Friday, January 13, 2017

Waiting for Salvation | Parashat Vayechi | By His EVERY Word

Vayechi  ויחי
“And he lived”

“And Jacob lived...” (Genesis 47:28)

Torah Portion: Genesis 47:28-50:26

Haftarah: 1 Kings 2:1-12

B’rit Chadash/New Covenant: 

1 Peter 1:3-9 and Hebrews 11:21-22

Shabbat | 14 January 2017  | 16 Tevet 5777

Waiting for Yeshua

The grand epic of Genesis draws to a close with this parashah. Bookended by the passing of our Patriarchs, Israel (Jacob) and Joseph in the land of Egypt, both proclaiming their faith in the promises of Adonai: a people, a heritage, the Covenant Land of Israel, and the offspring of destiny through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. 

Israel is likened to a tree with twelve branches—the Patriarchs forming the trunk, rooted firmly in the soil by Torah, enriched by the Heavenly Presence, sustained by faith, and continually bearing visible fruit until the final redemption. 

Both Jacob and Joseph were adamant that their bones would not remain in Egypt, but rest with their fathers in Hebron, in the Cave of Machpelah, purchased by Abraham, awaiting the promise. Jacob strengthened himself to prophesy over his children before passing from this world, pausing in the midst of his great effort to cry out,

“I have waited for your salvation, O LORD!” 
(Genesis 49:18)

The word salvation in Hebrew is Yeshua, which has become anglicized to the more common form, Jesus. Thus we leave our Patriarch longing for salvation—a salvation which will come in the fullness of time and the faithfulness of Adonai—in Yeshua, Messiah of Israel. 

In the Talmud we find a reckoning of ages: "The world as we know it will exist for six thousand years; two thousand years of bewilderment, two thousand years of Torah, and two thousand years of the days of the Messiah."
(Talmud, Sanhedrin, 97a) 

These are the days of Messiah!

Join us now at the Father’s table as we keep the rhythm of Israel for more than two millennia, anticipating fresh manna from our God and King. As followers of Messiah we have added a corresponding New Covenant portion reflecting the fulfillment and crown of the Torah.

Breaking News:
PLEASE PRAY | France will convene some 70 countries on Sunday, January 15, for a Middle East peace conference in Paris; inviting the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to meet separately at its conclusion.
Given the current climate, with UNESCO outlandishly delegitimizing Israel's
historic connection to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem, the outgoing American President's clear antipathy to Israel and her leader, one does not hold out much hope that rational thought and favor for Zion will rule the day.
If that were the case, a conference wouldn't even take place since the Palestinian Authority's leadership has continually rejected a two-state solution for the past 68 years, and recently clearly broadcasted they will NEVER ACCEPT A Jewish state, nor will they be satisfied until Jewish blood runs in the streets of Jerusalem.
In France in 1938, there was another conference—in Evian. It came to be known as THE CONFERENCE OF SHAME. No nation was willing to alleviate Germany's "Jewish problem," by allowing Jewish emigration.
At the conclusion, Nazi observers at the Conference returned to Berlin and told Hitler: “You can do what you like with the Jews, nobody is interested in them.”
Will this "Paris Peace Conference," in its own way, be another conference of shame?
God forbid.
Genesis 47  Israel’s Last Request

“Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the length of Jacob's life was one hundred and forty-seven years. When the time for Israel to die drew near, he called his son Joseph and said to him, ‘Please, if I have found favor in your sight, place now your hand under my thigh and deal with me in kindness and faithfulness. Please do not bury me in Egypt, but when I lie down with my fathers, you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.’ And he said, ‘I will do as you have said.’ He said, ‘Swear to me.’ So he swore to him. Then Israel bowed in worship at the head of the bed.” Genesis 47:28-31

Jacob (Israel) is now 147 years old. He has lived in Egypt reunited with his beloved son, Joseph, for 17 years. He is at peace and ready to lie down with his fathers. 

Jacob does not fear death, having a firm faith in the God of his fathers. It is extremely important to him, however, that his bones do not remain in the heathen land. He wants to be buried in Hebron, in the family burial place that was purchased by Abraham—the Cave of Machpelah—which does in fact remain to this day

It is inconceivable that his bones would not be gathered to those of his forefathers, considering Adonai’s sacred promise of the Land. He compels Joseph to swear a solemn vow which will help him overcome any objections that may be raised by Pharaoh against him taking his father back to Canaan.

His soul was then eased and he bowed by the head of his bed and worshiped the LORD.

Are You At Ease in Egypt? 
Unfortunately, most of us are at ease in Egypt—symbolic of the world, the flesh and all that the one of darkness has to offer (oft disguised as fun, not too bad, needful, and even religious.) Egypt beckons and seduces … subtly … deceptively. YHVH sounds a clear warning: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15) And further drives it home: “You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4) I don’t think there’s any wiggle room, do you? This is the heart of God on the matter! 

Genesis 48  Ephraim and Manasseh, a Double Portion

vv. 3-4 Knowing that Jacob (Israel) is quite ill and his days are growing short, Joseph brings his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh to see their grandfather. Jacob recounts his visitation by El Shaddai at Bethel, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and He said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.’” 

Jacob then takes Joseph’s two sons as his own, thus bestowing the blessing of the firstborn on Joseph. Reuben and Simeon had forfeited their rights by their misdeeds, so (true to Joseph’s early visions) he ascended to the unlikely inheritance.

vv. 9-11 Israel asked Joseph to bring the boys to him that he may bless them. Filled with emotion, he embraced and kissed them. Although his eyes were very “dim from age” that he could barely see, Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face, and behold, God has let me see your children as well.” 

Another switch in the birth order blessing!

vv. 13-19 “Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel's left, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel's right, and brought them close to him. But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh's head, crossing his hands, although Manasseh was the firstborn. When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim's head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. Joseph said to his father, ‘Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.’But his father refused and said, "I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.’” vv. 13,14, 17, 18, 19 
Here we derive from Scripture the tradition of the laying on of hands in conferring a blessing.
Joseph attempts to guide his father’s hands to what he believes is appropriate—to bless Manasseh as the firstborn, but once again, Adonai surprises us, inspiring Israel to confer the greater blessing upon Ephraim, the younger!

The Sabbath Blessing

v. 20 “He blessed them that day, saying, ‘By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!’ Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh.”
To this day, in observant Jewish homes, on the eve of Shabbat (the Sabbath), fathers will traditionally bless their children and their wife. The father places his hand on the head of his son(s) and blesses with the words, “May God make you as Ephraim and Manasseh.”

Why? What characteristics do we hope they will emulate? Traditional Jewish wisdom teaches that Ephraim and Manasseh could have assimilated into the luxury and sensual pleasures of Egyptian aristocracy and society, but chose to remain true to the God of their fathers and identify with their Hebrew kinsmen.

This, therefore, is a blessing appropriate for all generations in all societies—not only for Jews, but for all who would belong to the God of Abraham through faith in Messiah Yeshua.
The Double Portion

v. 22 “Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers. ‘I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.’”

Genesis 49  Jacob’s Prophetic Words for His Sons,
the Twelve Tribes of Israel

v. 1 Jacob calls his sons together that he may tell them what will befall them “in the days to come,” literally, “in the end of days.” 
Although he is weak and failing, Jacob is going to speak over each son individually. These are prophetic words pertaining to their destinies that will touch future generations until the end of days. He begins with an ominous and sobering call, conveying the import of his message.
v. 2 Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob; And listen to Israel your father.

vv. 3-4 REUBEN ראובן, you are my firstborn; my might and the beginning of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence, Because you went up to your father's bed; Then you defiled it—he went up to my couch.” 

This is heartbreaking for Jacob—you can hear the grief in his voice. Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn son. Unto him was to be provided three portions, the right of the firstborn, the priesthood, and the kingdom, according to Onkelos. But Reuben turned out to be as uncontrolled, or “unstable as water,” its course easily moved this way or that by fleeting winds of passion, ungoverned by self-control. The Hebrew word for unstable, pachaz, means recklessness. It is used idiomatically to mean lascivious.

v. 3 Reuben defiled his father’s bed. This so grieved his father Jacob, as Reuben was to be preeminent in dignity and power—he was one of the twelve pillars of Israel! And he threw it away, as surely as Esau tossed away his birthright, to satisfy a momentary sensual desire.

This is a contest which will ravage men’s souls until all is redeemed. Perhaps it began in the Garden when the woman offered forbidden fruit to Adam. He took it in full knowledge that it was forbidden ... why? He couldn’t say no to the woman? To temptation? To his own flesh? More to the point, why couldn’t Adam simply remain faithful to YHVH, Who provided every good thing, and with whom Adam shared fellowship?
None of Reuben’s descendants became a Judge or Prophet of Israel.

The Hebrew commentary notes that in Jacob’s words over Reuben, Scripture stresses the idea that moral character is a more important factor than hereditary right.
vv. 5-7 SIMEON שמעון and LEVI לוי are brothers; Their swords are implements of violence. Let my soul not enter into their council; let not my glory be united with their assembly; because in their anger they slew men, and in their self-will they lamed oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel. I will disperse them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.”

Jacob is undoubtedly referring to the brothers’ outrageous vengeance on Shechem and their people for the rape of their sister, Dinah. (See Genesis 34.) They brought grave dishonor to their father and shocked his sensibility with their cruelty.

In Jewish ethics, uncontrolled anger is a grave sin. Proverbs 16:32 teaches, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.”

The great Jewish sage, Maimonides said that one who becomes angry is as though that person had worshiped idols. The parallel between anger and idol worship is that by becoming angry, one shows a disregard of Divine Providence. Whatever had caused the anger was ultimately ordained from Above. Thereby through anger, one is denying the Hand of the Divine in one's life. (Rabbi Zalman of Liadi)

The Shulchan Aruch, (literally, the Set Table), the most authoritative compilation of Jewish law and ethics, states: “Anger is also a very evil trait and it should be avoided at all costs. You should train yourself not to become angry even if you have a good reason to be angry.”
vv. 8-12 JUDAH יהודה , your brothers shall praise you; 
your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall bow down to you. Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. He ties his foal to the vine, and his donkey's colt to the choice vine; he washes his garments in wine, and his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are dull* from wine, and his teeth white from milk.” 

Clearly a Messianic prophecy, this is in glowing contrast to the diatribes spoken over Reuben, Simeon, and Levi. That Judah’s brothers shall praise him and bow down to him, is a prophecy stretching across the constraints of time. 

Through Judah will King David, and ultimately King Messiah reign, touching all the families of the earth. Yeshua (Jesus) is called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Revelation 5:5

v. 10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes...” The medieval Jewish scholar, Nachmanides, also known as the Rambam, related the tragic history of the Hasmonean Dynasty of Israel’s Second Temple period to the Divine authority of Jacob’s prophetic words over his sons. The Hasmoneans were a righteous and valiant band of men who refused to bow their knee to the vile Antiochus Epiphanes when he vanquished Jerusalem and defiled the Temple. They miraculously conquered his powerful army, restoring the kingdom to Israel, which we commemorate each year at Chanukah. They were Levites, however, not of the Tribe of Judah. Therefore, when they accepted the appointment of a monarch by a grateful and admiring populace from among their tribe, they violated this very prophecy, causing their eventual downfall and utter disappearance from history.
*v. 12 “His eyes are dull from wine, and his teeth white from milk.” The correct rendering from the Hebrew is “His eyes are more sparkling (or dark) than wine, and his teeth white as milk,” communicating abundance, success, or royal position.

v. 13 ZEBULUN זבולון will dwell at the seashore; and he shall be a haven for ships, and his flank shall be toward Sidon.”

Unto Zebulun was given very favorable territory which stretched from the Sea of Galilee on the East to Mt. Carmel on the West and the northern coastlands bordering Phoenicia. He will enjoy and provide safe harbor.

Isaiah prophesied the coming of the Messiah in Zebulun’s (and Naphtali’s)  territory: “But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” Isaiah 9:1,2

And this was fulfilled by Yeshua: “...and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet...” Matthew 4:13,14

vv. 14-15 ISSACHAR יששכר is a strong donkey, lying down 
between the sheepfolds. When he saw that a resting place was good And that the land was pleasant, He bowed his shoulder to bear burdens, And became a slave at forced labor.” 

Issachar’s name means, “there will be recompense.” He is not a man of war, but a powerful man of the field. He will not bear arms, but bear the plow, and at times, bear heavy burdens or task.

He will have times of plenty and times of hardship, bearing them both, understanding that each will come in due season.

The Tribe of Issachar would be blessed with the beautiful and agriculturally rich Jezreel Valley, sometimes called the breadbasket of Israel.

vv. 16-17 DAN דן shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake in the path, that bites the horse's heels, so that his rider falls backward.”

The prophecy over Dan is in two segments. Dan means “a judge,” or “judgment.” He was to be a Judge in Israel. In Judges 15, we see the Tribe of Dan’s glory in the mighty Samson.

However, by Judges 18, Dan has fallen into the second part of the prophecy. Idolatry has gripped this tribe of Israel and not only have they been beguiled by the serpent of old, but they pull down everyone else in their path. They defile all that is holy with mixture—the holy Priest’s garments with molten images, the worship of the God of Israel with the worship of idols.

“Then they took what Micah had made and the priest who had belonged to him, and came to Laish, to a people quiet and secure, and struck them with the edge of the sword; and they burned the city with fire. And there was no one to deliver them, because it was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with anyone, and it was in the valley which is near Beth-rehob. And they rebuilt the city and lived in it. They called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father who was born in Israel; however, the name of the city formerly was Laish. The sons of Dan set up for themselves the graven image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land.” Judges 18:27-30
v. 18 “For Your salvation I wait, O LORD.  
Here Jacob steps outside the situation and cries to Adonai. Perhaps he is overwhelmed with the weight of revelation as he looks ahead to the future fruit these branches of his will bear ... the generations of consequences ... the triumphs and tears ... the faithfulness to Adonai mixed with the faithlessness of idolatry....

“For your salvation (Yeshua) I wait, O LORD!” is the daily heart’s cry of every pious praying Jew, unknowingly calling to a Messiah already come, unknown, unseen, longed for ... generation after generation, as salvation in Hebrew is "Yeshua" (Jesus)... v. 19 “As for GAD גד, raiders shall raid him, but he will raid at their heels.” 
Jepthah was of the Tribe of Gad. His name is sometimes translated “troop” but carries with it the connotation of one who will immediately turn and attack when attacked. Gad settled on the east of the Jordan, guarding against and successfully pushing back the Ammonites, the Moabites, and the Aramaeans, who continually raided their borders.

v. 20 “As for ASHER אשר, his food shall be rich, And he will yield royal dainties.” 

Asher’s name means “happy,” or “fortunate.” He receives a sweet and simple blessing of prosperity, generally considered an allusion to the shipping trade and import of precious treasures.

v. 21 NAPHTALI נפתלי is a doe let loose, He gives beautiful words.” 

From The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, Chief Rabbi Dr. J.H. Hertz, 1938:“An image of swiftness and grace in movement. he giveth goodly words. Refers to the tribe’s reputation for eloquence, and the great victory of Barakm a Naphtalite, which was followed by the glorious Song of Deborah (Kimchi). Another translation is, ‘Naphtali is a slender terebinth, which putteth forth goodly branches.’ Joseph, too, is compared to a vine.
vv. 22-26  JOSEPH יוסף is a fruitful bough,
 a fruitful bough by a spring;

its branches run over a wall.

The archers bitterly attacked him,

and shot at him and harassed him;

but his bow remained firm,

and his arms were agile,

from the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob

(From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),

from the God of your father 

who helps you,

and by the Almighty who blesses you 

with blessings of heaven above,

blessings of the deep that lies beneath, 

blessings of the breasts and of the womb.

The blessings of your father 

have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors 

up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills;
may they be on the head of Joseph,
and on the crown of the head
of the one distinguished
 among his brothers.” 

With the most luxuriant prose, Jacob imparts the grandest blessings upon his favored son: blessings from Heaven—of the Divine and spiritual—of the rain and sun calling forth crops in their seasons, blessings from the subterranean reservoir of the deep causing fruitfulness upon all the earth, blessings of the breasts—the health of generations born and raised to see the next.

But this was not mere favoritism. In Jacob’s blessing, he extols Joseph as an overcomer and an exemplar of virtue—by the strength of Adonai—the Mighty One of Jacob! His metaphors are entrancing: Joseph’s trials and temptations seen as attacks from an archer, and indeed they were, so exquisite were the tests.

Joseph is “distinguished among his brothers” for his temperance, ethics, patience, long-suffering, godliness, faithfulness, self-control, self-denial, forgiveness, devotion, steadfastness, trust, and ability to stand alone and remain true to God without compromise in the worst of circumstances. Joseph earned the admiration of his father through his virtuous character. Joseph is a type and shadow of the Messiah in many ways as previously explored. 

He is also a worthy role model—and too rare a specimen among the children of men.

v. 27 BENJAMIN בנימין is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, and in the evening he divides the spoil.” 

The Tribe of Benjamin, though the smallest, was known as fierce warriors, prevailing over their territory in battleSaul, the first king of Israel was of the Tribe of Benjamin. I Samuel 9:21: “Saul replied, ‘Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin?’”

Another Saul, who would become known as Paul, revealed himself to be of the tribe of Benjamin, as well. Romans 11:1: “I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” Paul was a warrior, too—for the faith—in his own right!

v. 27 “All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them. He blessed them, every one with the blessing appropriate to him. 
Blessed? “He blessed them...” It’s interesting to consider all of Jacob’s prophetic words in the light of “blessings” over his sons. Some of his words were harsh. Some were rebukes, others severe commentary on their character. Yet, our text uses the word blessed, in Hebrew, barak בָּרַךְ. This doesn’t line up with our concept of “blessing,” which always means to receive something good, something of benefit, does it?

The biblical definition of barak, however, is consistent with the text: to bless, to kneel, to cause to kneel. 
Each of Jacob’s prophecies over his sons were words that—whether foretelling fortune or bringing correctionwere intended to place them under the Hand of YHVH. This is what their father’s hand represented, therefore he had to be utterly yielded to the Almighty. This was not a self-esteem building session—an endeavor of the flesh.  
This is a supreme blessing for every child, and no greater position to start from but kneeling before Him who loves you with an everlasting love.

vv. 29-32 Jacob then turned to the business of leaving this world. Informing his sons that “he was about to be gathered to his people,* He charged them: “bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site. There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there I buried Leah—the field and the cave that is in it, purchased from the sons of Heth.” 

We are again reminded of the fact that Abraham purchased the area of Hebron in which to this day holds the Patriarchs’ remains, as well as those of Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah, in the Cave of Machpelah. The cave is now within a grand structure built by Herod and enhanced during the Byzantine Empire. Palestinian Arabs, however, contest Jewish right to the land, and thus Jewish access to this precious site is severely restricted.

v. 33 “When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.* 

*Jewish commentaries note this acknowledges an abiding faith in the everlasting nature of the essence of man and hope in the resurrection.

Genesis 50  Joseph is Embalmed in Egypt

vv. 2-3 Joseph wept over his father and kissed him, then commanded his servants to embalm him. “So the physicians embalmed Israel. Now forty days were required for it, for such is the period required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days.”
Israel (Jacob) was embalmed to preserve his body for transport back to Hebron, not in the manner of Egyptian religious ritual, to prepare his body for life after death. Joseph was so loved that his grief became the grief of the Egyptians who knew him.
v. 6 Joseph then sent an appeal to Pharaoh to allow him to keep the vow he had made to his father to bury him in Canaan, promising to return. Pharaoh trusted Joseph and understood this pledge, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear.”
v. 13 With a great company, the household of Joseph and his brothers went up with chariots and horsemen and buried Jacob (Israel) “in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field for a burial site from Ephron the Hittite.”

Guilt, the Gift that Keeps on Giving…
Joseph’s Brothers Once Again Fear Retribution for their Misdeeds

vv. 15-18 Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers as he had promised Pharaoh. And his brothers became anxious now that their father was gone. 

“‘What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!’ So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father charged before he died, saying, Thus you shall say to Joseph, ‘Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.’” 

“And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.” 

Joseph Again Responds with Grace

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Once again, Joseph shows his tender and Godly nature. He weeps at his brothers’ fear, guilt and inability to accept his forgiveness, and love. He so exemplifies grace, but the carnal nature cannot perceive it.
“Then his brothers also came
 and fell down before him and said, 
‘Behold, we are your servants’ 
But Joseph said to them, 
Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? 
As for you, you meant evil against me
but God meant it for good 
in order to bring about this present result
to preserve many people alive
So therefore, do not be afraid; 
I will provide for you and your little ones." 
So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” 
Genesis 50:21
Joseph was privileged with a heavenly view from the time he was young. He again speaks transcendent wisdom from above!
Joseph is not bitter over the many hardships and unfair circumstances he endured, nor resentful over the treatment he suffered at the hands of his brothers. He sees the greater plan of God, and how he has been an instrument of salvation. How like Messiah Yeshua, who had to suffer and “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8) for the salvation of the world.
v. 24 As we close the book of Genesis, we find Joseph, like his father before him, preparing to die. He is one hundred and ten years old, and still living in Egypt with his family, having seen his grandchildren born in this foreign land. Yet, Joseph reminds his brothers of the Divine Promise: 
“I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” 
He then requires the same oath as his father, that his bones be carried up out of Egypt to the Promised Land.

v. 26 “So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.”

To be continued...

At the close of each book of the Torah, it is tradition to proclaim: "Chazak, chazak v’nitchazek! Be strong, be strong and may we be strengthened!"  Why? Within the Hebrew word, chazak are many meanings that draw us to remember and hold fast: uphold, courage, hold fast, strengthen, support, retain, preserve, and encourage.  
It is not surprising then that James continued to exhort, "...prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." James 1:22
Pictured above are the famous Jerusalem Windows created by Russian artist Marc Chagall. These windows are twelve in number, each depicting an individual tribe of Israel. They can be seen in the synagogue of the Hadassah-Hebrew Medical Center in Jerusalem where they are considered among the most inspiring and beautiful pieces of 20th century art.

 Haftarah Vayechi
 1 Kings 2:1-12

Man Up!

In the Torah portion we have just read, we saw the concluding words of Jacob as he was about to die. Genesis 47:29 starts off with, “When the time for Israel to die drew near...” Our Haftarah portion, I Kings 2:1-12, starts off with an identical Hebrew construction. Verse one says, “As David’s time to die drew near...” This symmetry must be the reason the sages chose this portion of Scripture for the Haftarah as it compliments the long before chosen Torah portion.
When we come to our Haftarah portion we find that David had already crowned Solomon as his successor. Adonijah, David’s fourth but oldest surviving son, had attempted an elaborate coup crowing himself King. David, knowing Solomon was God’s choice, performed a hasty but effective coronation of his own, thus making Solomon the legitimate King of Israel. (I Kings 1:32-40) Then, David later had another gathering in which Solomon was given a more solemn and official recognition of his Kingship over Israel. (I Chronicles 28:1) There Solomon was charged with all that David at God’s direction would have him do.
So, as we come to I Kings 2:1, we see the striking parallel between David, about to die, and Jacob, already long gone, as each has parting remarks for their successors. And our opening verse here says, “As David’s time to die drew near he charged Solomon his son saying...” And just what was that charge?

David addresses three areas. The third which we won’t take time to look at concerns household matters. They’re found in verses 5-9 and have to do with the misdeeds of man upon man. And Solomon handles them in quick and kingly fashion.

The first two are different however. The first is about character. The second concerns conditional promises of God.

"Be strong and show yourself a man"
In 2:1 David says to his son. “Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man.” What an  admonition for the last words out of the mouth of a dying man to give to his son. But what did David mean by this? One opinion is that it means, “become a man who fears sin.” Another is that it is to be understood as, “You must be a man and conquer your desires.” And yet another is, “Strengthen yourself and be like a grown man to control your evil inclinations.”

Whichever fits the best the thought is clear. David was saying to his very young son (perhaps only a teenager) that maturity and godliness were one in the same. And that godliness was to be measured by demonstrated self-control over one’s evil desires.

This concept is also spoken to by the Apostle Paul. In I Corinthians 16:13 he says, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 

The Christian walk is surely one of continual growth. We never fully arrive, only become more and more like our Savior. John says that the point at which we do arrive and have no further to grow is when Christ appears (the Rapture, I Thessalonians 4:13-18) and we shall be like Him. (I John 3:2) Note what Paul says in Philippians 3:20-21, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”

Showing yourself a man as David charged his son, or acting like men as Paul says, is not being sinlessly perfect (I John 1:8). It is rather showing as a character trait of life the ability to say no to the temptations our sin nature, the world system, and the devil bring our way.
This is not sinless perfection. Rather, it is exhibiting the Christian maturity, as a habitual pattern, to not opening the door when the temptation to sin comes knocking.
Sadly, Solomon did not follow this advise his whole life. Pleasures of the flesh, a yielding to his sin nature, was his downfall. He loved foreign women, allowed them to bring their idol worship into the Land, and God ripped the Land away from him at his death. The kingdom was divided and the people eventually carried away into captivity.
How dangerous it is to not stand as a man, to give in to temptation, and suffer the consequence. Hebrews 12:5-11
Now what of these conditional promises of God? David is recorded in I Kings 2:3-4 as saying, “Keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn,  so that the LORD may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, 'If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.”

It is true that God is merciful (not giving us what our sin makes us deserving of) and that God is gracious (giving us blessings we are not deserving of). But it is also true that God has standards for living, clearly presented in His Word, and we are expected to adhere to them or suffer the consequences. For Solomon his standard was to live by the Law of Moses, to walk in His ways. He did not, and he suffered the consequences.

For the believer today having both the Old and New Testaments we have the completed revelation of the Word of God - trustworthy, authoritative, God breathed. We need nothing more to fully know how it is God would have us live our lives, or walk in His ways. While it is true that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, it is also true that it is a wondrous thing to walk in His ways and enjoy the blessings of a merciful and gracious God.
Can it be said of you and your Christian walk that you are characterized as one who, acts like a man?

B'rit Chadashah Vayechi

1 Peter 1:3-9 | Hebrews 11:21-22

How Does Your Faith Chapter Read?

In both of our New Covenant passages we see the closing of one chapter of history and the opening of another.

The Hebrews portion is a reiteration of the Genesis text that we have examined in the Torah study above. One might speculate that the reason the author of Hebrews placed it in the great “faith” chapter of the Bible is that, as the text says, both Jacob and Joseph exercised faith in doing the specific acts mentioned. Jacob blessed both of Joseph’s sons believing that which God had led him to say of them would come to pass. And Joseph, as he was dying, spoke of the exodus of Israel from Egypt believing it would come to pass.

Both men are seen in the closing chapter of their lives and the beginning chapter of their eternity with Adonai.

Neither man had any assurance on a human level (the exercise of any of the five human senses) that what they spoke would come to pass. What they did have was a trust, a belief, a faith that what God had said would come to pass, would indeed come to pass.

And what is the essence of this faith? “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.” (Hebrews 11:1,2) It is assurance. It is conviction. And its reward is approval by God. So both of these men closed out the final chapter of their lives exercising assurance and conviction in their God.
In our 1 Peter portion of Scripture we have the topic of faith spoken of again. But it is not the faith of another that is the subject. It is your faith that is being zeroed in on. We said that both portions close with one chapter of life and open with another.

A closing chapter in your life here is your cessation of living as one without hope and instead being “... born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1:3) This assumes of course that you have received Jesus as both your Savior from sin and the Lord of your life.

Notice what among many other things is waiting for us now as born again individuals. Verse 4 goes on to say, “to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you...”

Verse 5 concludes this sentence by pointing out that it is through faith that this is made a reality, “...who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

It is that once-exercised faith in Yeshua as our Lord and Savior that secures for us that salvation from sin and its terrible eternal consequences. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him...” Hebrews 11:6

All of our lives have their chapters. Some of us read like a dull book and others like one that you just can’t put down. But no matter what type of book your life portrays one thing is for sure. As those having exercised faith we each have that climactic chapter that’s all about the salvation ready to be revealed. I Peter 1:5

Let’s not forget what the faith chapter of our lives is about... “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” (I Peter 1:8,9) And this is forever.
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
Now that’s something to put your faith in!

In Messiah's Love,
His Every Word Ministries