This Sunday evening begins the twelfth and last month of the Hebrew calendar known as ADAR. In Hebrew, the word Adar means “strength.” God desires that His people finish each year strong IN HIM, so they receive a new dimension of blessing, mantle, and identity to enter the New Year. This may require us all to put our “JOY ON” as we wrestle God for these “new clothes.”
This month is linked with the tribe of Naphtali. The name Naphtali in Hebrew means “to struggle and wrestle forward.” Naphtali’s wrestle is to conquer and win the victory with the partnership of the Lord. His mother, Rachel, named him Naphtali because of her struggles to give birth. “ With great wrestling’s, I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed I have prevailed.” (Gen. 30:8).
Naphtali’s father, Jacob, wrestled with the Lord as well. When Jacob was finally willing to let go of His IDOLS and grab hold of the Lord only, his wrestling changed history forever for himself, his family, and countless multitudes that have now inherited God’s covenant promise. However, amid Jacob’s struggle, the Lord touched the socket of his hip, making it difficult for Jacob to finish in his strength. Jacob had to exercise faith to cling to the Lord alone (something that his muscles had not been accustomed to doing), and in the final hour, Jacob says, “I will not let You go unless You bless me” (Gen. 33:26)!
There comes the point in all of our lives that our most significant efforts, gifts, and talents can only get us by so far. If we want to cross the finish line of our God-given destiny, we all need to go through the wrestling of submission to let go of control while we cling to God alone. This wrestling chooses to die to a life independent of God.
Athena Koester’s picture below captures the pressure God allows so He can mold and transform our hearts to mirror His. Out of that process, God cleanses us from the things that separate us from His love, as well as crowns us with His authority because we have learned to abide in Him.
Before Jacob died, he prophesied over the tribe of Naphtali these words: “Naphtali is a deer let loose; He uses beautiful words.” The word “loose” comes from the Hebrew word shalach meaning, “to send away, cast away, to cast out, conduct, forsake, leave, let depart, push away.”
I believe this prophetic word speaks to us today as God wants us to “loose” idolatry, cast out the old, forsake the things that hold us back, push away the stumbling blocks, and spring forward into a new freedom that God wants us to possess. This comes out of humility that always produces a blessing! “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor, and life.” Prov. 22:4
The expression “let loose” has the implication of one who has escaped from the hunter. Deer are beautiful animals created to be free. If you have a gift of Naphtali, you never want to be in bondage. Freedom is the lifeline, and trying to tie down anyone with this gift is difficult because they are not meant to have any chains around their necks.
In Judges 4:6, we can read about one hero of Naphtali named Barak, who worked with Deborah, the judge, to set God’s people free. This tribe was not known among the tribes as warriors. They were a part of the brigade with Dan and Asher in the rear guard, so they were not called to the front lines of battle. This is evident when Deborah confronted Barak why he wasn’t listening to the Lord, who had commanded him to deploy troops against the enemy. Barak requested that Deborah assist him with this task because he didn’t feel he could do it alone. Barak wasn’t concerned with rank or women in the game plan. He just needed to find a way to obey the Lord only.
The symbol of the tribe of Naphtali is a deer. There is one interesting thing about deer that we need to consider for this month. A deer has no gall bladder. The gall bladder is a part of the anatomy. The gall bladder is a membranous sac attached to the liver, in which excess bile is stored and concentrated. Bile is the bitter, yellow-brown, or greenish fluid secreted by the liver. It is discharged into the duodenum and aids in digesting, especially fats. Bile produced and stored is like bitterness that is produced from an angry and jealous heart.
The beauty of Naphtali is that this tribe has the characteristic of one who carries NO BITTERNESS! And because of that, “beautiful words come out of Naphtali’s mouth. “ God’s word says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matt.12:34). This is an excellent month to examine what kind of communication is coming out of our mouth, so we see what is in our hearts. It is also a good month to communicate God’s heart and strategy for the New Year.
God says in Hebrews 12:14,15 “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without no one, will see the Lord; looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness, springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” This month, I believe this is a time to reflect on the issues that lie deep within the heart and to “cast off” any bitterness, even bitterness toward ourselves so that we can enter into the joy of the Lord.
Moses also prophesies over this tribe before he dies in Deut. 33:23. “O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, and full of the blessing of the Lord, possess the west and the south.” Because Naphtali represents a pure heart, the favor of God is with this tribe to bless them. Faithful intercessors, a characteristic of this tribe, are ones with a pure heart, willing to lay their life down and stand in the gap for all, even the wicked.
Moses says to Naphtali to “possess the west and the south.” The west speaks of the land that lay to the west of Naphtali, which was the Mediterranean Sea. It was the gateway to new areas and new adventures. This is symbolic of “entering into the New Year through the gateway God opens to a new year of adventure with Him.”
The south speaks of the pleasant things, which lie at the foot of Naphtali. It was the southern coast of Naphtali that Jesus preached most of His life. That was the sea coast of Galilee and the town of Capernaum. The Sermon on the Mount was taught in the land blessed for Naphtali, in which Jesus said, “Blessed are those….”
Adar is the twelfth month, and twelve is the number for “government.” Jacob had twelve sons, and Jesus had twelve disciples. The first recorded words of Jesus in the New Testament were when He was 12 (Luke 2:42).
Twelve symbolizes God’s power and authority as well as serving as a perfect governmental foundation. New Jerusalem has 12 gates, and Christ’s bride in Revelation 12 wears a crown of 12 stars. The Lord has a remnant of 12×12, totaling 144,000 that are marked as His. Jesus is coming back with “government on His shoulders” to rule and reign (Is. 9:7). We are being prepared to understand God’s government in heaven and on earth.
Finally, I believe that this month of ADAR is key to the body of Christ. God has been calling on His people these past few years to get rid of their idols and to purify their hearts. The line in the sand has been revealed. God has been preparing His army to go into a GLOBAL season with Him. It is a season of preparing for His return, and it will require separation unto Him and a willingness in the heart to say, “Not my will but yours.”
God is taking the masquerades off. We have been hidden for a time. Our identity has been hidden. Our gifting has been hidden. Our regional and national calling has been hidden. Our blessings are coming. God is taking off the masquerade, and we will be seen as people identified as His.
When it was God’s time, Esther’s true identity was revealed to the king. But that famous quote given to Esther when she was wrestling with stepping into that identity was, “For such a time as this.” It is for “such a time as this” we have all been called to understand His Covenant, His story, and His truth, and to walk accordingly in His plan!