In case you missed it the first time around… or, for those who would like a review of the 1st Biblical calendar month, NISSAN, before we launch into the amazing month of healing and order…IYYAR next week.
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COURAGE AND HUMILITY
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:5-7)
QUOTE: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is courage to continue that
counts.” ~ Winston Churchill
Why are we beginning the series with the character trait (middah) of courage?
I believe that the very fact that you are interested in this series indicates that you have a deep desire to learn and grow. You are wanting to discover more about yourself in order to become more of the unique person our Father created you to be. However, to do the work, as we climb together during the days, weeks, and months ahead takes courage and commitment. A commitment to achieve the results, among others personal to you, of gaining greater clarity of mind and purpose, of feeling happier with yourself, of being more focussed spiritually and more productive physically.
It’s no coincidence that I have paired the trait of courage with humility. They may be perceived as opposites: courage is like fire, it blazes and rises up, and has fiery energy that propels us forward. On the other hand, humility is like water – it is more quiet and always seeks the lowest place. Both elements contain positive and negative qualities. A fire can warm and comfort or, if out of control, it can cause great destruction. Water sustains life, but on overabundance it can take life.
In relation to human character and behavior, if courage is fuelled negatively by pride it can lead to violence and abuse – it must be cooled with true humility. A false humility will serve, like water, to douse and extinguish the flame of courage.
What is true humility? Let us go deeper and examine these very important traits of courage and humility and see what we can learn!
The beginning of all life’s paths and the starting point of every spiritual climb is to be open to receive help and strength from G-d, our Father. How do we receive from Him? By being a humble, empty vessel. As we know, we cannot add water to a jug that already is filled; likewise a vessel that is full of Self cannot receive anything from G-d or others.
If we are full of Self, such as self-concern – “What will become of me?” Or self-condemnation – “I am too weak to do this!” Or self-sufficiency – “I need no help!” we leave no room for G-d’s presence or blessings to enter. A humble, open, trusting soul, however, will be filled with the Joy of the Lord that is our help and strength.
TRIBE: YEHUDAH / JUDAH – COURAGE OF HEART
Nissan, the first Biblical month is considered the ‘king’ or rosh/head of the months.
It is associated with Yehudah, the tribe selected for royalty by Jacob in the blessing of his sons (Genesis 48:8). Eventually all the tribes would be referred to by his name – Yehudim. We see evidence of this in the celebration of Purim last month (the 12th month of Adar) when Mordechai and Esther, although of the tribe of Benjamin, and all their people in the vast Persian empire are referred to as Jews/Yehudim (Esther 2:5). Interestingly, we also see in Daniel 3:12, that the three young men who were thrown into a fiery furnace for defying the royal decree to worship idols are described by the Babylonians as “Yehudi men.” Just as Mordechai refused to bow before Haman or anything or anybody else besides G-d, so it is considered that anyone who rejects idol worship, and seeks after the One true G-d of Israel, is viewed as a Yehudi.
The characteristic exemplified by Yehudah, and in the narratives of Esther and Daniel, is mesirut nefesh – having the courage of heart to sanctify G-d’s Name even if it costs one one’s life. This does not mean that one always need to be in mortal danger, only that one loves the Lord our G-d with all one’s heart, mind, and strength, as our Master Yeshua did…even to the point of death.
Yehuda demonstrated his strength of character and conviction of heart in publicly admitting his guilt in the matter with Tamar (Genesis 38) and in standing up to Joseph – the powerful governor of Egypt on behalf of his brothers. Previously, he also had intervened to prevent the brothers from killing Joseph (Genesis 37:26).
REMEMBER THE EXODUS
The root of the name Nissan is nes – meaning miracle. During this month of Nissan G-d performed open, supernatural miracles – miracles that transcend nature and the ability of men to comprehend. He sent the ten plagues upon Egypt in order to prove to Pharaoh and the people that their idols were false and powerless. He then parted the Red Sea and effected the physical redemption of His people from the slavery in Egypt. We need also to remember the part the Israelites played in the midst of these miracles. Another name for the night of Passover – Leil Pesach, is Leil Shimurim – Night of Watching or Anticipation. The Israelites spent the night waiting in anticipation for their deliverance from Egypt by HaShem. They didn’t know exactly when or how He would do it but they knew it could only happen through His power and miraculous intervention. All they needed was the faith to believe and the courage to obey His instructions and to prepare. The rabbis consider that the final redemption will happen on Leil Pesach as well, for it will require God’s miraculous power to bring deliverance to Israel from the hostile enemies that surround her.
We indeed are in a similar state of anticipation as we await the Final Redemption of Israel and the world. We know that the footsteps of Messiah are drawing closer. What can we do to prepare as we wait in anticipation of his arrival in glory to take up the throne of the Father’s Kingdom as King of kings?
We saw last month, in Adar, with the celebration of the festival of Purim that – just as the three young men in Daniel, refused, in faith and courage, to not bow to any Babylonian idol but only to the God of Israel and then experienced His miraculous deliverance, so too in Persia the salvation of the Yehudim came through the faith and courage of Esther and Mordechai. And, as the Israelites in Egypt did, we need to wait in faith and with courage. During this month of Nissan we can focus on these two elements in our lives by:
- Strengthening our faith. How? In humility, we need to study the Word in order to hear His still, small voice and to know the Father’s will in order to do it. We also need to deepen our prayer life so that our relationship with Him will be further enriched and our intercession will be effective.
- Having Courage to Obey. We need to know our identity as a holy people, set apart unto Him, and a “royal priesthood.” As such we have inherited rights, but with these rights also come responsibilities. During the last month of Adar, we read in the Torah portions of the appointing and anointing of the priesthood. During their inauguration, Aaron, the High Priest, anointed their right ear, thumb and toe. Their ears – to shemah – hear God’s voice; thumbs – use their hands in service and worship; and toes – to walk in God’s will and ways.
Adar concludes the annual monthly cycle in preparing us to step forward into the new cycle beginning in Nissan as appointed and anointed, royal priests – representatives of our Father in the authority of our great High Priest, Yeshua.
May we go forward this month, and climb higher, in courage and humility – for His Name’s sake, in Love.
~ Keren Hannah
*** Picture credit: Chabad.org