Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 28

The Sadducees looked at themselves as the guardians of tradition. Quoting from the Joachim Jeremias book, p. 265-266 it says, “They held strictly to the literal interpretation of the Torah, in particular to the precepts on the cultus and the priesthood, and thus found themselves in direct opposition to the Pharisees and their oral halakah which declared that the rules of purity for priests were binding on the pious laity, too. The Sadducees had formulated this theology in a fully developed halakah based on exegesis (Matt 16.18 and the “teaching of the Sadducees). In addition, they had their own penal code, and we have much evidence of its extreme severity. We have already met a Sadducee tribunal of chief priests, and we are reminded in several places of sentences passed according to Sadducean laws (Ant. 20-199; b.Sanh 52b). This makes the existence of Sadducean scribes quite definite.”

“Whereas the Torah laid down rules of purity and rules on food for the officiating priests alone, the Pharisaic group made these rules a general practice in the everyday life of the priests and in the life of the whole people. In this way they meant to build up the holy community of Israel, the ‘true Israel’ (for this is the meaning of the word ‘Pharisee’, see p. 246). The Sadducean group, on the other hand, was conservative and held that the priestly laws were limited to the priests and the cultus, in conformity with the text of Scripture.”

“The conflict between the Pharisees and the Sadducees sprang from this opposition. It dominated the profound religious revolution in Judaism between the Maccabean wars and the destruction of Jerusalem, and we may judge for ourselves the bitterness of the conflict by reading the Psalms of Solomon. The champions of the ancient orthodox theology and tradition, inflexible defenders of the letter of the written biblical text wrestles with the champions of the new tradition, the unwritten law.”

“The struggle became particularly severe because social opposition was added to religious; the old conservative nobility, i.e. the priestly as well as lay nobility, opposed the new ruling class of scriptural interpreters and community members who were drawn from all walks of life, but especially from the priestly bourgeoisie. They voluntarily submitted themselves to rule and thus prepared the way for a universal priesthood.”

“We see, therefore, that doubtless the Pharisees were the people’s party; they represented the common people as opposed to the aristocracy on both religious and social matters. Their much respected piety and their social leanings towards suppressing differences in class, gained them the people’s support and assured them, step by step, of the victory.”

In Biblical Archeology Review magazine, Sept/Oct 1998, p. 50, in an article called “Ancient Israel’s Stone Age” it says, “Laws of ritual purity and impurity are of biblical origin during the Second Temple Period. However the rules were greatly expanded. Most of the purity laws relate to the rites in the Temple, but the territory of the Temple was at least metaphysically “expanded” beyond the Temple confines, and ritual cleanliness was not limited to the bounds of the Temple, but spread through the Jewish community.”

Now, this brings up some questions. If its an “oral law” why did they write it down? Isn’t that rebellion if God wanted it oral in the first place? Doesn’t it now violate Deut 4.2 where it says they were not to add to or detract from the written word he was giving them? In truth, the oral law is just the words of men. There is no “Thus says the Lord” or signs or miracles in relation to it. One person says something is permitted, and another says it isn’t. If the oral law is inspired, why are their disagreements and controversies? Why doesn’t it quote “Moses” all the time if God gave it to him on Sinai instead of quoting different rabbis? The bottom line is this, there is no divinely inspired oral law.

This is important to understand because many believers in Yeshua blindly follow the rabbis and their oral laws, not knowing about these controversies. They don’t understand that these laws are not biblical and as we have said, we are only dealing with the purity laws. We haven’t even touched on other areas like the food laws, festivals, immersions and sprinkling and the Temple itself. That is why we are p[resenting some of the dissenting views because we can pick up some very interesting concepts.

In Deut 31.16-18 the words for “the holocaust” is found in Hebrew. It is the words “Ha Shoah.” You take the letter “hey” from the word “Moshe” and count 49 letters. Then you take the next letter “Shin” from the word “shama” and count 49 letters again. Then take the “aleph” and count 49 letters again. Then take the “hey” and put it together. It spells “Ha Shoah” or “the holocaust.”

This is what the text says where “Ha Shoah” is found in English, “And the Lord said to Moses: ‘Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the lands, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake me and break my covenant which I have made with them. Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they shall be consumed and many evils and troubles shall come upon them; so that they will say in that day, “is it not because our God is not among us?” But I will surely hide my fave in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods.”

In Part 29 we will pick up here and we will talk about an on-going conflict between Karaism (“the readers”) and Rabbinic Judaism, founded by the Pharisees. This has been going on for centuries. Basically, the Karaites is a branch of Judaism that accepts what is written in Scripture. The “Rabbanites” (Rabbinic Judaism) accept written Scripture, but they also accept an oral law in addition, as we have seen. At times, the Rabbanites will say the oral law supersedes the words of God himself (“The Stove of Akhnai” in the Talmud, Bava Metzia 59a-b).

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 27

The next reading in the Torah is called “Vayelech” meaning “And he went.” It covers Deut 31.1-30. As we have said before, this is the last counsel of Moses and he is 120 years old. IN other words, this is his “dying declaration.”

In Deut 31.1-8 we have the concept of succession. There is no way around it, the Scriptures are violent and the Lord is going to destroy the nations that are in the land. Moses will not be taking Israel across the Jordan into the land to face these nations, Joshua will. Spiritually this tells us that Moses (Torah) cannot save us, only Yeshua (Joshua) can. Now, Moses will call Joshua publicly to succeed him, and the Torah (Moses) reveals Yeshua publicly. Moses does this so his (Joshua’s) authority cannot be challenged. Same with the Torah. It reveals Yeshua in ways that cannot be challenged by anyone else or any other religious person, book or entity.

In Deut 31.9-13 we have the concept of the written Torah versus the oral Torah of the Rabbis. In Deut 31.9 it says that Moses “wrote this law and gave it to the priest.” There is no hint of an Oral Torah here. This law was to be read every seven years in front of all the people. Again, no hint of an Oral Law (v 10-13). These verses talk about exposing our children to the Torah and to teach our children loyalty to God. This cannot be done in one day. We can walk in God’s ways before them and they will see what we do daily.

Now, the Torah is against a “divinely inspired oral tradition.” Some verses to go over about this concept are Deut 31.9-12, 4.2; Jer 8.8; Exo 24.1-12; Josh 1.8; 1 Cor 4.6; Heb 9.19; 2 Chr 30. 18; Deut 32.46-47, 27.2-8, 30.10, 17.9 and 28.58. Deut 17.18-20 says that a copy of the written law was to be written by the king and carried with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life. Deut 31.24-36 says Moses wrote the words of the Torah in a book until they were complete. No hint of an oral law.

Hilkiah found the written law and when the king heard the “words of the book of the law” he tore his clothes (2 Kings 22.8-11). If there was an authoritative oral tradition in Josiah’s day there is no indication of it. It was the written law which God used to work spiritual reform (2 Chr 34.14-30; 2 Kings 22.8 to 23.3). Josh 8.31-35 says that there was not a word of Moses (Torah) that he commanded which Joshua did not read before the congregation. Again, no hint of an oral law or tradition. Ezra read all the law to the people in Neh 8.1-18. All that Moses commanded was written on Mount Ebal on stones (Deut 27.1-4). Josh 23.6-8 says if an oral Torah existed, why didn’t the Lord command Joshua to cling to it along with all that was written?

His word is clear and each generation was to follow the written Torah as God led them. There was not to be a fixed, established interpretation (Deut 30.11-14, 31.9-13; Rom 10.6; Luke 10.26; Deut 17.9; 1 Cor 4.6). We are not to exceed what was written. Yeshua found no problem with the oral Torah when it provided helpful insights or an explanation of the written Torah, He also had no problem with it as long as it did not contradict the Torah. The rabbis say the Oral Torah is the “spaces” between the written words of the Torah. The idiom “reading between the lines” comes from this concept. But we are commanded to obey and teach Moses, not the spaces between what Moses said.

Rabbinic Judaism was not around in the days of Yeshua but there were “Judaisms.”. It showed up after the destruction of the Temple, about the same time Replacement Theology Christianity was forming. Its first rabbi was Yochanon Ben Zakkai who said, “Prayer, repentance and good works will avert the evil decree.” That is the basic foundation of Rabbinic Judaism but it is not the teaching of Moses. Rabbinic Judaism does not teach Moses, they teach Talmud, Mishnah and rabbinic thought through the oral Torah. If they taught Moses they would know about sin and the Messiah., and they would know who Yeshua is (Psa 40.7; John 5.39-47). An example of this is ritual purity, so let’s look at this one concept to see how it was influenced by oral tradition.

In the Hertz Pentateuch and Haftorahs, p. 475, it says that the purity laws were to prohibit anyone from coming into contact with the Sanctuary (Temple) in an unclean state. On p. 459 he says, “It is to be noted that most laws of purity and impurity apply only in reference to the Sanctuary and the holy objects connected with it. They did not apply in ordinary life, or to persons who did not intend to enter the Sanctuary.” And yet, these laws are still being practiced and even added onto by the rabbis and their oral traditions.

In the book, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus” by Joachim Jeremias, on p 265-266, it goes into the fact that the Sadducees held on to a literal interpretation of the Torah. The oral tradition was seen as the spaces between the words, as we have already said. The oral tradition began to have precedence over the written (Isa 29.13; Mark 7.6-8). The rabbinical “fences” moved out and out, leaving the Torah in the open to get run over by religious people and the traditions of men.

In Part 28 we will pick up here with more information from the Jeremias book, and bring out more concepts on the written Torah versus the oral Torah.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 26

In John 3.7 it says “You must be born again” and Yeshua then asks Nicodemus why he didn’t understand this concept, being “the” teacher of Israel” (Jn 3.10). The concept of being born again is not an original teaching of Yeshua or of the Gospels and Epistles. It is not the launching point for some new “Christian faith” that Yeshua, the Talmidim (students) or Paul was forming. Being born again is a fundamental teaching of a Torah-based faith that has always been the message of the Torah. Yeshua never taught anything that couldn’t be proved in the Tanak.

Deut 30.11-14 was the background for some other things Yeshua told Nicodemus in John 3.12-13. He says that no one has ascended to heaven (including Elijah) but the Son of Man has descended to the earth. He has now linked himself with the Torah (Rom 10.1-8). Yeshua descended from heaven and concluded this discussion by pointing out the story of the bronze serpent (Nechushtan) found in Num 21.6-9, and by looking at it how the people were healed and “lived.” He then says he would be lifted up just like the serpent in the wilderness, and that Nicodemus should look to him and “live” (John 3.14).

No man has or ever could go up to heaven and bring the knowledge of divine things back to earth (Deut 30.12, John 3.13). Only Yeshua has been in heaven and has “descended” with that teaching and can be the only teacher of these things. We must listen to him only as believers. People who do not have a Torah based faith in Yeshua and embrace Replacement Theology Christianity, Rabbinic Judaism or any other religion, are not listening to the words of Yeshua, but the words of men. How was David saved? Heb 11 says he was saved by emunah (faith). He followed the Torah (Psa 119.22, 51, 56, 102, 121). H had documented sin (murder, lies, adultery) and David knew he was saved by God’s mercy and grace (Psa 119.159) and that he could turn back to God. Psa 119 shows David asking God to save him so that he could follow the Torah. That is why David asked, and why God judged David by his faith and desire to follow the Lord through his teaching, the Torah. It is also not based on David’s ability to keep every fine point of it.

Nobody was ever “saved” by their own ability to keep the Torah, nor has that ever been an option for salvation because the Torah never taught that. Paul makes a comparison with Deut 30.11-14 (Torah) and Yeshua in Rom 10.1-8. There is a continuation with the Torah and Yeshua because God has not changed. Deut 30.15-19 says that the Torah reminds us to “choose life.” There is much to enjoy and living requires participation. Now, let’s talk about a little known concept.

There is a “dual nature” or “roles” to the Torah, and they are the Judicial and the Educational role. In the judicial role, the Torah shows us how sinful we really are and that we stand condemned. It is our “tutor” (Gal 3.25) keeping us in custody until we come to faith through conversion in Messiah. It identifies us as sinners and it demands our punishment for sinning against God. The Torah holds us “under arrest” or “under indictment.” Knowledge of the Torah and it high standards increases our moral awareness and personal responsibility, so ignorance is not an excuse for anyone (Rom 1). Now sin becomes really sinful and it demands our death (Rom 7.5, 5.2; 1 Cor 15.56).

But the good news is this, once we come to conversion through the Messiah, the Torah’s role as “custodian” and keeping us “under arrest” is abolished. No longer can the Torah demand our death, for Yehovah has declared us “not guilty.” The Torah no longer declare us as transgressors, for the record of our sins has been expunged (blotted out) and the indictment is removed. The curse of the law (death) has been removed (Gal 3.13). That brings us to the second role of the Torah.

The Educational role of Torah now takes precedence. It reveals to us God’s way of life and the path he desires that we follow. It expresses the good and perfect will of God, not only explicitly through its many commands that call us to obedience, statutes and judgments, but it expresses it implicitly through the historical narratives, accounts and stories.

In other words, in its judicial role, the Torah shows us that we have sinned and that the Torah demands our death. We are under arrest or indictment. But once we are saved, we are no longer under arrest, indictment or a “tutor” and the record of our sins is blotted out. Now we are under the educational aspect of the Torah which teaches us what pleases the Lord, how to live and walk before the Lord in a life that is pleasing to him. It gives us his good and perfect will (Rom 12.2). Gal 3.23-27 talks about the function of the Torah as a tutor. This only applies to those who have not come to Yeshua by emunah (faith). However, once we do come to him in faith, we are no longer under the tutor, or under the law in its judicial role. Now we can live in the instructions found in the Torah’s educational role.

Deut 30.20 says we are to love the Lord, obey the Lord and cling to the Lord “for “he is your life “literally. This is similar to Deut 11.22. Many people get the “loving” part but never get to the “obeying” and “clinging” part. Obeying is surrendering our will to the Lord and following his revealed will found in the Torah. Chessed (grace) enables us to obey, and when we sin he knows our heart and that we are intent on him. Clinging to him means when our world falls apart emotionally, physically and literally, we hold fast, don’t break ranks and “defend the pass” like the Spartans did at Thermopylae (Eph 6.14). It means we don’t stop following the Torah because we get some pressure from the world, our families and the enemies of God. Israel in the Birth-pains will know this concept first hand. Even nature won’t be working as usual, and everyone and everything will be coming at them. But the people will remember the days of old and of Moses and they will return to the Lord and believe in Yeshua as a nation (Rev 12.17).

In Part 27 we will pick up with the next Torah portion called “Vayelech” which means “And he went.”

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 25

We have mentioned this before, but we wanted you to notice how many times “today” is used. Since what Moses is saying is so important, we should see what he says to us “today.” In Deut 29.10-15 he says that this covenant is not only for those standing there “today” but it is also with those who are not “with us here today.” That includes those who believe “today.”

Deut 29.16-21 says you have heard about the nations and their idolatry, and you have heard about the blessings and the curses. They knew all this, but Moses says he has something else to tell them, which includes those who are not there “today.” Should there be anyone who says “I shall have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart” the Lord will single him out for adversity from all the tribes of Israel according to these curses of the covenant which are written in this book of the law. How is that applied? That is like people today who say, “I am saved and I am free from the law. I don’t have to obey the Lord in the Torah. I have the peace of God on this in my heart and I will not do what God commanded.” So, what happens? His name will be blotted out from under heaven. The anger of the Lord will burn against that person.

Anyone who says they have called on the name of the Lord, received salvation, has the Spirit/Shekinah within them, has assurance of salvation and peace with God, but is stubborn and says, “I don’t need to (or have to) obey the Lord in the commandments, will not learn, and does whatever they “feel” has a big problem. We don’t believe that accepting Yeshua once and that’s it is correct, God must “know you” also (Matt 7.21-23). God has the power to save, and his mercy and forgiveness covers you but we must get up every morning and make the decision to trust and believe in him, and walk in his commandments as they apply.

We better hope that’s what the grace of God recognizes. Our hearts must be inclined towards walking in the Torah, and his grace, mercy, compassion and forgiveness continues to keep us (Jude 24; Col 1.17). Don’t think that when we stand before the Lord we are going to to be able to argue bible verses and theology with God. He won’t argue, he knows our hearts and whether or not we are inclined to his Torah or to evil (no Torah or “lawlessness”).

Let’s make this clear. If it wasn’t for his great mercy, we are all lost. We are not to trample underfoot the things of God (Heb 10.28-29). Rom 6.1 asks, “Shall we sin (break the commandments) so that grace may abound?” The answer is “No. God forbid.” Yeshua paid the price for those who have faith and believe. Do we value his sacrifice and treat him as Lord? Moses is very specific on how to treat him as Lord.

The purpose of the adversity in Deut 29.21 is to get the person to repent. They realize, “I am not getting the blessing, so I must not be walking in the truth. Something is not right.” Remember, he is Lord and we are mere men. Salvation is not a license to disobey the Torah. We should not believe that we have got it all figured out, either. We need to be a part of this great salvation because we won’t make it if we are not. Having a desire to keep the commandments is the evidence that we have life (Jam 2.14-26). Just saying, “I have peace in my life and I know God and believe in “Jesus” or “Yeshua” won’t get it done. The Devil believes (Jam 2.19). There better be more than that in our hearts. We should have a desire to keep the Torah, and that is a good sign God has given us eternal life (Jer 31.33).

Deut 29.22-29 was spoken over 3500 years ago and the nations have said these verses for over 2000 years. Moses knew they would turn away from the Lord and would be scattered. This happened with Babylon, and later with Rome. The “secret things belong to the Lord” is how and why he has dealt with Israel the way he has (Rom 11.35-36). The Scriptures contain many secret things and many revealed things. We have no control over the hidden evil of others, but we are not to ignore the open evil that can destroy a society. Today, we are living in a time where homosexuality is accepted and taught to our children, where children are murdered in abortion and corruption is everywhere. We must stand up against these evil things in light of God’s word.

Deut 30.1-10 is a very important passage. Various forms of the word “shuv” (return) is used. This is the basic word for repentance (teshuvah). The ultimate goal of teshuvah is completion and perfection in the Lord. But, every uses here is talking about our teshuvah, and sometimes it is the Lord heart doing the returning (v 3). This called the redemption.

In these verses, Israel has been banished to the nations. Then they call to mind the blessings and curses and return to the Lord, then the Lord will restore them from captivity. But how can Israel be able to obey God in “all that I have commanded” when Israel has no Temple, priesthood, korbanot, festivals and they live outside the land? They were to obey what applies to them at the time, and God considers it obedience to the whole.

In Deut 30.6 it says, “Moreover, the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, in order that you may live.” The word “live” is used in a spiritual sense and it means “born again” or “born from above” and this shows us that this is not a new concept in John 3.9-10. Being “stiff-necked” (Deut 10.16) is the same as not having faith (Exo 32.9, 33.3-5, 34.9, Deut 9.6, 2 Chr 30.8, Acts 7.5). So, circumcision of the heart means “born again” in the Epistles (Rom 2.29; Col 2.11 for instance).

In Part 26, we will pick up here and get into Deut 30 and John 3 and see what Yeshua told Nicodemus about being “born again.” Deut 30 will be the background for other things that Yeshua told Nicodemus, and we will show that the concept of being born again is based in the Torah, and has always been the message of the Torah. Nicodemus was scolded by Yeshua for being “the” teacher of Israel and not knowing these concepts.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 24

The next Torah portion is called “Nitzavim” and it means “you are standing.” It goes from Deut 29.10 to 30.20 and this one of the last portions in the Torah. Nitzavim suggests an act of the will, a physical statement of “here I am” and Israel is getting ready to answer the call.

We are coming to the end of the life of Moses and our legal system considers the last words of a dying man to be most truthful. It is called a “Dying Declaration.” Moses knows that these were his last words and a dying declaration. This day was very important to him because you will see how many times he says “today.”

Nitzavim is related to the word for “tziyun” which means “monument” in Hebrew, and Moses was leaving and there would be no one like him until Yeshua. The people gather around him like stones, gathered for a monument or an altar, and they are a living monument (1 Pet 2.4-10). So, before we move forward, we need to go back and discuss a covenant found in Deut 29.1 to 30.14. This covenant is called the Covenant at Moab, and Moab means “seed of the Father.” What many do not realize is there are many covenants in the Torah, and this covenant was made with Israel “besides the covenant which he made with them at Horeb” (Deut 29.1).

This concept is so important we are going to develop this covenant out because it is found at the end of the previous Torah reading (Deut 29.1-9) and them picks up in Deut 29.10 in Nitzavim and so we want to deal with it as a whole. We are going to cover some amazing concepts.

There are two main covenants in the Torah, and what many people do not realize is that the Torah is a work of grace. We are going to use several terms to differentiate between these two main covenants. We will have the covenant at Sinai, mediated by Moses (Exo 19.7) to those present that day (Deut 5.1-5..”in your ears”). Then we have the covenant at Moab, made at Mount Nebo (meaning “prophet”) in Moab (“Moav” meaning “seed of the father”) shortly before they entered the land of Canaan.

We learn in Deut 29.1 that the covenant at Moab was made “besides” the covenant at Sinai. The people said they would keep the Sinai covenant (Exo 24.7) but they didn’t, so there was a need for another covenant. It is not like the covenant at Sinai because this had promises made with everyone, even those who were yet unborn (Deut 29.10-11, 14-15). The covenant at Sinai was made with people who were going to die in the wilderness, and the covenant of Moab was made “in the seed of the father” and it will be Yeshua who will lead the people into the Olam Haba. Yeshua is the mediator, or the “surety” of this covenant (Heb 7.22, 8.6, 12.24) and ratified in his blood (Heb 9.12-24, 13.20).

The covenant at Moab had blessings and curses. Israel would be honored in the earth, the land would prosper, their enemies would be defeated and they would be the head and not the tail. It will be centered around teshuvah (Deut 30.2,8) and promises. They would be regathered after captivity (30.3-4) and they would have a circumcised heart (30.2,6). Israel is God’s people and he is their Elohim (29.13), the land is promised (30.5) and so is life (30.6,15,19). Israel must repent from idolatry and return to Yehovah alone, keep the commandments and then the Lord will fulfill his above promises. This covenant includes Torah observance.

Jeremiah spoke of this covenant. In Jer 11.2-4 he quotes Deut 27.26 and the curse that was on the people for failing to give heed to the covenant at Sinai. He warns them this curse was coming (Jer 25.9-12, 26.6-7, 29.10). In connection with this return Jeremiah speaks of a “new” covenant (31.31). The new (or renewed) covenant is the covenant at Moab. That means there are two “Mosaic” covenants.

Now, how does the covenant at Moab compare with the new covenant? First, the covenant at Moab is repeated in Ezek 36.22-38. We should do a comparison between Deut 29.1 with Jer 31.31-32; Deut 30.2,6 with Jer 31.22, 32.40; Deut 29.13 with Jer 32.28; Deut 30.3-5 with Jer 32.37. That means the “new” covenant is Torah based (Deut 30.10) and everlasting (Jer 32.10) which gives everlasting life (Deut 30.6,15,19) and it is not inconsistent with the covenant at Sinai. It is part of it and that is why the word “new” is “chadash” and it means “renewed.” It related to the word “chodesh” which is the word for month. The “new moon” is Rosh Chodesh and it means a renewed moon, not a totally different or “new” moon. The “new” covenant is to be understood in the same way. It is a “renewed” covenant not a totally different covenant like Replacement Theology Christianity teaches.

At the end of the 70 year curse, Daniel was in Babylon and he was studying the prophecies of Jeremiah (Dan 9.2). He knew that the curses in the Torah had come with God’s reply, and Israel would fall into a 490 year cycle (Dan 9.13, Lev 26.14, Deut 28.15). He also knew that if there was no repentance it would be seven times worse (Lev 26.18-28). In Daniel 9.3-23 he prays for mercy because he knows Israel has failed to repent and he knows seven times seventy is four hundred and ninety years. Gabriel comes with God’s reply, Israel would fall into a 490 year cycle. In Dan 9.24-27 Messiah is prophesied to come after 483 years of that cycle and be “cut off” (killed). They would need to repent and turn to the Torah, and keep a complete sabbath cycle (seven years) and at the end of the 490 years they would enter into the new covenant.

Yeshua began his ministry in Luke 4.16-20 and he read the haftorah for Nitzavim (our Torah reading with the covenant at Moab) and he began with Isa 61.1-2, and he said that it was “fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4.21). In Isa 60.22, there is a rabbinic interpretation that says God would hasten the restoration of the kingdom of God, or let it come in its due time, depending on what Israel does. The offer for the kingdom began with Yochanon Ha Matvil (Matt 3.2, 4.17). The kingdom of God is the restored kingdom of Israel (1 Chr 28.5; 2 Chr 13.8; Jer 23.5-6; Isa 9.6-7; Acts 1.6-7). However, the kingdom was rejected and Yeshua compared this rejection to those who would not dance (Matt 11.12, 16-19). In Matt 26.27-29 it says his blood ratified the “new covenant” at Moab. We learn the offer of the new covenant and the kingdom of God was extended in Acts 3.12-26 if there was a national repentance, but they didn’t. In Acts 28.17-28 the offer expired because there was no “corporate” repentance.

Paul comes along and he contrasts the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit (an element of the covenant at Moab in Deut 30.6) with those circumcised in the flesh alone (an element of the covenant with Abraham and Sinai-Gen 17.9-14; Deut 10.16). He talks about the “renewal of the Spirit” of the new covenant with the “oldness” of the “letter” of the Sinai covenant alone (Jer 31.31-34). In Rom 7-8 he contrasts the two Mosaic covenants. The covenant at Moab and the Torah of God, with the law of sin in the flesh (Rom 7.25). Walking by the covenant at Sinai alone is of the flesh, but the new covenant is “of the Spirit” (Rom 8.4-5) because the Lord writes it on the heart, not on stone, by the Spirit (the Lord) that we may live (Deut 30.6, 15,19).

In Rom 10.4-8, Paul says that the people who live by the righteousness which is by the Torah shall live by that righteousness (10.5). He then compares that with the righteousness that is by faith (10.6-8) by quoting from the covenant at Moab (Deut 30.11-14) in Rom 10.6-8. He says that this same covenant is the “word of faith we proclaim” (10.8). In Gal 3, he alludes to the two covenants. He says Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the law, which is the penalty for sin (Gal 3.10-13). Rashi tells us the word “besides in Deut 29.1 distinguishes the covenant of Moab from the curse of the law. In Gal 4.16-31 Paul plainly contrasts the two covenants.

Hebrews is filled with references to these covenants. Heb 8.1 begins with the “main point” and then quotes all of Jer 31.31-34 regarding the new covenant in Heb 8.8-11. Throughout the book the writer compares the first covenant with the second (Heb 8.6-13, 9.1,15 and 10.9). Now, keep this in mind, this also relates to the comparison in Hebrews with the Olam Ha Zeh and the Olam Haba. Just as one is “better” than the other, this second covenant is “better and differed from the first in several ways. The covenant at Sinai was written on stone and ratified by bulls, and the covenant of Moab is written on the heart and ratified by the blood of Yeshua (Heb 9.12-24). The covenant of Sinai was made in the Olam Ha Zeh, but the covenant of Moab will help the believer enter into the Olam Haba.

The Torah was not changed by the new covenant at Moab, it was “renewed and repeated” with better promises (written on our hearts in Deut 30.6). In Heb 3.7 through 4.10 the writer says the “rest” we enter into is like the entry into the land which took place at the death of Moses, after making the covenant of Moab. Look at the names in Deut 34.1-12, it is the same place as the covenant at Moab.

It all comes back to Moab (“seed of the father”). In 2 Mac 2.1-8 it says that Jeremiah his=d the Mishkan and the Ark in Nebo. There is an allusion to Jeremiah and the new covenant which places the Torah in our hearts. Again, this is tied in with Moab, where Nebo was, and the covenant with Moses. According to this book, all these items will be revealed again at the regathering, a clear allusion to the new covenant at Moab (As a side note, we don’t believe that the Mishkan and the Ark are at Nebo because of the concept of kedusha. We believe that they are in the Temple Mount).

So, let’s go over the basic concepts here. There are covenants in the Torah. The “new” or “renewed” covenant is distinguished from the first covenant at Sinai in several ways. This covenant at Moab is tied to the work of Yeshua who is the “surety” of this covenant. It involves a change in the heart and inner desires to become Torah observant and to be involved in a Torah-based faith in Yeshua, planted there by the Ruach Ha Kodesh to guide us in those desires to follow Torah (Jer 31.31-34).

The covenant at Moab has been offered to Israel collectively on at least three occasions. First, it was offered to Israel upon entering the land (Deut 29.1 through 30.20), upon returning to the land (Jer 29.10, 31.27-34) and at the first coming of Yeshua (Matt 26.27-29). While Israel may not collectively enter this covenant until the Birth-pains, individuals may enter into it beforehand, becoming citizens in the kingdom of God/Israel before it has been established.

The new covenant is God writing his Torah (teaching/guidance) on our hearts. He did it by his blood and work on the cross, being the pure “seed of the father” (Moab), who ratified it (Heb 9.12-24; Luke 22.20). This fulfills the Lord’s promise to Abraham, where his “seed” (singular) would bless the nations (Gen 12.1-3; Gal 3.16). The Ruach Ha Kodesh was “poured out” in Acts 2 and on the non-Jews (Acts 10) and the new covenant was written on the hearts of believers. The Torah and the desire to keep it was placed in the heart. It was cut and ratified like the covenant with Abraham, not with the blood of bulls, goats, sheep or birds, but with Yeshua’s pure blood (1 Pet 1.19) and repeated in Ezek 36.22-38. The ultimate outcome of this covenant does not depend on Israel or their obedience, but on Yehovah and his faithfulness when he regathers Israel as his people after the Birth-pains from all the nations.

We will pick up here with more concepts in Part 25.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 23

The Scriptures tell us that Yehovah is a God of judgment, so the question is, where was God and why was he silent during the Holocaust? Either God is dead or we accept the testimony of Scripture that God was silent because of sin. The Holocaust was judgment and not an “accident” or an “abnormality.” God uses nations to accomplish his will, and as rods to chastise another. Without this, we would have no fear of God and we would not be able to answer the “whys” of history or the Holocaust.

We have lost the point of view that God is a judge. His wrath and judgment makes his power known, but this idea offends our religious sensibilities and how we would like God to be. One “holocaust” is meant to save us from another one. How far will God go to teach us this, and to save us from the Lake of Fire? Just look at the what happened at the cross, or the Holocaust.

If we accept the premise that the Holocaust was judgment, then we have to ask “What was God judging?” Survivors and spokesmen for the Holocaust have been asked to consider that the sufferings in Israel’s history were prophesied in the Torah and they will say, “I refuse to consider that.” This summarizes man’s self-exaltation over and against God. It begins with the word “I.” Human arrogance will exalt its own opinion, thoughts and will above God’s every time. To refuse to consider the Word of God in why the Holocaust happened is to exalt ourselves above Yehovah. This is a sign of sin and a falling away from the truth. The root cause of the Holocaust is God’s judgment on the sin of self-exaltation of man at the expense of God’s truth and word (Isa 5.11-12, 13-24).

The Holocaust must also be seen in light of Israel’s past. They had a covenantal obligation and God sees us as incorporated into the destiny of the whole nation (Deut 29.14-14). If a covenant doesn’t bring blessings, then we are equally under the penalty of the clauses that bring a curse. If Israel was banished from the land for failing to live under the demands of the covenant we are studying about, how can Israel go back into the land to possess it without considering that the God of Mount Sinai and his covenant (see Lev 26.14-46 and the “vengeance of the covenant”).

We must acknowledge our sins and the sins of the fathers and realize that the judgments of the past were right and just before he will remember his covenant (Lev 26.39-42). We need to see a whole people brought into judgment and that we are joined to the past, and unresolved sin. This legacy must be broken. The justification for the relentless hunt for Nazi war criminals becomes our own indictment (Jer 7.24-26) and God brings the past into the present (“until this day”-Jer 7.25). We must acknowledge our personal guilt and responsibility in what the fathers have done that we can break ourselves from them.

What Israel has suffered historically is the judgment of God (the exiles, persecutions, pogroms, forced conversions, crusades, the Inquisition, terrorism). These should all be viewed in the larger context of covenantal unfaithfulness. Jeremiah hints at this unbroken cycle of sin in Jer 8.5, “Why then has this people, Jerusalem, turned away in continual apostasy? They hold fast to deceit, they refuse to return.”

Our fathers were involved in the murder of the Messiah (Acts 2.36, 3.11-15) and this has been exploited, but it remains true. This truth has not been spoken to the Jewish people in compassion or in a redemptive way. It has not been spoken with hearts that understood that it was for all sin (even the sins of the accusers) that implicated them also in his death. There is a great sin that needs to be acknowledged (Hos 5.15 to 6.3; Jer 3.25) and Yehovah is waiting to comfort Israel. A broken spirit and a contrite heart he will not despise (Psa 51.17).

Anyone with a basic understanding of the Scriptures, and of God, knows that God testifies against Israel. We as a people have chosen to believe a secular, educational, social or a political explanation for the Holocaust. They refuse to believe that the answer for it can be found in Yehovah. In Deut 32.1-43 we have what is called “The Song of Moses.” It is a specific warning prior to coming in to the land about the Holocaust. It warns about judgment. In seeking to understand the Holocaust, we do not consult the Scriptures.

There is a controversy that has asked, “Why didn’t the Allies bomb the concentration camps, railroad tracks and other facilities that supported the death camps?” The answer to that question is found in God. When he brings a judgment, he will bring it with the fullness he intended (totally), through men and in spite of men. Deu 32.20 says, “I will hide my countenance from them.” This means no man can deter it until God is finished.

This song should be known by heart and it would have saved the Jewish people from the destruction that is spoken about and predicted there. We preferred a kind of religion that we believe is “Judaism” but it did not provide this biblical analysis, and many believers in Yeshua today accept Rabbinic Judaism. The tragic absence of that forewarning and understanding is a testimony against Rabbinic Judaism’s efficiency.

Interpreting the catastrophe of the Holocaust is totally disagreeable to current Jewish analysis and assessment. The way that we perceive and justify ourselves is not going to save us from judgment that must come on the Lord’s terms. If you want to see his judgments, then look at the Holocaust and the Messiah. That is the Lord judging, and if you don’t see it then what we have been saying id the underlying cause is true. When we don’t see the hand of God in our judgments, we blame men. Man thinks that if God delays and withholds his judgments, that the calamity, when it comes, is no longer related to the sin.

Judgment can also be seen as mercy. It can be God’s final provision to unrepentant men, when every other grace to get our attention has failed. Then he will restore us in his mercy. The nations are also a part of this judgment. If they don’t repent, then they will receive God’s judgments, too (Isa 13.1-22). The people of the covenant is Israel, and with that comes the greater judgment and the passage of time means nothing. God has not changed and his mercy is to call us to repent (teshuvah) before the fulfillment of what is prophetically said in his word (Isa 13.6, 65.6-7; Dan 12.1; Joel 2; Amos 8.8-10; Zeph 1.2; Zech 14.1-5).

As we study prophecy, it is clear that this generation of Jewish people is going to suffer devastation on a world-wide scale this time. Demonic hatred will be released on every nation, not just one, and that includes the United States. It will be like in Germany, with no place to hide. Then the Jewish people will go back to the land for the Birth-pains and the coming of the Messiah. We have dealt with this extensively on this website.

This last days sifting will be intense, but the Lord will restore (Amos 9, Ezek 20.33-49). Yehovah has chosen Israel to be a statement of who we are as humans. Israel is a “witness” in whom the Lord reveals himself. He will be revealed when Israel is virtuous, and when Israel is sinful. God wants to convert Israel to himself and to life and the true nature of God, not to Replacement Theology Christianity (Jer 3.17). Jeremiah and Ezekiel adhere to the recognition of calamity as judgment because it is the fulfillment of God’s own word. When we recognize that, then revelation and hope can be found.

In Deut 29.1 we will learn about another covenant “besides the covenant he made with them at Horeb (Sinai).” This is the basis for the “new (meaning “restored”) covenant” spoken about in Jer 31.31-34. This covenant was ratified in the blood of Yeshua and Yehovah is waiting for Israel to acknowledge the death of Yeshua the Messiah and set in motion their salvation. If they plead exemption in any measure, then they are lost.

As we have said before, there is a final correction of Israel coming, followed by redemption and glory. Like Jeremiah and Ezekiel did, we must present without hesitancy the case that the catastrophes of Israel was the result of the wrath of God. The judgments of Deuteronomy and the prophecies in Scripture have been validated by history. Suffering before the glory is the center of Israel’s history, but only a remnant will survive what’s coming (Luke 24.26; Ezek 37; Isa 35.10, 51.11).

The State of Israel known today will fail (Isa 49.17-19, 52.9; Jer 30-31; Ezek 36.33-38). Isa 51 and 52 reads like the crucifixion of a nation at the hands of God, with phrases like, “cup of his fury” and “rebuke of they God” or “at the hand of the Lord.” In their direct need, the Lord call Israel to “awake” (Isa 51.17-23, 52.1-2). God’s severest judgments are always redemptive in nature, and his severity is mercy (Heb 12.5-11). To be chastised is not his final say on the matter (Jer 31.10-17). There is hope (Isa 54.2-3; Zech 8.22; Isa 55.5; Isa 56.7-8; Isa 60.1-3). Isa 60 tells us that Israel will eventually be honored and recognized among the nations. Their “light” is not human or “Rabbinic” but it is because they “know the Lord.” The righteousness of God will be imputed in the future (Isa 60.21, 61.11, 62.3-5; Psa 102.12-22).

In conclusion, what about personal restoration? Peter made it clear that all of Israel was culpable in the death of Yeshua, whether they were present or not, willing participants or not (Acts 2.36-38). Yeshua said we are implicated in the sins of our fathers (Matt 23.29-36). Only repentance can save us (Rom 10.12-13; Acts 4.12; Matt 1.21) and that is only in Yeshua (John 1.29, 12.27). Yeshua is the prophesied Messiah (John 5.39-46; Isa 52.13 through 53.12). We must humble ourselves and confess Yeshua and be saved (Rom 10.9-13). If the God of the Babylonian Captivity and the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple is the God of the Holocaust, then it is vain to condemn the rod of his fury as the cause, rather than the instrument of that wrath.

We will pick up in Part 24 with the next Torah portion called “Nitzavim” which means ” you are standing.”

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 22

Now we are going to begin to talk about the Holocaust, which comes from the Greek word “holokauston” which is a translation of the Hebrew “Olah” meaning “burnt offering, in light of Deut 28.15-68 and how this event was part of a continuing cycle of covenantal discipline and judgment. The “hedge” that surrounded the Jewish people was removed, exposing the people. The rabbis have interpreted portions of Scripture that discuss the sufferings of the Messiah, like Isa 53, as applying to the people of Israel. This can be expected from people who reject Yeshua, but this also exalts the people to a messianic level. They find a way to interpret the catastrophes of the past so that they come out vindicated rather that chastised.

Rabbinic Judaism has exalted itself against the knowledge of God. During the Holocaust, Poland was a religious center and hard hit. The ones who seemed the most religious (Ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox Jews) suffered the greatest. The bottom line is the religious leaders exalted what men said over what Moses said. What we think is impressive and “spiritual” does not mean that God sees it that way. The word “religious” does not mean “knowledgeable” and “Rabbinical” does not mean “Biblical.”

Israel failed to understand what really happened in 70 A.D. and the destruction of the land of Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans. If the people understood what happened, it would have been the foundation of a great repentance on the truth, but they didn’t (Luke 19.41-44). This gave rise to Rabbinic Judaism. The revelation of Yeshua saves us from mere concepts about God and the the things man conceives.

Man did not conceive God or is man the the standard of what we think he is. God reveals himself on his terms, at his will and he is not made in our image. A god in our own image does not make any demands on us, but is convenient. These false gods tell you that you are special just the way you are. He comforts you when there is trouble because you are not to blame, right?

In the first century, Yeshua came and tried to penetrate the man-made systems (there was not one “Judaism” at the time but many) of his day and they killed him (Acts 3.13-15). He challenged everything that was held dear. He was born in a sukkah with parents of no reputation. He grows up in Nazareth, a town that was despised in the Jewish writings and lived a hidden life for thirty years. He was falsely accused by some of the religious leaders from Beit Shammai and the Sadducees in particular, and dies the death of a criminal near the city dump. That is Yehovah, our God. But some say that God would never do that, that it just can’t be, right?

In a sense, Yeshua was the burning bush and the people turned away from him and refused to “turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight” like Moses did (Exo 3.3). By refusing to see the “holocaust” or “olah” (burnt offering) of Yeshua, the next holocaust was inevitable in 70 A.D. Yeshua predicted this would happen (Luke 21.10-24), and yet the people refused to acknowledge that the events of 70 A.D. and the total destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was in any way connected to their rejection of the Messiah.

By refusing to interpret correctly the tragedies that the people themselves set in motion, they were susceptible to the next tragedy. The worst deception of all is that the people had an incorrect perception of God. If you miss that, you miss who he really is. We must know the Lord in truth, in his judgments and his mercies. We are not talking “theology” here but “reality.”

To understand the Holocaust, we must understand how the Jewish people celebrated the German civilization. We have already touched on this briefly, but we need to repeat it because these concepts are important to us in our lives. The Jewish people in Europe, especially in Germany, had an exalted view of man, and this “enlightened” civilization systematically attempted to annihilate the European Jews. It was this very civilization that the Jews idolized and admired above all other nations that was the tool of this destruction. The music, the culture, the science, the education, the theological schools and the depth of their logic could not save European Jews.

Biblical truth about the coming of the Messiah, prophecy, sin and the true redemption was lost long ago. The Rabbis had systematically ordered that the people should not study these things anymore because of all the false messianic expectations the people had in the past that led to three wars with the Romans. They even pproclaimed you could not say the name of Yehovah anymore. For the non-religious Jews, Germany became the very fulfillment of any messianic expectation they might have had. The Jewish exaltation of man was validated by the “humane” and “civilized” German people wherever they lived. This is why, we believe, that God “required” that Germany be the ones to bring the horrors of the Holocaust (like he did with the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans in the Scriptures).

To be a German Jew was the highest dignity that could be afforded to you. When Polish Jews came to Germany as immigrants, there were German Jews who would look with contempt upon them for being crude, too religious and they were farmers with long beards. In fact, some German Jews were ashamed to be associated with them in any way because they thought of themselves as superior. Some of the greatest German Jewish scholars in psychiatry, physics, music and science lacked the true understanding of human depravity and did not anticipate the evil that man was capable of. As a result, that exalted German society actually became the instrument of Jewish destruction.

And yet, the Jewish people had no concept of sin and they did not think they had committed a transgression of any kind that would justify the judgment of the holocaust. Rabbinic Judaism celebrates Jewish life as superior in every way moral and ethical. But these recent events must bring everyone to the realization that man has failed. Israel acts like anyone else in the world, and there is violence in the land, corruption in government, they mistreat strangers and do whatever it takes to answer today’s problems.

However, we know that Israel’s biblical destiny is going to be fulfilled in spite of this. God’s name Yehovah, his covenant with the fathers and his honor is at stake. However, their arrogant self-assurance will cause the Lord to require Israel to be broken again, without hope and defeated in the Birth-pains of the Messiah until they acknowledge him (Ezek 37.1-28; Hos 5.15 to 6.3).

So, what is God’s view of Mankind? There is not a righteous person on earth, according to his word (Ecc 7.20; Psa 53.3-4, 130.3, 143.2). The problem is nobody wants to agree with him. The flesh is sinful and does not always exalt itself in crimes like murder, rape and thefts. It can also express itself through the intellect, music, art, business, science, politics, sports, entertainment and accomplishments. There is no way around it, the human flesh is wicked and rotten all the way through.

There exists a self-exaltation of Jewish life in the area of human accomplishment and brilliance that is a lie. What will it take to test this to reveal the flaws? Failing to obey the Torah and the word of God regarding our human condition is pride, and this will bring the judgment of God. Being a sinner makes it hard for us to see ourselves as a sinner! If we are going to see ourselves as a sinner, God must confront us as a judge who is righteous. This concept is plainly seen in the crucifixion of Yeshua and the Holocaust. It is in the depths of despair and darkness that we realize we are a sinner. Remember this concept, sin will refuse to call itself sin, and being a sinner makes it hard for us to see ourselves as a sinner!

The greatest revelation of sin can be seen in the price God paid for the propitiation of sin, and that price can be seen in the “Olah” (Holocaust) of Yeshua. What reveals “sin as sin” is the judgment that results from that sin. What reveals the mercy of God was his own willingness to bear the sins of many himself. What is the price of refusing to consider that act? If we do refuse to consider this, we have lost the one, great provision sinners have to understand their own condition before the Lord, and the price that was paid for us. To dismiss either the crucifixion or the efficacy of the one raised up on the cross as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, is the same mindset in those who refused to look at that serpent on a pole in the wilderness, and they died. It is also the same mindset that revisionists use when they dispute or reject the historical accuracy of the Holocaust.

In Part 23, we will pick up here

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 21

Deut 28.15-68 tells us about the curses, which was bad news if Israel didn’t go after the blessings. What we are going to talk about now in relation to these curses will be hard to express because these verses sadly tell the history of Israel. We do not enter into this discussion lightly. In the wilderness, they wanted to go back to Egypt, and later the curse got so bad that Israel was devalued and nobody wanted them. In 70 A.D. with Titus and in 135 A.D. with Hadrian, they tried to sell Jewish slaves to Egypt and Egypt didn’t want them.

In the 1700’s there was a move in Germany to move away from aspects of Orthodox Judaism and the Torah. This movement is called “Reform Judaism.” Jews assimilated into the nations around them and they wanted to be accepted. The Holocaust, also known as the “Shoah” (calamity) was the result of what Moses warned about in these verses. He pleads with the people to choose the Lord and the Lord.

After all these years, and all that Israel has been through, they still don’t get it, and that’s the problem. But the world is like this, too. God has been rejected for 6000 years and they have no heart to know, eyes to see or ears to hear the word of the Lord. So, what happened in the Holocaust? How could something like this happen?

The subject of the Holocaust (Shoah) has caused many to ask those questions. What we are going to present will be hard to accept by many who will read this, but it is the truth regardless. The biggest curse of all is to have no sense of being part of a curse. From these verses in Deut 28.15-68 we will attempt to answer the above questions of what happened i the Holocaust and how could it happen. We are also writing this as Jewish believers in Yeshua, who had many distant and unknown relatives who lived in Europe (some of the ancestors came over as early as the late 1600’s) who may have perished in the Holocaust, so we do not enter into this lightly or flippantly. Had Yehovah placed us in a different “space and time continuum” in his plan, we may have perished also.

We ask that you read what we are going to present with an open mind. We do not mean to hurt anyone or cause anyone distress, but we want to accurately interpret the Holocaust in light of what Moses said in Deut 28.15-68. If the God of 586 B.C. and 70 A.D. is the God of 1933-45 A.D., then it is vain to condemn the rod of his fury (Germany) as the cause rather than the instrument of his wrath.

How could Israel be systematically slaughtered by the most civilized people on earth (Germany)? They were not some ignorant, uncivilized society. The Jewish people had a long and prosperous relationship with Germany, even celebrating it as the Messianic ideal. And it wasn’t only the Jews who believed this, Christian theologians had been looking to German theologians as the ideal source for their theology and understanding, going back all to Martin Luther. Many Jews thought that if the rest of the world could be like Germany, then it would be like the coming of the Messiah.

In an article called “Germany–the Jewish Motherland” from Aish Ha Torah, it says, “Late in the nineteenth century, the Jews living in Germany and Austria denied they were in any way “chosen.” In fact, they believed that the non-Jews among whom they lived were the true chosen people. ‘Berlin is our Jerusalem!’ they loudly proclaimed. Gentile society was their social environment of choice, and Germany was their beloved motherland. Did anti-Semitism disappear? Well, we know the answer to that question. Following their espousal of their host nations’s culture, German and Austrian Jews experienced the most vicious outpouring of anti-Jewish hatred in recent history. Precisely when and where Jews rejected their claim to ‘chosenness,’ they suffered the most virulent forms of anti-Semitism.”

Why would they say that? Because Jews had lost the Messianic expectation a long time ago and would settle for anything that was ethically, morally and culturally as grand. To be slaughtered by that nation is not something that should be lost on our sensibilities as we study this subject. There is a message in this and the fact that Jews have not sought or obtained the meaning of that message means they will experience it again.

The Holocaust is like trying to swallow something that is to big to digest. It is the most devastating event of modern times, not just for someone who is Jewish, but for the modern world. If the reason for the Holocaust is not properly digested, the Jewish people will have a loss so large it cannot be numbered. There is something about suffering that opens up the issues of truth and reality like nothing else. When we go through something devastating, it brings out many issues that need to be dealt with. The most tragic part of this study is being part of the curse and not knowing you are part of the curse, and the curse comes from God. Most people cannot bring themselves to the realization that God was the author of the Holocaust, according to Moses and the Torah. He was behind the Babylonian Captivity in 586 B.C and the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

There has not been an event in recent history that has generated more research, literature and discussion than the Holocaust. These works would fill libraries. We not only study the casualties, but how they made the gas and the rise of the Nazis. The history of anti-Semitism is discussed and many other things have been weighed in the balance. But, there is a very significant void in all this research, and that is the literature that deals with, “Where was God and why did he allow this?”

Everyone knows how it was done (by man) but nobody can say “why.” We need to know that there is a great gulf between those two issues. We can give an answer to “how.” Historians have gone through the records and have documented how it was done. They can answer why in the sense that the rise of the Nazis and Hitler’s anti-Semitic hatred of the Jews, but that does not answer the biggest question, and there are no books that do.

What the Holocaust tells us is that people have naively accepted the most romantic and traditional notions about Yehovah. Those notions have caused emotional, mental and spiritual dilemmas within us because we think that the God we “know” should have revealed himself in power, and didn’t. It insinuates that God has a moral defect within him and isn’t really concerned with suffering, or he is powerless to stop the suffering of his chosen people, or he doesn’t exist at all.

The Jewish people are a brilliant people and the writers of many books. The Jews are even called “The people of the Book” but the real issue is, Jews don’t really know the book for which they are known. Even religious Jews don’t know it as they should because they have occupied themselves with rabbinic commentaries rather than studying Moses and the book for themselves. The Jewish people cannot come to the place to believe that the God who inspired the Bible is able to give us insight to its meaning through his Spirit. But, we need to understand the calamities in history already referred to, and the Holocaust, and see that they point to future calamities and “birth-pains” predicted in what the Scriptures have already written.

The Scriptures are very clear about this. Few investigators look to the Bible to find an explanation for the Holocaust. Instead, Jewish and non-Jewish people raise money for Holocaust museums because there is a hope that through education and knowledge they can avert another calamity. It is never considered that the Holocaust happened at the hands of the most educated nation on earth. They are convinced (but wrong) that the education of man will avoid another Shoah, all the while avoiding what the Scriptures had to say about why it happened. Even Yochanon Ben Zakkai, who witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in the first century, said that anti-Semitism is not a normal phenomenon but it comes when Israel fails to obey the Lord (Talmud, Ketubot 66b).

This study is not given to satisfy a historical question, but it does have present and future applications. Disasters like the Holocaust cannot go unexamined or we make room for another one. The history of the Holocaust must be examined in light of the Scriptures. To fail to come up with the right answers as to why the Holocaust happened is worse than denying it ever happened at all.

In Part 22 we will pick up here and discuss how the Holocaust was part of what is known as “covenantal discipline and judgment” and how Yehovah removed the “hedge” of protection at some point, exposing the people.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 20

Now we come to the next Torah portion in Deuteronomy called “Ki Tavo” meaning “When you enter in.” It goes from Deut 26.1 to 29.8. There are two Torah portions that strike fear into the heart of every God fearing believer, “Behukatai” in Lev 26.3 to 27.34, and this one.

Themes are being tied together by Moses now, so he goes back to Genesis and recalls how they got to where they were and that it was the Lord who orchestrated it all. Now they are about to receive the land and promise, so he gives them instruction. They are the same instructions for us, too, as we receive the promise of the Olam Haba.

In Deut 26.2-11 they were told to give back because they have received the promise. That is one of the real signs we have received the promise, giving. That doesn’t only mean money, but it can include the giving of your time, studying to teach others, and so on. The Lord sees this as really receiving. Where a man’s heart is, there his treasure will be also.

When people are really with a congregation they will serve in some capacity. They will participate and attend groups and give of their increase. They will give materially, of themselves, of their talents and gifts. The giver decides the value of the gift. After all, The Father gave Yeshua, didn’t he? But, here is a problem. We must also learn to receive before we can give. Once we realize just how great a salvation we have, and what he has saved us from, then our hearts are ready for commandments.

Yeshua is the first fruits of those who believe. This whole thing is way to say, “Thanks.” What have we got to be thankful for? Yeshua paid the price of redemption for us, and we have eternal life, the forgiveness of sin and peace with God!

This portion on giving (v 13-15) is a way of saying, “I have not forgotten.” It teaches us to take responsibility for our actions and to elevate our spiritual status. If we did something, admit it. Adam blamed Chava and Chava blamed the Nachash. We all claim that we did nothing wrong at times. An aversion to apologize is widespread in western society. Psychology has done all it can to remove “guilt” from our language. They say it is “unhealthy” to feel guilt. We try to suppress it and this leads to other problems, however. Sometimes we say the commandment that we just fulfilled back to the Lord. This is an important commandment to remember, and that is what is being conveyed in Deut 26.13-15.

In Deut 26.16 we have the statement “this day.” It is also used in Deut 27.9 and Deut 29.4. Repetitions mean something in the Scriptures. What are we to understand and realize by the phrase “this day?” Deut 27.1-10 has another procedure they were to do once they enter the land. We learn that they were to set up large stones and coat them with white lime. Then they were to write all the words of “this law” on them (no hint of an oral tradition here).

They were also to build an altar without using an iron tool on it. This altar must be made by God, so they were to have uncut stones but they could plaster over it. The word for “uncut” here is “Shelemot” and it means “peace, whole or complete.” Now, this altar by the command of God is a far cry from the altars we have all seen on TV or in churches where prayer requests are put. Sometimes they have cut concrete stones and burn the “debt” or the bills of an unsuspecting contributor. These are made from materials from Home Depot or Lowe’s (cement blocks in most cases) or the “altar ” is made out of wood. These are not biblical altars at all, they are invalid.

An altar is a testimony to all who see it that the earth is the Lords, and it was made by the Lord. An altar is God’s ownership mark and where he does “business” with man. Altars do not necessarily symbolize a korban (offering), but they are brought there. Now, how can you know who owns the land they are going to possess? The answer, whoever is the one who can put restrictions on it.

In Eden, God put restrictions on what happened there. He told Adam and Chava what trees they could eat from, and what trees not to eat from. When they ate from a tree that was forbidden to them, they were challenging God’s ownership, and they were evicted. The Lord owns the earth and his altar must be of uncut stones. When they brought their peace offerings, they were to eat them there (Deut 27.5-7). In the same way, the Lord owns the land they are going in to possess. There were restrictions on the land and certain things were commanded. If they did them, the land and the people were blessed. If they disobeyed the commandments, then the people would be evicted just like Adam and Chava were.

In Deut 27.11-26, the people are at Shechem (“shoulder”). Six tribes stood on Mount Gerizim (Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph and Benjamin). The other six stood on Mt. Ebal (Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulon, Dan and Naphtali). Then the Levites spoke to all Israel and gave twelve curses. The people were to answer “Amen.” These are not new commandments and there is something about these twelve that indicate they have received the promise. These are sins that are done in “secret.” People can obey publicly, but what about when no one sees us?

Let’s look at Deut 27.26, “Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.” This is exactly what Yeshua said in Matt 5.17-20. He told us that we were not even to think he came to do away with the Torah. He came to fulfill it, or give it meaning and a true interpretation. However, people today not only think it has been destroyed, but they teach it (that the Torah has been done away with)! The Torah applies as long as there is heaven and an earth (Matt 5.18), and to every individual, in every generation. We live in a society that says we are not to obey the commandments of the Lord, and we are reaping the curse.

In Deut 28.1-14 we have the blessings for obedience. The Lord would set Israel “high above all nations” (v 1) and when we look at Israel’s contribution to mankind, it far exceeds that of any other nation. That is because the blessing was upon them. However, Israel is the living example of the curses also. If they obeyed the Lord, the blessing would overtake them (v 2). They would be blessed in the city and blessed in the country (v 3). Their offspring and produce from the ground, and their animals, would be blessed (v 4). Their basket and kneading bowl would be blessed (v 5)). They would be blessed coming in and going out to war (v 6). The Lord would cause their enemies to be defeated, and flee before them seven ways (v 7). The blessing would be in their barns and in everything they did (v 8). God would establish them as a people set apart to him (meaning with a kedusha) if they obeyed his commandments (v 9). All the peoples of the earth would know that they were called by the name of the Lord, and be afraid of them (v 10). He would prosper them in their body, in their animals and in the ground (v 11). They would have rain when needed, lend to nations and not borrow from them (v 12). They would be the head, not the tail, above and not beneath, if they listened to the commandments and observed them (v 13).

In Part 21, we will pick up here with the curses in Deut 28.15-68, and what would happen to Israel if they disobeyed the Torah. We will then get into some information about the Holocaust and why it happened. It was the result of what Moses warned Israel about here. Moses will be pleading with the people to choose the Lord.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 19

The next Torah portion is called “Ki Tetze” and it means “When you go out” and it goes from Deut 21.10 to 25.19. There are nearly 80 commands in this portion and v 10-21 is going to deal with domestic relations. So, the question is, what is Moses trying to teach us here?

Deut 21.10-17 talks about a new wife; 21.18-23 talks about a stubborn son and parents; 22.1-4 talks about your neighbor; 22.6-7 deals with animals; 22.8-12 deals with visitors to our house; 22.13-30 deals with the laws of morality and a wife. Deut 23.1-6 deals with people excluded from the assembly; 23.7-8 deals with how to treat the Edomites and the Egyptians. Deut 23.9-14 deals with the army and sanitation. Deut 23.15-16 deals with slaves who have run away. Deut 23.17-20 talks about prostitutes, and charging interest to an Israelite or a foreigner. Deut 23.21-30 talks about vows and Deut 23.24-25 deals with not abusing your neighbor’s fields by taking too much for yourself. Deut 24.1-5 deals with divorce and Deut 24.6-22 has various laws on kidnapping, Zara’at (Leprosy) and sensitivity and respect to others. Deut 25.1-19 deals with various laws concerning punishment, not muzzling and animal when it is working, family dealings, disagreements, cheating and just weights, and they were to remember what Amalek did to them.

Now, as you read this Torah portion there is one concept that stands out, and it is never mentioned. That concept is “Kindness.” That is what Moses is trying to get across to the people. We have kindness to a new wife (v 10-15). The stubborn son command was never carried out, and Israel openly said it wasn’t. It has to do with kindness to your children (v 18-21). Deut 21.22-23 deals with capital punishment and kindness to one cursed. Did Moses change the subject? No, Yeshua needed to come down from the cross that day according to these verses because of kindness. In Deut 22.1-4 we have kindness to our neighbor, and in Deut 22.6-7 we have kindness to animals. The Lord has a whole teaching about how to be kind to wives, children, criminals, one cursed, neighbors and animals.

Do we know why people get divorced? The basic reason is one person decided to quit being kind to the other one. No matter what the grounds for divorce was, the bottom line is one person was unkind to the other at least. That is a tragedy. A commitment has been broken and a reality that has been created by that commitment with words has been altered. The same thing happens with children. When they stop being kind, damage begins. They are punished not for crimes committed, but to prevent future crimes. There is also a warning to parents here. There is a deep responsibility in raising children. If they are not disciplined correctly, they can eventually fall into criminal activity.

When dealing with one cursed (v 22-23), no matter how evil they were, once they are dead we are to be kind to them and their remains. Did you know that when a bomb explodes in Israel there are religious people who go out with rubber gloves to pick up the pieces of those killed, including the bomber? The remains are given a proper burial. It doesn’t matter if it was the bomber or the victim. Why? They are doing a work of kindness and respect. The dead have no more choices to make or a theology to defend anymore. They are in eternity and experiencing the truth of it all.

Another reason you don’t leave a body up on a tree is that it would be degrading to the “King.” It would be disgraceful to God because the criminal was created in the image of God. There is a story about a set of twins, and one was a king and the other was a thief. The thief got caught and was killed and left hanging. As people walked by they said, “The king has been killed.” Disgracing a fellow human being is like disgracing God.

What about kindness to our neighbor (22.1-4)? We are to help him. However, we are not under any obligation to do the owner’s work for him. The verse says “help him” and this excludes one who will not do anything for himself. This also applies to spiritual things. If a person works to improve himself and his knowledge, or his walk with the Lord, then heaven helps him. But if its only lip service, how can the Lord be asked to intervene? Look at Deut 21.10 again. It says, “When you go out” to battle. The question is, “Who goes out?” The answer is, we do, but God gives us the victory in battle. That is why we need to know the concepts associated with spiritual warfare. You are going to be in a battle whether you want to or not, whether you are prepared for one or not. But, we all will have to go out for war. Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, who will be? And if I am only for myself, what am I?”

When it comes to kindness to animals, there is a common thread that is seen in serial killers and sadistic crimes. They previously abused animals and if you can’t show kindness to small animals (and big ones), you won’t show kindness to a human being either. We learn that we cannot take everything for ourselves in v 6-7. We must learn to set apart our own interest and take what we need and send the mother away to lay more eggs for someone else’s benefit. The mother stayed with her eggs because you normally cannot catch a bird. Don’t take advantage of her motherly instincts and eat her, too. Why? Kindness to animals.

The Torah says we are to show kindness to strangers, travelers, non-Jews, widows, orphans and the disadvantaged. 1 Tim 5.1-16 says Paul taught this principle. He said we should take care of widows in their congregations. If the widow meets the the qualifications put forth there. What would happen if congregations did that instead of building huge buildings and massive TV ministries?

How can we show kindness to a widow or orphan? People say, “We’re too busy and there are no finances for that in our church (or family). They may become dependent on us.” But the Lord will test us in order to teach us kindness. He will send us some “strange neighbors.” Kindness is what this Torah portion is all about. We should train our eyes to see with an “ein tov” (good/generous eye) and we should remind ourselves of the value of others and their true worth. We should also remember the times when others showed kindness to us.

Being in a congregation is like a marriage. At first everyone “loves” one another and you have bare necessities, very little. You may meet in homes or a cheap hotel room for awhile, and you make do with the resources you have. But then comes a little prosperity and familiarity with each other, and the first thing that goes is kindness. After that things get “theological.” Those people don’t “believe like I do.” It isn’t long before people are at each other’s throats and they all think they are “obeying the Lord.” However, nobody is given the benefit of the doubt. Then we believe “rumors” and “innuendos.” Then the gossip starts and spreads like gangrene and then the false accusations. After that comes the final stage, “No kindness from me. They were never my teachers anyway.”

We also need to be kind to our spouses and children, with the “cursed” and those who have passed away. We should be kind to animals, our neighbors, the stranger among us, the traveler, widows, orphans and the disadvantaged. 2 Pet 1.7 says that in between “godliness” and “love” there is “brotherly kindness.” We cannot love if we are not kind. If we say we “love the Lord” but we “hate our brother” we don’t get it. We can maintain any relationship through kindness.

There are lots of reasons to get into disputes with people. They may misbehave and don’t do the right thing. They may forget something and make mistakes. We don’t have to love their behavior but we can be kind in a dispute. The Middle east peace talks are a perfect example. They can’t even be kind to one another anymore. They won’t shake hands or even be in the same room. The Prophets would tell the people to “return to God (teshuvah) and observe kindness and justice” (Hos 12.6).

Micah 6.8 says, “Do justice, love kindness.” Zech 7.9 says, “Dispense true justice and practice kindness.” Kindness was the one common trait when the Prophets preached teshuvah (repentance). Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5.22). Think about how to be kind as we read these verses. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is something we must remember. It is especially true with those who are closest to us. We must show kindness in families, congregations, work environments and nature.

Now, let’s go back to Deut 24.1 and look at the concept of divorce very briefly. The word “indecency” (NASB) or “uncleanness” (KJV) there is the word “ervah” and it means anything indecent, naked, shame or improper behavior. The Greek equivalent is “porneia” as seen in Matt 5.32, which means, “But I say to you that everyone who divorces (puts away, sends out, separates) his wife, except for uncleanness (the “ervah” of Deut 24.1) causes her to commit adultery and whoever marries a woman who is separated but not divorced commits adultery.” It does not mean adultery (which is the Hebrew “naaph”) or any of the “uncleanness acts” listed in Lev 18. Adultery was punishable by death (didn’t need to waste money on a divorce) and the acts of Lev 18 was punishable by karet, either by man or God. The word in Deut 14.1 is “ervah” and this word carries the meaning there is something that makes their life together impossible. To stay together would lead to cruelty and abuse. Yeshua never said if you marry one who is divorced, you have committed adultery. Deut 24.1-5 clearly says that a divorced person can remarry.

In Matt 5.32 and 19.1-6, Yeshua is freeing these verses (and others) from all the false interpretations of some of the Jewish religious leaders. There is no case for divorce in the Torah for the sexual sins listed in Lev 18, but those guilty were to be cut off from their people either by man or God (Lev 18.29), and there is no divorce for one who has committed adultery. The penalty for adultery was death.

However, divorce was allowed in the Torah for certain reasons, and “ervah” (that which makes life together impossible) is one of them. Exo 21.10-11 says that a divorce is also allowed in the case where the husband does not provide for food, clothing and conjugal rights. Sometimes it is the will of God that people get a divorce (Ezra 10.1-44; Neh 13.23-31). People have been unkind to those who have had a divorce because they do not understand the Scriptures and have misinterpreted many verses on this subject (as they do with verses on other subjects, too). We should show kindness to those who have gone through such a tragedy and not teat them like lepers. People can show kindness to people with all sorts of previous sin, but when one says they are divorced, they are treated differently. This is because of all false teaching that is out there. Remember, God is divorced, too (Isa 50.1; Jer 3.8).

We will pick up with the next Torah reading called Ki Tavo” meaning “When you enter in” in Part 20.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 18

Now we come to Deut 20.1-20 and the Law of Warfare. This is called “Moreshet Karav” or the “Heritage of War” in Hebrew. We will see there is a High Priest who in anointed for war in these passages (v 2) and this is very eschatological. We know that Yeshua is our High Priest (Heb 4.14-16) and we know that he comes for war at his second coming (Isa 63.1-6; Rev 19.11-21).

There will be two types of warfare. There are the wars commanded by God, like those in Canaan or with the Amalekites (Exo 17.15). Then we have the wars permitted for self-defense or an offensive reason, like with the Philistines. Not just any high priest led the armies of Israel, but a high priest anointed for war. These laws of warfare were followed by the Maccabees and v 3-4 was said by the high priest before the battle. This reminded the people that death was not in the hands of the enemy, and those who believe that death came by the will of God are not afraid of his command.

We are not to fear our enemies, either. Fear spreads and we can cause many to fall. But fear can come in many ways and in many situations not related to warfare. If you are a coach and your star player is not playing well, take him out of the game. You cannot coach in fear. If you are a parent and you must discipline your children, do it. You cannot parent in the fear that your children won’t like you. Are we fainthearted? We are in a battle right now and you cannot function that way.

In Deut 20.10 it says that when they came to a city, they were to offer terms of peace. They were not to compromise with an enemy. If the city wanted peace, the people found in it would become forced labor and serve Israel (v 11). If they did not want to make peace, when the city fell the men were killed and the women, children and livestock and all in the city shall be taken as booty. However, they were not to leave anything alive in the cities of those people that the Lord is giving them as an inheritance (v 16).

In Deut 20.19 it says they were not to cut down any trees that could be used for food. Only non-fruit bearing trees could be used to construct siege works against a city. This tells us we should not cut ourselves off from our spiritual food during a battle. For more information on spiritual warfare, see our series called “The Spiritual Warrior” on this website.

Deut 21.1-9 tells us about the rite of the “Eglah Arufah” (the heifer whose neck is broken). This was done in the case of an unsolved murder. This ceremony was a symbolic reenactment of the crime. A young calf is taken by the elders of the city nearest to to the slain person. The calf must be one who has not been worked and has not pulled a yoke.

The heifer was taken down to a valley with running water which has n ot been plowed or sown and they would break the neck of the heifer in the valley (a violent death). Then the priest shall come near because the Lord has chosen them to settle every dispute and to bless the name of Yehovah. Then all these elders of the city nearest to the slain would wash their hands over the heifer that has been slain. Then they say, “Our hands have not shed this blood nor did our eyes see it. Forgive they people Israel whom you have redeemed, O Lord, and do not place the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of thy people Israel.” Then bloodguiltiness shall be forgiven because they have done what was right in the eyes of the Lord. So, what does all this mean?

The young heifer and the unplowed field is alluding to the lost potential of a life snuffed out. It is clearly a ceremony that is a type of the Messiah. He was without the “yoke” of sin. The valley symbolized Yeshua “descending” from heaven to die a violent death (Psa 69.1-2, 88.6-7), and we are made “clean” through Yeshua (Psa 26.6).

As the spiritual leaders, the elders would stand as the generators of kedusha throughout their area. Had they been more careful about the needs of others, they may have been able to touch even the lowest criminal and perhaps the murderer would not have killed the victim. Therefore, they must proclaim that they were not lax in anyway towards others in their area. God will hold us accountable for these things, too, like abortion, criminal acts not dealt with and untraced murder. To remove the guilt of innocent blood is the right things to do.

As we read through the Torah you will notice a very interesting thing. We don’t see jails used for punishment. As often as it is used in our western judicial system, you would think that you would find in in the Torah, but you don’t. It is a foreign concept in Jewish law based on the Torah. From the perspective of the Torah, it is not a viable option or an effective deterrent in regards to a disciplinary, rehabilitative or financial point of view.

The truth is, one would think that a Torah-based society would not need a system of courts and judges. One would assume that following the Torah perfects the character to such a degree that laws would never be broken. But, that is of course not the case. The Torah is telling us in this ceremony that even in the best of times the Torah is not enough to cleanse a person from evil intentions and acts. Only death sets us free from all that.

Paul taught this concept and the Torah helps us understand what sin is. He said in Rom 3.20 that “BY the law (Torah) is the knowledge of sin.” John said in 1 John 3.4 that “Sin is the transgression of the Law (Torah).” The Paul says that “by grace we are saved through faith” (Eph 2.8). But Paul asks in Rom 3.31, “Do we then make void the Torah through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the Torah.” The Torah tells us how to be more like the Lord (Isa 55.8).

The impact of eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was absorbed into all our lives, leaving us with plenty of pride, lust and desire (Gen 3.24). Ever wonder why the Lord had to guard the way to the Tree of Life? If we have free will, why don’t we sin in the Olam Haba and start this whole thing over again? God didn’t want Adam and Chava to eat from the Tree of Life and be in the state of sin forever. In the Olam Haba we will be in our glorified bodies forever, and incapable of sin because the Lord will not let us sin (Jude 24; Col 1.17). We will eat of the Tree of Life in the Olam Haba (Rev 22.1-3).

To understand this question fully, we must be able to answer the question, “Why did God put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life in Eden if he knew man was going to sin? Why dd he allow Satan to fall if he created him perfect and to be a covering angel and minister before him? DTBM Online Video Training/YouTube.com has a good video on this and we will draw out the most important concepts to answer this question.

God never discovers anything new or learns anything. He does not add additional knowledge The first thing we must come to grips with is that God determines the outcome before things ever happen. He knows everything, even who will be saved before the world was ever created (Eph 1.4). For more in formation on this subject, see our teaching called “The Sovereignty of God and the Elect” on this website.

God is perfect and self-existent and he is described as the only one that is good (Mark 10.18). Jude 24 says that God is able to keep us from falling. Have you ever wondered why there is no sin in the Olam Haba? Why doesn’t man sin and start the whole redemption process over again? What we need to understand is God is by himself, and outside of him man and Satan dwells. Satan was doing his job and God kept him perfect (Ezek 28) because nothing is perfect on its own. Nothing can continue in perfection.

Satan was doing what God created him to do because God was keeping him (Jude 24). God keeps and preserves us as well. He holds things together (Col 1.17). But, when the Lord ceases that hold, evil is found. God said in the case of Satan, and eventually Adam, “I am going to demonstrate what happens when I cease “holding on.” In Isa 14.12-14 Satan says, “I will be like God.” But notice that he doesn’t say, “I will be greater than God” or “I will be better than God” because he knows that that was not going to happen.

Yehovah “withdrew” his hold on “Helel Ben Shachar” (Satan is a title) and look what happened…evil was found in him (Ezek 28.15). God had a plan before anyone needed to be redeemed. He was showing what happens when he is absent, what happens without him. This brings us to Adam.

Adam was “good” but the Torah never says he was perfect. Adam’s innocence had one command, “Do not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” But Adam did not obey that one command and sinned, and we are not responsible for that. However, we are responsible for the sins we commit. The “sin nature” is spiritual and not “physically” passed. You will notice that Adam began blaming others for his sin immediately, right away! He already had that within him, and so did Chava. Why is this the case? Because man has an inclination to sin and do evil, and our desires supersede what God says in his word.

But the good news is this. God promised to “blot out” the remembrance of our fleshly nature, just like he gave instructions to blot out the name of Amalek in Exo 17.14 and Num 24.20. That is why we will not sin in the Olam Haba. God will be keeping and holding us, not allowing it to happen. Those who have the belief that we have free will and God will never violate that does not understand the sovereignty of God. Again, we refer you to the teaching called “The Sovereignty of God and the Elect” on this website for a more detailed look at this question.

We will pick up here in Part 19 with the Next Torah portion called “Ki Tetze” meaning “When you go out.”

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 17

The concept of Judges, Officers, Kings, Prophets and Priests applies to the nation of Israel, but can these concepts and functions be applied to an individual in their walk walk God? We believe they can and here is how. In an individual the Judge (Shophet) and the Officer (Shoter) are like two powers and abilities which are in anyone. The “Judge” adjudicates with his logic and his decisions are rendered after careful “deliberations in his chamber (intellect). He should look at the whole situation. The “Officer” executes the “Judges” decision as he acts.

A person should reign as “King” (Melek) over himself, judging between right and wrong and using common sense to decree that the right thing should be done. There are times that he serves even if his logic does not comprehend why in accordance to the Torah.

We must speak the the words of God to others like a “prophet” (Navi) and show them what pleases the Lord. We should be a “priest” (Kohen) in our houses, congregations, communities and jobs by serving and teaching the people “the difference between the holy (things with a kedusha) and the common (things without a kedusha), and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean” (Ezek 44.23).

Deut 19.1-13 discusses manslaughter. Cities were to be prepared so that the manslayer can flee there. They were to be accessible and close, with roads to get there. These laws are there to prevent an innocent person from having the “avenger of blood” come after him. This teaches patience and justice. The Torah recognizes that passions exist. People are not necessarily rational when it comes to a family member being killed. Emotions dictate rather than justice. The Torah provides a way out.

However, Deut 19.11-13 says that the Law of Refuge does not apply to a murderer. The murderer is taken out and killed, and the people were not to pity them. There is an interesting article called “The death penalty and a la carte Christianity” by Marvin Olasky, World on the Web, May 13, 2000, Vol 15, Number 19. It has some interesting concepts related to this subject of manslaughter and murder. We would like to include it here as follows:
“My sense is that World us getting, from those trying to apply the Bible to news events, more thoughtful questions and fewer angry outbursts than we received a few Years ago. I’d like to address some of those serious inquiries in this space occasionally, starting with this question from one reader: ‘The issue that has always seemed contradictory to me is that the same people who are pro-life for babies seem to be pro-death for adults (the death penalty). How does this work?’

“Here’s one part of a serious answer: It makes sense to me for a pro-life person to hang tough on punishment for those who deliberately take away life. Far more important, though, is the second part: If we act as strict constructionists concerning the Bible, rather that as readers who want to make the Bible fit modern liberal thought, it’s clear that the death penalty makes sense to God.”

“The logic that makes sense for me is that abortion is about killing the innocent, while the death penalty is about killing the guilty. I see no inconsistency with opposing one and supporting the other. It’s important, of course, that capital punishment be used only on those who have committed murder beyond the shadow of a doubt. I’m for appeals. I’m for full checking and rechecking of a court record. I’m for working to see that people of favored races or genders don’t escape justice.”

“Much more important than anything I think, however, is what God says. The Old Testament prescribed the death penalty for murder not only among Israelites, but as the fitting penalty among all peoples for such a crime. Christ turned the other cheek to personal insults but upheld all the standards of justice laid down by the Father in Heaven.”

“It’s important to see that our modern tendency is different. Even some who call themselves Christians say it doesn’t matter what the Bible clearly embraces; if it reels right, obey it, and if it doesn’t, don’t. Many of us believe in a la carte obedience concerning capital punishment or anything else. The Washington Post noted earlier this year that ‘Americans write their own Bible. They fashion their own God…turning him into a social planner, therapist or guardian angel.'”

“The Post told the story of Ed and Joanne Liverani, who decided to ‘build their own church, salvaging bits of their old religion they liked and chucking the rest.’ They ended up with a god who ‘cheers them up when they are sad, laughs at their quirks.’ Lynn Garrett, a religious book tracker for Publishers Weekly called this ‘an eclectic approach. People borrow ideas from different traditions, then add them to whatever religion they’re used to.’

“We have many borrowing options in America today. Not only many variants of Christianity and Judaism beckon, but four million Muslims now live in the United States; that’s five times as many as lived here 30 years ago. The number of Hindus in America has increased during that period from 100,000 to 950,000; the number of Sikhs has jumped from 1,000 to 220,000. That’s fine, because biblical belief can stand up well to competition from other systems of belief; the greater danger lies in syncretizing or melding, as when the ancient Israelites tried to combine biblical religion with worship of Baal or some other idol.”

“Not only illogical people embrace ‘A Self-Made Deity,’ as the subtitle to The Washington Post story put it. The New York Times portrayed Steven Weinberg, a theoretical physicist who won the Nobel Prize in 1979, musing, ‘Even if there is a God, how do you know that his moral judgments are the correct ones? Seems to me Abraham should have said “God, that’s just not right.”‘ Professor Weinberg is brilliant, but if God is limited to judgments with which a very bright person agrees, then God can be no more discerning than that person. A God only as smart as Mr. and Mrs. Liverani, or even Steven Weinberg, would not be much of a God to follow.”

“So how should we think about capital punishment? Here’s an analogy: As American citizens, we pledge to respect the Constitution. Because it is written by limited, fallible men, we reserve the right to amend it, yet we still respect it by agreeing not to choose unilaterally to ignore the parts we don’t like. Isn’t it surprising that some say they respect the Bible but don’t give it that much honor? If we praise the Constitution, how much more should we respect something done not by fallible man but by an infallible God? And since the Bible upholds the principle of capital punishment, shouldn’t we also, while remaining open to improving the practice?”

Deut 19.14-20 gives the laws of landmarks and the testimony of witnesses. In a dispute over whether an ancient landmark was moved, one witness was not enough. Two witnesses were required. If a “malicious witness” rises up against a person to accuse him of wrong doing, then both people will stand before the judges and priests in office at the time. They will investigate the matter, and if the witness is a false witness, they they will do to that witness what he tried to do to his brother. They were not to show any pity. Then it says, “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” This means that the judges will administer equal justice and judgment that is right, balanced and correct.

How do we deal with authority? We rebel. The following concept is critical to the Torah’s approach to justice. Circumstantial evidence, theory, logical conjecture are not permissible. These are not permitted in court “as proof” and intellect is judged as inferior to legal doctrine. In the western view of justice, the inadmissibility of circumstantial evidence is seen as foolish and illogical. But the Torah establishes the principle of two witnesses to establish fact.

There are two categories of witnesses. First, a witness who can verify facts or events are called “clarifying witnesses.” Second, a witness who themselves were part of the event is called an “establishing witness.” In the first category, an example would be a witness to a loan. They have no portion in the transaction. In another example, one who witnesses a crime has no part in the crime. In the second category, the person actually took part in the transaction or the crime. The testimony of witnesses is only important in a matter that is otherwise concealed. Something that is revealed and open to all does not need witnesses.

We will pick up here in Part 18.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 16

One of the ways God would judge a nation is he would give them a bad king first. So with that in mind, let’s go back to Deut 17.1-5 to pick up a concept on idolatry. It says that there may be some who serve other gods, or the sun, moon or any of the heavenly bodies “which I have not commanded you to do.” Why is that here? Israel (or anyone today) knew that it was wrong to worship idols, so what happens is they create this ideology. Just like a king wishes his officers to be honored, to honor the officers also honors the king. To honor celestial bodies, animals, a tree, etc, honors the Lord. So, worshiping the moon, sun or any of the heavenly bodies honors the Lord, in fact, he likes it.

Is this how people think today? Yes, just look at Christmas. They say “We are remembering the birth of Jesus and he likes it.” The Torah says this is not a valid form of religious service, for “I have not commanded” it. The Torah realizes that a person may formulate a false ideology so it adds an entire phrase in order to discount it. Why would someone worship the sun, moon,stars or idols? It is called “bias.” A person who has a desire for idol worship is biased and his emotions will overwhelm his intellect and justify what he desires, not what God wants.

Solomon, in all his wisdom, strayed away from these verses. Maybe he thought he could avoid their influence, but even their presence (the idols) were a problem. He wrote the Book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes about what he learned. A king’s power was limited by the Torah. He was to write and have a personal copy of the Torah with him at all times (Deut 17.18-19). He may not amass silver, gold or horses to himself, and he is restricted from marrying many wives.

While we are on the subject of judges and kings, let’s look at a few concepts and see how all this could apply today. First, we are going to look at a debate between a Rabbi and a Messianic Jew. It goes like this. Not long ago a Messianic Jew got into a debate with an august representative of an organization self-styled as some sort of “Supreme” U.S. Rabbinical Court. This rabbi was standing in front of some television cameras attempting to “excommunicate” American Jewish people because of their Messianic faith. This is apparently a true story that we came across years ago and can’t cite the source, but in short, the debate went something like this. The rabbi said to the Messianic Jew, “Are you a Jew?” The Messianic Jew replied, “Was Ruth a Jew?” The rabbi asked, “Are you a missionary?” The Messianic Jew replied, “Are you a missionary?” The rabbi shouted, “I most certainly am not!”

The Messianic Jew asked , “If you are not a missionary, then why have you rabbis lawlessly wrested authority from the kohanim (priests) and are now missionizing Jewish people away from a faith squarely founded on true Biblical apocalyptic Torah Judaism as taught by the Jewish Bible?” The rabbi said (without challenging the truth of the indictment), “Because the priesthood became corrupted by the Romans, and then the Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E.” The Messianic Jew said, “One kohen (priest) was not corrupted and his temple was not destroyed.” The rabbi paused and looked at the Messianic Jew quizzically, “Which one was that?” The Messianic Jew said, “The Messiah-Priest that King David foretold in Psalm 110, the portentous priest Zechariah identified with the name of Moshiach (Messiah) in Zechariah-the very name Ezra called Yeshua (Aramaic form of Yehoshua) in the book of Ezra!” He paused again, swallowing hard. A bit later in the debate, the rabbi wiped a tear from his right eye. He couldn’t refute the Biblical argument, a position he had never heard before, apparently, and one for which he had no answer.

This brings us to the position of Kohen (priest) in Deut 18.1-8. This was an inherited position through the father, and he served in and out of the Temple. They were to be the teachers (Ezek 44.23) and shepherds of Israel. They received the first fruits of the land, flocks and herds. They also resided in cities.

Duet 18.9-13 tells us about detestable practices and gives limits on who we should seek spiritual advice from. We are not to have anything to do with someone who makes their children “pass through the fire, who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one whom casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.” Whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord and because of that, he will drive those people out of the land of Israel. This is an issue today. We have people who believe that abortion (making their children pass through the fire) is correct and believe that it is a right. We also have psychic networks, horoscopes in newspapers, fortune cookies and mediums on television.

Deut 18.14-22 brings us up to the function and position of a Prophet. Prophets were raised up as a result of an agreement in Exo 20.19 and Deut 5.28-31. This agreement said that someone else would hear the words of Yehovah and then tell the people. The people would then “hear and obey.” In these verses it says that the Lord will raise up a prophet like Moses. God, in the form of a man, will speak the word like they asked in Exo 20.19 and Deut 5.27. Yeshua will be greater than Abraham and Moses, and that is one reason the Jewish people reject him (John 5.18, 8.58). He spoke God’s words and they asked for that on the “day of the assembly (Yom Kahal-Deut 18.16).” So, Yehovah said he would raise up a prophet from among their countrymen. He said this was a good thing, and this is called the “Law of the Agent” or “Shaliach” (v 17-18).

God would put his exact words in the mouth of that prophet, and he shall speak exactly what God has said. If the people won’t listen to God’s words which that prophet speaks “in my name” then God will require it from those who don’t listen. But, it the prophet speaks presumptuously in God’s name which he has not commanded, that prophet will die (v 18-20).

So, the question arises in v 21, “How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?” One way is to check to see if what the prophet says comes true. If it doesn’t, God did not send him and we are not to fear him (v 22). A true prophet will not tell lies to the people. They will not lead you away from the Torah or the Lord. So, that means we must examine what that so-called prophet is saying (Deut 13.1-5).

Isa 8.20 says we are to go to the Torah and to the Prophets to check out what they are saying. If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no light (understanding) in them. Acts 17.10-11 says the Bereans listened to Paul and Silas, but they also examined the Scriptures (The Tanak was the only Scripture they had) to see whether the things Paul and Silas said was true. It says they were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica and did not argue or dispute with Paul or Silas. Prophets were to speak the exact words God gave them.

Are there true prophets of God today? We don’t think so, and here is why. There are four basic things to remember when judging whether a person is a true prophet. First, does their prediction come true? One wrong prediction invalidates them as a true prophet because their credibility is gone and can’t be trusted. Second, does what they say line up with Scripture (all of it)? True prophets do not teach false doctrine (Deut 13.1-5). Third, are they confirmed by God (like Moses before Pharaoh and Elijah before the false prophets of Ba’al) through signs and have a clear message of what people were to do to repent? Everyone knew who the prophets were in Scripture and to disobey them brought consequences. Lastly, do they accurately predict events in detail before they happen (Amos 3.7)?

Many so-called prophets today will say they “saw” an event in a dream or “God spoke to me” after an event already happened. Or they will point to some ambiguous statement like “I saw an earthquake and destruction” that they said in the past with no detail as to when and where. Then, when there is an earthquake (or hurricane, fire, etc), they will say they saw it coming. But that is not how God does things. He will use a certified prophet (with signs) to give a specific judgment or event before it happens. Then he will tell the people what they have done wrong according to his word, and what they need to do to repent and avoid the coming judgment. When the event happens, there will be no doubt about its accuracy and that God had predicted it through his prophet.

Understanding that there are no true prophets of God right now, but there will be during the Birth-pains. No prophet operated without being disliked or even hated. This will help you discern what is happening and teach you not to fear what many of these people are saying today. It will also save you a lot of time and money that you might have otherwise wasted in reading or listening to them and buying their material. And remember this, if they are false prophets do not fear their predictions (Deut 18.22).

We will pick up here in Part 17.

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 15

There are some who feel that Deut 17.8-13 gives the Rabbis authority to make and decide law, and we as Torah-based believers in Yeshua should follow their rulings. They will point to Matt 23.1-2 as their “proof text” but is that correct? In Matt 23, Yeshua is talking to the Pharisees from Beit Shammai and they were hypocrites. The “seat of Moses” is the Great Sanhedrin and members of Beit Shammai dominated that body, in some cases by force (“seated themselves”). But, who says the Rabbis are these judges of Deut 17.9?

Exo 18.22 gives the hierarchy of judgment, with a person at the top getting an answer to tough cases directly from the Lord. How does a priest do it? By consulting the Urim v’ Tummim (Num 27.15-23). Eventually, the Urim V’ Tummim disappeared (Neh 7.65; Hos 3.4) so the judge would consult a true prophet of God, or the judge was a prophet like Samuel. That’s why if a person did not listen to the ruling he was put to death (Deut 17.12). This is not the system of the Sanhedrin of Yeshua’s day, or the system that is in place now. The Rabbis have invented this system. They even teach that they do not need to listen to “heaven” (Talmud, Bava Metzia 59).

However, before we get incensed over that idea, Replacement Theology Christianity has done the same thing with what they call “Apostolic Authority” or “Pastoral Authority” and of course the ever popular, “I am being led by the Spirit.” Where do Christians get the idea that the Torah has been “done away with?” They get it from a false interpretation of some verses by Paul, a Torah observant Jew. For more information on this, go to the teachings, “Paul was Torah Observant”, “The Torah and Paul” and “The Real Paul” on this website. They also get it from the false teaching that Israel has been replaced by the “church.” From there they get the idea that the Torah (Tanak) has been replaced by the “New Testament” and that God has given their church leaders the power to “make new laws.” They do not realize that the “Brit Chadasha (New Covenant) is found in the Torah (Deut 29.1) and the Torah will be written on our hearts by God (Jer 31.33). The word “new” actually means “renewed” and it is renewed by the fact that Yeshua died and his blood ratified this covenant (Luke 22.20).

Nowhere does it say that we are to follow the Rabbis or church leaders, especially if what they say contradicts written Scripture. Some Torah-based ministries teach that the Oral Law should be followed by believers in Yeshua, using Matt 23.1-2 as their proof. But is that what these verses are saying?

Matt 23.1-39 is talking about a group of Pharisees from the House (Beit) of Shammai. They were leading the people into many false interpretations of the Scriptures and contended with the other main group of Pharisees called the House (Beit) of Hillel. There are over 300 differences recorded between these two groups. Yeshua is speaking against Beit Shammai in Matt 23, not all Pharisees. The contention with the houses of Shammai and Hillel was so bad that members of a coalition of the Zealot party, the Sadducees and some Pharisees from Beit Shammai killed some members of Beit Hillel before they could vote over passing or rejecting the 18 Edicts in 20 B.C. The 18 Edicts were written to restrict intercourse between Jews and non-Jews in just about every aspect of life. These edicts were not from God but favored by the Zealots, Sadducees and Beit Shammai because they did not like non-Jews, especially Romans. These edicts can be seen at times in the Gospels and Epistles (Matt 8.8; Acts 11.1-3) and they were the major problem in the Book of Galatians.

Yeshua refers to this incident in Matt 23.29-32. Josephus uses many of the same terms Yeshua uses to describe the House of Shammai in Antiquities, Book 18, Chapter 11, Paragraph 1. You cannot use Matt 23.1-2 as a proof that we should be following the Oral Law as believers in Yeshua. For more detailed information on Yeshua and Beit Shammai, we refer you to our teachings called “The Pharisees, Sadducees and Yeshua” and “The Sanhedrin, Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai” on this website.

Our next function or position is called a “Shoterim” meaning “Officer” in Deut 16.18. These were officials and seen as “staff” of the judges and the courts. They would help maintain proper legal procedure and they must know the Torah (which is true for all positions and functions). They kept order, worked as a scribe or teacher, and they must be a learned person in the Torah. He was seen as a servant of the courts and an enforcer of proper order and decorum.

Next we have the function or position of the “Melek” or ‘King” (Deut 17.14-20). This was an optional position because the Lord was already king. The Torah does not mandate a certain political system, but if Israel desired to have a king to rule over them, they were free to have one (v 14-15). However, that king would need to subject himself to God and his Torah and rule within what has been prescribed there. In 1 Sam 8.6, we learn that Israel wanted a king. Why was this demand wrong? It was because of the timing and because the people weren’t ready for a king yet. Much of the land was not under their control and remained unconquered.

But in another sense, they were rejecting the Lord as king, and his Torah. Whether there was a king or judge, it was really the Torah that guided them. Kings and judges were just “tools” in the hands of Yehovah. Asking for a king was not wrong because we have just read in the Torah about the provision for a king. However, the king was to provide a political back-drop for social order and to maintain the peace. The Prophets and Judges were responsible for the spiritual, moral and legal guidance of the people. Their mistake was asking for a king based on what the other nations were doing which were based on a court system of common law where the king dominates, not the Torah-based system with judges and prophets.

In Part 16 we will pick up here. We will begin to talk about how the Lord would judge other nations by giving them a bad king, then we will pick up a concept related to the king and idolatry, and then we will look at a debate between the a Rabbi and a Messianic Jew related to our subject of kings and judges.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 14

The next Torah portion is called “Shoftim” and it means “Judges.” It goes from Deut 16.18 to 21.9. In Deut 16.18 it says, “You shall appoint for yourself judges.” This was the authority to rule and establish a judicial system and these judges were to be appointed by the people (not God, or the king or a prophet). These were to be selected in “all your gates” meaning towns.

Some have suggested that the Sanhedrin goes back to the time of Moses, but these verses shows that there was no central Sanhedrin in existence. Why select judges? The first historical record of the body known as the Sanhedrin was during the administration of Aulus Gabinius, a Roman statesman, general and supporter of Pompey. He was a Consul of the Roman republic in 58 B.C. According to Josephus he organized five “Synedra” in 57 B.C. because a Roman administration was not concerned with Jewish religious affairs unless sedition is suspected. Only after the destruction of the Temple was the Sanhedrin made up only of “sages” (see the article ‘Sanhedrin” by Wikipedia). Its origin can be traced back to about 200 B.C. and the Hasmonean Period. There is no mention of this body in the Tanak.

However, there are some who believe this body is established in portions of Scripture like this one, but that is rabbinical interpretation. The rabbis considered themselves “Shoftim” since the destruction of the Temple. They made rulings in the Oral Law and this was seen as their main responsibility. In modern times, Messianic leaders have raised themselves up following the rabbinic model. This is a mistake. Yehovah is clear about the application of this and the modern day application is inappropriate in some cases.

Deut 16.20 is a very important verse. It says in part, “Justice, justice you shall pursue.” There is an article called “Judges Reflect on Judaism’s Influence on Justice” by Eric Fingerhut. It appeared in Jewish World Review, February 10, 2000. It has some good points and we would like to quote from some it now. The article says, “Justice, justice you shall pursue. Those words from Deuteronomy serve as somewhat of a motto for Jews involved in the legal profession, as a panel of federal judges and the U.S. solicitor general recounted on recently at the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists’ annual meeting in Washington. All said, in varying ways, that the Jewish view of justice, as set forth in the Torah and other Jewish sources, has guided their outlook on the law and how it should be interpreted and implemented.”

“Solicitor General Seth Waxman, whose job it is to argue the federal government’s position on cases before the U.S. SUpreme Court, said that in having a “Department of Justice” and not a “ministry of laws” like other countries, the United States demonstrates that it understands the concept of justice as outlined in Judaism. “No one purues laws, justice is the ideal we are commanded to pursue” he said.”

“That concept of justice is outlined in a midrash Waxman cited. It says that the world could not exist if God ruled only by strict laws; otherwise, the first transgression would bring about the end of the world. But if God ruled only by compassion, there would be too much evil in the world. Combine the two, and one gets what Waxman called the “essence of Judaism”-the marriage of strict law and compassion. The same ideal is set forth in Hillel’s famous words: “Do not do unto others that which you would not have them do to you-that is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary.” Waxman said that while that phrase is a “distillation of Judaism” it also is “an expression of justice in its loftiest form.”

“That is why, Waxman said, the solicitor general’s office credo has always been not to achieve “victory” in a case, but to achieve justice, and that “the government wins its point whenever justice is done in the courts.” The judges who followed Waxman on the panel, “Judging and Judaism: The Influence of a Judge’s Jewish Background and Jewish Values on the Adjudicative Process” all seemed to agree implicitly or explicitly with Waxman’s view of justice through a Jewish filter.” The article went on but we have got the essence of what the concept is.

Why is justice repeated in this verse? Because we are to pursue justice with justice. The “means” as well as the “ends” must be just. Now, justice in Hebrew is “tzedek” and it also means “righteous.” This concept is also related to the concept of “Kedusha” because finding equitable solutions to complex practical solutions is part of the pursuit of justice. You don’t have to be a court to pursue justice. We wear several “hats.” We adhere to the letter of the law, but we should safeguard the spirit (essence) of the law as well. Once a “case” has ended according to a procedure prescribed, ask ourselves “was justice served?” If not, seek the “spirit or essence of the law.”

In this Torah portion we will have five positions or functions described. We will have “Shoftim” (Judges) in 16.18, “Shoterim” (officers) in 16.18, the “Melek” (King) in 17.15, the “Kohen” (priest) in 18.1 and the “Navi” (prophet) in 18.15. A judge is appointed before a king and it is to be done in a just way. They were not rush to judgment, but they were not to ignore wrongdoing by rich, powerful and popular people either. Honest judgments are only possible when extra details are set aside, and one has the patience to hear all sides before rendering a decision.

In Deut 16.19 bribery is discussed. It has nothing to do with justice because it blinds the eyes of the wise, and bribery can come in many forms. Any outside area can side-track us if we are not alert. Beauty says nothing about what kind of wife or mother a woman will be. Just because someone is rich doesn’t mean they are intelligent or discerning. Being poor doesn’t mean you are innocent either. We should not look for ways to accuse people, but we should judge on the side of virtue at first.

A judge must be fearless on behalf of justice, and truth is determined by God’s word and commandments. The death penalty is appropriate in some cases, but only after multiple eye witnesses and no contradictions (Deut 17.1-7). If there are no eye witnesses, or only one witness, there can be no death penalty (17.6). We cannot incriminate a person in a capital case with his own testimony.

Deut 17.8-10 talks about lower courts that should be established, with a higher court of appeals. An appeal process was available. The kohen (priest) is involved here in verse 9 because there is an element in this that is presented before the altar of God (religious law). Judges were appointed by the people. A wise man can qualify as along as he knows the Torah. Paul alludes to this in 1 Cor 6.1-7 when he talks about a Beit Din (court) in a congregations and asks whether there were competent people in their congregation to sit on a court to judge matters there. Their power comes from the people (Deut 16.18).

In Part 15 we will pick up here and examine Deut 17.8-13 to see whether these verses give the rabbis authority to make and decide law and how this relates to a believer in Yeshua.

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 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.

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