The Clarion, Dec. 2022
Well it is the holidays once again. The year seems to go by so fast, but in reality, we do a lot of living in those 365 days. We do a lot of good, make many mistakes, and hopefully, we make a lot of changes in our lives. As believers we are supposed to make changes in our lives. We need to mature and grow in our faith. We also need to bear much fruit, and that means we may have to have the Lord do some pruning. John 15:1-2 says this, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
I think everyone likes to receive a fruit basket during the holidays, and as believers that is just what we need to give others.
Galatians 5:22-23, tells us just what we need to put in that basket. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
2 Peter 1:5-8 also tells us as we are adding to our faith we need to throw in a little bit of this, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Messiah Yeshua.”
All of this makes for a great holiday fruit basket and a Happy New Year.
We want to take a closer look at Mary, or we should call her by her Hebrew name, Miriam. Miriam was a common Hebrew name, I am sure because of Miriam the sister of Moses. Let’s take a look at this Miriam. Miriam was the daughter of Amram, the leader of the Israelites in ancient Egypt, and of Yocheved, both from leading families of the Tribe of Levi, Exodus 2:1. As such, she was also the sister of Aaron and Moses. The Torah refers to her as “Miriam the Prophetess” in Exodus 15:20 and the Talmud names her as one of the seven major female prophets of Israel. Micah 6:4, describes her alongside of Moses and Aaron as delivering the Jews from bondage in Egypt: “For I brought you up out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.” According to the Midrash on Micah 6:4, just as Moses led the men out of Egypt, so did Miriam lead the women. Similarly, just as Moses taught Torah to the men, so too, Miriam taught Torah to the women. There are several meanings behind the name Miriam, “bitter”, “water”, “rebellion” or “elevation” as follows: Bitter connotes the fact that Miriam was born during the beginning of Pharaoh’s bitter decrees, as in Exodus 1:14: “And the [Egyptians] embittered [the Jews’] lives with hard labor.” Miriam’s strong association with water includes her involvement in saving Moses at the Nile, Exodus 2:4,7-9, also singing praise to God after crossing the Sea of Reeds, Exodus 15:20-21 and the special well or spring of water called the “Well of Miriam.” In her merit, this well miraculously provided water for the Jews by accompanying them throughout their wanderings in the wilderness, Exodus 17:6.
We see that the name carries with it great honor. Matthew starts his gospel with the genealogy of Yeshua, starting with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and down throughout the generations to King David and Solomon and throughout the generations to Joseph and Mary who was the mother of Yeshua.
Luke 1: 26-38 gives us this insight, “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Miriam. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Miriam was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Miriam; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call Him Yeshua. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Miriam asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth, your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.”
Let’s take a closer look at what the angel said to Miriam. First , we see that Miriam was elevated, as her name means, when the angel called her “Highly Favored.” Second, if Miriam was a virgin then how did she conceive and have a child? Though this seems a mystery, is it really? In today’s modern world maybe we have the answer to this. Could Miriam have been a surrogate mother? This may seem like a shocking question, but in reality, is it? We know that Miriam was a virgin, and we know with God all things are possible. But in today’s world, we see that this could have been possible at some level. We know that Miriam carried a child, and Joseph was not the father, but as the angel said, “He shall be called the Son of the Most High.” We know that God created Adam and Eve without a mother, Genesis 1:24-27, so would it have been impossible for Miriam to have been like a surrogate mother to Yeshua?
John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Philippians 2: 5-8 also tells us, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Messiah Yeshua: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross!”
Yeshua emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man, a flesh and blood man. Only God the Father could have done this, but not without the help of a human. He needed someone to partner with Him, and today God still needs man to partner with Him in the work of the Kingdom. The angel told Miriam that the Holy Spirit would come upon her. This is what we saw on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down upon those 120 people like tongues of fire and filled them with the Spirit of God. As it were, they too, conceived, and gave birth to a regenerated people.
John 3:3-8 tells us, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Yeshua answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at My saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Titus 3:5-7 says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,whom He richly poured out upon us through Messiah Yeshua our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 also tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
So if the Holy Spirit can do this to us who are already born, then He can do anything before we are born. We see that the Most High overshadowed Miriam. Well, this word was only used twice in the Bible, and here it was used regarding conceiving a child, so the question is still very applicable. We saw Miriam very much involved with her brother Moses as he drifted down the Nile. This takes us to the last two meanings of Miriam”s name. According to tradition since water is associated with “chesed” — kindliness — this meaning behind Miriam connotes her special acts of kindness in serving as a midwife, devoting herself to the needs of her suffering people and sparing Jewish infants from Pharaoh’s evil decree. Another meaning behind Miriam is in the spelling of her name “meri”, which means “rebellion.” Again, according to tradition, this connotes the way she rebelled against Pharaoh’s orders that the Jewish midwives kill all male infants, Exodus 1:16-17. She even rebelled against her father who initially exacerbated the decree by causing couples to separate so they wouldn’t have children. He did this in the name of sparing Jewish infants from death, until Miriam convinced him otherwise. The name Miriam is associated with birth and life and even death. But we must always remember that God is our Father, and He will not share His glory with any one, as Isiah 42:8 tells us, “I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to idols.” Miriam was highly favored by God, but we are not to elevate her. Yes, she was the mother of Yeshua, the same as Joseph was His father, only earthly guardians, for He is the Son of the Most High, and they chose to be partners with God for the sake of the Kingdom. During this time that the church celebrates Yeshua’s birth, let’s remember this, God has chosen man to partner with Him in the work of the Kingdom, and so we too must be willing to do all that God asks us to do. Luke 1:38 says, “So Miriam said, “Behold, the servant of Adonai. Let it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel left her.” Also in Luke 22:42, this is the same response as Yeshua’s, “Not My will be done, but Yours.” This should also be our response when God asks us to lay down our lives for the Kingdom. We do this humbly before God, and we, nor anyone else, should be elevated for doing so except Yeshua our Savior, because He is the Son of the Most High.
Recipe Corner: Roast Leg of Lamb by Delish.com
Boneless leg of lamb needs to be tied together in order for the meat to cook evenly. Give your meat at least an hour (or up to two) to come up to room temperature. This is helpful for two reasons: one, a cold leg of lamb will take longer to cook and two, a cold leg will potentially cook unevenly.
1/4 c. plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more greasing
3 cloves garlic, minced 1 tbsp. minced rosemary, plus 2 sprigs
1 tbsp. minced thyme 1 (6 lb.) leg of lamb
kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper
2 heads garlic, cloves peeled 8 oz. cipollini onions 2 lemons, halved
- Heat oven to 400°. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup oil, garlic, chopped rosemary, and thyme.
- Place lamb in a large roasting dish, then season all over with salt and pepper.
- Brush herb oil all over lamb (you won’t use it all right now). Roast 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together whole garlic cloves, onions, rosemary sprigs, and lemons with 1 tablespoon oil, salt, and pepper.
- Reduce oven to 350°. Spread garlic, onions, rosemary, and lemon halves evenly around lamb, then coat lamb in more herb oil. Add ¼ cup water to roasting dish, then roast for 1 to 1 ½ hours more, until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast registers about 145° to 150°.
- Let lamb rest 15 minutes before carving and serving.
Hebrew Corner: The Month of Kislev
Kislev is the ninth month starting from the Passover. It is best known for the celebration of Hanukkah. The month of Kislev falls during the darkest time of year, during the winter solstice, so what better time than to light the lights and what better time than to let our light shine as Matthew 5:14-16 tells us, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Hanukkah means dedication, and as we end the year with the month of Kislev, and begin a new, what better time than this for us to rededicate our lives to God? The people rededicated the Temple. They purified the Temple from the Abomination of Desolation, and they relit the Menorah, so once again God’s light could shine from it. But are we not the Temple of the Holy Spirit, as
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us? Has the oil run dry in our lives that we are no longer the light to the people around us? Do we need to remove any false gods that we may tend to worship or put before God? The month of Kislev, and the time of Hanukkah is a great reminder that we need to examine our lives and see if there is anything that has come between us and God as 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us. Kislev is also a month of hope. It is believed that Yeshua was conceived during the time of Hanukkah which was considered by the people at the time to be a second Sukkot…Feast of Tabernacles being that God always does His work during these Biblical times. Since Yeshua being the Light to the Nations, and the Menorah which represents Yeshua, this only makes sense. Hebrews 3:6 says this, “But Messiah, as Son, is over God’s house—and we are His house, if we hold firm to our boldness and what we are proud to hope.” Romans 8:24-25 tells us about this hope, “For in hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, then we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Titus 2:11-14 tells us, For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and in a godly manner in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Messiah Yeshua, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, eager for good deeds.”
As we hope for longer days, and more light, so we also long for our salvation to appear. This is the ninth month, the month of Kislev.