The Signs of YHVH Elohim
The Creator YHVH Elohim has given certain signs so that everyone who has them should know that he or she belongs to Him.
Should we not know these signs that will help us serve Him better, the way He wants to be served? Or we should follow the way of the man-made religion.
If one says, “I rest on Sabbath and eat only kosher food”, everyone will know which God he or she serves: The God of Israel. The Sabbath and kosher food are sure signs of belonging to the One who said, “Remember the Sabbath day to set it apart” (Exo 20:8) and “Do not defile yourselves with any swarming thing … you shall be set-apart, for I am set-apart” (Lev 11:44-45).
Remove the opening statement “I am Yehovah your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Egypt”, His Name, and the Sabbath from the Covenant, and the other commandments can be ascribed to any pagan deity of any pagan religion in the world. And those deities do not even exist.
But there is only one deity, the One who exists forever, who brought His people out of the land of Egypt, His Name is Yehovah our Elohim, and spoke to us (native and non-native) at Sinai, saying,
My Sabbaths you are to guard, by all means, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, to know that I, Yehovah, am setting you apart. (Exo 31:13)
The signs of the Messiah
The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Yeshua and asked Him that He would show them a sign from heaven to prove that He was the promised prophet Mosheh bade Israel to await. But He said to them, (we will read from the ancient Hebrew text of the Gospel of Matthew aka Shem-Tov’s Hebrew Matthew, by George Howard, Mercer University Press, 1995),
Hypocrites, you say in the evening: “Tomorrow will be a clear day because the sky is red”. Then in the morning you say: “Today it will rain because the sky is dark”. If so, you know the law regarding the appearance of the sky, but you do not know the law regarding the times. (Hebrew Mat 16:3)
And after having said that He turned to His disciples and said, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Yonah.”
But when Yeshua’s disciples came to Him, saying, “When shall this be, and what is the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”, He gave them the signs which we studied in Chapter The Signs of the Coming of the Messiah of present author’s book The Reckoning of Time.
But these are not the signs we will study in this article.
The signs between YHVH and His people
The Hebrew word אוֹת ot, alef-vav-tav, means a signal (literally or figuratively), in a sense of a flag, beacon, monument, omen, evidence, mark, miracle, sign, and token.
The first letter in אוֹת is alef and its ancient pictograph looks like a head of an ox. An ox is a strong animal, the largest one among the domestic animals, which was used for plowing. Alef is also the letter for the Hebrew word אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “the absolute power”; commonly mistranslated but not equal to the concept of “God”.
The pictograph of letter vav is of a tent peg or nail, and the pictograph of tav is two crossed sticks representing a mark; pretty much like the X-mark we use today to mark something. Combined alef, vav, and tav mean “a strong mark or sign fixed securely”, i.e., as a flag is fixed to a pole.
The applications of אוֹת ot are: a celestial sign as in Gen 1:14, a mark put on a human being (Gen 4:15), a sign of supernatural miracles (Exo10:1-2), an evidence of loyalty (Exo 13:9, Exo 31:13), a token of oath (Gen 9:12-13, Exo 12:11-13).
There is another Hebrew word for “sign”: תָּו tav, tav-vav. Tav means a mark, by implication a signature. The noun tav comes from the primitive verb תָּוָה tavah, which means to mark out, to scratch or imprint.
As we said above, the ancient pictograph of tav is two crossed sticks representing a mark. Tav is also the letter of the word תּוֹרָה Torah, instruction, direction; commonly mistranslated but not equal to “law”.
The pictograph of letter vav is of a tent peg or nail, and combined tav and vav mean “a mark fixed securely in place”, like something engraved in a stone, i.e., the Sinai Covenant aka the Ten Commandments.
Therefore, we see that word אוֹת ot, can mean a physical sign or figurative signal, while תָּו tav, is used more as a literal mark, token, or signature. We find this application of tav when YHVH said to a man clothed with linen, who had a writer’s inkhorn,
Pass on into the midst of the city, into the midst of Yerushalayim, and you shall put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it. (Eze 9:4) See also Job 31:35.
So, which are the signs of YHVH Elohim between Him and His people?
This is My covenant which you guard between Me and you, and your seed after you: Every male child among you is to be circumcised. And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall become a sign, אוֹת, of the covenant between Me and you. (Gen 17:10-11)
In this covenant every male child born in the house of Avraham is to be circumcised on the eighth day. In this covenant are also included any child born from a non-native, so that the covenant of YHVH is to be in the flesh as a sign for an “everlasting covenant” (Gen 17:12-13).
On the part of man born or grafted in the House of Avraham YHVH Elohim required that as the sign of the covenant, the “the covenant in the flesh”. This covenant is called “the covenant in the flesh”, not “the covenant of the flesh” as misinterpreted by some, as if “the covenant of the flesh” somehow refers to inferior covenant.
The second thing is that “the covenant in the flesh” is to be extended not only to the seed, the lineal descendants of Avraham, but to all the males in his house, even to every foreigner not belonging to the seed of Avraham.
And the third thing we need to note here is that circumcision is to be held for ever, that is, from a generation to a generation. The plain meaning of “everlasting covenant” is that the circumcision will not be revoked, replaced, annulled by any means, nor made invalid under any circumstances. As a male is once circumcised always circumcised, so is the covenant in the flesh. This is what “everlasting covenant” means.
To make it even more evident that the covenant in the flesh is for the non-native as it is for the native (as if it is not evident enough in the Torah), YHVH said it again through the prophet Ezekiel,
No son of a foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, comes into My set-apart place, even any son of a foreigner who is among the children of Israel. (Eze 44:9)
We should note here the explicit statement “uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh”. According to verse above, both conditions are to be present in every male in order to qualify him to come into the Set-apart place: circumcised in heart and circumcised in flesh, not “either or”.
(2) Passover and the Festival of the Unleavened Bread
And the blood shall be a sign, אוֹת, for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I shall pass over you, and let the plague not come on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. And this day shall become to you a remembrance. And you shall celebrate it as a festival to Yehovah throughout your generations. Celebrate it as a festival, an everlasting law. (Exo 12:13-14) Also Exo 13:6-9, 16.
So significant was this event for Israel that YHVH commanded us by ordinance that we remember it as a memorial festival throughout our generations, forever.
The blood of the Passover lambs in Egypt was given to be a sign to both the native and non-native (see verse 19), since the miracle of the plagues was performed for Israel, it was necessary to explicitly include the proselytes who left Egypt with Israel.
What is being conveyed is the fact that the Festival of the Unleavened Breads is not to be forgotten but to serve as a reminder from generation to generation, as an everlasting sign.
A remembrance in the Hebraic mind is not simply recalling past events but reliving them in each generation. That is, each generation is to teach the Exodus to the next generation, as if we were all there in Egypt, native and non-native, and all of us have been delivered from bondage in the modern-day “Egypt”.
There are three Passovers which we are to remember: the first Passover in Egypt, the second of the Messiah’s crucifixion, and the third one at the second Exodus.
(3) Shabbat Shabbaton, Sabbath of all Sabbaths
And the children of Israel shall guard the Sabbath, to perform the Sabbath throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant. Between Me and the children of Israel it is a sign, אוֹת, forever*. For in six days Yehovah made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and rested. (Exo 31:16-17)
And having said that YHVH gave to Mosheh His Covenant on two tablets of stone. This Covenant was given as a witness between Him and the children of Israel and engraved with His finger so that no one would be able to erase it (Exo 31:18).
Note: It is interesting to note here that “forever” in verse 17 is the Hebrew word עוֹלָם olam, which literally means “universe” or “world”. Hence, this statement would properly sound like “Sabbath is a universal sign”.
The Scripture defines the Sabbath as the sign of separation from this world (See also Eze 20:12 and Eze 20:20). By giving us His special day of Creation, the Creator of the universe sets us apart (Exo 31:13) not just to have a complete rest as He had it six millennia ago, but that we may know that we have the sign, an everlasting sign, between Him and us and that we belong to Him.
The Sabbath serves as a sign that YHVH is the Sovereign Creator of the universe. Every time we keep the Sabbath, we declare YHVH to be our Lord and King. There is no other reason for us to keep the Sabbath except for the love to Him.
The Sinai Covenant is a marriage between YHVH and the children of Israel. In a wedding service, after the public reading of the wedding contract after the manner of uttering the Covenant at Sinai, there is an exchange of rings as a sign or token of the newly formed covenant relationship between the groom and bride.
Likewise, the Sabbath is the wedding token of our covenant relationship with the Creator who created the Sabbath day. Not observing the Sabbath is like taking off the wedding ring and dishonored the partner in the covenant.
The seventh day of the week, however, is not simply designated a “Sabbath”, or a day of rest but שַבָּתֹון שַבַּת “a Sabbath of Sabbath” in a superlative way of expression. This double signification of the Sabbath day is only attributed to another appointed time of the Creator—Yom Kippurim, the Day of Atonement—the annual Sabbath. But for more knowledge of the appointed times and how His Messiah has fulfilled them, visit The Appointed Times of YHVH.
And the last but not the least,
(4) the Covenant and Torah
Listen up, O Israel: Yehovah our Elohim, Yehovah is one! And you shall love Yehovah your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might*. And these Words which I am commanding you today shall be in your heart, and you shall teach them diligently unto your children, and shall speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up, and shall bind them as a sign, אוֹת, on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. (Deu 6:4-8) See also Deu 11:18-21 and Pro 6:20-23.
Note: *Hebrew: me’odecha from me’od “much”. What Mosheh bade us was to love YHVH Elohim exceedingly much — as much as we can — so that our love be unlimited.
And we love Him by doing what He has asked us to do — the commands in His Torah. We do not do his commands in order to be saved from hell and gained any reward like going to heaven, but solely out of exceeding love for YHVH.
The one who acts out of love cannot be compared to the one who acts out of desire to gain a reward. If one serves his master for a reward, when the master takes the reward, his servant will leave him and go away, because he is a hireling (see John 10:11-13); while if out of love he will continue to serve him even without a reward.
But what are “these words” that are to be in our hearts and taught unto our children? According to the rabbis’ interpretation, it is the words in Deu 6:4-8, but we can contend that it is the commands given prior to them — the words found in Deuteronomy 5, namely, the renewed Covenant of YHVH.
When asked “Which is the great command in the Torah?”, Yeshua answered (we will read again from the ancient Hebrew text of the Gospel of Matthew),
“And you shall love Yehovah your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” This is the first, the second is like it, “And you shall love your neighbor as yourself”, and upon these two commands all the Torah hang, and the prophets. (Hebrew Mat 22:37-40)
Immediately, we should have recognized that the Messiah quoted the Torah of His Father, namely, Deu 6:5 and Lev 19:18. By giving these two commands in the Torah, Yeshua made it very clear for the listeners that He had not come to destroy or replace the Torah, as many “teachers” teach today, but to give substance to it.
It is not coincidental that Yeshua linked these great commands to the Torah. Yeshua condensed the whole Torah down into these two commands with a purpose. The first command He quoted referred to the first four commandments in the Covenant, and the second to the other six.
And indeed, to love YHVH our Elohim is to be obedient to His commands: not to have idols in His face, to love and honor His Set-apart Name, and to observe the Sabbath.
The second command is like it: to love our fellow man is to do to him what we want others to do to us; and the highest of these is to respect our father and mother.
Conclusion of the matter
Circumcision was given to Avraham as a sign of the Covenant. This separation from the pagan world was marked by obedience to YHVH.
The crucial point to understand is that covenant membership for the native and non-native is not gained through the act of circumcision or merely by physical lineage.
The patriarchs were circumcised because they were part of the Covenant of YHVH, not in order to become part of the Covenant. Circumcision came and should come as a result of entering into the Covenant. This is the sign of the Covenant and not a prerequisite to enter into it.
Avraham was already walking with Elohim and already demonstrated his faith by his obedience. Thus circumcision came as a sign of the righteousness he already had. He gained no higher covenant status by being circumcised. Rather, circumcision was a sign of the covenant of which he was already a member.
And this is Shaul’s primary point in Romans 4, where he notes that Avraham came into covenant relationship with YHVH before he was circumcised, not after. Circumcision is an act of obedience for those within the Covenant, it was not and is not a means of entering the covenant. Circumcision of the flesh is one of the most obvious signs of a circumcised heart, as we saw in Eze 44:9, yet it is not proof of one.
Likewise, the other signs of the Covenant, such as abstaining from eating abominable flesh, the Sabbath and Passover observance, and the Torah in general, are signs of obedience for those who are already in the Covenant, not a means of entering the Covenant.
At Sinai, all Israel said, “All that Yehovah has spoken we shall do” (Exo 19:8) before they had even heard what the Elohim of the forefathers would ask them to do. That was obedience; that was faith.
We should view the obedience to YHVH Elohim as a obedience to His commands in the Torah. As the Messiah who himself was circumcised, who observed the Sabbath, and was obedient to His Father, so are we to be obedient to do the same. We should not view the obedience to YHVH as a burden, because it is not.
Thus, the whole Torah summarizes all signs of YHVH into one: observe His commands to set yourself apart.
Fear Elohim, and guard His commandments, for this is for the whole mankind. For Elohim shall bring every work into the judgment concerning every hidden thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil. (Ecc 12:13-14)
Even though the Torah is the sign YHVH Elohim wants us to have in the hearts, there is one more sign we need to have.
The words in the Book of Revelation are of YHVH Elohim (see Rev 1:1). Therefore, every word we read in Revelation is the word which YHVH has spoken, the word we must believe. We read from Revelation,
And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to fight with the remnant of her seed, those guarding the commands of Elohim and possessing the testimony of Yeshua the Messiah. (Rev 12:17)
Here is the endurance of the set-apart ones, here are those guarding the commands of Elohim and the faith of Yeshua. (Rev 14:12)
Therefore, we see that faith in both Torah and the Messiah is necessary in order to be called the remnant and the set-apart ones.
From these two statements we understand beyond any reasonable doubt that there are two main signs one must have: guarding the commands of Elohim and the faith of Yeshua the Messiah. Notice that both, guarding the Torah and the faith of the Messiah are required, not either or.
These are the signs for the people of Elohim who have already entered into His Covenant. Yet, there is a sign that was given to all humanity.
And I shall establish My covenant with you, and never again is all flesh cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again is there a flood to destroy the earth. (Gen 9:11-12)
And Elohim gave Noach the sign of the covenant which He made between Him and Noach, and every living creature that was with him, for all generations to come: the rainbow.
When the Creator gathers again the clouds over the earth, the rainbow will be seen in them not for man only, but for Him also, who will look at the rainbow to remember His everlasting covenant and spare the mankind from the water (Gen 9:14-15).
The establishment of the rainbow as a covenant sign of the promise that there will be no total flood again, presupposes that water will not be used to destroy the earth.
But the Almighty said nothing about fire and earthquakes.
For more knowledge and understanding of what the present meant by that, visit the series The Revelation from YHVH.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.