The Clarion, May 2022
Hello May! This month we begin our third year of the Clarion. We hope that you have enjoyed them, and that you have passed them on to family and friends. If you haven’t yet, you can sign-up to receive the Clarion with your emails.
We would like to wish all our mothers and grandmothers, foster mothers, godmothers, and soon to be mothers, all a very happy and blessed Mother’s Day.
To My Mother
Mother dear, life has gone by, and it has been many a year since you held me when I would cry. You always took away my fear, and you knew just what to do when I came near. Mother dear, it’s been too long since you sang me your song.
I pray today that you could once again be here to stay, if God would only let it be, may it be, even for just a day.
We have just remembered the crucifixion of Yeshua, and it wasn’t all that long ago, we celebrated God’s gift to us, in the birth of Yeshua. Two important events that play a part in our salvation, the birth and the death of Yeshua. The early forefathers who believed more in doctrine than Scripture came up with the notion that we are saved by grace, and grace alone. Grace alone, is one of the five solas which makes up the foundation of the doctrine of the Reformation, which every Protestant Denomination is built upon. The Scripture that they based their belief on is Ephesians 2:8-9 which says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
We want to take a closer look at this word grace and then determine if the literal use of the word was used.
So often we find that the Jewish origin of a word was not used properly in it’s translation. We also know that our forefathers were not interested in the literal meanings, for they had their own ideas, and their own doctrine to form.
Thus, while there are many translations in respects to the word grace, in both Jewish and Christian Bibles the word always signals that God has His hand in it. So in Christian theology, grace is the unearned, undeserved divine gift of unconditional love, mercy, favor, acceptance, forgiveness, sustenance and salvation from God through Yeshua to those who accept Him as Messiah, and Savior as we saw in Ephesians 2, and here in Romans 11:6, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, since otherwise grace is no longer grace.”
And we even see that it was added as commentary in Ephesians 2:4-5, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Messiah (by grace you have been saved).” Let me say that commentary which was added is not the Word of God, but someone’s opinion.
We have seen so many songs written about God’s grace, one famous song was “Amazing Grace” written by the clergyman John Newton in 1772 the one line reads, “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me!… How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.”
The question is, is this true, that when you first believe in Yeshua, you are automatically saved, not only saved, but “Once saved always saved” which was a doctrine that came out of this, all because of grace?
So let us look at this closer for there are two elements here, one saved by grace alone, and two, saved the moment when a person believes.
In Jewish thought, grace more often is expressed as God’s loving kindness or mercy, and it is balanced by God’s justice. The rabbis of the Talmud explain that God created the world with both, because loving kindness alone would have allowed sin to increase, and justice alone would have condemned all of creation (Genesis Rabbah 12:15). Therefore, the rabbis continue, that God’s favor, forgiveness, and mercy are not automatic, for that would unbalance justice. Nor are those attributes earned or deserved, because that would suggest human control over God.
Throughout the Torah and expressed directly by the prophets, one receives God’s unmerited favor (grace) when they turn from their wickedness and live by God’s ways, as we see in Isaiah 55:7, “Let the wicked abandon their ways and those who are evil in their thoughts. Let them return to the Lord so that He may have mercy (grace) upon them; and to our God, for He is rich in forgiveness.”
And in Joel 2:13, “And rip your hearts, and not your robes, and be turned to the LORD your God, because He is merciful and He is cherishing, and His Spirit is patient and His grace abundant, and He changes evil.”
So God’s mercy (grace) can be conditional upon our attempt to act in the image of God, to obey the commandments, and to repent when we miss the mark.
God balances mercy (grace) with justice as Micah 6: 8 tells us, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
In Christian thought, it is through believing that the door to personal salvation is open, because it is associated with “grace,” but this rarely appears in Jewish literature.
So let’s start by looking at the word “grace” to see what it meant to Paul.
We tend to forget that Paul was Jewish and his Jewish education of the Scriptures were taught by Rabbi Gamaliel. Gamaliel was one of the prominent teachers of the Law in the First Century. Acts 22:3 tells us this about Paul, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the Law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today.” Paul would have held to the strictest meaning of God’s Word, and if it was spoken or written in the Greek he would have used words that relayed the true Hebrew meaning. Now let’s see how Paul would have used the word grace.
In Greek the word is “Charis”meaning, favor, freely given or extended, always leaning toward. In Aramaic the word is “Taybutha” which has the idea of favor and goodness. In the Talmudic writings, it was used as a sign of recognition. Genesis 6:8 in the Torah says this, “But Noach found grace (favor) in the sight of Adonai.” We see that grace has many words that can be used in its place like mercy and favor, gratitude, graciousness, goodwill, for a few, but the Hebrew letters for grace in Genesis 6:8 are the letters Chet ח and Nun נ. So let us get a word picture which the Hebrew language gives us. Chet has the numerical number of eight which is the number for grace and wisdom. Grace and Noah are the same root letters when Noah is spelled backwards. Noah means rest, but the Rabbi’s tell us that there is more, that there is a Hey ה at the end of the Nun which gives the picture of a tent. Numbers 24:5 says this “How lovely are your tents, Jacob; your encampments, Isra’el!” This is a good picture to describe grace.
Let’s discuss these three letters. Chet (which sounds like het) is the letter for life as we see in the word chayim. It is also a picture of community as in the word chavurah. It also represents light that descends from God and ascends back to God. Therefore it is considered to be the doorway from heaven. We know another door as John 10:9 tells us, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” As we saw in the word Chayim. They also put the blood of the lamb on the door. Exodus 12;13, “The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will come upon you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”
So far we have seen that on our part we must enter through the door and the Israelites had to place the blood on the doorpost as we must place it on our hearts. The next letter Nun (sounds like noon) represents faithfulness and it’s rewards.Nun is a little bent on top so it represents humbleness. James 4:10 tells us this, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
But verses 6-9 tells us how to be humble before God, “Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God and He will come close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into gloom.”
Once again we see that we must do our part to receive God’s grace. Now we will look at the letter Hey. Because the letter Hey is broken on one side it is a picture of the presence of God within the human heart, one who is broken and contrite and one who returns to God by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit opens the door of the heart of the believer and dwells within him.
All of this paints a beautiful picture of grace, but grace is only on God’s part. God’s loving kindness, His grace as John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.”
Again we see only God’s side of His grace in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Messiah died for us.” God’s favor toward us, His mercy toward us, His love toward us, use whichever word you like, it is still only on God’s part. Yeshua is the open door, if we wish to come in, we may, but once we are in, then we must do our part. Even to have faith or to believe is our part and faith must be walked out and belief must be acted out. Sin separates us and to return to God’s graces, we must repent and be washed clean. It is not by grace alone for this is only on God’s part. We did not die for our sins, it was not our blood that was shed, this was God’s part of the covenant, ours is to walk humbly before our God. Revelation 7:14 says this, “ I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” God provided the blood, but we must wash our robes.
Recipe Corner: Tropical Escape Pineapple Bars
by averie cooks.com
INGREDIENTS: For the Crust: 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened . 1 cup all-purpose flour. 1/2 cup granulated sugar. pinch salt, optional and to taste
For the Filling: 1 large egg . 1/2 cup granulated sugar . 1/3 cup sour cream (plain or vanilla Greek yogurt may be substituted) . 1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract . 1/4 cup all-purpose flour . one 20-ounce can pineapple chunks, drained (fresh or frozen could likely be substituted)
INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8×8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
Make the Crust: To a large bowl, add the butter, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and optional salt. Using two forks or a pastry cutter, cut butter into dry ingredients until a sandy mixture with peas-sized buttery bits forms.
- Reserve 3/4 cup of this mixture; set aside.
- Transfer remaining mixture into the prepared pan and using your fingertips or the back of a spatula, lightly press crumbs evenly into the pan to form a crust.
- Bake for 10 minutes. While the crust bakes, make the filling.
- Make the Filling:
- In a large bowl (same one used to make the crust mixture is fine) add the egg, 1/2 cup sugar, sour cream, vanilla extract, 1/4 cup flour, and whisk until smooth; set aside.
- Remove crust from oven and top evenly with pineapple chunks. About 90% of the surface area will be covered with pineapple; chunks will be very close to each other but not quite touching.
- Carefully and evenly pour the sour cream mixture over the pineapple, making sure to get it into the corners.
- Evenly sprinkle the reserved crust mixture over the top to create the crumble topping.
- Bake for about 35 minutes, or until edges and top are set.
- Place the pan on top of a wire rack and allow bars to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.
Hebrew Corner: The Month of Iyyar
As we have just left the month of Nissan, which is the 1st month of the year, we now enter into the month of Iyyar. Iyyar sits between two Biblical Feast days, Passover and Shavuot (Pentecost). In between these two feasts we have been counting the fifty days called the Omer. On the fortieth day of the Omer, we celebrate the Ascension. Iyyar means “splendor.” It was also called Ziv as 1 Kings 6:1 tells us, “ In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites came out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the Lord.”
It was in the month of Iyyar that Moses took a census of the people by their tribe and from there the people were placed by their tribe around the Mishkan (Tabernacle) as Numbers 1 tells us. Again we see seven hundred years after 1Kings 6, Zerubbabel begins the construction of the second temple in the month of Iyyar as Ezra 3:8 tells us, “In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak and the rest of the people (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work. They appointed Levites twenty years old and older to supervise the building of the house of the Lord.”
These were certainly times of splendor and times of rejoicing, but how about the days Yeshua spent with His followers after His resurrection to His ascension, definitely a time of splendor. Enjoy your month of Iyyar in the splendor of the Lord.