Vayikra

Torah – Leviticus 1:1-6:7  Haftarah – Isaiah 43:21-44:23   Brit Chadashah – Hebrews 10:1-18; Hebrews 13:10-15

Vayikra (and He called) is the subject of this week’s parasha (portion).  We begin a brand new book, which we more commonly refer to as Leviticus.  

We will focus mainly on the “sacrificial system,” which is actually a horrible interpretation of what this portion is actually all about.  I used the common term in order to illustrate the truth of this teaching.  

Before I touch upon that, I wanted to share something I picked up from a YouTube video.  I don’t recall the channel, or even the title of the video at this point, but they made one point that I think is great and worth passing along.  With regards to the sacrificial system, as most teach it, it can be found across mostly, if not all, religions.  The person in the video pointed out that pagan sacrifice was always an attempt to appease or please a god, or as a means by which one could even become one!  In other words, it was always man’s attempt to reach god, while the One True G-d of Torah and the Brit Chadashah had a plan.  His plan was not a system by which man can get to G-d, but rather a plan by which G-d reaches to man!  A great shift in perspective, I thought.

This portion covers in detail four types of “sacrifices” or “offerings.”  They are the burnt offering, Shalom or peace offering, meal offering and the sin offering.  Again, I used the terms most commonly found in our English translations.

The Hebrew word actually used is Qorban, or korban.  This is a Hebrew word that has been grossly misrepresented in our translations.  Whether by intent or by error, the end result is the same.  We are presented with the idea that we, man has to give up something, or give something away in order to somehow please G-d.

Before I share what a proper translation looks like, let’s look at a portion here.

Leviticus 1:2-3, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When any one of you brings an offering to the L-RD, you shall bring your offering of the livestock–of the herd and of the flock. 3 ‘If his offering [is] a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the L-RD.” (NKJV)

So again we see that our “offering” or “sacrifice” is somehow presented in order to please G-d.

Qorban, or korban is much better translated as “to draw near”, or “to draw close.”  Can you see the difference?  Our Korban is not brought as a pay off, enticement, or appeasement.  It is brought rather as a gift.  The giving of this gift is intended to draw our hearts closer to the heart of G-d, or perhaps better yet, the gift itself allows our hearts to be drawn to the Father!

Hopefully, this makes sense to you.  The next time you bring a Korban to the L-RD do it out of a heart of love and thanksgiving.  See what changes…

Shalom! 

Vayakhel

Torah – Exodus 35:1-38:20  Haftarah – 1 Kings 7:40-50   Brit Chadashah – 2 Corinthians 99:6-11; 1 Corinthians 3:11-18

Vayakhel (and he assembled) is the parasha (portion) we will look at this week.  It covers a lot of ground from the restating of the mitzvah (command) regarding observance of the Sabbath, the taking up of the offering from the people in order to construct the Mishkahn (Tabernacle) and even the making of some of the contents of the Mishkahn including the Ark and laver.

Let’s get started by taking a look at a somewhat lengthy portion of the verses contained in our Torah reading this week and then we will consider a point or two.

Exodus 35:1-29, “Then Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said to them, “These [are] the words which the L-RD has commanded [you] to do: 2 “Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the L-RD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. 3 “You shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day.” 4 And Moses spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, “This [is] the thing which the L-RD commanded, saying: 5 ‘Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever [is] of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the L-RD: gold, silver, and bronze; 6 ‘blue, purple, and scarlet [thread], fine linen, and goats’ [hair]; 7 ‘ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; 8 ‘oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; 9 ‘onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate. 10 ‘All [who are] gifted artisans among you shall come and make all that the L-RD has commanded: 11 ‘the tabernacle, its tent, its covering, its clasps, its boards, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets; 12 ‘the ark and its poles, [with] the mercy seat, and the veil of the covering; 13 ‘the table and its poles, all its utensils, and the showbread; 14 ‘also the lampstand for the light, its utensils, its lamps, and the oil for the light; 15 ‘the incense altar, its poles, the anointing oil, the sweet incense, and the screen for the door at the entrance of the tabernacle; 16 ‘the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles, all its utensils, [and] the laver and its base; 17 ‘the hangings of the court, its pillars, their sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court; 18 ‘the pegs of the tabernacle, the pegs of the court, and their cords; 19 ‘the garments of ministry, for ministering in the holy [place]–the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests.’ ” 20 And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21 Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, [and] they brought the L-RD’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments. 22 They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, [and] brought earrings and nose rings, rings and necklaces, all jewelry of gold, that is, every man who [made] an offering of gold to the L-RD. 23 And every man, with whom was found blue, purple, and scarlet [thread], fine linen, and goats’ [hair], red skins of rams, and badger skins, brought [them]. 24 Everyone who offered an offering of silver or bronze brought the L-RD’s offering. And everyone with whom was found acacia wood for any work of the service, brought [it]. 25 All the women [who were] gifted artisans spun yarn with their hands, and brought what they had spun, of blue, purple, [and] scarlet, and fine linen. 26 And all the women whose hearts stirred with wisdom spun yarn of goats’ [hair]. 27 The rulers brought onyx stones, and the stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate, 28 and spices and oil for the light, for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense. 29 The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the L-RD, all the men and women whose hearts were willing to bring [material] for all kinds of work which the L-RD, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done.” (NKJV)

Exodus 36:5-7, “and they spoke to Moses, saying, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the L-RD commanded [us] to do.” 6 So Moses gave a commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, “Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.” And the people were restrained from bringing, 7 for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done–indeed too much.”

This is a very important part of this parasha that we have looked at a couple of times over the years.  This year we will revisit some of the same points as they are that important.  We will also take a look at a little different angle that I don’t believe we have discussed before.

First, you will note that Moshe (Moses) invited the people to offer to the L-RD in order to build the Mishkahn, which the L-RD had instructed them to build.  

The vision that was presented was very clear and given with great transparency.  You will note that specific items were requested and even was mentioned the purpose for those items at times.

As an aside, is this something we see in the modern “church-at-large?”  We have general offerings that are taken up with little if any transparency given to most congregations.  We also see any number of sub-groupings of offerings taken up at various times.  You’ll see things like missions offerings, building offerings and so on.  Let it be noted I am not saying that taking offerings, or even multiple or specific offerings is a bad thing in and of itself.  I’m just wondering how often church leadership gets as specific as Moshe did.

Furthermore, you will notice that there was NO coercion, manipulation, or pushiness in the request made by Moshe.  Simply put, he stated without any drama the need, and what it was to be used for in the work G-d had called them to do.  He also made it very clear that this was an offering to be received from the “willing” only!  

One last thing you don’t see in this offering time.  It is not recorded that there was any band playing emotional music designed to draw people in.  No, none of that.  

So what was the result?  I think if a “consultant” sat in on most pastoral business meetings and suggested offerings were taken up in the exact way Moshe did in the above verses and furthermore that once the “goal” was met that the people should be instructed to stop giving that the consultant would likely be escorted out of the building!

The question for all of us to ponder this week as we study the parasha on our own is clear.  What is our heart’s motivation when we give?  Above and beyond our commanded tithe (10%) are we giving from a heart of love that is not seeking personal gain from some cosmic genie in a bottle?  Are we attempting to bribe the G-d of the universe?  Are we giving because we feel pressure from the pulpit?  Is our giving inspired by the Holy Spirit, or because we don’t want to be the only one in our row not pulling out our checkbook or wallet?

Whether or not a special need is made known from leadership, I think we ought to make sure that our giving always comes from a position of love and a desire to please the Father, whether or not He will bless us.  Anything else, I’m afraid will amount to wood, hay and stubble in the world to come.

Shalom!

Torah – Exodus 30:11-34:35   Haftarah – 1 Kings 18:1-39  Brit Chadashah – 2 Corinthians 3:1-18

Ki Tisa (When you take) is a powerful parasha (portion) of Scripture with one of the more memorable “failures” recorded.  I’m talking about the debacle of the golden calf.  This is something we have looked at in depth in the past so it would be good in your study time to take another look at this important teaching as it is full of lessons for us here today.

This time around we will look at one simple truth contained in the opening verses of this portion.  In some ways, it is obvious and yet profound with application for today.  Let’s look at the verses before I go on.

Exodus 34:11-15, “Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I am driving out from before you the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. 12 “Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. 13 “But you shall destroy their altars, break their [sacred] pillars, and cut down their wooden images 14 “(for you shall worship no other god, for the L-RD, whose name [is] Jealous, [is] a jealous G-d), 15 “lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and [one of them] invites you and you eat of his sacrifice.’

This commanded offering which was intended for use in the Holy service at first glance may seem odd or, dare I say, even a bit unfair.  The half shekel offering command of everyone 20 years of age and older.  Specifically, what I am referring to is the fact that it is mentioned that the poor shall not give less and the rich shall not give more! (verse 15)

If we compare it to something like our modern day tax system, it certainly seems unfair.  Some clamor that the rich do not pay their “fair share.”  Some say that the poor are unfairly burdened and so on.  Of course, in the case of the Scripture it is not referring to a tax.

I am not suggesting this is a “Thus Saith the L-RD” message, but certainly is a valid observation that I submit for you to consider.  As always, there are many layers to the onion and we have explored this topic in the past, so I won’t rehash some of the other ideas I have presented, we will just look at this with a fresh idea.

Perhaps the L-RD was collecting that which was required to get the job done.  Maybe He was interested in the people all participating in the project, if you will.  Could it be that He wanted the people to be united and not divided in their endeavor?  If everyone had equal skin in the game so-to-speak, then this certainly would avoid the sin of pride sneaking into the hearts of the people, would it not?

When I think of so many modern ministries, I can’t help think of building project after building project that is flawed from the very start.  How many times have you heard a leader of the church call for all to give, and give sacrificially?  They typically don’t stop there though!  There are almost always different “levels” of giving that are recognized as special!  Maybe you hear of enticements like if you give a gift of $500, your name will be engraved on a brick that will be on a special walkway of “thanks.”  If you give $1,000, you and your family will have their names engraved on a beautiful plaque that will be prominently displayed in the grand foyer.  And there always seems to be something equivalent to a special “President’s Circle” where if you give some extravagant amount to this ministry right now, you will have your name engraved on the most special way yet, perhaps on the very altar…oh, and you also get a list of special privileges too, reserved only for the most faithful (top givers.)! 

Can you see a striking difference in the way G-d does things and the way fleshly man does things?  G-d never, ever appeals to pride.  Only a sense of love and obedience!

Shalom

Tetzavah

Torah – Exodus 27:20-30:10  Haftarah – Ezekiel 43:10-27   Brit Chadqashah – Hebrews 13:10-17

Tetzavah (you shall command) is the seventh portion in the book of Shemot (Exodus – literally “Names”).  It is the continuation of the revelation of Torah at Har Sini (Mt. Sinai) and deals with the Mishkahn (Tabernacle service and the Priestly garments and service.)

I will briefly look at just two ideas, one from our Torah portion and the other from Haftarah.

This parasha (portion) is the first and only time from our introduction to Moshe (Moses) until his death that his name is not mentioned.  This is the case even though it is clear that it is Moshe to whom G-d is speaking and giving the commands to in this portion.  There are several thoughts as to why this is, but the one I will offer up for your contemplation is that during the yearly reading and study of this portion the seventh of Adar falls.  This is the notable date of Moshe’s death.

Ezekiel 43:10-11, “Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern. 11 “And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple and its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, its entire design and all its ordinances, all its forms and all its laws. Write [it] down in their sight, so that they may keep its whole design and all its ordinances, and perform them.” (NKJV)

The centerpiece of sharing the Gospel is, of course, Yeshua and His loving, once for all time atoning sacrifice for our sins.  The trouble with getting a lost person to connect with this wonderful gift is that they often think it’s not for them, or that they are ok, or a good person and somehow G-d will let them into the Kingdom.  It is critical to help them see their desperate need for a Savior in the first place, in other words, you have to get them to realize that they are indeed lost in the first place.  

It is the “Law”, or better said, Torah which contains the Mitzvah (Commands or instructions) that shows us our sin by way of giving us the standard by which we must measure up.  This is what Ezekiel was being shown in the Haftarah portion this week and as laid out in the opening verses I shared above.

The Mishkahn and later the Temple was constructed for many reasons and to teach us many things about HaShem (YHVH) and how to reconnect with Him.  Everything about this portion, along with Haftarah especially point us to the Standard.  It is when we “see” its patterns, measurements, and ordinances that we begin to not only see our sin and how we fail to measure up to His Standards, but also gives us a model of the pathway leading back to Him.  Again, this pattern is Yeshua Himself and His Perfect Sacrifice.

Shalom!

Terumah

Torah – Exodus 25:1-27:19 Haftarah – 1 Kings 5:26-6:13  Brit Chadashah – 2 Corinthians 9:1-15; Matthew 5:33-37

Terumah, Hebrew for offering or contribution, begins our look at the preparations for the construction of the Mishkahn or Tabernacle.

Some weeks there is much study and searching for the lesson that I am supposed to share.  Other weeks, like this week it leaps right out at me!  In either case, studying the Word never gets old or redundant.  In fact, it is always exciting and enriching whether the nuggets of gold just leap out at you or whether you have to labor long to dig them out.  Baruch HaShem (Praise the Name!).

Exodus 25:1-8, “Then the L-RD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering. 3 “And this [is] the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, and bronze; 4 “blue, purple, and scarlet [thread], fine linen, and goats’ [hair]; 5 “ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; 6 “oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; 7 “onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate. 8 “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”

There are two basic things I want to show you in these verses.  The first seven verses deal with the image of G-d and His Triune nature and the second has to do with a very basic concept that one particular and pervasive cult teaches the opposite.  So in the interest of equipping you with the Truth tools to combat lies and push back darkness, I will mention it here at the end.

We know that man is created in the “image” or “likeness” of G-d.  Since G-d is corporeal, these terms do not refer to us “looking like Him.”  Instead, it refers to our nature.  G-d is Father, Son and Spirit, while we are created Spirit, soul and body.

Let’s look at the pattern of 3’s so you can begin to discover something you may not have noticed before.

Verse 3 points to 3 metals: gold, silver and brass.  Three colors of fine linen and goats hair: blue, purple and scarlet.  Verse 5 states three items needed in the form of ram skins, seacow hides and Shittham wood.

In verse 6, we see an overlapping of items which form three things.  The oil which is for the light and also makes up one of the ingredients in the anointing oil.  Spices, which are found in the anointing oil, and in the sweet incense.  These, to be more clear, form the lamp oil, anointing oil and incense.  

Verse 7 There are Shoham stones, and stones to be set in the breast plate and the ephod.

So you can begin to see a profoundly deep connection between G-d and man right here in the collecting of the elements that would go into the Mishkahn, which would be a model of a Meeting Place where G-d would come and dwell with men and be Echad (One) with him.

Finally, we will look at a very plain, easy to find and easy to understand verse that flies in the face of false teaching by the Jehovah Witnesses.  For the past few weeks, G-d has me in a situation where I am spending time with several JW’s and essentially shining the Light of Truth into their dark teachings.  Pray the Holy Spirit opens their eyes!  One of their teachings is that somehow man lives forever on the Earth while G-d and the angels are in Heaven.  This separation is NOT supported at all by Scripture.

Exodus 25:8 “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”

Right here we see that G-d’s plan is not only to redeem His people, but to live with them!  There are so many places in the Old covenant as well as Renewed Covenant that point to this fact.  G-d and redeemed man will live together forever, Echad (One).  

Shabbot Shalom!

Mishpatim

Torah – Exodus 20:1-24:15  Haftarah – Jeremiah 34:8-22   Brit Chadashah – Matthew 5:38-42

Mishpatim, which is Hebrew for ordinances or judgements, is where we find ourselves studying this week.  This is the first parasha (study) following the giving of Torah at Har Sini (Mount Sinai).

There is a natural and uninterrupted flow from last week’s study, which  concluded with the Ten Commandments (Mitzvah) and the beginning of Mishpatim, which takes us to what we might think of as our civil law, or in other words, our Torah instructions on how to behave in society and how to treat our fellow man.

The timing of this study really could not be more striking.  Before I point to the current news and what is happening in our modern society, here in the United States, we will first look at a few verses.

Exodus 20:22-25, “Then the L-RD said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘You have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 23 ‘You shall not make [anything to be] with Me–gods of silver or gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves. 24 ‘An altar of earth you shall make for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you. 25 ‘And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it.”

I’m not sure I need to say anything at all.  If you are somewhat awake and even mildly pay attention to the news, you know that over the past week or so we have had some tragic new laws enacted with regards to abortion.

The Governor of New York signed into law a bill that made it legal for any woman to essentially have an abortion at any time for any reason!  If my understanding of the law in New York is correct, this is up to  the moment of birth.  What made this law even more disgusting and offensive was that the news showed lawmakers standing and applauding its passage as though it were some great and noble thing.

I heard in the news today that Virginia is trying to go a step further.  How could this be?  Well, they are leaving the door open for abortion to occur even after the child has been fully born!  In certain situations, they will allow the doctors to confer with the mother while the child is kept comfortable while the final decision is made.  This is no question murder as the child is fully born and the cord has been cut.

Looking at the verses above it is clear that something like a fight that accidentally leads to a premature birth of a child, with no ill effect otherwise is still a serious penalty.  And, of course, if you continue reading you will see that if the unborn child, fetus, baby, whatever word you want to insert there is killed, then it is life for life!

Therefore, I can reach no other conclusion than to say that abortion is a violation of G-d’s Law.  It is a shameful thing what our lawmakers are doing today to disregard this fact.  Please pray that these laws are overturned quickly.  Pray for the innocent lives that are lost.  Pray that eyes be opened and the darkness pushed back.  Pray for mercy for the sins of our nation.

Shalom!

Yitro

Torah – Exodus 18:1-20:23  Haftarah – Isaiah  6:1-7;9:5-6   Brit Chadashah – Matthew 8:5-20

Parasha (portion) Yitro, the Hebrew name commonly known as Jethro is our focus of study this week.  Yitro, Moshe’s (Moses) father-in-law was a pagan high priest from Midian.  Naturally, it may seem a bit odd at first for such an important set of events in Jewish and indeed world history that this gentile would be honored with holding the title to this week’s portion.

We know of course from reading the text and hearing what the sages have to say about him that after hearing the report of Moshe and his accounts of how the One True G-d delivered them with a mighty hand out of Egypt that Yitro acknowledged YHVH to be theOne True G-d.  

This parasha is known for the leadership wisdom given to Moshe from his father-in-law.  It is well-known for the events at Mt. Sinai and the giving of Torah, and the listing of the Ten Commandments.

I want to focus on one quick idea regarding the “gathering” at the foot of the mountain.

Exodus 19:2-18, “For they had departed from Rephidim, had come [to] the Wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness. So Israel camped there before the mountain. 3 And Moses went up to G-d, and the L-RD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and [how] I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 ‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth [is] Mine. 6 ‘And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These [are] the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” 7 So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the L-RD commanded him. 8 Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the L-RD has spoken we will do.” So Moses brought back the words of the people to the L-RD. 9 And the L-RD said to Moses, “Behold, I come to you in the thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and believe you forever.” So Moses told the words of the people to the L-RD. 10 Then the L-RD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. 11 “And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the L-RD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 “You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Take heed to yourselves [that] you do [not] go up to the mountain or touch its base. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. 13 ‘Not a hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot [with an arrow]; whether man or beast, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain.” 14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes. 15 And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not come near [your] wives.” 16 Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who [were] in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai [was] completely in smoke, because the L-RD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.” (NKJV)

This is surely one of the greatest displays of awesome power ever witnessed by man.  A truly epic event in history.  Clearly “gods” of wood and stone who are no gods at all have never displayed such awesome power in the sight of so many.

In fact, this is my point for the week.  We know there to be about 600,000 adult men at this place and time.  Scholars generally agree that when you account for women and children there was likely a gathering of closer to three million people!  Mainly this population was made up of the Hebrew children, but we know there were some Egyptian converts to Judaism that were among the souls present.

Speaking of souls present, the sages teach that not only were these people present, but that HaShem had gathered every soul that was destined to ever be born at this place and time!  Just ponder that thought for a moment and let it sink in.

The Word teaches that by the testimony of two or three witnesses a matter is established.  Clearly, this is the most wonderful, miraculous event to be experienced in the history of the world.  This thing was established by a factor of a million!

Shabbat Shalom!

Beshelach

Torah – Exodus 13:17-17:16  Haftarah – Judges 4:5-31   Brit Chadashah – John 6:15-71

Beshelach “when he let go” is this week’s parasha (portion.)  There is a lot that you will read and learn in the above listed verses.  I encourage you to read for yourself and dig deep!

Much of this portion revolves around water.  There is the dramatic account of the parting of the Red Sea.  The children of Israel find themselves without water and thirsty in the wilderness before being lead to twelve wells.  There is also the striking of the rock later, which sent forth water to satisfy the people and animals.

Let’s zero in on a single concept which is centered on a single Hebrew word, yotsab.  

Exodus 14:13-14, “And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the L-RD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 “The L-RD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (NKJV)

You can see from reading the verses of this parasha that there is a lot going on.  After more than 400 years of slavery and bondage in Mitzreim (Egypt), the Hebrew people finally were let go after ten plagues and all of the signs and amazing wonders that were displayed for all to see and experience.  Now the people find themselves cornered…trapped as it seemed in another mitzreim.  Remember that the Hebrew word for Egypt translates as a narrow place, a closed in place and even as a prison.  This is surely how they must have felt being trapped with nowhere to run or hide as the mighty armies of Pharaoh closed in!

The people cried out in fear and dread for what was coming upon them.  It might be easy for someone who was just casually familiar with this story to ask why G-d did this.  Why did G-d allow this to happen?  Why not just get them where they had to go.  Clearly, we know there was an easier, shorter route.  So why?

The answer to this question is found in the very first verse of this study.

Exodus 13:17, “Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that G-d did not lead them [by] way of the land of the Philistines, although that [was] near; for G-d said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”

G-d knew the people were not ready to fight.  He knew that the shorter route was going to have the people face war.  So the way of the wilderness and the Red Sea was indeed the more merciful and loving way to take His children.  Also, no doubt part of the plan was to reassure the people once again that despite their lack of emunah (trust or faith) that HaShem (YHVH) was indeed with them and more than able to do whatever was necessary to protect His people and preserve His plan.

So back to verse 13 and this Hebrew word yotsab.  It is translated, depending on your version as “be still” or “stand.”  Moshe (Moses) instructed the people to yotsab…be still – and see the salvation of YHVH.  He prefaced this by telling them also to not be afraid.

Yotsab also has a meaning of present, as in present yourself.  The message Moshe was giving the people at that place at that time, and to us here today is that no matter how things look, no matter how stacked against you the deck looks, our Father is indeed ultimately in control.  The Father will always act on our behalf for our best outcome.  This applies to the here and now, but as you might imagine, ultimately for our eternal state.

At no time did the people hear the instruction from Moshe or G-d to run around and act crazy.  At no time were the people instructed to do anything at all.  They were simply instructed to stifle fear and not be afraid.  They were told to stand, be still or in other words do nothing.  Simply present yourself and see with your own eyes the salvation out of what threatens you by your G-d!

Take this message to heart and put it into practice the next time the enemy roars.  This is perhaps the ultimate display of emunah (trust).  When our trust in Him is so complete that we are able to refrain from giving into fear and doing nothing but trust.  Our tendencies is to think we have to “do something”.  Somehow we have to get involved and help G-d out, right?  While it is right that this is what we tend to do, it is wrong that we do it.  Trust and obey!

Shabbat Shalom!

Bo

Torah – Exodus 10:1-13:16   Haftarah – Jeremiah 46:13-28  Brit Chadashah – Luke 22:7-39

This week’s parasha (portion), Bo (enter) gives the account of the final 3 plagues against Mitzreim (Egypt) and the initiation of Pesac or Passover.  I am going to keep this teaching short and sweet, looking at only one idea.  Hopefully, this serves as great food for thought for you as we find ourselves living in perilous times as we approach the soon coming return of Yeshua (Jesus)!

Exodus 11:6-7, “Then there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as was not like it [before], nor shall be like it again. 7 ‘But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the L-RD does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.”

The Word is clear that as we approach the tribulation that the world would find itself in dangerous times to say the least.  Natural disasters, war, and even the love of many towards Messiah waxing cold!  The above verses remind me of our hope and security in Messiah if we remain in Him.

The devastation that was experienced in Egypt at the time was unprecedented to that time and we are told that it would never be equalled in time to come.  One could argue that this applied to Egypt and not the United States today or anyplace else.  While that may be true, this is no guarantee that we will not experience tragic days before the Shofar sounds and we are all called home to glory!  But I do still find comfort in the overriding principle contained in these two verses.

Here is the message I take away from this.  If we do not assimilate into the godless culture in which we find ourselves today, and if we remain Holy, set apart and in the L-RD then we are partakers in this principle.  When tragedy, disaster, plague comes, we who are set apart in Him will be spared that His name be Glorified and that we  and others may know that He alone is   G-d!

This is a fantastic time to check your spiritual barometer.  Are you all the way in?  Are you standing firm with both feet on the narrow road that leads to the narrow gate?  Or, are you one foot in the world, chasing after the idols that it bows to?  It is time to get right, and stay right!  Let us all persevere in sharing the Good News as often as possible.

Shalom!

Va’era

Torah – Exodus 6:2-9:35  Haftarah – Ezekiel 28:25-29:21  Brit Chadashah – Romans 9:14-33

Parasha (portion) Va’dera (and I appeared) is an epic portion of Torah.  There is so much to examine here, including the first 7 of the ten plagues on Egypt, but we will look very briefly at just two points found in four verses.

Exodus 7:1-4, “So the L-RD said to Moses: “See, I have made you [as] God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. 2 “You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land. 3 “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 “But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies [and] My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments..” (NKJV)

It is often pointed out by many that Moshe (Moses) was an archetype, or “type” of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).  Typically, when most of us think about this fact we think of the Exodus itself.  We tend to equate the redemption of G-d’s people out of bondage with Yeshua’s redemption of all His people from the bondage to death and sin.  Rightly so, this is a good and logical connection to make.  In the reading of this week’s parasha, something else jumps out that also connects the two.

Moshe was made “as g-d to Pharaoh and Ahron (Aaron) as his prophet.  Much like Yeshua would come and do, Moshe did.  When Moshe commanded, his words did not fall to the ground.  All nature obeyed his voice and command.  At Moshe’s command, the water of the Nile and all their water in the land turned to blood.  At Moshe’s command, the fire and ice hail fell from the heavens and destroyed crops and herds, frogs, lice and on and on the picture was painted not only for Pharaoh but all the world.  Not only was G-d revealed through Moshe to Pharaoh, but HaShem (YHVH) revealed Himself to his people, Yisra’El (Israel.)

Next, we have the issue we have dealt with in years past.  I’m talking about the issue of G-d “hardening” Pharaoh’s heart.  Many who don’t have understanding look at these accounts as somehow an indictment of G-d.  They ask how G-d could punish Pharaoh for doing what G-d made him do in the first place.  It seems a logical conclusion.

The reality we discussed in years past was that the Hebrew language and context suggest that Pharaoh was “strengthened,” not “hardened.”  In other words, in the midst of such pagan idolatrous world Pharaoh was strengthened through what was demonstrated to him that G-d was indeed the One True G-d!  Instead Pharaoh defaulted to defiance.

As you know, there are many layers to the opinion, so to speak.  Let’s, therefore, look at another interpretation, which is just as valid as the one I just gave you here again.

Pharaoh had already demonstrated defiance towards G-d.  His heart had already been demonstrated to be defiant, rebellious and, indeed hard towards truth of HaShem’s existence and power.  Each plague that was brought upon Pharaoh and his people and land were not punishment as much as they were demonstrations to them of the reality and truth of His existence and Almighty power!  At any time Pharaoh could have sincerely repented and chosen to follow after G-d, but instead, Pharaoh followed the pre-existing condition of heart.

Shalom!