Thursday, September 29, 2016

Netzavim (standing) Deu 29:9-30:20


Netzavim (standing) Deu 29:9-30:20

 

In last week’s Torah portion (Kitavo) we saw Moshe draw up a contrast of instructions to the Jewish people of how following Adonai’s Torah will result in blessings, compared to not following His torah will lead them to curses. A very harsh description was painted to indicate that not following Adonai’s Torah will result in things going bad, a lot of people dying and Y’srael having to suffer a great ordeal, to the point of even being exile to the outer most part of the world. This appeal is the bases of rewards vs. punishment and it’s clearly marked out for them. In this week’s portion Moshe will continue his exhortations to B’nai Yisrael to do what is right and even give them a sort of mini road map of what to do.


I want to first point out that Moshe’s admonitions isn’t anything new, meaning that instructions of following Hashem and being blessed (life) compared to disobeying Hashem leading to curses (death), have been there even in the beginning of time and will continue to be seen, even at the end of days. A sort of book markers is clearly seen, when we look at what was said in the first chapters of the book of Genesis to what we read in the latter chapters of Deuteronomy, compared with what we see in Genesis (Torah, the first book marker) to Revelation (Brit Hadasha, the last book marker), another sort of road map given to us in a much greater scale. In the Garden of Eden we read in

 

Gen 2:16-17 “God gave the man a commandment, saying, “you may definitely eat from every tree of the garden. But from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, do not eat, for on the day you eat from it, you will definitely die,”

 

And at the End of Days we read in

 

Revelation 22:12-14 “Pay attention!” [says Yeshua,] “I am coming soon, and my rewards are with me to give to each person according to what he has done. I am the ‘A’ and the ‘Z,’ the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” How blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they have the right to eat from the Tree of Life and go through the gates into the city!”  CJB

 

 

Jewish people (Chabad.org) point out that this torah portion contains some of the most fundamental principles of the Jewish faith and I agree as well, these principles are:

 

1.            The Unity of Israel, Deu 29:9

2.            The Future Redemption, Deu 30:1-10

3.            The Practicality of Torah, Deu 30:11-14

4.            Freedom of Choice, Deu 30:15-20

 

What I would like to do is to bring these points out into the light of Moshiach Yeshua, on how significant these fundamentals are to what has been written in the Brit Hadasha. In the beginning of this portion we have The Covenant Renewed, since the original covenant at Mt. Sinai was violated with the worshipping of the Golden Calf. This is the reason that the whole of Israel is nitzavim "standing" here. Verse 9 is talking to the unity of Israel at that time, but in verse 13 it says that not only with them, but with both the ones that are there and the ones that aren’t there yet. This unity is what Yeshua’s speaks of him being sent to gather the lost sheep of Israel; Mat 12:24 & Mat 10:5-6 when ordering His disciples to go preach the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven, the priority is clearly set, and when Israel is in unity, the second point follows.

 

The words “It shall come to pass” are understood as a Future Redemption (Deu 30:1-10) as most Jewish sages have commented to be the Restoration of the kingdom of David and it'll be Moshiach who will be accomplishing it. Acts 3:19-21 But this is how God fulfilled what he had announced in advance, when he spoke through all the prophets, namely, that his Messiah was to die. “Therefore, repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be erased; so that times of refreshing may come from the Lord’s presence; and he may send the Messiah appointed in advance for you, that is, Yeshua. He has to remain in heaven until the time comes for restoring everything, as God said long ago, when he spoke through the holy prophets.

 

The Practicality of Torah, Deu 30:11-14 that we read here is quoted to mean Yeshua , as He's the fulfillment of the Torah Rom 10:4. And in Rom 10:5-10 For Moshe writes about the righteousness grounded in the Torah that the person who does these things will attain life through them. Moreover, the righteousness grounded in trusting says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend to heaven?’’ that is, to bring the Messiah down or, “‘Who will descend into Sh’ol?’” that is, to bring the Messiah up from the dead. What, then, does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.” that is, the word about trust which we proclaim, namely, that if you acknowledge publicly with your mouth that Yeshua is Lord and trust in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be delivered.  For with the heart one goes on trusting and thus continues toward righteousness, while with the mouth one keeps on making public acknowledgement and thus continues toward deliverance.

 

On the last point of “Freedom of choice” in Deu 30:15-20, shows how a choice is given to Israel and them having the freedom in making their own decision, not being forced to give their devotion to Him. This is demonstrated in the Brit Hadasha when Yeshua says in Revelation 3:20-22 Here, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If someone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he will eat with me. I will let him who wins the victory sit with me on my throne, just as I myself also won the victory and sat down with my Father on his throne. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities.”’”

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Parashah Ki Teitzei ("When you go out") Deut. 21:10-25:19



Parashat Ki Teitzei ("When you go out")  Deut. 21:10-25:19

Last week’s discussion about אֲרוֹן really showed how a picture of Yeshua can be found throughout the Torah, this weeks parashah is no different.

Firstly though, I would like to point out some of the worse exegesis I have ever encountered by the Atheist lobby - The Stubborn and Rebellious Son – Deut 21:18-21;   A stubborn and rebellious son who does not heed his father or mother and does not obey them even after they discipline him is to be stoned to death.  

This is obvious proof that God is a child killer, so they say.   But if anyone bothered to read this passage in context they may have noticed verse 20 which states “And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard’.”

What kind of “child” is a glutton and drunkard?   A very adult one.    Just one example of how context is ever so important.

Anyhoo, off my little soap box.   Let’s get back to how Torah points prophetically and personally toward Yeshua.

“And if a man has committed a sin deserving death, and he is to be put to death, and you hang him on a tree; His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall bury him that day;
for he who is hanged is accursed by God; that your land, which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, be not defiled.”

First point is that whoever is hung on a tree is cursed.    Rav Shaul picks up on this point and expands in Galatians 3:13, “The Messiah redeemed us from the curse pronounced in the Torah by becoming cursed on our behalf; for the Tanakh says, “Everyone who hangs from a stake comes under a curse.” (CJB).   The Apostle Peter also had this in mind when he wrote: "The God of our fathers raised Yeshua, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree" (Acts 5:30).

Second point is how interesting it is that Yeshua was taken off the cross and not allowed to stay on it overnight due to ceremonial requirements.   This might not seem extraordinary except that the Romans would leave criminals on a cross for days and nights.   It’s as though HaShem was keeping his own Word but creating a situation where the cursed Yeshua was not left on the tree overnight and thus maintained obedience to Torah – even after His death.  

I read that is particular law was based on the earlier precedent found in Numbers 25:4, “Adonai said to Moshe, “Take all the chiefs of the people, and hang them facing the sun before Adonai, so that the raging fury of Adonai will turn away from Isra’el” (CJB).    According to the Talmud (Nezakim: Sanhedrin 6:4:3), the Great Sanhedrin (סַנְהֶדְרִין גְדוֹלָה) decided that "a man must be hanged with his face towards the spectators" upon a wooden stake, with his arms slung over a horizontal beam. It should be noted that while this is technically not the same thing as the gruesome practice of Roman crucifixion, the reasoning based on this verse was apparently used to justify the execution of Yeshua (Mark 15:9-15; John 19:5-7; 15). The exposed body was required to be buried before sundown to keep the land from being defiled (Deut. 21:22-23).  Crucifixion is mentioned elsewhere in the Talmud (Nashim: Yevamot 120b) regarding whether a widow can remarry if her husband had been crucified, as well as by the Jewish historian Josephus

Another thought line is that the reason one is cursed who is hung on a tree has to do with their inability to fall to their knees in a final act of repentance and, thereby implying that they were under the irrevocable curse of God.

What also makes the crucifixion of Yeshua so remarkable, was that the accusation against Him was originally blasphemy, which has a death sentence of stoning (Leviticus 24:11-16) “Then tell the people of Isra’el, ‘Whoever curses his God will bear the consequences of his sin;  and whoever blasphemes the name of Adonai must be put to death; the entire community must stone him.” (CJB).

So for prophecy to pass, the one who was cursed on our behalf, had to hang on a tree;  thus, two cultures needed to collide.  The Roman crucifixion and Torah mitzah – perfectly synced for a catastrophic ending.
The Imperial Roman government exercised legal domination over the region of Israel.  They would not be interested in religious cases, so Yeshua’s accusers needed to make it about sedition against Rome.  The Torah allowed for an offender to impaled or "hung on a tree" (Num. 25:4), and since they were unable to do carry out this judgment because of Roman rule in the area, they needed Pilate to condemn him to death by crucifixion.

Of course, all of this was prophesied by Isaiah, many generations before hand.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

After reading and being part of debates about Isaiah 53:5,  I am firmly convinced that this verse is not about Israel, but is about the Mashiach.  For how can Israel, accused of being disobedient by HaShem, take away our transgressions.

I believe that suffering Mashiach, also called Mashiach benYosef, is Yeshua and one day He will return as Mashiach benDavid.

Shalom.

Jon Eaton

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Va’etchanan (“and I pleaded”)


Va’etchanan (“and I pleaded”)

Deut. 3:23-7:11

On the Biblical/Jewish calendar some significant events have taken place between last week and this week that can be somewhat related in our weekly Torah portions. Last week we had the event of Tishah B’ Av, the ninth day of the month of Av which is an annual day of mourning that recalls the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, in particular the destruction of the first and second Jewish Temples, also the expulsion of the Jews from both England and Spain on this very day. The consequences of some very bad decisions from the Jewish people can be seen in other Torah portions before this one that have lead them to this tragic and sad event that we have on the Jewish calendar. I have heard commentaries by some Jewish Rabbis that “the Jewish people not having faith/trust in Hashem to enter the Promise Land and receiving a bad report from the twelve spies”, to say that Hashem will truly give the Jewish people something for them to mourn about due to their lack of trust in Him.

Another mini-holiday on the fifteenth day of Av, the Jewish people celebrate Tu B’Av: Love and Rebirth. On this day Jewish law instructs that “tachanun” (confession of sins) and similar portions should be omitted from the daily prayers and that you should increase one’s study of Torah. The full moon of the tragic month of Av is a festival of the future redemption of the Jewish people, which in essence it’s an unknowable day. These two Jewish holidays can be looked at in a positive way in the aspect of turning our mourning into joy, pointing us to when the Jewish people will enjoy a redemptive a state with Hashem in the future.

This Torah portion is a building up of Moshe rabbeinu’s speeches to the Jewish people, about what truly it is to listen to Hashem and to keep His Torah/Instructions in the right manner. Moshe is retelling them some of the greatest events that have taken place in this world, of having the almighty God which is the creator, reveling Himself to and giving the Jewish people the Torah for righteous living from a loving father to his people. Moshe knows that his time is limited and he will soon by passing away, so therefore would like nothing more then to know that the Jewish people understand and grasp all that Hashem has told them. Some other basic fundamental key elements are retold like the “Ten Commandments” and one of the greatest religious proclamations of the oneness of God, know as the Shema, which are strongly emphasize here in this Torah portion. Moshe’s speeches can be seen as a call to obedience for the Jewish people to Hashem.

 
Moshe states that acknowledging the oneness of God, found in the Shema, to be the first fundamental principle that the Jewish people need to have. If there’s only one God, then he would be the source of our existence and the source of all our needs. The fact that He has made a covenant (Deu 5:1-27) with the Jewish people right before this declaration, we see a binding factor of respect in His relationship with them. Only when someone takes into consideration the welfare being of others, by giving them instructions and guidelines, that one can truly say that it’s no longer about oneself and that would lead to show a caring attitude towards that other individuals. This is exactly what Hashen has done and Moshe doesn’t want the people to forget this. Everything that Hashem has done for his people has been out of love and wanting them to be an example to the other nations in bringing a restoration to all humanity through them, the Jewish people. Deu 6:7-8 states “It was not because you had greater numbers than all the other nations that God embraced you and chose you; you are among the smallest of all the nations. It was because of God’s love for you, and because He was keeping the oath that He made to your fathers. God therefore brought you out with a might hand, liberating you from the slave house, (and) from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” Also in Deu 4:5-8 See! I have taught you rules and laws as God my Lord has commanded me, so (that you) will be able to keep them in the land to which you will be occupying. Safeguard and keep (these rules), since this is your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations. They will hear all these rules and say, “This great nation is certainly a wise and understanding people.” What nation is so great that they have God close to it, as God our Lord is, whenever we call Him? What nation is so great that they have such righteous rules and laws, like this entire Torah that I am presenting before you today?


We see great pleads of exhortations from Moshe to love God with all of our hearts and with all of our souls and all of our might, by doing this we show our desires to follow Him fully. Truly Moshe wants to get his point across when basically going thru almost all of the Torah in the book of Deuteronomy. Point by point we start to see in this Torah portion and to include the whole book of Deuteronomy of a complete break down of Hashem’s laws and the reasons behind them. May we also take heed from these instructions and not overlook the mistakes that the Jewish people have done in the past, so that we to may hear and obey (Shema), to be a witness onto other people by living a life reflecting God's essence, which is His Word. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

D’varim (Deuteronomy) 1:1 – 3:22 “Words” parashah / portion #1 (1:1 – 11)

            This week we begin the fifth book of Torah, the book of D’varim.  Most of this book, we will find, are words of Moshe as he reiterates to the people what Adonai Elohim has said previously.  Why?  Moshe is nearing the end of his life, Y’hoshua (Joshua) is about to take over, and it is right and proper to remind the people from whence they came and to where they were going.
            As this reading commences, it is the first day of the eleventh month in the 40th year following the exodus of the people from Egypt.  Because they had refused to enter the land of promise, almost forty years have been spent in the wilderness.  More than 2-1/2 months remain in their “wandering”; all the generation of men who were capable of war have died at the time of Moshe’s speech (cp. 1:1-5 w/ 2:16).
            HaShem had directed them to leave Mt. Horev eleven days prior and head northward in preparation for entry into His land.  In a way of emphasizing this, Moshe told the people that they were going to take possession of the land that HaShem had promised to Avraham, Yitz’chak, and Ya’akov…and their descendants – who we recognize as this horde of people being addressed.
            He tells them that HaShem has multiplied their numbers, but let us realize that this multiplication came during the 200+ years they were in Egypt.  Regardless, the multiplication was a proof of the promise made to Father        Abraham back in B’resheit (Genesis) 15:4 – 6.  Moshe then blesses the people by desiring the Holy One to increase them another thousand-fold and to bless them as He promised.  I look forward to that day when there are the 600,000,000 men (plus women and children) Moshe has “seen” in the future.

            Shalom.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Parashat Chukat ("Decree of") Numbers 19:1-22:1



Parashat Chukat ("Decree of")   Numbers 19:1-22:1
           
The Red Heifer (Parah Adumah)
           
I found it interesting that the Talmud states that of all the 613 commandments, this is the only one that King Solomon could not fathom, since this sacrifice is the most paradoxical of all the sacrifices found in the Torah.   Even modern day scholars have not been able to fathom the depth of this mitzvot.   I can see attempts by some Messianics to ascribe this particular sacrifice as a forshadow of Yeshua, but I am not yet satisfied in their reasoning. 

The parah adumah had to be a perfect specimen that was completely red, "without blemish, in which there is no defect ."  It had to be absolutely perfect without any discolouration or abnormality.  This is the only sacrifice in the Torah where the colour of the animal is explicitly required.   Some point out that the red symbolises the blood that covered Yeshua during his ordeal.  Eitherway, the parah adumah was never to have had a yoke upon it, meaning that it must never have been used for any profane purposes.

Unlike all other sacrifices offered at the altar at the Mishkan, the parah adumah was taken outside the camp, slaughtered before the priest who then took some of its blood and sprinkled it seven times before the Mishkan.   Hyssop, scarlet yarn, and a cedar stick would be thrown upon the burning parah adumah, which were the same items used to cleanse from tzara'at (skin disease). Unlike other offerings, all of the blood of the sacrifice was to be burned in the fire.  It was a complete offering.
The ashes of the sacrifice, which were then gathered and mixed with water to create what was called the "waters of separation" (i.e., mei niddah: מֵי נִדָּה).   Anyone (or anything) that came into contact with a corpse (the embodiment of sin and death) was required to be purified using the mei niddah.  Interestingly the word “niddah” refers to menstrual impurity and is used in the prophecy found in Zechariah 13:1: "On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and from niddah."

The purification procedure took a full seven days.   On the third day stalks of hyssop are dipped into the water / ash mixture and shaken over the ritually defiled person.  This occurs again on the seventh day.  After the second sprinkling, the defiled person was immersed in a mikvah and would be declared clean on the following evening.
                                                                                               
Maimonides wrote, "Nine Parot Adumot were prepared from the time the Commandment was given until the destruction of the Second Temple. Moses our Teacher prepared one, Ezra prepared one and seven more were prepared until the Destruction of the Temple. The tenth will prepared by the Mashiach."   

It was the only sacrifice that ritually contaminated the priest who offered it, but made the one who was sprinkled by it clean.  This paradox can also be found in Numbers 21:8, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make you a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looks upon it, shall live.”   The abomination of the serpent will bring life?

It was the only sacrifice where the ashes were preserved and used (other sacrifices required the ashes be disposed outside of the camp). It is a tradition amongst members of the Temple Mount Institute that they know where a vial of the previous ashes can be found.   
    
Whilst there is enough disagreement within the Messianic community as to the identity and purpose of the Parah Adumah, I do see how one can come to the conclusion about Yeshua.
1.       He was completely without sin or defect (2 Cor 5:21; John 8:46);
2.       He was sacrificed outside the camp (Heb 13:13);
3.      He made Himself sin / a sin offering for us (2 Cor 5:21);
4.      Claimed to be as the snake upon the pole (John 3:14-15).
5.      His sprinkling makes us clean (1 Pet 1:2; Heb 12:24);
6.      The "water of separation" that His sacrifice created is the means by which we are made clean from the impurity of sin (Eph 5:25-6; Heb 10:22).
           
Either way, the mystery of the Parah Adumah is yet to be understood.     I do find it interesting that we live in a time that the long forgotten red heifer is making a come back.   Additionally interesting is that right now is only the second time in history that an ark has been built.  Signs?  Maybe.

Shalom

Jon Eaton