UN General Assembly votes in favor of Palestinian statehood


The U.N. General Assembly voted Thursday in favor of Palestinian statehood, after the Palestinians asked it to recognize a non-member state of Palestine in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The resolution upgrading the Palestinians’ status to a nonmember observer state at the United Nations was approved by a more than two-thirds majority of the 193-member world body — a vote of 138 to 9, with the U.S. and Israel among those who opposed. There were 41 abstentions.

Real independence, however, remains an elusive dream until the Palestinians negotiate a peace deal with the Israelis, who warned that the General Assembly action will only delay a lasting solution. Israel still controls the West Bank, east Jerusalem and access to Gaza, and it accused the Palestinians of bypassing negotiations with the campaign to upgrade their U.N. status.

The United States immediately criticized the historic vote. “Today’s unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path peace,” U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said.

And U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the vote “unfortunate” and “counterproductive.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the General Assembly shortly before the vote “defamatory and venomous,” saying it was “full of mendacious propaganda” against Israel.

Abbas had told the General Assembly that it was “being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine.” Abbas said the vote is the last chance to save the two-state solution.

After the vote, Netanyahu said the UN move violated past agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and that Israel would act accordingly, without elaborating what steps it might take.

Just before the vote, Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Ron Prosor, warned the General Assembly that “the Palestinians are turning their backs on peace” and that the U.N. can’t break the 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.

The vote had been certain to succeed, with most of the member states sympathetic to the Palestinians. Several key countries, including France, this week announced they would support the move to elevate the Palestinians from the status of U.N. observer to nonmember observer state.

Thursday’s vote came on the same day, Nov. 29, that the U.N. General Assembly in 1947 voted to recognize a state in Palestine, with the jubilant revelers then Jews. The Palestinians rejected that partition plan, and decades of tension and violence have followed.

The vote grants Abbas an overwhelming international endorsement for his key position: establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. With Netanyahu opposed to a pullback to the 1967 lines, this should strengthen Abbas’ hand if peace talks resume.

The overwhelming vote also could help Abbas restore some of his standing, which has been eroded by years of standstill in peace efforts. His rival, Hamas, deeply entrenched in Gaza, has seen its popularity rise after an Israeli offensive on targets linked to the Islamic militant group there earlier this month.

Israel has stepped back from initial threats of harsh retaliation for the Palestinians seeking U.N. recognition, but government officials warned that Israel would respond to any Palestinian attempts to use the upgraded status to confront Israel in international bodies.

The Palestinians now can gain access to U.N. agencies and international bodies, most significantly the International Criminal Court, which could become a springboard for going after Israel for alleged war crimes or its ongoing settlement building on war-won land.

However, in the run-up to the U.N. vote, Abbas signaled that he wants recognition to give him leverage in future talks with Israel, and not as a tool for confronting or delegitimizing Israel, as Israeli leaders have alleged.

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Ken Ham of Creation Museum Slams Robertson for Dismissing Young Earth Theory

Pat Robertson has been accused by evangelical Christian and creationism proponent Ken Ham of “destructive teaching,” after the televangelist stated that the existence of dinosaurs is evidence that Young Earth Creationists are wrong about the planet being 6,000 years old.


Christian Broadcasting Network spokesman Chris Roslan told The Christian Post on Friday, however, that “Dr. Robertson stands by his comments.”

The controversy arose earlier this week when Robertson, co-hosting his “The 700 Club” program on CBN, dismissed the theory that the earth is only 6,000 years old, which Ken Ham, CEO and founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, took offense to.

“Not only do we have to work hard to not let our kids be led astray by the anti-God teaching of the secularists, we have to work hard to not let them be led astray by compromising church leaders like Pat Robertson,” Ham said Wednesday in a post on Facebook.

“Pat Robertson gives more fodder to the secularists. We don’t need enemies from without the church when we have such destructive teaching within the church,” Ham added in the statement shared with those following his non-profit Christian apologetics ministry on Facebook.

Ham took offense to comments Robertson made earlier this week on his show, when responding to a viewer’s question about what to tell children about dinosaurs and the Bible.

“I know people will probably lynch me for this, but Bishop (James) Ussher, God bless him, wasn’t inspired by the Lord when he said it all took 6,000 years. It just didn’t,” Robertson said, referring to the 17th century Irish clergyman who first argued that the earth was created in 4004 B.C.

“You go back in time, you have carbon dating, all these things, and you have the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time.” Robertson continued. “They are out there. And so there was a time when these giant raptors were on the earth and it was before the time of the Bible. So don’t try to cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years, that’s not the Bible.”

Ham added in another social media post on Friday that secularists have “loved” Robertson for his comments, which according to the creationist, “undermine God’s Word.”

“I still shake my head at the number of church leaders who want to appease the secularists and accept their anti-God religion of millions of years and even molecules to man evolution,” Ham wrote. “Such leaders (including Pat Robertson) have a lot to answer to the Lord for one day. Such leaders are guilty of putting stumbling blocks in the way of kids and adults in regards to believing God’s Word and the gospel.”

A debate on creationism and evolution was stirred up earlier this year after scientist Bill Nye released a video titled “Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children”, where he argued that it is dangerous to believe the earth is only 6,000 or 10,000 years old.

Answers in Genesis responded by defending the conservative position on creation, however, which states that dinosaurs were created on the same day as Adam and Eve.

“Dinosaurs are used more than almost anything else to indoctrinate children and adults in the idea of millions of years of earth history,” Ham writes in article titled “What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?”. “However, the Bible gives us a framework for explaining dinosaurs in terms of thousands of years of history, including the mystery of when they lived and what happened to them. Two key texts are Genesis 1:24–25 and Job 40:15–24.”

CBN spokesman Roslan pointed CP to the work of Dr. William Lane Craig, a leading theologian, philosopher and founder of ReasonableFaith.org, where he defends Biblical Christianity and argues against the Young Earth Creation theory.

Christians believe in various theories regarding creation, which are outlined in a chart composed by OriginScience.com. Only the Young Earth Creation theory, however, maintains that Earth is 6,000 years old – while others agree with most scientific estimates that put the planet’s age closer to 4.5 billion years.

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Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani: ‘I’m Alive Because of God’s Will and Your Prayers’

At a recent national conference in London, newly freed Iranian pastor expressed immense gratitude to his many supporters who prayed for his release during his three-year imprisonment, saying that he is alive today because of “what your prayers did for me.”



“It is the opportunity for me to share about what the Lord did for me and to thank you because you supported me by your prayers, you supported my family in a very difficult time,” Nadarkhani, 35, told those in attendance at the persecution watchdog group Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s National Conference in London in early November.

“My prayer is I ask the Lord to bless you for what you did for me as a small member of the Body of Christ. Today my presence here is the will of God and the result of what your prayers did for me,” Nadarkhani added, according to a press release issued by CSW, which has maintained an active role in Nadarkhani’s release from prison.

Nadarkhani, a house pastor in Rasht, Iran, was released from prison on Sept. 8 after three years imprisonment for charges of apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims.

Although he initially faced the death penalty for his charges, Nadarkhani eventually had his apostasy charge removed, and was therefore freed.

Shortly after being released from jail, Nadarkhani issued a “Thank You Letter” to his supporters, saying:

“I want to express my gratitude to all of those who have supported me, openly or in complete secrecy. You are all very dear to my heart. May the Lord bless you and give you His perfect and sovereign Grace.”

Observers contend that Nadarkhani’s release depended highly on the amount of international pressure Iran received regarding his case.

Countries around the world, including Germany, the United States, and Brazil, openly condemned Iran’s imprisonment of the Christian minister due to his faith, arguing that the country was disregarding international human rights laws.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide said Nadarkhani’s speech at the organization’s national convention was an inspiring, faith-filled testimony of perseverance and love.

“It was a pleasure to welcome Pastor Nadarkhani to our conference and to hear his testimony of faith and perseverance, and of his love for God, for his family and for his nation,” CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a press release.

“His quiet courage, integrity and lack of recrimination cannot fail to have inspired anyone who heard him to deepen their own commitment to their faith,” Thomas added.

Nadarkhani reportedly spoke at four religious services at a local church in the small town of Brompton, near Medway, England, before returning to his wife and two sons in his hometown of Rasht.

Although Nadarkhani was successful in fighting the Iranian government’s practice of religious persecution, his lawyer, human rights defender Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, has been detained.

Dadkhah, one of the few human rights lawyers in Iran, was arrested in Oct. 2012 and sentenced to nine years in prison for allegedly acting against national security and spreading propaganda.

The American Center for Law and Justice, another pro-human rights organization that has closely monitored Nadarkhani’s case, urges all Christians to continue their fight for religious freedom in Iran.

“As the world awakened to the realities of religious persecution in Iran when the masses fought for Pastor Youcef’s freedom, we must now shift our attention to defend those who defend the persecuted,” Tiffany Barrans, International Legal Director for the ACLJ, previously told The Christian Post.

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“Silence of the Limping” – V’yishlach (He sent)

V’yishlach (He sent)

Genesis 32:3-36:43
Hosea 11:7-12:12 (A)
Obadiah 1:1-21 (S)


“Silence of the Limping”

Once again, students of the Torah are challenged when meditating on our weekly portions, which I have found to contain a wealth of information to contemplate. When I sit down to write my Torah commentaries, the choice of a subject matter to focus on can be overwhelming. There are many critical events to consider discussing, so one really has to search his heart and find out just what nugget of truth the Lord wants you to focus upon. After all, lengthy books have been written about certain aspects of the life and personal character of Jacob. And, my Torah commentaries are intended to be reflective, and not be like some of the technical, verse-by-verse resources that we have in our ministry library.

As I filter my life through the lens of God’s Torah and plead for personally needed edification, I am magnetically drawn into the character strengths and flaws of Jacob. It is amazing how truly representative he is of so many of us! I can very easily identify with Jacob’s struggles as a chosen vessel for God’s Divine purposes. If you have ever endured any difficulties in your own life, then you can probably also empathize with many of Jacob’s character traits—perhaps his apparent silence as he limps down the mountain trails of modern-day Samaria and Judea. Consider the following verses and Jacob’s absent response:

“Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, ‘If I find favor in your sight, then I will give whatever you say to me. Ask me ever so much bridal payment and gift, and I will give according as you say to me; but give me the girl in marriage.’ But Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor with deceit, because he had defiled Dinah their sister. They said to them, ‘We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. Only on this condition will we consent to you: if you will become like us, in that every male of you be circumcised, then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live with you and become one people. But if you will not listen to us to be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and go’” (Genesis 34:11-17).

Just contemplate this critical juncture in the family, chosen by the Lord to be a light to the world, as they reenter the Promised Land and settle around the community of Shechem. At this point in the narrative, the defiling sexual encounter with Dinah has already occurred (Genesis 34:1-5), and restitution has to be made. Now a proposition is offered by the young prince Shechem and his father Hamor, to Jacob and his sons.

What really caught my attention, after rereading this selection of verses a number of times, is that Jacob is deafeningly silent when the proposals are being discussed. In fact, the Scriptures indicate that his sons answered the requests deceitfully, and with what is ultimately demonstrated to be murder in their hearts. But for some reason, the Patriarch Jacob, who had recently been renamed Israel in an awesome encounter with the Holy One (Genesis 32:24-32), did not speak up. Why was Jacob silent? Can we really know what was going on in his heart and mind?

It is apparent that by the time this event occurred in Jacob’s life, he was confidently aware that the God of his fathers was providing, protecting, and preserving him and his family for the fulfillment of His promises. What was it about Jacob that caused him to just bite his tongue, and not overrule his sons’ conniving requests as the elder? Could it be that he was plagued with the same problem that many followers of God struggle with: the age-old battle between the Spirit and the flesh?

Our Common Human Condition

Lamentably, many of us have different flesh patterns which exercise their influences on choices we consider and decisions we make. Jacob’s life may be considered to be an “open book,” which we can all benefit and learn from, if we study and contemplate the things he did, said, and in this case did not say. Hopefully, if we are totally honest with ourselves, those wrestling with sinful behaviors will confess that they sometimes have about the same amount of success overcoming various flesh patterns as Jacob appears to have had.

Regrettably, confessing our faults is easier said than acted upon, considering the record we see in the Scriptures of fallen humanity. Even with the benefits of progressive revelation, many who claim a belief in the Creator God—and even His Son Messiah Yeshua—still struggle with battles of the flesh, and in experiencing victory over them. In Romans ch. 7, the Apostle Paul describes a viewpoint with which too many people can relate:

“For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Yeshua the Messiah our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:14-25).

Many people are inclined to read Romans ch. 7 as Paul giving us information about himself, and that it is fairly common for Believers to have sin problems that they wrestle with and struggle to overcome. Paul seems to be telling us that he himself, even as a born again Believer and a chosen apostle of God, struggles with sin.

Certainly while we live in a sinful world and we will have to overcome temptation, is it appropriate for a Believer to use Romans 7 as an “excuse” to sin? In the recent past, many scholars have been led to think that Paul is not, in fact, talking about himself—but rather is speaking as a hypothetical Believer who is struggling with sin. Paul himself, contrary to the Romans 7 sinner, is a relatively mature Believer who has overcome the vast majority of temptations.

Regardless of which view you take, the realities of our fallen world should force us to rely on the grace of God, because it is only by the salvation provided in Yeshua that “the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). Only by crying out to the Lord, will we be able to overcome temptation!

Many of the sinful temptations that we encounter as Believers are simply flesh patterns that can be easily conquered, if we reach out in faith to our Heavenly Father and learn to discipline ourselves. Regardless of Jacob’s, or our own deceitful flesh patterns that we may still be wrestling with here or there, God is still able to accomplish His will, just as the people destined to be His own possession did this as seen throughout the Torah and Tanakh. Let us take a look.

The Journey Home

Over twenty years have passed since Jacob left his brother Esau, and now, after reconciling with his father-in-law Laban (Genesis 31:43-55), he is faced with the prospect of facing his sibling and perceived enemy. Remember that the reason Jacob journeyed to the east was initially to depart from the wrath of his brother’s rage (Genesis 27:42-28:5). Now with two wives, two concubines, twelve children, many slaves, and much livestock, he is returning to his original home with great trepidation. He vividly recalls Esau’s plans to kill him. In this illuminating parashah, Jacob’s character is permanently altered, having the socket of his thigh dislocated by wrestling with the Divine being all night long (Genesis 32:24-32). Yet Jacob not only received the blessing of being renamed Israel (he who struggles with God) for such endurance, but for many generations following he represents the need for each of God’s followers to become dependent on Him—and perhaps how people often literally or figuratively come “limping” into the Kingdom.

But before we as Believers, like Jacob, can limp—or even drag ourselves—successfully into the presence of the Most High, we need to remember that in spite of our most fervent promises and prayers, He is still in ultimate control of things. If the Lord really does have a call upon your life to serve Him and make a difference for Him,regardless of your innate inability to fulfill your part of your pledges, He is big enough to work through you to accomplish His will. In spite of all of the negative idiosyncrasies of Jacob, God was still able to use Him and Jacob will be in the Kingdom (cf. Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:28).

Promises Made and Broken

Do you recall Jacob’s vow to God to give ten percent of all that he had as payment for His provision and protection, from the previous Torah portion?

“Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God. This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You’” (Genesis 28:20-22).

Here, Jacob made a solemn vow at Bethel (Heb. Beit’El, latyB; meaning “house of God”) to give God ten percent of his wealth, as compensation for His protection and provision. But notice one other thing that was also pledged. At this critical juncture on his journey east, in his heart, Jacob yearned to return to his father Isaac’s house safely. Did Jacob at all forget about this? We know that the Lord did not, because in spite of Jacob’s personal problems, he is able to return to his home country—and he even finds his brother Esau in a somewhat amicable mood:

“‘Please let my lord pass on before his servant, and I will proceed at my leisure, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.’ Esau said, ‘Please let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.’ But he said, ‘What need is there? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord’” (Genesis 33:14-15).

This scene occurs after Jacob’s incredible experience at Peniel where he encountered, and even wrestled with, what some think was a pre-Incarnate manifestation of Messiah Yeshua. Even after this life altering experience, where he received his limp, Jacob still has a human tendency to say something that he does not really mean. Was his fear of Esau still a motivating force in his life? What about his statements made to the Lord some twenty years earlier on his trek east? Did he forget that God wanted him to return to Isaac’s house, to carry on the call that He had given the Patriarchs? Surely, God would protect him. It appears that for some reason, Jacob was content to simply cross the Jordan and settle in the land around Shechem:

“Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan-aram, and camped before the city. He bought the piece of land where he had pitched his tent from the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. Then he erected there an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel” (Genesis 33:18-20).

Here in Shechem, the Scriptures record that Jacob followed the family tradition established by his grandfather Abraham when he purchased the caves at Machpelah in Mamre near Hebron. How could this be? Years earlier, a fleeing Jacob indicated a hunger to be reunited with his father (Genesis 28:21), and even weeks earlier, as the broken and renamed Israel, he promises his brother that he would come to his father in Seir. So why does Jacob stop at Shechem, and not proceed any further?

“Just Give Me Peace”

Jacob changes his mind and purchases land near Shechem. Soon, his growing family and extensive herds become permanent fixtures among the Shechemites. He even erects an altar that signifies his allegiance to the Lord, an indication that he does not plan on moving anywhere anytime soon. Does he not remember his vows to the Lord and the corresponding covenants promised to him?

Most can identify with Jacob/Israel at this point in his life. He just wants peace. He has just come through the trauma of encountering his brother, and certainly felt a great deal of relief that his life and the lives of his family have been spared. He knows that Esau has become very wealthy, and that Esau’s holdings would perhaps create a conflict if he relocates to the area around Hebron, which includes the region of Seir to the east. He somehow justifies his decision to simply settle into the community around Shechem. The Scriptures do not indicate how long Jacob and his family had been a part of the Shechem area, but in due time, circumstances erupt that create serious tension between the indigenous population and the children of Jacob/Israel:

“Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land. When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force” (Genesis 34:1-2).

Whether Dinah was actually raped, or whether she had consensual relations with Shechem the prince because he convinced her to do so, is not the point. The fact remains that she ventured into the neighborhood, and became known among the young people of Shechem’s community. In time, she attracts the attention of the young prince. Before long, whether by force or enticement, the sexual act takes place. Apparently, the prince is deeply attracted to Dinah and he asks for her hand in marriage:

“He was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her. So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, ‘Get me this young girl for a wife.’ Now Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter; but his sons were with his livestock in the field, so Jacob kept silent until they came in. Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. Now the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done. But Hamor spoke with them, saying, ‘The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; please give her to him in marriage. Intermarry with us; give your daughters to us and take our daughters for yourselves. Thus you shall live with us, and the land shall be open before you; live and trade in it and acquire property in it’” (Genesis 34:3-10).

Jacob was in quite a dilemma. After he heard the reports of this transgression, he waited silently to ponder his reaction. He might have recalled when he had his first encounter with Rachel at the well in Paddan-Aram many years earlier:

“Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted his voice and wept. Jacob told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father” (Genesis 29:11-12).

In the social mores of that day, it was not proper for a man to kiss a woman at their initial meeting, but Jacob had succumbed to the physical attraction he bore his cousin. And as it turns out, they ended up being far more than “kissing cousins.” Is it possible that Jacob understood how passion and longing could be used to further God’s plans for His people? He had certainly seen how it worked out in his life. He might have concluded that God was working through these unfortunate circumstances with Dinah and Shechem.

A Deafening Silence

Hamor, the father of Shechem, makes a plea for the hand of Dinah for his son (Genesis 34:6ff). But what is interesting to note is that Jacob never responds to any of the overtures. Instead, it is his sons who retort back with the conditions of intermarriage. Why was he so silent on the matter? Did he simply consent to the arrangement that was proposed, and allow his sons to figure out the finer details? Certainly, if he disagreed with the proposal, he could have said something, and the conditions for family unions would not be acted upon. Instead, Jacob/Israel, knowing that his sons were livid, allowed the conditions to be offered. Did he know what was in their hearts, or was he more interested in maintaining peace? Here are the conditions that were determined:

“But Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor with deceit, because he had defiled Dinah their sister. They said to them, ‘We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. Only on this condition will we consent to you: if you will become like us, in that every male of you be circumcised, then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live with you and become one people. But if you will not listen to us to be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and go” (Genesis 34:13-17).

Before too long, the requirement to circumcise all the men of Shechem was enacted in order for the intermarriage and assimilation to take place. But what was intended to take place did not occur. The treachery that was in the hearts of Simeon and Levi surfaced, and they completed a murderous engagement. As our Torah portion summarizes,

“Now it came about on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came upon the city unawares, and killed every male. They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went forth. Jacob’s sons came upon the slain and looted the city, because they had defiled their sister. They took their flocks and their herds and their donkeys, and that which was in the city and that which was in the field; and they captured and looted all their wealth and all their little ones and their wives, even all that was in the houses” (Genesis 34:25-29).

After the entire male population of Shechem is murdered—which was fairly easily to liquidate thanks to the pain of circumcision—the rest of the brothers complete the task of stealing all the wealth of the city. Can you imagine such deceitful actions being committed by the chosen people of God? Where was the compassion for the indiscretion of Dinah, and the young prince Shechem who wanted to make restitution? There was no mercy or grace found in the proud hearts of these sons of Jacob/Israel. Instead, murder and revenge prevailed. After these vile acts, the reaction of Jacob is finally recorded as he rebukes Simeon and Levi:

“Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, ‘You have brought trouble on me by making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and attack me and I will be destroyed, I and my household.’ But they said, ‘Should he treat our sister as a harlot?’” (Genesis 34:30-31).

The dialogue ends, and Jacob and company move.

A Divine Response

Jacob quickly recognizes that these actions have imperiled his entire family. There is no Biblical record of Jacob responding to the pleas that Simeon and Levi offered in their defense. Instead, the next recorded statement comes from God Himself. The Lord reminds Jacob to return to Bethel to recall the promises that were made to Him:

“Then God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau’” (Genesis 35:1).

Another altar is erected, memorializing the promises received (Genesis 35:7, 9-15). The journey continues down the hills of the Promised Land toward Hebron, and Jacob finally gets back on the trail to his father Isaac’s home. But again there are challenges. His beloved wife Rachel dies at the birth of Benjamin in what is modern-day Bethlehem (Genesis 35:16-20). The love of Jacob’s life is taken from him. On the journey, Jacob’s eldest son Reuben sins, thus forfeiting his position to become the leader of the next generation:

“Then Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder. It came about while Israel was dwelling in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine, and Israel heard of it. Now there were twelve sons of Jacob” (Genesis 35:21-22).

And, the journey back home continues… Finally, the full circle is completed and Jacob/Israel is back at his father’s side. The promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are being fulfilled. And, the most ironic thing occurs from our human perspective as Isaac dies and his sons, Esau and Jacob, bury him:

“Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre of Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned. Now the days of Isaac were one hundred and eighty years. Isaac breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, an old man of ripe age; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him” (Genesis 35:27-29).

The Journey Completed

Regardless of all the bad decisions that Jacob made along his journey, the promise to be returned to the land of his fathers is completed. Of course, he is without the love of his life, Rachel, and is further burdened by the sinful acts of his sons in Shechem during the final leg of their trek south. But he does not forget these critical events in his life. In fact, the whole future of the nation of Israel is, in many respects, determined by some of the things which occurred during these travels down the hills of what would later be called Samaria and Judea.

In his final days, as Israel is blessing his sons, the ultimate destinies of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi are uttered. Because of their lustful and treacherous acts they lose the right to receive the blessings bestowed upon the firstborn. Instead, such a firstborn status is ultimately passed onto Judah:

“Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, ‘Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come. Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob; and listen to Israel your father. Reuben, you are my firstborn; My might and the beginning of my strength, Preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it—he went up to my couch. Simeon and Levi are brothers; their swords are implements of violence. Let my soul not enter into their council; let not my glory be united with their assembly; because in their anger they slew men, and in their self-will they lamed oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel. I will disperse them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel. Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down to you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. He ties his foal to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; he washes his garments in wine, and his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are dull from wine, and his teeth white from milk’” (Genesis 49:1-12).

From these blessings and penalizations, you can see how the actions which took place in Shechem were indeed inappropriate. If the murders were consistent with God’s laws and His true intention, then Simeon or Levi would have inherited the blessing of firstborn. But instead, those blessings were passed onto Judah.

Lessons Learned

In our study of the Torah, today’s challenge is to reflect upon the life of Jacob and his sons and seek a better way. What is our Heavenly Father trying to reveal to us as we contemplate the traumatic life of Jacob, and his struggle to return to the home of his father? Regardless of Jacob’s bad decisions and the consequences of them, God is still going to accomplish His will via the people He has chosen to represent Him in the world. For unknown reasons, He does not cover up or hide the transgressions of the people chosen to be His own possession. The Biblical record includes their faults, demonstrating such a chosen people to truly be people.

This reality should not encourage Believers to pursue things contrary to God’s way. Instead, with the benefits of the Scriptural records preserved for us, we should learn to honor the verbal commitments that we have made to the Lord and to each other. We should recognize that what we say and what we do have long term consequences for us as well as our children. We should learn from the mistakes of those who have preceded us, so we do not repeat them. We see that Reuben, Simeon, and Levi were denied the blessing of being the chosen, main leaders of Israel.

Spirit-Led Decisions

Like the Apostle Paul who lists the example of a sinner in Romans ch. 7, wanting to overcome temptation, if we similarly struggle, we should be willing to admit our faults and strive to do better. Jacob had faults that did hamper his effectiveness in accomplishing God’s purpose for his life, and what we commonly remember him for are the good things he achieved near the end of his life—not necessarily in the time period we are considering in thisparashah.

We each should strive to let the Spirit of God and His will prevail in our decisions, not succumbing to any excuses as to why our way might be better, and certainly not waiting until the end of our lives to be the most effective in His service. We each have choices to make, and if we are filled up with the Ruach HaKodesh we should seriously consider the negative consequences that will result if we are guided by a sinful ethic. As we mature in our walks of faith, it should be natural for us to simply choose the path that the Lord has laid out, guided by the imperative of love. Paul summarizes what God’s love (agapē) is to chiefly embody in his words to the Corinthians:

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away…When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 11).

Walking in unconditional love is, at times, a difficult action to take, but one which pleases our Heavenly Father. It definitely exhibits the traits of a maturing saint who submits himself or herself to the required will of the Lord.

Secondly, when encountering those inside, and even outside of the Body of Messiah, we need to exercise grace and mercy. Yeshua the Messiah spoke specifically about our natural, fleshly proclivity to judge others:

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).

If we take this truth to heart, we will knowingly conclude that our flesh wants to justify itself without first examining its own faults. We might look down on others who do not see things we way we do, or who remain in immaturity. Rather than be a partial human judge—it is much better to humble ourselves, pray for those who are wrestling with issues of sin, and let the impartial Judge, God Himself, work through the issues with such people. Who in his or her right mind would want to judge another person’s heart, when such a person’s own heart has glaring deficiencies that need to be worked through?

Finally, we have an excellent summary remark to consider by James the Just:

“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).

Is it not better for Spirit-led followers of Messiah Yeshua to seek this level of restitution with those who have strayed from the truth? Such a restoration, though, needs to be tempered with the same love and mercy that saved us!

The life of Jacob and his choices have been preserved for our instruction. Jacob was always reminded of his encounter with God at Peniel as he limped through the remainder of his life (Genesis 32:25, 31-32). Have you ever had a dramatic, life altering event, that has initiated needed change away from the ways of the flesh? As you contemplate V’yishlach this week, what important lesson might you be overlooking? Hopefully, unlike Jacob who wrestled with God, the only limps that we have in life are those that come from bent knees in continual prayer and humble submission to God’s will—and not any kind of reminder for chastisement from Him. In such prayer, we will learn the discernment of when to speak, and when to be silent.

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Vayishlach “And he sent” – Still Running From the Enemy

Torah Commentary
Vayishlach “And he sent”

Genesis 32:4-36:43

Hosea 11:7-12:12

1 Corinthians 5:1-13

Revelation 7:1-12

Still Running From the Enemy

Jacob has seen much over his past twenty years with Laban. He has seen HaShem provide for him and give him great wealth. He has seen favor like few people will ever see. Jacob has wrestled with God and even been given a new name. After all of this, there is still an area of Jacob’s life he is not willing to turn over and allow it to be put to death. Jacob is still afraid of what others will think of him.

We see this in the infamous meeting with his brother Esau. Instead of standing on the promises of God in his life, he begins to divide what God has given him in hopes that in the end something will be salvaged if his brother begins a fight with him. It seems that with all Jacob has seen in the past years of God moving in his life, he would take a stand in the face of his brother instead of cowering in the shadows.

Next we see Jacob after his daughter Dinah has been raped by Shechem. In the end Simon and Levi take care of the situation by putting all the men of Shechem to death through a quite cleverly devised scheme. Right or wrong, these two boys stood against the odds and took vengeance for the act against their sister. What is the response of Jacob at the end of this account? He is concerned about what others will think of him! I for one just do not understand this one!

Now before you think I am just taking the opportunity to beat up on Jacob, let us first understand that the lives of these men and women are recorded so we may learn from them. I am not beating up on him, but expounding upon how he reacted so that we may learn.

As I write this commentary, it appears that Jacob and Esau are scheduled to have another meeting. This meeting is to decide what portions of Israel and Jerusalem are to be divided so that “peace” can finally come to Israel. The U.S. and the U.N. are playing the role of Shechem by attempting to take what is not rightfully theirs through the brokering of this meeting.

I wonder why any leaders of the nation of Israel can agree to be part of such a meeting. Have they forgotten the short history of the past sixty years? Do they not remember being attacked from every direction in 1948 and winning? Do they not remember the Six Day War? Do they not remember leaders of their past who called for the sun to stand still, killed multitudes alone with a jawbone of a donkey or called fire down from the heavens? It all makes one scratch his head with wonder.

What the outcome of this next meeting will be is a mystery at this moment in time. It is doubtful that Jacob will take a stand with Esau, but rather will once again bow down to his brother. It is doubtful that Jacob will take a stand against Shechem who has come with rape on his mind again. The outcome at this time in history is unsure, but that is to change. At some point Simon and Levi are going to rise up to fight. They will do so not on their own this time as they did in the days of their sister. This time they will do so under the direction of God and by His leading. They will go forth in the strength and power of great men such as Joshua, Gideon, Elijah and Sampson. These people are going to take a stand against the Esau’s and the Shechem’s of the world. In that day the house of Jacob will finally prevail and put an end once and for all to this sibling rivalry and abuse of the family.

How and when will this fight begin? Who will be the players this time? What will happen during this next meeting if it truly does take place? I will not begin to speculate. I do however know that many reading this commentary are feeling something rising up inside of them. It is not a feeling to pray for a good outcome to the meetings taking place or for God to delay His timetable anymore. Many of you feel as I do that this battle has gone on too long, it is time to face it head on and put an end to it once in for all. The words, “Let’s roll” are taking on new meaning in your spirits.

What will happen, how it will happen, and who will be the final players are yet to be made known. It is however a time to seek God, to listen and to stand at attention awaiting the orders that even now may be on the way.

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by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]
Christians today live in a time of great light. The Holy Spirit has revealed to
us the meaning of Jesus’ powerful work on the cross and the incredible blessings
of His sacrifice. Yet there was a time known as the Dark Ages when Christ’s
wonderful work was obscured from the world.

Most sermons during the Dark Ages focused on damnation and God’s wrath. The
popes and priests preached a gospel of works and the people performed a variety
of deeds to try to find peace with God. They traveled for miles to bow to
shrines, knelt in worship before stone icons, repeated long prayers, fondled
prayer beads. Yet all these things only increased their bondage and brought
deeper darkness to their souls.

People then knew nothing of the benefits and blessings available through
Christ’s victory at Calvary. Even today, with all the teaching available on the
subject, the majority of Christians still do not understand many important
aspects of Christ’s work for us, that is, what it means to be “in Christ.”

As a shepherd of the Lord’s flock, I occasionally preach on hell, damnation and
God’s wrath. But more and more I have become convinced that the only way I can
lead God’s people to victorious living is to preach the blessings and benefits
of “being in Christ.”

The fact is, being in Christ is the only foundation upon which true holiness
and righteousness can be built. Without this foundation, we will rely on our
flesh to try to produce a form of holiness in ourselves. But true holiness is
obtained only through knowing the riches of God in Christ Jesus.

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live
soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12). Only
God’s grace can teach us the kind of theology that leads to holiness—and no
works can ever produce that.

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by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]
The reason so many Christians today live in fear and confusion is because they
do not understand the joyful sound of Jubilee. Yes, they know Jesus died and
rose again and His blood has power to save. But they have not yet understood
the joyful sound of all that He has provided that they might live in freedom.

“Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound” (Psalm 89:15). The joyful
sound we hear today is the trumpet of God proclaiming our deliverance, through
the blood of Jesus Christ.

Here are the other blessings of the joyful sound of Jubilee:

1.  “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord,
in the light of thy countenance” (Psalm 89:15). The Hebrew meaning here
suggests, “They shall walk in cheerfulness, secure in God’s promises, at ease
in His presence.” Simply put, we no longer have to walk in darkness or
confusion, because we will behold the light of His face.

2.  “In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall
they be exalted” (verse 16). We know our own righteousness is as filthy rags and
so we are to take courage by rejoicing in His righteousness — which is ours by
faith alone.

3.  “For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall
be exalted” (verse 17). We know that Christ alone is the source of all our
strength and we do not have to live under the devil’s thumb anymore. All we
have to do is look upon Satan’s back, where we will see the heel print of our
Savior. Jesus has crushed our enemy!

4.  “For the Lord is our defense; and the Holy One of Israel is our king”
(verse 18). We are utterly helpless in our flesh and so we totally trust in the
victory of Jesus’ cross. He defends us against every enemy.

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by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]
Just as the high priest ascended the stairs to the holy place on the day of
atonement, our High Priest ascended into the heavenly tabernacle, ” . . . a
greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands” (Hebrews 9:11). Jesus
ascended not merely to enjoy the glory He deserves but to do a work on our

The writer of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus’ work in heaven is all for us: “He
ever liveth to make intercession for [us]” (7:25). Christ does it all for us!
What exactly does it mean that “He lives to make intercession for us”? I
believe Jesus intercedes for us in three ways:

First, some of us imagine Jesus standing before the Father, pleading with Him
to show us mercy when we fail. But that is not the case. Christ’s intercession
for us has to do with Satan’s accusations against us. You see, the devil comes
to God’s throne to accuse us of every failure and transgression. He cries, “I
want justice. And if You are a just God, You will damn and destroy this person.
He deserves it.”

But then, Jesus steps in. He does not have to persuade the Father of anything.
Rather, He simply declares the victory of His cross. Then He turns to Satan and
says, “Didn’t you hear the trumpet sound? You have no claim over this child of
Mine. Keep your hands off My property!”

Second, Christ’s intercession for us means He makes certain that we obtain and
enjoy all the benefits provided by Jubilee. Just as the Levites enforced the
law that provided every man with his just blessings, Jesus today enforces the
privileges of Jubilee for us. He makes sure we know we are legally free.

Third, Jesus intercedes in our own hearts, reconciling us with the Father. He
continually answers our doubts and fears, and reminds us that we forgiven. We
can trust in God’s faithfulness to provide us with all the power and strength
we need.

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Is Egypt about to become the new Iran?

It is not only the anti-government protesters in Egypt’s Tahrir Square who should be concerned about President Mohammed Morsi’s audacious power grab. Mr Morsi’s claim at the weekend that “God’s will and elections made me the captain of this ship” has echoes of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s claim during the 1979 Iranian revolution that his mission to overthrow the Shah enjoyed divine guidance.

Since his announcement that he was granting himself sweeping new powers, Mr Morsi has been trying to reassure sceptical Egyptian voters that he has no ambition to become Egypt’s new Pharaoh. But you only have to look at the violent scenes that have once again erupted in Tahrir Square to see that the majority of Egyptians remain unconvinced.

When Egyptian demonstrators first occupied Tahrir Square last year to call for the overthrow of Mr Morsi’s predecessor, President Hosni Mubarak, they were calling for a secular, democratic system of government that would represent the interests of all Egyptians, and not just the corrupt clique of presidential supporters. Similar sentiments were expressed by Iranian demonstrators during the build-up to the Shah’s overthrow in February 1979 as they sought to remove a similarly corrupt regime.

But as we now know to our cost, the worthy aspirations of the Iranian masses were hijacked by Khomeini’s hardline Islamist agenda, and within months of the Shah’s overthrow Iran had been transformed into an Islamic republic.

Mr Morsi says he has no desire to become a dictator, but his announcement that, henceforth, all presidential decrees will be immune from legal challenge does not bode well for Egypt’s transition from military dictatorship to democracy.

I am sure I am not the only one wondering whether Mr Morsi is about to become the new Ayatollah Khomeini.

Certainly, unless Mr Morsi backs down, all those who sacrificed their lives in the cause of the Egyptian revolution will have died in vain.

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Charlie Brown Christmas show at center of church vs. state fight

An atheist group is accusing an Arkansas grade school of violating students’ constitutional rights by inviting them to a performance of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at a local church.

Students at Terry Elementary School in Little Rock were invited to a performance of the show at Agape Church. Teachers informed parents in letters home that a school bus would shuttle children to and from the show, which would be performed on a school day, KARK 4 News reported.

According to the station, the letter the teachers sent home indicates the play will be held on Friday, Dec. 14, at 10 a.m. at the church. Children attending will be taken on a school bus and will need to pay $2 to cover the expense of the bus rides, the letter states. Students are not required to attend the production, according to the school district.

One parent contacted the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers after receiving the letter.

“We’re not saying anything bad about Charlie Brown,” Anne Orsi, a Little Rock attorney and vice president of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers, told KARK 4 News. “The problem is that it’s got religious content and it’s being performed in a religious venue and that doesn’t just blur the line between church and state, it oversteps it entirely.”

The parent, who did not want to be named, told KARK in a statement that although she could choose not to allow her child to attend, she’s letting her daughter go to the performance for fear the girl could be singled out.

A spokeswoman for the Little Rock School District says the district does not endorse any particular faith or encourage any specific religious activity.

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