Sunday, May 24, 2009

Torah Portion Bamidbar - 29 Iyyar 5769

Parsha Bamidbar

23 May 2009 – 29 Iyyar 5769

Numbers 1:1 – 4:20, Hosea 2:1-22, John 1-2

I thought I would skip the book of numbers altogether. You see, I was never any good at math in school. But then I learned what this book of the Torah is all about. Bamidbar means “In the wilderness”. It is the story of the sojourn of the Children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai for 40 years.

The wilderness was many things for the children of Israel, but the most important is that God was with them despite their sin and iniquities. Punishment for their sin was evident, but the grace of God was also with them. When the book begins, one month has passed since the children of Israel constructed the Tabernacle. The Hebrew word Bamidbar means “In the wilderness”. The wilderness is very important to the history of the children of Israel. The land of Canaan, and the modern nation of Israel, occupies a small strip of fertile land between the vast Arabian deserts and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Wilderness is a Place of Death

The wilderness was a place of death. No food or water combined with blazing heat and empty miles of space make the wilderness a place to go to die. Hagar and Ishmael went to the wilderness to prepare to die (Genesis 21:14-15). Many occasions during their sojourn, the children of Israel accused Moses of taking them to the wilderness to die. Elijah also went to the wilderness and sat down under a Juniper tree that he might die. It is a place of unclean spirits as Yeshua himself says in Matthew 12:43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he walks through dry places seeking rest, and finds none.” (MKJV)

The prophet Isaiah describes unclean animals and evil spirits that inhabit the wilderness. In Isaiah 34:10-15 and echoed in Revelation 18:2. Yeshua went into the wilderness after his immersion and was tempted by Satan. Yeshua is our guide through the wilderness, through the valley of the shadow of death. Even though He may lead us into the wilderness just as the children of Israel were, He will be our comforter and our provider.

The Wilderness is a Place of Refuge and Provision

Though the wilderness is a dry and desolate place, it is also a place of miraculous provision. There is no better example than the children of Israel and their 40 year trek in the Sinai. God provided manna for them to eat; water for them to drink, their clothing and shoes did not wear out! There was a cloud over them by day for shade and a pillar of fire before them by night. Miraculous provision was all around them! When we are in a place where our own efforts are inadequate for our survival, we lean on God to provide. When Elijah was in the wilderness, God sent ravens with bread to feed him twice a day! Yeshua fasted for 40 days in the wilderness as angels attended Him.
Yeshua is our place of refuge and our provider. Though He may lead us into a place of “wilderness”, He protects us from the enemy. He will provide for us as he provided for those who followed Him in Galilee.

The Wilderness is a Place of Revelation

The wilderness is the place where the LORD speaks to us. When we are in despair, when we are focused away from ourselves and toward Him, that is when He reminds us that we belong to Him. With the downturn in the economy and many of us out of work, facing foreclosure on our homes and the bills piling up, we have learned that our world is precariously balanced like a house of cards. The worlds comforts are easily stripped away and we are left in a kind of wilderness that none of us expected to find ourselves in. It is this place where God will reveal his “perfect economy”.

When Moses was in the wilderness after fleeing from Pharaoh, he received a revelation from God at the burning bush. Moses had everything in Egypt. He was an adopted son of Pharaoh and stood to inherit perhaps the greatest kingdom on earth at that time. He lost everything and was reduced to herding sheep in the wilderness. Moses received the Torah of God in the wilderness, perhaps the greatest revelation of all time! Elijah fasted for 40 days in the wilderness before arriving at Sinai to receive a revelation from God. Yeshua is our source of revelation. He has passed the test in the wilderness. Not so that we do not have to as well, but as an example to us of God’s provision and revelation.

Yeshua taught us that we are to deny (or die to) ourselves in this “wilderness” of our life,

Lu 9:23 And He said to all, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. (MKJV)

Yeshua is our refuge and strength in the wilderness.

Mt 11:28 Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (MKJV)

Yeshua will bring revelation to us in the wilderness.

Lu 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. 28 And they drew near the village where they were going. And He appeared to be going further. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is far spent. And He went in to stay with them. 30 And it happened as He reclined with them, taking the loaf, He blessed it, and breaking it, He gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him. And He became invisible to them. (MKJV)

Shabbat Shalom

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The Biblical Month of Sivan

May 23rd at sunset began the Biblical month of Sivan. This month is very important for Christians as well as Jews. Some of the important events that took place in History in the month of Sivan are:

Sivan 1. The 45th day of the counting of the Omer.
The children of Israel arrive in the wilderness of Siani (exodus 19:1)
The death of Korah and followers (Numbers 16:18-50)

Sivan 2. The 46th day of the counting of the Omer.
Yom HaMeyuchas "Day of Distinction" (Exodus 19:4-6)

Sivan 3. The 47th day of the counting of the Omer.
Three days of Hagbalah "Boundries" begins (Exodus 19:10-12)

Sivan 4. The 48th day of the counting of the Omer.
Moses writes the first 46 chapters of the Torah (Exodus 24:4)

Sivan 5. The 49th day of the counting of the Omer.
The Children of Israel accept the Torah of the LORD (Exodus 24:7)

Sivan 6. The 50th day of the counting of the Omer. THE DAY OF PENTICOST! Feast of SHAVUOT!
The Children of Israel receive the Torah (the word of God) at Siani (Exodus 19:16-25)
The Believers in Jerusalem receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2)
King David's birth and death (Traditional: 1st Kings 2:10)

Sivan 8.
Zechariah was in the Temple and received a visit from Gabriel (Luke 1:1-23)

Sivan 12.
Last fulfillment day for Shavuot pilgrimage offerings to be brought (Traditional: Deut. 16:16)

Sivan 13.
Moses ascends Mt. Sinai (Traditional: Exodus 24:15-18)

Sivan 15.
Birth and death of Judah (Traditional: Genesis 29:25)

Sivan 22.
Miriam punished (Traditional: Numbers 13:3)

Sivan 23.
Mordechai decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves was written (Ester 8:9)

Sivan 29.
The twelve spies are sent to Canaan (Traditional: Numbers 13:3

Shalom and Be Blessed

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The First Ten Generations

Did you know that the Gospel message of God’s redemption plan is presented in the names of the first 10 generations. The Messiah is hidden all through the Torah and it is our duty and glory to seek Him.

Names in the Bible have a meaning beyond just a name. When we look at the names in order, we find an interesting message in the ten generations from Adam to Noah given in Genesis 5.

(The numbers after the # symbol are Strong’s Concordance reference numbers)

Adam: Mankind
#120: ‘adam (aw-dawm’) from 119; ruddy i.e. a human being (an individual or the species, mankind, etc.

Seth: Is appointed to
#8352. Sheth, (shayth) from 7896; put, i.e. substituted;
#7896. shiyth, (sheeth) a primitive root; to place (in a very wide application):--apply, appoint, array, bring, consider, lay (up), let alone

Enos: Feeble, frail, mortality
#582. ‘enowsh, en-oshe’ a mortal (and thus differing from the more dignified 120); hence, a man in general (singly or collectively):
#605. ‘anash, aw-nash’ a primitive root; to be frail, feeble

Cainan: A fixed Dwelling place
#7018. Qeynan, kay-nawn’ from the same as 7064; fixed
#7064. qen, kane contracted from #7077; a nest (as fixed), sometimes including the nestlings; figuratively, a chamber or dwelling:--nest, room.

Mahalaleel: God who is praised
#4111. Mahalal’el, mah-hal-al-ale’ from 4110 and 410; praise of God

Jared: Comes down, descends
#3382. Yered, yeh’-red from 3381; a descent
#3381. dry yarad, yaw-rad’ a primitive root; to descend

Enoch: To instruct, train up
#2585. Chanowk, khan-oke’ from 2596; initiated
#2596. chanak, khaw-nak’ a primitive root; properly, to narrow (compare 2614); figuratively, to initiate or discipline:--dedicate, train up.

Methusalah: A man sent forth
#4968. Methuwshelach, (meth-oo-sheh’-lakh) from 4962 and 7973; man of a dart
#4962 math, math from the same as 4970; properly, an adult (as of full length); by implication, a man
#37973. shelach, from 7971; a missile of attack #7971. shalach, (shaw-lakh’) a primitive root; to send away, for, or out

Lamech: To be beaten, smitten, and tortured
#3929 from #4347. makkah, mak-kaw’ or (masculine) makkeh {muk-keh’}; (plural only) from 5221; a blow; by implication, a wound; figuratively, carnage, also pestilence:--beaten, blow, plague, slaughter, smote, X sore, stripe, stroke, wound((-ed))

Noah: Bringing rest, a quiet peace
#5146 Noach, (no’-akh) the same as 5118; rest
#5118 nuwach, (noo’-akh) or nowach {no’-akh}; from 5117; quiet

The meanings of the names read:

Mankind/ is appointed to/ feeble, frail, mortality/ a fixed dwelling place/ God who is praised/ comes down/ to instruct/ as a man sent forth/ to be beaten smitten and tortured/ bringing rest, a quiet peace.

Shalom and Be Blessed


Monday, May 18, 2009

Torah Portion Behar - 22 IYYAR 5769

Parsha Behar - Bechukotai (double portion) Part 1

Lev 25:1 - 27:34 Jer 16:19 - 17:14 Luke 21 - 24

Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, "When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a Sabbath to the LORD." (Leviticus 25:2)

Behar is the next to last portion in the book of Leviticus and teaches about the seven-year cycle that concludes with a Sabbath or Shamittah year. The Torah instructs the children of Israel to let the land rest by desisting from agriculture for one out of every seven years. Farmers in the land of Israel were to let the land rest. They were not to plow, sow, prune, reap or trim during the seventh year. They could pick and eat the crops that grew of their own accord, but that was to be the limit of their agricultural production.

The Torah seeks to teach us to place our trust in God rather than our own efforts. And the land's rest in the seventh year shows us that the primary force in the universe is God, not the law of nature. It teaches us that true life comes when we stop striving for material gain in favor of spiritual growth.

The anticipation of the coming sabbatical year transforms the other six years. The sabbatical year teaches that even our normal occupations and vocations should be working toward the goal of the kingdom. Just as God said that this is the "land that I give you", the Shemittah or Sabbath year is a reminder that it is God who provides all and that even the land that we work with our own sweat and travail, as well as our other occupations are a gift from God and ultimately belong to Him.

Shabbat Shalom

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Torah Portion Bechukotai - 22 IYYAR 5769

This Torah Portion was a double portion where two sections of the Torah are read and studied.

LEVITICUS 26:3 TO 27:34 - JEREMIAH 16:19 TO 17:14 - LUKE 23-24

This 2nd part is titled Bechukotai, which means "In My Statutes".

Le 26:3 If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments and do them, 4 then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.(MKJV)

Isn't there a redundant statement here? Perhaps not. It is a common Hebrew expression to state an idea or concept twice in order to emphasize its importance. Here we have “walk in My statutes” and “keep My commandments”. On the surface one would think that they mean the same thing. Like most Hebrew doublet expressions, this one also has a deeper meaning. According to Rashi, an historic Jewish commentator on the Torah, “walking in My statutes” refers to the intensive study of God’s word. “Keeping the commandments” refers to learning how the commandments of the Torah are to be kept. In other words, we should study God’s word for the purpose of learning it, and we should learn it in order to know how to do it.

This portion starts out by listing blessings for keeping God’s statutes and curses for disobedience. It raises the question of “Prosperity Preaching”. Is this some kind of promise of physical blessing for spiritual obedience and a delineation of the consequences for disobedience? The answer to that is in examining the difference between the “Western” and “Hebrew” mindset.

In the Western way of thinking, the physical and spiritual are divided. They are separate and distinct. The physical realm is tangible and the spiritual realm is ethereal. This describes “Dualism” and comes to us from the ancient Greeks. This dualism philosophy greatly influenced the early church and is central to much of our modern Christian doctrines where physical things are general seen as carnal and/or evil and the spiritual is seen as the noble and or good.

In the Hebrew mindset and the Torah, the distinction between physical and spiritual is not as clear. The Hebrew mindset says that the physical world is spiritual because God created it. The physical universe was created from the spiritual. God said “Let there be light”. He spoke the universe into existence.

This Hebraic view of the physical world did not sit well with many of the early Christian church founders because they were primarily Hellenistic (i.e. Greek) gentiles. They regarded it as carnal when the distinction between physical and spiritual was blurred. An interpretation of the scriptures as being strictly spiritual arose in the early church. The blessings and curses of this and other scripture passages became metaphors for spiritual rewards and punishments. By the fourth century this infiltration of Hellenism became so prevalent that it was taught that God did not really want us to literally obey his commandments but instead the commandments of the Torah were symbolic representations of spiritual disciplines.

Through this infiltration of Hellenistic philosophy, the early church taught that the Bible should not be read literally. We live with this legacy today in that the Bible is all about Israel but the church largely teaches that when the Bible says "Israel" it means the "Church"! This is “Replacement Theology” and is a stark departure from the intended meaning of the scriptures.

The word of God was intended to bring to the physical world a spiritual content. For example: when we keep God’s commandments here in the physical world in which we live, we are submitting it to the authority of the Creator. Our perfect example of the oneness of the physical and spiritual worlds is the person of Messiah, Yeshua (or Jesus if you prefer). Yeshua is the Son of God who comes from the Father in Heaven. See the first chapter of the Gospel of John or several passages in the Old Testament including Isaiah 53. Simultaneously He was a real human being with an ordinary human body with all the ordinary human limitations. Through His miraculous birth, he was completely spiritual and completely physical.

When we adopt and/or keep this Helenistic philosophy that prevails in the Church, we loose sight of the very nature of the God of creation (Elohim) and the LORD God of our salvation (Yahwah). "Walk in His statutes and keep His commandments" and "He will bring rains in their season". Blessings are abundant in the LORD God of our salvation!

Shabbat Shalom