TEVET FIRSTFRUITS

This Monday eve, December 14th, begins the tenth month of the Hebrew calendar known as Tevet. Ten is the number associated with godly order, authority, and testimony. Tevet is a great month to reflect over the past year and to judge righteously according to the Lord’s truth if your life is lining up with God’s order and authority.

Given this year of 2020, with 20 being a number associated with timing and judgment, the nation (and nations) have found themselves in a year of “judgment” of national matters, which has brought forth exposure to truth as well as deception and lies. It’s definitely been a difficult year to say the least, however, the blessing of COVID-19 has been the exposure of some of the “Mystery of Babylon” that has been hidden yet in operation, ruling many governments of the world. I believe this month “judgments” will be rendered by the rulers of this world, as well as the LORD Himself, and a dismantling of sorts will begin as to the power struggle between good and evil continues to unfold.

Issues that involve our national direction will not be understood by some who have set their perceptions of how God is going to answer prayer. Christians must remain steadfast knowing that God is in control, whether the outcome of matters that affect our nation go a certain perceived way.

In addition, for those who are still putting their sights and hopes on their political party winning, I want to challenge you to let go and rest. Have we not been praying? Do you not believe God is answering prayers? He is, but maybe not how we perceive the way He should.

God is a covenant keeping God, and in the midst of dark times, He is perfecting His promise to a people who are steadfast in Him. I will be bold to say that we need to go beyond who wins this election because this is not about a party: It’s about good and evil, and those who believe in the LORD must rest that He is in control. Trust the end of His story: He triumphs in the end. The LORD encourages us, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God, and the faith in Jesus” (Rev. 14:12).

This was spoken after the angel declared, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Rev. 14:8).

2020 has been a plumb line year that has produced in some a greater measure of the “fear of the Lord.” Recognizing the need for God’s mercy because of apathy, and choices the Church and the governments of the world have come into agreement that opposes God’s ways, are causing many to get on their knees in a posture of repentance. That has been a good thing.

I think many can agree we have all suffered much with what is transpiring in our world right now. Unfortunately, I believe we will need to navigate through more to come. But at God’s appointed time, a verdict is rendered in the court for the Saints. We must press on until the “appointed time” in faith and obedience:

“I was watching and the same for was making war against he saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to posses the kingdom” (Dan. 7:21).

So what do we do as a people right now? For one, God is teaching us all how to REST in the place of His presence and truth, and be moved ONLY by His voice alone. This demands maturity as a believer to not be up and down according to the news of the day, and to “judge or examine” oneself before the LORD daily. In addition, this requires ALL of us to search the TRUTH and be diligent to seek the LORD on our own instead of having someone else tell us what God is saying. We need to wake up to the seriousness of the hour, but NOT in fear. How stable is your heart in trusting God with the outcome of the day? Pause and ask yourself how at rest you are.

Tevet begins the winter season of “rest.” The next three months are suited to spend time “resting” in the Father, digging into His Word and prayer as to what God is revealing. He wants to share His strategy, so we must take time to find out what it is because we have entered into uncharted territory. This time of intimacy gives us a renewed strength that is critical to a healthy and fulfilling relationship with the Lord. “Resting” does not equate not doing anything. It means that our “soul” is resting in the knowledge of who the LORD is, regardless of our personal and national circumstances.

This month is also associated with the tribe of Dan. Dan was one of the tribes that formed a branch on the north side of the tabernacle, along with Asher and Naphtali. These tribes were the known as the “rear guard,” and chosen to protect the tribes from any enemies coming from behind. Dan in particular had a gift of discernment to recognize the enemy coming in through the “backdoor.”

As a matter of fact, the “backdoor” is usually not a place our eyes tend to focus on, so we need to stay alert so we are not surprised by the plans of the enemy, especially with people and situations that have become “familiar.”

In addition, entering the “backdoor” can come through diversion. For example, as all eyes are on the election right now, what is happening behind the scenes that we are unaware of that will also affect this nation’s future? America’s destiny affects the world, so believe, me, there is much more going on right now than meets the eye besides the election results. How many have done investigation on what’s in the vaccine? The 5G rollout? The global currency situation? The military’s movements along our borders and within? We need to be a people that are using the gift Dan exemplifies that ask questions and seeking information so we can make informed judgments of what is transpiring.

Genesis 49:16 -18 says, “Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, and adder in the path, that bites the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backwards.”

Dan’s name in Hebrew means “to judge, to rule, or to execute judgment.” Dan was said to be “a serpent by way,” so God equipped Dan with a gift of wisdom to rule righteously and establish God’s path. However, Dan without God looks much like the “serpent” that can resemble a spirit of “anti-Christ.” Let’s use this template to discern the leadership before us in all areas of our lives, including our own government.

Let’s further dissect the leadership of Dan.

Dan’s high calling is to rise to judge, but to do so with a heart of humility that is yielded to the Holy Spirit. Because Dan’s gift can see situations black and white, they have a clear understanding of what is right or wrong.  Dan has the gift to step into a situation and establish order even in the midst of chaos.

If given an entrance, pride will partner with Dan’s gift of judgment, as the gospels testify what that looks like through the Pharisees who were ruling over God’s people during the days of Jesus. Dan can give us also a glimpse of how this gift can be used against God’s people IF those in leadership rule with their own agenda, power, control, and ideal of a “perfect world.”

WITHOUT God’s authority and maturity, Dan’s gift can put people under the yoke of control, power, and manipulation.  This usually comes in the form of criticism and accusation because there is a fear of losing control and the need to “be right.”  In the perversion of Dan’s gift, division and war can be a weapon used to assert power and control over a people.

Dan’s shortcoming will judge the sin and dish out the penalty while losing site of God’s grace for the sinner. In the end, if Dan isn’t under God’s headship, they become tyrants.

Dan’s gift can bring about a “holy anger” when injustice occurs. “Holy anger” is good when used in prayer effectively to thwart the enemy’s plans as well as to seek God for His action plan. However, anger left uncircumcised can take the gift of Dan and turn it into a curse. If you have ever known anyone who is able to discern right from wrong well and suddenly “explodes” with anger if triggered, you are witnessing a gift of Dan that has been tainted with bitterness and pride.

Throughout the Bible, the tribe of Dan is seen highly gifted but humbled because their giftedness led them to self-destruction, mainly because of their pride.

Today it is a challenge to see unrighteousness prevail in our society and not be met with the hand of justice. It can increasingly get hard not to get critical and react in fear and anger. The bait of Satan for those who have Dan’s gifting is for them to lose patience and not believe in God’s sovereignty and to rest in His timing of judgment.  This is particularly challenging now in our nation that is reaping the consequences of lawlessness.

Jacob’s prophesy to Dan included this very important line for us all to hold onto: “I have waited for your salvation, O Lord!” Jacob’s word reveals that the father’s heart of Jacob was challenged to pray and have patience for God’s promise to work through Dan. God is faithful in the end.

SAMSON: A LEADER FROM THE TRIBE OF DAN

Samson was from the tribe of Dan, and his story shares the ups and downs of the characteristics of the tribe of Dan (Judges 13-16). God chose to raise up Samson to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. Israel had done evil in the sight of God and had been under the reign of the Philistines for 40 years.

For Samson, he grew up to be smart, cunning, and had a love for justice. His supernatural gift of physical strength was given with one condition of not cutting his hair. Nothing more! No working out, no studying books to get smart. No worshipping God to make sure his hair grows. God created him with these gifts, and Samson’s became a bit head strung because he didn’t have to lean on anyone to help him succeed. Sadly, this included God.

Samson eventually fell into a trap that our sinful nature usually follows; when we have been given much gifts, we tend to rely on our own gifts as our strength instead of the gift giver. Samson could rely on these two gifts on his own without leaning on the Lord in humility.

When we use our gift absent of the Lord’s lead and heart, we will find ourselves promoting self and feeding our own desires. For example, Samson uses a riddle to try and gain possessions and acquire assets. (Judges 14:12).

Samson also chose to disobey God’s laws and statutes He had laid out for the Israelites to not have relations with a harlot, or marrying a Philistine woman, or eating from the carcass of an unclean animal. These are just a few things Samson chose to do which opened up the door for the “destroyer” as you read his story.

As cunning as Samson was, he managed to find himself in love with two women who used their charm to deceive him. Betrayal of his first wife resulted with ANGER finding a home in his heart that fueled his revenge (Judges 15:7). Had not the tribe of Judah stepped in, Samson would have seen the destruction of his revenge upon all the children of Israel. But Judah turned Samson in like a sacrifice to the Philistines with Samson’s consent, and God used his gift to subdue the enemy. This was a turning point for Samson as he cries out to God for the first time in scriptures. The Israelites found peace from the Philistines for twenty years with Samson as their leader.

Samson’s story further reveals how the enemy doesn’t give up tormenting him and breaking down his resilience to hold onto the gift God had given him. Both women he loved wore him down! Samson’s guard was down and through the “back door” came the enemy through the two women who he loved. The enemy will use anyone to steal our inheritance and the gift God has given us to bless His Kingdom. Satan knows our weaknesses and will use them at an opportune time.

Although Samson was captured and imprisoned, and in all appearances wiped out of his gift and calling, the gift grew back (his hair) and God never left him. But this time, when he had no eyes to see and lead him except his “spiritual” eyes, God used Samson to wipe out the Philistines. The resurrected gift came with a great price as Samson became a martyr for God. But his life ended in humility and right before God.

God’s gift in you can be swallowed in darkness because of pride, but never snuffed out. In humility, God will allow His gift in us to grow again in even greater measure. Samson’s strength was the greatest in his last act before his death.

Samson died protecting God’s covenanted people from evil by destroying their enemy. In Revelations 7, it is interesting to note that this tribe is not mentioned in the list of those 144,000 accounted for in the latter days. Those gifted with executing God’s justice in the end are either wiped out because of their pride, or they are martyred for the sake of His righteousness. I believe some change like Samson and are martyred as you see them mentioned in Revelations when John describes the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21).

When God chooses to use the gift we see in Dan, it is so vital that the body of Christ listens as this gift helps the church recognize when it is getting off into idolatry. In humility, God’s people will heed the correction and move ahead. Prayer is key this month to find that narrow path that leads to truth.

This month of Tevet is associated with the Hebrew letter AYIN, which pictures an eye. What is God showing you or not showing you? What or who has the attention of your eyes and tugging on your heart? And what do the eyes of our Father in heaven, the great JUDGE, see when He observes you?  These are great questions to ponder as you examine your heart to prepare for the new Hebrew calendar.

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