Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 13

Deut 14.1-21 gives us Choice #3, “Are we going to eat like them?” These commands are similar to Lev 11 and it is an updated list because they were about to go into the land and they were not to eat any detestable thing (v 13). Verses 4.6 tell us what creatures we can eat, and verses 7-8 tell us what creatures we cannot eat. Verses 9-10 tell us what we can eat of all that is in the water that has fins and scales, and what not to eat. Deut 14.11 says we can eat any clean bird, and verses 12-19 tell us the ones we cannot eat.

Deut 14.21 says we are not to eat anything that dies of itself. However, it can be given to an alien because they won’t be going into the Temple or touch objects with a kedusha in the central sanctuary. The alien may also sell it to a foreigner (one who is in the land for business or trade, etc), but Israel is a people with a kedusha to Yehovah. However, eating these animals can’t be very healthy as a whole. Seafood like shrimp, lobster and mussels cannot be checked for toxins. People have died from eating these things. We see diseases like what the Egyptians had put on them, and those were curses. For more information on eating or avoiding these creatures we refer you to the book, “None of these Diseases” by Sim McMillen, M.D. and David Stern, M.D. We can choose blessings or curses. The choice is, “Will we eat like them and follow what we see or what the Torah says.”

Deut 14.22 through 15.11 gives us Choice #4, “What are we going to do with our money?” Verses 22-29 discusses Tithing. Tithing was agricultural and only applied if you lived in the land. It went to various people and places and it looked like this.

Time was divided in seven year portions called a “Shemitah.” A person tithed their produce two times a year, at Shavuot and Sukkot. The first tithe was called the “Ma’aser Rishon” and the second tithe was called the “Ma’aser Sheni.” During the first year of the Shemitah the first tithe was taken to the Levitical storehouse nearest to where you lived at Shavuot. The second tithe was to the Temple at Sukkot. You could sell your tithe and bring the money to the Temple and spend it on whatever you wanted (sheep, oxen, wine or strong drink) while sharing it with others in a massive banquet (14.26).

During the second year of the shemitah you did the same thing. In the third year of the shemitah, the first and second tithe was taken to the Levitical city storehouse near you and shared with the poor, the orphan and widows, etc. In the fourth and fifth years of the shemitah, what was done in the first and second year was repeated. In the sixth year, both tithes were taken to the Levitical city storehouse near you. In the seventh year there was no tithing at all. For more information on this subject, see our teaching called “Biblical Giving and Tithing” on this website. Tithing does not apply today because there is no Temple, no priesthood or Levites and we do not live in the land anyway. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give. Giving ten percent is biblical giving, not tithing in the biblical sense, so tithing verses like Mal 3.8-11 should not be used to get a person to tithe. We find it hypocritical that churches teach that a person is not “under the law” but they teach a person to tithe, which is part of the law! If a pastor wants a person to tithe like an Israelite, then he needs to start living like a Levite.

Deut 15.1-11 tells us that every seven years brought forgiveness of debts to your neighbor. You cannot refuse a loan to another on this basis either (v 9). This is in the category of biblical giving. There are two parts in giving, the giver and the recipient. The bottom line is, money is not supposed to be the most important thing. The welfare of your brother was more important than money. He may have been “sold” to you to pay off a debt, but he is to be treated with kindness. After six years he is not to be sent away empty handed (v 11-13).

If that person who has been sold to you to pay off a debt decides he does not want to leave the household because he loves his master, the master took and awl and pierced his ear to the doorpost in a symbolic act of “attaching” that person to the household. After that, that person will remain in that house (v 16-18). All of this was seen as charity and biblical giving. What is more important, “doing the right thing” or “loving your brother?” The answer is, “Loving your brother” (1 Cor 13.1-8). There is a saying, “A tzaddik (saint) in pelts.” What does that mean? A pious person who keeps warm by wrapping himself in fur indicates a selfish piety because he only warms himself. But warmth should be obtained by building a fire so that others can benefit from the heat as well.

People were not to withhold their charity because the shemitah year was coming (15.9). This was called having an “Ein Ra” or “evil eye” meaning “stingy.” An “Ein Tov” was a “good eye” meaning “generous” (Prov 23.6; Matt 6.23). God hears the cries of those mistreated. Giving has more to do with the heart than the money. For example, if you intended to give five dollars in an offering but you gave twenty dollars because you had no change, the Lord sees it as giving five dollars. We should not give because we “have to” or hold the poor in contempt. We are to give generously as the Lord has prospered us, and according to our means (1 Cor 16.2).

Deut 16.1-17 gives us Choice #5, “Are we going to worship like them?” We learn that the month of Aviv starts the festival season with Passover. The lamb was sacrificed “in the place where the Lord chooses to establish his name.” We know this would be the central sanctuary in Jerusalem. These verses discuss what is called the “Shelosh Regalim” or the “three foot or walking festivals.” This is because the people made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem by walking three times a year. These were the festival of Hag Ha Matzah (Unleavened Bread), Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Booths). These festivals help give us an understanding of the Lord and his ways.

If you want to understand the Lamb, the Redemption and Deliverance, the crucifixion of Yeshua and the Resurrection then study Passover and Unleavened Bread. If you want to understand what happened at Mount Sinai and the giving of the Torah and how it relates to Acts 2, study Shavuot. If you want to know about the end times and prophecy, the Atid Lavo (Messianic Kingdom), the timing and the events surrounding the birth of Yeshua, then study Sukkot.

Many have no concept of these things, and what they do know is often wrong. They have no idea how the worship of the Lord teaches eschatology and prophecy. They are ignorant and blind because they do not keep the commandments of the Lord. The average Replacement Theology Christian who goes to church, Sunday School, reads the Bible or goes to a Bible study does not understand the concepts taught concerning the crucifixion of the Lord at Passover, his burial on Unleavened Bread, his resurrection on First Fruits or the empowerment of the eschatological congregation on Shavuot. They do not understand that these spring festivals teach the first coming of the Messiah Then we have the fall festivals. They do not understand that the Natzal (Rapture), coronation and wedding of the Messiah and judgment are taught concerning the festival of Yom Teruah (Rosh Ha Shannah). They do not understand that the actual second coming of Yeshua to Jerusalem is on Yom Kippur, and they do not understand the concepts about Messianic Kingdom at Sukkot.

As a result, because the average Replacement Theology Christian does not understand the festivals or Temple worship, and they will not understand prophecy (1 Thes 4.13 through 5.7). Why don’t they obey God (Torah)? Because they find no value in it. If we do things the way the Lord has said, interesting things happen. Then our faith is based on the Lord. It will not be based on what others do, money, food or observance of man-made doctrines.

That’s what being observant is, you choose the ways of the master’s house. So, the choices Israel had to make are the same choices we need to make. Are we going to serve their gods or Yehovah? Are we going to be like them? Are we going to listen to false prophets and teachers or are we going to listen to the Lord no matter what, even if the whole world doesn’t, including our family?

Are we going to eat like the world? When it comes to food, if it’s not important to us to eat permitted creatures and avoiding forbidden ones, then it won’t stop there. The rest of behavior will follow into other forbidden things. What are we going to do with our money? Do we care more for our money or our brother? The best way to learn how to give is to start learning what we have received from others and understanding what God has given us. Then we have understanding to give to others with the same needs we had. We should give all we have to others in our service as well. What is at the root of depression? It is being self-centered. Give of yourself to others and that problem will go away. Finally, are we going to worship like others who don’t follow the Lord, or as the Lord has said?

Let’s go back for a moment for an important concept. In Deut 13.3-4 we have a “menorah” of seven things that we should be doing. The central shaft is “love” (v 3). Then we should “follow, fear, keep/obey, listen, serve and cling” to the Lord. In Isa 11.2 we have the “Seven Spirits of God” which are very similar, another menorah. There are several ways to look at this, but let’s compare the Duet 13 list with the Isa 11 list. We see the central shaft of love associated with the Spirit and follow is associated with wisdom. Fear is associated with understanding and keep is associated with counsel. Listening is associated with strength and serving is associated with knowledge, and clinging to the fear of the Lord. These are the same choices we need to make in our lives as we go in to “possess the land.” These choices also apply to a congregation.

In Part 14 we will begin with the next Torah portion called “Shoftim” meaning “Judges.”

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 12

We are seeing that Israel had a choice. They could come where God put his name or use other places and altars, wherever they chose. Deut 12 deals with how to worship Yehovah. You were to come where he put his name, and God chose Jerusalem and the Temple, and he still does today. Unbelievers always fail to recognize Jerusalem, but Messiah comes to Jerusalem, he worshiped in Jerusalem’s Temple and the capital is Jerusalem. The place to worship and keep the festivals is not Salt Lake City; Rome; Wheaton, Il; Springfield, Mo; Washington; Moscow; London or some lake in Oklahoma. In the Atid Lava (Messianic Kingdom) we will all go to one place, Jerusalem and the Temple there (Zech 14.16-21; Isa 2.2-4; Mic 4.1-5).

In Deut 12.26 we learn that the holy things and votive offerings shall be brought to the place the Lord chooses. Regular slaughter of meat for food can be done anywhere now that they are in the land. Deut 12.29-31 tells us that Yehovah is warning Israel not to follow the gods of the destroyed nations once they take the land. They were not to ask, “How do these nations serve their gods that I also may do this likewise.” They were not to act that way toward God. They were to be careful to do what he has told them and not to add to or take away from it. This is not what Judaism and Christianity ended up doing. Judaism and Christianity have not followed Moses for 2000 years.

Now, what does all idolatry have in common? The rejection of God’s influence. If we lose sight of what God has said and put too much emphasis on our own words, we are going in the wrong direction. If we lose sight of what God has said and put too much emphasis on what others have said, we are going in the wrong direction. Here is an application.

Let’s say you have a child with a special skill and there are special schools. Is this a good idea? It depends on the skill. If it is music, they can get a lifetime of enjoyment out of that. But what if all the training is to perfect the body for a few days of competition. All the training does not develop the true potential of that child, but to show their superiority over others (John 6.63; 1 Tim 4.8). What if all that work causes injury and beyond in order to win? It’s not the child’s fault, it’s the system or the coaches, parents or others. There was an Olympic gymnastic performer a few years ago who vaulted on a severely injured leg. The vault gave the United States a gold medal, further damaging her leg. What she did was selfless, but there is something wrong with a system that called upon her to do that. The world said, “Be tough, don’t give up, give it your all.” But are those the voices she should have listened to? What would she be “worth” if she failed? What kind of system drives a person to use performance enhancing drugs in order to play football or baseball?

Deut 12.32 is a verse we should remember. It says, Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it. This very similar to what the Lord said earlier in Deut 4.2. This is a major mistake in Judaism. They read Deut 12.32 with their implied addition, “except for those cases where the rabbis must make a special ruling.” Why didn’t the nation of Israel as a whole recognize Yeshua when he came in the First Century? It is because they added to or deleted from Moses. Yeshua quotes Isa 29.13 on this error in Mark 7.6-9.

Replacement Theology Christianity has done the same thing. They are “free from the law” (meaning they “deleted Moses”) and added on with their own church traditions. That is why the Torah is so new to people. They have never been taught Moses. Oh, they have been taught nice little bible stories growing up like David and Goliath, Noah and the Ark and Daniel in the lion’s den, but they have never been taught the Torah. They don’t know that the Lord had something to say on all subjects. We must learn the commandments. So, Choice #1 is, “Are we going to serve other gods or worship the Lord in a Torah-based faith?”

That brings us to Choice #2, “Who are we going to listen to?” This chapter deals with false prophets (v 1-5). What if a great teacher or prophet comes along and impresses us with “signs and wonders?” So, the question is, “What is the purpose of a sign or wonder (miracle?” What if this prophet decides we should do things contrary to the Torah commands that Yehovah gave, should we follow that prophet because there were signs? In fact, the Lord is saying that he can cause a false prophet to have signs and wonders (v 1-3). The purpose of the sign or wonder is to test or examine us, to draw our attention to what that person is teaching. A true prophet will never lead the people to rebel against the Lord and the Torah (Tanak, Gospels, Epistles). We are to check out what that person is teaching or saying by the Torah and the Prophets. If it is not according to the Torah and Prophets, then they are not from God (Isa 8.20; Matt 7.15-20; Acts 17.10-11).

This concept will be true for family and friends as well (Deut 13.6-11). What if that teacher is your brother, mother, wife, son, daughter or friend? Now the choice gets a little tougher. These are “false relatives” and we have five admonitions to deal with this in Deut 13.8. We are not to yield to them, listen to them, pity them nor spare or conceal them by saying nothing. False teachers, no matter who they were, were to be killed by stoning (v 10). Now, we can’t do that today. This was to be done when Israel lived in the land and there were Torah-based courts, but, we can cut them off in other ways. These five admonitions apply to the family (v 8), but there is only one that applies to a false prophet (“do not listen”-v 3). But why?

God through the Torah understands the connection one has for family. Only a few words are used for a false prophet who comes with miracles. But with family, there is more said on how to deal with them because we tend to excuse and cover for them. We don’t have the heart to refute them.

We have talked about false prophets (v 1-5), false relatives (6-11), but now we are going to talk about false countrymen. Deut 13.12-87 is called “The Law of the Wayward City.” What if we lived in the land and a whole town doesn’t follow the Torah? What if the people decided to go after other gods? Idolatry was not to be tolerated by false countrymen. Idolatry involved perverted sexual practices, the sacrifice of children and idols. What if the whole town doesn’t keep the Sabbath or celebrates pagan rituals? What do we do? What choice do we make now around all these false countrymen? Of course we don’t live in the land of Israel so we can’t “strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword and utterly destroy it and all that is in it and its cattle with the edge of the sword.” However, we can choose to not participate in or associate ourselves with these practices.

In Part 13 we will pick up with Choice #3, “Are we going to eat like them?”

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 11

The next Torah portion is called “R’eh” and it means “to see.” It goes from Deut 11.26 to 16.17. We learned in Deu 6.4 that “Shema” means “to hear.” This teaches us that there is a difference between the way we learn with our ears (Shema) and the way we learn with our eyes (R’eh). R’eh is related to the word “Ro’eh” meaning “shepherd” because a shepherd “sees” the flock.

Deut 11.26 says, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse.” The usage of “today” tells us we should make decisions today when it comes to the spiritual things. We have a concept in this Torah portion called “The teaching of the two ways” or in other words, “Choices.” Blessings and curses will be outlined later in this book.

In Deut 11.27 the word “blessing” in Hebrew is preceded by the Aleph and the Tav, the first and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It means “Head of the covenant” and this word is symbolic of the Messiah and is found 2,622 times in the Torah alone. The word “curse” does not have it, but it begins with a Vav and a Hey in verse 28, which are the last two letters in God’s name. The concept of “Choices” goes back to the Garden of Eden (Gen 2.9, 16-17). The possibility of evil is essential in creation (Isa 45.5-7).

In Deut 11.29 Yehovah tells them that when they enter the land, the blessings will be placed on Mount Gerizim and the cirses on Mount Ebal. These mountains are on either side of Shechem, which means “shoulder.” These mountains are like “choices” on our shoulder. The blessings are on one side and the curses are on the other side of Shechem. This teaches that there is a big gulf existing between where life is a blessing and the one where life is a curse. These two cannot stand in the same place. In the spiritual realm “movement” means carrying out the will of God or not. This is why we are going to talk about choices away from the Lord or towards the Lord (Jer 7.24).

The choice is on our shoulders. We will be tugged at all the time. Ever see the cartoons where a character has to make a decision and there is an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other shoulder? That is the picture here. In Deut 11.30 the question is asked about the two mountains, “Are they not across the Jordan, west of the way toward the sunset, in the land of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah, opposite Gilgal, beside the oaks of Moreh?” The word “Moreh” means “teacher” and he was encouraging them. They were close to taking possession of the land but they were going to have to make choices.

Deut 12.1-32 presents choice number one,, they will need to decide if they were going to serve the Lord or other gods. Will they choose to serve the gods of these nations, or Yehovah? They were to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars. They were to burn their Asherim and cut down their graven images. Israel was not to do whatever they wanted to, and neither can we. We cannot do “whatever is right in our own eyes (v 8).”

They also could not “choose” just anywhere to bring their offerings anymore (v 13) because there is a specific place now. The Torah is speaking here of the place of sacrifice (the Altar) and a central sanctuary will be built in Jerusalem called the Beit ha Mikdash (House of Kedusha) and the Lord will place his name there. At the time, they had the Mishkan. But, how would they know the place God had chosen? This is how they did it. We want to quote from the book, “The Aryeh Kaplan Anthology II” By Aryeh Kaplan, p. 63, “The Torah itself prescribes this as the method through which Jerusalem should be chosen. In one place it states that the chosen place will be “from all of your tribes” (Deut 12.5). Elsewhere, however, the Torah states that it will be in “one of your tribes” (Deut 12.13). The Torah is speaking of the place of sacrifice (the Altar) and initially, when the land was first divided, it would be in the portion of just one of the tribes, Benjamin. Then, however, it would be exchanged for the fields of Jericho, so that ultimately it would belong to all the tribes. Thus, when Jerusalem was eventually chosen and consecrated, it became the common property of all the tribes of Israel. As one place common to all, it had a strong effect in uniting the tribes.” When Solomon gave his Temple dedication prayer, he said that “this” is the place God has chosen to place his name (1 Kings 8.22-53). Every world kingdom that has come against Jerusalem has lost eventually.

Are we going to follow the Lord by what we “hear” (shema) and “see” (r’eh)? We are not to walk by sight but by “emunah” or “faith” (confidence/action). However, we are to “see” (be aware of). Emunah has three elements to it. These elements are “Ahav” (love/attitude of the Lord), “Mitzvot” (commandments of the Lord) and “Da’at” (knowledge of the Lord). If any of these elements are missing, we do not have faith. What does this mean? It means we have to sit down and “look” at any situation in light of the commandments, the knowledge of God and our love attitude. Even if we don’t “see it” we will believe God and what he said anyway and will obey him. Every person must learn this and to believe what the Lord said. Do not go by the definitions given by most teachers today if they are not Torah-based. The “Faith Movement” today does not have the proper understanding of faith to begin with.

The tzitzit on the corners of a garment are there so we can “see” (be aware of) and remember the commandments and obey the Lord. We are not to follow our own eyes and go after idols (Num 15.39). Do you know how to solve most theological arguments? Just open the Scriptures and let everyone hear what the Lord has to say about the subject. Let people hear what he says, not hear our words about it like, “We don’t do that at our church/congregation” or ‘I just don’t believe that!” Let people make the choice after hearing what the Lord said. We are beginning to see that Israel had a choice. Would they come to where God put his name, or they could use other places or altars wherever they chose?

In Part 12 we will continue with choice number one, “Are we going to serve other gods or worship the Lord?”

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 10

Deut 10.17 hits at the heart of paganism, which we discussed in Concepts in Exodus. If it didn’t rain it wasn’t because “Mowt” the sea god was defeating “Baal.” It was because God was angry with Israel (1 Kings 8.35-36). He could not be bribed like the false gods could. He was not aloof from mankind like the false goods, he was involved with the redemption of mankind. This was the concept Yehovah was trying get Pharaoh to see in the Exodus. Pharaoh thought he was a god and he was not going to admit that he had no power, and neither did the other gods. He was not going to submit to an unknown God named Yehovah. So, Pharaoh resisted and he died. What the Lord did was to show that Monotheism was superior to Polytheism, and there was only one God. This is what this verse is saying. Yehovah is the God of gods (Deut 10.17).

Deut 11.1-32 gives us the rewards for obedience. We know we have physical needs, but we have spiritual needs also. It was estimated that a large portion of those involved in the cult movements in the 70’s and 80’s were Jewish. Israel without the Torah is like a fish out of water. The Torah gives meaning to life (Deut 30.6) and we will either fill that space with real substance or with “substitutes.” If we needed food to elevate our mood, we may be failing to fulfill our spiritual needs. In other words, if food (or anything) is our stimulant it is because life isn’t very stimulating. We need to do more “thinking” about what we are truly looking for. Now, let’s talk about the land they are going into.

Yehovah said in Deut 8.6-9 that the land was good and was watered with brooks, fountains and streams. But in Deut 11.10-11 he says Egypt was watered “with your foot” meaning with irrigation canals. Which land was better? Watered with “the foot” is done with ditches opened up by kicking away dirt. To stop the water you kicked the dirt back to make a dam. Israel lacked a mighty river like the Nile. The fields depended on rain and that was always more risky. Egypt and the Nile made life more secure. However, God takes direct control over the rain. To survive in Israel you must depend on God, not the pagan deities like Mowt and Baal (1 Kings 18.1-46). In short, the land of Israel was going into was not better than the land of Egypt, but it is different because it increases your level of “Yirat Yehovah” or the “fear of Yehovah.”

Deut 11.17 tells us that rain is a barometer of Israel’s faithfulness, and a vehicle of judgment. So, which is better? That depends on what we are really looking for. If we are looking for a land to be closer to God, then Israel is the place. If we want a life without such dependence, than Egypt is the place. The people who came into the land were commanded by Moses to bless the Lord after they ate their meals in Deut 8.10. This one of the few blessings specified in the Torah. In abundance we tend to be lulled to sleep, celebrating our own talents and powers. Our gifts from God contribute, but they are empty if we believe we are a “self-made man.” There is a nothing more basic than food and it is easy to forget the source. A brief word of thanks after our meals is simple and rich. This comes from the thankfulness for the land God was giving them.

These words in Deuteronomy are telling us through Moses that God judges us on Emunah (faith/action/confidence) and our basic desire to follow the Torah, not on our ability to keep every point of it. It never came down to that, and faith and spirit (desire) are inseparable. These verses contain all that is necessary for fulfilling the will of God, especially Deut 10.12-13.

A parent will tell their children not to run around barefoot. This is to prevent injury by stepping on something harmful. The reason the children obey depends on age and maturity. A young child has no idea that going around barefoot is risky. He only fears the consequences if he doesn’t. But an older child already understands that various things appear safe and harmless, but in reality can hurt him in the end. He also knows his father knows the dangers better than he does and he obeys in appreciation of his father, not to avoid punishment. At that point, there is no difference between the fear of the father and that of the child.

Man was created in the image of God and he had a kedusha on him. Kedusha means to designate or set something apart for the service of God by formal, legal restrictions and limitations. The kedusha of periods of time (like the Sabbath) are marked by limitations on man’s activities of work and construction. Man was to do certain things and had limitations placed on him by the Lord, that is kedusha. But man lost that kedusha due to sin. The world does not understand this concept. Israel’s commission was to bring kedusha to the world by living out the commandments, which also has a kedusha. The land they were going into had a kedusha on it. The world was to look at Israel and see what kedusha means (Deut 4.1-8). God gave the Torah to protect us from our involvement with the world, a world that did not understand God, the commandments or kedusha. The world is involved in things that will hurt us.

Deut 11.13-25 talks about consequences as the people stood on the banks of the Jordan, ready to meet their destiny. They were to love, walk and hold fast to the Lord. By doing this, they will get the benefits. They will have rain, victory over their enemies and material blessings. But they were to also realize that they were not the cause of all this. Every place on which the sole of their foot would tread would be theirs, from the wilderness in the south to Lebanon, from the river Euphrates in the east to the Mediterranean Sea. No man would be able to stand before them because Yehovah will lay the dread and fear of Israel on all the land on which they would set their foot.

In Part 11 we will pick up with the next Torah portion called “Re’eh.”

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 9

Deut 8.8 gives us a list of some of the produce found in the land, called the “Sheva Minim” (“seven species”-2 Chr 31.4-7). These were brought to the Temple on the festival of Shavuot (Mishnah, Bikkurim 3.1-2). Deut 8.11 says that as Israel went through life, they were “not” to forget the Lord by “no”t keeping the commandments, the ordinances and the statutes, which he is giving them “today.” Notice he says if you don’t keep the Torah you have “forgotten” or never knew the Lord. There is a term for this and it is called “lawless” and it means “against the Torah.” In Greek it is “anomos” and this concept can be found all through the Gospels and Epistles (Matt 7.21-23; 2 Thes 2.3-8).

Deut 8.12-16 tells us that just as Israel went through trials, but “in the end” they saw the Lord’s hand in it (v 16). We will see the Lord’s hand in our lives as we look back, too. We can be “Monday morning quarterbacks” and this should encourage us that “in the end” it will be well with us. The reason he does this with Israel and with us is “to confirm his covenant which he swore to your fathers as it is this day.”

That’s why he leads us the way he does, away from the replacement theology most of us are familiar with. This was so we could learn his commandments and to confirm the covenants he made with our fathers. He is still working the plan out with their descendants, and that includes us. Deut 8.19-20 is a warning. Every generation must hear the voice that spoke from that mountain (Sinai) for themselves, and recognize that voice. That will mean our children can recognize it, and so on.

When someone says, “Don’t keep the commandments” they are really saying “Don’t listen to the Lord.” Is that the speech that a servant of God would make? No, he is spitting on the shadow. When asked “Should we obey the Lord” they will say “Yes” but then stand up when talking about the the Torah, or the Sabbath, and say “No.” That is a definition of a hypocrite. That “voice” in your heart should match the words of the Lord. If they don’t, then they are not God’s words.

Deut 9.1-29 is instruction for the spiritual person, or “How not to be a religious person.” Verses 1-6 starts right out by saying that Israel was not to think in their heart that Yehovah was giving them the land because they were so righteous. In addition, he is not doing it because of the wickedness of the nations, either. It was part of a bigger plan and not the number one purpose. The Lord confirms his oath with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in verses 5-6. After all, he says, “You are a stubborn people” and not the righteous people they think they are. Israel pulls in the opposite direction direction God is going.

In Deut 9.7-21 Moses recounts what led up to the Golden Calf incident. Then in verse 22 he recounts how Israel complained about the manna, and at Massah and Meribah in Exo 17.7 (quarreling), how they tested the Lord by saying, “Is God with us today?” In Num 11.10-35 we have the quail incident at Kibrot-Hattaavah referred to here in v 22. They got the blessing and still complained. In Num 13, at Kadesh Barnea (Wadi Rum), they refused to go into the land. Moses is reminding them of all this, and how close they came to the Lord destroying them all (v 14).

Before we are too hard on Israel, we need to understand that we are just like them. We complain, we question and wonder “Is the Lord with me” even after he has done many great things for us. We don’t get our “wants” and that is one of the things wrong with the prosperity movement. It teaches “lust” for material things, the very things that Israel is criticized for.

After all that happened, Moses prayed for the people not to be destroyed (v 25-29). He calls them “they people, even thine inheritance, whom thou hast redeemed.” Moses is saying “You chose us, I wish we chose you, but we didn’t.” He wants the Lord to remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and not to look at the stubbornness of the people. Moses points out that the Canaanites will say Yehovah was not able to bring them into the land he promised because he hated them, and brought them into the wilderness to kill them. The Canaanites would then think that their gods are more powerful than Yehovah.

God’s purpose, therefore, in the world is not us (the body of Messiah). All of this is “for us” but it is for his names’ sake. We can partake and receive an inheritance, forgiveness, the blessings and all that but it’s not because of our righteousness that any of this happens. What we need to do is grasp how great Yehovah is and how his plan includes a true believer. The question then becomes, “How did I get here?” All the credit and glory goes to the Lord. So, let’s go back to Deut 9.26 for a moment.

God chose us, we didn’t choose him. We are the children of the fathers he made these promises to, “the inheritance.” He paid for us and put the value on us. We are the work of his hands. We don’t want the Lord to look at us, we are sinners. We want him to remember his promises to our fathers (v 27). We want the Lord to remember the land. Does he want the Canaanites on it or a people who will worship him?

In Deut 10.1 we learn that the Lord has “relented” from Deut 9.14 and the Ten Commandments are put inot the Ark. In Deut 10.12-13 tells us that God requires us to fear the Lord and walk in his ways. we are to love him and serve him. We are to keep the commandments and his statutes. Why? Because it is “for your good” (v 13). We get the benefit, we are not the cause. He made us, he chose us and he redeemed us. Everything is his work and we benefit from it.

Deut 10.15-16 is the essence of the teaching of Moses here. He tells them to “Circumcise then your heart, and stiffen your neck no more.” In this case, the people were to do it. Later, as part of the Covenant at Moab (Seed of the father) or what is known as the New Covenant, God will do it (Deut 30.6). We will deal with that in detail when we get to Deut 29.10 to 30.20.

We can’t obey if our heart isn’t right. We must believe on the inside and circumcise our hearts and not stiffen our necks anymore. For example, there is not one verse in the Tanak that says we must go to a building to keep the Sabbath. The Sabbath was observed at home, away from the public. It was not a day of assembly. Then, those who had this commandment belief in their heart began to assemble with others who had the same belief, but it started in the heart. God was real and they found others like themselves, and people assembled. But people can get this backward.

We think we go to a congregation or a church to “get the faith.” But we should have it already. Some organizations have turned their synagogues and churches into salvation centers when they were to be teaching centers. The Lord will find out where we are at. Are we ready to back up our faith by deeds when we say we “love the Lord (Jam 2.14-26). The commandments were given for us to show the Lord we love him (John 14.15). Many are just talkers (Amorites). Do we love the brethren or do we attack, or resent them? Do we quit and leave the work for others to do when things don’t go our way? Do we call him “Lord” because we do what he says, or are we satisfied in being a “religious” person?

We are not satisfied in being religious, or interested in “religious” things. We cannot be satisfied with that, and none of us should be satisfied with that. Don’t be satisfied until we can hear his voice. We don’t want to know about the Lord, we want to know the Lord (Jer 9.23; 1 John 2. 3-4). That is the essence of what Moses is teaching in Deut 10.15-16.

We will pick here in Part 10.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 8

The next Torah portion is called “Ekev” and it means “Because (on the heels of”) and it goes from Deut 7.12 to 11.25. The word Ekev is related to the name “Ya’akov” (Jacob) and you can see the relationship with “because” and “on the heels of.” Often we trample beneath our “heels” the commandments, especially the “least” of them (Matt 5.19). But soon this leads to the “big ones.”

In Deut 7.12 we have the words “listen, keep and do.” Keeping the commandments involves all three. So, before we move on, let’s go over the definition of “keep.” To “keep and observe” the commandments means “to incorporate the things of God into our lives and to stay true to the blueprint (tavnit/picture) God has given for a specific thing to be done at a specific time, at a specific place by specific people.” Please keep that in mind as we use these words “keep” and “observe.”

God has made covenants with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and we can benefit from them if we believe. It is not possible to divorce ourselves from all the things that has happened before. If we believe that our spiritual life is based on “my relationship with God” and not based on these things that have happened before, we are making a big mistake. We have a spiritual inheritance which is the result of the covenants he has made before. However, if we had been the only person in the world that needed to be saved, he would have sent Yeshua anyway because he said he would, for his name’s sake.

In Deut 7.13-26 we learn that the Lord will bless Israel as they “listen, observe and keep” the commandments. He will love and bless them, multiply them and their herds and ground. He will remove sickness from them and not put any of the diseases of Egypt on them. Egypt was known for their diseases (Deut 28.27, 60). They were to consume all the nations around them and not pity them. They were not to fear them and to remember what God did to the larger and greater army of Egypt.

Now, the key to their victories is stated in Deut 7.22 where he says he will clear away these nations “little by little.” He will clear the land like a hornet. It will come in waves. These “hornets” will be raiders and desert bands (it could also be literal). There are three basic reasons why the Lord is going to clear these nations “little by little” and not at the same time. First, his purpose is to give the people time to know the him and repent. Second, he is greater than their gods. Third, he is delivering the people from wild animals if larger areas of land were desolated all at once. This is what he does in our lives. Victories, knowledge and insight doesn’t come all at once. He teaches us “little by little.”

Deut 7.23-26 has some applicable instruction for us. They were not to be ensnared by other gods. They were to burn them with fire, and they were not to covet the silver and gold that these gods were adorned with. They were to derive no benefit from them. They were not to bring an “abomination” (idol) into their houses and become a “banned” thing like the idol was. They were to detest and abhor these abominations because they were idolatrous images.

Deut 8.1-20 tells us that Moses now looks back in history as a motive to obey God. Verses 1-4 are life verses. As he goes on, the Lord will show us how they apply. They will be very important. At times he tested Israel, to humble them. He let them go hungry and fed them, teaching them that “man does not live by bread alone but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” These are the words of Yeshua in Matt 4.4. Deut 8.1 says we are to keep “all” the commandments, which is hard to do when we are with others who don’t believe.

Let’s talk about the concept of the “shadow” in relation to the commandments and what does it mean. In Col 2.17 it says, “Things which are a shadow of what is to come.” This is talking about the Torah (v 16). If we are out in the sun we will cast a shadow, and it is a likeness (shadow picture) of us, but it is not the substance (us). If we drove a car over that shadow it won’t hurt us. However, if someone walks up to our shadow and spits on it, that person will get our attention because contempt is involved. The Lord has an opinion about those who show contempt for his “shadow pictures” in the Torah. You want to say the Sabbath is nothing, explain that to the Lord of the Sabbath. If you want to say the Torah, the festivals, the new moons are of no value, explain that to the Lord who is the subject of what these are teaching about. You want to call animals that God called unclean clean so you can eat them, explain that to the Lord who said we should not eat them.

We would advise anyone not to speak against the “shadow” of anything the Lord said was a picture of him and what he is trying to teach us in the Torah. We are not to have any likeness or representation of him or we will suffer the consequences. How does this apply? But, there is a likeness of God in the world that we should honor, and that is every brother or sister in the Lord. They are in his likeness and they belong to him. We do this as if we are honoring and speaking to their father.

The “shadow” is never in conflict with the “substance.” When we dishonor and show show contempt for the Torah, we dishonor and show contempt for the Lord. Yeshua also said in Matt 25.40, “The king will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine (the shadow), you did to me (the substance).'” Every commandment has truth or wisdom in it. If we ignore them, we are diminished and something isn’t right. What Moses will be saying all through this book is “keep the commandments” and “live” and “it your life” (Deut 30.6, 32.47). Our physical life is a drop in the sea compared to eternal life. We are to understand, there are blessings for being obedient, but he is a God of judgment also. We will look into this aspect in Deut 28.15-68.

We will pick up here in Part 9.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 7

Yeshua said the Shema was the greatest commandment (Mark 12.28-34), and to “Shema” means we must “hear” God’s voice. In Deut 6.5 it says, “And you shall love Yehovah your God.” Why doesn’t it say “we?” Maybe it is because of “crowdedness.” When are we really ever alone? We are surrounded by radios, phones and televisions. Are we afraid of being alone? How can we “hear” God’s voice with all the trappings of modern life and communication. Being alone (you) and not with others (we) is necessary for spiritual growth.

Hearing means obeying that voice. How many times have we told our children to do something and when they don’t do it, we say, “Did you hear me?” Hearing is linked to obedience. Yeshua even had a parable in Matt 21.28-32 about two sons who heard their father’s instruction to work in the field. One said no, but later did it and the other said “yes” but never went. Yeshua asks, “Which of the two did the father’s will?”

Individually we need to be able to distinguish God’s voice from all others. That is why we need basic instruction from the voice on the mountain (Torah). If one is not willing to hear, one won’t know the Lord and it also says that Yehovah is “our God” and not someone else’s. This passage is important on two fronts.

The first is “Elohim” which is translated as God. The second is Yehovah, which is translated as “the Lord.” Elohim is a title, Yehovah is the very name of God. Elohim is used when judgment is in the understanding of the Hebraic mindset. Yehovah is used when mercy is in the mind of the Hebraic mindset. Elohim stands for the way things are (gravity, law, punishment, etc). Yehovah stands for what might be. Elohim reflects reality and Yehovah is a hope for a better world (compassion). Here is an application.

There are millions without health care. Elohim might say, “If people work they deserve health care, if not, it’s their fault.” Yehovah might say, “We need to take care of the poor and needy, even though it is a draw on society.” On illegal immigration, Elohim might say, “If people are here illegally, they have no right to our services.” Yehovah might remind us to “take care of the poor, widow, stranger and orphan.” On drug abuse, Elohim might say, “If you use you might have addictions and health problems.” Yehovah might say, “It is our duty to protect people from being led astray.”

Both views of Elohim and Yehovah are correct. We need to be reminded of the Law of Consequences, but we also need to be reminded of the Law of Compassion, which brings us to this concept, “Yehovah is our Elohim, Yehovah is one.” The word “one” here is “echad” and it is a plural unity. It carries the same idea as in Gen 2.24, “and they shall become one flesh.” The Hebrew word for individual “one” is “yachid.”

The word “shema” in Hebrew has three letters in it, the shin, mem and ayin. The ayin in a Torah scroll is enlarged. The word “echad” has an enlarged dalet in a Torah scroll. The enlarged ayin and dalet make up the word “ed” in Hebrew and it means “witness.” This word is related to the word “adat” meaning a “congregation.” A congregation is a witness in a city. It is also related to the word “edut” meaning “testimony.”

In the Shema, God is telling us how to love him. The word “heart” is “levav” and it carries the meaning of the inner man, the intellect, the mind, character and will. The word “soul” is “nephesh” and it is the “self”, the person, the senses. The word “might” is “ma’od” and it means “exceeding force.” In Deut 6.6 it says that “These are the words which I am commanding you today shall be upon your heart (mind).” The Torah is fresh, not some old edict. It is God’s word for every day, our “bread continually.” Don’t be concerned about the past or the future.

After all the details of the Torah, the bottom line can be seen in Duet 6.17-18 where it says, “You shall diligently keep the commandments of Yehovah your God, and his testimonies (edut) and his statutes (chukim) which he has commanded you. And you shall do what is right (yashar= fit, proper) and good (tov) in the sight of Yehovah that it may be well with you and that you may go in and possess the good land which Yehovah swore to give to your fathers.” Now, there is a concept called “Lifnim M’shurat Ha Din” and it means “to go beyond the letter” or to go to the essence of the Torah (spirit). The “letter” applies to everyone. Anything beyond that is not considered “din” (judgment/law) to everyone, but only to those for whom it is applicable.

Deut 6.24-25 says that we are to keep his commandments and statutes and to fear the Lord for our own good, it is “for our survival.” Our survival depends on knowing the voice of God. Obeying the Lord, when done in faith, is ethically right and just (righteous).

In Deut 7.1-11 we have the task of Israel. They were to destroy the seven nations in the land. The names of these nations are the same enemies (or spirits) we face today, so let’s go over them briefly. The Hittite means “terror” and it refers to those who put an extreme manifestation of fear on you (phobias, despair, bad dreams, depression etc). The Girgashite means “stranger” meaning those who are not with you and dwell on the things they can see. They are analytical and base their lives on the pros and cons of what they can understand. The Amorite means a “sayer or talker” and they are the ones who talk all the time but there is no action. They tend to exalt themselves and are fame seekers, and so the word is also associated with mountains. The Canaanite means “merchant” and they are those who are traffickers and want to make money off of you for religious reasons. They are concerned with money and prosperity, selling their latest CD’s and videos and want to be paid to teach you. The Perizzites are “rustic squatters” or “belonging to a village” and refer to people who “squat” in our congregations and bible studies but shouldn’t be there, and they have limited vision. The Hivites are the “livers” who think they have spiritual life but do not. Hivites like to “live it up.” The word is related to the word “Chava” meaning “mother of the living.” The Jebusite means “trodden down” or to “thresh” and are those who trample on the Torah, the commandments, the Sabbath and other people. They try to make these things appear small or of no value. The task of defeating these nations was vever fully completed by Israel and they were eventually led astray by them.

Some say that God does not do Deut 7.10-11 anymore. It says, “but repays those who hate him to their faces, to destroy them; he will not delay with him who hates him, he will repay him to his face. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments (mitzvot) and the statutes (chukim) and the judgments (mishpatim) which I am commanding you today.”

We will pick up here in Part 8 with the next Torah portion called “Ekev.”

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 6

Deut 5.1-21 repeats the same words that the voice spoke on the mountain. The foundation of the covenant is the Ten Commandments and they are repeated in verses 6-21. Are these commandments written on our hearts (Jer 31.33)? We don’t need rabbinical fences around the commandments. If we keep coveting under control it is a built-in fence. God knew our psychology. He spoke the Ten Commandments and he added no more (v 22). If fences were required God would have put them in, but he didn’t and this verse says it. Moses showed them the Torah and the people said, “We will hear it and do it (5.27).” Moses tries to capsulize the essence of the Torah in Deut 6.1-25. He sums it up like Yeshua did in Matt 22.26-30.

Deut 6.4-9 contains the most famous set of verses in the Torah. It is called the “Shema” meaning to “hear” and it is again based on the first word of the passage. Hearing in the Scriptures also implies “obeying” and we are responsible for the commandments. We need to “do them” by “binding them as a sign upon your hand (action)” and “remember them” by being “frontlets on your forehead” (mind). By saying that we should “write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates” is saying that they should guide our body (house) and our senses (gates) and write them on the tablet of our hearts. Let’s examine this further.

These verses are metaphors and they are used all over the Scriptures. The Karaite Korner has an excellent article on this idea of the Shema and the frontlets (tefillin/phylacteries) that you will see wrapped around the forehead and the left arm of Rabbinical observant Jews. We would like to share this article here because it makes some very important points about Deut 6.6-9, and it discusses the concept of “rabbinical fences” and “adding to” the Word of God. The article begins by saying, “The Biblical commandment which the Rabbis interpret to refer to tefillin is taken by the Karaites as a metaphor which emphasizes the importance of remembering and cherishing the Torah.”

The article then goes on to give the Karaite interpretation of Deut 6.4-9, which we believe has a lot of merit for believers in Yeshua. The article continues, “Popular legend has it that the Karaites, and the Sadducees before them, interpreted the words, ‘and they shall be for totafot between your eyes’ literally and as a result wore Tefillin (phylacteries) right above their noses. One version of the story claims the Sadducees were wiped out because of this practice. The legend goes that they kept bumping into walls and since their tefillin were between their eyes (instead of on their foreheads) their noses were sent shattering into their brains, killing them instantly. The Karaites and other deniers of the Oral Law are portrayed as bumbling idiots who through their foolish practices wiped themselves out. The message of the story is that it is impossible to live (literally) as a Karaite and therefore we need the Oral Law to save us from this savage extinction.”

“The problem with this myth is that it is simply untrue. It assumes that the Karaites and Sadducess interpret the verse “and they shall be for totafot between your eyes’ as referring to Rabbinic Phylacteries. However, in reality, the Karaites and Sadducess never wore tefillin at all, let alone between their eyes because this is simply not what the verse is talking about. One Rabbinite polemicist asked, ‘How can you Karaites know how to make tefillin without all the specifications laid down in the Oral Law?’ The answer is we can not because the Oral Law made up the whole thing.”

“The phrase which allegedly commands the donning of tefillin appears four times in the Torah (Exo 13.9, 13.16; Deut 6.8, 11.18). It should be noted that the difficult word ‘totafot’ which the Rabbis arbitrarily interpret to mean ‘tefillin’ actually means ‘remembrance.’ This is clear from Exo 13.9 (one of the four ‘tefillin’ passages) which substitutes the word ‘totafot’ with the equivalent but more familiar ‘zicharon’ (remembrance). Upon closer examination it becomes clear that this phrase is a figure of speech and not a command at all. The brilliant Rabbanite commentator Rashbam (Rashi’s grandson) was wise enough to realize the true meaning of this expression. Commenting on this verse, ‘And it shall be for a sign upon your hand and remembrance (zicharon) between your eyes’ he writes: ‘For a sign upon your hand according to its plain meaning (Omek Peshato), it shall be remembered always as if it had been written upon hand, similar to ‘he put me as a seal upon your heart (Ecc 8.6)’ and ‘Between your eyes’ like jewelry or gold chain which people put on the forehead for decoration (Rashbam on Exo 13.9).”

Rashi’s grandson rightfully interprets the ‘tefillin passage’ as a metaphor which demands that we remember the Torah always and treasure it like a piece of jewelry. Rashbam and the Karaites realize that not everything in the Torah is to be taken literally as a command. The classic example of this is ‘And you shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart’ (Deut 10.16). Obviously God is not commanding mass suicide but is rather commanding us to figuratively circumcise the foreskin of our hearts, i.e. remove our impurity and stubbornness and commit to his covenant with our hearts. While this metaphor was easy to understand it is less obvious what kind of metaphor lays behind ‘and it shall be a sign upon your hand and remembrance between your eyes.’ The question is clarified by several passages elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible (Prov 1.8-9, 3.3, 6.20-21).”

“In light of these verses the real meaning of the ‘tefillin’ passage becomes clear. The Torah is to be like a fine bracelet or necklace which we are to wear proudly. In other words, the Torah is supposed to be precious to us and be remembered always. It is worth noting that the four places in the Torah which use this expression, two of them are telling us to remember the Torah (Deut 6.8, 11.18) while the other two are commanding us to remember the Exodus from Egypt (Exo 13.9, 13.16). It should be noted that the Karaites also interpret the verse ‘And you shall write them on the doorposts of your houses and your gates (Deut 6.9, 11.20) to be a metaphor to ‘write them upon the tablet of your heart’ (Prov 3.3) and not referring to the Rabbanite Mezuzah.” We believe that this is the correct interpretation of these verses, and this interpretation can also be applied to Rev 13.11-18, but that is for another time. But you can go to our study on the book of Revelation on this website for more information.

We will pick up here in Part 7.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 5

Deut 4.10-24 is a portion that still applies today for example. The Lord tells them to remember that they stood before him at Mount Sinai so that they could hear for themselves the very voice of God and the commandments. So they came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom (v 11).

Then the Lord spoke to them from the midst of the fire, and they heard the sound (“voice”) of words, but they saw no form, only a voice. Notice they “saw” a voice (v 12). And then the Lord declared to them his covenant, the “Ten Words” or commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone (v 13). Moses was commanded to teach these statutes and judgments so that they would perform them in the land where they were going (v 14).

Then he tells them to “watch yourselves carefully since you did not see any form (of God) on the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire (v 15), lest you act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female (v 16). the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird (like a dove for the Holy Spirit) that flies in the sky (v 17), the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters below the earth (v 18).”

Then he tells them in Deut 4.19, “And beware, lest you lift your eyes to heaven and see the stars, all the host of heaven and be drawn to worship them and serve them, those which the Lord your God has allotted to the peoples under the whole heaven.” In other words, watch out or you will start making idols and graven images of these things. This is what is called a “preventative law” which is given to avoid the possibility that people will mistakenly come to worship the image as God himself.

There are no “intermediaries” because our relationship with God is direct. It is a perversion of the spiritual order if we try to control spiritual forces using graven images or idols. We are to submit to God himself and him alone. The Lord did not give us “props.” Idolatry is wrong because it is false and we do not fashion God in our image, but we are to fashion ourselves in the image of God. We are to teach our children not to make the same mistakes that first generation did coming out of Egypt.

Moses says he is going to die and shall not cross over the Jordan with them, but they were going to go in and take possession of the land. He tells the people to obey the covenant and to not make graven images in the form of anything they have seen on earth or in heaven. The Lord is a jealous God and a consuming fire. Jealous can also mean “zealous” and he will not share his glory with false gods. They are a waste of time. The Lord will stand up for himself and speak the truth.

The truth is, we don’t believe he is a “zealous God” and we think he is “full of grace and mercy” and that is unlimited. This God “has changed” in the minds of many. People have created an idol in their hearts, a God after their own image. For example, people are taught that jealousy is a bad fruit, and they will say, “My God is not “jealous.” They will also say, “I don’t like sacrifices, so my God did away with them.” You will hear it said, “I don’t like the Torah, so my God did away with it.” Some will say, “I don’t like Jews, so my God has replaced them with the Church.” Some believe and have even said that “Jesus was not a Jew, he was a Christian.” They say that about Peter and the writers of the Gospels and Epistles, and that Paul was the founder of Christianity! We need to guard against this type of idolatry in our hearts.

Deut 4.25-30 is a prophecy and it is read on the Ninth of Av, the traditional day that the First and Second Temple were destroyed, among other bad events in the history of the Jewish people. It has a counterpart in Heb 12.18-29, Rev 10.1-11 and Psa 29.3-9. Will Israel hear the voice of God again like at the mountain? Yes, when they are in distress, in the latter days, when they are back in the land (v 30).

Deut 4.31 reassures Israel when that happens, he is not trying to kill them. Deut 4.32-33 says that the greatest event in human history up to that point was when a whole nation heard the voice of God and survived (v 12). Deut 4.34-40 asks if any false god has ever taken a whole nation for himself by trials, by signs and by war and a mighty hand, by great terrors as God did for them in Egypt? This was for them to know who the Lord was and that there is no other God.

This is the issue today, and will be in the latter days, “Who is really God?” This building in the world right now. Is it Yehovah or Allah? Is it Yehovah or Buddha? Is it Yehovah or Krishna? Is it Yehovah or Ba’al? This won’t be settled by America because America has other gods in the land. Moses is saying “Choose the Lord of heaven and earth. He has proven he is bigger than all the other gods, so don’t even fool with them, they are useless It will go well with us if we choose the right God (v 40).” They must “know” (yada) the Lord and so must we. The question will not be in that day “Did you keep the commandments” but it will be “Did you know the Lord.”

This “knowing” is a spiritual knowledge (not a head knowledge) that goes very intimate. It is like the difference of you knowing a woman, and her husband knowing her. They are two different things. Adam “yada” (knew) Chava and she gave birth (Gen 4.1). We are to be betrothed to the Lord and then we will “know the Lord” (“yada’at” in Hos 2.20). The people were destroyed because they had a lack of “the knowledge (“ha da’at” in Hebrew in Hos 4.6). Yeshua will reject those who did miracles, cast out demons and prophesied in “his name” because he never “knew” (yada) them because they were “lawless” (Greek “anomos” or “no Torah”…rejected the Torah as valid) in Matt 7.21-23. John says in 1 John 2.3-4 that if we say we know (yada) the Lord but do not keep the commandments (Torah) we are a liar and the truth is not in us.

In Part 6 we will pick up in Deut 5.1-21.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 4

The chapters in this portion are loaded with concepts and instruction, and there is a theme of “seeing” and “hearing.” It contains the Ten Commandments and the Shema. There is no way to improve on the words of this portion. Yeshua quotes from this section without changing a word, and that is a very important concept to remember. Why do believers think they can change the words? They change the Sabbath to Sunday, or they think they can keep the festivals outside of Jerusalem and a Temple, or they change what a graven image is or is not?

In Deut 3.25 Moses pleads with the Lord to “cross over” and see the “fair land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill (mountain) country and Lebanon.” But in Deut 3.26 the Lord responds with “Enough” (ravlach), which means “enough for you.” In the peshat (literal), God is saying, “Stop asking and accept my judgment on you.” But there is more to this.

God reassures Moses that there will be a reward enough for him later. He had the privilege of leading Israel out of Egypt, and he met the Lord “face to face” on the mountain and received the Torah. They are enough, and more, even if he doesn’t enter the land right now. This teaches us not to give up in prayer. When you think about it, when we return with Yeshua at the end of the Birth-pains it will be the first time Moses will enter the land. God is merciful and Moses did not give up asking, even when it looked bad. It’s like the old saying, “It’s not over till it’s over” but there does come a time and Moses has reached that point.

How did Moses comprehend God’s justice and how he administered it? What is our comprehension of it? The Lord never punishes except to correct the effects of sin and to rehabilitate the sinner. Whatever God decreed as a consequence for the sin of striking the rock instead of speaking to it was necessary to correct the damage done by Moses. Like a child to a parent, Israel looked to Moses for their needs, not God. By striking the rock Moses reinforced their belief that Moses was their mediator and God would not hear them. The Lord had to correct this by teaching the people to relate directly to him, not through Moses or his family. His non-entry into the land was for their benefit.

Deut 4.1-8 is a very important portion of Scripture because it tells us that no commandments ever given were better than these. That means Rabbinic Judaism and the Oral Law, and Replacement Theology Christianity and their teachings that the “Law has been done away with” and replaced by church doctrine is really a belief system that calls God a liar. Those man-made laws are not better than those recorded here in Deuteronomy, according to the Lord (v 8). Israel was the founder of modern civilization. Benjamin Disraeli, a British statesman in the 19th Century, responded to an anti-semitic remark by saying, “When the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman (Parliamentarian Daniel O’Connell) were brutal savages, mine were priests in the Temple of Solomon.”

Should a believer obey the Lord? Are these the commandments of the Lord? Should we observe them as they apply? That is where we get into trouble. In Replacement Theology Christianity, they don’t keep them because they say they have been done away with and replaced by man-made laws, and despite any positive aspects that the Rabbinic Oral Law may or may not have in “clarifying” the principles of scriptural cases, Yeshua criticized the traditions and additions of the Oral Law and these additions were prohibited here in Deut 4.2 anyway. The Oral Law may have some useful guidelines, but human judges make errors. We are not to change the “tavnit” (blueprint, pattern). People would rather be “religious” than understand the truth.

There are a handful of laws concerning the Sabbath, but there are over 1500 Rabbinical laws concerning it, and that goes for just about any other law in the Torah. No wonder the Jewish people don’t believe in Yeshua, they don’t don’t even believe Moses (John 5.39-47). There is nothing in the Gospels and Epistles that will take issue with Moses and the Torah. The Gospels and Epistles amplify and help explain the Torah to believers. They are commentaries on how the Torah applies to Jewish and non-Jewish believers in Yeshua.

What kind of a person says these commandments don’t apply anymore? How do they reach that conclusion? What path in their mind do they take to come up with that in the face of all the verses that say otherwise in this portion, and in the Scriptures themselves? Deut 4.9 tells us to “give heed to yourself and keep your soul (heart, mind, spirit) diligently.” In other words, “Renew your mind” (Rom 12.2). How do we renew our minds? Deut 4.9 gives us the answer, “but make them (Torah/Moses) known to your sons and your grandsons.” Go back to what Moses taught. Don’t forget, the same teaching Moses gave applies today, only the situations have changed (no Temple, not in the land, etc).

We will pick up in Deut 4.10-24 in Part 5.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 3

Deut 1.32 tells us that this was about trust in God or not. The Torah is about trusting others in the administrative and judicial system that was set up. It goes over key events and battles so that they will trust God for protection. It also teaches us to trust God for our provision.

There are some who say that the Torah is a means of salvation, and that was what some thought in the First Century (Rom 9.30-31). The underlying view is that love and law (Torah) are different, and love (or grace) can replace the law as a way to be saved. But this book shows us that love and law are linked and that was the concept being expressed in John 1.17. The Torah and the work of Yeshua compliment each other. A believer who says, “I do, or I will” keep the commandments is giving a statement of love or belief (John 14.15).

The next Torah portion in Deuteronomy is called “Va’etchanan” and it means “And I pleaded.” It goes from Deut 3.23 to 7.11. You can see right away the word “chanan” in the phrase “Va’etchanan” and all forms of this word signifies a free gift. Each Torah portion is named after a word or phrase in the first verse of that particular section. They did that because when they memorized scripture, when someone said the opening verse of a particular portion it would help the people recall the rest of the portion. Yeshua did it on the cross when he said “Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani” only with a twist. So, let’s look into this for a moment. We will be quoting from the book, “A Key to the Original Gospels” by George M. Lamsa, P 102-104 and this is a very important concept to go over, and Lamsa explains this misunderstood saying very well.

Lamsa begins to explain the above statement by Yeshua on the cross by saying, “All versions of the Gospels have retained these words in the original tongue and given them a different meaning. Matthew, according to Eastern version, does not translate them, because he wrote to the people who had seen Jesus and heard him preaching. It also seems probable that the later writers did not agree on the exact meaning when they translated them into Greek. This term even at present is only used by the Aramaic-speaking people in Assyria, the same language which the Galileans spoke at the time of our Lord. This phrase in Aramaic means, “My God, my God, for this I was kept (this was my destiny; I was born for this).”

“Jesus did not quote the Psalms. If he had he would have said these words in Hebrew instead of Aramaic, and if he had translated them from Hebrew he would have used the Aramaic “nashatani” which means “forsaken me” instead of the word “sabachtani” which in this case means “kept me.” Even the soldiers who stood by the cross did not understand what Jesus said in that hour of agony and suffering. They thought that he was calling on Elijah because the word Elijah in Aramaic is “Elia” which is similar to that for God, “Eli.”

“In those last minutes of suffering Jesus watched the crowd, which was composed of Rabbis, Priests, men and women of Jerusalem, who had come up to watch him dying. Some insulted him, others spitting in his face, and others calling him names and challenging his claim that he is a man of God, but instead was a malefactor and sinner. Jesus only made a statement to himself and to the friends who were also standing and hiding in the crowds near the cross, that he was born for that hour, that he may bear witness to the truth and open the way for the others who were to be crucified, that this was his destiny, that there was nothing else that could be given such a glorious victory as the cross.”

“The disciples and women who were from Galilee never for a moment could have thought that Jesus said that God had forsaken him. How could he say that when he had told his disciples that the whole world would forsake him, even they, but that the Father would be with him when he told Peter that if he wished he could bring angels to fight for him, and when he said, “Father, let it be thy wish if I should drink this cup.” These words, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani” even today are used by the Assyrians when they suffer and die unjustly. Instead of complaint and dissatisfaction, they leave everything to God. They believe that it is God’s desire that they should pass through such experiences. This is the reason why in the east people do not commit suicide.”

The opening line of Psalm 22 in Hebrew is “Eli, Eli, lama azavtani” and it does mean, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” It is very similar to “Eli, ELi, lama sabachtani” but it doesn’t mean the same thing as we have noted from Lamsa’s book. Psalm 22 is called the crucifixion psalm and if you read it it describes what is happening to Yeshua. Yeshua may be using this memorization technique of the first portion of scripture to have the people recall Psalm 22. By saying “this is my destiny” to them on the cross as they were thinking about Psalm 22, he is reassuring his people that everything that is happening to him is prophetic and not to be in despair, it was God’s will for him, it was “my destiny.” After all, he had been telling them that he was going to be crucified and die for the remission of sin, and it was for that event that he was born (John 18.37). They weren’t killing him, he was laying his life down for them.

So, each Torah portion is named after a word or phrase in the first verse of that particular section to give it a name and to help remember what is being said in that portion. The word “va’etchanan” is also related to the word “chan” which forms part of the word for “chanukah” or “dedication.” This “gift” is not to be understood as some sort of “handout” but this relates to “effort.” According to effort put in is the reward. Chanan implies a deep desire for an intense relationship with the Lord. This is what Noah had. When Moses says in Deut 3.23, “I also pleaded with the Lord” he is saying, “Don’t grant my request because of all the good I’ve done, but on the relationship we have, my love for you.”

We will pick up here in Part 4.

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Tanak Foundations- Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 2

We have different “voices” calling out to us. Who are we going to listen to? Will we believe in the Lord? Can we trust him with our family? That is what Moses is saying in Deut 1.1-40. Our faith is good for congregational meetings on the Sabbath, but will it work when it is life or death? The Lord does not bless unbelievers, but those who show forth and sanctify his name, repeat his words and do them. We must never show our own “glory” or our own “words.”

Our faith will be tested, especially as we get closer to the end times and the Birth-pains. We must stand up and make it count for something. Does our faith mean anything to us? If we can’t really believe him, why do people keep going to him? They act like they believe but they really don’t. If God is not the God of the Torah, the Prophets (Nevi’im), the Writings (Ketuvim), Gospels and Epistles, what are we doing? The answer is people will get another God. If he didn’t do all the things he said he did, why are we fooling with him to begin with. We either believe him or get out of the way, do something else. Either he is God or he isn’t. He will reward those who diligently seek him. God’s word is true and what will people do when they see an altar going up on the Temple Mount and a priesthood being prepared?

Some believers are like the children of Israel, God tells them what to do and they hesitate. They are afraid of the “sons of the Anakim” out there. In Deut 1.41 it says they repented for not going into the land, but it was too late to go right at that moment now. They replaced faith with a show of boldness. That’s what we do when we fail to obey God’s word. Is our faith strong enough for a wilderness? People have fallen for a lot less. We need to learn from their failures so that what they went through counted for something.

Now, in form, the book of Deuteronomy resembles other ancient covenants and treaties, but this is unique in that this is God’s Law (Torah). There is no sacred and secular wall, no separation of “Mishkan/Temple and State” in the Torah of God. Life has a kedusha and everything was seen as associated with God. Readers of this book will immediately discern a “change in style.” Deut 1.1 begins by saying, “These are the words of Moses” which is a departure from, “And God spoke to Moses.” Did Moses make this up himself? No, God spoke through Moses.

This is a “divine farewell speech” and a review of the last forty years. Not bad for a guy who said he was not good with words (Exo 4.10). In Deut 1.2 he chastises the people for what might have been. It was only eleven days from Sinai (Horeb) to Kadesh Barnes (Wadi Rum). But it took forty years. In review, let’s go over some relevant terms again. Sinai means “Mountain of the Moon” (moon alludes to the believer). Horeb means “Mountain of the Sun” (sun alludes to the God/Messiah). Kadesh Barnea means “Holy Desert of Wandering” and Wadi Rum (modern name for Kadesh Barnea) means “Valley of the Moon.” They rebelled against the judicial system of God and the Ten Scouts rebelled against God. This teaches us we need to fulfill our potential now, tomorrow may be too late.

Changes were coming in this book. They were going to be “decentralized” and living away from the leadership. They were going to have to travel to worship at the Mishkan/Temple and will have contact with pagan religious systems in the land of Canaan. Moses is giving them constructive criticism, but why is he doing it now, in the first few chapters? He is following Jacob’s example before he died (Gen 49.1-27). The Torah says to rebuke (Lev 19.17). If Moses did it before this he would be seen as “nagging.” They wouldn’t have to face him later and they wouldn’t feel as defensive. They will pay attention to him now because they know these are his “dying” words.

Constructive criticism is just that, constructive, not destructive. It is for the best and Moses does it out of concern for Israel’s honor and dignity. He merely alludes to the previous sins. The original Hebrew clarifies the “rebuke.” We should “toch’acha” our neighbor. But, this word is related to “hoch’acha” meaning “to prove.” The way to get our neighbor to change is not through a harsh rebuke, but clear and obvious “proof.” Self-realization eliminates defensive reactions.

How do we reach our potential? Ask for constructive criticism. Giving “toch’acha” is everyone’s obligation. If we really love someone, we won’t be able to see them being misguided by false teachers, etc. Who gives the most criticism? Those who love us the most (parents, wife, best friend, etc). This does not mean shouting louder that the other guy. It is demonstrated through action and deeds. But Moses is talking to the wrong group here, do you know why? Most of what he says applied to the people who have already died in the wilderness. Why is he talking to them now? He wanted the new generation to learn from history. He wanted them to know the underlying cause of that history and why they were still in the wilderness after forty years. That was the only life most of them knew.

For example, historians can point to economics and social reasons for the rise of Babylon, However, the prophets said Nebuchadnezzar was given the power he had from God to destroy the Temple and exile Israel. In other words, it was God who built Babylon, not Nebuchadnezzar. The same goes for the Roman Empire. This applies to any great power, including the United States of America. It wasn’t the people or the government system that made America great, it was a great God who made America great for his own purposes. Israel is the only nation that has a covenant with Yehovah, all the other nations that have ever existed (including the USA) do not. Read Daniel 11.1-45 to see a history of the kingdoms of the earth before they even existed, and what would befall the Jews in the latter days.

Moses tells the generation going into the land that their parents failed in their attitudes. How were they going to correct this? They needed to know the underlying reason their parents failed, and they needed to repair the damage. The Torah is not like any other legal system. It attaches to our everyday life and gives it meaning before God, even down to what we eat. It gives significance to everything. But, when the Torah becomes “just another method” of settling disputes, etc, it reflects an attitude just like any other system in the world. To “rebuke” like Moses is doing, is a fine art. There are principles to keep in mind, so let’s see what he did.

First, how did he say the things he was saying? Second, what did he say? He was subtle and he did not come right out and mention the sins, but he hints at them. Third, timing is very important. It came after Sihon was defeated and before he died. Fourth, he planned his words. Lastly, he showed he cared by not humiliating them openly. If we know what we want to say on our deathbed, we will know what to say at the table also.

Why does he start out with the sin of the Ten Scouts and not going into the land? There is a strong parallel between the situation they are in at that moment and the situation their fathers were in with the Ten Scouts. Both groups were getting ready to go into the land of promise. Moses goes on to recount the victories in battle and the peoples that were defeated. This alludes to the “iniquity of the Amorites” being complete, and now came the judgment (Gen 15.16). This was to remind them that the Lord was with them and they were not to take credit for themselves (Deut 2.33, 36, 3.3).

In Part 3 we will pick up here.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 1

These are the last words and testimony of a man who is about to die. It is the farewell address of Moses. He reflects on the last 40 years. The first Torah portion from this book is called “Devarim” which means “words” and it is the actual name in Hebrew for this book. This portion goes from Deut 1.1 to 3.22.

The word “Deuteronomy” is Greek and it means “Second Law (Torah)” and immediately you can see the Greek word for “law” in this word (“nomos”). Anomos means “no law” or “against the law” and it is translated in English as “lawless” many times in the Gospels and Epistles. It means people who think they are free from the Law (Torah) and it doesn’t apply to them. You do not want the Lord to call you “anomos” or “lawless” in the judgment because that means you are against the Torah, as many so-called believers are today. The False Messiah is called “lawless” in 2 Thes 2.8 because he is against the Torah, and so are some people who think they are believers (Matt 7.21-23). They believed the Torah didn’t apply to them anymore and they were “free from the Law” and the Lord says “I never knew you.”

As we learned at the end of the book of Numbers, Israel is at the border of the promised land and Moses recounts the events of the previous 40 years. He warns the nation of all the impending temptations awaiting them in Canaan. He warns them of God’s judgment if they disobey, and the blessings if they observe the Torah. He goes over the principle laws (Ch 12-26) which were to be observed in the land. He gives a farewell song in Deut 32.

The word “Devarim” (“words”) in verse 1 is a unique word. Devar means “word” and it can also carry the meaning of “speak” or “things.” Where this has meaning for us is at creation where the Lord “spoke” and there were “things.” The word for “wilderness” is “midbar” and it has the same root as “devar” (dalet, bet, resh). The Holy of Holies is called the “Devir” (speaking place) in 1 kings 6.5 (and other places) and that is because that is where the Lord “spoke.” All of these words have the same root.

In English, this book is called Deuteronomy and it comes from the Greek meaning “Repetition of the Law” but that isn’t exactly accurate. It repeats the Torah, meaning “teaching or instruction.” It repeats the teaching but it is the “words” of God (Devarim). This book is quoted many times in the Gospels and Epistles, and the book talks about “transitions.” We all know about that. The Lord has multiplied the people from a small group to as many as “the stars of heaven” (verse 10). Here is a concept to understand. When the phrase “stars of heaven” is used the Lord is alluding to “heavenly/spiritual children. When He uses “dust of the earth” he alludes to earthly/physical children.

You will notice as the Moses begins to recount history he mentions the fact that he needed help with the people in Deut 1.9-15. He says in verse 13 he was to choose “wise and discerning (perceptive, discreet, intelligent, observant, prudent) and experienced men” to help him. But in v 15 he says that he took “wise and experienced” people and appointed them as leaders. You will notice that “discerning” was left out. Did Moses have a hard time finding such men? Are people any different today?

Deut 1.19-40 is a very interesting passage and it gives the words said the day Israel did not get into the promised land. Why didn’t the Lord let them go in? They did not have confidence (faith) in God and they were not willing to go in. What did they do? They sent in scouts to look at the land, which was not God’s idea, and these scouts were not really needed. The Lord brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand for the purpose of going into the land, and he didn’t need scouts to determine whether or not that was possible or not. They were looking for excuses not to go in because they didn’t believe. They refused to follow the “pillar.”

They were not willing to “go up” (v 26) and they rebelled. They grumbled and complained saying “God hates us.” They say he brought them out of Egypt so that they could be delivered into the hands of the Amorites and be destroyed (v 27). He saved them, gave them covenants (his “devar”) and that makes their belief look illogical. But we feel like that sometimes and we think God hates us because of the troubles we have had. We need to look at the big picture and keep our eyes on the pillar.

Now, some say “but my present situation” but that is all part of the plan. We need to remember we have covenants going all the way back to Adam. Moses clearly tells them in this book that God was testing them to see what was in their hearts. God knew what was there, but the people didn’t. They stood at Sinai and said “Whatsoever the Lord tells us, we will do it” (Exo 19.8). What was in their hearts? They really weren’t willing to do what the Lord says, and the tests will prove it. The key for us is to get what comes out of our mouth to match what is in our hearts. When we say something, believe it. Don’t honor God with our mouth and not in our hearts. When did Israel “test” the Lord? When they said, “Is God among us?” This angered the Lord.

In Deut 1.19 it talks about “that great and terrible wilderness” and it was. Water evaporates immediately and there were fiery serpents, scorpions and death all around them. Believing isn’t what you did in the past, we must do it everyday. In John 11.21 Mary had faith in the past, and in John 11.22 she had faith in the present, and in John 11.24 she had faith in the future. Her problem was she wasn’t so sure what Yeshua would do “now.” Martha had some conflicts because she thought Yeshua was upset with her because he let her brother die. Have we ever thought like that?

Yeshua wept in John 11.35 because nobody believed him, even after all they had seen, but that is not the whole story. In John 11.33 it says he was deeply “moved (Greek ’embrimaomai’ …#1690 in Strong’s meaning ‘to snort with anger’) in spirit” and was “troubled” (Greek ‘tarasso’..#5015 in Strong’s meaning ‘agitated’). He was angry about this and was agitated (v 33-38). It was the same thing in the wilderness, they didn’t believe God either and it led to rebellion, and the Lord was angry about it and the people were judged. People today don’t think they will be judged for unbelief in God’s word in the Torah because “grace” covers it all. However, Jude warns us otherwise (Jude 5). In what religion has a whole nation heard the voice of God? They all knew what to do (Torah-Deut 4.32-40). That is a unique religion, and in spite of all this, they didn’t believe.

In Deut 1.31 we have the imagery of a man and his son. This imagery is alluded to in Exo 19.4 where it says, “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles wings and brought you to myself. The idiom “eagles wings” means “protection from heaven (eagle).” God covered them from heaven. Some people think being borne on “eagles wings” means they never had any trouble, but we know that they did. This imagery is talking about protection from heaven (Rev 12.14) and Matt 6.9 talks about “our Father” and Yeshua is reminding them that this is the same Father who provided for their fathers in the wilderness (Deut 1.31). That is who to believe in.

In Part 2 we will pick up here.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Conclusion

Num 36.1-13 deals with what is called the “Laws of the Heiress” and it is in addition to a previous ruling. We learned in Num 27 that daughters can inherit family assets in the absence of male heirs. Here, the sons of Joseph brought a question to Moses concerning inheritance (v 2-4). The land was given and divided by lot into portions. Now the concept of “lots” is a major theme in the Scriptures. Purim (lots) is even a festival. Lots were cast every day in the Temple to see who would do what. This was to avoid jealousy and favoritism among the kohanim (priests). The two goats on Yom Kippur were designated by lot, Yeshua’s garment was given by lot and in Acts 1.26 Judas was replaced by lot.

So, if your tribe got good land by lot you could say, “Look what the Lord gave us as an inheritance!” If you got desert land and barren hills they could say, “This is our inheritance and there must be a blessing in it.” Why is it that God calls one guy to teach and not another? If you compare the two, you may wonder why God called that one to teach and not the other. It is like a “lot” and it seems random, but it isn’t. There is a level of probability and sophistication involved.

In Num 36.1-7 the question came up about a daughter who got her inheritance of land, but then wanted to marry someone from another tribe. Does that land now go over the the tribe of the man she marries? Moses says this was a good question (v 5) and begins to tell them that the woman who inherits must marry within the family of the tribe of her father (v 6). Since the tribes were large enough, this presented no problem. Besides, the land reverted back to the original owners at the Yovel every fifty years. No inheritance will be transferred from one tribe to another. This is said two times (v 7 and v 9). The bottom line is Israel cannot trade land among their own people.

But this brings up a question for today. If Israel could give up the land they had as an inheritance to someone from a different tribe, what makes them think they can give up the land of their inheritance to other nation now? A daughter could not intermarry with other tribes, and v 10-13 shows us how the daughters of Zelophehad did it. They married within their father’s tribe to keep it “within the family.”

In all these previous issues we have seen individuals give up something important, like the right to avenge (Ch 37), safety, the right to marry whoever they want (Ch 36) in order to benefit the community. Issues will always be there. The Nazi Party resolved these cases one way, the United States Congress another way. We need wisdom to resolve the issue of personal freedom versus community responsibility, and there lies the problem. If you cannot advance the “cause” there is no reason to do it.

What do we do when we are told by the Lord to do something, and yet we are presented with the dilemma that your job requires you to do something else? At what point do we believe? At what point do we say we are going to obey the Lord in regard to what he has told us? The secular person says that the Torah is full of “ancient commands and they don’t apply anymore.” But Yehovah said these commands were for the descendants as well. If we don’t obey them, our descendants will not get the full blessing.

If our fathers had obeyed the Lord, then we would have received a blessing from the Lord. However, our enemies have been a “prick in our eyes and a thorn in our side.” Paul used this term when he was talking about his enemies in 2 Cor 12.7-9 when he said, “And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me -to keep me from exalting myself.” In Hebrew this idioms means an adversary, to use, abuse, falsely accuse, slander and gossip (Num 33.55; Judges 2.3; Ezek 2.6, 28.24; Josh 23.13; Hos 2.6). A messenger (angel) was used to keep Paul from exalting himself, so trouble was stirred up everywhere he went in order to keep him looking to the Lord for help and think of himself as someone special. Trouble has a way of humbling us and this was to keep Paul “in bounds.” But the point is, this idiom denotes persecution and trouble.

We know that Messiah will restore all things and return us to our full inheritance. We are not doomed to “wandering in the wilderness” forever. We can establish justice on earth, like the revenge on the Midianites, and accidental manslaughter is not revenged (cities of refuge), etc.

This book ends with the sons of Israel in the plans of Moab (of father) by the Jordan River. It began with the nation “in the wilderness” and now they are close to going into the promised land, in fact, about as close as you can get. They are standing across from Jericho, and we need to remember what it took to get them to this point. God describes it as bringing them out “on eagles wings” in Exo 19.4. This term will be used again in the book of Revelation in describing how he will bring Israel out to the wilderness when fleeing from the False Messiah (Rev 12.14). When they left Sinai they struggled with the flesh, they murmured, complained and gossiped about one another. They were a generation of unbelievers and were condemned to die in that wilderness.

Yehovah led them for 38 years in the wilderness. They moved around but made no progress. There was mutiny (Korah) and murmuring. They were just running out the clock until that unbelieving generation died off. In their place, the children would be brought to maturity and brought into the land, and that is who is standing on the banks of the Jordan now. When they set out for the land a second time, and faced the same pressures their fathers did, they dealt with them better and that is why they made it the border. Spiritually many believers die in the “wilderness” because they will not trust the Lord or walk in emunah (faith/action/confidence). Many people live in the wilderness rather than on the doorstep of the promises. We should learn by their example (1 Cor 10.11) because we are poised to go “into the land” (Olam Haba) too.

There is a tradition that says when one finishes a portion of study they say, “Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek” which means, “Be strong, be strong, let us be strengthened.” We have received instruction from the book of Numbers. Now, utilize what we have learned and rise up to the next level.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 34

In Num 34.2 Moses is commanded to tell Israel, “This is the land.” What did they think? It was going to take a fight and it wasn’t going to be easy and there was a lot of work involved. Many people think that when they become o believer that all of their problems will be solved. But then we are faced with with reality (giants in the land) and things begin to settle down and all of a sudden we realize we have a fight on our hands. If we don’t drive the enemy out trouble is going to be all around us (Num 33.55-56). This is the case in Israel today. Another concept can be seen in the phrase, “the land of Canaan according to its borders (boundaries.” In Hebrew it is “ha eretz Canaan lig v’lot’eah.” This phrase has a numerical value of 961, the exact amount of letters in Gen 15 which has the “Covenant between the Halves.” Borders are the things that divided a believer from a non-believer in this world. The Torah is a book of borders and declarations.

In Num 35.1-34 we have the Lord giving the Levites an inheritance of cities to live in because they did not have a land inheritance, but they were to be placed in these cities by the Lord so that they were scattered throughout the land to shepherd, teach and minister to the people living in the area. Pasture lands were also to be given around these cities for them to use. These pasture lands were for their cattle, flocks and herds and all their animals. These pasture lands were to extend from the wall of the city outward for a thousand cubits. On the east, west, north and south side of the city two thousand cubits were to be measured for fields, vineyards and orchards, besides the pasture land.

In Num 35.6-35 we have the instruction for forty-eight cities, and six are to be “cities of refuge.” Forty-two will be cities for the Levites to live in. The cities of refuge is an interesting concept and it has eschatological meaning. They were for a “manslayer” who has killed someone unintentionally to flee to as a refuge from the “avenger of blood (Goel).” The manslayer won’t have to die until he can stand before a court to determine what happened. Three cities will be across the Jordan (east side) and three cities in Canaan.

This law will apply to the “Ger” (alien who has embraced the Lord and the Torah) and for the “T’shav” (sojourner who lives by the Torah laws that apply to him and lives in the land). However, if the person intentionally killed someone he is a murderer and shall be put to death. If the person is not a murderer and is innocent, then he is delivered from the hand of the avenger of blood and he is taken to his city of refuge until the death of the High Priest who waaas anointed with oil at the time of the slaying (v 25). If the manslayer goes beyond the border of his city of refuge and the avenger of blood finds him and kills him, the avenger will not be held guilty (v 26-27). A murderer is to be put to death and they were not to accept a ransom for their life. Now we are going to look at this instruction and see some very interesting concepts that relate to our spiritual walk.

The manslayer was to live with the priests and Levites and these cities of refuge were not seen as “jails” or “detention camps.” They were environments in which reckless people became aware that careless actions have consequences. They were instantly under the influence of their neighbors, the Levites. They would observe them, pray with them and learn to interact with others. They would see what awareness and concern for others really was. Its goal was to mold a new person, a person who was kinder, gentler and careful.

We need to be like the Levites and be “signposts” leading the way to these cities, clearly marking the way to Yeshua and life. Sometimes people need a refuge from the “avenger” who is called “Satan.” We learn from the cities of refuge that life can be altered by our destructive behavior and it may take fifty years till we are released. God has bound the killer with the High Priest and each has boundaries for doing the right thing. Now we are going to take a look at how these cities give us an eschatological picture.

Heb 6.18-20 says, “in order that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil where Yeshua has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” This means that Yeshua is the only direct descendant of the heavenly Temple there in the Olam Haba. The writer of Hebrews goes on to explain what this “order of Melchizedek” means in Heb 7.1-28.

This order of priesthood is superior to the Aaronic priesthood because man is still in the Olam Ha Zeh (this present age) and subject to death, but Yeshua lives on forever in the Olam Haba (the world to come). The ages in Scripture will relate to two things, chronology and state of being. For example, the Talmidim lived in the Olam Ha Zeh when Yeshua appeared to them after the resurrection (chronological), but Yeshua was in the Olam Haba (his state of being, having a glorified body and living forever). These ages can “overlap” at times. That’s what makes the Olam Haba better than the present age we live in, and that is one of the main subjects of the Book of Hebrews and must be understood if one is to correctly interpret what is being said.

These passages in Heb 6.18-20 are a clear allusion to the cities of refuge, and “within the veil” speaks of the Olam Haba. These verses relate to our salvation. The Mishkan was a “seventh” place of refuge into God’s presence, alluding to the Olam Haba. In the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim (Holy of Holies) there were six boards on the west side of the room, and these six boards allude to the six cities of refuge (Exo 26.22).

Are we guilty of the death of Yeshua? If so, the avenger of blood can take us out and slay us if we are not in the city of refuge. However, let’s look at this a little closer. If we reject Yeshua deliberately, his blood is on our hands. However, if a person has faith and accepts Yeshua, even though his sin caused his death and did not realize the end result of his actions, he is guilty of manslaughter and allowed to stay within the veil (the Olam Haba and seventh place of refuge) as long as the the high priest (Yeshua) lives, which is “L’Olam Vaed” (forever and ever).

In Part 35 we will pick up with Num 36.1-13 and the “Law (instruction) of the Heiress.”

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 33

The next Torah portion begins in Num 33.1 and goes to 36.13, and it is called “Masei” meaning “Journeys.” There will be many concepts in this portion that we are going to be dealing with. This portion is going to tell us about the “stages” out of Egypt to the land of Canaan. This portion will also deal with the “stops” they made rather than the “journeying.”

There will be 42 stops or stages and this will mirror our own “Exodus” out of sin to our own destination. The number 42 is the number of transition and these stops had good and bad aspects to them, but things turned out according to God’s plan in the end. This should be an encouragement to us in our journey (Rom 8.28). Israel failed at certain points of the journey, and so do we. That is where teshuvah (repentance) comes in.

We will see that Israel progressed in these 42 steps and things did not get easier for them either. The number 42 here alludes to the 42 generations from Abraham to Messiah (Luke 3.23-38). There will be 42 months from the beginning of the Birth-pains to the False Messiah, and 42 months from the False Messiah to the coming of Yeshua. The famine in the time of Elijah was 42 months. There were children who mocked Elisha and animals came out of the forest and killed 42 of them (2 Kings 2.24).

The number 42 in Hebrew is made up of the letters Mem and Bet. Mem has the meaning of “water, mighty and blood.” Bet has the meaning of “house or tent.” The word “Masei” carries the idea of “breaking camp” and it took Israel 40 years to make an 11 day journey (Deut 1.2). That is the hardest part about camping, the breaking up of the camp. The wilderness experience was not a lot of fun, but it teaches us about how the Lord is a loving parent who took care of his people. They had some very difficult moments. It also showed how the people loved the Lord to keep moving, often without much water. God expresses his appreciation in Jer 2.2.

The total count of the journeys is 42, and if you take off the first 14 which were before the 10 scouts, and the last 8 which occur during Israel’s move forward into the land of Canaan after the death of Aaron, you have 20 moves in 38 years. This is a move every every two years or so. This demonstrates how even an evil decree is tempered by God’s kindness.

Why does Num 33.2 repeat itself? It is because when we look at the future we must know the past, and when we look at the past we must realize what lies ahead. Many Torah-based congregations do not have a building of their own. They are usually small groups in a community and there can be a lot of moving. These groups can usually break camp in two years of less. They can identify with Israel’s experiences. In the Torah, there are certain passages you read all the way without stopping for commentary. Exodus 20 is one and this portion is another.

When we read Num 33.1-56 we find 42 locations in 40 years. Why does the Torah mention the names of all these encampments? If you do a word study on all the names they will speak of growth, insight and prophecy, so lets look at a few examples. For instance, “Rameses” in Num 33.3 means “child of Ra” or “created by Ra.” Ra in Hebrew means “evil.” Meses (Moses) means “created by” or even “delivers” in Egyptian. The numerical value of Rameses is 480, and it was 480 years from Abraham to the Exodus. The place called “Sukkot” in Num 33.7 means “stables or booths.” The numerical value is 480. and it was 480 years from the Exodus to the building of the Temple (1 Kings 6.1).

Migdol in Num 33.7 means “tower” and this has allusions to the Lord (a strong tower) and the place where Yeshua would be born (Mic 4.8-“Migdal Eder” or “tower of the flock”). In Num 33.13 we see “Alush” and it means “I will knead” as in bread. It is where the manna was first received. In Num 33.29 we have “Hashmonah” which is related to Hasmoneh” which was the last name of the leaders of the Chanukah story. It is the 25th stop, and Chanukah starts on the 25th day of Kislev. This list teaches Israel’s journey from slavery to freedom. Our lives are in stages (Ecc 3.1-8). each person has his own challenges and purposes, and we must learn from them.

Miriam dies at Kadesh (related to kedusha) and it is known today as Wadi Rum, and Aaron dies at Mount Hor (v 36-37). In Num 33.47, “Avarim” means “crossing over” or “those on the other side (of the Jordan).” You can cross the Jordan at several places there and there is a lush valley. This is where Reuben and Gad wanted to stay (half of the tribes). Manasseh wanted to stay for their cattle business. They said they were going to send their warriors to help the other tribes secure their land inheritances.

In Num 33.50-56 we get our introduction about coming into the land and how to do it. Israel is told to drive out the inhabitants and if they don’t, those who they let remain will be a “prick in their eyes and a thorn in their flesh.” There are few in Israel who will stand on these verses today. They let the Canaanites dwell, and they learned their ways. As a result of not driving them all out, Israel was driven out and delivered into the hands of their enemies. We are saved from the slavery of sin and death and look for our “promised land.” Our life is like these stages till we cross over into the land of promise (Olam Haba). In the meantime, our “tents” will get old, too. We are to learn the lessons Israel learned in the wilderness, they are for our instruction (1 Cor 10.1-6). In the Birth-pains there will be “stages” and moving will be a common thing (Matt 10.23).

In Part 34 we will pick up here with Moses showing the land to the people. We will also develop the concept of “borders.”

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 32

In Num 31.1-20 the Lord tells Moses to make war on Midian, and afterward he would be gathered to his people, an idiom for death. Midian tried to influence the people of Israel with Baal. They got involved in a fight that wasn’t theirs. Moab had a legitimate fear of Israel at least. Baal was the son of Dagon (a son of god) so they misrepresented the true Son of God. Moses carries this out without delay, even though he knows that he will die soon after the war is over. He overlooks any personal advantages. Satan has tried to pollute the story of the Son of God coming, the resurrection and the redemption. This perversion goes all the way back to Babylon and every pagan culture has it in its past.

They will not go out against Midian with all the army, which was six hundred thousand plus plus. One thousand from each tribe will go out, totaling twelve thousand, but why only twelve thousand? First of all, the Lord doesn’t need twelve thousand warriors, or any warriors, to defeat Midian, so the number means something. The number alludes to the one hundred and forty-four thousand who will go out and make war with paganism in the land and the world during the Birth-pains (Rev 7.1-8, 14.1-8; Mic 5.7-90. Events in the land today help us understand why God commands Israel to drive out the inhabitants of the land.

In Num 31.7 we learn that Israel went to war against Midian, although Moab was also involved they were not the main player (Deut 2.9). But all the males of Midian were to be cut off. Then in Num 31.8 it says they killed the five kings of Midian named Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba. Then it says they killed Balaam with the sword. Balaam did not go back home after he got done trying to curse Israel, and he did not believe his own prophecies about Israel, and he died.

The sons of Israel captured the women of Midian and their children. They also took their cattle, flocks and all their goods. Then they burned all their cities and all their camps. All of this was brought to Moses and Eleazar the High Priest and to the congregation of Israel at the plains of Moab. Moses was angry with the officers of the army because they spared the women because he said it was the women who caused the sons of Israel to sin against the Lord, through the counsel of Balaam, bringing a plague.

So, Moses said they were to kill every male among the children, and every woman who has had sexual relations with a man. All the young girls who have not known a man intimately were spared. Those that killed anyone were to stay outside the camp of Israel and we to be ritually purified on the third and seventh day. In Num 31.21-24 Eleazar the priest tells them to purify the vessels that can pass through the fire (gold, silver bronze, iron, tin, lead, etc). Whatever could not pass through the fire safely would be purified by water. This process alludes to the judgment of God. The vessels are people. The first judgment was with water, and later they will pass through the fire of the Birth-pains.

In Num 31.25-54 we learn that the booty taken was divided. This will be how things will be done when Yeshua returns (Isa 53.12; Zech 14.14). We need to remember this in our walk with the Lord. We will have rewards and we should expect them and desire them. We need to “fight for them” like Israel did against their enemies. we need to be willing to take the heads off of anything that stands in the Lord’s way. A good soldier thinks that way and they are committed to the goal and focused on it. Rewards, eternal life, forgiveness, a new body, wisdom, insight, discernment, knowledge, understanding, gifts, gold, homes and a land are just a few of the rewards we can look forward to. This is the “spoil” if you will.

What motivates a person on the job? Some will say that they like what they are doing because it is rewarding but when all is said and done, its the money, really. On job applications, here is a tip. When negotiating up on a salary, if they question what you say, come back with “If you don’t believe me when I say this is what I need in a salary, how are you going to believe me when I say anything related to the workplace, or I tell you to change such and such to a customer?” What motivates us is that we get a reward, a monetary gain in a job. In our walk with the Lord, rewards are important. If its anything else we have missed it.

They got twelve thousand people to take the land because they were focused on the “spoil” (reward). They did what a whole nation couldn’t do in Num 13. The one hundred and forty-four thousand will be the same. One thing we learn from Scripture is you don’t mess with these people. They are committed and sealed by God and are not there to play around. No “religious” games will be played with them. One of their objectives will be to take the land for the Lord, and that includes the whole earth. If you can get just a few people in a city committed to the vision of God, a whole city can be spared in judgment. It doesn’t take thousands, just a “few good men and women.”

In Num 32.1-42 we learn that the tribes of Reuben and Gad have been blessed with an abundance of flocks and herds. They fear that there won’t be enough room to graze them in the land, so they propose to stay on the east side of the Jordan. Were they trying to avoid the battles that were coming in Canaan? It doesn’t seem likely because they would go to war with everyone else (Num 32.16-19).

Moses will get upset with them because in making their request they also disregarded the needs of their children and only mention their cattle (v 4-5). They had a warped priority and by saying they would not go in, they were making the same mistake the ten scouts made in demoralizing the people (v 6-15). The leaders get the hint in a limited sense (v 16) and they approach Moses again to restate their request. This time they mention their children, but only after speaking about their livestock.

Reuben never seemed to have a very high value on his children (Gen 42.37). Gen 37.29-30 tells us that he did not have much concern for his brother Joseph either. Moses is not very happy with their lack of priority. They were putting business before family. As a side note, when the Assyrians exiled the Jewish people, the first tribes to be conquered and sent away were Reuben and Gad.

Moses tells them the proper order in Num 32.24. We then learn in Num 32.26 that they adjusted their priorities to “our little ones, our wives, our livestock and all our cattle.” This type of thinking happens to all of us. We know our priorities but sometimes we get distracted. We must have clarity and strength to connect our heart to our head in order to act upon what we know is right. Don’t ever let our children know that they are not our most valued possession. This proved disastrous for Reuben and Gad. There were three cities of refuge for nine and a half tribes, and three for two and a half tribes. The east bank became a place of violence and bloodshed. Another lesson here is the wants and the needs of the smaller community or individual sometimes must give way to the wants and the needs of the larger community (v 16-17).

We will pick up here in Part 33.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 31

Num 30.2 tells us that the Lord will hold us to our word by saying, “He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” This is a very important concept in the Law of the Tongue. Num 30.3-4 gives us a few more concepts, “If a woman makes a vow to Yehovah and binds herself by an obligation in her father’s house in her youth and her father hears her vow and her obligation by which she has bound herself, and her father says nothing to her, then her vow shall stand, and every obligation by which she has bound herself shall stand.” Now, these verses talk about her father, but they will also apply to her husband and how he can annul her vow.

This is a very interesting instruction in the Torah, and a tender area in these days and times. There has been an all out effort by certain groups to downplay the role of men and to make men stand in the background, but that is not God’s way. How do we deal with a woman in our home and authority? Most men don’t know what to do with it. What does the Lord say? We clamor and argue about it.

1 Cor 14.34 says, “Let the woman keep silent in the congregations, for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves just as the Torah (law) says.” We are going to examine this verse and what it means by saying “just as the Torah says.” These verses are based on Gen 3.16 and Num 30.1-16.

There are two reasons why this subject is never taught. First, it is about woman. Second, it says, “just as the Torah (law) says” and people don’t know what it says, nor do they care to know. What does the Torah say? We just read it in Numbers 30, and we have read it in Gen 3.16! The father or the husband has the authority in the home. He is her covering when she speaks a vow. He is the “shevet” (rod, staff) of that family. He will decide if such vows and proclamations are going to be made and approved by him.

Nobody can speak for the tribe of Benjamin unless the head of the tribe says it is allowed. It is the same thing with a wife and husband. She can speak for the family if the husband agrees. But, when he hears the vow or rash statement she makes he has the authority to reverse what she says. If a wife or a daughter wants to commit the family to a task, the husband or father can decide otherwise. But in the day that he hears it and he says nothing, then it is confirmed and he can’t go back later to annul it. Silence is consent in regards to this law and she has spoken for the family.

1 Cor 14.34 is saying that a wife should not be breaking into a service to judge prophecy. In 1 Cor 14.28-33 he uses the same word “silent” (v 28 and 30) for a man that is used in verse 34, so this has nothing to do with male chauvinism. He said the same thing about a man. Paul is saying that they were to be courteous and to stop interrupting if someone is revealing a truth. He already said that women can pray and prophesy in a congregation in 1 Cor 11.5 so “silent” is not the the issue here, but judging a prophecy is.

Spiritually, this law applies like this. We were in our “father’s house” called the “world” and we were subjected to the will and wants of the nations. It seemed like it was really impossible to fulfill the will of God and it can appear that the Lord has no “say” with us. However, as we turn our hearts toward God, the power of the nations over us is weakened, like when one is engaged. The last stage is when we will leave the father’s house (world) to live as married with the Messiah in the Natzal who will have full rights over us, and the father’s house (world) will lose all power. We will be under God’s authority now. The world today is not going to like this, but the man is the leader of the family, and many families make up the Kahal (congregation). How far reaching is this?

We communicate with the mouth. We have already mentioned that God is the seal of truth (“emet”). We speak in one of three time periods, as we have said before, every time we speak. The “past” is where most people speak from. We do this when we argue about something, complain, confuse, explain, clarify, comment, defend, demonstrate, decide, discuss, justify, show, teach and expound. The “present” is when something is changed or something is accomplished, or in a transaction. The “future” is where a “vow” (neder) comes in. It is a declaration to do something or consecrate something to the Lord. It is a declaration, or to swear, or an oath. From this point on into the future a reality is created. This reality is not only for us, but for those around us, too. A vow modifies a part of the creation of God.

Rabbi Gamaliel once said to a student, “Go get the best meat at the market.” So the tamid brought back a tongue. Then he said, “Go get the worst meat” and he brought back a tongue. This teaches us that there is nothing better than a good tongue and nothing worse than an evil tongue. Vows use words, the very same thing God used when he created the universe. Now we are in his realm when we use words, and if you are going to use words to create realities around you with vows, you are going to do it God’s way with his rules.

So, that is why the husband “bears the rod” for his family. If he hears a vow contrary to this “staff” (his authority) he has the authority from God to annul it. If he doesn’t block it, and says nothing, it is a reality and even he must live with the reality of the vow. He must help fulfill it from that point on. As we have said before, this chapter is about the “Law of the Tongue.” This is a different realm because a vow creates a reality for others, too. The past is explained away and hidden, but vows are future.

There is nothing in the Torah that says a woman cannot teach, prophesy or speak in a congregation. We have seen that daughters had an inheritance in Num 27 and Deborah was the fourth judge of Israel, a prophetess and was also a military leader (Judges 4). Huldah was a prophetess (2 Kings 22.14-20; 2 Chr 34.22-28). In a congregation these principles operate and there should be no repression on who serves. This is true as long as she is not usurping the authority of her father or husband, or the congregation. This understanding will give us a better understanding of controversial verses in the epistles. We have already briefly looked at 1 Cor 14.34, now let’s look at 1 Tim 2.11-12.

These verses will also be based on Gen 3.16 and Num 30.1-16. 1 Tim 2.11-15 says, “Let a woman (wife) quietly receive instruction (learn in tranquility and silence is the composure) with entire submissiveness. I do not allow a woman (wife) to teach (wrong doctrine) or exercise authority over a man (dominate a husband but to be in quietness) but to remain quiet (Literally, ‘a wife, in quietness, I let learn’).” Paul goes on to say in 1 Tim 2. 14-15 that Adam was created first, then Chava, and she was deceived and fell into transgression. However, she will be preserved (saved) through the bearing of children (even though they will bring forth children in pain and sorrow according to the original curse in Gen 3.16) if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint (not a temporary confession like some-Luke 8.13). When you understand that “woman” or “women” in these verses are referring to a “wife” or “wives” it makes more sense, in light of Num 30.1-16. Paul is not saying a wife cannot speak in a congregation, but they were not to do it in spite of their husbands. For a complete understanding of these verses, we refer you to the writings of Dr. Spiros Zodhiates on the New Testament and he goes into great detail on these verses.

Women were prophets, teachers, judges, evangelists and apostles and they could do whatever the Lord wanted them to do, but they could not usurp the authority of their fathers or their husbands (1 Cor 11). There are leaders or husbands who will exercise their authority, so that must be understood. It is right and proper for them to do so. However, they can only exercise that authority on the day they hear of the vow. Here is a reminder. Yeshua first appeared to a woman because she believed. There is nothing wrong with a woman serving in a congregation, but they are to do it according to what the Torah says.

The Book of James says the tongue is like a rudder and it can turn the ship. The right word at the right time can bring a lost soul to the Lord. It is the same thing with us. Our tongue will turn us, so we need to be careful about what we say. There is a thin line between a promise and a vow. There is a difference between, “I need to go get gas tomorrow” and “I am going to get gas tomorrow.” We have a tongue to say it but we have no authority to make it happen. We can’t make the earth turn and we may not even have our next breath. A storm can come and destroy our car and the gas station! We are not to make rash statements which is a meaningless vow. Let our “yes” mean “yes” and our “no” mean “no.” Stay in the present tense by saying. “as the Lord wills.”

There are two covenants we want to mention. There is a Covenant of Circumcision and the Covenant of the Tongue. The Covenant of Circumcision dedicates the physical creative power to God, and the Covenant of the Tongue dedicates the spiritual creative power of the tongue in man to service of the spirit, soul, heart and mind. James 4.13-17 tells us not to make plans in our own strength because we don’t have any control over tomorrow. Instead, we should say “as the Lord wills” when we discuss what we want to do because a boast is an improper vow. Now read James 5.1-12.

There is a rule found in the Torah. The force of light is always greater than the force of darkness. When words are not tainted, the mouth is a good vessel. Good words have the power to overcome and transform the darkness. What if we utter a curse and it is future (a vow). The Lord will teach us to be patient and to not make those mistakes. The Lord will hold us accountable for our words.

We will pick up in Num 31.1-20 in Part 32.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 30

When an animal was going to the place of slaughter it was a hard thing to do. Some people prayed for the strength to do it. In the Temple, a lot of that happened. The individual realizes he is about to take a life and feels different. Some have a wrong impression of the korbanot. Here is an important concept to remember. In the Temple, the place of slaughter is called the “Beit Ha Mit’b”chaim” or “The House to/from Life.” That is how they saw the korbanot, they were life (Num 28.2).

When the altar for the next Temple goes up very soon, it is possible the process will start before the Natzal (catching away/rapture) of the believers on Yom Teruah (Rosh Ha Shannah), Tishri 1, year 6001 from creation. We believe that the altar will be set up before the Natzal, and the korbanot will begin to be offered according to the Torah (Ezra 3.1-6). But, when that altar goes up and those lambs start ascending, and people see it, it will hit them about what the Lord did. It will also infuriate unbelievers.

We are not worthy and we deserve death. The soul that sins shall die, that’s fair isn’t it? But God isn’t fair, but he is just. Can you imagine all those animals dying? This brings us to another problem. Christianity will say all of this has been “done away with.” A symbol that might do a work in our heart is gone, and that’s a good thing, right? Hos 6.4-6 tells us the Lord is displeased with Israel. They were not loyal and their hearts were wrong. All the symbols that God had set up had become meaningless. Does that describe our walk sometimes? We get into a routine day after day. After awhile nothing moves us, or impresses us anymore. That’s how we drift into disobedience. Things are very meaningful at first, then later it isn’t. We have all sorts of messianic symbols set up so we can have the proper instruction about who God and Messiah is and what the Lord is doing. Apostasy, or denominations, are what happens when we lose sight of what God really said or who he is. If you can change his identity, you can change his commands.

Men have given up on the central teaching of the Torah. Rom 11.17-18 gives us Paul’s Olive Tree Theology. The believers are the branches, and the fruits are the teachings/results of what they are doing as they observe what God has said. The Torah is the trunk of the tree and it brings nourishment to the branches (believers). The Messiah is the root, the source of nourishment, the “stabilizer” (Isa 33.6). The problem is we cut out the trunk (Torah) and then we end up with dead branches and no fruit.

The Torah establishes truth (Psa 119.142, 160; 2 Pet 1.12) just as the trunk stands strong and lifts up the branches. Have you ever had this conversation? People will say, “I have Yeshua and I don’t need sacrifices, or the Temple, festivals or the Torah.” So then say, “If you don’t have the acceptable sacrifice on the acceptable altar in the correct Temple, according to the tavnit (pattern/blueprint) in the Torah, you have no sacrifice, right?” Yeshua said that religious men always think the sacrifice is more important than the altar (Matt 23.16-22). A person of God knows the altar is more important because it has a kedusha, and that is what gives the offering a kedusha.

The Ten Virgins did not have oil for their lamps (Matt 25.1-13). The lamps are symbolic of the Torah (Psa 119.105). Today, we don’t even have the lamps! Those who say they have oil are in possession of a flammable liquid without any proper containers. Anything can happen then. The oil can go all over the place and if lit, it can burn people and property.

Another name for the Torah is “The Tree of Life.” If you don’t have an altar, you don’t have an acceptable korban according to Yeshua. That is one of the messages of Num 28-29. People are very opposed to this altar. If Israel has nothing to do with your walk, what gate are you going to use to get into the New Jerusalem (Rev 21.10-12). The people listed there were Torah observant Jews and some of them wrote the Gospels and Epistles. A “gate” in Scripture alludes to spiritual forces that filter down from God (Psa 24.7). The “pearly gates” are named for the twelve tribes. The number 12 in Hebrew is the letter “Lamed” and it means “teaching or purpose.” If you can’t get into the city, you are “outside the camp” and “cut off” (Rev 22.14-15). We don’t get judged on whether we have kept the commandments, we get judged on whether we “know the Lord” or not and the Torah is related to that (Jer 9.23; Matt 7.21-23; 1 John 2.3-4). Keeping the Torah (commandments) is the evidence that you “know the Lord.”

What happens to the branches that are not connected to the trunk (Torah). They are gathered up and burned. That is why we teach and emphasize the Torah (Acts 15.21). It connects us to the root (Messiah). The rich sap can nourish us, producing good fruit (teaching, results).

Now we are going to move on to the Torah portion called “Matot” meaning “Tribes” and it covers Num 30.1 to 32.42. This portion covers what is known as the “Law of the Tongue” and it is about the power of the spoken word. In Num 3.1 we learn that Moses speaks to the heads of the tribes (Matot). This will be based on the nomadic tradition about tribal customs and order. He is not talking to the Kohanim (priests) or the “sons of Israel.” This is the only portion given to the heads of the nation.

A congregation is made up of many families (tribes) and this alludes to a father over his family. Matot goes to the heart of vows and matot also means “staff or rod.” Each head of a tribe (family) had a staff to signify his headship and authority concerning that family.

A “vow” is something that is dedicated to God. In Hebrew it is the word “neder.” An “oath” is something that obligates us and in Hebrew that is the word “sh’vuah” and its root means “seven.” When we make a vow we change reality. Moses knows the lesson of word power (Num 20.6-13). Now, we speak in one three time periods in everything we say. Those periods are past, present and future. God’s seal is truth, in Hebrew “emet.” This word is spelled with an aleph, mem and tav. Aleph speaks of the past, mem speaks of the present/transition and tav speaks of the future.

With this in mind, we will pick up here in Part 31 with the “Law of the Tongue.” Understanding this concept will also help us understand several misunderstood scriptures like Gen 3.16; 1 Cor 14.34-35 and 1 Tim 2.11-15.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 29

Finally we come to the death of Moses and his death will be a picture of Yeshua as we will see in Deut 34.1-12. In Num 27.12-14 it tells us that the Lord told Moses to go up the mountain of Abarim (top of Pisgah), one of the peaks of Mount Nebo. From there he was allowed to see the land that was promised to Israel. He is told that after he has seen it he will be gathered to his fathers, and he is told why he cannot enter.

In Num 27.15-23 we see that even now Moses was concerned with his people and who would lead them once he is gone. Who do we choose to be a leader? Is it a person who constantly makes good decisions or someone who “blooms” in a crisis? A crisis is unique and a passing event, and society or an organization is not in a crisis most of the time. The best leader is one who can be steady and consistent day to day.

A crisis is a great topic for talk shows, soap operas, newspapers and television news, but it skews our perspective of the normal. People think that normal is boring and unworthy of attention. We’ve turned our lives into a constant quest for crisis. However, we need to be adequately equipped to face the non-crisis, which will avoid certain events from developing into crisis proportions.

So, Moses is talking to the Lord about his successor and he is told to take Joshua, who had the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit), and lay his hand on him. He is to stand before witnesses. This is what is called “Semicha” or the “laying on of hands.” Contrary to what Christianity and false teachers say about it, it is not a magical gesture establishing contact between God and Man, or to symbolically imply that a person or an animal is a substitute for the person doing the semicha. Instead, it is a solemn attestation that the person or animal having the hands put on them has come from this particular person who is performing the semicha on his head (1 Tim 5.22).

But the question is, why was Joshua chosen by the Lord and not someone else, like Pinchas? This story comes right after the heroics of Pinchas so that we can have a contrast about what a real leader looks like and should be, as opposed to what we think he should be. Joshua had been reliable, dependable, loyal and consistent to the people day in and day out. If you want a leader, then pick the one who has studied the instruction first. For this reason, Joshua was the best choice for a leader. It is only our preoccupation with crisis that could make us think Pinchas (or any hero in a crisis) was more qualified.

Israel has been numbered and a successor to Moses has been chosen. Num 28 and Num 29 gives us a look into the public korbanot to be brought to the sanctuary daily, and on the Sabbath and festivals. Now, for definition sake, let’s define the words that will be used from here on out. The Mishkan is the tent structure used until a Temple in Jerusalem was built. So, the Temple will refer to that building. When “sanctuary” is used, it will refer to either the Mishkan or the Temple.

These korbanot will consist of daily and festival offerings, in the order they were to be given on the Altar. Num 28.1-18 describes the Tamid (continual) offering given two times daily, at the hour of prayer (approximately 9 am and 3 pm). For more information on the Tamid, go to the “All Teachings” selection on the menu and scroll down to the teaching called “Temple 201-The Daily Tamid Service” which will be in five parts. Num 28.9-10 tell us about the Sabbath offerings, and Num 28.11-15 tell us about the New Moon offerings. Num 28.16 tells us about the Passover and Num 28.17-25 tell us about Hag Ha Matzah (Unleavened Bread). Num 28.26-31 ends with instruction concerning Shavuot (Pentecost).

Num 29.1-6 will tell us about the Yom Teruah (Rosh Ha Shannah) offerings. This day is called Yom Teruah or “day of the awakening blast” of the shofar. This alludes to the Natzal (or the catching away, the gathering or the “rapture”) of the believer which will happen on this day. Num 29.7-11 tells us about the Yom Kippur offerings and Num 29.12-38 tells us about the Sukkot offerings. Now, let’s look at a few interesting points and passages in these Sukkot offerings.

First, you will notice that there are bulls offered for seven days, but the number of bulls diminish each day. There will be a total of seventy bulls offered for the seven days. Seventy is the number of the nations based on the number of people who went into Egypt (Exo 1.5; Deut 32.8) and Sukkot is called the “Festival of the Nations” because in the kingdom all nations will come to Jerusalem to worship the Lord on Sukkot (Zech 14.16). The number of bulls diminishing alludes to the fact that in the Messianic Kingdom the influence of the nations will diminish.

In another interesting teaching, in Hebrew there is an extra latter in Num 29.17, 19 and 32, and these letters spell the word “Mayim” or “water.” The Rabbis used this fact to say that mayim (water) was to be poured out on the altar at Sukkot. This ceremony is called the “Beit Ha Shoevah” or “House of the Water Pouring” ceremony. We have additional information on this ceremony on our website in the teachings concerning Sukkot. In Num 29.35 we learn about a solemn assembly called “Shemini Atzeret” which is the eighth day of Sukkot.

They say that the blood in the Temple was very deep in the Azarah (courtyard) after the offerings for Sukkot. The blood would be washed out of the courts by an elaborate water system that came into the courtyard and washed the blood into what is called the “Amah.” The Amah was a conduit that took the blood and water down hill to the south and it emptied out into a place called Akeldama (Acts 1.19).

These offerings required hundreds of priests and that Altar was a busy place. It had three fires burning on it at all times, requiring a lot of wood every day, and it was very large. You had priests singing, blood being thrown on the Altar, skinning, rinsing and cutting going on, and priests holding other animals, smoke, salting and music being played. Everything was done in reverence and coordination. For a good look into the Temple service and how impressive it looked to an observer, go to what is called the “Letter of Aristeas” on the Internet and read about it. He witnessed the Temple services and he describes the priests as being very strong, and how they could rest when tired. He says they willingly served and how silent it was in the courts (besides the singing). He saw hundreds of priests and remarked about how everyone knew what they were to do. We recommend that you read this letter.

In Part 30 we will pick up here and talk about the place of slaughter called the “Beit Ha Mit’B’Chaim” or the “House to/from Life.” Interesting name for the place of slaughter in the Temple isn’t it?

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament