Nobody can deny that YHVH is in control of everything. We read of YHVH’s greatness throughout scripture. In Job 37:1-39:30, and in many other passages, YHVH’s greatness is described. How He has made and controls nature, the weather, and every living creature. He causes the lightning to strike, the rain to fall; He causes the wind to blow. YHVH is in control!
If we believe this, which we and most people do, we cannot deny that YHVH was in control of what happened this year with the barley. YHVH made the rain fall, He caused the barley and other grains to germinate, it is also He who caused it to grow and develop the way it did. I believe YHVH did this for several reasons.
YHVH wanted to show us what is in our hearts
One of the reasons, I believe, is because YHVH wanted to show all of us what is in our hearts. Yours and mine. We all know that the Messianic movement has a bad name, it is often referred to as “messy-antics“, and it is characterized by constant arguing, name calling, sarcastic remarks and the belittling those who do not agree with you. I am specifically referring to on-line interaction and I am generalizing, there are exceptions. I perceive a critical spirit and people generally cannot see any good in others for they do not meet their high standards. Arrogance and control is the name of the game. As I said before, there are exceptions.
This year just after the sighting of the moon, the internet exploded and there have been many casualties. It is the worst we have experienced it. And all this about a calendar! The calendar has become so important. I don’t know how many calendars we now have in the Messianic movement, but people are still adding to the number. If going by the right calendar was so incredibly important to YHVH, there would not have been so many different interpretations possible. Compare it with the commandments not to murder, commit adultery or steal.
13 You shall not murder. 14 You shall not commit adultery. 15 You shall not steal.
It is not possible for us to interpret these commandments seven ways, it is plain. You shall not take the life, spouse or anything that belongs to another, period. However, when it comes to the calendar, we have so many possible interpretations and even more this year. All this creates confusion, and this year even more was added, but maybe YHVH wanted us to experience this. He wanted to expose our own hearts to us. Yet, many don’t or won’t see it.
We have experienced what it feels like to be different to the rest of the sighted mooners, being called names and ridiculed. Many of you who read this would have experienced the same, many of you would be part of the crowd doing that to others. Is this what we as ambassadors of YHVH’s kingdom on earth are supposed to do? Is this the example we as mature believers are to set? This is what new Torah-observant believers see and they want to run. I don’t blame them. Each of us are guilty.
Scripture teaches that we are not to put a yoke on others. We are not to point fingers at others and speak evil of them. The passage in Isaiah 58 is about fasting, but it can apply here as well. It tells us what YHVH wants us to do.
6 this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke? 7 Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of YHVH will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and YHVH will answer; You will cry, and He will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, 10 And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. 11 And YHVH will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. 12 Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.
We are to help others and do good to them. We are to undo yokes on people, not create more, we are to care for those in need. Yet, we focus and fight about a calendar.
We need YHVH’s protection, especially in the times we live in. There has been four major terrorist attacks these past two weeks. Can we say our conduct is pleasing to YHVH? Will He do the things mentioned in this passage. Will He answer us when we call on Him, will He be our rear guard? Will He continually guide us and give us strength to go on?
Keeping the “right” calendar will not save us from anything. Only YHVH can, and only if we have a relationship with Him. Salvation is from YHVH, not from the keeping of a calendar. We are to refocus and do the things that are really important.
We are to consider these words in Isaiah and turn back to YHVH. Then those from among us will rebuild the ancient ruins. Then restoration will come.
I do believe there is another reason for the barley being what it is this year. It is YHVH’s provision for the Sabbatical year.
Provision for the sabbatical year
Many of you reading this may not know, or may not agree that 2016 is a sabbatical year. We have proved it from biblical and historical sources. You can read more about it here.
The first of Aviv of this biblical year is the beginning of the sabbatical year. This means that no sowing or harvesting is allowed in this year (Ex 23:10-11; Lev 25:3-6).
10 You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, 11 but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.
YHVH promised to order His blessing in the sixth year to sustain us until the crop comes in in the ninth year.
20 But if you say, What are we going to eat on the seventh year if we do not sow or gather in our crops? 21 then I will so order My blessing for you in the sixth year that it will bring forth the crop for three years. 22 When you are sowing the eighth year, you can still eat old things from the crop, eating the old until the ninth year when its crop comes in.
How does He do this?
We agree that YHVH is in control of the weather, so it could be that YHVH commands the weather the way He did this year in order to provide in the Sabbatical year. It may be a another confirmation from YHVH that this is indeed a sabbatical year. Allow me to explain.
The way we understand this is as follows. According to scripture, barley and other grains could be sown and harvested before the start of the sabbatical year, up until the beginning of the first of Aviv. Then, at the end of the twelfth month the barley search can be done and if the barley is aviv a new year is pronounced. If not, a thirteenth month is added.
Just a word on the barley search before we continue.
In this search for aviv, we should be looking specifically at wild barley, because wild barley is not fertilized or watered or sprayed with chemicals like Glyphoshate and Reglone to speed up drying of the kernels. These chemicals can speed up drying with up to ten days. There are two links in the references if you want to check this out. There is also the possibility that the commercial crops may be GMO crops with special “modifications” So, for this reason, we are not to use commercial barley fields when we check the barley for the calendar. The calendar should be determined using natural, untreated wild barley. Otherwise man is regulating the calendar and not YHVH.2
A partial harvest vs no harvest
This year, we have two possible scenarios based upon when the barley is expected to be aviv. The first scenario states that barley has to be aviv in order for the new year to be declared at the sighting of the new moon. The second view states that the barley only needs to be aviv at the time of the wave sheaf offering. Prior to this year, most people followed the first standard. Many have changed this year to the second standard. So, this year we have groups celebrating Pesach in March and others in April.
However, this year we have to play out these two scenarios in the context of the sabbatical year.
We read in Leviticus 23:
10 Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.
Scripture states that the first fruits are taken from the harvest. This implies the first fruits offering would consist of harvest-ready grain. It does not make any sense to harvest grain that is not ready.
So, in a normal year (year 1-6 of the sabbatical cycle) the first fruit is reaped with the rest of the grain, ready for harvest. The first fruit offering will be taken to the priest. Whatever is not harvest-ready will be left on the field until it is and then harvested.
However, when it is a sabbatical year and a thirteenth month is added, the harvesting can commence if the grain is harvest ready before the first of aviv. In very warm weather, the barley may develop sufficiently in order to be harvested. If it does, the first fruit offering can be taken from this and the harvest continues until the first of Aviv. Whatever is not harvested by then, will be left in the fields for the poor and some of it will reseed. This will become the volunteer crop for the following year. In this way, there will be enough to eat during the year and some will go to seed for the following year. Maybe YHVH ordered it so this year to provide for the sabbatical year…
If, however, the month of Aviv was declared before the barley was aviv, there would be no partial harvest. I am not sure there would be a first fruit offering as you cannot take the first fruits of the harvest, if harvesting is not permitted. It could be that you may pick some and still do a first fruit offering. The rest of the grain will have to be left for the poor or to go to seed.
What I’m trying to show you here is that YHVH is in control and He can order the weather to provide for us. Changing the criteria, like it was done this year, might have had serious consequences in biblical times when people relied on a grain harvest for food.
There is another reason, maybe the most important:
A need for leadership
Another reason may be because YHVH wanted to stimulate in us a desire for leadership. However, this leadership cannot be human leadership. Human leadership is flawed and leads to more division, not less. It will not solve this and other dilemma’s. We need our Messiah to return, then all this will be sorted. Messiah Y’shua will be king over all. All peoples, nations and men of every language will serve Him and I believe he will teach us all we need to know.
13 I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. 14 And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.
The ultimate solution and answer to all our questions is the return of our Messiah. Until then, we can only do the best with what we know.
Most of us are not farmers and we do not live in biblical times. This removes us from the agricultural, cultural and biblical context. The barley we have, and use to determine the new year, may not even be remotely like the barley they had in biblical times. Commercial barley cannot be used because the seed is modified, the fields are fertilized and irrigated and the crop is sprayed with chemicals to speed up drying. All these modifications by man, makes it inaccurate to use these crops as a standard to determine a calendar by. So, we are left with wild barley. This “wild” barley may be contaminated or may even be from the seed of these commercial crops so once again how accurate can we be? We have tampered so much with nature that we cannot claim to have figured this out with what we have. We are learning, all of us and are trying to make the best with what we have. We can, at best, speculate and form opinions.
Wisdom would be to choose a standard that is in line with scripture and keep to it. We would otherwise be seen to pick and choose what suits us. We have to be consistent. Which standard will be kept next year?
The other important point to consider is that this year is a sabbatical year. Harvesting is prohibited in this year. If there is no harvest there may or may not be a first fruit offering for the first fruit offering is a sheaf of barley from your harvest. Unless the harvest can commence before the beginning of the Sabbatical year like the scenario we described when we have a 13th month. Maybe it worked out this way because YHVH wanted to provide for the sabbatical year. This is another confirmation that this year is a sabbatical year.
As we said before, YHVH is in control, but if we change the criteria, we hide what He is doing. What could have been a great testimony of YHVH´s providence and provision in the Sabbatical year, is turned into nothing if a 13th month isn’t added. However, as I said we are theorizing at best, YHVH may have a thousand more reasons for doing what He did. He is in control and we are to yield to His will.
- All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD, and Y’shua for Jesus
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