FASTING part 2

Matthew 6:16-18  16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Let’s go to the letters themselves in the Hebrew word for fasting in the original pictogram. What story do they tell?

    • The first letter is the Tsade. It is the picture of a man laying on his side. The letter means need. In this case it would be a person in need for lack of eating.
    • The second letter is the Vav. It is the picture of a nail. It means to connect and is often used as a conjunction in connection two ideas together.
    • The third letter is the Mem. It is a picture of water and is the word for water. But not just any water. The water is troubled, stirred up. The letter can also mean chaos and stirred feelings deep within.

What are the two ideas that the Vav is connecting together? The person weakened by the lack of food and the stirred emotions.

Put this definition with Jesus’ description of what He suggests we do when we enter into the public during or following a fast, wash up and cover the smell, and it gives a picture of someone who is willing to spend the day or more before God in anguish rather than satisfy the personal need for food.

Fasting is not focused on what you give up as much as the anguish deep within you. What is stirring within you? What drives you to tears? What keeps you awake at night? What will never happen that you need so desperately unless God jumps in and takes control? It is that which burns within you that will determine what you are willing to give up in order to receive what you so desperately are interceding for.

Therefore, whether a partial fast, a water only fast, or a fast with nothing – all is determined by what you are able to give up for what you so desperately seek for.

What else is Jesus saying about fasting?

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FASTING part 1

Matthew 6:16-18  16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Recently, fasting has become a little more of a common practice because of an emphasis on the church as a whole to participate in a Daniel fast during the month of January. But fasting has to be understood to be more than a fad or a diet. Jesus said, “When you fast…” This practice is not an option but to be expected among His believers. It is great to participate, but the idea of a fad has to be kept out of the practice.

With the Daniel Fast many more have felt that they can participate in fasting and it not effect their work performance or health issues. To simplify it the more, there are now several Daniel Fast cookbooks. There are some very amazing dishes for anyone wanting to fast and yet not feel like they are fasting.

No, I am not downing the Daniel Fast nor the cookbooks. They are great as long as we understand that what we eat and do not eat are not the focus. Does Jesus make any reference to the food that you eat or do not eat in these verses? His reference is to the physical result that fasting tends to have and how important it is to cover it up in order to keep it a private matter.

From my studies and experience I have concluded that far too much is made over trying to do things exactly like Daniel did. We have no evidence that he had any scriptural guidelines for what he chose to eat and not eat. There are many who have become all bent out of shape because “they aren’t doing it right.” Give me a break! I believe that what Daniel chose was what he felt that he could do in order to not draw attention to himself by the authorities. He did what he could to make it a private matter.

So, what is fasting? The Greek word here literally means to starve, to do without food. This was the closest word they had to what the Hebrew word was and yet it was not close enough. It was a common practice of that day among the heathen to fast in order to enhance their spiritual connectivity with their gods. Sounds like our understanding today. Are we satisfied to have the same understanding as the heathen do? James just said to draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Therefore, this can not be the definition that Jesus understood.

So, do we use the Greek definition and feel satisfied? Jesus was a Jew speaking to Jewish people in a Jewish culture. What did those of the Old Testament understand about fasting? What understanding would Jesus’ listeners have had from their Jewish roots?

If you look up fasting in you discover that the Hebrew word for fast means “to fast.” Therefore, the assumption is that we already know what it means to fast. The next step is to discover what story the letters tell in the Hebrew word for fast. It is an amazing story.

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Genesis 6:8 Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

This verse is the first mention of the word “Grace” in Scripture. The Law of First Mention says that to best understand a word in scripture you go to its first mention and there you will discover its basic meaning.

The Hebrew word for grace is “chen”. It literally means favor.

What is very interesting is that grace is Noah spelt backwards. Let’s look at Noah’s name first.

Noah means rest, derived from the root word which means resting place. His name is spelt with a “Nun” and a “Chet”. Nun, in the pictogram, looks like a seed or even a sperm. Chet, in the pictogram, looks like a gate or wall and means protected.

Therefore, from the ancient alphabet Noah gives the picture of a seed being protected, a seed behind the gate. This would take us back to God’s prophecy in Genesis 3:15 about the seed of the woman. In God saving Noah and his wife, the seed in the prophecy was protected. If God had wiped out Noah and his family also then the prophecy would have been false.

What protected the seed? Grace. Noah in reverse is grace, chet and then nun (the gate and then the seed). Grace is the protector of the seed.

Man had become corrupt on the earth and truly God had every right to start all over again. He did, to an extent, but keep the seed alive in Noah and his wife. He did not have to, but He did because of His grace, His favor.

As a result, the seed of a woman was born 2,000 years later – Jesus Christ.

The same grace that kept the seed alive from Eve all the way to Mary is the same grace that is enacted when we accept the seed, Jesus Christ, into our lives. It is the very same favor that Noah experienced. The prophecy of Genesis 3:15 becomes ours, not by who we are or what we have done, but by the favor of God.

It is at the point that we believe in Jesus that His grace, the protector of the Seed, allows the seed to abide in us.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God

Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and, through believing, we too have that same grace in the eyes of the Lord.

To understand more about the seed, see my previous blog at

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Seed of Abraham – Deeper Meaning

Genesis 15:5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

This promise is related to several other references to the promise of descendants that God gave to Abram, now Abraham.

  1. Genesis 13:16 – seed as numerous as the dust of the earth.
  2. Genesis 15:5 – count the stars, so shall your seed be.
  3. Genesis 22:17 – seed will be as numerous as the stars and the sand on the seashore

But, there are three things different about this particular verse.

First – bowels: In verse 4 God said that he would have an heir from his body. The King James says from his “bowels.” Abram will have an heir from his “bowels.”  Does this mean that God did not know that the bowels have nothing to do with the bowels? No. In Genesis 3:15 God knew that the woman carried the seed and science did not prove this until 180 years ago.

This word can also means “womb.” So, does Abram have a womb? So to speak, yes. That womb would be in Sarai. This is one reason why it was not enough for Hagar to have a son for Abram. Hagar was not his womb. Sarah was. This is on the same terms by which God describes a nake wife as the husband’s nakedness.

Second – seed: “Zera” – This word is translated as “descendants” in the New King James and offspring in others. Whereas, it is translated as “seed” in the King James. This is one time that the King James has the better translation.

The word is not plural but singular. At first glance we would say that it would be ok to translate the word as descendants. That is the meaning, right? But to translate it as descendants removes a deeper level of meaning. On the surface we can look ahead and know that this seed is Isaac. But, it has a deeper meaning. The original word literally means seed. It’s the same word used in Genesis 1 during creation.

To better understand the deeper meaning of the word seed, let’s go back to Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.

Then, let’s remember that in the pictograph of the Hebrew alphabet for Noah’s name means protected seed and grace, with the same two letters but reversed, means the protector of the seed. Grace secured God’s promise in Genesis 3:15 across the flood. The seed that God told about, the first mention of the Messiah in Genesis 3:15, came across in the ark through the undeserving favor or grace of God.

Therefore, the deeper meaning of Genesis 15:5 is that God is promising the coming of the Messiah through Abraham.

Am I stretching this? Not if you believe what Paul says:

Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.

Therefore, “Zera” should remain as seed not descendants.

If it is ONE seed then how do we explain counting the stars? It goes back to translation again. There is Genesis 15:5 again, Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

Third, – count & number: Both of these words are the same Hebrew word – Safar, which also means “rehearse or relate.” How do you relate or rehearse the stars?

According to God in Genesis 1:14 the stars were for a sign. Today we have a zodiac that is very similar to constellation signs found in many old cultures around the world.

Have you every asked how in the world do they get a Virgin or a lion out of a constellation? What the constellations look like are not by connecting the dots but by knowing the names and means of the brightest stars in each constellation, going to the brightest to the next to the brightest and so forth. Most of the pictures we still have but many of the names of the stars have been lost through time.

It is believed that through the names of the stars that even Adam understood the history of man and the coming of Jesus. Man, after the flood, customized the signs to center around him rather than God.

If this is true, could God have been saying to Abram, “Look at the stars and rehearse the stories told by them and the seed promised in the stories will come from you.”

Therefore, in light of Genesis 1:14, 3:15, and Galatians 3:16, verse 5 of Genesis 15 could be translated as follows: Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and rehearse the stars if you are able to relate to them.” And He said to him, “So shall your seed (the Promised Messiah) be.”

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Grasshoppers & Giants, Nephilim

Numbers 13:33 “There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

The word “Giant” is found several times in the Bible but only three times translated from the word nephil or nephilim (twice in this verse and once in Genesis 6). The giants of Davids time were tall men called giants, and we have tall men today. I’m sure that they seemed much taller when you consider that the average height of a man in those days was around 5 feet.

But, what about these men that the spies saw when Moses sent them into the land of Canaan? What makes them different from the giants of Davids day?

The word Niphil comes from the root word which means fallen. According to Genesis 6 the sons of God produced offspring with the daughters of men. Some say that the sons of God were the righteous men and the daughters of men were the daughters of the unrighteous.

The second explanation is that the sons of God were fallen angels. Thus, the explanation of calling them Nephilim – fallen. But all of these were killed in the flood. There has never been any evidence from scripture that this ever happened again, although it could have.

So, what did the spies see? Keep in mind that Moses had just received Genesis from God along with the commandments and instructions for the tabernacle while he was on the mountain not many weeks or months earlier. They read the instructions for the tabernacle because it was now built. They read the commandments and the instructions for the priests. It stands to reason that the account of Genesis would have been read to the people also.

With this fresh in there minds and mixed in with folklore passed down from Noah’s day that had changed in story by word of mouth, could it not be possible that the spies only assumed that they saw the “fallen ones?”

Later Joshua refers to these people three different time and each time calls them giants or tall men.

The fact is, it is not about what they saw in these tall men but what they then saw about themselves. Ten of the twelve spies allowed their imaginations to dictate what they felt about themselves – grasshoppers.

  • How would the story been different if Moses had thought of himself as a grasshopper before Pharaoh?
  • How would the story been different if Noah had thought of himself as a grasshopper in the feat of building a large ship for 100 years?
  • How would the story  been different if Abraham had thought of himself as a grasshopper – introducing himself to others as “The Father of Many Nations” when he had only a son by a servant?
  • How would David’s story been different had he thought of himself as a grasshopper before the giant of his day?

Then the twelve spies said that the giants also saw them as grasshoppers. Therefore, it must have been true. Whether the giants really did see them as such or were possibly the ones who called them grasshoppers, initiating the feeling of incompetency, it was the choice of the spies what they believed. They chose to believe that they were grasshoppers, incompetent.

God’s blessing was upon Joshua and Caleb because they refused to accept that image of themselves. As a result, 40 years later Joshua is taking Moses place as leader into conquer the land and Caleb wants to take the very mountain where the lived giants at the age of 80. That is courage!

Many people have had a calling or a vision God gave them and yet they did nothing about it because the felt like a grasshopper before a giant.

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The Shepherd, The King, The Lamed

There is a letter of the Hebrew alphabet that rises above all the other letters and is considered to be the middle of the alphabet. This letter in the original script looked like a shepherd staff. In the modern Hebrew it looks like a throne. On top of the Lamed is a crown. What is interesting is that the Lamed with the two letters on either side spells the word “King.”

The meaning of the letter from the original pictograph is shepherd, goad, or control. This letter, who is the letter above all letters and the King of all kings, started out as a shepherd.

The name of the letter comes from the root word “Lamad” which means to teach. This letter is drawing attention to the source of all learning, the Bible. As a goad, it prods us on into it’s truth.

Jesus told Paul in Acts 9:5 “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

So, who is the shepherd? Who is the King of kings? Who is the Word for learning?

Let me throw out something else that is out there. Keeping in mind that the Hebrew alphabet is also their numerical system, the Lamed is a Kaf (20) with a Vav (6) on top. The total is 26. Each letter within Yhwh, God’s name, also totals 26. The Lamed actually represents 30 which is the same value as Judah, the Hebrew word for praise. In Genesis 49:10 you will discover that the law or Word of God will come from Judah. Just an interesting note.

When the Lamed is used as a prefix in a word it denotes direction such as the word “to,” such as “to the house” or “to the father.” It is only when we place Jesus, the king, first in what we do as our prefix that we receive direction.

There is something very interesting in Exodus 19:5

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special teasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.

The word for the underlined above is Lamed Yod. What is different is the Lamed in this word is larger than normal and the Yod is smaller than normal. God is telling Israel that they will be a special treasure, but not to just anyone. They will be special to Him, the King of kings, larger than life, when they understand how small they are. It is when we allow God to be larger than life in our lives and we understand our smallness that we become the special treasure to God.


imagesIsaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor…”

It was a practice in the Old Testament to pour oil upon individuals for high offices. Aaron was anointed as High Priest. Saul and David were anointed as kings.

Therefore, to be anointed to accomplish all that is listed in this verse and those following would be read as a high honor. These are the very words that Jesus read before the Jewish leaders and declared them to be fulfilled in Him.

What does anoint mean? David describes Aaron’s anointing as oil being poured over his head so much so that it ran down his beard and running all the way to the edge of his garments.

A Hebrew commentary says that Moses, with his finger, marked Aaron’s forehead with the oil in the sign of the cross, the letter Tav, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The letter Tav literally means “mark.”

The root word for anoint is meshakh. The first letter is the “Mem” which means water or liquid. The second letter is “Shin” which means consume. The last letter, already mentioned, is “Tav” which means mark or sign. It can also mean covenant.

To be anointed is to be marked with a covenant mark, consumed or totally covered by the liquid.

The word “anointing” in anointing oil has a “Hey,” which represents breath or the Holy Spirit, word which represents the Holy Spirit. He is our anointing oil.

The word “Messiah” is anoint with a “Yod” inserted into the word. Yod represents an arm which means that the anointing comes from the arm of God.

So, when James instructed us to anoint someone who was sick it represents a sacred marking of God.

In the Old Testament, when someone was anointed it was for a position or task. It was a divine commissioning. In the New Testament John describes anointing as the Holy Spirit within us; 1 John 2:20,27. When Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1 He spoke of His commissioning.

Some speak of a worship service or a sermon that was anointed. I have yet to find anywhere in scripture where any moment in time was anointed or words were anointed.

Others will say that someone preaching wasn’t very anointed. Scripturally, what in the world does that mean? If someone has been anointed to preach as in Isaiah 61:1 then that is their commission. They are anointed to do just what they are doing.

Possibly, what they are trying to say is that their message was not very prophetic. Some messages speak to you as if they are the very words of God while other sermons just don’t hit the mark.

The word for “Preach good tidings” in the opening verse means to bear news, bear tidings, publish, preach, show forth. In what manner have you been commissioned or anointed to preach? Through singing, writing, speaking, teaching, evangelizing, video, painting?