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.
Lighting of the Menorah
Sounding of the shofar
Special time of thanks and blessing.
Prayer for peace of Jerusalem (Ps 122:6) and regathering of the family of Israel.
May HaShem open His floodgates of blessing upon you in this new month.
Chodesh Tov. (Good month)
Joined To HaShem
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)
His God Too
Yaakov’s life has been one of testing from before he could remember. He did not choose this war, but from his mother’s womb, he has been thrust into it. He now breaks free of his brother’s grasp and heads out on his own to make a life for himself. Life from now on is going to be a bed of roses. Well, maybe not. The trials are only beginning.
Yaakov leaves the house of his father and mother and begins to walk. We are not told why he walked in the direction he did and the truth is, he probably did not know why himself. Yaakov is no doubt exhausted mentally and physically from the events of the preceding days and finds a comfortable rock to lay his head on. It is there he will see the Heavens opened and begin to understand his true calling in life. He is to be the one whom the covenant given to his father and grandfather will continue through.
Yaakov is not unfamiliar with the word covenant. He has heard this word from his earliest memories sitting on his Grandfather Abraham’s lap. His Father Isaac also made sure the story was forever ingrained in his memory. Now this God of Abraham and Isaac is wanting to enter into covenant with him. Yaakov decides it is time to put this God of his fathers to the test. Sure, he knows He can take care of his fathers, but can He take care of Yaakov? That is still a question.
Now, for most of us, seeing a ladder to Heaven with angels going up and down, we probably would have given in right away. Yaakov, on the other hand, decides to put this God to the test. Yaakov names the place Beit-El, (House of God) then does something really gutsy. Yaakov looks to the heavens and ushers a challenge to this God of his fathers. He tells Him that if He will go with him on on his journey, provide him bread, water and a safe return, He will be able to be known not only as the God of Abraham and Isaac, but will then be known as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Yaakov. By the way, I just love this guy for this one!
As a side note. Notice there is no record of Yah getting nervous here. It is not even recorded that he says a word. I personally feel He sat back in His throne a bit and gave a bit of a smile to the angels around Him.
Yaakov heads out onto a journey which I call his “Crisis of Faith.” He will begin his trial with a relative named Laban. Through Laban he will learn some lessons about faith in Yah. He will deal with trickery, deception, a barren wife and even some speckled goats. All the while, Elohim is showing Himself as faithful to Yaakov.
We end this Torah portion with Yaakov leaving Laban behind and heading back to Beit-El. He will still have a trial awaiting him just over the horizon, but at this point it appears Elohim is going to pass the challenge.
So what can we learn from this Torah portion which will help us in our own walk?
Each of us, just like Yaakov, come into this world and are at some time challenged with what god we will serve in life. We read the stories of covenants given to people who lived thousands of years ago. We can look to the heavens and see His glorious work. At some time we must come face to face with a decision of whether we will also enter into that covenant. He must go from the God of our fore-fathers and fore-mothers to being our God. Many of us who have entered this covenant understand this. Many of us can recount our own version of a “Crisis of Faith” just the same as Yaakov was be able to do.
What about our children though? Are we sheltering them from their own “Crisis of Faith?” Are we, in an attempt to protect them from the “Evil of the World” also sheltering them from making HaShem their God?
Yah was up the the challenge regarding Yaakov. I believe His desire is to prove Himself mighty to each of us. To do this there are times He needs to take us to places we are not comfortable with. All the while though he is working all things together for good, because He is able to see past our challenge and to a love that is just waiting to break forth toward Him. A love which will make our desire to walk in the covenant of our forefathers. (Click to Site)
Exodus 38:21-40:38, 1 Kings 7:40-50, 1 Cor 6-10
THEY DID, SO HE DID
Have you ever thought that serving God was hard work sometimes? I am sure the Hebrews had this thought going through their minds once in a while. I mean Hashem has brought them out of Egypt where they were doing quite a but of building and here they are again, building. This time it is not for a Pharaoh, it is for God! This makes a big difference in attitude, but you still go to bed at night tired and wake with a couple of aching muscles!
Truth is, life is hard work sometimes, no matter what you do. Being part of God’s family does not give us a free ride through life. In fact, at times it adds more to our lives. Just think, before you knew Him you did not take time to pray, well maybe in times of trouble. You did not take time to study His Word or find ways to live out that Word. You sure did not give of your resources and time for Him. Life in ways may have been easier, but it sure was not as rewarding.
This may have been the attitude of the Hebrews the day they brought all the finished materials for the Tabernacle to Moses. I love how David Stern translates chapter 39, verse 43. With the materials at his feet, it says, “Moses saw all the work, and – there is was! – they had done it! Exactly as Adonai had ordered, they had done it. And Moshe blessed them.” I would imagine that Moses did bless them! Here is this group that is best known for grumbling and complaining, and they had set their minds to a task for Hashem, and done it! It was sure a proud moment for Pastor Moses, but the best was to come.
The Hebrews get to work setting up the Tabernacle, everything in it’s place as Moses was instructing them. After all this was a pattern of what Moses had seen in the Heavens, so he knew just where it all went. Board upon board, basin, menorah, curtains and the Ark. Everything in it’s place. Finally the screen for the outer courtyard and it’s curtain, then it happens.
The cloud that had been guiding them through the dessert started to move. It covered the tent of meeting and the glory of The Holy One filled the Tabernacle. The glory was so strong that Moses was unable to enter! I wonder how many people cared about the long hours of the previous days or the slight pain in their muscles! Not a one, I am sure!
Today we build a spiritual tabernacle, not with our hands, but with people’s lives. We await a time in which the third temple will be built in Jerusalem, Messiah will return and His Kingdom will be upon this earth. At that time we will see the spiritual and the natural come together on this earth before our eyes. What a day!
Until that day, we work. We work to build His kingdom through our lives. We build through holding firm in our faith. We build when we walk in obedience to His Torah. We become the revelation of Hashem on this earth for all to see!
Question, how is the glory in your life and mine? Is it enough to turn heads without a word being spoken? It should, but for most of us, including myself, we have to admit, we are not there. What is the answer? Keep looking at His pattern; keep asking that our lives would be conformed into His image, not our neighbors. Keep studying, praying and changing. Keep waiting for the cloud to come, hover over us, and fill our Tabernacles with His glory for all the world to see.
Exodus 30:11-34:35 , 1 Kings 18:1-39, 1 Samuel 16-18, Luke 11:14-20; Acts 7:35-8:1
Only If You Go Too!
Any parent should be able to understand this Torah portion well. We have all experienced those times that our children disobey, but once in a while they do something that makes us look at them and say, “Just get out of my sight for a while!”
It is one thing when our children do this to us, but this week we read how the Hebrews crossed the line to the point that Abba told Moses he was to take the people from there, but He really did not want them in His presence anymore.
When we think back to what they had done, one can hardly blame Yah for not wanting to be with these folks anymore. Just think for a moment about this golden calf episode and you will have to admit this one is really over the top bad. To give the jewelry Yah has given you to make a tent for Him and use it to make a golden calf to worship is pretty bad. Place on top of this that as they were worshipping the calf the people were saying that it was the calf that brought them out of Egypt. Adding the lies of how the calf was formed just adds insult to injury. And by the way, did Aaron really think his brother was going to buy that one of throwing the gold in the fire and a calf popping out the other side? Now really, Aaron? It is no wonder HaShem said he did not want to go any further with these folks.
Moses finds himself in a real dilemma here though. Yah tells Moses to take the people from there, but He is not going with them. Now think about it, if Yah does not go with them then the cloud does not go with them. If the cloud does not go with them, how do they know which way to go? And what about if the cloud leaves, will the manna leave with it? And if the manna stops, what will happen to the rock that is giving them water? This calf thing is really starting to cost them, and Moses knows full well that if His presence does not go with these people they will soon be bones scattered through the desert. It is coming down to this Presence thing being a life and death situation. In the midst of it all Moses makes maybe the best decision of his lifetime when he looks to the heavens and says point blank, “If your presence does not go with us, don’t make us go from here.” Moses understands very well that the first step he takes without the presence of Yah will be the step that marks the end to him and to the people he is leading.
How much can we learn from Moses this week? Even asking that question seems a bit silly to me, but it is one we all should consider. Well maybe we should ask ourselves another question first, something like, “Just how much of life are we living without His presence already?” Stop and think about that for a moment. How many decisions do we make on a daily basis that do not involve Him? How many days do we begin without any time in His Word or without even a thought of what His plans may be for us that day?
Maybe we should not be making the same statement that Moses made, that he was not going on if Abba withdrew His presence. Maybe what we should be asking is for us to not be allowed to go one more step without His presence being restored unto us. Maybe the best thing we could do is repent for going as far as we have without His presence, doing things based not on His direction, but rather based on our own golden calf of self-reliance.
At this point in our Torah journey maybe we should not look down our noses at the Hebrews and how bad they behaved toward Abba. A more effective approach is to begin grinding up our own golden calves, and ask that not one more day be lived without His presence being restored unto us. Either way though, may we come into full agreement with Moses that if His presence does not go with us from this day forward, we should not be thinking about going anywhere! Greater exodus? Not without Him we don’t!
Tetzaveh “You shall command”
Exodus 27:20-30:10, Ezekiel 43:10-27, 1 Samuel 13-15, Phil 4:10-20
A Matter of the Heart
This week we go from the details of the Tabernacle to the details of Aaron’s garments. Again, we can become so enamored with the details of the prophetic shadows and types that we forget about the true meaning. We can miss the “heart” of the matter.
Aaron and his sons were chosen to be representatives of the people of Israel unto HaShem. They were to go into the Tabernacle and perform their duties on a daily, weekly and yearly basis. This service was to be a representation of what the children of Israel were doing as they walked out their daily lives. The children of Israel were called to walk each day in repentance, with thanksgiving, praise and worship unto the God they were serving. The Tabernacle services of Aaron were really a tangible manifestation of what was supposed to be lived out in the camp every day. The smoke rising from the altar and the aroma of the sacrifices and the incense were to be reminders to the camp of the responsibilities each person had on a daily basis to be his own priest unto HaShem.
When Aaron put the garments on his body, the last item he was to place was the breastplate. The breastplate held the stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel and the foreigners who had been adopted into the family. The breastplate was to be worn upon his heart as a reminder to himself and to all who saw, that this calling was not about pomp and circumstance, it was not about religious practices and the like. It was not about programs and structure. The calling was about a people whom God always holds close to His heart, a family made up of individuals whom He loves very deeply.
Years ago a man won a presidential election by daily looking to a motto, “It’s the economy, stupid!” No matter how the other candidates in debate hammered, he continued to come back to the focus of what he saw as the most important subject of the minds of the people of that day. Though I may disagree with most every word and action this man had then and continues to hold now, a lesson can be learned from his campaign, and that is to find the heart of the issue and never allow anyone to move you from it.
From the beginning of Genesis to the last words of Revelation we see the struggle of focus. Man’s desire is to look to the robe and to lose focus of the details of the robe. Man desires to make the position into an end all its own. Man desires to forget that God’s plan is not about religious liturgies and practices, but about a people whom He holds close to His heart.
The Pharisees of the time of Yeshua are a prime example of forgetting God’s heart. They came time after time to try and trap Yeshua. They were not concerned about the people and in fact they were not concerned about the God they said they served. They had taken the robes of the priesthood, but had forgotten that those were robes of servanthood to God and to His people. They did not see that the instructions of Torah were about the Heart of the Father and not about how to control and enslave people to their own power. This is why toward the end of the chapter Yeshua sums up the Torah by taking them to the heart of the Torah, the Shema.
Yeshua was not telling the Pharisees that the rest of the Torah was done away with as He spoke these words. Instead he was making them come face to face with their attitudes toward the Torah and also the family of God. He was telling them to look back to where Aaron held the breastplate containing the stones of the tribes. He was showing them that their heart was not about serving people, but controlling people.
There are many so-called leaders today that could learn a great lesson from the robes and breastplate of Aaron. In fact, most of us would do well to take a close look at these items ourselves. Where are we carrying His family? Are they being carried simply on our minds as an exercise in intellect? Are they carried on our feet as items to be walked on and used? Are they carried in our back pockets so we can see how much we can get out of them? Or is the family of God carried in the same place Aaron carried them, the same place God carries them? Are they carried on our hearts so we may never forget to love and cherish the family He calls His own, a family we should do the same with!