I am my Beloved’s
“Hineni—See, accept with a willing heart and understand that I have refined you, but not as silver; I have chosen you and made you acceptable in the furnace of affliction—depression.”
Chosen in Darkness
He wakes me at night in order to speak with me
In the daylight my ears are brick walls
I allow nothing past them
In the early hours He whispers to my dormant ears
He leads my soul to the cave opening
My mind, a cave
My ears its labyrinth tunnels
He reaches down as dawn approaches
He lifts me up
I make Aliyah—going up—to Him
He sings His great love song
The darkness flees
His fidelity encompasses me
In the darkness His light is made clear
I was blind in the daylight hours
In affliction He has chosen me
In suffering, refined me
From the darkness of my sin
He sobers me
I wake from a numb existence
I am led toward the east
His light shines in the darkness that precedes the dawn
His dawning swallows the night
“If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patient expectation.”
Born in Expectation
In the tangible darkness
I expect to see light
As I struggle to stand
I expect the strong right arm of support
When I gasp at my last breathe
I expect the next breathe to be Holy wind
When I’m dead to this world
I expect the resurrection, Olam Haba—the World to Come
When I wake from the sleep
I expect to see for the first time
I expect to be surrounded by faithfulness
Guarded by fierce love
Enveloped by eternity
I expect to be complete
My soul in Him
A unity of multiplicity
I am my Beloved’s
He is mine
The canopy of the Universe over me
© 2013 Yaakov Brown
You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’ in addition to this I say, don’t resist an unrighteous person...
“You will be complete—consider what’s gone before—just as your heavenly Abba is complete.”
Here Yeshua is repeating a well-known—and frequently used—Hebrew idiom; He is saying, “Be Holy because I the L-rd your G-d am Holy—sanctified, set apart, consecrated.” –Vayikra/Leviticus 19:2
This statement follows the numerous statements of Mattitiyahu/Matthew chapter five, which promote a fuller view of the Torah—it is important to note that this is not a new addition to the Torah, it is simply a revealing of it, Yeshua has said nothing new here, He is only asking that we have eyes to see what G-d has already put in place. Some of the statements read as follows:
“You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’ in addition to this I say, don’t resist an unrighteous person, if your brother slaps you on the cheek to insult you, you should allow him to continue to insult you, let him hit your other cheek as well.” (5:38-39)
“You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies,’ but I say, love your enemies and pray for those who mistreat you—just as the Torah says, ‘Love thy neighbor’—so that you might become children of your Father in heaven” (5:43-45). In this last case Yeshua is correcting a miss teaching, after all the Torah does not say, “hate your enemies,” Yeshua is simply revealing the greater truth of the Torah; the fact that our enemies are our neighbors and that we are to Love our neighbor as ourselves.
Notice that He repeats the phrase “You have heard,” the emphasis is on the fact that they have listened to the teachings of the rabbonim, teachings which have concentrated only on the physical outworking of the Torah.
The sayings of Mattitiyahu/Matthew 5:38-47 are part of the “therefore” of verse 48. Understanding this in the light of a better modern English translation of the Greek word τέλειος teleios, which is usually translated, “perfect,” we are able to combine the ideas of completeness, labor and Holiness in the final verse of this chapter.
This helps us to understand the reality perpetuated by the whole of Scripture: that we are cleansed and are being (a process not a presumptuous inference) made Holy—set apart, perfect, complete.
“For by one sacrifice He has made complete—I believe the word perfect is a poor translation here, we are not perfect from our perspective in the present physical reality, but rather we are made perfect from the perspective of G-d, outside of time and space. G-d being without constraint—forever those who are being (a process, ongoing, and not finished) purified, consecrated made holy and sanctified.”
We must be clear in stating that G-d was, is and will be Holy/Perfect/Complete. We on the other hand were not, can be and—if we accept the reality of His Kingship over all things—will be complete in Messiah who was, is and will be Holy/Perfect/Laboring/Complete.
The conclusion is this, that having been made complete by G-d from His perspective through the blood of Messiah, we are now and continually being made Holy from our perspective, a refining process within time that will come to its fullness when time ceases and will bring us to the completion that G-d already sees in us (outside of chronology.)
Therefore, “Be Holy/Perfect/Laboring/Complete as your Father in Heaven is Holy/Perfect/Laboring/Complete.”
© 2013 Yaakov Brown
Today function gave way to the faith of my child, dispersing the mist of protection I had created for myself...
We gathered today to honor my youngest daughter through the practice of the coming of age ceremony of Israel, the Bat-mitzvah. We had prepared for weeks; rehearsing Torah chants, baking, designing decorations, buying a special Bat-mitzvah ensemble etc. In all the preparations I had felt somewhat preoccupied with function—without which of course there is no tangible expression of faith. Today function gave way to the faith of my child, dispersing the mist of protection I had created for myself in an attempt to deny the reality of the change that was about to take place. As the moment arrived I closed my eyes to hear the angelic lilt of my daughter’s voice as she began to chant the Torah.
“Vay-daber Moshe, el rashey ha-matot…” The words of Moses concerning the journeys of the tribes of Israel.
Interesting, I thought, her Torah portion regards the journey of the patriarchs and matriarchs of Israel, beginning with the instruction regarding vows and the protection of women against rash vows. My daughter made her vow to G-d today knowing that He would lead her in peace, guiding her into the future, journeying with her through this world toward the Olam Haba—World to come. She was allowing the Father to make plans for her, willingly trusting Him.
At intervals throughout the ceremony she would glance up at me looking for direction or waiting on the next bracha--blessing. When her eyes met mine I saw another reality, a greater purpose. I saw her eyes meet the Father’s eyes and I saw her being directed by Him, I was standing in the background, a brother in faith, a fellow pilgrim.
The smoke I had blown into the occasion was simply my fear of losing her to womanhood, another letting go; this was easily dispersed by the wind of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh—Holy Spirit. I wasn't losing her, I was simply changing positions; once I had walked before her, now I will walk beside her and together we will lift our eyes to HaShem—G-d.
We gathered today to honor my youngest daughter, my daughter had come to honor G-d and His Torah—written and living--and in doing so she honored us all.
© 2013 Yaakov Brown
The rabbis of ancient Israel used mashalim as a matter of discourse. Parables have always been a teaching method of G-d as He has sought His children’s understanding of the story of His Kingdom. We are often drawn to stories in ways we can never be drawn to cold hard facts, this is the power of the parable. Perhaps post-moderns and their offspring are better able to receive parables than our modern predecessors? I believe we are a generation who are desperate for an authentic story.
Some argue that Yeshua’s parables were new and of greater relevance than those of His pairs, however this is not necessary, after all, He “was in the beginning with G-d,” why then does He need to be original? He is the Origin and the Completion. Many of His parables were adaptions of the parables of His pairs, often subtly changed to great effect. This is consistent with one of the meanings of the word mashal, “a taunt”. Yeshua’s parables encompassed the wider meaning of the Hebrew term mashal; they were poetry, story, simile, allegory, metaphor, discourse, proverb, ethical wisdom and so on.
I find more truth in these stories--mashalim—than I have ever found in the endless arguments of the apologist. Theology—a word that did not have any equivalent in Hebrew until after Israel’s Hellenization—is perhaps the greatest enemy of the parable. In seeking to dissect the parable, theology finds meaning that was not intended and misplaces the message altogether. The Hebrew mind does not dissect, it envelopes. Dissection is a separation, an infidelity. Envelopment is holistic, an unfailing fidelity.
Put concisely, it is the extravagant simplicity of Yeshua’s mashalim that eludes the wise and welcomes the simple. This is why He quotes the prophet, “Though hearing they do not hear, though seeing they do not comprehend.” Yeshayahu/Isaiah 6:9
A parable is like the column of fire and the pillar of smoke that G-d placed between the Israelites and the Egyptians. To Israel it was a manifest revelation of G-d, a protection and a light to her path; to Egypt it was a blinding light, a roadblock that cast a shadow over all her plans.
My prayer is that we might be teachable, humble, willing hearts, found amongst those who are escaping Egypt. That our ears might be willing ears that are able to hear, to perceive, to understand and to walk in the light of Messiah--halakhah im Yeshua.
© 2013 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.