Over the next two weeks SkyWatch TV will feature preparedness broadcasts with experts from around the world covering a broad base of issues from finance to surviving off-grid. A major reason for these special programs involves what looks like the fulfillment of prophecy everywhere; the threat of nuclear war, unrest in the Middle East, instability within the global economic system, threats to the national grid, terrorism and even gateways through biotechnology that could unleash upon earth pestilence of biblical proportions. People from all three of the world’s great religions see these developments as potential omens of an ‘End Times’ scenario leading to the Apocalypse. Yet many believers in God, especially in America, remain indifferent to the need to prepare for the unexpected. What can they be thinking!?
An article by Mimi Hall in USA TODAY recently pointed out this phenomenon, saying, “Most Americans haven’t taken steps to prepare for a natural disaster, terrorist attack or other emergency, according to a new study on preparedness, and only about a third have made plans with family members about how they would communicate with each other during a crisis.”
Part of the reason for this may be that we are by comparison well off in the United States, and we trust in our bank accounts to sustain us. Unfortunately, money sitting in savings and investments are useless if you become stuck in a storm or other crisis.
Another disarming reason I witnessed during my 25 years of pastoring for why people of faith neglect preparedness has to do with an odd defeatism that says, “If current events are prophesied to happen, then there’s nothing we can do about it anyway.”
The notion that calamity is unavoidable if it is divinely predicted is even sanctioned by some expositors who miss the pattern for preparedness in the Bible. While it is true that famine was prophesied for Egypt, it is also a fact that God led Joseph to prepare for it, and, as a result, he saved his family and the nations around about.
Proverbs 22:3 tells us that a prudent person will foresee such difficulties and prepare for them, while a simpleton will go blindly on and suffer the consequences. This is good advice not only for religious folks, but also people of any persuasion. (Click to Site)
Many generations have lived and died since the time of Joseph. To the Hebrews, Caanan is a distant place that is talked about on occasion, but Egypt has become home in their minds. The stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are ancient history. Joseph saving Egypt from ruin? It is not doing them much good now. At least not in their minds. God? Well, it does not look like He is too involved in the lives of the Hebrews. Then one night it all changed. The sound of a baby cry in Goshen was very common, but this cry was unique. For those who had ears to hear it could be interpreted, “Pack your bags, it is time to go home!”
Moses, a type and shadow of the One prophesied in Genesis 3 was now alive and well, even growing up in the very house he would one day judge. The only problem with the picture is the man who will be called to deliver the people needs some time tending sheep to truly be ready for the call.
Moses had probably sat at the base of the mountain many times during his years as a shepherd. Little did he realize how much future events on the mountain would change generations to come including the one you and I are living out right now.
The account of the burning bush is very familiar to us all. There is a detail many read over which I would like to expound on. In Chapter 4 Verse 2 Yah asks Moshe a question, “What is that in your hand?’ Now, from my experience, when Yah asks a question, He in not looking for information. He is normally looking for our response. Moshe answers right away and says it is a staff. In the next verses we read what Yah instructs Moshe to do with the staff, part of which is to throw it down whereas it becomes a snake.
I, for one, am not real crazy about snakes. I do not even like the sight of them. Even the ones which are not venomous, I just do not like them. I think my feeling toward serpents would have been a good one for Eve to have, but that is another subject.
What is the connection between the staff and the serpent? In Moshe’s day the staff was where your life was recorded in carvings. It was his autobiography. He would have carved images for various important times in his life. Probably none stuck out more to the eyes of Moshe was the carving of the day he killed the Egyptian. To Moshe it was a symbol of his failure. He who was once called to be the deliverer was forever a failure. What his staff represented was the day he had messed up so bad, hit future was over, the same as if a venomous snake had bitten him.
When Moshe saw the staff turn into a snake it says he recoiled from it. I do not believe he he tried to flee because he was afraid of the snake, but rather he understood what it represented.
Moshe thought his actions years ago had brought death to his calling. This was not the case. His actions had sent him to a place to make him into the man he needed to be, a man who would rely on YH VH and not on himself.
Over the years I have met many people who think something in their past means that Yah can no longer use them. Maybe you are one of them. If that is the case, I have a question for you,”What is that in your hand?” Let’s take a lesson from Moshe. Throw down the image that we may have of failures past. See that image for what it is, a death which keeps us from living our destiny. The staff of Moshe was in a way born again as the old things had passed away and all things had become new. So I ask again, “What is that in your hand?” (Click to Article)
Abhorrent? Why is That?
The moment finally arrives and Joseph can no longer contain himself. I, for one, hope someone has a camera on the faces of the brothers when the words, “I am Yosef” finally sunk in. I think you could have knocked them over with the proverbial feather. The brothers probably felt mixed emotions like joy, relief, anxiety, fear, and a few others all at the same time. When the dust of emotions settled, fear may have been the one closest to the surface.
The first order of business in Joseph’s mind is to get his father to Egypt. You have to wonder if it ever occurred to Joseph if instead of Yaakov coming to him, he should have left Egypt and gone to Yaakov. I doubt the words Yah had spoken to his Grandfather regarding the family going to a foreign land ever came to his mind. Just as today, prophecy happens whether we perceive it or not.
Yosef sends the boys back with more material goods than they have seen for some time. He also sends them with one instruction, “Don’t quarrel among yourselves as you’re traveling.” Did he know his brothers or what? He may have been away from them for a number of years, but he had already seen that some things in their lives had not changed. Could it also be that The One who is prophesied in the life of Joseph was also sending a message which was to be taken to heart by a bunch of brothers in the future who are still known to do a bit of quarreling?
So this brings us to an interesting question. Just how do we put an end to quarreling? Stop quarreling! That was easy! Just as it takes two to tango, it also takes two to quarrel. A quarrel in which only one person shows up and is quarreling with themselves is basically a man or woman yelling at nothing. Who gets lead off in the funny white coat in that one?
The next instruction Yosef gives is regarding their meeting with Pharaoh. He tells the family to tell him they are shepherds. His motive in this is to keep some distance between his family and the life of Egypt he has had to deal with. In this, we see some great insights.
First it shows us that though Yosef may have looked like, talked like, and maybe even acted like an Egyptian on the outside, inside he was pure Hebrew through and through. He had not allowed the culture of Egypt to corrupt him. What an incredible pattern of Messiah we have here.
The question has to be asked of just why shepherds were abhorrent to the Egyptians. After all, it was a shepherd that had made them the most prosperous and powerful nation on the earth in their day. The answer lies in the heart of a shepherd and how that heart is diametrically opposed to Egypt. A shepherd never thinks about himself first. His first thoughts are always the safety and comfort of the sheep in his care.Through thick and thin, his first priority is the sheep. He is even willing to give his life if need be to protect his sheep. Egypt on the other hand is all about self and self preservation. It is a ‘me’ culture which is convicted to the very root just by the sight of the heart of a shepherd.
Today our culture is waging the same war. It is the Egyptian/Roman/European/American/Western ‘me’ culture. The very thought that someone should put someone else first in our modern society is treated like a plague.
What should our response be to this Torah portion? First of all, don’t quarrel on our journey back home. Second, let us imitate The Shepherd who gave Himself as a ransom for many and if people think that is strange and want to put us in quarantine somewhere, so be it. We choose to live for Him and for others, and not for ourselves. (Click to Article)
1 Kings 5:26-6:13
“The Heart of the Matter”
This week’s Torah portion, Terumah, details the construction of the Tabernacle which the glory of God occupied during the Ancient Israelites’ journey through the wilderness. This temporary dwelling place was used by Israel until the First Temple was constructed in Jerusalem by King Solomon. As you read through the details of the Tabernacle’s materials and its construction, you can marvel at the minute particulars that come forth from the instructions of the Master Builder. The finest natural materials are utilized, which are all thought to have significant symbolic interpretations. But regardless of the specificity of the blueprints and materials, two overwhelming themes bubble to the surface as you read the account:
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution’” (Exodus 25:1-2).
From the title of our parashah, terumah (hmWrT), meaning “contribution, offering, for sacred uses” (BDB, 929), you find that the Holy One of Israel is looking for people who have a strong heart’s desire to offer valuable contributions for the construction project. God was looking for a people who would love, honor, and respect Him enough so that they would be entirely willing—from the heart—to offer up their valuable resources in order to build the Tabernacle and fashion all of its furnishings and accoutrements, for the priestly service. We learn from some later comments that the response to the request was overwhelming to the point that an order was issued to stop the outpouring of freewill gifts:
“And they said to Moses, ‘The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the Lord commanded us to perform.’ So Moses issued a command, and a proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, ‘Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.’ Thus the people were restrained from bringing any more” (Exodus 36:5-6).
From the beginning of the wilderness journey—after witnessing the miracles of the defeat of the Egyptians, the provisions of manna, quail, and water, hearing the voice of the Lord bellowing from Mount Sinai, and receiving the Ten Commandments—the Ancient Israelites were prepared to give freely of their possessions for the assembly of the Tabernacle. The God of Israel articulates the second theme which is evident not only in this Torah portion, but throughout the Holy Scriptures, as He makes His great desire made known to Moses:
“Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them”(Exodus 25:8).
The Lord has a strong desire to dwell (Heb. verb shakan, !kv) among His people. This is an important statement because even though He desires for a sanctuary or mishkan (!Kvm) to be built, our Heavenly Father is really stating that He desires to just dwell among His people. Even though there is a construction project for a specific structure to represent His holiness, He actually says that He wants to dwell among human beings. From this wording, you get the impression that the Holy One just wants to walk among His people in a similar fashion to the way He established the relationship He had with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden:
“They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LordGod among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8).
As you ponder the theme of dwelling with the Creator, we see the intimate relationship that God is attempting to establish with His chosen ones. He desires a people whose hearts yearn for Him and with whom He can dwell! The rest of the account in Mishpatim simply concerns details that have significant meaning, and which convey the majesty and dignity of the Tabernacle and priestly service—serving as tangible manifestations of His heart’s desire.
When you take a look at the associated Haftarah portion in 1 Kings 5:26-6:13, you discover that in spite of the impressive construction project developed by Solomon and Hiram during their time of relative peace, the overwhelming theme is still God simply wanting to dwell with His people. For whatever reasons, it is apparent that humanity needs physical structures in order to imagine spiritual and relational principles. The Creator knows this attribute, and consequently fulfills this need by orchestrating both the wilderness Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple to be constructed.
The Good Shepherd
The most significant point that the Lord is trying to convey from Mishpatimregards the melding of one’s heart attitude, and His intended residence among His people. Probably the most vivid analogy, that is used to communicate the essence of this relationship, is the image derived from the relationship of a shepherd to his sheep. The Holy One is often described as a Good Shepherd who is constantly walking among His sheep tending to their needs. Recall how when the Patriarch Jacob communicated some of his final blessings, he referred to God as a shepherd (Heb. verb ra’ah, h[r):
“He blessed Joseph, and said, ‘The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day’” (Genesis 48:15).
Later, when blessing Joseph specifically, another reference to God as the Great Shepherd is witnessed:
“But his bow remained firm, and his arms were agile, from the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), from the God of your father who helps you, and by the Almighty who blesses youwith blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of your father have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; may they be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers” (Genesis 49:24-26).
Of course, most Bible readers are eager to remember David’s reference to God being his Shepherd in Psalm 23:
“A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd [Adonai ro’i, y[r hwhy], I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:1-3).
Less well-known words come from Qohelet, as he summarizes his life experience:
“The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd [nittenu m’ro’eh, h[rm WnTn]. But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:11-14).
The Prophets are also replete about referring to God as a Shepherd:
· “Behold, the Lord God will come with might, with His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him and His recompense before Him. Like a shepherd [k’ro’eh, h[rK] He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes”(Isaiah 40:10-11).
· “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare in the coastlands afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock [k’ro’eh]’” (Jeremiah 31:10).
· “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans ofJudah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. Therefore He will give them upuntil the time when she who is in labor has borne a child. Then the remainder of His brethren will return to the sons of Israel. And He will arise and shepherdHis flock in the strength of the Lord [v’amad v’ra’ah b’oz Adonai, hwhy z[B h[rw dm[w], in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth” (Micah 5:2-4).
And of course, perhaps most important, Yeshua referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd to His Disciples, as He explained the mission and purpose of His ministry:
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd [Egō eimi ho poimēn ho kalos, Egw eimi o poimhn o kaloß], and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” (John 10:11-16).
The author of Hebrews summarized his treatise by calling the workings of the Holy One, the works of the Great Shepherd:
“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep [ton poimena tōn probatōn ton megan, ton poimena twn probatwn ton megan] through the blood of the eternal covenant, evenYeshua our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Yeshua the Messiah, to whom bethe glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21).
Earlier in his work, the author quoted extensively from the Prophets in order to communicate many of the principles relating to the wilderness Tabernacle and how it applies to Believers’ lives through the inauguration of the New Covenant:
“Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, ‘See,’ He says, ‘That you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain’ [Exodus 25:40]. But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. For if that first…had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them, He says, ‘Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when i will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not like the covenant which i made with their fathers on the day when i took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not care for them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that i will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for all will know Me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more’” (Hebrews 8:4-12; cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34, LXX).
In Hebrews chs. 8-9, the author gives his audience a description of the wilderness Tabernacle, and the distinction made between it and “the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation” (Hebrews 9:11). This is what Yeshua entered into in Heaven, as He performs the required priestly duties, as our intermediary between God the Father and humanity at large (Hebrews 4:14-15). The author of Hebrews quotes directly from the Prophet Jeremiah, who describes that the New Covenant that God will make will write the Torah onto the hearts of the people by His Holy Spirit:
“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,’ declares the Lord. ‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, “Know theLord,” for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more’” (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
These conclusions come after Jeremiah has described the work of God as Shepherd to scatter and then gather His flock:
“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare in the coastlands afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock’” (Jeremiah 31:10).
Hear O Israel
One of the awesome works of our God, as the Good Shepherd, is that He will supernaturally transcribe His Torah onto the hearts of His sheep, as He is their God and they will surely be His people. As this transformative action occurs in every heart, of every man and woman of God who recognizes Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel, he or she can fully live forth the Shema:
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love theLord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
The imperative here is that each individual is to love the Lord God of Israel with all of his or her heart, and to see that the principles of God’s commandments are embedded within his or her mind. This can be conducted by a number of crucial exercises and disciplines. The Father knows human beings’ propensity to wander and to avoid following His commands, and so in order to help inscribe His Instruction upon the heart and mind, He has detailed some basic guidelines to help with the process. This includes a daily routine of waking up and thinking about Him, and instructing our children about Him and His love for us. Going to sleep at night, our final thoughts should be focused on the Lord. Everything that we put our hands to, or every thought that we consider, should be viewed through the grid of His understandings. In the Shema, we are even told to put the commandments of God on the very doorposts of our houses and gates, so that we will be reminded as we leave our home and return—of the imperative need to focus all of our attention, love, and loyalty to Him!
As you read and reflect upon the Shema, you almost get the impression that the Holy One of Israel wants as much of our attention just as your husband or wife would. He wants our hearts to be turned toward Him so that we will be one with Him in thoughts, deeds, and actions. We can yearn for such intimacy with our Creator that many of our spiritual forbearers in the faith have modeled for us. Figures like King David knew the Lord intimately, and his Psalms reflect the great love he had for Him. Psalm 19 is an excellent example for us to consider:
“For the choir director. A Psalm of David. The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; it rejoices as a strong man to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat. The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of theLord are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression.Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:1-14).
Here, we see how King David has such a desire for intimacy with the Lord, that he does not even want his thoughts to be unacceptable in His sight. I pray that each of our hearts would be as sensitive!
The Tabernacle of David
Today, our gracious Heavenly Father surely continues to look for people He can indwell with His intimate presence. We are each called to be a tabernacle for Him to occupy. We know that the Prophet Amos in the Seventh Century B.C.E., and James the Just First Century C.E., both affirm a rebuilding of the Tabernacle of David as a key part in the eventual restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. Amos first decrees,
“‘Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth; nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob,’ declares the Lord. ‘For behold, I am commanding, and I will shake the house of Israel among all nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, but not a kernel will fall to the ground. All the sinners of My people will die by the sword, those who say, ‘The calamity will not overtake or confront us.’ In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name,’ declares the Lord who does this. ‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘When the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; when the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved. Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit. I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them,’ says the Lord your God” (Amos 9:8-15).
Amos’ prophecy looks forward to the restoration of the fallen Tabernacle of David. This includes the return of a sizeable part of Israel (mostly from the Northern Kingdom) that had been sown into the nations, as well as many of the nations themselves being integrated into the holy community. As God let him see into the future, Amos knew the time would surely come when the captivity of Israel would be over, and His people will return to the Promised Land to rebuild cities, plant vineyards, drink wine, make gardens, and eat their fruit.
At the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15, upon hearing the testimony of Paul, Barnabas, and Peter regarding the salvation of Jewish people and various Greeks and Romans coming to faith in the Messiah of Israel—James the Just makes a distinct connection between the non-Jews coming to faith and Amos’ prophecy. Rather than capitulate to the demands of a few hyper-conservative Pharisees that such non-Jewish Believers be ordered to keep the Mosaic Torah (Acts 15:5, Grk.), James instead acknowledged that the words of the Prophets were in play. He places the salvation of the non-Jews in the First Century within the scope of expectations regarding the eventual restoration of all Israel:
“After they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, ‘Brethren, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written, “After these things I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and i will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,’ says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago.Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath” (Acts 15:13-21).
The difference between what Amos prophecies is that James says “so the rest of humanity may seek the Lord—even all the Gentiles who are called by My name” (Acts 15:17, HCSB). Luke’s transcription in Acts does not follow the Hebrew text of Amos, but the Septuagint rendering which reads with hoi kataloipoi tōn anthrōpōn (oi kataloipoi twn anqrwpwn) for the Hebrew sh’eirit Edom(~Ada tyrav). The LXX Rabbis understood Edom (~Ada) to be connected to adam(~da), also the Hebrew word for “mankind, people” (HALOT, 1:14) and rendered it in Greek as “those remaining of humans” (NETS), referring to God’s faithful remnant that would come forth out of humanity’s masses. James makes a connection between the salvation of Israel and those of the nations coming to faith in Israel’s Messiah.
James would have had to recognize that a critical part of Israel’s restoration would have been an obedience to God’s Torah by all coming into the fold. In Ezekiel 37:24, we are told that when all Israel is restored “they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them.” As James was considering the salvation of the nations, he was reflecting on the restoration of the Tabernacle of David described by the Prophet Amos. Why force the non-Jewish Believers to keep the Torah, when prophecy should be allowed to take its natural course? The nations were to come to Zion to be taught God’s Instruction (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3), and the promise of the New Covenant was that the Torah would be supernaturally transcribed on redeemed hearts as a special work of the Holy Spirit (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27).
Today, almost two millennia later, we have yet to see the complete fulfillment of Amos’ prophecy. The presence of today’s Messianic movement, and the unique work it has in seeing Jewish people brought to saving faith in the Messiah Yeshua and evangelical Christians brought into a tangible appreciation of their Hebraic Roots—leads me to believe that “the words of the Prophets” (Acts 15:15) are going to become increasingly more important to recognize in the days to come. As we all begin to truly understand this, we need to allow ourselves both individually and corporately to be a people who can be filled up with the Spirit of God, serving as a living sacrifice that faithfully emulates the Lord Yeshua (cf. Romans 12:1-2). If we are truly able to do this, then we can all compose that holy nation and separated people, truly accomplishing the mission of God, which the Apostle Peter says we will be:
“And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Messiah Yeshua. For this is contained in Scripture: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed’ [Isaiah 28:16]. This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone’ [Psalm 118:22], and, ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense’ [Isaiah 8:14]; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. But you are a chosen race [Isaiah 43:20], a royal priesthood [Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 61:6], a holy nation [Exodus 19:6], a people for God’sown possession [Isaiah 43:21; Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 4:20; 7:6; 14:2], so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you havereceived mercy [Hosea 2:23]” (1 Peter 2:4-10).
When we can all truly understand how every redeemed man and woman in Yeshua is a part of “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God” (NIV), then we can marvel in our privilege to serve the Lord fully—most especially in terms of “declar[ing forth] the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (NIV)! When the world at large can see us demonstrating the Lord’s goodness toward them, as we testify of the salvation He has provided, then we can really begin to see the complete restoration of David’s Tabernacle.
As we contemplate these awesome truths, we must reflect upon our own hearts, wondering in which capacity we can serve God and make a difference in our generation. We need to search our hearts and consider what the meditations of our hearts are. What motivates us? Do we wake up with His thoughts on our minds? Do we go to sleep considering His ways? Are we training up our young people according to His precepts? Everyone will be accountable for their actions, deeds, and thoughts.
In the end, it comes down to being a matter of the heart. May our hearts be His and His be ours!
IN THE PITS!
by Gary Wilkerson
Starting in Genesis 37, we see Joseph’s story, which reads like an episode of
the television program “Cops.” One of his brothers was a rapist and the
others tried to kill Joseph and eventually sold him into slavery. Even Jacob,
his own father, neglected to step in when Joseph was tormented by his brothers.
Joseph paid a penalty for his family’s dysfunction.
Does this describe you? You have been away from home for years but you still
bear mental scars from your family’s chaos. Or perhaps your chaos is in the
workplace, where others’ willful sins affect you directly. That happened to
Joseph when his boss’s wife tried to seduce him. When Joseph turned her down,
she lied about him vengefully and he was tossed into yet another pit, a
Scripture makes it clear that with every pit Joseph fell into, God was at work
speeding up the process of achieving His kingdom purposes. I hear God saying of
him: “I want someone who’s willing to endure every test faithfully, so that
I can strategically position him to save My people. I choose Joseph for this
Think about the incredible trajectory of Joseph’s life. Here was a teenaged
shepherd who within a few years became second in command of the world’s
greatest empire. It makes me want to pray, “God, take me out of my comfort
zone. I want to see You work Your purposes in my life.”
Are you willing to say, “Lord, I’ll gladly go wherever You want me to
go”? I know many Christians who hunger for this kind of faith. They cry out,
“Lord, there has to be more to this walk. I don’t want to just occupy space
on the earth. I want You to work in me so that I can impact Your Kingdom.”
The bigger our dreams for God’s work, the larger our pit will be. Do you
believe God for a marriage that reflects His glory? Then be prepared to have
your marriage tested almost beyond your limits. The truth is, faith throws us
into a pit almost every time. If we want God to use our lives, then we had
better prepare ourselves for a pit.
“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that
many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20, ESV).
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V’yechi (He lived)
1 Kings 2:1-12
“Vowed to the Land”
While reading through V’yechi this week, the following words delivered by the Patriarch Jacob really stuck out at me:
“Then Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and He said to me, “Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession”’” (Genesis 48:3-4).
V’yechi brings us to the end of the Book of Genesis. In just twelve readings, the Scriptures have covered thousands of years of human history. The family chosen to become a people for God’s own possession, and the nation that will be a light to the world, is beginning to take shape as distinctive tribes. The life of the great Patriarch Jacob comes to a close, and his blessings bestowed upon his children and grandchildren give prophetic insight into the future characteristics and destinies of the twelve unique tribes and the emerging nation of Israel (Genesis 49).
Both Jacob and Joseph have some dying requests upon their respective deaths (Jacob: Genesis 47:28-31; 50:1-11; Joseph: Genesis 50:22-26). Both men had a sincere desire for their remains to be returned to the land of their fathers. Why was this so important? Are there some things we can learn from these examples?
Return to the Land
As our Torah reading begins, Jacob is approaching his death and he calls for Joseph to fulfill a pledge:
“When the time for Israel to die drew near, he called his son Joseph and said to him, ‘Please, if I have found favor in your sight, place now your hand under my thigh and deal with me in kindness and faithfulness. Please do not bury me in Egypt, but when I lie down with my fathers, you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.’ And he said, ‘I will do as you have said.’ He said, ‘Swear to me.’ So he swore to him. Then Israel bowed in worship at the head of the bed” (Genesis 47:29-31).
As the text continues, Jacob declares his reasons for wanting to be buried in the Land of Canaan:
“Then Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and He said to me, “Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession”’” (Genesis 48:3-4).
In the case of Jacob, he knew that the destiny of his progeny was in the land promised to his fathers Abraham, Isaac, and ultimately him. Jacob had already prepared a burial site for himself next to Leah in the same cave with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Rebekah (Genesis 49:29-33). He also knew from multiple declarations by God that this was a land which was destined for his descendants. Is it possible that Jacob understood that being buried in the area around Hebron would someday give additional justification for his descendants to claim that land? His request for being buried in Canaan is complied with:
“So Joseph went up to bury his father, and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household and all the elders of the land of Egypt” (Genesis 50:7).
Joseph and his brothers honored the vow they made with their father Jacob. Joseph sought and received permission from Pharaoh to place Jacob in the cave at Machpelah, and a party is sent from Egypt to Canaan after the Egyptians mourn for him and he can be mummified (Genesis 50:1-11). The pattern for honoring vows was firmly established in the hearts of the sons of Jacob. As our parashah concludes, we see Joseph making the same request regarding his burial to his brothers:
“Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.’ Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, ‘God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.’ So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt” (Genesis 50:24-26).
Why did Joseph want to be buried in the Land of Canaan, and specifically, in the land promised to him by his father Jacob? There must have been something important to them about this Promised Land. He believed the statements made by his father Jacob that this territory would be an everlasting possession for their descendants. Remember that Joseph had also received an inheritance from Jacob at the conclusion of Jacob’s blessings to Ephraim and Manasseh:
“Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers. I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow’” (Genesis 48:21-22).
Notice that it is not until the end of the Book of Joshua when we finally see where the remains of Joseph are placed:
“Now they buried the bones of Joseph, which the sons of Israel brought up from Egypt, at Shechem, in the piece of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of money; and they became the inheritance of Joseph’s sons” (Joshua 24:32).
The people of Israel honored the vow made to Joseph, and transported his mummy through the wilderness experience until he was finally laid to rest at a tomb in Shechem. Is it possible that Joseph knew the importance of making the Land of Canaan, specifically Shechem, his final resting place? Did Joseph understood how this could please the Most High, because he respected his father Jacob who had given him this land for his inheritance? For those of us who study the lives of our spiritual forbearers, this embodiment of faith in the promises of the Lord is very inspirational. Even in death, the Patriarchs staked their claim on the Promised Land!
Testimony of Tombs
Today, the territory promised to the Patriarchs is under constant siege, and their burial memorials are a vivid reminder to us all that the final redemption of the Land is not yet complete. But, we have determined men and women who are standing today as a testimony that the Land of the Patriarchs will eventually be a permanent inheritance for those who serve Israel’s God. Faithful Jewish settlers who risk life and limb to stake a claim on the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are mirroring the pattern of belief exhibited by their ancestors. Many of them revere the memory of Jacob and Joseph, and the vows honored by their forefathers.
In Hebron, a city that is currently controlled by the Palestinian Authority, resides a small community of faithful Jews who are a living example of those who are holding onto the promises that have been given by God. Surrounded by a people who largely want them eliminated, the settlers of Kiryat Arba have maintained a synagogue at the tomb of the Patriarchs.
In like manner, overlooking the valley in Shechem (modern-day Nablus of the Palestinian Authority), where the remains of Joseph are (believed to be) buried, there resides another settlement of faithful Jews who are waiting for the redemption of the Promised Land. The Orthodox Jews of Elon Moreh, until the past few years (2002-2003), had a yeshiva located at the tomb of Joseph in hostile Nablus. These faithful followers are staunch defenders of the Torah and its truths. What can we learn from these faithful Jews, who are studying these very same Torah teachings, this week? Is it possible that when they read these very texts about the burial vows made to Jacob and Joseph, that they will be strengthened in their battle of will against any Palestinians who oppose the God of Israel?
Perhaps we can pray for them. and ask the Father what it is that we can do to support them in their role as witnesses to the veracity of the Scriptures. Through the ages, the very fact that these vows were kept, and are now being honored by these Jews willing to risk their lives, gives many the inspiration needed to persevere. These people are living examples of those who have been preserved through the ages because of their choices to honor vows. Do you now see how important vows can be when honored? Should we not do the same regarding our vows?
We do know that One who will maintain His vows is the Holy One of Israel. One day the Messiah Yeshua will return, and the Land of Israel will become a place of true peace and prosperity! So for the faithful, it is simply a matter of time before this final redemption of the Promised Land is completed. In this time as the Messianic movement grows and expands—and Jewish and non-Jewish Believers are being brought together as one people in Him—we could be witnessing the final stages in God’s redemptive plan coming together. I pray that as we are all brought together, we learn to have an appreciation for the Promised Land—the same that Jacob and Joseph had.
by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]
The Old Testament story of Joseph and his brothers holds a potent message for
New Testament Christians. Joseph is a type of Christ and his brothers are a
type of God’s chosen people on earth. (Remember, God promised Jacob in Genesis
35:11: “Kings shall come out of thy loins.”) Joseph’s method of dealing with
his brothers is a clear type of God’s way of dealing with us today. This story
of one man’s forgiving love for his sinful brothers is a beautiful picture of
God’s love and grace for sinful man.
The story of Joseph and his brothers is one of the saddest tragedies in all of
God’s Word. This generation of chosen men never could believe they were loved.
The devastating flood of sin and sorrow caused by their skepticism should serve
as a solemn warning to us all.
Jacob felt exceptional love for Joseph, the child of his old age, and made
special provisions to care for him. His older sons construed this extra
attention to mean that their father loved Joseph more than he loved them: “And
when his brethren saw that their father loved him [Joseph] more than all his
brethren, they hated him” (Genesis 37:4).
Now the fact that Jacob loved Joseph so dearly did not mean that he loved his
other sons any less. He had faithfully cared for and blessed all his children.
They had received the same loving guidance and discipline, yet the older sons
became jealous over what appeared to be one brother’s favored position. Joseph
seemed to get everything his heart desired, including a fancy coat of many
colors. He was more blessed, more favored, more coddled—and it made them
angry and jealous.
Have you ever been guilty of envying a brother in the Lord who seems to get
everything he wants? His prayers always seem to be answered quickly. He never
appears lonely, unloved or unneeded while you feel forsaken and alone. The
roots of bitterness and jealousy begin to grow.
Beloved, this is dangerous ground. The moment we believe our heavenly Father
loves us less than He loves someone else, we open ourselves to all kinds of
evil. Whenever we complain about our circumstances, whether aloud or silently
in our hearts, we accuse God of neglect.
Beware! This is the very attitude that brought so much trouble to Joseph’s