EMPOWERED BY GOD’S PRESENCE

David Wilkerson (1931-2011) – July 26, 2019

 

Scripture provides endless examples of how the presence of the Lord empowers his people to live for him. Take Moses, for example. He was convinced that without God’s presence in his life, it was useless for him to attempt anything. When he spoke face to face with the Lord, he stated boldly, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15). He was saying, “Lord, if you’re not with us, we are not going to make it. We will not go a single step without the assurance of your presence.”

God’s presence is what sets us apart from nonbelievers. The Old Testament is filled with accounts of great blessings that came to those who had God’s presence with them. For instance, God’s presence was so evident in Abraham’s life that even the heathen around him recognized the difference between their lives and his. The heathen king Abimelech said, “God is with you in all that you do” (Genesis 21:22).

God promised Joshua that no enemy could stand against him when his presence was with him: “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:5-6). When God’s Spirit is present in your life, you can be a conqueror because you trust his promise to be with you in everything you do.

God shared with Isaiah a special promise he makes to those he loves: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine … I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior … Fear not, for I am with you” (Isaiah 43:1, 3, 5). With God’s presence abiding in you, you can go through any fire and not just survive, but be kept safe and protected through it all. Just as it was with Moses, Abraham and others, you have a powerful testimony of God’s presence in your life today. (Click to Source)

 

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Torah Commentary – Vezot ha’Bracha – “And this is the blessing” – SCRIPTURES FOR October 14, 2017

Vezot ha’Bracha
“And this is the blessing”
Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12

Joshua 1:1-18

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The Baton Passes On
This Shabbat’s readings mark the end of the Torah cycle. The scriptures we will read are maybe the most bittersweet of all the Torah. Moses finishes his message of Deuteronomy by speaking a blessing over the people he has led for the past forty years. I would imagine that as the words are coming to a close, each one becomes harder to speak than the last. He knows that in a very short time his life will end. Moses has run his race, but has been stopped just short of what he thought his finish line would be. He stands looking into a land he will never enter.
On the surface nothing seems fair. Moses deserves to go in. He made one mistake and it cost him dearly. The Hebrews made many mistakes, but they would soon be enjoying a land they did not deserve. Nothing seems to make sense here. Is there possibly something else to the message of Moses that makes it clearer? Let’s consider it.
When we think of Moses, we think of Torah. In fact, it is called the Torah of Moses. Moses would pass the baton of Torah to a man whose name is Joshua. At least that is his English name. In Hebrew, his name would be very close to the name of Messiah, Yeshua. After the death of Moses, Joshua would receive orders to never allow the Torah of Moses to depart from him. He was to meditate on it day and night. He would also meet a man who was referred to as the Captain of The Army of Yah.   I believe the scripture is very clear through the actions of Joshua that this man was indeed the Messiah, Yeshua. It would be after Joshua’s acceptance of the challenge and revelation of this man that he indeed would enter into the Promised Land with the Hebrews. It would be as he continued in the orders and revelation that he would lead the Hebrews to possess what had been promised to them many years earlier.
So what is the message to us today? Could it be that Yah is telling us that Torah alone will not lead us into the fullness of Yah’s promises? Could it be that simply going through Torah year after year will only bring us to the shore of our own Jordan, but never allow us to cross over? Could it be that we are being told through this account to, with a firm grasp of Torah in our heart, move on? We are to look for a person whose name is similar to the successor of Moses, who will lead us on? A man who not only is the Captain of the army of Yah, but in fact is the embodiment of the Torah?
The message that I see as I look at the complete account is this; Torah alone will not lead us into the fullness of His promises, nor will we ever be allowed to enter in without Torah. It will be as we firmly grasp the Living and the Written Torah, never allowing ourselves to lose focus of the two as one, that we will enter in.
As a final thought leading into our new Torah Cycle I would like to share a quote from Barry Phillips. Please read Psalm 40:7 first for the full meaning. “Torah reveals the Redeemer while in itself offering no redemption.” You may need some time to let that one soak in. (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 – Sh’lach L’cha (Send on your behalf) – SCRIPTURES FOR Jun 17, 2017

Torah Commentary
Sh’lach L’cha (Send on your behalf)
Numbers 13:1-15:41
Joshua 2:1-24
Hebrews 3:7-19

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The Tourists Connection
If a list were made of the top ten stories the Hebrews are known for during their sojourn in the wilderness, the account of the twelve spies would certainly be found. Many fingers have been pointed at the faithless reports given by the ten spies. Is there a deeper level of understanding regarding the reason behind the difference in the statements shared by the ten versus the two? Could we find another lesson from their experience that can give instruction to us today? Let’s see.
The Hebrew word translated as spies is “tuwr.” It is interesting that the word sounds like our English word “tour”, though it is not the actual root of the word. We can use the comparison to draw a lesson. We can look at these men, not as it describes as “in the Land”, but rather as tourists? At the time, they were travelers, not dwellers. Consider, after all, when they returned to camp they brought back souvenirs of fruit of the land to show off. The fruitful bounty could have been inspiration to take the Land as Yah directed. Yet, it is not what they brought back on their shoulders which truly mattered, instead, it was what was in their hearts.
It is hard to envision the immense feast of produce these men saw or the terror of the massive size of its inhabitants during their “tour.” A few years back a section of the wall of Hevron was found that dates back to the time of Scripture. On one of my trips in Israel I was able to visit that section of unearthed wall. I remember just staring at it. I have always had a connection to Joshua. The haftorah readings for the Torah portion related to my birthday are verses in the first section of Joshua. That day at the wall I just stood and stared as I considered that ancient stone and pondered whether it may have been a spot Joshua had fixed his own eyes upon.
All twelve of the men saw the same sites, ate the same food and walked the same soil, so why the different accounts given upon their return? Most would say it was based on their level of faith which to some measure, I agree with. Going back to our original question whether we have another lesson from the spies experience, let us consider this point of view. I believe we can also reflect on the word “connect”. Joshua and Caleb connected with the Land. They were able to see past the giants inhabiting the area, even the bountiful harvest. It was their King’s Land. He was calling them to possess His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! Their heart connection to Yah instilled a deep passionate connection for His Land, their inheritance. It appears the other ten did not make this connection.
My friend and brother Hanoch Young says it best, if you connect with the Land, the Land will connect with you. For Joshua and Caleb, the Land became a part of their very hearts. Sadly it seems for the others it was just another random handful of dirt.
As with Joshua and Caleb, you and I will fight for our heart’s desires and what and who we are connected to. That connection will manifest itself in actions which may in the end be termed faith, but faith begins with the relationship established in our heart.
What did Joshua and Caleb connect to? The answer is found in Deuteronomy 11:12 which reveals to us that the eyes of Yah are continually on that Land. Eyes do not lead your heart, they follow your heart. What your eyes gaze upon is an outward manifestation of where your heart is.
The eyes and hearts of Joshua and Caleb connected with the eyes and heart of the Father Himself. This is why they were allowed to enter the Land and would later give their very lives to possess it. (Click to Article)

 

B’ha’alotkha – When you set up – “Prophets All”

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B’ha’alotkha

When you set up

Numbers 8:1-12:16
Zechariah 2:14-4:7

“Prophets All”


by Mark Huey
mark@outreachisrael.net

As we look at this week’s Torah portion, B’ha’alotkha or “When you set up,” we are directed to the continuing saga of Ancient Israel, and some of the trials and tribulations of its sojourn through the wilderness wanderings. Among the things we encounter, Moses is given the design for the menorah or lampstand that is to be placed in the Tent of Meeting.[1] This seven-branched candelabrum is to illuminate the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant is located. Specific instructions are given for the Levites, who are dedicated to serve the Almighty.[2] It is also noted that the requirements for sojourners who have joined themselves to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are identical to those as the native born.[3]

In one of the unique passages of the Torah, Numbers 10:35-36 are actually separated out by two inverted Hebrew letter nuns.[4] These are editorial markers that have been placed in the text by copyists, to denote that this is something which needs to be paid attention to:

V’yehi binso’a ha’aron v’yomer Moshe, “Qumah ADONAI v’yafutzu o’vekha v’yanusu mesanekha mipanekha, u’venuchoh yomar shuvah ADONAI riv’vot alfei Yisrael

Numbers 10:35-36 are certainly important verses in the Torah, communicating how Ancient Israel would move in the desert, and they implore God to protect Israel from its enemies:

“Thus they set out from the mount of the LORD three days’ journey, with the ark of the covenant of the LORD journeying in front of them for the three days, to seek out a resting place for them. The cloud of the LORD was over them by day when they set out from the camp. Then it came about when the ark set out that Moses said, ‘Rise up, O LORD! And let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You.’ When it came to rest, he said, ‘Return, O LORD, to the myriad thousands of Israel’” (Numbers 10:33-36).

A theological explanation, for the two inverted nuns, is obviously so that Torah readers can pay attention to the significance of these verses.[5] Textual explanations also exist, in that there is some doubt as to whether or not Numbers 10:35-36 are actually in their correct place within the Hebrew text, possibly being dislocated,[6] as the Greek Septuagint testifies to a slightly different arrangement for Numbers 10:33-36. This is not at all something, though, that communicates any difference of content:

[33] And they departed from the mount of the Lord a three days’ journey; and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them a three days’ journey to provide rest for them. [35] And it came to pass when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Arise, O Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered: let all that hate thee flee. [36] And in the resting he said, Turn again, O Lord, the thousands and tens of thousands in Israel.[34] And the cloud overshadowed them by day, when they departed from the camp.[7]

From Numbers 10:35-36, we see a significant declaration issued by Moses, indicating how critical it would be for the Israelites to appeal to the Lord and His power prior to moving the Ark of the Covenant. These verses undoubtedly communicate a sincere reverence for the Word of God, and its Divine inspiration. By remembering that God has the power to scatter the enemies of His people, each of us today must entreat the Holy One to protect us and preserve us—as opposed to us relying on our own human strength. It should not be surprising for us to know that Numbers 10:35-36 is recited, along with Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4, every Shabbat in the traditional liturgy of the Jewish Synagogue before the Torah scroll is removed for reading.[8]

Following this important word, B’ha’alotkha now turns to the incessant complaints of the Israelites, and how the Lord dealt with their insurrection and demands for food and the culinary comforts of Egypt.[9] The introduction of the quail for food, and the response of Moses to the judgment that is meted out upon these recalcitrant people, gives us a real sense of Moses’ heart and love for them. Moses has a real willingness to step out for the Israelites, in spite of their negative and thankless attitudes:

“So Moses said to the LORD, ‘Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth, that You should say to me, “Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which You swore to their fathers”? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me, saying, “Give us meat that we may eat!” I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness’” (Numbers 11:11-15).

At this point in Israel’s experiences, we see that Moses is ready to offer himself for the needs of his people. The solution to the frustration that Moses felt, even though he surely served Israel without reservation, was that Moses’ leadership responsibilities would be divided among seventy elders. Moses would not have to lead Ancient Israel, presumably mostly by himself:

“The LORD therefore said to Moses, ‘Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it all alone’” (Numbers 11:16-17).

As you consider the requirements for leadership in the camp of Ancient Israel, you can read that Moses simply knew who those were, intended to be chosen to “have experience as elders and officers of the people” (NJPS). Moses chose individuals of the highest caliber.The instructions witnessed in the Torah, for the leaders of Ancient Israel, affected later generations of Israelites as the Promised Land was settled, as well as informed the leadership structures of the Jewish Synagogue during the time of Yeshua and the emerging Messianic movement of the First Century.

After Moses chose the seventy elders who would assist with the administration of the Ancient Israelites, the Holy One then was able to pour out His Spirit upon them. As a result of this occurring, we see that various individuals in the camp of Israel began to prophesy:

“So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD. Also, he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and stationed them around the tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him and placed Him upon the seventy elders. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do it again. But two men had remained in the camp; the name of one was Eldad and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them (now they were among those who had been registered, but had not gone out to the tent), and they prophesied in the camp. So a young man ran and told Moses and said, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ Then Joshua the son of Nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth, said, ‘Moses, my lord, restrain them.’ But Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!’ Then Moses returned to the camp, both he and the elders of Israel” (Numbers 11:24-30).

In an incredible display of God’s grace toward His people, He placed His Spirit upon the seventy elders who had been selected for leadership. Apparently, there were two who were chosen to lead, but who did not attend the initial outpouring of the Spirit upon the other sixty-eight. All of a sudden within the camp, Eldad and Medad were found prophesying in the camp, and Joshua came and reported this activity to Moses, having thought that perhaps they were out of order.

The response of Moses is quite interesting, as he admonished Joshua for his concern. Moses already knew that God wanted the seventy to help lead Israel. Moses’ response, “I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:29, NIV), indicates that he was desiring all of Israel to be in a position to prophesy or speak forth God’s truth with clarity.

Being able to speak forth important admonitions, from the Lord, is something that our Heavenly Father surely desires for all of His children. In the Apostle Paul’s description of various ministry functions within the Body of Messiah—whether one is an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, or a pastor or a teacher—all are to be guided by the Holy Spirit and speak forth the Lord’s message with clarity and maturity:

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Messiah; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Messiah. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Messiah” (Ephesians 4:11-15).

The goal of these, and various other jobs to be performed within the Body of Messiah, is so that all Believers may attain unity within the faith, and be mature. All of the Believers, properly functioning together, are to necessarily point to the Head or the Source of all: Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).

One of the critical aspects required for any leadership position, within the Body of Messiah, is the ability to speak forth God’s truth in love. The only way to do this is by allowing the agapē love of the Holy Spirit to speak through us. This requires a person not only to be born again, but also to be committed to a life of holiness and steady growth in the Lord. Just like Moses desired that all of Israel would prophesy, so too are gifts of prophecy and many others, to be present among the community of Messiah followers today.

The other Apostles also give us fair warning about the need to be able to discern what are truly genuine words originating from the Spirit of God, and what are not. The Apostle Peter warns about the need to discern between a true prophetic utterance and what is not, emphasizing how he was present at the Mount of Transfiguration when he saw Yeshua the Messiah in all of His exalted glory:

“For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased’—and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:16-21).

In this day and age, when we have been warned incessantly throughout the Scriptures that many false teachers and false prophets will arise to deceive people, we need to be mindful of the imperative to check everything we hear through the grid of the Bible. This is why it is so critical that we establish a working knowledge of Scripture, beginning with the laws of the Torah, and consistent with the actual Prophets and Apostles of God themselves. Here is an extremely worthwhile example to consider, because it is very clear that God Himself is going to send false signs and wonders to test His people, and determine if they are following Him or some other spirit:

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him” (Deuteronomy 13:1-4).

Imagine a statute of “the Virgin Mary” crying with actual tears coming from the stone or marble. To many in the world, this sounds like a tremendous sign or miracle that one might even witness with his or her very own eyes. What is one to do, especially when the people who are showing you this sign are trying to impress you?

First of all, given the fact that there have been many “manufactured miracles” witnessed in the course of Roman Catholic history, it is appropriate that a critical person question whether something supernatural has really transpired. There are many perceived supernatural or spiritual occurrences, which are actually man-made.

Secondly, just because something “supernatural” occurs, does not automatically mean that it originates from God. Those who know the Torah, or Law of God, should be instinctly aware of the Second Commandment, and its prohibition of making statutes or carved images to be used in worship:

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:4; cf. Deuteronomy 5:8-9).

When you know that God does not permit graven images to be used for, or in, worship, a statue of the Virgin Mary apparently crying can be immediately disregarded as originating from Him. This is something that would violate the Second Commandment.

Can you think of any other examples of so-called “signs” or “miracles” that might occur today, but clearly do not align with the character of the Holy Scriptures, or the testimonies that it gives us of the kinds of signs we should legitimately expect to see? There are probably many supernatural occurrences you have either seen or witnessed, which are “supernatural” only in the sense that human beings are not responsible for them—and they actually come from the forces of darkness. It is a sobering and scary thought, but we each need to realize that demonic signs will actually become more treacherous, slippery, and commonplace the sooner we get to the return of Yeshua. The need to know what the Scriptures say about these things is absolutely critical, for discerning what is from the Lord, and also what is from the Adversary. Yeshua Himself warned His Disciples that false signs will be prevalent in the Last Days:

“For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you beforehand. If therefore they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go forth, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner chambers,’ do not believe it” (Matthew 24:24-26).

This is a stern warning that false messiahs and false prophets “will appear and produce great signs and omens” (NRSV) that will challenge the elect of God to discern from where these manifestations emanate. I would urge you to be warned of many false signs and wonders that do not line up with instruction of God in the Torah, or any part of the Bible for that matter. For those of us who are trying to reestablish a firm foundation for our faith, we should exhibit some skepticism when we hear about many of the “miracles” present throughout Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity today. Are they genuine, or are they deception?

We need to all know the Word of God and inculcate it into our hearts and minds every day! Certainly, Moses desired that all would prophesy. But, he also wanted all to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit, as the Spirit through His people would do the prophesying. This is available today as we submit our wills to His will. As we seek to be led by the Spirit and walk by the Spirit, we can let all of the Lord’s words come forth from our innermost being. May this be the testimony for one and all!


NOTES

[1] Numbers 8:1-4.

[2] Numbers 8:5-26.

[3] Cf. Numbers 9:14.

[4] See Karl Elliger and Wilhelm Rudolph, et. al., eds., Biblica Hebraica Stuttgartensia(Stuttgart: Deutche Bibelgesellschaft, 1977), 231; and Aron Dotan, ed., Biblia Hebraica Leningradensia (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2001), 213.

[5] Cf. Hertz, Pentateuch & Haftorahs, 613.

[6] Cf. Kelley, Mynatt, and Crawford, pp 34-35.

[7] Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton, ed & trans., The Septuagint With Apocrypha (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999), 188.

[8] Hertz, The Authorised Daily Prayer Book, pp 473-475; Scherman and Zlotowitz, Complete ArtScroll Siddur, pp 471-473; Harlow, Siddur Sim Shalom, 139.

[9] Numbers 11:1-35.

Torah Commentary – Day 19, Month 7, 5775; 21 October 2016

Torah Commentary
Deut 33:1-34:12
Joshua 1:1-9
Matt 17:1-9
Jude 3-4, 8-10

yeshuatheMessiah

Day 19, Month 7, 5775; 21 October 2016   

*I did not have time to write a Torah commentary this week for the Sukkot scriptures. This is an excerpt from my book “They Walked Toward the Promises.” I think it is fitting as we look to a new cycle, one which will take us a step further toward Home>
HaBrachah (This is the Blessing)

Moshe penned the last word of the scroll and delivered it to the Cohanim. He then turned to Y’hoshua and asked him to assemble the elders. As soon as they were assembled, he began to speak blessings over each of the tribes individually. While he was doing so, a strange yet comforting feeling came over him. It was as if he could see the words Israel had spoken so many years earlier coming from the past and uniting with his own words. As the words joined together, like the hooks which held the curtains of the Tabernacle, they took on a new life. It was as if the words were going forth to a time in the future and a people yet to be born.

With his last words, Moshe turned to face Mount N’vo. There was only one thing in the way between him and the mount, Y’hoshua. The two men stood staring at each other with eyes red from tears. The elders and people who had gathered stood in utter silence.

Finally, Moshe spoke, “Be bold, strong, and of good courage. Make me proud. Make Him proud!”

The two men embraced. Through his tears, Y’hoshua could see his destiny in the distance, the Promised Land. Moshe could see his own, very different path, Mount N’Vo.

In his flesh, Y’hosha did not want to let go. In his spirit, he knew he must. He had to let go of what was in order to obtain that which lies ahead. With all the emotional strength he could muster, Y’hoshua loosened his embrace. Through the lump in his throat, he finally mounted the words, “Yes sir,” then stepped aside.

Moshe reached down and picked up his staff. It all of a sudden struck him as funny; all these years, he had never really given any thought to the fact that he still picked it up by the tail end, the same as he had done in Egypt. Somewhere inside him, he still remembered being in the presence of Pharaoh and his magicians when it had been turned into a serpent.  A slight smile came to his face.  Not even Y’hoshua would ever know what that smile was all about. Moshe nodded to Y’hoshua, his people, and then took his first step to his end.

The whole camp stood and watched as Moshe began to climb Mount N’vo. Each person was silent, lost in thought, though none more than Y’hoshua.

It was a hard climb, and Moshe was exhausted when he finally reached the top of the mount. He felt as if his feet had truly taken their last steps. He noticed an outcropping of rock. In the center was a rock which looked almost like a couch. Moshe took it as a welcomed invitation from Him to rest. As he sat down, the view was more than he could take in all at once. His people dotted the ground much like the stars dotted the sky. He looked to the staff in his hand and pulled it up in his lap. The carvings he had done through so many years were like an autobiography before him; and Moshe stared at each mark, taking time to remember the event that had caused it.

Finally, Moshe looked to the heavens, “You have been a faithful friend. Thank you! Take care of them, these stars of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “

As the sun began to set, Moshe’s eyes were drawn to the horizon. He had never seen a day so clear. As Moshe gazed from north to south and to the sea to the west, he began to remember again the stories his Abba and Emma had passed down to him. He thought of Adam and Eve, wondering just which hill they were buried on. The Garden was — is somewhere out there. He thought of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and many others. He longed to meet them in this World to come.

As Moshe took his last, longing look at the land of His people, a particular mountain in the Northwest drew Moshe’s gaze. It was the same mountain he had noticed days before. The mountain seemed to be calling to him. It was as if his spirit knew something, but his mind could just not comprehend. With the thought of that mountain, Moshe leaned back on the rock behind him and his soul continued on to join in the sleep of his fathers.

Elohim would bury Moshe that day on Mount N’vo. The mountain stands as a reminder of the man called, “Yah’s friend.”

Y’hoshua continued to stare at the mountain, unknowing of Moshe’s passing. Eventually, Caleb walked up behind him and placed a hand on Y’hoshua’s shoulder, “We have to move on. “

“I know,” is all Y’hoshua could say. He turned toward his tent to be alone with his thoughts.

The people mourned Moshe’s death in the plains of Mo’av for thirty days. When their days of mourning came to an end, they began the process of breaking camp, looking to Y’hoshua to lead them the rest of the way.

Torah Commentary Vezot ha’Bracha “And this is the blessing” – The Baton Passes On

Torah Commentary
Vezot ha’Bracha “And this is the blessing”
Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12
Joshua 1:1-18
Acts 27-28; Matt 1:1-17
The Baton Passes On

yeshuatheMessiah

Day 11, Month 7, 5775; 13 October 2016 

This Shabbat’s readings mark the end of the Torah cycle. The scriptures we will read are maybe the most bittersweet of all the Torah. Moses finishes his message of Deuteronomy by speaking a blessing over the people he has led for the past forty years. I would imagine that as the words are coming to a close, each one becomes harder to speak than the last. He knows that in a very short time his life will end. Moses has run his race, but has been stopped just short of what he thought his finish line would be. He stands looking into a land he will never enter.

On the surface nothing seems fair. Moses deserves to go in. He made one mistake and it cost him dearly. The Hebrews made many mistakes, but they would soon be enjoying a land they did not deserve. Nothing seems to make sense here. Is there possibly something else to the message of Moses that makes it clearer? Let’s consider it.

When we think of Moses, we think of Torah. In fact, it is called the Torah of Moses. Moses would pass the baton of Torah to a man whose name is Joshua. At least that is his English name. In Hebrew, his name would be very close to the name of Messiah, Yeshua. After the death of Moses, Joshua would receive orders to never allow the Torah of Moses to depart from him. He was to meditate on it day and night. He would also meet a man who was referred to as the Captain of The Army of Yah.   I believe the scripture is very clear through the actions of Joshua that this man was indeed the Messiah, Yeshua. It would be after Joshua’s acceptance of the challenge and revelation of this man that he indeed would enter into the Promised Land with the Hebrews. It would be as he continued in the orders and revelation that he would lead the Hebrews to possess what had been promised to them many years earlier.

So what is the message to us today? Could it be that Yah is telling us that Torah alone will not lead us into the fullness of Yah’s promises? Could it be that simply going through Torah year after year will only bring us to the shore of our own Jordan, but never allow us to cross over? Could it be that we are being told through this account to, with a firm grasp of Torah in our heart, move on? We are to look for a person whose name is similar to the successor of Moses, who will lead us on? A man who not only is the Captain of the army of Yah, but in fact is the embodiment of the Torah?

The message that I see as I look at the complete account is this; Torah alone will not lead us into the fullness of His promises, nor will we ever be allowed to enter in without Torah. It will be as we firmly grasp the Living and the Written Torah, never allowing ourselves to lose focus of the two as one, that we will enter in.

Torah Commentary VaYelech (He Went) -A Meaningful Glance

yeshuatheMessiah

Torah Commentary
VaYelech (He Went)
Deuteronomy 31:1-30
Hosea 14:2-10
2Kings 19-21
Hebrews 13:5-8
 
A Meaningful Glance
Think back through the Book of Deuteronomy with me. How often does Moses instruct the people to keep a written copy of Torah in front of them? From the kings to come, to the mount of curses, to a copy of Torah before the priests in the Tabernacle, the Torah is everywhere they would look. Why was this so important?
It is the mirror of Torah which gives us a way for our Creator to have us examine our lives in His light. When we even glance at the words of Torah we should see and examine our lives, not by what others think or even by what we think, but by what He thinks.
Just imagine with me a Hebrew going about his life in the Promised Land. This man owns a small farm on the western shore of the Jordan River, just a few yards from where the Children of Israel came across many years earlier. Every day as he is working his field he looks up and sees the stones which were set up years earlier to mark the place where his ancestors came across the river. He thinks back to the stories he has heard of how Moses passed the baton to Joshua and told him to be strong and of good courage. He makes a turn in the field with his plow and there in front of him are Mount Eval and Mount Gerazim. He thinks to himself about the Torah written on stones on one of those mountains and stops to consider which of the mountains he is living on, blessings or curse. (Click to Article)

Yesterday, Today, And Tomorrow – David C. McCasland – Our Daily Bread – May 11, 2013

israelites-crossing-jordan-river-Joshua.ashx_

Recently I realized that all of the photos and mementos in my office represent the past. I considered removing them, but wondered if those reminders of people, places, and events might serve some purpose beyond nostalgia. To avoid being mired in the “yesterdays” of life, I needed to discover the value of those items for today and tomorrow.

When God’s people crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, He told their leader, Joshua, to choose 12 men, have each one take a stone from the middle of the river, and carry it to their campsite that night (Josh. 4:1-5). Joshua set up the stones as a memorial so that when future generations asked, “What do these stones mean to you?” they could tell them about God’s faithfulness in holding back the water while they crossed (vv.6-7).

As followers of Christ, it’s good for us to have tangible evidence of God’s help in the past. Those mementos remind us that His faithfulness continues today, and we can follow Him confidently into the future. Our “stones” may also help others know that God’s hand is mighty, as they encourage us to fear the Lord our God forever (v.24).

The memories of what God has done for us can become building blocks for today and tomorrow.

Thinking It Over
How has God shown Himself to be faithful to
you and your family? What would help you to remember?
Is there someone you can talk to about it today?
Precious memories of yesterday can strengthen our faith today and tomorrow.

Bo (Go) – “A Perpetual Feast Forever” – January 18, 2013

Bo (Go)

Exodus 10:1-13:16
Jeremiah 46:13-28

” A Perpetual Feast Forever”

fulfilled_lawThis week’s Torah portion, Bo, very much summarizes the major theme of the Book of Exodus. We witness not only the final plagues dispensed upon Egypt (Exodus 10:1-11:10), but we see the institution of the Passover as a memorial meal (Exodus 12:1-32, 42-51) to be remembered by the future generations of God’s chosen people:

“For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance” (Exodus 12:12-14).

In Bo, the final three judgments upon Egypt are executed (locusts, darkness, firstborn), and the people of Israel are finally released to begin their journey to the Promised Land (Exodus 12:33-41). This reading gives us the first regulations about the Spring festivals of the Lord, and how His people are to commemorate the salvific events they memorialize.

Each year when Bo is considered, the reference to Passover being a “permanent ordinance” or “eternal decree” (ATS), chuquat olam (~lA[ tQx), always creates some interesting recollections that you might be able to identify with. For years, prior to becoming Messianic, every time I read this text I paused and thought about the words “you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.”

Reading Recollections

In the past, while reading through these passages, I remember going back and rereading what is stated about Passover two or three times, and thinking about what the text actually meant. After all, the words “you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever” (Exodus 12:14, RSV) are fairly easy and direct to understand. The problem I had was not in understanding the plain English text. Rather, the problem was in heeding the words spoken. I was confused because the commandment to remember the Passover was very clear—and Passover is by no means some obscure ritual to memorialize. Like many who have been confronted by the simple text, I first turned to my teachers for an explanation. Of course, that is where my problems were compounded.

Many years ago in the 1980s, I was at the mercy of dispensational Christian pastors and Bible teachers, who were largely repeating what they had been taught at Bible college or seminary (in this case, Dallas Theological Seminary). Because of their dispensational presuppositions—reading some parts of the Bible as only applying to Israel, and other parts as only applying to “the Church”—the command to celebrate Passover was not something that apparently applied to me. My dispensational teachers told me that Passover was something that the Jewish people did, but it was not something that Christians today were required to do, because there was a much more meaningful observance that I could participate in called Easter. To a relatively young and naïve Believer, their argument was very persuasive. As I recall, the logic went something like this:

Remember that Jesus was our Passover Lamb. He came and was sacrificed for us. Should we not be thankful for His ultimate sacrifice and come together on the day which celebrates the resurrection of Christ?

Of course, this justification for remembering Easter instead of Passover made good sense. Further questions I asked elicited more reasons to go along with this practice, as I was also told by my dispensational teachers:

You need to understand that this has been going on for centuries, and certainly the ecclesiastical authorities who instituted these events knew what they were doing. The Jews will continue to do the Passover and the Christians will continue to do Easter. Just celebrate Easter and do not worry about what the Jews are doing. We live in the Church Age!

Even though this sounded like a good argument at the time, regardless of the explanation I heard, inevitably, whenever I read these verses in Exodus, the same nagging question arose in my spirit: What does the Scripture mean when it says “forever” or “eternal”?

Maturing Messianic

Sometimes, it is funny how you remember certain things in the past that prompted you to dig more into the Word of God for greater explanation. For example, the word “forever” (Heb. olam, ~lA[) seems to really stand out (BDB, pp 761-763; CHALOT, pp 267-268; HALOT, 1:798-799). As I was maturing in my study and pursuit of the truth, the Lord chose to reveal more about Himself. As a seeker, I was definitely finding Him by consistently and honestly asking Him—just as Jeremiah promises:

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

James the Just’s admonition, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5), was also something that I prayed. I did not want to find some kind of forgotten truth in the Bible, but then misuse it in the sight of those who were not ready to hear, and were not necessarily convicted by the Holy Spirit at the time the same way I was. As one who believed, and still believes, in the sovereignty of God—there is a pre-determined time for people to come to a fuller knowledge of Him.

At another reading of verses like Exodus 12:14—something dramatic occurred. One night while reading this passage, the concept of “forever” repeated itself over and over again in my spirit. All of a sudden, another thought came immediately to mind:

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

When Paul wrote these words to Timothy, he was referring to the Scriptures as they knew them in the First Century, the Hebrew Tanakh (Genesis-2 Chronicles [or Malachi]). Paul told the Romans a similar thing regarding the Scriptures:

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

I by no means thought that the writings of the Apostles were not Scripture, but I did think that perhaps too many Christians I knew were forgetting what else composed Scripture. Why did too many people just overlook God’s revelation in the Old Testament, when the Apostles themselves did not? While thinking through Exodus 12:14 on Passover one year, a radical thought came to my mind:

Is it possible that the very concept of obeying this commandment “forever” was something that would be profitable for teaching and training in righteousness? Why would many people overlook the Passover, and what it teaches us about the sacrifice of Jesus?

Oftentimes when you have these types of internal debates, you are actually being instructed by the Holy Spirit. Remember that according to Yeshua, it is the Holy Spirit who has been sent to teach His followers all things:

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26).

This train of thought was really stretching me away from some of the dispensational doctrines that I was being taught. When I considered this those many years ago, without any significant change with regard to the word “forever,” I simply pondered these thoughts in my heart, waiting for further instruction. At the time, I was not quite ready for the transition to a Messianic lifestyle, nor would I have been led to pursue the issue further. However, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, it is clear now that I was definitely being set up for the next stage in my walk. In the 1980s I was thinking about things that would significantly aid me during my spiritual pursuits of the 1990s.

The Seder Experience

In the early 1990s, just like what has happened to thousands of other evangelical Christians in recent years, I was asked to attend a sedar (rds) meal to remember the Passover. Because of a tour to Israel my wife Margaret and I had been on in 1994, we were very open to the Jewish Roots of our faith, and in considering the role of the appointed times for more than just “enrichment.” This sedar was being held at the Messianic Jewish congregation which we had started attending. For the first time in my life, I was going to keep the commandment to remember the deliverance from Egypt in a very tangible way!

The very Torah portion that we are looking at this week, Bo, was being discussed in the context of a Passover remembrance. The whole sedar experience was something to behold. As the leader of the sedar went through a written presentation or haggadah, the details of the deliverance from Egypt were thoroughly discussed. Of course, the parallels between the blood of the lamb and the Messiah Yeshua, being the ultimate blood sacrifice, were mentioned in great detail. Even the (later) Jewish traditions regarding the unleavened bread or matzah (hCm), and how it was to be handled, all seemed to point to the work of the Messiah at Golgotha (Calvary).

Throughout the evening I thought about the commandment to remember the Passover forever. I considered the history of the Jewish people and how they had faithfully honored this commandment for millennia. It was apparent that this, and other remembrances of the appointed times, had kept them a unified and a separated people. And now here I was, a non-Jew participating in the very same celebration that was given not necessarily to just the Jewish people, but to all who serve the God of Israel.

Some of my questions from decades earlier started to resurface in my thoughts. Now, however, I was in a Messianic environment that would discuss some of the historical realities of why centuries of Christians had largely overlooked the Passover. I was finally exposed to some of the decisions made by ecclesiastical councils from the Fourth and Fifth Centuries, which forbade the Christian Church from observing the appointed times. This information, coupled with other data from my Torah studies that was being regularly assimilated, significantly altered the lifestyle of myself and my family.

As a family, we now consider it a great honor and important responsibility to remember the Passover—just as these passages remind us. We believe that we are some of the “generations” that this commandment was directed to. Of course, as we have discovered via experience, you do not get to the point where you believe that remembering the Passover is really for you until you have moved toward a Messianic lifestyle that seeks to consciously follow the Torah and its commandments. Furthermore, making the transition from a neutered Easter celebration to a full-fledged Passover remembrance is not always easy. Should you make this transition, there is a definite need to extend the Lord’s love and grace to others who do not share your conviction. Rather than look at yourselves as being spiritually superior, invite your evangelical Christian family and friends to your Passover table. Allow them to experience the goodness of Passover the same way that you have!

Who do you serve?

How might you figure into all of this? Have you ever really celebrated Passover? If you have, do you remember your first time at a Passover sedar? Did you sense that you were obeying one of God commands, for all of His people for all time? Did you sense the Lord’s presence at this sedar meal, and learn important things about your salvation in Messiah Yeshua? Do you think it would be beneficial for Believers today to remember the Passover, and for all of us to learn how we are beneficiaries of Ancient Israel’s deliverance from Egypt?

By keeping Passover you will certainly be establishing a good example of obedience. You could also use this celebration as a backdrop for additional instruction about how God has miraculously acted throughout history, and how there will be a future deliverance of His people in the end-times. We live in interesting days when our firmly held beliefs and convictions in Him will be challenged by the world. We need to be convinced about who we are serving. By honoring and following His Instruction, we send clear signals that we are worshipping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and not someone or something else.

The Joshua generation that was allowed to enter into the Promised Land faced some of the same challenges that we face today. They had the words of Moses to contend with, as well as fresh memories of their parents and grandparents who were denied entrance into Canaan because they did not believe and obey the Lord. At the end of Joshua’s life, he reminded the people of Israel about all the things that God had done for them over the centuries:

“Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15).

For us today, these same words need to be considered. Will we serve the Holy One of Israel with diligence—correcting previous mistakes of the past—or will we continue to be denied the blessings of remembering Passover? Hopefully, our answer will echo Joshua’s admonition to Ancient Israel to serve the Lord. Today, we can visibly display our allegiance to the Lord by continuing to make the Passover celebration a perpetual feast forever! We can see people enriched in their faith, and understand all of the great lessons that the Passover and Exodus teach us.

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