2020 is finally behind us and we are already three months into the Hebraic year of 5781. We are approaching the Hebrew month of Shevat. Rosh Kodesh Shevat begins sundown tonight. [Wednesday, January 13, 2021] Shevat is the eleventh month on the Hebrew calendar and typically coincides with the Gregorian month of January.
The sun, moon and stars, which collectively are the basis for determining the calendar are, according to the account of creation as recorded in the book of Genesis, for the purpose of being signs. (Hebrew word oth see image above) They also are for indicating appointed times (moed.) Often translated with the English word: seasons, the word moedim, plural of moed, does not refer to the seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter. Moedim refers not only to appointed times but also appointed places. Moed indicates an appointment. Our Creator has embedded within the natural cycle of the calendar signs, that serve as beacons and signals, as well as, pointing out appointed times. These appointed times are not limited to the Feasts of the Lord. [Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot] They encompass the entire calendar. Rosh Kodesh, the new moon, is one of these moedim.
This is the general word for “sign,” and it covers the entire range of the English term and the Greek word semeion. On the pedestrian end of the scale it includes what amounts to a “signboard” or “standard” (Num 2:2). It also includes such important concepts as the rainbow “sign” to Noah –(quote from Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Copyright © 1980 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)
One sign embedded in the month of Shevat is the concept of preparing for crossing into something new which is just ahead, but as yet still unseen. Shevat isn’t about defining what is coming as much as it is about accessing where you’ve been and what has brought you to this place knowing that something new is on its way.
This is the time to come to a place of accepting the things which have ended while waiting for the new thing to begin. Change is inevitable. Nothing is going to prevent the new thing from coming despite the fact that we can’t see evidence of it yet in the natural.
I’m not there yet, nor have I become perfect; but I am charging on to gain anything and everything the Anointed One, Jesus, has in store for me—and nothing will stand in my way because He has grabbed me and won’t let me go. 13 Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know I have not arrived; but there’s one thing I am doing: I’m leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission. 14 I am sprinting toward the only goal that counts: to cross the line, to win the prize, and to hear God’s call to resurrection life found exclusively in Jesus the Anointed. 15 All of us who are mature ought to think the same way about these matters. If you have a different attitude, then God will reveal this to you as well. 16 For now, let’s hold on to what we have been shown and keep in step with these teachings.Philippians 3:12-16 [The Voice]
Shevat is a time to identify and come to terms with the things which fading away or have ended and will never be the same again. It is a time to move through any lingering grief. When grief seizes our heart it has the potential to prevent us from moving forward into what God has for us. This is a time to move through grief rather than allowing it to keep us frozen.
While grief can keep us stuck it also has the potential to propel us forward. In order to move into what God has for us in the days and years ahead we need to move through grief. When we haven’t allowed ourselves to grieve a major loss it debilitates our life in some way. Ungrieved loss can postpone our restoration and prevent us from moving into something new.
When we move through the stages of grief rather than letting our emotions immobilize us, we shift out of sorrow and mourning and into acceptance and hope. We begin to look forward to something new.
As long as we are emotionally stuck in our loss we can’t see our way forward. Even if we can’t see the new thing that is coming just yet we can have hope that something new is on its way.
During Shevat a flow that is carrying new life has begun. Though it is as yet unseen, it has begun. Right now it is a tiny trickle carrying nutrient and new resources you will need for the fruitful labor in the year ahead.
Like a rest stop on a road trip, Shevat is like the place where we stop and check the map before changing highways and going in a new direction.
Take a break. I’m one of those people who loves to drive straight through when I’m on the road. However, as I’ve gotten older I have come to appreciate the little stops along the way. A rest stop refreshes and sharpens our senses so we can back on the road. It doesn’t have to be a long rest. Sometimes all it takes is a quick break, empty some things, fill up others and a look at what changes might be up ahead.
Biblically, in the fortieth and final year of their wilderness journey Moses summed up the journey in the wilderness so far. That address was given on the first day of the eleventh month (Shevat). (Deut. 1:3) Earlier that year, in the first month (Nissan) Miriam, Moses’ sister died. (Num 20) Then, on the first day of the fifth month (Av), Aaron the High Priest and Moses’ brother also died (Num 33.38). Shortly after Moses’ address, on the seventh day of the twelfth month (Adar) Moses died. Everyone the nation looked to for guidance, direction and provision was gone within the scope of one year.
Just prior to Miriam’s death the provision of water which had been sustaining them dried up. Miriam’s death signified that the bitter cup they were given as a result of their unbelief had now been drunk to the dregs. The season in the wilderness was wrapping up. They were going to be moving on. But all they could see was that their current provision had ended. They would be getting their sustenance in a new way after this. They were going to have to believe God in new ways for a new source of provision. The way had closed up in preparation for the new way to be opened up.
What we have grown to depend and rely on is changing. Sometimes our current source of income doesn’t cover all needs. Maybe it is because we’ve lost our income. Sometimes it is just because we have greater needs than our current supply can cover. It can be quite unsettling and upsetting. It stretches us to trust in ways we haven’t had to until now. Sound familiar? It is important during these times to remember that God has us in the palm of His hand. We need to trust God that there is something new coming even if we can’t yet see it.
Not only did the Israelites have to believe for new provision before leaving the wilderness, they also had to deal with the death of Aaron. Aaron had served as High Priest since the institution of the Tabernacle forty years prior. Eleazar, Aaron’s son has recently been anointed to take his place. (Num. 20:25-29) The children of Israel mourned the death of Aaron for thirty days.
In many ways Aaron represents our current church experience. Change is upon us whether we like it or not. We are in the changing of the guard.
Aaron means light bringer. Aaron represents understanding and insight established in our past and current experience. The name Eleazar means God is helper. This will mean having to trust Holy Spirit beyond our current understanding and past experience. Our understanding will have to come in a way that goes beyond where we’ve been. We are going to have to see where we are going, even though we aren’t there yet.
15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 16 “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 “After a little while the world will behold Me no more; but you will behold Me; because I live, you shall live also. 20 “In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.”John 14:15-21NASB
Just as Moses prepared the people for his departure, Jesus prepared His followers. He let them know that even though they weren’t going to have access to Him in quite the same way, God already had a plan. He was going to send the Holy Spirit to not only be with them but to be in them. (v.17) Things were going to be very different than they had up until that point. Everything was about to change. The disciples had no idea what was coming. When they were forced to walk through the horrific events that were about to take place these words were the furthest thing from their mind. That’s human nature. We don’t always remember the words that the Lord has spoken to us prior to life changing events. But in time Holy Spirit will bring them to mind. We can trust that God is our helper even in the face of difficult and unsettling circumstances.
Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them–to the Israelites.Joshua 1:2
Joshua, was anointed with the spirit of wisdom (Deut. 34:9-12) not so he could lead the people the same way Moses had. Joshua was not Moses 2.0. He was not a Moses wannabe. He didn’t take Moses’ place. He was elected by God to lead in an entirely different manner than Moses had. He was a different leader, with a different commission and a different anointing. He led the people in an entirely different direction than Moses had. Moses was anointed to deliver the people out of bondage. Joshua was anointed to bring the people into the fullness of the promise. The first thing Joshua did was bring them across to the other side of the Jordan. The transition from Moses to Joshua begins in Shevat.
We are in a time when the old is dying before the new is visible. It is during these times that our faith is tested and shaken. It can be easy to freak out when the things we have been depending on are suddenly gone.
God is our help. He is the One who is carrying us through these difficult times. As the things we have held dear to our hearts seem to be dying all around us we need to take time to grieve the losses. Ask the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3) to help us cope with the losses which have invaded our lives. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself time to grieve and heal from the losses you have suffered. Take a break and get off the road, so to speak. Take the time to get filled up before going forward. You’ll be glad you did. Check the map, get your bearings. Ask God for signs and signals to point you toward the new direction.
There is an underground flow that begins in Shevat. Despite the winter freeze, deep beneath the surface a tiny flow is trickling in carrying resurrection life. The sign of the eleventh month (Shevat) is the assurance that new life is coming despite what death might be on the surface.
“I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy you fully;”Joel 2:19
A time of restoration is coming. A new supply is even now beginning to be released. It may start out incrementally but it will increase and suddenly bloom forth in time.
I say this because I know ·what [the plans] I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you [ plans for your peace/security], not plans to hurt you [ for your harm]. I will give you hope and a good future.Jeremiah 29:11 EXB