Rosh Hashanah, September 21, 2017
When HaShem visits, ordinary circumstances become extraordinary and ordinary time becomes appointed time—full of life, laughter, a cup overflowing with joy.
I chanted Beresheet (Genesis) 21:2. “So Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time that God had told him.”
The Hebrew for appointed time (or set time) is mo-ed.
A festival, such as Yom Teruah aka Rosh Hashanah, is also a mo-ed.
The story of this particular appointed time goes back to Beresheet (Genesis) 17, when Abram was 99.
Genesis 17:1, When Abram was 99 years old, Adonai appeared to Abram, and said to him,
“I am El Shaddai. Walk before Me and you will be blameless.”
This verse is the first occurrence of the name El Shaddai—scholars aren’t sure what it means.
In its several first uses, Shaddai is associated with G-d’s power to bless and make fruitful.
In later uses, it’s associated with His power to curse or destroy—so broadly: Almighty.
HaShem declares His desire to make covenant and multiply Abram exceedingly much.
Indeed, in this chapter, HaShem established the covenant of circumcision (brit-milah).
Yet it begins with HaShem’s desire to bless Abram and make him fruitful, exceedingly so.
How much HaShem loved this man—his faithful, covenant friend, who knew how to abide in Him.
Overwhelmed, Abram falls on his face. Then HaShem renamed him: Abraham, father of many, “because I make you the father of a multitude of nations.”
After magnifying this covenant, HaShem announces that his wife would also have a new name: Sarah, princess, and that He would give Abraham a son from her.
Then Abraham falls on his face in laughter. We usually remember Sarah’s laughter, but let’s give her a break—Abraham laughed first. HaShem didn’t seem to mind. Maybe He was laughing, too?
Indeed, HaShem announces that the son’s name will be Isaac (Yitzchak, he laughs).
Furthermore, Sarah would bear Abraham this son at this appointed, set time [mo-ed] next year. Wow!
In Genesis 18, HaShem appeared again (another appearance) this time to both Abraham and Sarah. After making sure Sarah is nearby (in the tent, where she can hear), HaShem announces (v. 10),
“I will surely return to you in about a year’s time, and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.”
The phrase translated “in about a year’s time” in Hebrew is cha-ayt chayah, more literally rendered “like the time of living/alive,” in other words, a time of new life.
After Sarah laughs at the thought of giving birth when she is so old, HaShem responds (14),
“Is anything too difficult for Adonai? At the appointed time [l’mo-ed] I will return to you—in about a year [cha-ayt chayah]—and Sarah will have a son.” Thus this one verse connects the idea of the coming time of new life with the appointed time—when HaShem will return.
He will return. He has an appointment to keep. HaShem remembers His appointed times.
So when is the appointed time? When will HaShem return? Genesis 21:2, says, when Sarah gave birth to a son for Abraham—it was at the appointed time, l’mo-ed.
Though the text doesn’t say exactly how HaShem appeared at this time, the scene is pretty clear.
Sarah gives birth to a son for Abraham—and they laugh! At that moment of laughter—of joy and awe—they know that HaShem is with them; He has kept His promise—His appointment—moreover, and at this time of new life, they name their newborn son Yitzchak, he laughs!
Who’d a thunk it? Now, who is enjoying a good laugh? Humans or HaShem? Yes, both!
Such a time as this, full of living, chayah, is an appointed time, mo-ed. How wonderfully the Ruach connects these precious moments in the story of Abraham, Sarah and their miracle child.
HaShem has ordained mo-adim from the creation of the universe, as it is written in Genesis 1:14, “Let lights in the expanse of the sky be for separating the day from the night. They will be for signs and for seasons [mo-adim] and for days and years. So He arranged the sun and moon for His mo-adim.
Yom Teruah is an appointed time (mo-ed), on the first day of the seventh month—seventh in the year (the sun), first day of the month (new moon).
It is an appointed time, when HaShem will show up, when the King will come to judge the earth!
Ephesians.1:10. “The plan of the fullness of times is to bring all things together in the Messiah—both things in heaven and things on earth, all in Him.” In the day of Messiah, He will fulfill and bring together all the appointed times; He will fill them up with surpassing meaning and life.
So in Genesis we learn that HaShem has other mo-adim, appointed times, when he appears in order to meet with people— such as the birth of a child.
I believe HaShem delights in such meetings. How about you? Then make time for appointed times.
A mo–ed is any time when HaShem and humanity meet— in the fullness of time, the fullness of meeting—mo-ed. HaShem delights to fill time in a moment with His presence. Have you noticed?
At just such a time, HaShem returned to Abraham and Sarah and joined them in their laughter.
At just such a time, HaShem joined them in the naming of their wonderful son.
At just such a time, the angel Gabriel announced to Miriam that she would conceive G-d’s one and only Son, then He announced His name—Yeshua. Then she broke out in jubilant song.
Is there just such a time in each of out lives? I think of myself in a moment before my wedding, looking at my watch. Then I think of the moment I said my wedding vow, stumbling over a phrase, so Pamela amended her vow to me, adding “and mistakes.” That was also an appointed time, when we knew HaShem was with us. It is a time I will always remember. Remember the appointed times.
Appointed times are not only the obviously momentous. A set time is whenever you know that HaShem has shown up, kept an appointment, filled up a moment with His presence, met with you.
At just such a time, live your life filled with His life and His Spirit—alert to His abiding presence.
The gifts of the Spirit flow when you notice the Ruach moving through you like a sail in the wind.
In a moment, He fills up your soul with His word that you can speak, with His love that you can express as prophecy to others, or prayer to Him—if you meet Him in the moment.
At just such a time, be attentive to the sound of His Ruach rushing with the human breath blowing through the shofar.
Here is a prayer for appointed times with the Ruach Kodesh. You’re welcome to join me.
O Lord of life, Lord of time, I pray that I might become more and more aware of Your presence,
in the moment, any moment you choose to meet with me, when I prayer, and you catch my breath with wonder and joy, or when I am caught up in worship with You among Your people.
Truly You alone are the One who fills up any moment You choose, so that our ordinary time becomes your appointed time.
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Scripture references are mostly from The Tree of Life Version (TLV) though occasionally other versions. Verse citations provide Jewish numbering, with Christian numbering in parentheses.