Under His Wings
In Hebrew the word for Wing is "Kanaf" and it can mean all of the following: wing, corner, or the hem of the garment (on the Tallit). Here are some examples of the difference ways the LORD uses this one Hebrew word:
Exodus 19.4: “You have seen what I did to Egypt and I bore you on wings (kanaf) of eagles and brought you to Me.”
Exodus 25.20: “And the cherubs shall be spreading out wings (kanaf) above, covering the mercy seat with their wings (kanaf)…”
Ruth 2.12: Boaz said, "The LORD shall repay your work, and your reward shall be complete from the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings (kanaf) you have come to take refuge.”
Ruth 3.9: “And he (Boaz) said, who are you? And she said ‘I am your hand maid Ruth, and you shall spread your garment (kanaf) over your hand maid, for you are a kinsman-redeemer”.
Malachi 4.2: “But to you who fear my Name, the Sun of Righteousness shall rise up, and healing will be on His wings (kanaf).”
All of these Old Testament/Tanakh quotes are prophetic pictures of Yeshua, our Deliverer and Redeemer, spreading His Heavenly covering over us.
But, as we have seen above, the word for Wings can also mean "the corner of a garment", meaning the Tallit, the Jewish Prayer Shawl.
The instructions for this beautiful garment are given by God in Numbers 15.38: And the LORD spoke to Moses saying, "Speak to the sons of Israel and you shall tell them that they shall make themselves fringes on the corners (kanaf) of their garments, and they shall put with the fringe of each corner (kanaf) a thread of blue.” Did you know that the Israeli flag is based on the tallit? It represents the prayer shawl over Israel!
Strangely, all the other times the LORD uses the word "corner" He uses different Hebrew words for corner, rather than kanaf.
He therefore really wants us to find a secret treasure here, that kanaf - His Wings - are, in this instance, the same as the corners of the Tallit.
So what do the corners of the Tallit represent? They represent the commandments: “And it shall be to you for a fringe, that you may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that you do not go about after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you usually go astray, that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy to your God. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt (bondage), to be your GOD.” (Numbers 15.39-41)
Therefore, to remain under the wings of the LORD, we must want to at least try to obey His commandments. We must want to be holy. This change of heart is only possible through the gift of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh). Just like Ruth and Boaz, we need Him to spread His Garment of Righteousness over us. His gift of salvation to us is a beautiful act of Love and Protection, like a perfect Husband covering His Wife from all harm.
But the opposite is also true; if we say we are a Christian, yet make a wilful practice not to follow, believe or listen to His commandments, then we have independently stepped out from the covering of His Wings. "If you love me you will obey my commandments." (John 14.15)
This New Testament link between the corner of a garment (kanaf) and stepping out from obeying His commandments is shown clearly, in the Jewish symbolism, in an Old Testament account, between Saul and David:
1 Samuel 24.4 “But David rose up (symbolic of his rising up as the next king) and quietly cut off the corner (kanaf) of Saul’s robe.”
The LORD is showing us in this act what He has done to Saul. He has taken away His Wings of protection over Saul, by cutting off the part of Saul’s tallit which represents the commandments, and therefore the covering and protection of God. It is central to understand that Saul brought this on himself, this was not an out-of-the-blue reaction of God. It was a long time coming, due to Saul's own choices and actions. Sometimes we think wrongly as believers that His command to be long-suffering means eternal-suffering. But if God Himself has a cut-off time - as He had with individuals, kings and people nations - so can we, in the face of unholiness. Infact, to not react to unholiness is to be in itself unholy. It is always important to humbly seek the LORD on the timing of this and seek the counsel of wise Godly mentors. David struggled with Saul's insecurity, evil and control for a long time before the LORD released David to be free.
So, where is the Messiah Yeshua hiding in this "Old Testament" account of these two men? Is the LORD prophesying Christ in this act? Here's a short comparison:
• David is the chosen King, chosen as a child.
• Yeshua is the Chosen King, chosen to become a child.
• Saul is the world’s choice of ruler.
• Satan is the world’s choice of ruler.
• Yet once satan used to be an angel, used to be holy.
• Once, Saul used to be anointed.
• Saul’s rule is overthrown by David.
• Satan’s rule is overthrown by Yeshua ( called the Son of David - Ben David in Hebrew).
Samuel the prophet (navi in Hebrew) prophesied this downfall nine chapters earlier. In fact, he actually acted it out! “But Samuel said to Saul, ‘I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel. And Samuel turned around to go, and he took hold of the corner (kanaf) of his robe (tallit), and it was torn. And Samuel said to him, ‘the LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to your neighbour who is better than you.” (1 Samuel 15. 26-28) Prophets, even in this modern age, expose how it really is!
Sometimes in life, a blessing of a person, promotion, home or appointed place is taken from one person and given to another. This is justice, divine justice, and in a world where moral equivalence has penetrated even the modern church, this sometimes comes as a shock, or can seem "unjust". Yet any good parent knows there are consequences to all behaviours, kind and good, or selfish and wicked. God is our True Parent. Consequences are how we learn. The LORD is after the salvation of our souls for eternity. That is the Highest Gift and Love there is. That truth is sometimes only brought home to our stubborn hearts, if we suffer, sometimes life-changing, consequences of our sin here on earth. It is often the wake-up call that an individual needs. Of course, the LORD loves it when our hearts are so wanting to please Him, that He only needs to whisper His Will or brush our face with His Hand, for us to respond and obey. Like any good parent, allowing the consequences of our actions to fall on us, will always grieve Him deeply and He will always hope it isn't so. For God our Saviour "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Timothy 2. 4-6)
References to the Corner of Garment (Tallit) in the New Testament (Brit Chadashah):
We have glimpsed the Messianic references to Jesus/Yeshua spreading His garment over us in the Old Testament. But how is the reference to the corners of the Prayer Shawl hidden in the New Testament?
Matthew 9.20: “And behold, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came near, behind Him, and touched the fringe (corner) of His garment (tallit). For she said to herself, if only I shall touch His robe, I will be cured. But turning and seeing her, Jesus/Yeshua said, Be comforted, daughter (to call her this she must have been a Jew); your faith has healed you. And the woman was healed from that hour.”
I was praying about this passage, asking God to show me more of Himself and His character. And I believe He said to me that this is a prophecy of the salvation of Israel. I believe the twelve years represents the twelve tribes. This makes sense because I believe Jesus/Yeshua had already told me some years before that He uses this number to clearly represent His salvation plan for Israel later on in Matthew 14.13. In that Scripture, the first time Jesus/Yeshua feeds the multitudes with broken bread, there are twelve baskets of broken pieces collected up afterwards.
The broken bread represents Jesus'/Yeshua’s body. The multitudes represent the Gentiles (a great multitude in Revelvation 7.9). The twelve baskets collected up, after the multitudes have fed, (saved) are the twelve tribes of Israel (Revelation 7.4). Note: This is the only miracle Yeshua performs that is in all four gospels. Therefore this must be a very important sign of Who He was and what He had come to do. All Yeshua's miracles are signs, not just miracles. Israel's salvation is centrally important to the LORD.
It is sometimes missed that Jesus/Yeshua fed the multitudes twice. The second time Jesus/Yeshua performs this miracle there were seven baskets of broken pieces left over. Seven represents completion in the Scriptures. He was saying “It is done", just as He did when He died on the cross. In His eyes the salvation of Israel, after the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled, will mean history is done, completed; although we haven’t seen this complete fulfilment yet.
So, going back to the woman with a flow of blood, as before, the twelve years represent the twelve tribes. I asked Him what the flow of blood represents and I believe He said "the Jewish sacrifices" - the flow of blood on the altar in the Temple of the Jewish sacrifices. But the sacrifices don’t heal the Jewish people, only Jesus'/Yeshua's sacrifice does! That is because even the holiest human High Priest is never perfect but, as God in human form, Jesus/Yeshua was! So only He can be the Perfect Sacrifice, without blemish or stain (sin).
The woman says in effect: “If only I can touch His perfect fulfilment of the commandments (remembering that the corners of the tallit represent from Numbers 15 above) I will be healed.” As a Jewish woman she is acting out the fact that she knows she can never be perfect, that the blood of the sacrifices can never be perfect, so the only way to be healed of this imperfection in the eyes of God is to literally reach out and take hold of the Tallit (kanaf). It is impossible to know if she saw all this prophetic meaning in her act but, as a Jew, it is highly likely she did. And I believe she recognised Him as the Jewish Messiah. He is a Jew and so the "corner of His garment" (kanaf) would have been His tallit. But He was the only person on earth Who didn't need reminding in accordance with God's instructions in Numbers 15 to obey the commandments!
In response to her vision of Him as the perfect Messiah, Jesus/Yeshua comforts her. "Comfort, comfort My People" (Isaiah 40.1) is one of the callings of the Gentile church when it is being obedient! Yet He is a Jew but already modelling the hoped-for ministry of the Gentile church! Irony is occasionally beautiful. And He says to her "Daughter, your faith has healed you.” ie: seeing Me as Messiah has healed you, not trying to keep the sacrifices, because only My blood will save you.
Then her unnecessary flow of blood (trying to reach salvation through the sacrifices) ceases and she is healed (saved). I believe this miracle is yet another of the prophesies of Jesus/Yeshua coming to save Israel. The blood sacrifices in the Temple are a pre-echo of Jesus'/Yeshua's blood. Once His blood has been spilled all unnecessary flow of blood stops. I am not saying the Temple sacrifices aren't Holy; they are in the sense that they point to the Messiah. And if the third temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt in my lifetime I am so looking forward to visiting!
The last reason I believe this interpretation of this miracle refers to the salvation of Israel is the fact that it cuts into another miracle. Just before we hear of the woman with the issue of blood for twelve years, we are told the ruler of the synagogue has a daughter who lay dying. She is twelve years old. In the Jewish tradition, the age of twelve is the girl's Bat Mitzvah. This literally means "Daughter of the Commandments." It is the age at which a child takes responsibility to walk in holiness more with the LORD. But if the girl represents Israel, how can Israel be holy, if she does not have the Messiah? She will in effect lay dying. In the Hebrew, both Jerusalem and Israel are both singular feminine nouns.
Jesus/Yeshua was on His way to healing her, at the request of the synagogue leader. So, all the men would be wearing their Tallits, in great anticipation of prayer. And into this Jewish picture of Israel dying, with the synagogue father/leader unable to save her, cuts this miracle of the woman with the twelves years of blood. A perfect symbol of the Messiah come to save the Twelve tribes, through His blood and perfect fulfilment of the commandments. Amazing!
Interestingly, if we take this one step further and look at the corner of the garments (kanaf) of the High Priest, there are two other items the Israelites were commanded to put around the hem. These were gold bells and woven pomegranates (Exodus 39.25). Gold represents majesty, pomegranates represent love. So, by touching the hem of His garment, this woman was trying to touch both Yeshua’s majesty and Yeshua’s love. Was she able to recognise Him as her High Priest? Only the LORD knows. But it is clear He is the loving King of Israel after all, the High Priest Who substituted Himself for our sins. No wonder the LORD says He covers us with His Wings. He was hidden as a Suffering Servant the first time He came to earth. But He will be a Warrior King the second time He comes to earth.
The LORD also spells out the reason why these gold bells (majesty) and pomegranates (love) were to be woven into the hem of the High Priest's garment – “for ministering” (Exodus 39.26). As a Jewess, the woman may have known this. So, by reaching for Jesus'/Yeshua’s hem of His tallit, was she asking Him to minister to her, without using words? If so, no wonder He was moved by her act of faith.
Lastly, and even more amazingly, the LORD commanded that the pomegranates (symbol of His Love) be woven out of three different colours – blue, purple and scarlet (Exodus 39.24).
But the yarns of blue, purple and scarlet are not just to be woven into the pomegranates (love). The yarns of blue, purple and scarlet are to run through the entire priestly garments (Exodus 39).
So Jesus/Yeshua has Israel (blue), His Sovereignty (purple) and His blood (scarlet) for the salvation of the Gentiles, who are woven into Israel, running through His Priestly garments. Beautiful!
When we see Jesus as Jewish there is so much treasure hidden just under the surface in God's loving details. The Hellenistic approach to Jesus the Messiah can sometimes come across as alien to the hearts of many Jewish people. This non-Jewish approach to Messiah can also steal a much deeper understanding from the church, while separating Jew and Gentile believers from each other through lack of understanding how close we really are in the LORD. Jesus/Yeshua, our LORD and Saviour, is a Jew!
There is a Jewish saying: "If you are born a Jew, you die a Jew." Never was this so born out than by the Jewish Messiah, Who was labelled as "the King of the Jews" on His cross.
He calls us priests in Him (1 Peter/Kefa 2.9) If we are, then may our hearts, as Jewish and Gentile believers, be interwoven with the same love of Israel, His Sovereignty and His salvation as our High Priest. And may we therefore be interwoven with each other - Jew and Gentile - in His Love, especially in the times in which we now live.
Hebraic and Prophetic Teaching
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