Discerning the Times

Discerning the Times

Discerning the Times
Torah Portion VAYIKRA – Vayikra (Leviticus) 1:1-5:26

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Moreover, He has set eternity in their heart—yet without the possibility that humankind can ever discover the work that God has done from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 TLV

Shabbat shalom, dearly beloved!

Entering into the month of Adar and the Feast of Purim, we will learn to relate to the word time. Mordechai, Queen Esther’s cousin, and adoptive father provoked her to intervene to prevent the planned genocide against the Jews by the wicked Amalekite Haman, the king of Persia’s evil advisor. When Queen Esther was afraid of intervening to rescue her people for fear for her life, Mordechai confronted her with the word time,

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place—but you and your father’s house will perish. Who knows whether you have attained royal status for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 TLV

The Hebrew word used here is ET meaning time as pertaining to the changing circumstances of life. Some of these circumstances are happy occasions, and others are adverse situations. The time Mordechai meant was an evil time. In Hebrew, there are many words for the word time.

Let us investigate the word ET in other verses.

For everything there is a season and a time for every activity under heaven: a time to give birth and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to seek and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to discard; a time to tear apart and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and
a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Moreover, He has set eternity in their heart—yet without the possibility that humankind can ever discover the work that God has done from the beginning to the end.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4, 6-8, 11 TLV

The words for time that are used here are Zman and Et.

Zman means to be summoned to appear before a court of law, and it implies giving an account. It also implies a penalty if you do not appear. It is an invitation that carries the weight of a command or an order to be carried out in a specific time frame.

Et refers to times and seasons of life that can be happy or adverse – the necessity of relating to them in the right way and with the righteous response.

King David said,

“But I have trusted in You, Adonai. I said: “You are my God.” My times are in Your hands. Deliver me from the hands of my foes and from those who pursue me.” Psalms 31:15-16 TLV (other versions 14-15)

In this case, time is Et or plural Itotai. In other words, all the times related to life’s circumstances, whether happy or adverse, are in Your hands, therefore I turn to You Adonai in trust and prayer.

Discerning the Times

Daniel speaks about the Sovereignty of YHVH over times, seasons, and changes of government.

and answered, saying: “Blessed be the Name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. He changes times and seasons. He removes kings and installs kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things. He knows what lies in darkness and light dwells with Him.” Daniel 2:20-22 TLV

The words here are Et and Zman. They relate to happenings and circumstances of life that affect us and the world by the changing of governments. Zman means that we are all summoned to these times, and we cannot deny the happenings or the changes.

Zman also implies opportunities. What is an adverse circumstance presents opportunities. What looks like stumbling blocks could become stepping stones, depending on our response; if in faith, trust, seeking, repentance and obedience or a response of unbelief, bitterness, and ultimately rebellion.

In Romans 8:28 we read that all things (including adverse times and circumstances) pose an opportunity to be turned for our good if we love Yah first – if we bow down before Him, seek Him and obey to step out in faith.

“Now we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 TLV

So pay close attention to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise. Make the most of your time (Greek kairos) because the days are evil. For this reason do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. And do not get drunk on wine, for that is recklessness. Instead, be filled with the Ruach (Spirit), speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your heart to the Lord— always giving thanks for everything to God the Father,
in the name of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah.”
Ephesians 5:15-20 TLV

Kairos: Fitting season, season, opportunity, occasion, time. Of uncertain affinity; an occasion, i.e. set or proper time.

All times present opportunities. In some cases, opportunities for a miracle and in other cases opportunities for growth.

How do we respond when circumstances happen that are not in our control?

The death of my 35-year-old son was not in my control. I mobilized heaven and earth to rescue him from danger and from an early death. But I could not change it. Often when life circumstances happen, we go into the hole of “could I have done better to have prevented this or another turn of events?” and we fall into self-pity.

We must discern which adverse times we can change and which ones we cannot change. But I can control my response to this painful adverse time. We can always choose faith and trust in Yah’s unfailing love and faithfulness, even when the outcome of our prayers is not what we expected. Turning to Him, depending fully on Him to carry us through adversity, is our only sane and healthy option. We must flee the pitfall of self-pity and self-reliance.

I used my Et, Zman and Kairos moment of adversity and divine opportunity to be a witness of faith in Yeshua before many Israelis. My vulnerability gave me access to minister to them.

Discerning the Times

Queen Esther’s cousin Mordechai knew that the times (et, zman) were evil, so he used his Kairos of time provided before the genocide decree would happen. He spent it in Mourning, in Teshuva, entreating Repentance and mobilizing an influencer, his own cousin Hadassah now positioned as Queen Esther.

He did not go into denial or put his head in the sand; he turned to the God of his fathers right away in crying out for His help. He knew that “life could not go on as usual”, in other words, “the show could not keep on going as usual”. The Jewish People needed Heaven’s Intervention.

When Mordecai learned all that was done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the middle of the city crying out in a loud and bitter voice. Esther 4:1 TLV

In taking into consideration the happenings of our times, we need to bring one more thing into the mix: YHVH’s Divinely Appointed Times and Seasons from Creation.

This provides a frame to life with Him. When we ignore this frame, confusion and chaos come in, as we become victims of the changing seasons and times and have no anchor. We cannot disregard these, for YHVH operates within His Divinely Appointed Timings. These are called Otot, which means signs or marks, but it also means letters. It is written, it is written, it is written,

Then God said, “Let lights in the expanse of the sky be for separating the day from the night. They will be for signs and for seasons and for days and years.” Genesis 1:14 TLV

Otot, Moadim

Then Adonai spoke to Moses saying: “Speak to Bnei-Yisrael, and tell them: These are the appointed moadim of Adonai, which you are to proclaim to be holy convocations—My moadim. “Work may be done for six days, but the seventh day is a Shabbat of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You are to do no work—it is a Shabbat to Adonai in all your dwellings.” Leviticus 23:1-3 TLV

Moadim: Divinely Appointed Dates when YHVH shows up to meet His People.

When we ignore His marks, His seasons, His timings, then we are ill-equipped to deal with the changing seasons, timings, and circumstances on earth.

Let me give you a true life story from the recent war in Ukraine. Chayim, who had prepared the body of my son for burial a few weeks before the war broke out, is a young Orthodox Jew and a father of 4 little children. They were all living in the Jewish hamlet of Anatevka near Kyiv.

The first Shabbat after Russia’s invasion, when everyone was running for their lives in great panic, he chose to rest on Shabbat and wait on Adonai in trust. He brought his children near and they all slept huddled together in the living room. He was not going to flee in panic before He would acknowledge first the God of Israel as the Sovereign over every changing season and time. He bowed down before Yah’s divine timing of
rest in Him and worshiped Him in the face of fear and adversity. Due to this decision, while many were running indiscriminately to the border to escape Ukraine, he and his family rested in prayer and trust.

Discerning the Times

After Shabbat, his mind was clear to make strategic decisions that would lead him to rescue 14 adults and 17 children (all Jews) into safety. He took them all out of the Kyiv war zone into Moldova: from there, most of them got documents through the Jewish agency to immigrate safely to Israel, while others left for Germany. Chayim has arrived safely in Israel with his wife and 4 children, and so have the others he rescued. Putting Yah first by trusting Him and obeying His Shabbat commandment to REST and to seek Him enabled Chayim to know strategically what to do to save his life, his family, and the lives of others.

Queen Esther did something similar; she did not run to talk to the king, risking her life recklessly. She mobilized her entire people to fast for her for 3 days; the Queen and her maidens fasted as well. She turned to the God of her fathers before she took action.

In every changing time and circumstance of life, we must make a deliberate choice to turn to Yah-God first. To bow down before Him, His Spirit, His Word and Commandments, and His Divinely Appointed Dates. This includes Shabbat, Feasts (Moadim or Divinely Appointed Times), or Shmita (Sabbatical) years as in Leviticus 25, when the land needs to rest in the 7th year as it is a year that belongs to YHVH.

But in the seventh year there is to be a Shabbat rest for the land—a Shabbat to Adonai. You are not to sow your field or prune your vineyard. You are not to reap what grows by itself during your harvest nor gather the grapes of your untended vine. It is to be a year of Shabbat rest for the land. Leviticus 25:4-5

During the Shmita years, there is a Divine Reset to the land, and so many things happen that are beyond our control. The only way to pass through it is if we seek Him first. We are in a Shmita Year THIS YEAR until October, the Feast of Trumpets, and much is happening already. I call the Shmita Year “The Year of Must let Go”.

Discerning the Times

I received the news that my 35-year-old son had died in Kyiv during his vacation there right after Shabbat. Though highly concerned about his whereabouts and condition of his health, after having mobilized all possible human and divine resources and unable to do more to find him or to rescue him, I released him to the Father and rested on Shabbat (pretty exhausted). Had I not rested, I would not have been able to take the tragic news. But I had bowed before the King of the Universe and He upheld me – and is upholding me until this day.
I understood this was a Shmita year happening beyond my control.

Had I not understood Yah’s Timings and Moadim, I would not have been able to come to terms with his death. But because I could bow down before Him and His timings, I became a witness of hope and comfort in Yeshua to many unsaved Israelis who came to the funeral and to the ensuing week of Shiva (sitting and mourning for seven days). Many of my son’s young Israeli friends were exposed to the Gospel and the power of Yeshua. I mourned before them but in Him, in the grace and comfort of His Holy Spirit.

Whether you are able like Esther to prevent a tragedy or whether you are unable though you tried like me, let us put Him first and bow down before the One who makes all things beautiful in its time. We prophesy in part, and we see in part right now, but we can trust Him.

Though the times may be evil and distressful, as we trust and seek Him first, following Him in faith and obedience, we will see His promises fulfilled.

Evil times should bring us closer to Yah. Then all things in our lives can become beautiful as we go through adversity, hand in hand with Him and in covenant unity with each other.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Moreover, He has set eternity in their heart—yet without the possibility that humankind can ever discover the work that God has done from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 TLV

Let us do our best and let our YHVH God do the rest.

We bow down before You, King of the Universe

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