Saturday, June 30, 2018: Balak (Balak)

2 Kings 21:1,5-7 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hephzibah. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the LORD said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:

2Kings 3:26,27 And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred men that drew swords, to break through even unto the king of Edom: but they could not. Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.

Micah 6:10-12 Are there yet treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and a short efah that is accursed? Shall I be pure with dishonest scales, and with a bag of deceitful weights? Her rich men are full of violence, her inhabitants speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their speech.

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TorahScope – “Actions Speak Louder Than Words” – Y’yakheil (He assembled) – FEBRUARY 21, 2014

By the time we arrive at this week’s Torah portion, V’yakheil, we discover that it encapsulates a description of the actions of Ancient Israel, as the people collectively fulfill the requirements for the Tabernacle construction which was the subject of the previous Terumah (Exodus 27:20-30:10) and Tetzaveh(Exodus 30:11-34:35) readings. Without any hesitation, the text reminds us about the commandment to take a Sabbath rest, even in the midst of the Israelites building of the Tabernacle and producing the various implements, accouterments, and garments as defined.

If you have been reading closely the past few weeks, you will have noticed that Shabbat (tB’v;) is of particular concern to the God of Israel. Two times (Exodus 31:12-17; 34:21), an emphasis is placed not only on the “sign” ofShabbat, but also on the importance to observe it faithfully. As the physical labor for constructing the Tabernacle finally commenced, Moses once again reminded Israel about the Sabbath. Perhaps knowing human nature, these admonitions have been placed by the Lord in these Torah portions, so that we may be reminded that having a day of rest is a great blessing to all those who remember and observe it:

“Then Moses assembled all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and said to them, ‘These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to do: For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a sabbath of complete rest to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the sabbath day” (Exodus 35:1-3).

Of course, it is important to note that in this section of the Torah, we find that the whole congregation of Israel, kol-adah b’nei Yisrael (larfy ynB td[-lK), was supposed to rest. By resting one day out of seven, the people would be able to focus on the Lord in a rather unique and special way on the Sabbath day, but they would most especially be able to be rejuvenated during this critical season of the Tabernacle’s construction.

Further on in our Torah portion, we witness the widescale amount of contributions and offerings that the Israelites were making to the building project. The overwhelming reaction by many, with their offerings literally ushering forth, required that Moses command the people to halt their outpouring of freewill offerings:

“And they said to Moses, ‘The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the Lord commanded us to perform.’ So Moses issued a command, and a proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, ‘Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.’ Thus the people were restrained from bringing any more. For the material they had was sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it” (Exodus 36:5-7).

As I personally pondered the importance of Shabbat this week, and rejoiced in the recorded reaction of the people who wanted to contribute to the various construction projects, I was personally thinking about how I have dealt with this subject since I came to the Lord in 1978. I was born again at the age of 27, and committed myself to being a Believer, rather than a non-Believer—a member of God’s people—rather than a part of the world. From that year forward, I matured in my relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ, and learned to live more like Him. Like many of you, it has been a “wild ride,” and I have done things since becoming Messianic that I would never have dreamed of when I first came to faith.

First, I thought back to some of the early years of my new life in the Lord when I was confronted by a relative who happened to be a proponent of Dominion theology. At the time, he was trying to persuade me that taking Sunday and devoting it fully to God was a good thing that would honor the Fourth Commandment. At the time, I was faithfully attending Sunday morning services at a church in Dallas, Texas, and then coming back on Sunday evening for a service that would include taking communion. Two times a day I would load my family into the car and proceed to the church for a teaching convocation, and then a second service which was more contemplative.

At that time many years ago, when this relative admonished me, I thought he was being extremely legalistic. After all, I was living in Dallas and the Cowboys were on a roll in the NFL! I also played men’s city league soccer, and our games just happened to be played on Sunday afternoon. I could certainly get my “time in” with the Lord between Sunday morning and Sunday evening. As I justified my other activities during the afternoon, I actually thought I was doing pretty well to be a dedicated “twice a Sunday” attendee. With the passage of time, I have witnessed that via God’s sanctification in my life that my personal attitude has changed substantially since those naïve days many years ago.

In God’s mercy to me, as I have continued to beseech Him in order to know Him and understand His ways, He has been faithful to reveal more and more of Himself to me. The Prophet Jeremiah reminds us about the rewards of seeking the Holy One of Israel.

“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile’” (Jeremiah 29:11-14).

Here, we find that our Heavenly Father does have things under control and He does have a plan for our lives! I can personally testify that if you do seek Him with all your heart, He will not only restore your fortunes, but as He has said:He will gather you back from where you have been scattered. The Lord will bring you back to Himself no matter what nefarious paths you have chosen to follow for a season. He will take you from the doldrums of sin into a place where you can be used for the growth of His Kingdom.

Today, as the Messianic movement continues to grow and affect positive change in the lives of God’s people, we encounter that many are learning to reappreciate the value of the Torah, and the significance of things like the seventh-day Sabbath. The Lord is restoring an understanding to all His people regarding how Yeshua and the early Believers obeyed the commandments—and this is exciting to witness! As I study the Torah and read passages aboutShabbat, the appointed times, and other things that the Lord wants His people to follow so that He can bless us, I am immensely blessed. I not only knownow that the Sabbath Biblically begins at sundown on the sixth day and ends on sundown on the seventh day (cf. Genesis 1:5), and not at midnight as I had always assumed according to modern reckoning. I think it is amazing thatShabbat is exactly what the Scriptures say it is—and it was there all along. I simply failed to look at it.

As I have been maturing in my walk with the Lord, I can honestly say that I delight in Shabbat and I look forward to it as the pinnacle of my week. Entering into the Father’s rest and putting down the labors of the week are more clearly understood than when I had my debate years ago with this relative. Today, I might be able to present a more comprehensive understanding of what the Sabbath is for me as defined by the Holy Scriptures, than what he tried to present to me years ago. Perhaps now he would be the one considering me “legalistic.”

My second area of contemplation this week was piqued by some other verses in our Torah portion, which describe the supernatural endowment of two individuals who had been specifically selected by the Lord to oversee the various construction projects of the Tabernacle:

“Now Bezalel and Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the Lord has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work in the construction of the sanctuary, shall perform in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded. Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in whom the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the work to perform it” (Exodus 36:1-2).

Over the past few years (2005-2010), I have spent some time at the Orlando Convention Center overseeing the construction of various “temporary tabernacles,” and I can relate to just what it takes to physically construct something and take it down in order to move it. Now these trade show, seminar, and conference booths and displays are not to be compared to the magnificence and significance of the Tabernacle, but there are some parallels. I have had to use my hands to build things that have a degree of temporary usefulness, and as a result I can identify with some of what Bezalel and Oholiab had to do.

It does take a certain amount of mental acumen when dealing with the erection of complex structures, and this is where I have been able to consider some of the talents and gifts of those like Bezalel and Oholiab. Not only were these skillful people probably able to physically make the objects of the Tabernacle, but they were also probably gifted with the ability to organize and administer the construction projects. In my work, I have enjoyed learning from the younger and more experienced artisans, who often have specially designed tools crafted for certain needs. Even though I might have some age and wisdom in other areas of life, when it comes to knowing the most efficient and safest way to construct something, I typically defer to the younger people, who I discern are more gifted and experienced for various construction projects.

Additionally, I learned another lesson this week (in 2005) via a gift that I was given for Bible research. I received a certain Greek lexicon, and I believe that receiving it happens to be well timed with a writing project that I have been inspired to pursue. In recent weeks, while going through the Torah portions, I have been spiritually stimulated by Paul’s words of being a “living sacrifice” and what it means as listed in the balance of Romans ch. 12. Pensively, as I began to lay out some of my thoughts and started to think about the terms being used, I realized that my Greek study resources were slim. In a providentially-timed gift, I was given a reference tool that should hopefully point me in the right direction.

In an ironic sort of way, just like watching the younger and more gifted builders of complex structures at the Convention Center, a gifted young teacher of the Holy Scriptures gave me a resource “tool” that will allow me to be far more effective in my studies. I was delighted that this tool was given to me at just the right time. Similar to a Bezalel or Oholiab coming along with a special tool or instrument, or perhaps one first showing you how to build something, it is a sign of maturity when you do not think too highly of yourself and are willing to listen to instruction from someone else. Even if the advice or tool comes from someone younger, I recommend to joyfully receive what is being imparted, and welcome the talents that the Lord wants to instill in you via a young person, so you can be more effective in His service.

This begins to take on even more significance when you realize that in light of the construction of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, it is the operation of the Ancient Israelites with all of their collective talents and gifts in unison with one another that accomplishes all of what God wants. After all, where would Bezalel and Oholiab have been without the gold, jewels, brass, skins, wood, and the laborers to perform certain tasks? If the willing hearts did not give the items necessary for the project, no matter how talented the artisans were, the Tabernacle would have been a conceptual design relegated to theory rather than the reality of a completed temporary dwelling place for the Most High.

Consequently, it takes the whole Body of the Messiah to accomplish the Lord’s will. Now that I am armed with some more theological tools, I hope that my ability to write and comment about certain aspects of the Scriptures will be greatly enhanced. Just consider some of the things that Paul writes about in Romans 12, which are required of us who serve the Lord diligently:

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).

With the measure of faith I have the more I learn to walk in His ways, the more I not only appreciate His rest on Shabbat, but also to simply rest in confidence in Him for all things. Watching Him orchestrate my life today via a consistent study of the Torah and how it applies to my walk with Him, in so many regards, is fascinating. As I sit back and review Scripture through His illumination, I am beginning to realize more than ever that my actions do speak louder than words. I have seen my walk starting to catch up with my talk! Some verses that dramatically changed my life many years ago, echo the prayers that I still offer today:

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Messiah Yeshua my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Messiah, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from theLaw, but that which is through faith in Messiah, the righteousness whichcomes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-11).

I am blessed that my earnest actions to know my Lord and Savior, and quite possibly the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, continues to bring me more of His rest, as I personally notice the maturation in my walk with and in Him. These actions speak volumes to me much louder than all the words I can fathom! In a like manner, I pray that you would be equally encouraged that our collective actions will be what today’s world sees and hears.

Finally, even though different measures of faith come by hearing, it is most often by our Messiah-like actions that people will observe the power of the Holy Word that is transforming us. In so doing, others should be drawn to us to hear about how God has transformed our lives by us receiving Yeshua and obeying Him diligently. This must be the testimony that we offer: whether they witness our obedience via the peace only He can give us or even whether they witness our obedience to following something like Shabbat. May we remember that we testify of Yeshua via our actions—sometimes even more than our words! Take to serious heart the immeasurable responsibility that you have.

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“Signs of Life” – Ki Tisa (When you take) – TorahScope – FEBRUARY 14, 2014

Ki Tisa covers a wide variety of topics that range from describing the half-shekel tax collected (Exodus 30:11-16), to the infamous golden calf incident (Exodus 32:1-35), and to instructions regarding the Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-17). Additional instruction is given regarding hand washing (Exodus 30:17-21), anointing oil (Exodus 30:22-33) and incense formulas (Exodus 30:34-38), and how the Tabernacle is to be used (Exodus 31:1-11). Moses also relates significant interchanges that he has with the Holy One as he received the tablets of testimony, pleaded for the people of Israel, and then eventually witnessed the very glory of God (Exodus 32:11-34:35). These, and other events described, give students of the Torah much to ponder this week.

As one meditates upon this selection from Exodus, a multitude of impressions can be generated. For this student, three seemingly unrelated passages in theparashah became linked. The first Scriptural mention of the Book of Life (Exodus 32:32-33) generated some curiosity that led to some reflections about how serious the Father is about His children and their actions. These thoughts were then coupled with the passage about Shabbat (tBv) or the Sabbath being a sign between God and His people (Exodus 31:12-18). Finally, the passage about Moses desiring the Lord’s Divine presence struck a chord (Exodus 33:12-23). Let me explain.

Moses’ Intercession

Seeing the many things detailed in our parashah this week, the people of Israel are in serious trouble. Moses ascends Mount Sinai to receive God’s Instruction. While there, Moses is informed that the impatient Israelites have fashioned a golden calf and are riotously worshipping it. The Lord threatens extermination of these sinners:

“Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation” (Exodus 32:10).

Thankfully, as a result of Moses’ intercession, God decides not to do this:

“So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people” (Exodus 32:14).

At this point, we understand just how serious the Lord is about His people not worshipping other gods. Moses comes down the mountain with the tablets inscribed by the very finger of the Creator. Upon seeing the revelry over the golden calf, he shatters the tablets. Moses issues a call of loyalty to the Most High (Exodus 32:19-28a). At this point, all the Levites respond and they are summoned to take up their swords against all who worshipped the false god. Three thousand Israelites lose their lives (Exodus 32:28b), while the Levites are consecrated for the call He has placed upon them to fulfill the obligations of priesthood:

“[T]hen Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, ‘Whoever is for theLord, come to me!’ And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him. He said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.”’ So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Then Moses said, ‘Dedicate yourselves today to the Lord—for every man has been against his son and against his brother—in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today’” (Exodus 32:26-29).

The next day, God and Moses get into a debate. Moses offers himself as “an atonement” for the sins of the Israelites. (I believe that this offer is reminiscent of what Yeshua would later accomplish, actually being the permanent atonement for the sins of humanity.) The dialogue between Moses and the Lord continues:

“On the next day Moses said to the people, ‘You yourselves have committed a great sin; and now I am going up to the Lord, perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.’ Then Moses returned to the Lord, and said, ‘Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book’” (Exodus 32:30-33).

Interestingly, this is the first mention of the Book of Life in the Holy Writ, a record of those who stand under God’s favor. The most important place we see the Book of Life mentioned, though, is in the final judgment recorded by John in the Book of Revelation:

“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:12-15).

One thing is very certain from the interchange between God and Moses, when seen through the filter of Revelation 20:12-15: a person does not want his or her name to be missing from the Book of Life. The consequence of sinning against the Most High by worshipping another god (Exodus 32:33), and then being among those judged “according to their works” (Revelation 20:12, NRSV),is a very frightening concept.

Another important thing is mentioned when the Lord speaks to Moses. God alone has the ability to blot out or erase a name from the Book of Life (Exodus 32:33). We should simply recognize that He has given His children ample understanding throughout the Scriptures to take loyalty to Him seriously. It is not impossible to truly be loyal to God, but demonstrating loyalty to Him is not something that is entirely passive, either.

While pondering the gravity and reality of the Book of Life, reflecting on Ki Tisa, two passages came to my mind from this parashah. First, God describes an action that can serve as a tangible sign between us and Him, that we are striving to be His. Secondly, the evidence of His presence in our midst, as sought by Moses, is a definite sign that we are His. One is an action we can take, and the other is an action God takes.

Shabbat Observance

Earlier in this Torah portion (Exodus 31:12-18), the Lord gives His people some specific instruction about how to remember Shabbat, or the seventh-day Sabbath. This day of rest was to be an important sign between Israel and the Lord, which was to distinguish them among the nations. Remembering Shabbatwas to serve as a tangible sign, for future generations, that Israel was His chosen people and that God created the universe by His supreme hand:

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, “You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lordwho sanctifies you. Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death. So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.” It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.’ When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God” (Exodus 31:12-18).

Here in these verses, as the finger of God has completed inscribing the Decalogue, He twice mentions within the span of a few verses two important things. First, the remembrance of Shabbat is a sign between the Lord and His people “throughout your/their generations” (Exodus 31:13, 16). Secondly, the Ancient Israelites were told that anyone who profanes or works on Shabbatwould receive the penalty of capital punishment (Exodus 31:14b, 15b). This is extremely serious, and the fact that it is reiterated compounds the gravity of the statute.

Here in the Book of Exodus, we see how important the Lord considered the institution of the Sabbath to be. It is considered a Creation ordinance (Exodus 31:15), as we remember how God Himself rested after His six periods of creating the universe (Genesis 2:2). Even if we believe in this post-resurrection era that the capital punishment for not remembering the Sabbath has been absorbed by the sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah (cf. Colossians 2:14), why does it seem that many Christians today want to overlook the Biblical imperative to rest on the seventh day? At most, the being “cut off” they would experience would not be participating in all of the good things that resting for a complete day naturally offers us.

Much of the negativity that today’s Messianic Believers encounter, when telling Christian family or friends that they are keeping the Sabbath, comes from various encounters we read in the Gospels (i.e., Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 2:23-28; 3:1-6; Luke 6:1-5, 6-11; 13:10-17; John 5:10, 15-16; 7:22-23), and how they have been too commonly read. We see scenes where Yeshua the Messiah is either seen arguing with some of the religious officials in His day, or how He is rebuked by them for doing “unauthorized” things on the Sabbath. Bible scholars today are not all agreed that Yeshua opposed the keeping of the Sabbath, as much as He opposed the different streams of Jewish tradition present in His day that made it difficult for the Sabbath to be a legitimate day of rest for the normal person—and how some authorities opposed the legitimate doing of good on the Sabbath, as He was rebuked for healing people. And notable to also remember, is how Yeshua did not oppose all tradition—just those traditions that specifically took away from accomplishing the purpose of His Father.

Yeshua’s ministry and teachings clarified much of what the Torah originally intended profaning the Sabbath to be. In His Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua spends a considerable amount of time working through various Torah commandments as they related to one’s heart intent (Matthew chs. 5-7). Hedid not come to fufill and thus abolish the Law, as many may inaccurately teach—but instead to fulfill the Law by showing people how to live out its intentions properly in human life (Matthew 5:16ff). When it came to the issues concerning Shabbat, our Lord demonstrated that healing and doing good was appropriate. Yeshua stated how “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27, NRSV), and how its rest is something which can benefit all people.

The Presence of God

A little further on in our parashah, we encounter a second visible sign that clearly marks the people of God. God’s presence is to be among His people:

“‘Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.’ And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then he said to Him, ‘If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?’” (Exodus 33:13-16).

Here, the Hebrew word panim (~ynP) or “face” is actually translated as “presence.” When the face of God Himself shines upon His people, it is evidence of His favor and blessing toward them. Such favor was to be so tangible toward Ancient Israel, that in their comings and goings, they would be distinguished among all others on Earth. As further detailed, this would involve God being merciful to His people:

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name.’ Then Moses said, ‘I pray You, show me Your glory!’ And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.’ But He said, ‘You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen’” (Exodus 33:17-23).

Here, as Moses pleads for the presence of the Most High, He concedes that His glory will be evident, but that neither Moses nor any other would see His specific “face.” Instead, God’s glory, goodness, grace, and compassion would be evident among the people of Israel—demonstrating the substance of what His “face” really is. His attributes, which are frequently embodied in the later New Testament term agapē (agaph), would manifest themselves among the Ancient Israelites. In due time, the presence of His very Spirit would move beyond the Tabernacle or Temple, and would be fully dwelling within the hearts of His people (cf. Ezekiel 35:25-27). We see some of the specific aspects of God’s “face” listed, as He passes beside Moses on Mount Sinai:

“Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the LordGod, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guiltyunpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations’” (Exodus 34:6-7).

How much do these attributes sound like the summarizations of the agapē love demonstrated by Messiah Yeshua, who offered Himself up for our sins? Consider the Apostle Paul’s description of what Believers are to embody, as a direct result of Yeshua’s atoning work:

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love [agapē], which is the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:12-14).

The Apostle John also writes about the great love of God manifested toward us:

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Sonto be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit” (1 John 4:10-13).

We know that unlike Moses, whose offer of personal atonement was not acceptable (cf. Exodus 32:30), Yeshua’s offer, as the Son of God, is acceptable (Hebrews 9:26-28).

Two Signs

Today as Believers in Yeshua the Messiah, who have been washed of our sins by His work, we should be experiencing the presence of our Creator, as originally revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:6-7). We should have His love and His blessings enveloping us, ever-reminding us of how much the Lord really does care for us and wants us to commune with Him! This presence of God should fill us up with His love, which we are surely to demonstrate to all people we encounter.

Yet if we possess the presence of God inside of us, are there any specificactions we can demonstrate which reflect on the goodness He has showered? I would submit to you that remembering Shabbat or the seventh-day Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-18), a day each week when we can rest and experience refreshment in Him, is something that we need to be considering. Shabbat is a time when we get to focus on the Lord in a very unique way, ceasing from our labors, and allowing Him to reveal His presence to us.

How do we learn to balance the value of these two aspects of our faith? How do we remember the many imperatives we see in the Scriptures to demonstrate love toward others (i.e., 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Romans 12:9-17)?

Many generations of Jewish people faithful to the Lord’s ways have experienced the blessings of Shabbat, and we can hope that many who truly pressed into Him on the seventh-day were supernaturally revealed the truth of Messiah Yeshua as they sought God for answers. Similarly—and whether or not today’s Messianics really want to admit it—many generations of Christians faithful to the Old Testament have also experienced the blessings of the Sabbath, albeit they have observed it on the first day. Even though a “Sunday Sabbath” was not our Father’s original intention, He has still honored the dedication of many Christians in past history who strived to make Sunday a day of abstention from work and commerce—something which only in the latter-half of the Twentieth Century was really lost.

In our day as the Father restores His people through the growth of the Messianic movement, not only will Jewish Believers get to experience the blessedness of the Sabbath by their faith in Messiah Yeshua—but many non-Jewish Believers will get to experience some of the things that have made Jewish remembrance of Shabbat so special. The edifying traditions that enable us to really focus on who the Lord is, and which bring us together as families and communities where He dwells, can help focus our remembrance of the Sabbath as we consider who we all are as His redeemed people. We all await the return of our King, and the much greater rest He will bring to us in the future (Hebrews 4:9-11).

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