The Power of the Sigh

In the writing of Yehezqel HaNavi [the prophet Ezekiel], chapter 9, the sinful ways of Jerusalem had come to a climatic peak. YHWH [Yahweh] gave the prophet a vision of a scribe going into the city with an inkhorn to put a mark on the forehead of those who sighed and cried over those sins. Following after the scribe were messengers with swords whose orders were to slay anyone without the mark and to begin at the House of Elohim.

We’ve all heard of the “mark of the beast”, but here we understand that the Father has His mark as well. What’s interesting here is that both of these marks are given by indication of one’s heart. To those who accept the beneficial offers of prosperity, religious harmony, and world peace as presented by the system of the pseudo-messiah, a mark that ultimately condemns is given. Those who are broken, weeping, and sighing with groans, Yah gives His mark indicating that we share His perspective on the crumbling world around us.

Yesterday, our highest court gave support and acceptance to including homosexual couples into the boundaries of marriage. While the decision is supposed to enable legal benefits to the couples, the underlying message is that our values of sanctity, the idea that our Creator affirms our being joined together according to His design, no longer prevails. The precedent has been established that any conceivable grouping of couples must be accepted. We have opened a Pandora’s Box of options for approved lifestyles, basically arriving to the place where “anything goes”. This is not YHWH’s design nor His desire according to what Scripture advocates and instructs. So we have to discern whether the ancient texts are now foundational to truth or revealed to be overly restrictive and irrelevant to us.

Fearing that our nation has finally taken a step too far beyond tolerance from Yah’s Throne, I believe our only recourse may be brokenness, sighing aloud, and crying out for mercy and help. Arguing and debate will afford us little change. Holding up a sign and participating in a march will barely put a ripple on the pond. The power of hope and deliverance lies in the audible sigh. This demonstration of a broken heart gains the mark of Elohim and saves us from the response of the heavens on our nation’s decree. Our motive must not become attached to equal rights or infringement of rights, about doctrines or denominational stances, or even about tolerance or acceptance based on “love”. We must choose to be broken and sigh because it is the response of YHWH’s heart. We become connected to Him and receive His guard and mark.

May YHWH have mercy and forgive us. May we be found with the mark of Yah.

Na’aseh V’Nishmah

Toward the end of our worship set this past Shabbat, it seemed that the Ruach HaKodesh [Holy Spirit] sweetened the room with that unmistakable Presence. Tears moistened eyes, the sound of deep breaths could be heard, and my hands began to tremble as I expected a sudden rush of Him. The next song on the set list was Na’aseh V’Nishmah, a song I penned a few weeks ago, from Shemot [Exodus] 24, where Yisrael responds to being sprinkled with the blood of the Covenant saying, “We will do and we will hear.” With the opening phrases of the song being played the Presence intensified. Sometimes you play and sing a song and sometimes, in rare moments, you simply hold on and allow the song, the music, and the words to sweep through you unfiltered. Such was the moment of this tune yesterday.

 

There is a means of worship that I have come to attempt over the years. I refer to it as “swinging the door open”, to allow the Ruach to move in and change our direction or our cadence, or our approach to whatever song we are playing. I’ve experienced the wonder of a totally spontaneous song erupting out of an opening of this door. We become so rigid and structured in our worship efforts at times that we forget we have an audience of One, Who is the subject and focus of what we are doing. So I will use momentary pauses or something a little different to swing open the door for the Ruach to move in and change whatever the Throne desires. 

I really don’t remember what door was opened yesterday or at what moment the entrance occurred, but the door definitely was effective. The only thing I can offer is the idea behind the song was the open door; the understanding that His people were saying, “We will hear You and  do what You say.” The act of Obedience is the greatest worship that we can offer Him. Our melodies, harmonies, promises, or words of praise mean nothing without a heart that seeks to simply to what He asks. His Torah, the long forgotten commands that Moshe [Moses] taught us show us what He desires of His own. Yochanan [John] 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commands.”

Circumcision and Covenant

My first grandson Gavin is 8 days old today and was circumcised. He could have had the procedure done before leaving the hospital from being born, but my daughter wanted to wait until the appropriate 8th day. I held him and sang the Shema and the Aharonic Blessing over him in Hebrew before his surgery and he looked up with a big smile on his face.

The desire of the family is not to accomplish any hygiene issues or to just follow accepted custom, but to acknowledge our intention that this child be raised, trained, and equipped to become part of B’nei Avraham [children of Abraham], to know YHWH as the Creator, Redeemer, and Covenant Maker, to know Yahshuah HaMoshiach, the Messiah, His work, His Word, and to enter into His coming Kingdom. As a Dad, I couldn’t be more proud of my daughter Amber and her husband Rob for making this choice for their child and I couldn’t have been more honored to have a part in this step as a Rabbi/Grandfather.

Gavin is resting peacefully, recently inaugurated into a unique and wonderful group. The family is enjoying the quiet and rest of the Shabbat, looking forward to a time of study and worship. I am overwhelmed at the place this awesome journey has taken us. Another generation is being raised up to follow YHWH according to His Torah and to become a part of the Covenant family of Yisrael.

What is Truth?

I recall sitting in my office at the church I was pastoring at the time, praying at my desk, when I heard a question in my spirit. “How do you tell someone who is deceived that they are deceived?” I had never considered that concept before, but immediately began trying to pray through to the answer. I discussed this with several of my key people, but while we all wondered at the power of the question, no one had an answer.

If someone believes that a lie is actually truth, then when you challenge their “truth”, they will defend the lie. How do you get someone to change something so foundational to their thinking and values as “truth”. Well, the truth was at that moment, I was the one who was deceived. I spent a great deal of time pondering the various ways of teaching truth to others effectively not realizing that I believed lies to be true. I was teaching as truth doctrines of the church system that I was in, failing to verify their authenticity against the Scriptures. Good men had taught me what they thought was right, but Yirmeyahu [Jeremiah] 16:19 says, “…in the day of distress the nations shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, ‘Our fathers have inherited only falsehood, futility, and there is no value in them.’ “ [The Scriptures 2009 Ed.]

 

It’s an unsettling realization to have your version of what is true be challenged to a place that you don’t have a good answer. To really look at the Word without preconceived ideas, cultural bias, or religious training and seek what the text actually says can rock your world. However, i have found that if you seek honest answers, you have to be willing to accept them when you find them. 

My Journey Begins

I was raised as one of the fortunate few in the 60’s and 70’s. Not that my parents had great jobs with a large income, but that they had a strong belief in the ideas of living righteously and having integrity. The Pentecostal Church we attended expected that its people would “live right” and, to some degree, they enforced that ideal. My childhood friends and classmates seemed to live a completely different lifestyle, being exposed to ordinary things like beach vacations, going to carnivals and  amusement parks, movies on the weekends, and Dads who drank beer. All of these things were seen as “worldly” and probably sinful, so we didn’t take part and, to be honest, look down on those who did. So how is all of this “fortunate”?

What my family believed to be true according to the Scriptures is exactly what they lived out on a daily basis. The people that Mom and Dad were on Sunday morning were the same people that fed me breakfast on Monday. There was/is nothing phony about them. With all the cultural shift that took place in that era of time, with morals being challenged and relaxed, and with the loss of values, our home remained much the same.

This ideal of living out what you believe and know to be Truth has been more of a challenge than expected in my adult years. In December, 2000, I prayed a prayer that would expose truth to me in a life altering way, forever changing my understanding of what I should believe. I prayed, “Jesus, show me who You are. I’m not asking for You to give me another spiritual experience, but I want to know what You see when You see me, when You see the church, when You see this country and when You see Israel. Show me what Your eyes see, from Your perspective.” In January 2001, about 1 month later, my wife and I are flying to Israel on a very unexpected trip and an encounter that would rock my world.

While walking down Ben Yehudah street in Jerusalem, I had a sudden realization. The One I called Messiah and Savior was Jewish. I knew that He was a Jew by birth, but I had failed to connect Him with being Jewish by culture, language, and perspective. I remember looking a the merchants and the people on the street and realizing that He was like them and what was disturbing is that I then understood that He was not like me. He is not an American, with a Greek Western world view, but He sees things with an Hebraic mindset. He was answering my prayer. The problem I now had concerned what I had always believed to be true. My belief system was based on my world view and resulting bias concerning the Scriptures. I now could see that all the writers of the texts, except possibly Luke, were of this Hebraic mindset. So to be best understood in the intentions of their words, I needed to see them from their perspective. There and then, on a street in Jerusalem, my Messiah took my western focus away and gave me a Hebrew sight in its place. The pattern of integrity and living what you know to be true that I gained from my parents now required me to make choices that even they could not understand. My journey had just begun.

Barry Phillips