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 – Let’s Not Miss the Point – SCRIPTURES FOR September 30, 2017

Torah Commentary
Leviticus 16:1 – 34; 18:1 – 30
Numbers 29:7 – 11
Hebrews 10

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Note: As we come to the conclusion of this Torah cycle you may find yourselves using a different set of verses than me due to different methods of reading. This is a great opportunity for a lesson in not always being in complete agreement of walk, but rather complete agreement of destination.
Let’s Not Miss the Point
Here we are, in the midst of the Fall Feasts. Yom Teruah is behind us. Depending on which calendar you follow as to the day you observe Yom Kippur, we will all, in our own personal way between us and our Father, seek to “deny ourselves”. Days later our Sukkot adventure will begin. Our methods of observance during Sukkot will be as varied as we are. There will be a variety of everything from fancy “Rolling Sukkoth” in a campground with hundreds of people to a single individual eating a meal on their back deck by themselves. This lone worshiper may be wondering when they will have the opportunity to share their celebration with one or many more likeminded followers of Yeshua. The defining factor to bring all of us together around the globe will be the purpose of our Sukkot Feast.
In Leviticus we read of two goats. The first innocent animal was slaughtered and its blood placed upon the ark. The Azazel, scapegoat, was sent out of the camp never to return. These two goats represent an awesome picture of our redemption in Messiah as He has taken our sin upon Himself as well as cast it away to never return. This picture of the revealed work of Messiah is what is meant to set us apart and call us into the Fall Feasts. They are a symbol to give us a picture of our destiny.
What do the appointed times of Yom Kippur and Sukkot imply for us? The vision and attitude we walk into these appointed times with will in the end determine what we receive from them.
Let’s first look at Yom Kippur. We read and understand this set apart time as a day to “deny ourselves.” For what purpose does this sacrifice bring? Many have taught this is to be a day of fasting due to us mourning over our sins against our Creator. Consider the scapegoat. On Yom Kippur our sins are taken away forgotten as far as the east from the west, never to be remembered again. Could the reason we deny ourselves the basic necessities of our being is because on that future Yom Kippur our physical needs will not even enter our minds as we gaze into the face of the One who has taken away our sins? On the other hand there will no doubt be regret on that day as we see how in light of His work in our lives, we could have done much more for His Glory.
Let us move on to Sukkot. Whether you will be with hundreds of your very best friends or just camped out on your deck by yourself, what is the significance of your celebration?
I have mentioned a couple of times now about a person observing Sukkot alone. If you are the lone worshipper, have you sometimes struggled with envy over those who have the opportunity to rejoice in the fellowship of plenty? Ironically, it may be you the rest of us should be envious of. How could this be? You will celebrate without distraction of other people’s agendas. For you there will be no game night, talent night, movie night, water sports day, hay ride, horseback riding, thrift store day, antique store day, card games and the list goes on. The lone worshipper will just be you and our Blessed King, alone, dwelling together. And you were thinking you were going to miss what?
Here is the point. The easiest place to miss the true meaning of Sukkot is in a crowd of people who have just gathered for a weeklong vacation get away. Anyone who has been to a large Sukkot understands what I am referring to.
There are those who participate in the spiritual activities yet still they are mentally somewhere else, not fully entering into His Presence. They listen to the afternoon speaker session to hear what was shared the previous year. Attendance at the evening worship is solely to be entertained by the dance before departing to the late night fireside chatter with s’mores.
Do I sound cynical or truthful? You be the judge.
Why have I taken this train of thought just prior to Yom Kippur? I mention these things not to be critical, but rather to help each of us slow down and seek Holy Spirit to evaluate our heart motives to be cleansed of any selfish ways. Yom Kippur is about standing before our King and being awestruck over what He has accomplished for us so we may one day have the blessing of dwelling with Him. We have the opportunity to repent and enter into the remaining Feasts with clean hands and pure hearts to fully focus in joyful worship of our King. As we prepare to gather on Sukkot, let us do so with the commanded joy. Let it not be with the frivolous joy of a Disney vacation, but rather the awesome joy of the redemption that has been bought for each of us with a very high price. (Click to Site)

 

Torah Commentary – Ha’azinu (Hear) – Yom Kippur and the Song of Moshe – SCRIPTURES FOR September 23, 2017

Torah Commentary
Ha’azinu (Hear)
Deuteronomy 32:1-52
Isaiah 55:6-56:8, 2 Samuel 22:1-51
2 Kings 22-23

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Yom Kippur and the Song of Moshe
It has been a long sermon for Pastor Moshe.  The thirty-one chapters of what we know as the Book of Deuteronomy all came forth during this sermon.  He has given the people a summation of the Torah and repeatedly told them the choice they have: to follow it or not. Whether they receive the blessings or the curses and the life or the death will result from their choices.
But how should a message like this end?  How about with a song?  It would not be just any song, but rather a song Moshe would compose, right there on the spot.  It was much more than just a song, much more than lyrics attached to a melody. The song would have the purpose of once again telling them and generations to come, the choice they have regarding following Torah, and the blessings and curses which would come from their decisions!
In this Song of Moshe, a song which is sung by those in the Book of Revelation, the summation is not of the Torah, but rather of the fall and redemption of mankind.  We see the love of a Dad to his children and the judgment of a Father when they get out of line.  We see the protection and nurturing on one hand and the deserved judgment on the other.  It is a song of the highs of obedience and the lows of correction.  It is a song which brings the assurance of victory in the end and confidence of eternal reward for those who remain faithful.  No wonder it is a song sung during the time of Revelation!
After the last note of the song rings out, reality sinks in.  Moshe is reminded of the walk he must soon take.  It is a walk he will make alone, the last walk that he will ever take in his lifetime.
I cannot imagine the emotions Moshe must have felt during this time.  He had failed to “demonstrate My holiness” to the people.  Striking the rock had, and would, cost him dearly.
With this very sobering image in our minds, let’s consider a question for ourselves.  How are we doing at “demonstrating His holiness” to the world around us?  How are we doing in this task with our spouse, our family, our co-workers or just any person we come in contact with on a daily basis?  After the closing song is sung, what image of The Father is being seen in our lives on a daily basis?
At this point I could continue about what it means to demonstrate His holiness, or how Moshe was apparently judged more harshly because of his failure, or any number of other avenues available, but I won’t.  I simply end this rather brief but direct Torah commentary with a short and direct question for each of us to answer privately to ourselves and also to Yah: “How am I doing at ‘demonstrating His holiness?'”
On a final note, it is interesting that this Torah portion falls in the days between Yom Teruah and Sukkot. The fall feasts prior to Sukkot are all about repentance and preparation, and I believe it is appropriate to get our hearts right before having the opportunity to “live out” our preparation by demonstrating His holiness at the gathering of Sukkot, all in practice of standing before Him on The Yom Kippur to come.

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Torah Commentary – Nitsavim (Standing) / Vayelekh (He Went) – Are We There Yet? – SCRIPTURES FOR September 16, 2017

Torah Commentary
Nitsavim (Standing) / Vayelekh (He Went)
Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30
Isaiah 61:10-63:9
Romans 9:30-10:13
Hebrews 12:14-15

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Are We There Yet?
Last week we looked at a “Today” which would happen sometime in our future. It would be a day of bringing our offerings in a basket to Jerusalem. We will set our basket down in the presence of Messiah and give thanks for the good land and blessings He has brought us to. Before that “Today” can happen, there has to be an event called the end of exile. We read of this promise in Deuteronomy 30.
To set the stage for these words, let’s consider the setting. First of all, we are reading words first spoken around 1400BCE or over 3600 years ago. Moshe is telling a people who have never stepped foot in the land that their time in the land will not be very long and because of disobedience they will be exiled from the land and driven to the four corners of the earth. Side note, these are four corners yet to be discovered by man.
Stop and consider this. You are Nitzavim (Standing) in front of Moshe with great anticipation, considering just how long this last sermon of his is going to take. Your mind has been wandering just a bit because just over his shoulder you can see your destiny. Suddenly your mind kicks in as you hear him say you will be driven out. “What, he must be kidding. We haven’t set foot in the land yet.” Right on the heals of those words is a promise of return and re-gathering from exile. You decide to just dismiss the last words and focus again on where you are soon heading. Focus as you may, generations to come will live the words of exile, a time and place you and I find ourselves today.
So here is the question, are we there yet?
I seldom use stories of my own children for their privacy, but today I am going to break the rule. It was family vacation, Kathy and myself with two children are heading to Disney World. Our oldest son Steven was pretty small but old enough to have a good grasp on where we were going. We had been telling him for months that we were going and his excitement was off the scale by the time we finally got in the car for the journey. His “Are we there yet” statements were too many too keep track of and even though each “Are we there yet” brought a firmer and more impatient “No”, he never lost sight of his dream. We would stop at gas stations and restaurants and he would engage anyone who would listen with the dream of his destination. Some people would become so caught up in his excitement they would ask if they could come with him. I think a couple of them may have gone home and planned their own trip based on his enthusiasm.
The time finally came when his “Are we there yet?” was answered by “Almost.” Shoes on, poised in position to bound out of the car, he was ready and yes, it was a time he would not forget.
Do I need to ask if you know where I am going with this? Just in case, I will continue.
I read these words of return and I can just feel the words “Are we there yet” bubbling up from down deep inside of me. As I write, it dawns on me that my daily reciting of the Shema is turning into my own “Are we there yet?’ Watching wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, interaction with my Jewish brothers and sisters; it is all causing those words to form more rapidly in my spirit.
What saddens me in the midst of my own excitement is how much easier it was for Steven to get people excited about going to Disney than it is for me to get people excited about going “Home.” I am not talking about people outside of covenant, but rather those who profess to be within it. Yes, there are a few who are excited, but it is a small remnant today. As I speak of “Home” and ask forms of the question of are we there yet, I am still met with so many glassy eyed stares. This causes me to wonder and consider if the excitement I am portraying is more surface than I want to admit. Is my excitement proved in my actions or is it merely words people are seeing through to be phony?
This past week I attended a small congregation in our area. It was my first Shabbat home in over a month. The group will normally study the Torah, but leave the other writings for personal study. As we came to the end of the portion our daughter-in-law asked if we could read the Haftarah of Isaiah 60. When I saw the first few words, a lump formed in my throat. It is hard to explain the feeling of hearing her read the words. She read as a person who has not only walked The Land, but as someone whose heart and life are connected to The Land and her people. She read with gentle passion of a time when our exile is over, the tribulation is behind us and Messiah has set up His Kingdom. It is a day Torah is going forth from Jerusalem and the nations are streaming to her to learn to walk in His ways. As she read I was looking at their son, my grandson, and wondering, could these verses be of a day he will grow up seeing with his own eyes?
I held back the tears as she read. As she completed the last words, I simply said, “May it be soon and in our day.” By the way, that is now my Hebrew idiom for “Are we there yet?”
May we, in Him, be found worthy to be the generation which sees the end of exile. May our children and grandchildren be part of the first generation raised in His Kingdom. May our Heavenly Father grant to each of us the longing and excitement which will pierce through the glassy eyed stares of those still without a vision of where “Home” truly is.
May it all come to pass soon and in our day, or as we used to say, “Are we there yet?” (Click to Site)

 

Nitzavim – Standing – V’yeilekh – And he went – “Choose Life” – 10 September, 2017

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by Mark Huey

The annual Torah cycle has begun to wind down. On typical years, this Shabbat is known as Shabbat Shuvah or the Sabbath of Repentance (or Return), and it usually falls between Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. During what is intended to be a season of repentance, the Ten Days of Awe from 01-10 Tishri, provide followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob an annual opportunity to reflect upon their relationship with Him and their required return to Him and to His ways.

The Holy One of Israel desires to have a meaningful relationship with His people. As followers of the Lord, we have each been called out of the world to be a treasured possession unto Him. This is what Moses declared in Deuteronomy 26:18-19:

“The LORD has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession [l’am segullah], as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments; and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor; and that you shall be a consecrated people [am-qadosh] to the LORD your God, as He has spoken” (Deuteronomy 26:18-19).

Please note that being a “treasured possession” of the Almighty has some incumbent responsibilities—notably that His people obey Him. The results of obedience to God are praise, fame, honor, and ultimately composing a holy nation which can be used to proclaim His goodness to a sinful world:

“‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel” (Exodus 19:5-6).

If you consider yourself to be a follower of the Most High, and recognize that you are His “treasured possession,” then I would urge you to consider the great responsibility He has truly given to you. As we all compose “a kingdom of priests” (cf. 1 Peter 2:5, 9), we have the job of interceding for the lost of Planet Earth. I believe that this season is an excellent time to review your relationship with the Almighty. As you turn to Him in confession and prayer, recognize that He willingly accepts a broken spirit and contrite heart. Turn to Him for forgiveness of sin and iniquity, so that you can be fully restored to Him and be able to serve Him more effectively:

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).

The Apostle John tells us as Believers in Yeshua, that we have the additional assurance that through heartfelt confession, our transgressions are forgiven:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

For Shabbat Shuvah, I pray that all who read this commentary will take some time to go before our Heavenly Father and confess sins of commission or omission. I also pray that we will all be reconciled one to another, as we allow the Holy Spirit to enact a special work on our hearts and minds.

As we turn to this week’s Torah reading, we find that Moses is now 120 years old, and ready to pass on the mantle of leadership to Joshua, before his death:

“And he said to them, ‘I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I am no longer able to come and go, and the LORD has said to me, “You shall not cross this Jordan.” It is the LORD your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the LORD has spoken’” (Deuteronomy 31:2-3).

Joshua has been the faithful servant of Moses for nearly forty years. His service goes back to his youth:

“Then Joshua the son of Nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth, said, ‘Moses, my lord, restrain them’” (Numbers 11:28).

He led the Israelites in the battle against Amalek after departing Egypt:

“So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword” (Exodus 17:13).

Joshua accompanied Moses to the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments from God:

“Now the LORD said to Moses, ‘Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction.’ So Moses arose with Joshua his servant, and Moses went up to the mountain of God” (Exodus 24:12-13).

Joshua, along with Caleb, came back from Canaan with a good report:

“But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive out of those men who went to spy out the land” (Numbers 14:38).

God instructed Moses to lay his hands on Joshua in front of the Israelites, to indicate that he will follow in Moses’ position and lead the people into the Promised Land:

“Moses did just as the LORD commanded him; and he took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, just as the LORD had spoken through Moses….Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter there; encourage him, for he will cause Israel to inherit it” (Numbers 27:22-23; Deuteronomy 1:38).

Now as our Torah reading begins, Moses realized that Joshua was ready to inherit the leadership responsibilities for Israel. It is at this point that Moses exhorted the people to “be strong and courageous,” prior to entering the Promised Land:

“‘Be strong and courageous [chizqu v’imtzu][1], do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.’Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, ‘Be strong and courageous [chazaq v’ematz], for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:6-8).

In a comforting word, Moses said that God will not fail Israel or forsake Israel. In order to reaffirm Joshua’s position, Moses turned to Joshua and repeated the words of encouragement to “be strong and courageous.” Joshua had been a firsthand witness of God’s guidance and deliverance of Israel for nearly forty years. Observing and serving Moses had prepared him for leadership for some time. But still, Moses was led to encourage him directly. In fact, at the end of this statement Moses added the words, “Do not fear or be dismayed.” Moses had told the same thing to the Israelites earlier, when recounting the mission of the twelve spies to venture into Canaan:

“See, the LORD your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed”(Deuteronomy 1:21).

We need to remember that God’s people, in spite of the written record of Scripture and testimony of Biblical witnesses, do have the tendency to become fearful and dismayed. Moses, more than anyone else, knew this from his personal observations over the previous forty years. Moses was very concerned about the destiny of Israel. At the end of this parashah, Moses reiterated these same words to Joshua. This time Moses also added the request to put the scroll of the Torah next to the Ark of the Covenant so that it will remain a witness against Israel:

“Then He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you.’ It came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were complete, that Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, ‘Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you. For I know your rebellion and your stubbornness; behold, while I am still alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the LORD; how much more, then, after my death? Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them. For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands” (Deuteronomy 31:23-29).

Remember that Moses has already prophesied what would happen to Israel if and when they acted corruptly. Here, he once again called upon Heaven and Earth to be witnesses against the people. If you will recall, these are the same two witnesses that Moses called upon when he gave Israel the choice of life and death:

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Heaven and Earth still testify against God’s people, and the choices of life or death—blessing or curse, favor or penalty—still remain to those of us who live in this generation. God’s Word can stand against us as a third witness of what will happen when we choose to obey, or disobey, Him. Much like Ancient Israel would face neighbors who tried to lead them astray from God, so do we face obstacles and temptations that can likewise take us away from Him.

Before Deuteronomy 31 concludes, Moses added a prophetic statement based on his observations of Ancient Israel for the previous forty years:

“For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands” (Deuteronomy 31:29).

As the shepherd of Israel since the Exodus from Egypt, Moses knows how the people will react after his death, even with the anointed leadership of Joshua. Moses was able to look to the future and make a reference to the evil that will come upon them in the Last Days. Certainly today, we are seeing much of what Moses foresaw coming to pass, when many are doing evil in the sight of the Lord. But let us not forget that God’s people have always been given a choice.

Today, we can choose to follow and obey the Lord, or choose disobedience and suffer the consequences. This is one of the huge reasons that a season of returning to the Lord is so vitally important to us. This is a time for individual and corporate confession and repentance. We can be spiritually strengthened and resolve ourselves to another year of service and devotion unto Him.

In spite of the propensity to wander, the promises of God to restore His people are replete throughout the Bible. Interestingly enough, when you consider the Haftarah selection for this week, you find that the Hebrew term shuvah, used for the designation Shabbat Shuvah, comes from the first word in Hosea 14:

“Return, O Israel [shuvah Yisrael], to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, ‘Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips.’ Assyria will not save us, we will not ride on horses; nor will we say again, ‘Our god,’ to the work of our hands; for in You the orphan finds mercy. I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like the lily, and he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon. His shoots will sprout, and his beauty will be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon. Those who live in his shadow will again raise grain, and they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon. O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like a luxuriant cypress; from Me comes your fruit. Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but transgressors will stumble in them” (Hosea 14:1-9).

In this oracle concerning the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the prophecy of Moses about evil is echoed. The Northern Kingdom departed from the Torah, pursued evil, and suffered the consequences of disobedience toward God. This included the punishment brought upon them by the Assyrians, as they were largely exiled, scattered, and assimilated. Hosea pleaded with these people to return to the Lord! Hosea exhorted them to ask God for forgiveness while confessing their sins. Hosea reminded them not to rely on the work of their hands or their own strength. Hosea invoked the reality that as orphans, they would find their pity only in the Holy One.

God will respond to these pleas by declaring that He will heal the affliction of the people and take them back in love. As His anger will turn away from their disobedience, He will cover them like dew and the boughs of a cypress tree. Returning to God will result in blessings of new grain, new wine, and abundant fruit. Hosea confirms that confession and repentance have great rewards to all who return to Him. Hosea’s final admonition is that the wise will consider his words and the discerning and righteous will walk in His ways, while sinners will stumble.

These are encouraging admonitions to consider in association with Shabbat Shuvah. However, just reading or hearing these words will not benefit anyone unless he or she acts upon them. But in order to act, one must have faith in the testimony of Moses. And, one must be strong and courageous to overcome any of the thoughts or doubts that prevent a person from exercising his or her will to confess, repent, and return to God.

It is my prayer that God would give each of us the strength and courage to be honest with Him in this season of repentance. I pray that the confession of our lips will touch His heart, and that He will restore us into His loving arms. The author of Hebrews specifically tells us that Yeshua is the same yesterday, today, and forever—not only speaking of His timelessness—but also in His ever-present compassion and mercy:

“For He Himself has said, ‘I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU [Deuteronomy 31:6],’ so that we confidently say, ‘THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME? [Psalm 118:6]’ Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Messiah Yeshua is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:5b-8).

May we entreat and receive the Lord’s mercy always!


NOTES

[1] Or, “Be strong and resolute” (NJPS).

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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 – Shof’tim (Judges) – Giving Yah Our Best – SCRIPTURES FOR August 26, 2017

Torah Commentary
Shof’tim (Judges)
Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9
Isaiah 51:12-52:13
Matthew 5:38-42; 18:15-20
Acts 3:13-26; 7:35-53

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Giving Yah Our Best
The deeper I read into the book of Deuteronomy I find such richness in its Truths.  Each week I am challenged to single out only one or two points to reflect on. It is important to me to help set the stage for your own focus in seeking Father within these words. Seeking Him first and honoring Him with our best is the focus of this weekly commentary.
This week we are told to seek righteousness, by making sure Torah is being written upon our hearts not simply a quick read. With passion we are to be like Moses in upholding Torah. We read about preparing ourselves to live in cities and houses we did not build. There is a message revealed within this Torah portion that is inherent to understanding so as to comprehend the rest of its meaning.
In Deuteronomy 17:1 we are told not to bring a sacrifice with a defect or anything wrong with it. This is to not only be a starting point for this Torah portion, but a necessary instruction to understand more of our relationship with our Father.
You might be saying to yourself, “We don’t have sacrifices to bring today.” Rethink this thought and consider these actions as sacrifices for today. Our time spent in prayer, especially in the busyness of today’s society. Adding a 9:00am and 3:00pm alarm on your phone as a reminder to recite the Shema requires a commitment. What about the dedication to honor and observe Shabbat? Include the time set aside for Bible study. Even consider preparation and observance of Father’s Appointed Times. Along with preparation, what about setting aside ten percent of our income, as well as the additional funds for the Feasts, the widow, orphan and restoration of the Land and people of Israel? All of these actions require a sacrificial commitment of time, thought and energy to carry out for the glory of our King! Are we setting aside the best of our “flock” that is without spot or blemish or just whatever feels good to us?
There are many events and people that stand out in my childhood. Probably the most influential was my grandmother. She taught me many things about God through her actions. I recall one specific act that stood out to me regarding her giving unto the Father. Granny was not a rich woman and yet she never went without. Her life of faith impacted many people. This memory is especially important to me and reflected my thoughts in this commentary regarding giving your best.
At probably the age of eight or nine I would go with granny to the bank so she could deposit her social security check. I especially enjoyed the trip because the teller had a sucker for me! Granny would hand the check to the teller to be deposited and receive some cash back. The cash back was her preset tithe. Sure, this is normal procedure for many people. The point that stuck out to me was that Granny always asked for the withdrawal to be in new bills. The following Sunday when the offering plate was passed through the pews granny would sometimes give me the envelope with those crisp new bills to put in the plate. She did not have to explain to me her reasoning. I understood the lesson lived before my eyes. Granny wanted new bills; she saw it as a way of giving her best. That story may sound a bit silly to some, but even as I am writing, the memory brings tears to my eyes. The lesson I learned from that small action as a young child was to bring your best to the King in respect and reverence. (Click to Site)

 

Torah Commentary – Re’eh (See) – See, Perceive or Selah – SCRIPTURES FOR August 19, 2017

Torah Commentary
Re’eh (See)
Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17
Isaiah 54:11-55:5
1Corinthians 5:9-13
1John 4:1-6

yeshuatheMessiah

See, Perceive or Selah
The title of this Torah portion is translated very simply with the word “see.” This small simple word can be taken for granted by some.  For the vast majority of the people in this country, “seeing” is the first thing they do every morning. People wake up, open their eyes to see, or depending on your optical ability, at least look at the images our eyes are allowing their brains to discern. I question whether there is a difference between seeing or looking?
In Hebrew the word is re’eh. The word has the meaning of looking at something with our eyes, but that is not the context in how it’s being used here. The Hebrew meaning is for us to perceive and consider something so as to bring forth discernment. Many of you may relate to the example I’m going to use to explain my point. Most people wake up in the morning head to the bathroom to begin their daily routine to make themselves presentable before leaving home. Many of us find in the mirror the proverbial “bed head” look with hair going every direction. As one makes sense of the new style their pillow created they might find a few gray hairs that certainly could not have been there the day before.
How you handle these sneaky little gray hairs is what brings forth my point. Will you make a mental note of the location of these sly little hairs to pluck them out, hide them with a new hairstyle or run to the local Wal-Mart to grab a bottle of hair color? Are these little gray hairs a frightful unwanted sight or do they bring you to a place of introspection? Do you just “see” the gray hair or do look deeper to evaluate the Scriptural meaning behind gray hair and how it’s interpreted. Do you perceive what is happening in your life regarding your maturity and reflect on decisions you are making? The gray hair is a sign to us to ponder if we are learning the lessons life has been trying to teach us or traveling around the same mountain of mistakes. Are you gaining wisdom through maturity or just going gray? (Click to Site)

 

Torah Commentary – Ekev “Because” – The Longing Within – SCRIPTURES FOR August 12, 2017

Torah Commentary
Ekev “Because”
Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25
Isaiah 49:14-51:3
2Kings 1-3
Matthew 4:1-11 Luke 4:1-13
James 5:7-11

yeshuatheMessiah

The Longing Within
A few weeks ago Kathy and I had the pleasure of hosting Barry Phillips of Remnant of Yisrael . Barry is a cherished friend of many years now. In the early 2,000’s, I had the privilege of taking Barry and his wife, Laura, on their first trip home to Israel. Through the years I have had the privilege of bringing hundreds of people to the Land. Surprisingly some have treated the trip as a checkmark on their bucket list while others are forever transformed by Israel. Barry and Laura are part of the latter group.
During his visit with us, Barry taught a message which I think ties into this Torah portion. It was titled ‘Exiles or Captives”. This message is available on his web site. To summarize the message I ask the question, “Are our lives today defined by the word exile or captive?” The answer lies in where your heart’s desire or focus. It might seem strange to define oneself by these two terms, exile and captive, so let me explain.
During a recent conference I shared a message titled “Longing for Home.” After my title was submitted I questioned whether maybe I should have called it “Longing for Home, Israel.” Unfortunately the thought came in late, so I let it go. Interestingly enough I had more than one person come to me to share they had seen my message title but did not come because they didn’t know the subject I would be speaking on. I was asked, “Where is home?” My question to them, “Are you an exile or a captive?” You tell me.

(Click to Site)

“What God Ultimately Requires: Faith” – Ekev – Because – 6 August, 2017

Ekev

Because

Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25
Isaiah 49:14-51:3

“What God Ultimately Requires: Faith”

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by Mark Huey
mark@outreachisrael.net

Ekev falls on the heels of the last exhortation seen in last week’s Torah portion, V’et’chanan(Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11), where Moses commands the people of Israel to faithfully observe the instructions, statutes, and judgments that he has delivered to them from God (Deuteronomy 6:25-7:11). Deuteronomy 7:12 begins with the statement, “Then it shall come about…,” ekev tishme’un, employing the word ekev, which is a conjunction meaning “to the end,” or “result, reward” (CHALOT). Sometimes it can be rendered as “if” (NJPS) or “because” (ESV). Its usage indicates the results of obedience to the list of instructions given.

The opening verses of our parashah this week describe many of the blessings that are to come from listening to and performing the commandments of God:

“Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the LORD your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there will be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle. The LORD will remove from you all sickness; and He will not put on you any of the harmful diseases of Egypt which you have known, but He will lay them on all who hate you. You shall consume all the peoples whom the LORD your God will deliver to you; your eye shall not pity them, nor shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you. If you should say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?’ you shall not be afraid of them; you shall well remember what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt: the great trials which your eyes saw and the signs and the wonders and the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the LORD your God brought you out. So shall the LORD your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. Moreover, the LORD your God will send the hornet against them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you perish. You shall not dread them, for the LORD your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God. The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little; you will not be able to put an end to them quickly, for the wild beasts would grow too numerous for you. But the LORD your God will deliver them before you, and will throw them into great confusion until they are destroyed. He will deliver their kings into your hand so that you will make their name perish from under heaven; no man will be able to stand before you until you have destroyed them” (Deuteronomy 7:12-24).

As you read this opening section from Ekev, you should marvel about what a great and awesome God Ancient Israel truly had, as its Provider, Protector, and Champion against all other gods and principalities. But while rejoicing in all of the wonderful things that the Holy One promises to do for His people, there is one nagging caveat or requirement that should really gain the attention of someone who has read these words. It appears from a straightforward reading of these verses that the God of Israel requires His people to keep His commandments in order for His blessings to be manifested toward them. Does this require obedience to the Torah, so that God’s people might receive His blessings? Let us read it again to see if this is what it says, and consider the implications for our lives today:

If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers”(Deuteronomy 7:12, NIV). (Click to Site)