Overturn) or salaph – סלף – samech, lamed, peh
– support and urge forward the source

“Remember how the old days were; think of the years through all the ages. Ask your father — he will tell you; your leaders too — they will inform you. ‘When ‘Elyon gave each nation its heritage, when he divided the human race, he assigned the boundaries of peoples according to Isra’el’s population; but Adonai’s share was his own people, Ya’akov his allotted heritage” (Deuteronomy 32:7-9).

Moshe tells the children to ask their fathers about the ages of history from the time of Babel and national boundaries to the very day that each Tribe of Isra’el received their land inheritance. It is important to teach history to children so they learn from mistakes and try not to repeat them in their generation. El Elyon was central to each event in history; He gave each nation its land and divided the human race. When it came to Isra’el, they became His allotted share; the heritage of Jacob.

“He found his people in desert country, in a howling, wasted wilderness. He protected him and cared for him, guarded him like the pupil of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up her nest, hovers over her young, spreads out her wings, takes them and carries them as she flies. Adonai alone led his people; no alien god was with him” (Deuteronomy 32:10-12).

Adonai found His people in the desert wasteland. He protected Abraham, Isaac, and Isra’el and guarded ‘him.’ The phrases ‘pupil of His eye’ and ‘apple of His eye’ are interchangeable. Both refer to the eye’s center of vision. Isra’el will always be at the center of Adonai’s vision, the nation He focuses on above all other nations. He will guard them, protect them and lead them (Zechariah 2:8, Psalm 17:8).

“He made them ride on the heights of the earth. They ate the produce of the fields. He had them suck honey from the rocks and olive oil from the crags, curds from the cows and milk from the sheep, with lamb fat, rams from Bashan and goats, with the finest wheat flour; and you drank sparkling wine from the blood of grapes” (Deuteronomy 32:13-14).

These words describe the bounty of blessings upon the nation of Isra’el. With Adonai, they prospered in everything they set out to do. ‘Bashan’ is symbolic of Isra’el’s blatant and brutal strength and reminds them of their victories over giants.

“But Yeshurun grew fat and kicked (you grew fat, thick, gross!). He abandoned God his Maker; he scorned the Rock, his salvation. They roused him to jealousy with alien gods, provoked him with abominations. They sacrificed to demons, non-gods, gods that they had never known, new gods that had come up lately, which your ancestors had not feared. You ignored the Rock who fathered you, you forgot God, who gave you birth” (Deuteronomy 32:15-18).

Yeshurun is a poetic word for Isra’el describing the nation as perfect and ‘righteous’ (Isaiah 44:2).  Because of their wealth (fatness), they became grossly (overweight) and prideful. They believed themselves to be self-sufficient in creating their own blessings and abandoned Adonai; they scorned His salvation, yeshua. They worshiped other gods and ignored their ‘father’ who birthed them.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Yeshurun (Upright) – ישרון – yod, shin, resh, vav, nun
– finished work consumes highest authority, the binding of life

“Adonai saw and was filled with scorn at his sons’ and daughters’ provocation. He said, ‘I will hide my face from them and see what will become of them; for they are a perverse generation, untrustworthy children. They aroused my jealousy with a non-god and provoked me with their vanities; I will arouse their jealousy with a non-people and provoke them with a vile nation’”
(Deuteronomy 32:19-21).

Because the Israelites have contempt for Adonai, He despises them. Because they provoke Him, He hides His face from them. Because they make Him jealous by worshipping non-gods, He will make them jealous through a vile nation.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Scorn or latsats – לצץ – lamed, tzade, tzade
– urge forward pull toward and pull toward

Vile or nabal – נבל – nun, bet, lamed
– life of the house urges forward

“For my anger has been fired up. It burns to the depths of Sh’ol, devouring the earth and its crops, kindling the very roots of the hills. I will heap disasters on them and use up all my arrows against them” (Deuteronomy 32:22-23).

Adonai’s anger burns to the depths of death itself; it devours the earth, kills crops and destroys hills. Because of His anger, disaster will come upon Isra’el, and He will use His arrows of judgement against them.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Arrows or chets – חץ – chet, tzade
– protect and pull toward

“Fatigued by hunger, they will be consumed by fever and bitter defeat; I will send them the fangs of wild beasts, and the poison of reptiles crawling in the dust. Outside, the sword makes parents childless; inside, there is panic, as young men and girls alike are slain, sucklings and graybeards together. I considered putting an end to them, erasing their memory from the human race; but I feared the insolence of their enemy, feared that their foes would mistakenly think, ‘We ourselves accomplished this; Adonai had nothing to do with it’” (Deuteronomy 32:24-27).

The jealousy of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh is a ‘consuming fire.’ When His disasters strike whether it comes from wild beasts or poisoned reptiles, they will become sick. When the sword strikes, they will become childless. His anger is so fierce that if it weren’t for His enemies thinking they had the power to destroy Isra’el by their human might, He would completely destroy Isra’el and erase their memory from the human race.

“They are a nation without common sense, utterly lacking in discernment. If they were wise they could figure it out and understand their destiny. After all, how can one chase a thousand
and two put ten thousand to rout, unless their Rock sells them to their enemies, unless Adonai hands them over? For our enemies have no rock like our Rock —even they can see that!” (Deuteronomy 32:28-31)

Though Isra’el acts without discernment, and sometimes common sense, they have a ‘Rock,’ that gives them victory over their enemies, and a ‘Rock’ their enemies can actually watch protect them.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Discern or bin – בין – bet, yod, nun
– house, finished work of life

Wisdom or chokmah – חכמה – chet, kaf, mem, hey
– protect and open the mighty, behold

Knowledge or daath  – דעת – dalet, ayin, tav
– pathway to understand the covenant

Understanding or binah – בינה – bet, yod, nun, hey
– house finished work of life, behold

“Rather, their vine is from the vine of S’dom, from the fields of ‘Amora — their grapes are poisonous, their clusters are bitter; their wine is snake poison, the cruel venom of vipers. Isn’t this hidden with me, sealed in my storehouses? Vengeance and payback are mine for the time when their foot slips; for the day of their calamity is coming soon, their doom is rushing upon them” (Deuteronomy 32:32-35).

Vengeance and payback are Adonai’s when Isra’el messes up. He will judge His people for their sin of pride as He did Sodom and Gomorrah. We should not judge Isra’el and her present-day citizens. They are evidence of El Shaddai’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and He will respond to their sins in His justice.

“Yes, Adonai will judge his people, taking pity on his servants, when he sees that their strength is gone, that no one is left, slave or free. Then he will ask, ‘Where are their gods, the rock in whom they trusted? Who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offering? Let him get up and help you, let him protect you! See now that I, yes, I, am he; and there is no god beside me. I put to death, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; no one saves anyone from my hand!’” (Deuteronomy 32:36-39)

When their strength is gone, and no one is left, slave or free, then ‘I Am’ will take pity on His people. He will ask them about their gods, the ones who ate the fat of the sacrifices and drank the drink offerings. He will mock their faith in false gods and prove to them that He alone is their Elohim.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Pity (Compassion) or chos – חוס – chet, vav, samech
– protect binding and support

“For I lift up my hand to heaven and swear, ‘As surely as I am alive forever, if I sharpen my flashing sword and set my hand to judgment, I will render vengeance to my foes, repay those who hate me. I will make my arrows drunk with blood, my sword will devour flesh — the blood of the slain and the captives, flesh from the wild-haired heads of the enemy’” (Deuteronomy 32:40-42).

Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh has a flashing sword which devours the flesh of the nations who hate Isra’el. His arrows are drunk with their blood; He will avenge the blood of the martyrs. When victory over all their enemies finally comes to Isra’el, all the nations will sing and rejoice. When atonement for the Land is complete, the nations will rejoice with Isra’el. In the Messianic Age, Isra’el’s enemies will become Yeshua’s footstool (Psalm 110:1).

“Sing out, you nations, about his people! For he will avenge the blood of his servants. He will render vengeance to his adversaries and make atonement for the land of his people”
(Deuteronomy 32:43).

Moshe proclaimed all the words of his song in the presence of the people of Isra’el and Y’hoshua, their new commissioned leader. He tells the Israelites to take to heart all the words of his testimony so they can teach their children to obey Torah. The words are not trivial and to be disregarded, they contain the words for life. If they obey Torah, they will live long in the Promised Land.

Yeshua and Smyrna
Revelation 2:8-11

Yeshua reveals himself to Smyrna as “the first and the last, who died and came alive again.”  With the ‘first and last’ reference, this congregation would have immediately understood Yeshua as the alef and tav, את, found between the lines in the Torah.  Because those in Smyrna will become martyrs of faith, Yeshua encourages them with the hope that he died and came back to life (John 11:25).

Smyrna was located on the Aegean coast of Anatolia where it could defend itself easily from enemy attack.  It is known today as Izmir in modern-day Turkey.  Smyrna is the ancient Greek word for myrrh meaning ‘bitter’ because of its sharp taste. Myrrh comes from the brown resin of small, thorny trees and has a sweet and calming aroma. It was used for anointing and embalming and was a custom of the Jews to give those who were condemned to death by crucifixion ‘wine mingled with myrrh’ to lessen their pain and render the person unconscious.

The condition of the congregation in Smyrna is one of poverty and suffering.  They are insulted by those who call themselves Jews, but are not.  Yeshua refers to these false Jews as members of the synagogue of the Adversary.

According to bloodline, DNA is what determines true Jewish descent from the Tribe of Judah. However, the word Jew, from Biblical times to our modern era, became the common name for those who follow the Elohim of Isra’el and were circumcised in the flesh. When it comes to the problem in Smyrna, Sha’ul’s definition of the ‘true Jew’ may shed some light.

“For the real Jew is not merely Jewish outwardly: true circumcision is not only external and physical.  On the contrary, the real Jew is one inwardly; and true circumcision is of the heart, spiritual not literal; so that his praise comes not from other people but from God” (Romans 2:27-29).

In Smyrna, there may be believers who are either not from the Tribe of Judah claiming they are or are insisting that gentile believers must be circumcised and convert to Judaism in order to obey the commandments.  There could even be gentile converts to Judaism insulting gentiles who refuse to convert to Judaism because they have faith in Messiah Yeshua.  Whatever the scenario, Yeshua calls these men liars who belong to the ‘Synagogue of Satan.’

Yeshua has no corrections for Smyrna because he knows their fate.  They are going to suffer at the hands of the Adversary and be tested for ‘ten days.’ The number 10 could be a reference to the Ten Days of Awe following the Feast of Trumpets, days that test the heart and soul of an individual, and in the case of Smyrna, would result in persecution and martyrdom at the hands of false Jews being used by the Adversary. 

The faithful in Smyrna will be resurrected as priests serving the High Priest in the Millennial Kingdom. Smyrna will receive the Crown of Life promised to those who love Elohim and the second death will not hurt them (James 1:10).

“And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for testifying about Yeshua and proclaiming the Word of God, also those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands.  They came to life and ruled with the Messiah for a thousand years…. This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection; over him the second death has no power.  On the contrary, they will be cohanim   of God and of the Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6).

Yeshua and Philadelphia
Revelation 3:7-13

Yeshua’s reveals himself to the congregation in Philadelphia as the one with “the message of the HaKodesh [the Spirit], the True One, the one who has the key of David.”

Yeshua is the one who holds the key of David because he is the “Root and Offspring of David” (Revelation 22:16). King David, from the Tribe of Judah, was promised an eternal kingdom. Only Yeshua holds the key that opens or closes the door to the kingdom. Yeshua’s message is from the very Ruach Elohim implying the believers in Philadelphia have the Ruach haKodesh, walk in the Ruach haKodesh and have the ‘ears to hear’ what the Ruach haKodesh speaks.

Philadelphia (City of Brotherly Love) was a city in Asia Minor and located in the Aegean region of Turkey, but it seems this congregations has a problem with ‘brotherly love.’ They also have to deal with those who call themselves Jews, but are not. These ‘liars’ must be telling the gentile believers that Yeshua does not love them. Eventually these ‘liars’ will come forward prostrating themselves at the gentiles’ feet acknowledging that Yeshua has loved them.  Whatever the problem in Philadelphia, it seems the mystery of the gospel that the nations are heirs together with Isra’el as promised to Abraham has become twisted (Ephesians 3:6).

The believers in Philadelphia continue to work despite having little power.  They obey the gospel message and have not disowned Yeshua.  Their perseverance through the trials will keep them from the time of trial coming on the whole earth.  How this will come to pass isn’t explained, but this congregation is going to be kept safe either on the earth or be removed from the earth when Yeshua returns (1 Thessalonians 4:14).

They are the only congregation promised to be kept from the time of judgment because they have endured patiently. This endurance is not about merely surviving the days of judgment,  but with their little strength, they keep the Torah commandments as an expression of their faith in Yeshua (Revelation 12:17, 14:12).

They are to hold on to what they have so no one will take away their Crown of Righteousness, a crown for those who long for Yeshua’s appearing (2 Timothy 4:8). These believers will also become a pillar in the Millennial Temple. The Hebrew word for ‘pillar’ is netzab and means ‘to guard or protect.’ These ‘pillars’ will ‘guard’ and ‘protect’ the Millennial Temple; they will be given a prominent place and never leave. They will be the glory of Yeshua in his Kingdom. They will also receive the name of Yeshua’s Elohim, the name of the New Jerusalem, and Yeshua’s own new name.

This is greatest blessing for any congregation.  These believers are not just invited guests to the wedding feast; they are the honored, rewarded Bride of Yeshua.   The Bride receives the family name, the name of Adonai.  She receives a new home, the New Jerusalem, and she receives a new name that her Bridegroom will also receive.
“I will place the key of David’s house on his [Yeshua’s] shoulder; no one will shut what he opens; no one will open what he shuts” (Isaiah 22:22).

Philadelphia represents the followers of the Yeshua who have prepared themselves to be his Bride. They have grown into maturity and have not faltered in their first love. They have not soiled their clothes or forgotten to obey the gospel. They have withstood tests and trials and have not fallen into sexual immorality or eaten foods sacrificed to idols. They have not learned the deep secrets of the Adversary, but have remained faithful and awake with oil in their lamps.  Though it takes almost all of their strength to stand, Yeshua who holds the key to the House of David, gives this congregation the greatest of all rewards, a bridal gown of fine linen.

“Let us rejoice and be glad! Let us give him the glory! For the time has come for the wedding of the Lamb, and his Bride has prepared herself — fine linen, bright and clean has been given her to wear. (“Fine linen” means the righteous deeds of God’s people.)” (Revelation 19:7-8)

©2018 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this Torah portion, the weekly readings of the Prophets and New Testament, Study Helps, and springboard for midrash, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.

Revelation: The Seven Messianic Communities

Most of what is written by the Jewish apostle Yochanan (John) in the Book of Revelation is found throughout the Torah and the Prophets beginning in Genesis with the creation of the heavens and the earth.   This shouldn’t be surprising because everything that Yochanan knew and understood came from the only Scriptures available –– The Hebrew Scriptures. 

As I have studied Revelation throughout the years, adding my understanding of my Biblically Jewish heritage, inclusive of the symbolism found in the ‘appointed times’ of the Lord, discrepancies and confusion slipped into the background. The Spirit of God opened my eyes to new and unique perspectives.  Several years ago I used a similar approach to study the seven congregations in Asia Minor.   Drawing from historical events that happened to Isra’el transformed preconceived ideas and previous teachings that didn’t include a Hebrew perspective and were even anti-semitic at their core. 

These are the links to the Seven Congregations in Asia. To continue studying more chapters in Revelation, click here.

Revelation Chapter 1 – Unveiling Yeshua

Revelation Chapter 2 – Ephesus

Revelation Chapter 2 – Smyrna

Revelation Chapter 2 – Pergamum

Revelation Chapter 2 – Thyratira

Revelation Chapter 3 – Sardis

Revelation Chapter 3 – Philadelphia

Revelation Chapter 3 – Laodicea