Tuesday, August 14, 2012

רְאֵה Re’eh

Bamidbar 11:26 - 16-17

This weeks sidra is titled Re’eh which means "See." The first parasha begins, "See I present before you today a blessing and a curse", from the Chumash. There are many wonderful teaching that come out of this reading. Of course as the reading begins we have the choice of blessing and curse, the one place of worship along with what and where to eat your food. My personal favorite, the false prophet. We then learn about clean and unclean food, tithes, the year of canceling debts and freeing servants. There is the topic of setting apart the firstborn animals for HaShem and finally the three pilgrimage festivals.

I find very interesting in this reading from Ch.12:1-32 one re-occurring theme. Throughout this entire chapter the Israelites are commanded after they enter the land to "destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire: cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places" (v 2-3). They are then told to seek out the place to present their offerings at the place HaShem chooses to place His name and they are no longer allowed to do as they do at that time, as they see fit in how and where to present their offerings. The children of Israel are given permission to eat whatever their hearts desire wherever they choose in the inherited land. So it would make perfect since why Moses in chapter 14 would remind them of what was acceptable to eat. To further and finish the outline of chapter 12 Moses encourages Israel that HaShem will cut off before them the nations that posses the promised land but warns them not to get ensnared by inquiring about the gods that those people worship.

Three times in chapter 12, 12:16, 12:23, 12:27 and also repeated in chapter 15:23 is the topic of blood. In all but one occasion the verses read "But you must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground." With the exception to this verse, chapter 12:27 states "-the blood of your sacrifices must be poured beside the altar of the Lord your God-." These verses allow us to remez to
אָחֲרֵי מוֹת Vayikra chapter 17:10-12 which states "Any Israelite or any alien living among them who eats any blood - I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. Therefore I say to the Israelites, ‘None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood." As Moses is spiritually preparing the Children of Israel to enter the land, we can picture in our minds from the repetition of this command concerning the conduct with blood, that it may have been a common practice with these nations to do such detestable practices as has been warned against in this reading.

For those who hold to the testimony of Yeshua the Messiah, not only this chapter but the entire sidra, can be very complicated in presenting the Messiah to a non-believing Torah observant individual. Let us look at a couple of examples that Yeshua presents to us. We will begin with Yeshua’s teaching in the Synagogue from John 6:53-54, "Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Now we will look at Yeshua’s words at His last Pesach Seder from Matthew 26:27-28, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." We can clearly see the difficulties that arise as we present the words of the Messiah in relation to the Jewish understanding of how the blood is to be handled. To further add complication from this sidra in comparison to what our Messiah has spoken, we will look at Davarim 13:2-5, "and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, ‘Let us follow other gods (gods you have not know) and let us worship them’, you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and Him you must revere. Keep His commands and obey Him; serve Him and hold fast to Him." Clearly from a Jewish perspective, a Messiah that encourages His followers to eat the flesh of man and to drink the blood would constitute the words of a false prophet. As we know that these words from Yeshua are strictly a metaphor such as these other words He had spoken. John 2:19, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days," referred to His body as a temple, John 6:48, "I am the bread of life," John 8:12, "I am the light of the world," John 10:9, "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved," and John 15:1, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener."

After Yeshua’s teaching in the Synagogue many of His disciples struggled with His words. Yeshua says to them "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where He was before! The Spirit gives life: the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life." It is only by the spirit that the life of this message can be found. No man can convince another through their words, Yeshua confirms that it is only by the spirit that this message, this metaphor, of life and understanding can be attained. To understand the words of Yeshua during His last seder it was there that he again spoke of "drinking the "blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins." He went on to say, "I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in My Father's kingdom," Matthew 26:26-30. The context here: A Passover Seder. The fruit of the vine is represented by the third Passover cup (the "Cup of Redemption"). The same can be said regarding the eating of the Afikomen, identifying it with the breaking of his body. Luke's Gospel adds that this ritual act was to be done "in remembrance of me," Luke 22:19. Paul later confirms the association as a symbolic act of remembrance, similar to other Jewish Passover Seders in 1 Cor.11:23-26. Yeshua’s intention was to show that this Seder symbolized the New and greater exodus, gained at the expense of his own shed blood and broken body. Also to add the Mishnah (Pesachim 10:6) interprets the Passover wine as a metaphor for blood that seals a covenant between God and his people. The life is in the blood. The cup symbolizes completely identifying with the life and mission of the Messiah.

The complications that exist with Yeshua’s words, to those who are steadfast in Torah observance, will with no doubt stumble over His teachings. It is the atonement of the blood, the suffering and the sacrifice of our Messiah, that is the key in it’s presentation. That indeed the life is in the blood, and that blood was shed by the Messiah who gave, and gives life because of His blood that was poured out for us and is only represented in the cup as confession to our admittance and acknowledgement for the price He paid to redeem us. Just as the sacrifices on the altar were made, and the blood was poured out beside the altar for the forgiveness of sin, Yeshua stated that "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." So let us not be partakers of food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. Rather let us be partakers and presenters of identifying with the blood of the Messiah as the atoning factor in our lives dedicated to HaShem. Let us be sensitive and knowledgeable in our presentation of the Blood of the Lamb so that we are not presenting a false prophet.

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