The second month on the Hebrew calendar, Iyar or Ziv, is known as one of revelation. Much happened during this month of transition when God's people were moving from Egypt to Mount Sinai. God used their journey through the wilderness to reveal His nature to them. It was as the children of Israel were in need that they encountered God and were able to see who He really is. Indeed, it was God Himself who led them into the desert so that they would have a revelation of His character. I can testify to the way God has used wilderness seasons in my own life to disclose His nature to me. He allows and uses these desert times to increase intimacy with us. Look at what the prophet Hosea says: "Therefore, I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt." (Hosea 2:14-15) The desert is a stark place without distractions. It is here that God reveals His true nature--a nature of kindness, provision, generosity, power and love.
For Believers, the anointing to carry the glory of God increases now. This month of Iyar is frequently called Ziv, which means radiance. The brightness of our countenance increases as our revelation of the Lord increases. Let's look at the life of Moses and the way in which he encountered God. Exodus 33:11 tells us, "The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend." As Moses interacted with God and increased in understanding of who He is, the glory of God appeared upon him. "When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant..." (Exodus 34:29-30) The radiance that Moses carried after he met with the Lord is meant for us today. "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Three key revelations came to the Israelites as they traveled through the desert. God began to demonstrate His power to them to transform their situations. In their first encounter with God the Israelites were exposed to His healing power. God demonstrated this power by healing the bitter water at Marah. But God took this a step further by declaring, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you." (Exodus 15:26)
After revealing Himself as "Yahweh Rapha," He revealed that He is "Yahweh Jaira," the Lord who sees and provides, by bringing manna (bread) and quail (meat) into the camp. (Exodus 16:12) Finally, the Lord showed that He is "Yahweh Nissi," the Lord, my Banner of Victory, when the Amalekites attacked the Israelites. As Moses raised his hands in praise to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (with the help of Aaron and Hur) the Israelites had victory in the battle.
God wants to continue to reveal more aspects of His personality to us. He calls us to the place of intimacy with Him because this is where He reveals the secrets of His covenant. He told His disciples, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you..." (Matthew 13:11) During this month of Iyar God is ready to pour out extra blessings on those who seek Him. This is a key month for connecting with God and understanding His plans and purposes so that we can move forward on His path for the remainder of the year. Since this is the month linked with the tribe of Issachar, who understands the times and seasons and secrets of the Lord, (1 Chronicles 12:32) there is an increased anointing for us to do likewise. This is the time for us to press in for more of the Lord, dear ones. As revelation comes you will manifest His radiance. "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you." (Isaiah 60:1)
A precious lady went home to be with her Lord and Savior and to join other family members in heaven on Easter Sunday morning. Family and friends of Ethel Eckelmeyer gathered together on Friday to celebrate her life of 100 years. In prophetic circles the number 100 represents fullness or a full reward. It is fitting that Aunt Ethel lived to be 100 years old.
At the memorial service, as family members described Ethel's life, it became obvious that she left behind a legacy for all of us. She handed down to us an example of a life lived connected to God. In his eulogy, her son Ken referred to John 15. "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit..." (Verses 4-5)
Ethel's life bore the fruit of her relationship with the Lord. She was led by the Spirit of the Living God and the fruit of that intimate relationship was manifest in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) Her son, his wife and her granddaughter all testified to the beautiful relationship that she had with her husband Ray. Ethel and Ray were happily married for 67 years until his death in 2008. Ken told us that he never heard a harsh word come from either of them in all the years that they were married. There was never a fight. Instead they chose to live out Ephesians 5:21. "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
The pastor who presided at Aunt Ethel's memorial service remembered how she served God through her service at the church. As a Sunday school teacher she shared the Gospel with her charges. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) With Ethel, the key to sharing about God's love was demonstrating it. The pastor quoted St. Francis of Assisi: "Preach Jesus, and if necessary use words." Aunt Ethel did not have to use words; she exhibited love to everyone around her.
The love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that Ethel carried changed the atmosphere around her. All who knew her will testify to the legacy of love that she left behind. We would do well to follow her lifestyle. Leif Hetland, author of Transformed by Love, talks about the transforming power of love. "To transform the world, to bring change to every place on this planet, we need to first become so full of His love that we spill over. Only from this place of overflow can we transform cities and nations." Aunt Ethel overflowed with love and left us a legacy to which we must aspire.
As Jesus rode a colt down the road from the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem, "the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen. 'Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.' Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said of Jesus, 'Teacher, rebuke your disciples.' 'I tell you,' He replied, 'if they keep quiet the stones will cry out,'" (Luke 19:37-40) Indeed, all of creation seems to respond to Jesus in amazing ways.
The four gospels recount the way creation responded during Passion Week. We learn that creation itself recognized the King of kings. Yet many in Israel did not realize who Jesus was or they would have never crucified him. Rick Renner, author of Paid in Full, says this about Jesus and His relationship with creation: "I find it amazing that although Israel rejected Jesus and the Roman authorities crucified Him, creation always recognized Him! During His life on this earth, the waves obeyed Him; water turned to wine at His command; fishes and bread multiplied at His touch; the atoms in water solidified so He could walk across it; and the wind ceased when He spoke to it. So it should come as no surprise that Jesus' death was a traumatic event for creation. The earth shook, trembled, and shuddered at the death of its Creator, for it instantly felt its lose."
The writers of the gospels along with several historians describe the darkness that covered the earth during the three hours (from noon until 3:00 p.m.) that Jesus was crucified. Simultaneous to the time when Jesus was being crucified, the high priest would have been in the temple courts slaughtering the unblemished lambs for Passover. One lamb for every household was slaughtered. The sacrifices of the lambs would have been finished about three hours later when Jesus cried out, "It is finished!" (John 19:30) When Jesus gave up His spirit a violent earthquake occurred.
Here is how Matthew describes what happened to the earth at Jesus' death. "At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split." (Matthew 27:51) Rick Renner explains that the word "rock" is the Greek word petra which means huge, large rocks. They were violently torn apart. Likewise the veil of the temple. God Himself was making a way for us to enter the Holy of Holies.
And yes, creation responded when Jesus rose from the dead. Matthew 28:2 tells us "There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it." Rick Renner explains: "Just as creation shook when its Creator died on the Cross, now the earth exploded at the resurrection of Jesus."
The reality of the death of Jesus, His blood spilled on the Cross and the glorious resurrection of Jesus requires a response from us. In Romans 8 Paul talks about how we are heirs of God who will share in His sufferings and His glory. He says, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed...We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." (Romans 8:19, 22)
We must join with creation in our displays of power and love that reveal our Maker to the world. Rich Renner puts it this way: "Just as the earth quaked when its Creator died on the Cross, the earth exploded when Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of God the Father. Now creation is waiting for you to walk in the reality of the victory Jesus purchased for you with His own blood."
As we enter the week of Passover, let us remember that this is the time for a fresh start. The Passover feast corresponds to what occurred in the outer court of the tabernacle--cleansing and redemption. This is the place where we take our first steps in approaching God. Before entering God's presence we must be washed clean and covered by the blood of His atoning sacrifice.
Paul talks about the need for removal of leaven (sin) in our lives in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8. "Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." (NKJ)
In a recent newsletter, Curt Landry explains the significance of the word sincerity in the phrase, "unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." The word means that which is "judged by sunlight." This is a reminder of the pottery that was sold by merchants in Biblical days. If there was a crack or flaw in the pot, the merchant would hide it with wax. However, one could see the flaw if they held the pot up to the bright sunlight.
Curt says that such things as "lack of knowledge, false information, lies and deception crack our vessels." We may try to fix our flaws with wax, however, wax melts in the heat causing the cracks to open and the contents of our vessel to spill out. Curt continues: Allow the Lord to "fix the cracks in your vessel; not with wax, but with true, deep healing so that your vessel can shine in the light of the Son."
God uses the time of the celebration of Passover to redeem and restore us--His vessels--so that we can hold all the blessings that He wants to pour out into us. Paul reminds us that we are like jars of clay for a reason: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." (2 Corinthians 4:7)
Curt Landry believes that the Scripture we need to embrace for this year comes from Zechariah 9:12. "Return to the stronghold you prisoner of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you." (NKJ) The reason for this has to do with the way God has set in motion the mirroring of the spiritual and physical realms. Passover this year is an extremely special one because there will be a double celebration at the Passover table. Fifty years ago (1967) Jerusalem was reunified. So, we can say that this is Jerusalem's Jubilee Passover.
The 50th year is one that should be consecrated to the Lord. It is a time to "proclaim liberty." It is a time of return and restoration. It is a time to be holy unto the Lord. (Leviticus 25:10-14) How special that we can celebrate the feast of Passover and the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem--God's holy city--all at the same time! Watch for double blessings! I can tell you that I am already experiencing this for myself and pray that you too will see the miracle-working hand of God pouring out His blessings upon you.
God called Abram to leave the land of his father and go to a new land. He promised Abram that he would be blessed if he did that. Abram was 75 years old when he set out. His journey required courage and trust in God. Genesis 13:18 tells us this: "So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the Lord." The meaning of the names here are significant. Mamre means "from the vision or fatness and vigor." Hebron means "association, joining together and union." In Genesis 14 Abram is called the Hebrew. This is also significant in that the Hebrew people lived the definition of their name—"One who passes over from the other side."
The understanding of these words becomes particularly significant during the month of Nissan. We, who are grafted into the tribes that came from Abram the Hebrew share in the prophecies and promises that came from God. Consequently, we are part of the people who crossed over. It becomes important for us to operate according to the Hebraic calendar. This means moving into what the Lord has for us during this new month and new year. We must move in order to reach the destination of blessing that God has for us.
When the tribe of Israel moved they had an order to their movement. Judah (the people of praise) went first. Judah went out praising the Lord, and power comes from praise because "God is enthroned on the praises of His people." (Psalm 22:3-KJ) The symbol of the tribe of Judah is a lion and, indeed, Jesus is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah. (Revelation 5:5)
Since we are in the month of Nissan and this month is associated with the tribe of Judah—the Tribe of Praise--this is the time to cross over into our new season with praise as we look to God to order our steps. It is God who decided to make Nissan the head of the months in the year and to give us a fresh start each year. (Exodus 12:2) We start the cycle of repentance, redemption and new life here. The three feasts or festivals of Nissan—Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits—are a shadow of what is to come through our Messiah.
Nissan is associated with the constellation of Aries, the ram or lamb. What could be more appropriate for the Passover month? Of course, Yeshua/Jesus is our Passover Lamb who removes the sins of the world. (John 1:29) He also is a picture of the unleavened bread (matzah). He was striped and pierced for our transgressions. (Isaiah 53:5) He is the bread of life who came to give everlasting life to all who believe in Him. In addition, He is the fulfillment of the Festival of Firstfruits as He was resurrected on that day. (1 Corinthians 15:23)
Set your sights on the Promised Land that God has for you. This is our month of freedom and redemption. Numbers 33:3 tells us that "The Israelites set out from Rameses on the 15th day of the first month, the day after Passover. They marched out boldly in full view of all the Egyptians." We are to be bold like the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. It is time to cross over into the new thing that God has established for us. Step into the direction of your promise, and let the Lord order your steps.
Joan E. Mathias