Torah Commentary – Pesach “Passover” – Now What? – SCRIPTURES FOR March 31, 2017

Pesach “Passover”
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Exodus 33:12 – 34:26
Ezekiel 36:37 – 37:14
Now What?
The night had been filled with emotion as the Hebrews ate of their Passover meal in haste.  On the one hand was a sense of excitement about what the coming days would bring as they prepared to make their journey out of Egypt.  On the other hand was a sense of despair as the sun rose the next day and they looked toward a country they had once called home, a prosperous land that was now in ruins.  The wails of mothers who had lost their firstborn during the night could still be heard as far away as Goshen.  The panic of the people of Egypt could be felt in the air.  This morning they were being told to turn their backs on the land they had once called home and to pack their new possessions, and do it quickly.  The prophesied time of return to their true home was at hand.  They were the generation chosen to see the events unfold.
It was all happening too fast though.  Many of the people felt that life was out of their control.  They wondered if the timing was truly real or if this man Moses was really sent by Elohim.  Who did he really think he was anyway?  Why him?  This is not the way they had all imagined the end of their life in Egypt would be.  What about my job?  Don’t I need to give a two-week notice or something?  How about a forwarding address?  These were all questions that went through the minds of the Hebrews as they prepared in haste to leave the place they had once called home.  Yes, the sun was rising from a quite sleepless night.  But although the sun was especially bright that day there was a darkness of confusion that filled the hearts of many Hebrews.  What would this day bring?  They were afraid to ask!
Centuries later.  Many years had passed since that celebrated day in Egypt.  History recorded the events with great detail.  The promised redemption had come just like He had said it would.  But this morning was different.  The confusion of three million Hebrews so long ago could not compare to the confusion of this day.  The lives of a handful of men and women He had referred to as His family had taken a turn they had not seen coming.  Life seemed to be not only on hold, but had stopped altogether.  Confusion, anger, despair and fear were only a few of the emotions that gripped them.  Night had come hours early the day before.  The sun was now rising over the Mount of Olives, but no outward light could help the darkness they felt on this morning.
The events of Egypt had brought the faithful together so many years earlier.  They had provision and they had a leader.  But for the disciples, the One whom they had looked to for everything was now gone.  He was dead and from their distance and vantage point they stared at a stone, rolled in front of the entrance to a tomb.  They stared in wonder.  How could they have been so wrong?  Why had they not listened to their family members who had told them this new life would never work out?  Why had they strayed from the ways of the religious leaders of the day?  Why had they not just followed the traditions they had been taught as children?  Confusion and despair gripped them all and would only grow worse in the coming days.
But there were words He had spoken to them in the final days rolling around in the back of their minds, just barely out of their grasp.  What good would those words do them now though?  He is dead.  The life, the redemption from the Romans, that seemed so sure just hours before, was now impossible.  He is dead!  But what are those words they kept trying to bring to the front of their minds?
We usually read the Scripture far too fast, do we not?  We forget that verses that are read in moments may have taken days, weeks or even years to live out in reality.  The tragedy of missing this concept is that we miss one of the great points of scripture, which is to learn from the example of those who walked before us.  With that said, what are we to learn here?  Many things of course, but very high on the list is to remember that His plans normally do not come to pass the way that we thought they would.  Another one would be that in the end His plan was always better and accomplished a far greater work for our lives than the plan we had dreamed up.
Let us all take some time in these days of Passover and First Fruits to consider the lives of the people who were leaving Egypt as well as those who lived the long days just after the death of Yeshua. The days prior to His resurrection. Maybe as we consider their uncertainty of the future and the emotions they must have dealt with, it will help us to prepare our own lives for another fulfillment of prophecy, the one that is happening right before our eyes. (Click to Source)
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Have a blessed Passover season.

 

Torah Commentary – T’ruma (Contribution) – That They May be One – SCRIPTURES FOR February 17, 2017

Torah Commentary – T’ruma (Contribution)

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Exodus 25:1 – 27:19
1Kings 5:26 – 6:13
Hebrews 8:1-6; 9:23-24; 10:1
That They May be One
The building of the Tabernacle begins with the receiving of an offering. This in itself is interesting as it had not been many days since the Hebrews left the abject poverty of slavery to amazing riches from the plunder of their neighbors. At some point, they must have wondered just why they had all of this stuff. More on that thought in a bit.
Moshe calls for the people to give, they gave. He called for the people to work, they worked. The next chapters of Sh’mot will give the instructions of turning their acquired “stuff” into a dwelling place for the Almighty to reside in their midst. The thought of that sends my imagination in a multitude of directions.
The next few chapters are filled with great detail. For many people it is easy to get lost in these details and forget about the message. This is especially true when we look at the words in English where we see the word “and” used over and over. In English we are likely to eventually read the verse and not even see that little “and” as it is used so many times. Doing this will cause us to miss one of the most important messages of the Tabernacle.
To look at the verses in Hebrew we would not see the word and, but rather the letter vav. This letter brings forth an amazing message. The letter vav is likened to and even translated at times as a hook. It is what connects the Tabernacle together and makes it echad or one. Simply put, the Tabernacle is not to be looked at as separate pieces which are joined together to become one house, but rather as a single house consisting of joining pieces. Yep, go back over that one a few times. Let me say it a bit different. The Tabernacle is a single revelation of Yah dwelling in our midst through joining revelations. This is the Hebrew way of looking at the Tabernacle.
What is the revelation of the Tabernacle? It is a journey of redemption upon the altar leading us to His Word upon the laver, His Light through the Menorah, His provision and our sustenance in the Shewbread, His intercession leading us to worship at the altar of incense. We conclude with the purpose of it all, to stand in awe before Him as redeemed and free people.
What if we were to look at the Tabernacle through a Greek mindset? To do this we would first change the word “and” into the word “but.” Hebrew mindset joins all things into one, while Greek thinking separates and partitions everything. Consider the difference between thoughts, joining vs. separating! For now there is a greater message to look at.
Think about what it would have been like to stand before Moshe and hear his call for an offering. You and your family, until recent days, have only known a life of slavery. As far back as you can remember life has been a struggle of getting by day to day. Your earliest memories were those of long days of work, never quite enough food to go around. You haven’t allowed yourself to imagine what it would be to have anything more than “almost” enough for you and your family. This has all changed now. For the first time in your life your belly is full. Your children do not have hunger pains. Your thirst is totally quenched by this unending flow of water from a rock. You even took the first day off that you have ever had and called it Shabbat. To top all this off, you have a wagon full of gold, silver, cloth and other items you haven’t had time to sort through. All of this stuff your neighbors had given you before leaving Egypt. But then there is this guy Moshe standing in front of you asking for an offering. What do you do?
I can imagine the questions which would go through a person’s mind at a time like this. Such things as “How long will this trip take, where are we going, will there be work when I get there, what is the price of housing, new clothes for the children, education, retirement  and by the way, just what is this Moshe guy going to use this stuff for in the first place?” The list would go on and on as you would stand looking at Moshe questioning the stuff, Moshe, the stuff.
How do I know this? It is the same reaction we have today when we are given provision and a choice of what to do with it.
This past weekend I was in Tulsa OK. I was sitting talking to a friend and he reached in his wallet to show me a small picture he had found which had great meaning to him. When he opened his wallet he saw a five dollar bill. He pulled it out of his wallet and said, “How did that get there, I didn’t have any money with me.” Without hesitation or the batting of an eye, he handed it to another friend in the room and said, “I guess it was placed there to give to you.” My other friend’s reaction was to hand the money to me and say, “Bless Israel!” I did not react at the moment, but the scene keeps going over in my mind. Here were two people when given an unexpected blessing just gave it away as though it was not theirs in the first place. I am humbled and challenged by these two men.
What do we do when confronted with unexpected blessings? Do we already have a list in our heads of where they would go? Is that list more about blessing ourselves or blessing others? I know. I have gone to meddling. Truth is I am making myself as uncomfortable as I am probably making you!!
Consider as we read through the next few weeks in Sh’mot. Every connecting item in the Tabernacle was given by an individual or family. When they looked upon it in the end, could many of them see the item they had given? Could the sight of their item next to their neighbors help them to understand not only was the Tabernacle to be looked upon as a single message, but Israel as a people were to be looked upon as a single message as well? Dwell on that one for a while as you keep putting off reading the “ands”. (Click to Source)
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TorahScope – Torah Reading – Mishpatim -Rulings – “Faithfully Do” – 4 February, 2018

Mishpatim – Rulings

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Exodus 21:1-24:18
Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26

“Faithfully Do”


by Mark Huey

Last week, our Torah reading Yitro (Exodus 18:1-20:23[26]) centered on the dramatic events surrounding the appearance of the Almighty Creator God at Mount Sinai, as He conveyed the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel through His servant Moses. The original recipients of these foundational building blocks of faith were primed for embracing them, after they witnessed and participated in their deliverance from bondage in Egypt. So magnificent were the miracles and display of God’s power, that even before Moses went up on the mountain, the Ancient Israelites unanimously proclaimed a desire to faithfully do whatever He would proclaim:

“And all the people answered together and said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do!’ And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD. And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, I shall come to you in a thick cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe in you forever.’ Then Moses told the words of the people to the LORD” (Exodus 19:8-9).

After given the opportunity to hear the voice of the Lord proclaim His Instruction to the multitude stationed at the base of Mount Sinai, we find that the Israelites were terrified about their physical survival. So, they implored Moses to maintain his role as an intermediary between the Lord and them:

“And all the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, lest we die.’ And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin” (Exodus 20:18-20).

Moses calmed the fears of the Israelites, by telling them that God’s display of His power was designed to test them, and so that they would fear Him and avoid any sin that would displease Him. However, the Lord did not give His people just the Ten Commandments, without some specific details about how one could make these directions an integral part of their walk and relationship with Him. So without leaving the recipients in the dark, Moses added some more actions, which should be avoided and/or taken, in order to please the Lord:

“So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “You yourselves have seen that I have spoken to you from heaven. You shall not make other gods besides Me; gods of silver or gods of gold, you shall not make for yourselves. You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you. If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it. And you shall not go up by steps to My altar, so that your nakedness will not be exposed on it”’” (Exodus 20:21-26).

Making idols of gold and silver was strictly forbidden, but the requirement to build an altar of uncut stones in order to present sacrifices is also witnessed here. From the giving of the Decalogue, God was very concerned about the Ancient Israelites falling into the pattern of many other people groups, who had a tendency to make physical tokens of gods out of gold and silver. Perhaps this was a forewarning about the infamous “golden calf incident” that was forthcoming (Exodus 32), so that there would be no excuses for deviant behavior. On the other hand, by describing the details of the construction of altars, the Lord was definitely reminding His chosen people from the very onset of their desert sojourn, that He desired to be worshipped at places and in ways that are not profaned.

With these reminders, Mishpatim or “Rulings,” largely deals with a selection of ordinances, which in many respects, adds details to how God wanted the Ancient Israelites to behave appropriately to His calling them into holiness (Exodus 19:6). Our Torah reading details about how people should interact with one another, given the challenges that ensue from the imperfections of our world. Surprisingly, perhaps, Mishpatim ends with a desire by the Ancient Israelites to be faithful to perform all the words that the Lord had spoken:

“Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!’” (Exodus 24:3).

With what appears to be another unanimous declaration that the people of Israel will do all of which the Lord had spoken, let us take a look at some of those very words.

A Covetous Overlay

The Ten Commandments undeniably have formed much of the basis for judicial and legal systems throughout the Judeo-Christian world. It can be argued that following the Sinai theophany of God delivering the Ten Words to Ancient Israel, that many of the instructions and regulations that are witnessed in the Torah thereafter, are somehow based upon the Ten Commandments. After delineating the Ten Words, adding a warning about making idols and describing proper altar worship, we should see how Mishpatim goes into great detail, further defining the rights and responsibilities of individuals when issues of life erupt. Much of this could be said to amplify what was communicated by the Tenth Commandment, the prohibition against coveting:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17).

The sin of covetousness in one’s heart is perhaps one of the most insidious offenses detailed in the Holy Scriptures—because it can be one of the most difficult to detect, and can be the seed of deceit that instigates other sins. Surely, sinful acts committed against fellow humans—such as murder, adultery, stealing, and bearing false witness, as forbidden in the Decalogue—are conceived when a person covets something that another has (James 1:13-15), be it life, a spouse, property, or position in the community. Additionally, it might be said that when one covets his or her own self or personhood, by becoming a god unto oneself or by idolizing oneself, one is exposed to be a violator of the immutable Law of the only One God. By acknowledging that there is a Supreme Being who desires worship, this should impose some limits and restraints on people who would be otherwise inclined by their own willful actions. Alas, though, when confronted with God’s Torah, many people know instinctively that they must obey—but they choose to instead reject it. When speaking of the person who struggles with the power of sin, Paul referenced the Tenth Commandment prohibition against covetousness:

“What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COVET’ [Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21]. But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead” (Romans 7:7-8).

As we turn to Mishpatim this week, its ordinances break down to a discussion of civil and criminal matters in Exodus 21:2-22:6, humanitarian considerations in Exodus 22:17-23:19, and warnings against assimilation into paganism in Exodus 23:20-33. I would ask you to try filtering these instructions through a fuller appreciation of what coveting entails. Even if someone were able to follow each of these ordinances to the presumed letter, there will likely be the nagging problem that people will still inevitably stumble over some covetous thoughts, which will convict us of our need for a Savior and His redeeming work. James the Just, half-brother of Yeshua the Messiah, starkly reminds us,

“For whoever keeps the whole Torah but stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10, TLV).

Slavery Defined

Mishpatim, perhaps ironically to some Bible readers, actually begins with God giving instructions to Ancient Israel on how to handle slavery. What makes this a bit odd—other than slaves being some of the lowliest of human beings on the social ladder—is that these directions were given to a group of people who had just been delivered from slavery themselves. Is this at all a bit strange to you? If you have thought that a group of former slaves being told that this is how they were to regulate their own slaves, appears a bit out of place in a Holy Bible ultimately authored by the God of Freedom—then you are not alone. The best answer, that conservative Jewish and Christian scholars can often provide, is that Hebrew slavery in the Tanakh largely pertained to economic status, and was significantly subversive to other Ancient Near Eastern forms of slavery, where masters or slaveowners were literally able to do whatever they wanted with the people whom they owned. Here, in the opening of Mishpatim, we clearly read that this was not the case in Ancient Israel. Limitations were placed upon the status of an eved:

“Now these are the ordinances which you are to set before them: If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment. If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently” (Exodus 21:1-6).

As you read this small piece of instruction on slavery in Ancient Israel, note how the Lord was especially concerned about the relationship of the slaveowner and the slave. The slave was someone entirely reliant upon the owner—implying that he was someone destitute, who really had no other place to go for sustenance and basic needs. One of the expectations of the owner was to actually provide the slave with a wife with whom he could have children. While to many moderns, the concept of slavery is something that is rightfully repugnant—what we have to consider is the difference between slavery in Israel versus slavery among Israel’s neighbors. Israelite slavery may be regarded as being decisively “liberal.” The Torah’s instruction regarding slavery was greatly different when compared to many of the other law codes of the era, and it decisively laid the foundation back to the human equality that was lost in Eden, but which has been restored in Messiah Yeshua (cf. Galatians 3:28; Colossians 2:11).

A Civil Society

The balance of Mishpatim summarizes a variety of mundane circumstances that occur in practically every society. God foresaw a wide degree of challenges, which would plague a civilization, where people lived and interacted in relative proximity to one another. The Lord detailed a list of instructions that specified actions to be taken when various incidents arose. These included, but were not limited to, how to handle capital offenses ranging from murder to kidnapping, striking or cursing parents, physical abuse, controlling livestock, stealing, maintaining proper boundaries, borrowing implements and lending money practices, proper restitution claims, protecting innocent young women, prohibitions about bearing false witness, avoidance of bribes, and not oppressing strangers (Exodus 21:12-36). By assigning punishments that discourage harmful behavior or establishing guidelines that check greedy inclinations, these Torah commands were designed to mold Israel into God’s desired kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5-6).

Parents Considered

While volumes of commentaries and legal briefs have been written to deal with the different ordinances encounters in Mishpatim, the instruction to apply capital punishment to a person who strikes or curses parents, is something particularly difficult to encounter. Although we later find a repetition of this in Deuteronomy 21:19-21, there is no recorded evidence that it was ever actually practiced in the Holy Scriptures. However, to reflect back on the Decalogue, note how the Fifth Commandment is one of the instructions that offers its adherents a blessing if properly followed:

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12).

The Fifth Commandment was reiterated by the Apostle Paul in his instruction to Believers in Asia Minor, urging children to honor their parents:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH [Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16]” (Ephesians 6:1-3).

Obviously, the family unit is a key unit of any ordered society. If families are found to be disintegrating, due to children not respecting their parents, further disrespect for civil and communal authority can devolve into blatant civil disobedience—resulting in societal deterioration.

Faithfully Do

When encountering Mishpatim, it can take a student of the Torah down many paths—as the variety of subjects to study or meditate upon range from Hebrew slavery to not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk (Exodus 23:19). As you can imagine, there are many things one can consider during this week of examination. However, it is beneficial to once again recognize that even after these ordinances were given to the Ancient Israelites in the Thirteenth Century B.C.E., there was a universal acceptance by the people to strive to perform all that the Lord had spoken. Accordingly, Moses wrote down those words, and then at the foot of Mount Sinai after the offering of many sacrifices, he took blood, and sprinkled it on the altar, and then on the people who agreed to obey the words of the Lord:

“Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!’ Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. He sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the LORD. Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!’ So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words’” (Exodus 24:3-8; cf. Hebrews 9:19-22).

How should we approach Mishpatim? Our Torah reading undeniably demands that God’s people live in a different manner than those of the world at large, offering care and concern for other people. That those who are privileged should offer relief and mercy for the destitute is absolutely imperative to consider. Our Torah reading also forces Messianic readers today to exhibit considerable trust and reliance in our Eternal Creator, as we strive to understand His mind in interacting with ancient people with widely different values than our own—and as Twenty-First Century Messianics seek to adequately evaluate the trajectory of Holy Scripture. The faith to be exhibited in understanding the instructions given in Mishpatim, as I must personally confess (and I am sure I speak for many other Messianics), is significant. (Click to Source)

Torah Commentary – Joined To HaShem – Mishpatim (Rulings) – Getting Into His Mind – February 10, 2017

Torah Commentary – Mishpatim (Rulings)

jesus-jw

Exodus 21:1-24:18
Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26
Matthew 5:38-42; 15:1-20
Acts 23:1-11
Hebrews 9:15-22; 10:28-39
Getting Into His Mind
If you ever want an interesting study, type in “Mind of Messiah” in a Bible search. Of course you may have to use the word “Christ”, but nonetheless it will take you on quite a journey. One of my favorite verses revealed in the search is Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Messiah Yeshua.” One reason I find this so fascinating is because I see this verse in the Tabernacle. If we overlay a shadow of Messiah’s earthly body on a slide of the Tabernacle we find that the place His head would be is the place where the Ark resided. What is in the Ark? We find the Torah and the Mitzvot (The Ten Words and the instructions of how to carry them out.).  We see pictured in the Tabernacle the Torah is His mind. This thought is quite a ways from my denominational instruction which the “Mind of Messiah” was something up for interpretation.
We can look at the above illustration like this. Torah teaches us how Yah thinks. Torah teaches us His mind, how to get in His head. Stop and think about that for a moment. Can we really learn to think like He thinks, act like He acts, do what He would do and does do? The answer is an all too simple yes. We just need to look at the words revealed and allow those words to direct our thinking and actions.
This week the Torah portion is Mishpatim, Rulings. Now I would imagine most of you do not have slaves, nor are we slaves so these words may seem irrelevant. We might want to skip over these instructions. Not so fast. Are you an employer or an employee? Are you self employed hiring your services out to others? Do you volunteer in public service? If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions then you can translate these words into your life and relationship with those you are interacting with. For example let’s say you work for a company and have a boss. Do you work with the attitude of doing the minimum to make it through the day and not get fired?  Or do you do your job with thanksgiving as unto the glory of our Heavenly Master?
Let’s look at another ruling.
In Exodus 22:17, we are not to allow a sorceress to live. Again, most of us probably do not have a sorceress living under our roof, but what about that horoscope you may read just because you are curious? How about the fortune cookie at your favorite Chinese restaurant? Maybe the Harry Potter book you have been meaning to throw out. Are these types of sorcerers we are allowing to live in our lives and homes?
As you can see through the examples, these rulings are all a part of learning how He thinks, putting on His mind.
What does this way of thinking do? It will set us apart and cause us to not only be peculiar unto Him, but peculiar to others. It will cause us to walk in a way different than the crowd. Oh, wait a minute that is part of His mind also. In Exodus 23:2 we are told to not follow the crowd. Why? Let me answer with a question. When has the crowd ever been right? Can you name one time? I can’t. All I see in history is the crowd heading toward destruction.
On this subject I see something happening in our day. It is based on of the words of Yeshua in Matthew 7:13-14 where He speaks of the narrow gate versus the broad gate. Allow me to ask another question in light of this verse. Do you see the road and the gate getting narrower in our day? I sure do. What I am wondering today is just how narrow the road and gate are going to be by the time this all wraps up.
To illustrate this I have added something to the teaching I do on the Tabernacle. I now have four posts which make an entrance to my representation of the Tabernacle. The teaching is in three sessions and at the beginning of each session we make the gate to enter a bit narrower. The illustration has made an impact on participants.
How do we deal with the narrowing gate of our day? First we must decide who we are going to follow, the Almighty or the crowd. If you are reading this commentary I think you have already answered that question. The next step is growing in our understanding of His mind more than we have in the past. Think of it this way. What you know about His mind has taken you to the place you are today. If you desire to move further you will need to know His mind better than you do today.
How do we do this? Is the answer just too easy for us? Is it as simple as slowing down while reading His Word instead of rushing through? Is it as easy as praying for further understanding?
One last thought on this. In Exodus 23:29 the Hebrews were told that when they went into the Land it would take time to drive out the enemies. Can we see this as part of our above thoughts? Does knowing His mind take time? Does it take time to replace our old way of thinking with His way of thinking? Is it an instant work? I think we all know the answer, but are we willing to pay the price and take the time? I can only answer that one for myself!  (Click to Source)
Shalom and Be Strong,
Mike Clayton
Joined To HaShem

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Torah Commentary – Joined To HaShem – Yitro (Jethro) – Words To Live By – SCRIPTURES FOR February 3, 2017

Torah Commentary
Yitro (Jethro)

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Exodus 18:1-20:23
Isaiah 6:1-7:6; 9:5-6
Matthew 5:21-30; 15:1-11
Hebrews 12:18-29
James 2:8-13
Words To Live By
The Hebrews are free from life in Egypt. Pharaoh is among the dead on the sea shore. It is time for their journey to continue. In their minds, it is time to move on and make a bee line for the Promise Land. Not so fast though. There is a very important stop they have to make, and that is Mount Sinai. What is the purpose of this stop?
In Egypt, the Hebrews had for the most part forgotten who they were and lost their identity as Israel. Though they could have recited their lineage back to Abraham, they had forgotten what that lineage was all about. They had forgotten the responsibilities associated with their lineage. For this reason, they needed a stop to get their foundation set.
At Mount Sinai it is not that the Hebrews will be given the words of Torah, but rather these words will be reinstated into their lives.  The words of Torah go all the way back to the beginning, it is not just a new thing that Father makes up on the spot and gives to them. No, these words were alive and ingrained into the world already, but the people certainly needed to be reminded of them in a powerful way. It is these words which set them apart from all peoples of the earth. And guess what? They do the same to this day!
What are these Ten Words, the Ten Commandments, all about? Are they the “end all,” as some would think? Should they be looked at more as suggestions for life? Is Father really serious about these words? A look at these words from the angle of marriage may give us more insight.
The Ten Words are like the day a bride and groom stand before one another, share their vows and sign a document of marriage. The vows and document contain a foundation for their marriage, but does it spell out every response to every situation which will arise in their years of marriage? Of course not! When situations arise, the couple has to figure out how to walk out the marriage based upon the foundation that was agreed upon on the wedding day. Let’s try an example:
In most traditional marriages, a bride takes on the name of her husband. She states in her vows she will honor him. If, after her honeymoon, she goes to her friends and tells them how stupid he is because he does not know how to squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom or put a roll of toilet paper on the holder the right way, what has she done? She has brought dishonor to his name in the eyes of her friends. What about if he decides to contact some of his old girlfriends? Could he say he thought “faithfulness” was just a suggestion?
The Ten Words provide a foundation for the covenant we enter into. The balance of Torah, the words of the prophets, apostles and even Yeshua Himself build upon this foundation.
Here is an interesting exercise you may want to try one day. There are 613 commandments in the Torah and over 1050 in the Renewed Covenant. Lists of these can be found on a web search. Print those lists and begin to read through them. You will find that every commandment can be linked to one of the 10. One example is the kosher diet.
Many will say they do not see a commandment in the Ten Words concerning what we eat. If you were asked the question of where kosher eating is in the Ten Words, what would you say? Give up? The answer is number 2, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” When a person says, “I don’t care what HaShem says, I will eat whatever I want,” food has become a god before Him. How about, “I can worship on whatever day I please?” Go back and read Ex 20:8-11. The word is Shabbat which can only be translated into one day of the week, the seventh. Is that just a suggestion or did He mean it?
I could go on and on with this, but to put it in the way of an old board game, “Now it is your turn to move your Monopoly piece.” Remember, you don’t pass “go” to get to the Promise Land and you don’t get to “collect” milk and honey until you once and for all settle the fact in your own heart that the word “commandment” does not mean “suggestion.” (Click to Source)

 

Torah Commentary – B’Shallach (After he had let go) – The Manna of His Faithfulness – SCRIPTURES FOR January 27, 2017

Torah Commentary

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B’Shallach (After he had let go)
Exodus 13:17-17:16
Judges 4:4-5:31
John 6:25-35; 19:31-37
Revelation 15:1-4
The Manna of His Faithfulness
Have you ever thought what it was like to be in the caravan of Hebrews leaving Egypt? What conversations took place amongst this group of sleep deprived people? Were they celebrating the faithfulness of Yah displayed before them in the last months? Did they recognize the mighty hand and outstretched arm Who freed them? Was the conversation about the unmerited favor the Almighty had shown and how amazing His works had been on their behalf? Or were they looking at the road Moshe was leading them on and raising complaint to the longer path he selected? Were they backseat drivers giving him directions to turn and go through the land of the Philistine for the shortcut to the “Promised Land”?
Having lived a few years now and being in ministry for over twenty years, I think I can answer the above questions with a bit of accuracy. If Will Rodgers is right in saying, “people change, but not much”, the Hebrews were doing a pretty good job of forgetting about the miracles of their past leading them to second guess the path to their future. Sound familiar?
We can read the reason the Hebrews were not allowed to go the easy way Home, was because they would not have made it. They would have cracked under the pressure of war. As I meted last week, it was the journey which would prepare them for their destination, not the other way around. The steps before them would be about testing their hearts, proving them and weeding out those who refused to bring their inner man out of Egypt.
This week we see a theme which will plague the Hebrews for the next forty years, “Let’s go back to Egypt, the way is too hard, Yah cannot deliver us out of this one, why did we not just remain as slaves in Egypt.” This theme will cause the vast majority to die in the wilderness and never set eyes on the promise. Are we doing much better?
With that question in mind, consider the following statements. “I sure miss the music we used to have in church”, “I miss the fellowship”, “I miss decorating for the holidays”, “I miss …you fill in the blank. Any of those statements sound familiar?
Truth is that there were some things about Egypt that were good memories for the Hebrews the same as there were things about our past experiences which were good. Their problem, as well as ours is that as time goes on people tend to remember the good of the past and forget the pain. The Hebrews forgot the slavery and only remembered the good produce. We can fall into the same traps, but this is the wrong thought process for people of covenant. It should not have mattered how good or bad life was in Egypt. When it was time to go home, it was time to go home. Our thoughts need to be the same. Wars, earthquakes, financial ruin and political upheaval do not need to occur to turn our hearts toward home. It should only take His whisper of “It’s time.”
My question is this. Are we hearing His whisper today? Are your spiritual ears tuned to hear the whisper if it is spoken? Which direction is the door of your inner man’s tent facing, Egypt or the Promised Land? Are we today celebrating the miracles happening around us which point to deliverance or further entrenching ourselves in Egypt? What will happen the day our deliverance comes and we find ourselves walking away to find out we are not being allowed to walk the easy path we desired, but rather the difficult road for our own good? How about when we are brought to the edge of a sea of impossible passage, where will we turn?
Please allow me to give some help for all the above questions. How easy will it be to leave? This depends on how deeply you are entrenched in Egypt today. How much will you complain about the journey then? More than likely you will complain about as much or maybe a bit more than you complain about it today. Will you leave celebrating the miracles of redemption or whining and complaining at each step? To quote a statement from past teachings, “You will perform like you train.” In other words, if you baby yourself spiritually, emotionally and physically today, that will be the life you have chosen for your future.
Is there a key to “making it” and not coming up a step short of His promise? I think so. The key is found in Exodus 16:32. In this verse the Hebrew people are told to store two quarts of manna. Keep in mind that manna dissolved in the evening, but these two quarts would remain. (I wonder where these two quarts are today.) They were to place this manna before their eyes as a reminder of His daily faithfulness to them. How do we keep our inner man walking forward toward His promises without complaining or testing Him? Find your manna of His faithfulness in your life. Find a way to put that manna in front of you. Talk about your manna. Share the story of your manna with others, especially your family. Allow the manna of His faithfulness in your past to become what propels you into His faithfulness of your future! (Click to Source)

 

Torah Commentary – Va’era (I appeared) – His Promise – SCRIPTURES FOR January 13, 2017

Torah Commentary
Va’era (I appeared)

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Exodus 6:2-9:35
Ezekiel 28:25-29:21
Romans 9:14-17
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1
His Promise
It is too easy for us to scan through Torah portions that have become familiar to us. I challenge you to slow down and consider the people who are living these recorded days then bring the words forward to our day and our lives. Take for instance the four “I Wills” of Exodus 6:6-8. These are words we speak of every Passover, but have we really considered them?

Here are the four promises. “I will free you, I will take you as my people, I will bring you into the Land and I will give you your inheritance”. For the Hebrews, they did not listen to those words because they were discouraged due to slavery. Are we not listening to them because we are prosperous? Ouch!

Let’s look at the promises one by one for ourselves. I am going to ask some questions regarding the promises. Pray about what they mean to you and how you might answer them.
“I will free you.” – Free us from what? We are free, aren’t we? Are we?
“I will take you as my people.” – We are already His people, right? Can we truly be His people while living in exile?
“I will bring you into the Land”- How do we define “the Land”? Interesting that for some this is actually a question.
“I will give you your inheritance.” – Do we know what our inheritance is? Hint. Look at Deuteronomy 33:4 for one. Look at “I will” number three for the other.
How is our longing to walk in the “I Wills” or are these words only spoken at Passover with no meaning. Is it similar to saying “Next Year in Jerusalem”?
The balance of this Torah portion will be devoted to the dialogue of Moshe and Aaron with Pharaoh as well as the plagues. What are these plagues about? Are they really judgments on the Egyptians for making the Hebrews into slaves? At one level the answer is yes, but let’s look at it from a different angle. Are the plagues more about the Hebrews seeing what life in Egypt really was? Is the fall of Egypt as the world power more about ripping their love of Egypt away so they could realize Egypt as exile and not home? How does that speak to us? Just how many plagues would it take for you to pack your bags and not “Move to Beverly” or “Head west young man”, but to leave everything behind and head east to home?
One more thing, in Exodus 9:16 Moshe is told to tell Pharaoh that the only reason he has been kept alive is to show forth the power of the Almighty and make His name resound through the earth. As Moshe was heading to the palace to deliver the message, did he stop and think that these words were not only for the Pharaoh, but were for him? Moshe’s parents could have followed the orders of the Pharaoh and put him to death. He could have been eaten by a croc in the Nile River. He could have been put into slavery instead of raised in the palace. He could have been put to death after he killed an Egyptian. He could have died of thirst, starvation or a rattlesnake bite in the desert. Moshe was alive. His life had been spared and protected. Why? For the same reason as Pharaoh, to show forth the power of Yah and make His name resound on the earth.
Any idea where I am going next? Think about it. What about you and me? Through the years I have had the honor of sitting down and getting to know many of you. You have told me about some of your past and I have shared with you some of mine. A theme has arisen many times in conversations when we look back and see how many times our lives were protected and spared by the Almighty. I wonder how many times He spared us and we did not know it? Why were we kept alive? Why were we called to the walk we are on? Is it not for the same reason Pharaoh was kept alive, the same reason Moshe was kept alive? Humbling isn’t it. Guess it just proves one more time that life really is not about us, but it is truly about Him.  (Click to Source)

 

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

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

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

 

Torah Commentary – 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 – Mattot/Massei “Tribes” / “Journeys” – On The Edge of Destiny – SCRIPTURES FOR July 22, 2017

Torah Commentary
Mattot/Massei “Tribes” / “Journeys”
Numbers 30:2-36:13
Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4
Hebrews 1-6

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On The Edge of Destiny
We come to the end of the Book of Numbers this week. Forty years have passed since Israel stood on the bank of the Red Sea. All that stands between the Hebrews and their destiny is another river, a war with the Midyanim, a few instructions to get to the end of Numbers and a pretty long sermon by Pastor Moshe. Oh yea, and Pastor Moshe has to die.
Imagine the thoughts running through the minds of the Hebrews here. They are on the edge of their future. Yet there is one major requirement given by Yah before crossing; a battle. Destroy the Midyanim! Why not just enter the Land then deal with these wicked people? Of course the answer, I am sure has many levels of meaning. Let us examine the base level. It was the women of Midyanim who caused 24,000 Hebrew men to die in a plague. We ask, “Who sent those Midyanim women into the camp in the first place?” Sadly, it was the Midyanim men, their spiritual leaders. Men, whose responsibility is to guard and protect them, instead sent them off to insight grievous sin. This battle was a test to see if the men of Israel would step up to the standard Pinchas set for them or would they sit back and watch as the next sin tried to enter the camp.
Last week, it appears, I touched a few nerves in my written commentary. If you missed it, the archive is posted on my website. I received feedback from some men who shared that my words brought conviction in their walk. They took a good look in their own mirrors, pulled up their big boy training pants and took action on areas Holy Spirit revealed to them were out of order. The overwhelming response I received was more from women who said they were yearning and praying for men to take their place in the Biblical roles mandated in Scripture. (Click to Site)