The favor of God was upon Joseph when he was taken as a slave to Egypt. Pharaoh recognized his wisdom and gave him the name Zephenath-Paneah. (Savior of the Age) Joseph was placed in charge of the whole land of Egypt because he had a God-given plan for preparing for seven years of famine that would follow seven years of abundance. (Genesis 41) He was also given the daughter of Potipher, the priest of On, as his wife. Two sons were born to Joseph in the years of abundance: Manasseh (one who causes to forget) and Ephraim (doubly fruitful).
Jacob/Israel, Joseph's father, brought the boys into his fold to receive an inheritance as one of the tribes. Even though Manasseh was the first born, his brother received the blessing of the firstborn. (Genesis 48:19) The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh camped together with Benjamin on the west side of the ark, and they marched together when Israel went out. These tribes were the youngest and smallest. They represented the next generation and were gaining experience to find their places of leadership. One of their jobs was to defend the Holy Things when Israel was marching to war. What a picture for us today! We must teach the next generation to guard the holy things of God.
Manasseh is the tribe that is connected to the eighth month, Cheshvan. We should be watching for new things in life during this month as eight is the number of new beginnings. Is it not interesting that Manasseh, the tribe of the next generation that represents new life and promise, plays a prominent part in the eighth month?
I read in the book A Time to Advance, by Chuck Pierce, that the Hebrew letter NUN is associated with Cheshvan and symbolizes the Messiah. There is no holiday during this month so the Jews believe it is "reserved" for the time of the Messiah to "inaugurate the third Temple." The coming of the Messiah is a beautiful picture of a time of new beginnings. Since this is the month of the Messiah, His fragrance is strong. It is permeated with myrrh, the spice brought to Jesus at His birth and death, and connected with sacrifice. Get ready for greater intimacy with the Holy Spirit. Declare the words of God's truth over yourself. God wants to give us new revelation and wisdom for our lives.
The month of Cheshvan is associated with the constellation Scorpio (the scorpion). Remember that God has given us "authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy..." (Luke 10:19) Let us use that authority as we take possession of the promises that God has for us.
In his book, Chuck Pierce paints a word picture about the month of Cheshvan. Here is what he says about this month: "It is a month reserved for the anointing in which God pulls you aside to draw a new anointing out of you. This can be an easy month or a hard month because He must press the anointing out of you. Cry out for the anointing to get pressed out of you...As you deal with the trials and difficulties through the anointing, you will be changed into Christ's image. Revelation should be so abounding in you this month that you flow in a supernatural dimension. If you are moving in revelation and the anointing, you will gain the upper hand on Satan..."
It is time for us to move in the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Take in God's wisdom and declare His truth. "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)
It is humbling and comforting when you realize that the Lord designed the entire Sunday morning service just for you. That is the way it seemed to me this morning. God knows exactly what is going on in our lives, day-by-day, and shows us He understands our feelings by ministering to us very individually.
My dad would have been 96 on October 15th, and on the 21st it will be one year since he died. As is my habit, I was reading through my journal from last year and realized how specifically God had answered my prayer requests. When we put my dad on hospice care I wrote this: "Lord, please guide us through Dad's last days. Help us to do whatever is healing and helpful. Please keep Dad comfortable, and let his dying process be peaceful for everyone. Give him a glimpse of heaven so that he is excited to see you. Reassure Mom. Thank you that we have hope in death because we get to spend eternity with you."
It was only this past week, while visiting with my mother, that I realized how God specifically answered every one of my prayer requests. All of us got to gather around Dad and tell him how much we loved him. He asked that I bring my guitar. We sang, as best we could, "It is Well with My Soul." His favorite aide, Merline, heard us singing this hymn in Dad's room and told us how deeply this song ministers to her and how peace overtakes her every time she hears it.
In the end, none of us were with Dad when he died except for Merline. He had a special affection for this woman and probably felt comfortable allowing her to be a part of his ascent to heaven. He left a word of hope for Mom: “I am going home now!” Merline told us she thought Dad got a glimpse of heaven and that his death was the most peaceful process she had ever seen. God gave her a Scripture to share with us. "Mark the perfect man and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace." (Psalm 37:37-KJ)
In worship this morning we sang "It is Well with My Soul." I am told that this song was selected after the worship leader prayed. We also sang "How He Loves," and declared, "He loves us, Oh, How He loves us...Oh, How He loves!" I could feel His love. Pastor Scott read from Joshua 4 where God instructs the leader of every tribe to pick up a memorial stone from the middle of the River Jordan. These stones were to stand as a sign among the people of the details of God's power and love. I realized, as Scott was speaking, that my journal is a collection of stones of remembrance and that God was giving me another one as He used every part of our service to minister to me very specifically. His targeted love brought me to tears.
It is a great privilege for me to share about my stones of remembrance with you, dear ones. It is my hope that you are encouraged by these stories of God's goodness. All of us need to collect these stones that remind us of God's love and provision for our lives. He knows every detail of our lives, what we are thinking and how He can most effectively shower us with His love. I am amazed by the way He loves us. King David said is well: "Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare." (Psalm 40:5) Amen!
When Nehemiah returned to his beloved Jerusalem he had it in his heart to rebuild it. He went out at night to inspect the walls that had been broken down and then shared his plan with the Jewish remnant to start rebuilding. Nehemiah knew that every breach in the wall was a place for the enemy to enter. In unity, the families in Jerusalem repaired these openings. They "did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other." (Nehemiah 4:17) A trumpet call was their signal to join together in unity. Scripture says, "When the seventh month came (the month of the fall feasts) and the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate." (Nehemiah 8:1) A key to their success in rebuilding was the spirit of unity that was upon the people of Judah. Protection and authority was theirs because they stood together.
One of the prayers that Jesus prayed to His father on behalf of His disciples was for protection and unity. "I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name--the name you gave me--so that they may be one as we are one." (John 17:11) Then Jesus prayed for all Believers. (That includes us.) "...I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one. Father, just as you are in me and I am in You...I have given them the glory that you gave me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (John 17:20-23)
The apostle Paul understood the importance of unity and wrote about it to the church at Corinth. "I appeal to you brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." (1 Corinthians 1:10) He told the church at Ephesus: "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:3) This is how we attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ and defeat the enemy from tossing us around. Christ is the one who holds us together and builds us up in love. (Ephesians 4:14-16)
Dear ones, we need one another to withstand and repeal the attacks of the enemy. It is only in a spirit of unity that we are strengthened and can overcome him. In an Elijah List post on August 19 Kathi Pelton encouraged us to "Make no room for the enemy." She recounts a true story that was on the news about a couple "who were walking hand-in-hand when the young man was struck in the head by lightening. The electricity was transferred through his body, through both their hands, then down her body and out her feet. The doctors who treated them said that they were alive because they 'shared the strike.' Had the young man taken the full force on his own it most likely would have killed him, but because they were joined, neither of them was seriously injured."
The Church needs to understand and embrace God's plan for us to bind together in the love of Christ. When we make it a priority not to judge, to extend forgiveness, have mercy, act justly and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8) and stand together in love, God's protection and authority is present. We need one another! Let's join together in that bond of peace and watch what God does.
There is a little known holy day talked about in the Bible that began at sunset tonight and runs through sunset tomorrow night. This Jewish holy day is called Shemini Atzeret or The Eighth Day. It is always on the day after day seven of Sukkot. It is a separate festival and yet is always connected to and celebrated with Sukkot. Scripture is very clear about this day: "For seven days present offerings made to the Lord by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to the Lord by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work."(Leviticus 23:36)
During the seven days of Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles) God's people gather together to thank Him for the harvest and to pray for the rains to come to bless their crops for the next year. The eighth day is a new beginning. Prophetically, the meaning of the number eight is to put off the old self and begin anew. It is the number of sanctification and resurrection. God created the earth in six days and called for day seven to be one of rest. On day eight, He resumed His work. "The Lord God formed the man and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7) We see that is was on day eight that God breathed the Spirit of life into Adam.
It was fitting that during worship this morning we sang a song written by All Sons and Daughters called "Great are You Lord." The chorus says, "Great are You, Lord. It's Your breath in our lungs so we pour out our praise; we pour out our praise. It's Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise to You only." Isn't it interesting that God breathed the Spirit of life into man on the eighth day, and we sang about this as we were about to begin the eighth day celebration talked about in Scripture?
Here are some other significant things about the number eight in the Bible: When the floods covered the earth, God saved Noah and his family in the ark. There were eight people in this family. It is on the eighth day that circumcision takes place. (Genesis 17:12) Isaac, John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul were all circumcised on the eighth day. Nehemiah led the Israelites in a celebration of Sukkot for seven days. Scripture says, "...They celebrated the feast for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly." (Nehemiah 8:18)
Regarding the celebration of this festival, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn says the number eight speaks of infinite and beyond completion. It breaks the barrier of time. It points us toward resurrection and new life. Rabbi Cahn also says, "There are not enough days in a week to contain my love for the Lord." Isn't that the truth! God is delighted with our love and looks forward to the day when we will sit at the banqueting table with Him forever. In the meantime, He has breathed the life of His Spirit in us to keep us until the day when we will spend eternity with Him. Day eight points us to His eternal love and our eternal life with Him. Now that is worth our highest praise!
Joan E. Mathias