Awake! by Rabbi Carol Calise



This past Shabbat the Haftarah reading was found in Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 51.12-52.12.  I shared a brief d’rash on the first two verses of chapter 52 during our Torah service that I would like to share as the Word of the Week.  If you were in service, this will simply be a reminder.

1 Awake, awake, Zion, clothe yourself with strength! Put on your garments of splendor, Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again.

2 Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, Daughter Zion, now a captive.

A background of the history of these verses – Israel was in captivity in Babylon.  During the time of captivity as each year went by, It was easy for them to feel like nothing would change.  Israel often found herself in desperate situations.  Sometimes it was because of her choices, but at other time it was simply part of life.  In those moments of feeling despair and discouragement, G-d spoke these words.  Babylon was not the end game for Israel; G-d had a plan and that plan was for redemption and deliverance.  Remember the same is true for you.  Adonai knows the plans He has for you; they are plans to give you a hope and a future.

His call to ancient Israel in these two verses was fivefold:

Wake up!

Clothe yourself with strength, 

Put on garments of splendor, 

Shake off the dust, 

Free yourself

These principles apply to us today here at Beth Emanuel in 2019.  First, Adonai calls us to awake.  He says, “It is not time to slumber;  iIt is not time to be lethargic.”  Too many in the body of Messiah have been lulled into complacency concerning their lives and the kingdom of G-d.  Others have simply given up.  We have let go of the hope of the future.  G-d was not done with Israel and He is not done with you, me or Beth Emanuel.  Rise!!!  AWAKE!  Deliverance is here.

Next, He commands us, “Clothe yourself with strength.”  What is your strength?  The joy of the L-rd.  Get happy!  That is not a modern concept put to song.  Adonai is the original joy giver and He encourages us to put on His joy. Get into the presence of the L-rd and allow Him to renew your strength as you receive His joy into the core of your being.

Put on garments of splendor.  You are precious in His sight.  You are the daughter of the King Most High.  You are the son of the Living G-d of Israel.  Don’t wear shame and guilt.  Cast off doubt and unbelief, discouragement and despair.  Exchange your ashes for the beauty He has to give you.

Shake off the dust.  Clear the cobwebs in your mind and your spirit.  Once again, He reminds us that it is not time to be apathetic or sluggish in our faith.  G-d is on the move and we do not want to be left behind.  

Finally, FREE YOURSELF!  What?  Rabbi Carol, I thought G-d was supposed to free me.  HE HAS!!! Yeshua set your free when He declared IT IS FINISHED.  You and I need to appropriate that freedom into our lives.  Hell is good at trying to keep its chains on you and me.  Let’s break those chains off us once and for all.  Hell has no right to keep you or me in bondage in any area.  Yeshua paid the price and we need to enforce His authority over the forces of darkness trying to keep us in bondage.

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