Torah Commentary – Lech Lecha (Get Yourself Out) – One Man Was Listening – SCRIPTURES FOR October 28, 2017

Torah Commentary
Lech Lecha (Get Yourself Out)

jesus-in-the-synagogue

Gen 12:1-17:27
Isaiah 40:27-41:16
Acts 7:1-8
Romans 3:19-5:6
Hebrews 7:1-19; 11:8-12
 
One Man Was Listening
I was talking to a Jewish friend with a number of other people in the room a few of years ago. During the conversation someone said, “God spoke to me” and went on to state what they thought they had heard. After the crowd left my Jewish friend looked at me with a facial expression I have seen many times. A look which normally means I am about to learn something very important. He brought up the “God told me” statement and proceeded to explain why he would not make a statement like that. It was not that he believes HaShem does not speak to people, but rather his explanation brought a greater meaning to the dialogue between the Creator and His creation. My friend’s explanation went like this. God is always speaking, so to say “God told me” is to say He only speaks on occasion. A better way for this person to have explained their encounter would be to say, “In a moment that I was listening…”
Allow me to expound a bit. Is there ever a time in which HaShem is not speaking? I would say “no”. His voice is in world events, creation itself and even conversations we are having with others around us. The question is, “Are we listening for His voice in those things and at those times?”
In Genesis 12 we read of a dialogue between HaShem and a man named Abram. It appears from the text that he hears an audible voice, but was his hearing the audible voice due to his learning to hear an inaudible one? Let me explain. As Abram grew up in Ur and later in Haran, did he witness the sin and depravity of the culture and wonder if there had to be a better way of living? If so, he heard His voice. If ancient writings are true and his father was a seller of idols, did he look at them and consider they were just carvings of wood and stone? If so, he heard His voice. Did he look up to the stars at night and wonder just who it was that created the heavens and the earth? If so, he heard His voice.
My point is that Abram had made a lifestyle out of listening to the ever speaking voice of HaShem. On that now infamous day when the inaudible became the audible it was as natural to follow that voice as it was for Abram to breathe.
There is another person in the story though that does not get much credit until later. Her name is Sara. Scripture does not record her hearing a voice. That is not until Abram came home and told her to pack her bags as they were moving to a new place. From the text it appears that Sara did not question Abram’s decision, but started packing. How could she do this? I believe it was because she had been listening for the voice of HaShem as Abram had.
When Abram came home with the news, Sara did not need to get alone and pray, because the inaudible voice she had been hearing had now become audible through her husband’s voice. On that day, her husband’s voice and the Creator’s voice matched exactly. No questions were needed.
Through the next few weeks we will see the journey of Abram and Sara continuing to follow HaShem’s voice. We will read of the times their hearing was good and the times it was not so good. I am so thankful Father did not just give us the successes of this couple. If he had, the standard would have been too high to reach. I am also grateful He did not only record their failures as it would cause us to not even try. The successes and failures give me hope; for it tells me Abram and Sara were human, flesh and blood like you and me.
In Genesis chapter 17 HaShem tells Abram to “Walk before me and be perfect.” Thankfully the word translated perfect is not the best meaning for the word. In Hebrew it is tamiym and means entire, complete and whole. In the Complete Jewish Bible, David Stern translates it as pure-hearted. Other translations use whole-hearted. The Hebrew spelling is tav, mem, yod, mem. It is a picture of waters coming together and merging into covenant as one. Think about that for a moment. Have you ever seen two rivers come together? They don’t struggle to become one river, they just do. Flowing in covenant with our Creator should be no more difficult than two rivers combining into one. That is, if we have learned to “listen” to the direction we are supposed to flow.
Shalom and Be Strong,
Mike Clayton

Torah Commentary – B’resheet (In the beginning) – Noach (Noah) – The End Justified the Beginning – SCRIPTURES FOR October 21, 2017

Torah Commentary

B’resheet (In the beginning)

Noach (Noah)

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Genesis 1:1-11:32
Isaiah 42:5-43:10
John 1:1-18
Revelation 21:1-5; 22:1-5
Note: To catch up with the Torah cycle this is two portions combined
The End Justified the Beginning
We begin another Torah cycle! I express this with anticipation. Many “new to Torah” folks may question why we read through and study the same five books year after year. Allow me to answer the question by asking the seasoned Torah pursuers, “Was anything new revealed to you as you read through the Torah last year that you had not seen in previous years?” I imagine there is not a single “no” out there, so a shout of exuberance, “Here we go again”!
It is in this section of our readings that makes me wish I was on the three year Torah cycle. Actually, that is not completely true. Skip the three year cycle and let’s jump to the thousand year millennial cycle with Messiah teaching it from Jerusalem. This portion carries so much meaning that I desire to camp out at each sentence.
Honestly, I am having a very difficult time getting through the first verse this year. This is not uncommon, although this year seems to have more meaning. I have been meditating on this verse in light of Isaiah 46:10, “At the beginning I announce the end, proclaim in advance things not yet done; and I say that my plan will hold, I will do everything I please to do.” A more literal translation of the verse would be “HaShem declared the end out of the beginning.” I recognize we understand that He knows all things, but have we considered He declared that all things would happen even before they happened. This means HaShem knew Eve would listen to the serpent instead of Him. Cain killing Abel was no surprise. He knew man would become so corrupt He would have to kill all but eight people and start over. HaShem knew that for six-thousand years man would repeatedly turn his back on his Creator. In fact, the Hebrew word “nagad”, which is translated “declared” is a picture of a man walking away from the teachings and instructions of Yah.
On a personal level we recognize HaShem knew my sins and yours. All of our days are numbered and no surprise to Him. He even knew that after you and I turned back to His ways that we would fail. Yet, His grace is sufficient. His love is endless. We have the gift of repentance and Yeshua’s Blood to atone for us. Father’s Love is great. His desire for a relationship with us in spite of our shortcomings is humbling.
Now here is a challenging question for you. Had you been HaShem knowing all man would do against you for six-thousand years. If you knew in advance the pain for man’s rebellion and had a choice to go forth with Genesis 1:1, what would you have done? Consider that for a moment. Truth is He made a choice I am not sure I would have made. Why did He?
The answer lies in a single word of the verse in Isaiah which is “end.” Yah did not focus on the process, but rather the end result. What is the end result? Take a moment and read Revelation 21:1-4. Therein lays the answer to why Father made the choice to go forth with Genesis 1:1. It’s all about relationship to have a people that would be His and He would be theirs.
Where is our vision as we read these first words of Genesis 1:1? What do we plan to focus on during this next Torah cycle? I would challenge you to focus, not on what has been or what is, but rather on what will be. When you read again the words, “In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth”, allow your mind to consider the love, mercy, grace and desire our Heavenly Father has to look past the process of redemption and see the destination called redemption. This truth in itself will continue to help us put one foot in front of the other in our journey.
One more challenge as we begin this Torah cycle. Many of us have read through the Torah several times. With that comes the hazard of just glancing through the verses. Consider this a good time to think about reading in a different translation. This may help notice messages in Scripture we have never seen before. Remember that even the people’s names and genealogies have great meaning. Take time to pull out your concordance to do some research. An example that many of us know is located in Beresheet Chapter 5. Genealogy can make you glassy eyed, right? In this particular case the meanings of the names form a sentence and witness to Messiah, which is “Man is appointed to mortal sorrow, but the blessed Elohim shall come down teaching that His death shall bring the despairing comfort.” How is that for declaring the end out of the beginning?
May our year be filled with Yah’s Spirit of revelation. Not revelation for our intellect, but rather to prepare us to be a people He is proud to call His. (Click to Site)

 

Torah Commentary – Ki Tetze (When you go out) – Protecting the Back of the Pack – SCRIPTURES FOR September 2, 2017

Torah Commentary
Ki Tetze (When you go out)
Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19
Isaiah 54:1-10
Mark 10:2-12
Luke 20:27-38
1Tim 5:17-18

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Protecting the Back of the Pack
As I read through these middle chapters of Deuteronomy I sometimes want to put my head back and say, “Well duh!” For me, I find many of the instructions here are common sense. I really cannot think of a time in my life that I needed to be reminded to not wear a dress or makeup! Then I recall something simple, yet profound, a friend said, “If common sense is supposed to be so common, then why isn’t it?” While watching the news it is rather evident that there are many folks across this world in need of reading these verses and putting them into practice in their lives.
Why are these instructions difficult for so many people? The very simple answer is no relationship with Yeshua, no Torah, no life!! Torah teaches us about taking responsibility for our actions. Consider it this way. Let’s say your ox walks through a hole in your fence and falls in a ditch. You ponder the issue. The blame goes to the ox for walking through the hole in the fence and falling into the ditch. Then you consider maybe a demon spooked the ox which made him run through the hole and into the ditch. The obvious issue is not what the ox did wrong, but the fact you needed to fix the fence. Had responsibility been taken the ox would not be in the ditch!
For the prepper at heart think about the verse that asks you to include a trowel in your pack. How do feel when you realize what the trowel is needed for? Wait, you want me to use that trowel? Do you shutter at the idea that you might get it dirty requiring you to clean it? Are you wondering why someone else can’t clean up the mess you made in the camp? Do you avoid taking responsibility?
The Torah also teaches us what is referred to as the “Golden Rule.” It is amazing how many people actually think the words “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is really a verse in Scripture. No, it is not a verse of Scripture, but it is a principle derived from It. Things like not charging a brother or sister interest, respecting others physical and spiritual boundaries are all instructions taught in these Torah portions. (Click to Site)

 

Torah Commentary – Re’eh (See) – See, Perceive or Selah – SCRIPTURES FOR August 19, 2017

Torah Commentary
Re’eh (See)
Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17
Isaiah 54:11-55:5
1Corinthians 5:9-13
1John 4:1-6

yeshuatheMessiah

See, Perceive or Selah
The title of this Torah portion is translated very simply with the word “see.” This small simple word can be taken for granted by some.  For the vast majority of the people in this country, “seeing” is the first thing they do every morning. People wake up, open their eyes to see, or depending on your optical ability, at least look at the images our eyes are allowing their brains to discern. I question whether there is a difference between seeing or looking?
In Hebrew the word is re’eh. The word has the meaning of looking at something with our eyes, but that is not the context in how it’s being used here. The Hebrew meaning is for us to perceive and consider something so as to bring forth discernment. Many of you may relate to the example I’m going to use to explain my point. Most people wake up in the morning head to the bathroom to begin their daily routine to make themselves presentable before leaving home. Many of us find in the mirror the proverbial “bed head” look with hair going every direction. As one makes sense of the new style their pillow created they might find a few gray hairs that certainly could not have been there the day before.
How you handle these sneaky little gray hairs is what brings forth my point. Will you make a mental note of the location of these sly little hairs to pluck them out, hide them with a new hairstyle or run to the local Wal-Mart to grab a bottle of hair color? Are these little gray hairs a frightful unwanted sight or do they bring you to a place of introspection? Do you just “see” the gray hair or do look deeper to evaluate the Scriptural meaning behind gray hair and how it’s interpreted. Do you perceive what is happening in your life regarding your maturity and reflect on decisions you are making? The gray hair is a sign to us to ponder if we are learning the lessons life has been trying to teach us or traveling around the same mountain of mistakes. Are you gaining wisdom through maturity or just going gray? (Click to Site)

 

Torah Commentary – Devarim “Words” – A More Excellent Work – SCRIPTURES FOR July 29, 2017

Torah Commentary
Devarim “Words”
Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22
Isaiah 1:1-27
1Kings 16-18
John 15:1-11
Hebrews 3:7-4:11

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A More Excellent Work
This week we begin the Book of Deuteronomy, which includes the final message of Moses to the people he has grown to love. Although they have given Moses many days of heartache through the forty year wilderness journey, in the end his love for them cannot be measured. I am not sure the Hebrews could grasp the depth of his love. Moses’ calling is near completion as he stands, possibly with tears running down his cheeks, to give one last message to Israel. Moses completed the task he was called to. He delivered the people out of the bondage of Egypt and took them as far as he could go. Now he must turn the reins over to another chosen by HaShem. Joshua will take Israel the final steps home.
As we continue through this last book of Torah we will learn that even Moses knows they will not remain in the Land. Sadly, forty years in the desert and the death of all those that were twenty and older, has not completely cleansed the community of the Egyptian mindset. The heart of Egypt was passed down to their children. Yes, their children will enter the Promise Land, but in the end they will not be allowed to remain. The physical deliverance from Egypt would not be enough to sustain them in the Land. A power far greater than Moses was needed to complete the inward work of true deliverance from the Egyptian culture for the Hebrews to be able to maintain the set apart lifestyle needed to abide in Israel.
I see this scenario of the Hebrews being lived out once again today. The “Hebrew Roots Movement” has repeated history in leading a type of physical deliverance as Moses did centuries ago. Hebraic Roots is empowering people with important knowledge to bring about a mighty exodus from paganism. It has been a deliverance involving mostly external choices. We no longer dress up as horror characters for candy, decorate trees or hide eggs. Our menu selection at the grocery store and restaurants has dramatically changed. Worship celebrations have Scriptural foundations tied to Biblical dates of observance. Many of us even look to the New Moon because we understand further the first verse of Genesis which tells us to see the moon as a sign. What I want to evaluate is whether our journey has just been physical. Have we truly made more progress in the crossing over than the Hebrews? Are we still standing on the wrong side of the river?  Have we opened our hearts to a deeper relationship with the Most High so that His Spirit can passionately flow through us to overflow onto others? Are we maintaining a solid relationship with our King that we forget life across the river? Will the bond be so tight to guard us from being expelled from the Land before we ever arrive? (Click to Site)

 

Torah Commentary – Chukat “Statute” – Give or It Shall Be Taken From You – SCRIPTURES FOR July 1, 2017

The Hebrews have been in the wilderness for 38 years. There are still trials to go through and people who must die before they can move on. Let us not miss the personal nature and just read over the deaths of Moshe’s brother and sister. Their deaths will bring many changes in the camp.  

Torah Commentary

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Chukat “Statute”
Numbers 19:1-22:1
Judges 11:1-33
John 11-12
Give or It Shall Be Taken From You
A common thread we have seen the past few weeks with grumbling, murmuring and complaining continues this week. I pray we have learned the importance of having an “attitude of gratitude” to help us overcome these unwelcome sins. Sadly, in this portion Israel’s grumbling not only affected them, but their leader. Their sin permeated the camp. Moshe had enough of the people and entered into their spirit of frustration. This mistake cost him a price higher than he desired to pay. Because he disobeyed a direct command from Yah by striking the rock the second time, instead of speaking to it, he was judged. His consequence was painful; the inability to enter the Promise Land with Israel. Although he would not enter the Land, he still had the job of taking the people to their destination.
There was an obstacle in the way between Israel’s current location and the Land they were to enter – the land controlled by Sichon, king of the Emori. Moshe sent word to Sichon explaining he wanted to lead Israel through the land Sichon occupied. After all, they have been in the desert for a long time and a shortcut is a shortcut. Moshe made sure Sichon understood he did not desire to take the land, eat from its fields and vineyards or even drink the water of the land. Israel did not need any of those things. They had the land HaShem promised them, they had all the manna a person could ever want; manna burgers, manna pancakes, manna upside down cake. (You know the rest.) Moshe had one interest the shortcut through the land of the Emori.
It seems Sichon was never told about the wonders of giving to Yah or Genesis 12:3. I am sure if he understood who these people were and Whom they served and that by giving Israel access to the King’s Highway, he would have been blessed beyond measure, Sichon’s decision would have been different. Instead of giving to Yah, self service thinking provoked him to take from Yah. In this case he greedily desired to take the lives and possessions of HaShem’s people. What he failed to recognize was the Creator of the universe owned the people and their possessions. We read as expected Sichon was defeated. Not only defeated, but what he controlled was taken from him and given to Israel as a temporary dwelling place until they moved on to their inheritance. Don’t mess with what belongs to HaShem!
What can we learn from the account of Sichon, king of the Emori? Here are a few suggestions.  (Click to Article)

 

The New Moon has been sighted in Israel!

Shalom,

New Moon

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The New Moon has been sighted in Israel! We begin the Biblical Third month. 
Look toward the western sky at sundowntonight and celebrate the goodness of HaShem in our lives.

Celebration Tips
Lighting of the Menorah
Reading Psalms
Sounding of the shofar
Celebration dinner
Special time of thanks and blessing.
Prayer for peace of Jerusalem (Ps 122:6) and regathering of the family of Israel.
(EZ 37)

May HaShem open His floodgates of blessing upon you in this new month.
Chodesh Tov. (Good month)
Be Strong,
Mike Clayton
Joined To HaShem

Parashat B’har/B’Chukkotai – Lev. 25:1 – 26:2

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This post is written by a member of the Messianic community in Israel or guest contributor. The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Kehila News Israel or myself.

And every tenth of cattle or flock, every [one] that will pass under the staff, the tenth one shall be holy to the L-rd. – Vayikra/Leviticus 27:32

Almost the last command in Vayikra as the book draws to an end, this and its companion two verses earlier, cause some confusion to the commentators. As Gunther Plaut points out, “this tithe of animals is mentioned nowhere else in the Torah.” Whilst we have early examples of Avraham, who gave a tenth of all that he possessed to Melchizedek, the king of Salem and priest of El Elyon, the Most High G-d – “Abram gave him a tenth of everything” (B’resheet 14:20, JPS) – and Ya’akov who expansively promised HaShem that “of all that You give me, I will set aside a tithe for You” (28:22, JPS), Baruch Levine affirms that there is no other place where the Torah requires a tithe of one’s entire herd and flock. In fact, even changing the frame from one’s entire stock to simply the increase during the year, he still asserts, “no other Torah legislation ordains a tithe from the annual increments of the herds and flocks.” This change matches the Jewish tradition as Hirsch, writing in the nineteenth century demonstrates: “one tenth of the increase of one’s flocks and herds has to be designated … only those born to the livestock of one owner in each year, or those purchased by him before the age fitting them for offering (seven days).” The Ralbag too affirms that it was applied only to the increase in the flock, when he explains that each animal “must pass under its own power. This teaches that they would put the animals’ mothers outside so that the lambs and calves would hear their voices and go out to them.” (Click to Article)

Torah Commentary – B’har (On Mount Sinai), B’chukotai – The Heart of the Matter – SCRIPTURES FOR May 20, 2017

Torah Commentary
B’har (On Mount Sinai), B’chukotai
Leviticus 25:1-26:2; 26:3-27:34
Jeremiah 32:6-27; 16:19-17:14
2Corinthians 7-13
 The Heart of the Matter
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For our culture, many of the instructions of Leviticus seem quite foreign to us. There is even a debate whether most of these Scriptures pertain only to the time when we have entered the Land. “Buying and selling of crops, allowing the land to rest on the seventh year and redeeming our poor relative from slavery”, you have to admit, are not things most of us spend our waking thoughts pondering today. When it comes to food storage many people consider storing food for the winter. Wrap your head around storing supplies for three years to take your family through the Jubilee. Due to the difference in culture, we can get lost in the relevance of these verses for our day and read through them way to fast. A quick glance may cause us to miss the heart of the Scriptures.
Torah is about relationship with HaShem, family and the people we are called to interact with on a daily basis. The mysteries and wonders of Torah are awesome, but if we miss the theme of relationship, we miss the heart of the matter. Torah is teaching us through practical day-to-day life instructions how to love our Creator and how to treat one another. This principle is brought out again in Leviticus 25:14-17. Here Scripture speaks of selling property to a neighbor while considering the amount of how many years remaining until the Jubilee and the return of said property.  On the surface we do not see the point of the instruction, because in our society when we sell an item to someone, we do not expect him or her to bring it back in seven years. All transactions are typically final.  What can we learn in this instruction? The heart of the instruction is in verse 17, which tells us not to take advantage of one another in our transactions.
Let us put some flesh on this principal. Back in the days when I sold real estate, I did not like to sell property to or for friends. Sadly, more often than not, it turned out to be a disaster. I found that no matter how hard I tried, the “friend” was much harder to work with than a stranger off the street. They usually wanted special favors and in the end could not believe why I did not turn my entire commission over to them and call the transaction a favor based on friendship. This was an example of taking advantage of a friendship, which is what Leviticus warns us against. (Click to Article)

Torah Commentary – Acharei Mot(After the Death), K’doshim(Holy Ones) – Searching For Life – Day 8, Month 2, 5777; 4 May 2017

Torah Commentary
Acharei Mot(After the Death), K’doshim(Holy Ones)
Leviticus 16:1-18:30; 19:1-20:27
Ezekiel 22:1-19
Romans 3:19-28; 9:30-10:13
1 Corinthians 5:1-13
2 Corinthians 2:1-11
Galatians 3:10-14
Hebrews 7:23-10:25
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Searching For Life
Life is an interesting word. The dictionary defines it as,”The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.” According to this definition life is just going through motions which will allow someone to know if we are an animal, plant or just a rock. Simply put, if it moves, grows and reproduces, it has life, if not, it’s a rock. Another definition for life is, “The period between the birth and death of a living thing.”
As I consider these definitions in light of the words in Leviticus 18:5, which explains we will have life through obedience to Torah, the dictionary definitions appear to pale in comparison of how I feel our Creator desires us to have life. If we throw into the mix the words of Yeshua in John 10:10, “I have come that you may have life, life in its fullest measure,” the definitions really lose value.
What is the difference between the book definitions of life and what most of us desire as the Scriptural definition of life? I believe it comes down to one word, purpose. Consider the word purpose for a moment. Is it possible for us to have life, but never find purpose? We all know the answer is a resounding “yes”!
When we reflect on an example of life without purpose our minds may envision a homeless person on a street corner. He or she wakes up in the morning the same as the rest of us, breathes the same amount of air as we do and in truth goes through many of the same motions to sustain a level of life. Is simply sustaining life all that our Creator intended? Obviously, not! Would you say, when compared to the homeless person on the street corner, we have achieved the Scriptural definition of life in its fullest measure by reading the Torah each week, eating clean and observing the Feasts? I’m not sure I would.
Ask an honest question of yourself. Do you feel you are walking in the Scriptural definition of life? Now I am going to go where only the truly insane go. Comparing your life of Torah today with your life in a church in the past, do you feel you have more life now or just more knowledge? I wish I could get a show of hands here.
If my conversations with people through the years are any indication to the answer of the above question I would say most of us feel we have more knowledge than life. If you are the exception, please do not become offended. Maybe you have found the keys to abundant life and should be the one writing instead of me. For all the rest, please read on.
Leviticus 18 promises we will have life through observing His laws and rulings. Yeshua says we will have abundant life through Him. Is the key to life in joining these two verses together? If so, is there a verse which combines their meaning? Look at Psalm 40:7, “In the scroll of the book it is written about Me.” This verse is our key to the equation. It is all about Him. (Click to Article)