Thursday, August 31, 2017

How Yom Teruah Became Rosh Hashanah

How Yom Teruah Became Rosh Hashanah

1st day, Seventh Month, Tishrei, Torah, holy day, Yom Teruah, Day of Shouting, day of rest, work, forbidden, Exodus, celebration, Yom Kippur, day of atonement, Leviticus, numbers, Feast of Sukkot, Booths, Israelites, festivals, trumpet, ram’s horn, shofar, Joshua, Jericho, Yehovah, Zichron, memorial, Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah, head of the year, New Years, pagan, Babylonian, jewish nation, Talmud, Tammuz, weeping over Tammuz, mythology, Middle East, rabbinical calendar, Tanakh, Jews, Rabbis, Judea, Exile, judaism, lunar-solar calendar, biblical calendar, Akitu, paganism, Moses, Children of Israel, Shabbaton, holy convocation, Sabbatical year, Jubilee year, 50th year, 49th year, agriculture cycle, Land of Israel, KaraiteOn the 1st day of the Seventh Month (Tishrei) the Torah commands us to observe the holy day of Yom Teruah which means “Day of Shouting” (Leviticus 23:23-25; Numbers 29:1-6). Yom Teruah is a day of rest on which work is forbidden.
One of the unique things about Yom Teruah is that the Torah does not say what the purpose of this holy day is. The Torah gives at least one reason for all the other holy days and two reasons for some. The Feast of Matzot (Unleavened Bread) commemorates the Exodus from Egypt, but it is also a celebration of the beginning of the barley harvest (Exodus 23:15; Leviticus 23:4–14). The Feast of Shavuot (Weeks) is a celebration of the wheat harvest (Exodus 23:16; 34:22). Yom Ha-Kippurim is a national day of atonement as described in great detail in Leviticus 16. Finally, the Feast of Sukkot (Booths) commemorates the wandering of the Israelites in the desert and is also a celebration of the ingathering of agricultural produce (Exodus 23:16). In contrast to all these Torah festivals, Yom Teruah has no clear purpose other than that we are commended to rest on this day.
Nevertheless, the name of Yom Teruah provides a clue as to its purpose. Teruah literally means to make a loud noise. This word can describe the noise made by a trumpet but it also describes the noise made by a large gathering of people shouting in unison (Numbers 10:5–6). For example,
And it shall come to pass when the ram’s horn makes a long blast, when you hear the sound of the shofar, the entire nation willshout a great shout, and the wall of the city shall fall in its place, and the people shall go up as one man against it.”
- Joshua 6:5
In this verse the word “shout” appears twice, once as the verb form of Teruah and a second time as the noun form of Teruah. Although this verse mentions the sound of the shofar (ram’s horn), the two instances of Teruah do not refer to the shofar. In fact, in this verse, Teruah refers to the shouting of the Israelites which was followed by the fall of the walls of Jericho.
While the Torah does not explicitly tell us the purpose of Yom Teruah, its name may indicate that it is intended as a day of public prayer. The verb form of Teruah often refers to the noise made by a gathering of the faithful calling out to the Almighty in unison. For example:
  • Clap hands, all nations, shout to God, with a singing voice!” (Psalms 47:2)
  • Shout to God, all the earth!” (Psalms 66:1)
  • Sing to God, our strength, shout to the God of Jacob!” (Psalms 81:2)
  • Shout to Yehovah, all the earth!” (Psalms 100:1)
In Leviticus 23:24, Yom Teruah is also referred to as Zichron Teruah. The word Zichron is sometimes translated as “memorial”, but this Hebrew word also means to “mention”, often in reference to speaking the name of Yehovah. For example, Exodus 3:15; Isaiah 12:4; Isaiah 26:13; Psalms 45:17[Heb. 18]. The day of Zichron Teruah, the “Mentioning Shout”, may refer to a day of gathering in public prayer in which the crowd of the faithful shouts the name of Yehovah in unison.
Today, few people remember the biblical name of Yom Teruah and instead it is widely known as "Rosh Hashanah" which literally means “head of the year” and hence also “New Years”. The transformation of Yom Teruah (Day of Shouting) into Rosh Hashanah (New Years) is the result of pagan Babylonian influence upon the Jewish nation. The first stage in the transformation was the adoption of the Babylonian month names. In the Torah, the months are numbered as First Month, Second Month, Third Month, etc (Leviticus 23; Numbers 28). During their sojourn in Babylonia our ancestors began to use the pagan Babylonian month names, a fact readily admitted in the Talmud:
The names of the months came up with them from Babylonia.” (Jerusalem Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 1:2 56d)
The pagan nature of the Babylonian month names is epitomized by the fourth month known as Tammuz. In the Babylonian religion, Tammuz was the god of grain whose annual death and resurrection brought fertility to the world. In the book of Ezekiel, the prophet described a journey to Jerusalem in which he saw the Jewish women sitting in the Temple “weeping over Tammuz” (Ezekiel 8:14). The reason they were weeping over Tammuz is that, according to Babylonian mythology, Tammuz had been slain but had not yet been resurrected. In ancient Babylonia, the time for weeping over Tammuz was the early summer, when the rains cease throughout the Middle East and green vegetation is burnt by the unrelenting sun. To this day the Fourth Month in the rabbinical calendar is known as the month of Tammuz and it is still a time for weeping and mourning.
Some of the Babylonian month names found their way into the later books of the Tanakh, but they always appear alongside the Torah month names. For example, Esther 3:7 says:
In the First Month, which is the month of Nissan, in the twelfth year of King Achashverosh.”
This verse starts off by giving the Torah name for the month (“First Month”) and then translates this month into its pagan equivalent (“which is the month of Nissan”). By the time of Esther, all the Jews lived within the boundaries of the Persian Empire and the Persians had adopted the Babylonian calendar for the civil administration of their realm. At first, the Jews used these Babylonian month names alongside the Torah month names, but over time the Torah month names fell into disuse.
As the Jewish People became more comfortable with the Babylonian month names, they became more susceptible to other Babylonian influences. This is similar to the way that American Jews observe  Hanukkah as a Jewish version of Christmas. This influence began with the seemingly harmless custom of giving gifts on Hanukkah. Until the Jews arrived in America this custom was unknown and it is still a rarity in Israel where Hanukkah does not need to compete with Christmas for the hearts and minds of the Jewish youth. Once Hanukkah took on this relatively trivial aspect of Christmas, it became ripe for more significant influences. Today, many American Jews have established the custom of setting up a “Hanukkah bush” as a Jewish alternative to the Christmas tree. These Jews did not want to adopt Christmas outright so they “Judaized” the Christmas tree and incorporated into Hanukkah. This example shows how easy it is to be influenced by the practices of a foreign religion, especially when there is some similarity to begin with. The fact that Hanukkah often falls out around the same time as Christmas made it natural for American Jews to incorporate elements of Christmas into their observance of Hanukkah.
Just as the Jews of America have been influenced by Christmas, the ancient Rabbis were influenced by the pagan Babylonian religion. Although many Jews returned to Judea when the Exile officially ended in 516 BCE, the forebears of the Rabbis remained behind in Babylonia where rabbinical Judaism gradually took shape. Many of the earliest known Rabbis such as Hillel I were born and educated in Babylonia. Indeed, Babylonia remained the heartland of Rabbinical Judaism until the fall of the Gaonate in the 11th Century CE. The Babylonian Talmud abounds with the influences of Babylonian paganism. Indeed, pagan deities even appear in the Talmud recycled as "Jewish" angels and demons.1
One field of Babylonian religious influence was in the observance of Yom Teruah as a New Years celebration. From very early times the Babylonians had a lunar-solar calendar very similar to the biblical calendar. The result was that Yom Teruah often fell out on the same day as the Babylonian New Years festival of “Akitu”. The Babylonian Akitu fell out on the 1st day of Tishrei which coincided with Yom Teruah on the 1st day of the Seventh Month. When Jews started calling the "Seventh Month" by the Babylonian name "Tishrei", it paved the way for turning Yom Teruah into a Jewish Akitu. At the same time, the Rabbis did not want to adopt Akitu outright so they Judaized it by changing the name of Yom Teruah (Day of Shouting) to Rosh Hashanah (New Years). The fact that the Torah did not give a reason for Yom Teruah no doubt made it easier for the Rabbis to proclaim it the Jewish New Years.
It is outright bizarre to celebrate Yom Teruah as New Years. This biblical festival falls out on the first day of the Seventh Month. However, in the context of Babylonian culture this was perfectly natural. The Babylonians actually celebrated Akitu, New Years, twice every year, once on the first of Tishrei and again six months later on the first of Nissan. The first Babylonian Akitu celebration coincided with Yom Teruah and the second Akitu coincided with the actual New Years in the Torah on the first day of the First Month. While the Rabbis proclaimed Yom Teruah to be New Years, they still recognized that the 1st day of the “First Month” in the Torah was, as its name implied, also a New Years. They could hardly deny this based on Exodus 12:2 which says:
This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it is first of the months of the year.”
The context of this verse speaks about the celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread which falls out in the First Month. In light of this verse, the Rabbis could not deny that the first day of the First Month was a biblical New Years. But in the cultural context of Babylonia, where Akitu was celebrated as New Years twice a year, it made perfect sense that Yom Teruah could be a second New Years even though it was in the Seventh Month.
In contrast to Babylonian paganism, the Torah does not say or imply that Yom Teruah has anything to do with New Years. On the contrary, the Feast of Sukkot (Booths), which takes place exactly two weeks after Yom Teruah, is referred to in one verse as “the going out of the year” (Exodus 23:16). This would be like calling January 15 in the modern Western calendar “the going out of the year”. the Torah would not describe Sukkot in this manner if it intended Yom Teruah to be celebrated as a New Years.
Some modern Rabbis have argued that Yom Teruah is actually referred to as Rosh Hashanah in Ezekiel 40:1, which describes a vision that the prophet had, “At the beginning of the year (Rosh Hashanah) on the tenth of the month”. In fact, Ezekiel 40:1 proves that the phrase "Rosh Hashanah" does not mean “New Years”. Instead, it retains its literal sense of “the head of the year” referring to the First Month in the Torah calendar. The 10th day of Rosh Hashanah in Ezekiel 40:1 refers to the 10th day of the First Month.
Yom Teruah is mentioned in the following biblical passages:
  • "And Yehovah spoke unto Moses saying, Speak to the Children of Israel saying, In the Seventh month on the first of the month will be a day of rest (Shabbaton) for you, a Remembrance Shouting, a holy convocation. You shall do no work and you will bring a fire sacrifice to Yehovah." Leviticus 23:23-25
  • "And in the Seventh month on the first of the month will be a holy convocation for you; you shall do no work, it will be a Day of Shouting for you..." Numbers 29:1-6
Q: What about Leviticus 25:9?
A: Some people have argued that Yom Teruah should be considered New Years because it is the beginning of the Sabbatical year. However, the Torah does not say that Yom Teruah is the beginning of the Sabbatical year and all indications are that the Sabbatical year begins on the 1st day of the First Month. The Torah does say the following:
And you shall pass a shofar of blasting in the Seventh Month on the tenth of the month; on the Day of Atonement, you shall pass a shofar throughout all your land.” (Leviticus 25:9)
This verse is saying that a shofar should be used to announce the arrival of the Jubilee year, the 50th year in the Sabbatical system. It does not say that the Jubilee begins on the Day of Atonement, only that the impending arrival of the Jubilee year is announced on the Day of Atonement. The shofar is to be passed throughout the land on Yom Kippur of the 49th year, six months before the beginning of the coming Jubilee year. This interpretation is supported by the immediate context in Leviticus 25. Verse 8 says to count forty nine years, verse 9 says to pass the shofar throughout the land, and verse 10 says to proclaim the 50th year as the Jubilee. This shows that the shofar announcing the coming Jubilee in verse 9 is passed through the land before the Jubilee is actually proclaimed in verse 10.
Q: Isn’t the Seventh Month the beginning of the agricultural cycle?
A: In the Torah the middle of the Seventh Month is actually the end of the agriculture cycle, specifically of the grain cycle. In the Land of Israel, grains are planted in Autumn and harvested in Spring. The new agricultural cycle would not actually begin until the plowing of the fields. This would not take place until the first light rains which moisten the ground enough to be broken by iron and wooden plows. In the Land of Israel, this could be as early as the middle of the Seventh Month but is usually in the Eighth Month or later. By the above logic, the Eighth Month should be considered the beginning of the year, not the Seventh Month.
1 Zvi Cahn, The Rise of the Karaite Sect, New York 1937, pages 98–101. Cahn’s central thesis is that the refusal of rabbinical leaders to repudiate the deep-rooted Babylonian paganism that had infiltrated Babylonian Judaism led to the rise of the Karaite back-to-the-Bible movement in the early Middle Ages. In this context, Cahn gives a detailed list of various pagan influences in rabbinical Judaism.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Our Adoption by God the Father

The Apostle Paul's Eschatological Intent in a
Soteriological Statement to the Saints in Rome
by Al Maxey

We are all familiar with the concept and practice of adoption, for it is known in virtually every society. Although there are varying customs and laws associated with this practice throughout the world and at various times throughout history, the basic concept is rather constant: it is the choosing of a child, who is not your offspring biologically, for inclusion into your family, and the raising of that child as your own. This is truly an act of self-sacrificial love, one that reflects the very nature of our divine Father. In light of the latter, I find it interesting that one of the synonyms for this term is "election." We are the children of God by divine selection; we are the "elect" of God due to His gracious choice, just as a child is chosen/selected by human parents to be a part of their family, even though that child was not theirs biologically. Little wonder, then, that adoption is a concept employed in the Scriptures to illustrate our immersion into a familial relationship with God the Father. By this divine act of election, this act of grace and love, we become a vital part of His Forever Family. Although Jesus may well be said to be, on at least a human level, the "only begotten" child of God through the impregnation of Mary by the Spirit, He is nevertheless not the only child of God, for such we are by means of adoption into the Father's household! "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1). "God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba, Father!' So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir" (Galatians 4:4-7). "Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:4-5). "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26). We are the chosen ones, the elect of God the Father. We are His beloved, pre-selected children: a free gift of grace we receive by faith! "So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son" (Ephesians 1:6). "Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for He chose us in advance" (Ephesians 1:11). Therefore, as His beloved sons and daughters, by means of this marvelous action of adoption, we have "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven" for us, just waiting for our arrival (1 Peter 1:4).

This all seems rather clear and straightforward; it is easily grasped, for we are familiar with the concept and practice of adoption. However, there is a statement made by the apostle Paul that has troubled some disciples, for it seems, at least at first glance, to convey a somewhat contradictory concept than that presented above. The troubling passage is found in Romans 8, which is a powerful chapter detailing the awesome power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to transform our lives and conform them to the likeness of Jesus Christ. It is one of my favorite chapters in the New Covenant writings. Yet, it has a few "surprises" theologically with which some seem to struggle. In verses 18-25 of this chapter, Paul speaks of the contrast between our present sufferings in this life and the glorious future the Lord has prepared for His children. It is a future glorification and emancipation that not only we humans long for, but which the creation itself earnestly desires and for which it groans in anticipation (figuratively speaking). Thus, "we ourselves," just like the whole of creation, "groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently" (vs. 23-25). Do you see what has troubled some? In the previous passages noted above, the teaching seemed clearly to be that we are the adopted children of God right now, yet in Romans 8:23 Paul just as clearly states that our "adoption as sons" is something for which "we wait eagerly." It is something for which we all groan in anticipation of receiving, which we hope for, but which we do not yet have in our possession. There seems to be a huge contradiction here, right?! It behooves us, therefore, to take a closer look at what Paul is saying in Romans 8:23.

A few days ago, I received an email from a minister in which he wrote, in part, "Al, I was wondering if you had an article on God's adoption? I had a sermon I wanted to preach, and almost did, until I looked at Romans 8:23. I don't know how I've missed this over all these years that I have been preaching! I thought we were adopted as God's children when we were buried with Him in baptism. But when I read Romans 8:23, and the surrounding context, it certainly looks like our adoption has not yet happened, and won't until the resurrection! Al, I know you are busy, but if you've done some work on this, I would really appreciate a reference to where that work is. I think what has slowed me down is: if this is the way it really is, then what other teachings might be affected? And, do our people really understand God's adoption?! Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this, and thanks for all you do - consistently!" As a companion study to this passage, since there is a bit of a connection, I would suggest a reading of my study on Romans 8:24, for the King James Version has done a tremendous disservice to disciples of Christ by its horrendous rendering of a phrase in that verse ("Salvation by Hope: A Study of Romans 8:24" - Reflections #597).

With regard to this brother's statement, I would personally hesitate, based on my study, to assert that our adoption is acquired at the point of baptism in water. That, once again, tends to elevate this particular act of faith to a sacrament. I would suggest it is by faith that we received this gift of adoption into the Family of God. Nevertheless, this minister's question is a valid one: regardless of the time, place and methodology of our adoption, is our sonship something we already have, or is our adoption by the Father still future? There are many passages, as noted above, that affirm rather forcefully that we are indeed now His children: His beloved sons and daughters; a gift of grace we receive here and now by faith. Yet, the apostle Paul, just as clearly, or so it seems, told the saints in Rome that this adoption is a reality not yet seen or experienced, and is a blessing we "wait for eagerly," as does all of creation, which will receive renewal at that same time. Although this appears to be a contradiction in Paul's teaching (Paul, by the way, is the only NT writer to use the Greek word for "adoption": "huiothesia," which appears only 5 times: Romans 8:15, 23; 9:4; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5), it really is not a contradiction at all. It is merely our failure to perceive that adoption is a process. Even in our own secular societies, we understand that even though we may have selected, chosen a specific child to adopt, and may have filled out some of the paperwork, and may even have the child living in our home, there is still a period of time that will pass before the adoption is finalized. We still view the chosen child as a son or daughter, and relate to them as such, yet we also realize that the fullness and finality of that adoptive process may still be weeks, months, or even years in the future. A very similar situation is the betrothal process of the Jews during the time of Christ. The wedding festivities and feasts are in the future, yet the betrothal state is one in which the couple is viewed as husband and wife (they are even called such - i.e., Joseph and Mary). The fullness of that blessed state, however, is future. Thus, we need to realize that "Adoption as God's act is an eternal process of His gracious love" [The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 1, p. 55].

God, from the beginning of creation, "elected" His children: His chosen ones. That calling goes out to all, and those who embrace that grace by faith are welcomed into His Family. Thus, by His grace and our faith, we ARE, even now, His adopted sons and daughters. Yet, the FULL and FINAL blessings of our sonship have yet to occur, for, as Paul states in our text, they are tied to our bodily resurrection on that last day. The same is true with the church, the bride of Christ. We are already His beloved bride (we are betrothed to Him), but it is only at His return that His bride (the church; the redeemed of all time) is escorted by Him to the Father, and the wedding feasts then begin. Paul does not deny the fact that we are NOW both the bride of Christ and the sons/daughters of the Father. Neither does he deny that there are blessings inherent in both states that are still future, and for which we eagerly wait. In Romans 8:23, Paul tells us that the full realization of our adoption, and the full experience of its divine blessings, will occur at the coming of the Lord and the bodily resurrection and redemption of our physical bodies. It is then that we gain the inheritance "reserved in heaven" for us; it is then that the fullness of sonship, what we have longed for eagerly as we live our lives in this earthly realm, will be experienced. The Spirit of God at present indwells us, and is transforming us, and is encouraging our hearts and minds with the assurance that we are His children and in a blessed relationship with God. "You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:15-17). We are His heirs by virtue of being adopted as His sons, yet that inheritance awaits us, as Peter notes! Thus, there are aspects of our adoption, our sonship, that are future! When will this fullness be realized? At the coming of the Lord, at the resurrection, when our bodies are raised, redeemed from the grave, and transformed. THEN that which we now possess in part will be possessed in full. It is this of which Paul speaks in Romans 8:23.

Dr. James Strong, in analyzing this passage, wrote, "In Romans 8:23, the 'adoption' of the believer is set forth as still future, as it there includes the redemption of the body, when the living will be changed and those who have fallen asleep will be raised" [The New Strong's Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words, p. 1423]. "In the eschatological aspect, the entire creation will benefit from the adopted one receiving the deliverance of his body from decay and death (Romans 8:23)" [Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 1, p. 27]. Dr. Joseph Henry Thayer, in his Greek-English Lexicon of the NT, informs us that the Greek word for adoption, as it is used by Paul in his epistle to the brethren in Rome, "also includes the blessed state looked for in the future life after the visible return of Christ from heaven; i.e., the consummate condition of the sons of God" [p. 634]. The Greek scholar Dr. Kenneth S. Wuest concurs: "They have already received adoption, and as led by the Spirit are sons of God; but only when their mortal bodies have been quickened, and the corruptible has put on incorruption, will they possess all that sonship involves. For this they wait and sigh, and the inextinguishable hope, born of the Spirit dwelling in them, guarantees its fulfillment" [Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek NT, vol. 1, p. 139]. "The future bodily resurrection of believers will be the full harvest of redemption" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 10, p. 95]. "The adoption of Christians is not yet fully realized, for adoption is spoken of in Romans 8:23 as something in the future. It is the redemption of our body, and we are still waiting for it; it can be completely attained only at the general resurrection. The thought closely resembles that of 1 John 3:2 - 'Beloved, now we are children of God, but it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.' Our sonship will then be perfected" [Dr. James Hastings, Dictionary of the Apostolic Church, vol. 1, p. 42]. The apostle John, right after the above quote, continues, "And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:3), which is precisely how Paul continues: "...waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved" (Romans 8:23b-24).

"There is an eager longing for the fuller enjoyment promised. We are alreadyadopted children, but rather in expectation than in realization. When the full adoption comes, we will not have these poor, frail, dying bodies, subject to weakness, sinfulness and decay" [Dr. B. W. Johnson, The People's New Testament, vol. 2, p. 43]. "The adoption process will be finalized when God restores all creation, giving His children resurrection bodies" [Holman Bible Dictionary, p. 21]. This is one of the reasons, quite frankly, that the Good News is tied so intimately to the coming resurrection of our physical bodies (a truth some so-called "Gospel" preachers and teachers are denying; some even suggesting it all happened back in 70 A.D.). Luke informs us that when Paul went forth with the Good News, "he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection" (Acts 17:18). Some didn't like it then, and some don't like it now. In fact, Paul was amazed that some brethren in the city of Corinth were doing this very thing: "How can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?!" (1 Corinthians 15:12). The Message nailed it here when they have Paul saying to these people, "If there's no resurrection, everything we've told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you've staked your life on is smoke and mirrors." Our Christian "hope" is not in a maybe, it is in a certainty, and the Spirit within us affirms that truth to our hearts and minds, giving us a confident expectation of what is to come: a resurrection reality that we, and all of creation, await eagerly. Yes, we are sons and daughters of the Father; we are the elect, the chosen, the adopted. We are also heirs, even though that aspect of our sonship remains at present reserved for us in heaven. But, take heart, be filled with hope, there's a great day coming! A "great gettin' up morning," when hope is realized! I can't wait!! "Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens. ... These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting ... and the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along!" (Romans 8:22-26, The Message).