ADAR FIRSTFRUITS

On Saturday, February 13th at sundown, we begin the twelfth and last month of the Hebrew calendar known as ADAR. In Hebrew, the word Adar means “strength.” God’s desire is that His people finish each year strong IN HIM so they receive a new dimension of blessing, mantle, and identity to enter in the New Year. This may require us all to put our “JOY ON” as we wrestle God for these “new clothes.”

It is interesting that 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. Rachel named him Naphtali because of her own 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 of multitudes that have now inherited God’s covenant promise. However, in the midst of Jacob’s struggle, the Lord touched the socket of his hip, making it difficult for Jacob to finish in his own 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 a point in all of our lives that our greatest 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. America and the church are going through this process right now. WE are who God is waiting for and allowing these shakings so we CLING to 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 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 typically 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 an interesting 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 whom 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 a good month to examine what kind of communication is coming out of our mouth so we see what is in our heart. 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 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 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. True intercessors, a characteristic of this tribe, are one’s 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 lands 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 preached 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 for 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 a 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 to step 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!

THE FINAL EXCHANGE

If you have been waiting on God in the “hidden place,” this blog will encourage you.  I have titled it, “the final exchange” because this trade must take place before you launch into the call that is ahead.

The preparation process Moses went through is the example God put on my heart to exemplify this “final exchange.” After years of “training” in the wilderness as a shepherd, Moses had an encounter with God at Mount Horeb that shifted him from being a shepherd of sheep to a sheep of the great Shepherd.  His burning bush encounter released his kingdom covenant purpose of why the Lord made a way for Moses to escape the Hebrew baby death warrant. (Ex1,2).

During this encounter, the voice of “I AM” was instructing Moses how to shepherd the Hebrews (Israelites) to fulfill His prophetic promise He had given to Abraham:

“Then He said to Abram: ‘Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.  And and also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they call come out with great possessions” (Gen. 15:13-16).

God told Moses he was going to use him to bring deliverance to the Hebrews from the bondage of slavery, and to lead them to the mountain where God could establish a Covenant with the nation.  This wasn’t a small job, and neither is OUR part in what God is doing in the earth today.

Moses didn’t jump up and down right away with excitement.  I think the Moses prior to leaving Pharaoh’s palace would have had no reservation, and in his zeal, would have stood before Pharaoh in his own strength, mimicking Pharaoh’s leadership.  Evidence of this is when Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, and how he responded:

“So he looked this way and that way, and who he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand” (Ex. 2:12).

Moses thought he had covered up this wrong, but some of the Hebrews saw what he did and exposed Moses.  Then Pharaoh found out, and wanted to kill him, which is why Moses fled to the wilderness.

We can sympathize with Moses as to why he would have some serious doubts that God had the right guy after considering his past.

Moses reply to the Lord was:

“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Ex. 3:11)?

And again,

“BUT suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you'” (Ex. 4:2).

The questions Moses asked initiated the process of the “final exchange.” Those questions obviously revealed doubts Moses had of what God wanted him to do.  But digging deeper, they revealed the shame Moses had deep within his soul that was speaking louder than God’s voice and convincing him he wasn’t good enough for the job.

The fear of introducing an idea and being ridiculed, laughed at, or belittled is the product of shame.  Beyond that comes the fear of failure or the fear of being wrong. 

Shame causes us to hide to save face, so he was probably thinking, Why would I go back to the place I lost face, position, and reputation?”  Why would I go back to the place I first failed, then killed, and fled?  I am pretty comfortable hidden here in Midian.”

God begins to address the shame with HIS ability to cover him and His solution:

“So the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”

Moses said, “A rod.”

And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. Then the Lord said to Moses, “REACH OUT your hand and take it by the TAIL” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), “that THEY may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you” (Ex. 4:2-5).

The minute Moses threw down the rod, he    allowed himself to be vulnerable with God.

The account tells us that when Moses saw the staff turn into a serpent, he ran from it.  The serpent revealed that which was hidden that could have hindered the call; exposing the weakness in Moses and the enemy. God was going to turn the weakness into a SIGN of His strength and power in Moses.

When God told Moses to REACH OUT and take it by the tail, he had to OVERCOME his initial fear and trust God would make a way to protect him.  Why I say this is because God did not tell him to take it by the neck, which is how you would render a snake powerless.  Instead, he told him to take it by the tail, which would show Moses that the serpent (enemy) could not triumph over him, even in his weakness.

Separation from the staff left Moses vulnerable and gave God permission to perfect the process for Moses to come to terms with what God was revealing, and to transform Moses’ dependency on God.  The healing began, but it took time to perfect wholly.  BUT IN THE PROCESS OF STEPPING OUT WITH THE “ROD”, COMPLETION WAS PERFECTED.

This transaction began a new pattern for Moses to overcome shame, and the key factor is that all Moses had to do in this “final exchange” was to REACH OUT when God called.   At the moment when the enemy (serpent) was manifesting, God’s OVERCOMING power was there the moment he went toward it.

God also used this sign because he knew that the Egyptian magicians would use their trickery to mimic His sign.  Moses would have total recall that God’s power was greater than Pharaoh’s at his first time up for bat, and this set a precedence for Moses to stand in faith every time Pharaoh refused to listen.

Moses saw his authority was not in his ability but in his availability to pick up the staff and use God’s authority as instructed.  Moses would use it to turn the Nile into blood, part the Red Sea, bring water out of a rock in the wilderness, and secure Israel’s victory in battle.

The second sign God gave Moses in this “final exchange” was when he asked him to “put your hand in your bosom” (Ex. 4:7).  When Moses took out his hand, it was leprous, and when God told him to put his hand back in his bosom, he pulled it out and it was restored.

This second sign revealed the promise of death to the flesh (shame) and life glorified as God’s SIGN to His people. God would not only restore Moses, but also the Covenant people of God.

These signs the Lord gave in response to Moses asking Him, “But suppose….” were for Moses first as we have discussed, but they were also a SIGN for the Hebrews later. They knew him a “prince of Egypt,” but he was returning as the “deliverer” they had been praying for.  Moses’ faith had to be greater in God than in the opinion or reaction of the Hebrews who would persecute and turn on him at one point in this process.

The Blue Letter Bible commentary says this:

“There was a real message in the first two signs. The first said, “Moses, if you obey Me, your enemies will be made powerless.” The second said “Moses, if you obey Me, your pollution can be made pure.” Doubts in each of these areas probably hindered Moses, and before those signs ministered to anyone else, they ministered to Moses. This is the pattern with all God’s leaders.”

So what are we to take away from this?  I believe the experiences the remnant has had of getting crushed by rejection, failure, persecution, and character assassination demand the “final exchange” prior to take off.

It is difficult to go forward with God’s instruction without our minds thinking about what happened in the past.  Some of us still have the heat of the consequences of our sinful choices still cooling off in God’s sanctification process. Moses probably remembered how he killed the Egyptian, which was then followed by, “How can God use me now?”

FEAR of falling (failing)….can loom in the back of our minds, and as we learn to surrender this fear through the sanctification process, God delivers us AT HIS APPOINTED TIME.  God’s Word says in Psalm 34:22:

“The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.”

When it was God’s appointed time, He answered the prayers of the Hebrews, who had been asking the Lord to deliver them from evil:

“So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  And God looked upon the children of Israel and God acknowledged them” (Ex. 2:24).

In answering this prayer, GOD called Moses forth.  Moses wasn’t perfect when it was time to GO.  But God would equip Moses for the job, and deliver his soul from anything that would hinder him from fulfilling the call.  

Amazingly, this staff in our hands can be a serpent if it is not completely surrendered to the Lord. God knows what can destroy us, and so this “final exchange” is necessary so we can have faith in His instruction and enjoy His victory.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the doubt in your mind that hinders you from stepping out fully in faith to what God has called you to do?
  2. Where is your comfort level of vulnerability?
  3. How do you protect these vulnerabilities and at what cost?
  4. What do you do when you feel emotionally exposed?
  5. How willing are you to take emotional risks?
  6. How do you behave when you feel uncomfortable or uncertain?
  7. Do you spend time and energy trying to make the uncertain certain?
  8. Do you use “crazy busy” as armor?  How?

(Questions from a great book called, “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown)

Finally, what are the “excuses?” Ask these questions in the next couple months of Adar, because as you do, you are entering into the process of the  “final exchange.”  

Quoting Brene Brown from her book:

“Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional.  Our only choice is a question of engagement.  Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.”

Right before God is about to send us forth by His Spirit to conquer and do what He has destined us to do for Him, there is a weakness in us that God wants to govern.  He wants to ask us to surrender to His exchange. Hidden in our soul could be something we fear more than the Lord, and is the very place the “serpent” can deceive us, argue against God’s word, and cause the lie to become truth to our soul.  More importantly, the Lord loves us too much to not deal with this hidden sin that could destroy us later without recovery.

By the time we are called out to “GO,” as God gives His instruction, all of His servants must go through the “final exchange.” 

ADAR begins February 4th, and is the month in the Hebrew Covenant Calendar that means to be made honorable; glorious. (2 Chron. 5:19-21).  Praying you encounter His “final exchange” for you.