Turning to God… by John J. Parsons ZLM Scholar

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The theme of the High Holidays is teshuvah (בהּ ָתשו ,(ְּ ֹa word often translated as
“repentance,” though it is more accurately understood as turning back (i.e., shuv)
to God. In spiritual terms, teshuvah may be regarded as a practical turning away
from evil and a turning toward the good, though it is simpler to regard turning
to God as the means by which we turn away from evil. Indeed the Greek word
translated repentance (i.e., meta´noia) means going beyond our habitual thinking,
changing our mind, and learning to see from a radically new perspective.
As we look to God, we begin to see that “everything is new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Teshuvah, or repentance, believes that the kindness of God can give life to
our dead hearts, and therefore it is first of all a matter of faith, trusting God to
perform the miracle for us. However, even though it is a great gift from Heaven,
repentance requires honesty and acknowledgment of the truth. We must confess
our inner poverty, our neediness, and mourn over the loss and harm caused by
our sin (Matt. 5:2–8). Repentance turns away from our attempts to defend or
justify ourselves and instead turns to God to heal our separation from Him
(Rom. 8:3–4). Teshuvah buries our old nature by making it into a new creation.
It is no small feat to believe the message of Yeshua, and indeed, it involves a
passionate inwardness that “scandalizes” the rational mind. Our father Abraham
is extolled as the model of righteous faith, but he was tested to sacrifice the moral
law (e.g., “thou shalt not murder”) when he lifted up the knife to slay his beloved
son Isaac. Faith requires you to change your everyday thinking, to go beyond
natural expectations, to “walk on water.” In the case of Yeshua, we are confronted
with the “Absolute Paradox,” namely, the God-Man, the Infinite-made-Finite,
the Holy-made-Profane, the Sinless-made-Sin, who says to you: “I AM the
resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he
live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe
this?” (John 11:25–26). You will never die; you will never hunger; you are made
whole through My brokenness; you will be cleansed by My defilement, and so on.
It’s not just hard to believe, it’s impossible, which is why it is a miracle of God to be saved (Matt. 19:26). “It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is no help at all” (John 6:63). The difference is Yeshua: Salvation is of the Lord. We are enabled to love and know God by means of His inner life and spirit, not by means of good intentions or religious zeal. Faith itself is a miracle, the power of God. (Click to Site)

Torah Commentary – Balak – Dwelling Alone – SCRIPTURES FOR July 8, 2017

Torah Commentary

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Balak
Numbers 22:2-25:9
Micah 5:6-6:8
John 13-14
Dwelling Alone
Word of the defeat of Sichon, king of Emori must have traveled to Balak quickly, even without TV and the Internet. Balak most likely saw himself next in line for defeat. Immediate action and strategic planning were needed to defeat Israel and avoid catastrophe. Their reputation for having great strength preceded them. We can read in Joshua that the exploits of Israel leaving Egypt were still being talked about. Balak needed to get the upper hand of this situation so he sought a weapon far greater than human strength. As an interesting side note, I wonder what the outcome of this Torah portion would have been if instead of trying to defeat Israel, Balak had sought to bless Israel. We will never know.
Balak’s strategy was to utilize Balaam, a priest known for his power to curse people. The curses he had spoken over armies powerfully defeated them. Balaam’s destructive words were successful numerous times. Could they bring Balak victory?
We all know well the account of Balaam and his apparent struggle to do good.  How many of us who grew up in Sunday school will ever forget the day they heard the story of the talking donkey? We were instructed in school on the sin of cursing Yah’s people. The important lesson of being sensitive to hear Yah’s guidance, before He had to use our favorite pet to give us the message was also etched in our hearts.
There is more to the story of Balaam’s greediness for us to glean. In Numbers 23:9 Balaam says, “yes, a people that will dwell alone and not think itself one of the nations.” This verse is very rich in its meaning to us today.
A number of years ago, then prime minister of Israel, Yitzchak Rabin made an infamous speech in Jerusalem. In that speech he stated that the people of Israel were only interested in being like all other nations. How do we interpret this statement? He was saying that although the State of Israel was founded by a miracle of Elohim Himself and they were called by Elohim to live by His commandments, they just wanted to look like, act like and be like all the other nations of the world. They did not want to be different; they did not desire to dwell alone as a nation clearly devoted to the One who had brought them out of the ashes of the Holocaust. Although Yitzchak Rabin was a citizen of the State of Israel, his words in that speech, before his assassination, proved he had not learned what it was to be part of the Nation of Israel, a nation called to be unique from others, even if it meant living alone. (Click to Article)

 

Faith vs. Legalism

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As a Messianic Jew I am not liked by anyone. My Jewish brothers and sisters tell me that because I believe “in Jesus” (almost none of them really understand what that means) I am no longer Jewish; on the other side, because I follow Torah (as best as I can) and maintain a “Jewish” worship and lifestyle, my brothers and sisters in Messiah tell me I am legalistic and not really saved because I am “under the law” and not “under the blood.”

Both are just so very, very wrong.

Shaul (AKA Paul, that nice Jewish tent maker from Tarsus) tells us in Romans, Chapter 4 all about legalism and faith. He begins at the beginning, with Abraham, and identifies how the Tanakh confirms that Abraham was considered righteous because he believed what God told him would happen. That faithfulness, demonstrated by Abraham believing in what hadn’t yet happened, was why God credited him with righteousness. There was no task he accomplished, or behavior he performed, other than believing.

But that wasn’t all: Abraham did more than just believe. He did all the things that God told him to do, without hesitation or complaint. He left his father’s house, he left his neighbors, his home…everything he knew and was comfortable with, and took everyone and everything he owned to…he had no idea where.

When God told him to cut up animals and lay them out, he did that and remained out in the heat of the day, shooing away the birds.

When God said to circumcise himself and everyone else, he did it that day.

When God said to take Isaac and sacrifice him, he left early the very next morning.

Whatever God said to do, he did.

So, even though Abraham’s righteousness came from trusting faithfulness in what God said, he also spent his life doing what God told him to do.  We call that obedience.

Going back to Romans 4, Shaul points out that circumcision had nothing to do with Abraham’s righteousness because the righteousness was credited before he was circumcised; because of that, Gentiles who are not circumcised can be saved without undergoing the procedure, but if one chooses to do so, as an act of obedience, it doesn’t mean that person is being legalistic.

The difference between legalism and faith is simply the reason for performing the act: if I do what is in the Torah because I want to obey God, that is not legalism. If I do what is in the Torah to make me righteous, I am being legalistic. Of course, if I can obey Torah perfectly, I will be made righteous by doing so; the problem with that scenario is that no one can obey Torah perfectly. Therefore, there has to be a better way. We call that way “Grace”, God’s forgiveness for our sins, which is possible through believing in Yeshua, whose sacrifice replaced the need to bring a sacrifice to the temple in Jerusalem to have our sins forgiven.

This is why Yeshua had to die: because the temple wasn’t going to exist, which means the sacrificial system God created for us in the Torah would no longer be available, Yeshua’s sacrifice replaced needing the temple to receive forgiveness of sin. (Click to Article)

Parashat B’har/B’Chukkotai – Lev. 25:1 – 26:2

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This post is written by a member of the Messianic community in Israel or guest contributor. The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Kehila News Israel or myself.

And every tenth of cattle or flock, every [one] that will pass under the staff, the tenth one shall be holy to the L-rd. – Vayikra/Leviticus 27:32

Almost the last command in Vayikra as the book draws to an end, this and its companion two verses earlier, cause some confusion to the commentators. As Gunther Plaut points out, “this tithe of animals is mentioned nowhere else in the Torah.” Whilst we have early examples of Avraham, who gave a tenth of all that he possessed to Melchizedek, the king of Salem and priest of El Elyon, the Most High G-d – “Abram gave him a tenth of everything” (B’resheet 14:20, JPS) – and Ya’akov who expansively promised HaShem that “of all that You give me, I will set aside a tithe for You” (28:22, JPS), Baruch Levine affirms that there is no other place where the Torah requires a tithe of one’s entire herd and flock. In fact, even changing the frame from one’s entire stock to simply the increase during the year, he still asserts, “no other Torah legislation ordains a tithe from the annual increments of the herds and flocks.” This change matches the Jewish tradition as Hirsch, writing in the nineteenth century demonstrates: “one tenth of the increase of one’s flocks and herds has to be designated … only those born to the livestock of one owner in each year, or those purchased by him before the age fitting them for offering (seven days).” The Ralbag too affirms that it was applied only to the increase in the flock, when he explains that each animal “must pass under its own power. This teaches that they would put the animals’ mothers outside so that the lambs and calves would hear their voices and go out to them.” (Click to Article)

Torah Commentary – B’har (On Mount Sinai), B’chukotai – The Heart of the Matter – SCRIPTURES FOR May 20, 2017

Torah Commentary
B’har (On Mount Sinai), B’chukotai
Leviticus 25:1-26:2; 26:3-27:34
Jeremiah 32:6-27; 16:19-17:14
2Corinthians 7-13
 The Heart of the Matter
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For our culture, many of the instructions of Leviticus seem quite foreign to us. There is even a debate whether most of these Scriptures pertain only to the time when we have entered the Land. “Buying and selling of crops, allowing the land to rest on the seventh year and redeeming our poor relative from slavery”, you have to admit, are not things most of us spend our waking thoughts pondering today. When it comes to food storage many people consider storing food for the winter. Wrap your head around storing supplies for three years to take your family through the Jubilee. Due to the difference in culture, we can get lost in the relevance of these verses for our day and read through them way to fast. A quick glance may cause us to miss the heart of the Scriptures.
Torah is about relationship with HaShem, family and the people we are called to interact with on a daily basis. The mysteries and wonders of Torah are awesome, but if we miss the theme of relationship, we miss the heart of the matter. Torah is teaching us through practical day-to-day life instructions how to love our Creator and how to treat one another. This principle is brought out again in Leviticus 25:14-17. Here Scripture speaks of selling property to a neighbor while considering the amount of how many years remaining until the Jubilee and the return of said property.  On the surface we do not see the point of the instruction, because in our society when we sell an item to someone, we do not expect him or her to bring it back in seven years. All transactions are typically final.  What can we learn in this instruction? The heart of the instruction is in verse 17, which tells us not to take advantage of one another in our transactions.
Let us put some flesh on this principal. Back in the days when I sold real estate, I did not like to sell property to or for friends. Sadly, more often than not, it turned out to be a disaster. I found that no matter how hard I tried, the “friend” was much harder to work with than a stranger off the street. They usually wanted special favors and in the end could not believe why I did not turn my entire commission over to them and call the transaction a favor based on friendship. This was an example of taking advantage of a friendship, which is what Leviticus warns us against. (Click to Article)

Torah Commentary – Acharei Mot(After the Death), K’doshim(Holy Ones) – Searching For Life – Day 8, Month 2, 5777; 4 May 2017

Torah Commentary
Acharei Mot(After the Death), K’doshim(Holy Ones)
Leviticus 16:1-18:30; 19:1-20:27
Ezekiel 22:1-19
Romans 3:19-28; 9:30-10:13
1 Corinthians 5:1-13
2 Corinthians 2:1-11
Galatians 3:10-14
Hebrews 7:23-10:25
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Searching For Life
Life is an interesting word. The dictionary defines it as,”The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.” According to this definition life is just going through motions which will allow someone to know if we are an animal, plant or just a rock. Simply put, if it moves, grows and reproduces, it has life, if not, it’s a rock. Another definition for life is, “The period between the birth and death of a living thing.”
As I consider these definitions in light of the words in Leviticus 18:5, which explains we will have life through obedience to Torah, the dictionary definitions appear to pale in comparison of how I feel our Creator desires us to have life. If we throw into the mix the words of Yeshua in John 10:10, “I have come that you may have life, life in its fullest measure,” the definitions really lose value.
What is the difference between the book definitions of life and what most of us desire as the Scriptural definition of life? I believe it comes down to one word, purpose. Consider the word purpose for a moment. Is it possible for us to have life, but never find purpose? We all know the answer is a resounding “yes”!
When we reflect on an example of life without purpose our minds may envision a homeless person on a street corner. He or she wakes up in the morning the same as the rest of us, breathes the same amount of air as we do and in truth goes through many of the same motions to sustain a level of life. Is simply sustaining life all that our Creator intended? Obviously, not! Would you say, when compared to the homeless person on the street corner, we have achieved the Scriptural definition of life in its fullest measure by reading the Torah each week, eating clean and observing the Feasts? I’m not sure I would.
Ask an honest question of yourself. Do you feel you are walking in the Scriptural definition of life? Now I am going to go where only the truly insane go. Comparing your life of Torah today with your life in a church in the past, do you feel you have more life now or just more knowledge? I wish I could get a show of hands here.
If my conversations with people through the years are any indication to the answer of the above question I would say most of us feel we have more knowledge than life. If you are the exception, please do not become offended. Maybe you have found the keys to abundant life and should be the one writing instead of me. For all the rest, please read on.
Leviticus 18 promises we will have life through observing His laws and rulings. Yeshua says we will have abundant life through Him. Is the key to life in joining these two verses together? If so, is there a verse which combines their meaning? Look at Psalm 40:7, “In the scroll of the book it is written about Me.” This verse is our key to the equation. It is all about Him. (Click to Article)

Scientists use mathematical calculations to PROVE the existence of God

SCIENTISTS have ‘confirmed’ the existence of God after proving a mathematician’s theory which suggests that there is a higher power.

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Two computer scientists say they proved that there is a holy supreme force after confirming the equations.

In 1978, mathematician Kurt Gödel died and left behind a long and complex theory based on modal logic.

Dr Gödel’s model uses mathematical equations that are extremely complicated, but the essence is that no greater power than God can be conceived, and if he or she is believed as a concept then he or she can exist in reality.

Or as Dr Gödel put it through his equations: “Ax. 1. {P(φ)∧◻∀x[φ(x)→ψ(x)]} →P(ψ)Ax. 2.P(¬φ)↔¬P(φ)Th. 1.P(φ)→◊∃x[φ(x)]Df. 1.G(x)⟺∀φ[P(φ)→φ(x)]Ax. 3.P(G)Th. 2.◊∃xG(x)Df. 2.φ ess x⟺φ(x)∧∀ψ{ψ(x)→◻∀y[φ(y)→ψ(y)]}Ax. 4.P(φ)→◻P(φ)Th. 3.G(x)→G ess xDf. 3.E(x)⟺∀φ[φ ess x→◻∃yφ(y)]Ax. 5.P(E)Th. 4.◻∃xG(x)”.

You get it, right?

But two computer scientists have used computers to run such complicated which they say confirms that the equation does indeed add up.

The point of the researchers’ argument was that they were not directly trying to prove the existence of God, but rather to showcase the power of computers. (Click to Article)

Torah Commentary -Sh’mot (Names) -The Ultimate Oxymoron – Day 21, Month 10, 5777; 19 January 2017

Torah Commentary
Sh’mot (Names)

Exodus 1:1-6:1
Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23
Matthew 22:23-33; 41-46
Acts 3:12-15
Hebrew 11:23-26

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The Ultimate Oxymoron
 
Before I get to what, in my opinion is the ultimate oxymoron, I have a question. Can anyone find a shadow of Messiah in this Torah portion? (Jeopardy theme song playing in background) The answer is pretty obvious on this one. Answer: Who is Moshe! Let’s dig a little deeper. Moshe was actually prophesied in last week’s portion. To see this we will need to look at gematria, the use of letters having numeric meaning. For those whose blood pressure rises with the mention of something like this, not to worry your computer is doing this very thing right now. 
 
Last week we read the “Blessings” given to the twelve sons of Israel. To Judah, he spoke of a staff and one called Shiloh. Literally it says “Yavo Shiloh” or Shiloh will come. These words, as well as the word Messiah, have a numeric value of 358. If we take out the word Yavo and just look at the word Shiloh, it and the word Moshe have a numeric value of 345. From a gematria standpoint, this links Moshe as a type of deliverer foreshadowing the ultimate deliverance in Shiloh or Messiah Yeshua.
 
Now that we all see Moshe is a shadow of Yeshua through gematria, I have two questions. First question, “Why do the people of Israel need to be delivered?” Second question, “Why are they in bondage?” The tribes of Israel are slaves! In my book Israel as slaves is the ultimate oxymoron. (Click to Article)

Torah Commentary -Vayechi (He Lived) -The Multiple Faces of Yeshua -Day 14, Month 10, 5777; 12 January 2017

Torah Commentary
Vayechi (He Lived)
Genesis 47:28-50:26
1Kings 2:1-12
Hebrews 11:21-22
1Peter 1:3-9; 2:11-17

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The Multiple Faces of Yeshua
 
I was in a meeting recently with a number of people who varied in their level of Torah knowledge and observance. Some of these folks had years of experience and had fully embraced the walk, while others had just begun to get their feet wet. Some were were still considering the dangers of the deep end of the pool. During our meeting I asked how many were interested in joining a new denomination or organization. Not a single hand went up! By the looks on their faces I could see that my question had probably struck a few nerves. I then asked if anyone was interested in being a part of a family. The atmosphere changed. Smiling faces responded favorably.  
 
This week we read the ever important sought after “blessings” spoken by Israel over his sons. Notice Israel’s words do not include Levi’s descendants becoming the Southern Baptist denomination, nor does he tell Asher that his tribe will end up being the Charismatic’s. Israel’s words are calling the sons to be a family, not an organization. The family will have a variety of cultural characteristics that do not require them to dress the same or talk the same. They are not to be clones of each other. Each tribe is a family of individuals building relationships while they work toward a common goal of building a house for the family to dwell together to worship our King. 
 
The reason I drew attention to the word blessing by putting it in quotation marks is a key to understanding my direction in the paragraph. As we read these words of Israel to his sons we find that not all of his words are “blessings” in what we normally consider as the definition of the word. Many of the words are of correction. Consider, before we go on that at the proper time the greatest word of blessing we can receive from a person is a word of correction. This is the reason the hard words of Jacob are still considered blessings.  (Click to Article)

PALM SPROUTED FROM 2000 YEAR OLD SEED NOW BEARS FRUIT IN ISRAEL!

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Psalm 92:12-13 says, “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.They shall still bear fruit in old age”.

There is some remarkable news in Israel about a palm tree that has done exactly that! In the 1960s, archaeologists found an ancient jar containing palm seeds that were 2000 years old. They sat in someone’s draw for decades, until in 2005, they were planted, and lo and behold, they sprouted! Astonishingly, a palm tree was successfully grown from these seeds from Biblical times. What is even more amazing is that this year, the male palm tree (named Methuselah, now ten years old) and has successfully pollinated a female palm tree, which has produced dates! This miraculous palm tree really has borne fruit in old age! [1]

There are countless palm trees in every direction in Israel, and there is wonderful Biblical significance to the tree, which we can remember every time we see them, or taste its fruit. (Click to Article)