At sundown on February 20th, we enter into the twelfth month of the Hebrew calendar known as ADAR. In Hebrew, the word Adar means “strength.” God’s desire is that His people finish strong IN HIM so they receive a new dimension of blessing, mantle, and identity before the new year. This may require us all to put our “JOY ON” as we wrestle God in our flesh to see Him face to face on matters of the heart.
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 reminds us of all of the necessary wrestle, sometimes through our fiery trials, to move us forward in the direction toward the Lord and His purpose for us. It is through our wrestle our faith is tested and our core strength challenged to trust in God alone.
“… We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:3,4).
Naphtali’s mother was the concubine of Rachel. 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, also had an “all-star” wrestling match with the Lord as well, found in Genesis 34. During that time, Jacob was hard pressed on all sides. He was wrestling God to come through because his circumstances far outweighed his skill set and resources to get a breakthrough. Jacob was so used to “working the plan” to get results. He finally had no option but to turn to God for help.
God met him through an Angel, whom he wrestled with all night. During this encounter, Jacob was exercising his familiar muscle to work the plan and to do whatever he thought it took. If God hadn’t crippled his strength, Jacob would have kept going to his own hurt.
Jacob’s story reveals that God will sometimes use measures to physically impair us to intervene for our good because it puts a pause in us from heading down a destructive path. There was a fundamental part of Jacobs character that needed changing in order for him to fulfill his destiny. The fiery trial set up Jacob for the change.
Quite often, we are blinded to the very thing that can destroy our destiny. Jacob had learned, adopted and justified deception to obtain victory. This part of Jacob’s character was so familiar to him that he couldn’t see it wasn’t pleasing to God. Through the wrestle, this heart issue came to the surface.
When the revelation came to Jacob in the midst of the struggle, the Angel asked him what his name was. God was using this moment for repentance that led Him to the heart of God. Jacobs name meant deceiver, which needed to change. God then gave him a new name as a sign of the old nature now cut off to make way for the new.
The results of this wrestle changed history for himself, his family, and countless of multitudes that have now inherited God’s covenant promise. The veil came off of Jacob’s eyes, and he began to carry God’s covenant forward as a “prince under Gods headship,” which is why God gave him the the name Israel.
Jacob’s story reminds us that 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 produces a death in us to a life independent of God and builds in us a character that reflects His nature.
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 now as God wants us to “loose” idolatry, cast out the old, forsake the things that hold us back, 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. Deers flee when they sense danger. We too are reminded to flee from enemy and to escape the bullet that kills our freedom found in Christ alone.
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 usually called to the front lines of battle.
This quality becomes evident when Deborah confronted Barak on why he wasn’t listening to the Lord who had commanded him t to deploy troops against the enemy. Deborah’s strength was what Barak needed to get the job done. He requested that Deborah assist him with this task. Barak was using humility at this point, needing to find a way to obey the Lord with a skill set he wasn’t trained for. Unifying with Deborah to make a strong team with the combination of their giftings IS God’s heart for His people today.
The banner symbol that identified the tribe of Naphtali was a deer. A significant fact is that deer have no gall bladder. 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. 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 has 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 month is a good time to examine what kind of communication is coming out of our mouth so we see what is in our heart.
“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 (Heb. 12:14,15).
Before heading into the Nee Year, take time to reflect on the issues that lie deep within the heart. We are commanded to “cast off” any bitterness, even bitterness toward ourselves, so we can enter into the joy of the Lord.
Moses also prophesies over the tribe of Naphtali 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 apply it on earth.
Finally, I believe that this month of ADAR is key for the body of Christ. 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 so we are naked before Him. When we are transparent and bare before the LORD, we have entered into the “fear of the LORD.” It is all about Him, and we dedicate our hearts to be led by Him, not ourselves.
God has “hidden” the remnant for a time. Our identity has been hidden. Our gifting has been hidden. Our regional, and national calling has been hidden. BUT, the wrestle is on, and the 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.