Thursday, May 3, 2018

God is Not "ONE OF US" | Parashat Emor | By His EVERY Word

Parashat Emor “Speak”
פרשת אמור

Torah Portion: Leviticus 21:1-24:23
Haftarah: Ezekiel 44:15-31
B’rit Chadashah/New Covenant: 1 Peter 2:4-10

Shabbat | 5 May 2018 | 20 Iyyar 5778
Day 35 of the Omer

A quick intro for some of our newer readers: What’s a Torah Portion, why are we commenting on it, and what relevance does it have to anything?
In a nutshell ... Luke 24:27 tells us that Yeshua (Jesus) revealed Himself through the Old Testament Scriptures, beginning with Moses and the Prophets.  From the time of Ezra, the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) has been read in a yearly rotation by Israel, and this tradition is still observed today. 
In Yeshua’s time, a complimentary portion from the Prophetsthe Haftarah portion was added to the weekly rotation of readings. Thus, for over two millennia, the children of Abraham have kept this unifying rhythm of studying the same Scriptures throughout the yearalong with commentaries from the sagessuch as Hillel, who influenced the Apostle Paul. 
It is therefore enriching and enlightening to delve into these foundational treasures, unearthing the riches of hidden insights revealed in the original Hebrew language or “listening” through the ears of Yeshua’s contemporaries to gain a fresh understanding of this faith sprung from Hebraic soil, and purchased with Jewish blood, by a Son of Israel, the King of the Jews

We pray you are not put off by the emphasis on priestly requirements and regulations in this week’s parsha. There are riches to be mined in every precious word given us by our gracious God and King! 
If you have been redeemed by Yeshua, Revelation 1:6 says that through Him we are now priests in His Kingdom, 
“ serve his God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen!” 

Therefore, may we learn to appreciate the high calling of our office, as the Holy Spirit instructs and enlightens us through these wonderful passages of Scripture.

Thousands of years removed, the plethora of specific “rules and regs” that a priest had to learn to live by probably seem harsh and burdensome to our present day way of thinking. We tend to major on personal freedom, expression, and fulfillment—especially in the area of faith. After all, isn’t it this very “legalism” that Yeshua (Jesus) came to set us free from? This concept bears closer consideration...

Leviticus 22:17-31  A Higher Standard

To some, the world of Torah may seem little more than an overwhelming set of complex regulations. In reality, however, the world of Torah is a world liberally supplied by God's grace and lovingkindness—a world wrought in love, preserved by mercy, and ever bearing sustenance for man’s upward reach from chaos to heaven.

We like to think in lofty and poetic terms, because we really don’t like rules

We want to hear about God’s love, but not about His standards

We want to know we have our reservation in eternity, 
but for right now, we want things our way. 

That’s why Jesus is so popular—He is presented as anti-Torah, anti-Law ...  instituting a “do what you feel,” more relaxed religion. 
Hmmm... the Word just doesn’t bear this out

Although the New Covenant Scriptures comprise a much smaller portion of the Bible than the Old Covenant, there are at least two to three times as many commandments contained in the New as in the Old!

Yeshua (Jesus), being the Living Word, and the visible representation of the invisible Divine, came not to tear down the foundation of the Torah, but to fulfill (fill full, fully preach, and rightly interpret, see Matthew 5:17-19) the prophetic and redemptive promises, and reveal the Father. He is not a new God, but the manifest embodiment of the Godhead ... therefore Creator, Redeemer, and giver of the Torah as well.
Adonai forged life from chaos, compelling order to the universe. Where chaos and anarchy reigns, life is laid waste. Destruction is the way of the satan, who resists order, law, rules, and Torah. The antichrist (anti-Messiah) is also known as the man of lawlessness—he resists the Law or Torah of God. 
Throughout history, all of the enemies of God have made the observance of Torah a crime. Is this the side God’s people want to be on? 
Rabbi J.H. Hertz wisely notes, 
“Liberty without law is a doubtful boon, whether to men or nations.”
Yet how can we understand these difficult commandments and standards that we read in the Torah? While some are beneficial for health, for family care and continuity, for social welfare, and for community worship; some seem harsh, and others simply random and absurd.

Perhaps the answer is simply His answer: “I AM the LORD.” 

Depending on the version (OR the particular version’s translation of the original text), more than 160 times Adonai finishes a directive with

“For I AM the LORD.”

If you are a parent, perhaps your child has questioned you, "Why? Why? Why?" regarding a decision, and in exasperation, rather than trying to explain a complex reason beyond their comprehension, you simply replied, “Because I SAY SO!” This carries with it the understanding that because you are the authority, there need not be an explanation adequate for their limited understanding.

How much more is this so when the authority is that of the Creator, the Holy One of Israel, God Almighty, King of kings, and LORD of lords?
If you have been joining us for the weekly cycle of readings through the Torah, by this point, one concept should be coming into clarity—Adonai is meticulously building a people and a place to bear His Holy Presence and convey His Holy Name to the world.  

This is what it all boils down to—it’s all about HIM—and how the world will know that HE IS by the way we carry His Name in our lives.
Leviticus 22:32-33 is known as Israel’s Bible in miniature: 
So you shall keep My commandments, and do them; I am the LORD. You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be sanctified among the sons of Israel; I am the LORD who sanctifies you, who brought you out from the land of Egypt, to be your God; I am the LORD.”
This verse carries the solemn warning against profaning the Divine Name, which literally means that those who call themselves by His Name (believers) must not mock His Name by their life—by the way they carry or bear His Name before the world. Although spoken in reference to the priests as guardians of the sanctuary, this commandment, both in the positive and negative, applies to all Israel, and by extension, the Body of Believers in Yeshua, as priests in His Kingdom. 1 Peter 2:4-10,  Revelation 1:6

Therefore, we must be exceedingly circumspect in our actions, guarding the honor of the Divine Name that we carry before others, lest it be tarnished or mocked. For we are all living epistles, “known and read by all men.” (II Corinthians 3:2) The Jewish commentaries remind us that the Glory of the Living God, as it were, is entrusted to our care. We are bidden to add luster to the Divine Name that it will shine throughout the Nations.

The world has no light, but the ministers of the Most High are flames of fire. Psalm 104:4

Through those who fear Him, Adonai desires to commend His standards of holiness—to define the difference between that which is precious and profane in His Kingdom. 

As our Haftarah echoes, “...they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” Ezekiel 44:23
For this is the way that leads to life.

The Rabbis say: “Wild beasts visit and afflict the world because of the profanation of the Divine Name.” (Ethics of the Fathers, v, II) 

Where unworthy conduct contradicts faith, there the wild beast in man is unleashed.

Desecrating the Holy Name of God in public apostasy kindles a fire that tarnishes and defiles many.
Where the holiness of God is profaned, faith is stunted and distorted.
“The Rabbis, in a striking apalogue, picture a boat at sea, full of men. One of them begins to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat and, on being remonstrated with, urges that he is only boring under his own seat. ‘Yes,’ say his comrades, ‘but when the sea rushes in we shall be drowned with you.’
So it is with the testimony of our lives.

Our lives, far more than our words, touch those around us, and preach a message of life or death
Does our life demonstrate to others that we truly believe in and fear a holy and righteous God, that they may seek Him unto redemption? 

Or does our careless, irreverent behavior demonstrate to others that God is just another belief system to put on and take off at will, thereby “preaching” a false gospel with our lives?
“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.”
II Corinthians 5:11
Tragically, we have lost reverence and awe for the LORDwhich is the very beginning, first step (tĕchillah in Hebrew) to understanding and discernment, according to Proverbs 9:10. Perhaps that's why the church is full of baby believers, still on milk, after years or decades ... that are no different from the world around them except for what they may do on most Sunday mornings.

God is NOT
"one of us,"

"a slob like one of us."

(Joan Osborne song)

No, He is holy, holy, holy.
And it is an honor and a privilege to represent His Kingdom,
and carry His Divine Name before men.

In our zeal to fill pews,
we have preached a peculiar savior.
One who came to serve ME,

Who suffered to make ME happy,
Who gave everything to give ME entrance into His glorious Kingdom,
but requires NOTHING of ME once I'm there.
The songs of worship rarely even contain His Name ...
They center on ME ...
MY freedom ...
How much He loves ME ...
How much He loves ME even though I keep sinning ...
How far I can wander and fall and sin and He is always there to love ME ...
Rather than being elevated and transformed to the image of Messiah,
we drag Him down, to conform Him to everything that appeals to our fleshly nature ...
to every bright idea that pops into our head ...
We put "Jesus stickers" on the common and profane,
thinking that will make it holy ...

Why the detailed instructions for priests?
(Who had a holy calling, as we as priest do today.)
"Where there is no vision (i.e., Isaiah's vision of God's holiness),
the people are unrestrained, 

But happy is he who keeps the law." (Torah)
Proverbs 29:18

Leviticus 23  Divine Appointments

The Mo’edim—Appointed Times with Adonai
“The LORD spoke again to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘The LORD's appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations—My appointed times are these:’” Leviticus 23:1-2

“They shall also keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed feasts and sanctify My sabbaths.” Ezekiel 44:24
Leviticus 23 sets the radial point for the yearly rhythm of observances and festivals which unify Adonai with His People and tell the great redemption story. What a blessed people we are that God Almighty has set these special times to meet with us!

Eight observances, or mo’edim (Hebrew—literally, appointed times with God) are listed in Leviticus 23:

  • Shabbat שבת The Lord’s Sabbath A weekly celebration of Creation, Creator, Redemption, and Redeemer v. 3
The Spring Feasts—Messianic in Prophecy, Fulfilled by Yeshua, the Lamb of God
  • Pesach  פסח The Lord’s Passover v. 5
  • Chag HaMatzot  חַג הַמַּצֹּות  The Feast of Unleavened Bread vs. 6-8
  • Bikkurim  בכורים  First Fruits vs. 10-14
  • Shavuot  שבועות  Pentecost vs. 16-21
The Fall Feasts—Look to the Return of Messiah, Resurrection, and Final Redemption
  • Yom Teruah  יום תרועה  Day of Trumpets, also called Rosh Hashanah vs. 25-26
  • Yom Kippur  יום כיפור  Day of Atonement vs. 27-32
  • Sukkot  סוכות  The Feast of Booths or Tabernacles vs. 34-36
Three of these mo’edim are called “pilgrimage festivals,” for all the men of Israel were called to  bring their sacrifice to the Temple in Jerusalem on Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost), and Sukkot (Tabernacles). It was at Shavuot that crowds gathered for this pilgrim festival and heard the apostles speaking in their own language as the Spirit of God empowered them to utter the glorious message of the Messiah. Acts 2

There are seven High Sabbath days—specials days of rest in the LORD—associated with the mo’edim. These are different from the weekly Sabbath, which still takes place during the festival.

When Yeshua was crucified, it was midweek, just as the special Sabbath of the Passover was about to begin at twilight. Because most Christians are unfamiliar with the Torah, they are unaware that the Passover week contained more than one Sabbath (which the New Testament text reveals), and thus concluded Yeshua’s death to take place on Friday before the weekly Sabbath. This reckoning does not allow Yeshua to fulfill His own Word and the only sign,” that He would “be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:40

What Happened to “The Faith First Delivered to the Saints”?
Why doesn’t the Church embrace these biblical observances that our God calls HIS appointed times? The historical and biblical account records the early communities of Jewish and Gentile believers continuing the rhythm of festivals and biblical holy days. The New Testament gives no new observances, nor directive to cease these appointed biblical observances.

Historically, the formal shift came following the 325 AD Council at Nicaea under Constantine (who was not a Christian until his deathbed confession). The determination to remove all “Jewish influence and custom” from the church was based not upon Scriptural exegesis, but rabid anti-Semitism, believing the Jews to be the “most wicked of men,” and “beyond hope of salvation” for the crime of deicide—killing God. Therefore, the church must have nothing in common with the “detestable Jewish crowd.” (See the writings of the early "Church Fathers," Origen, Justin Martyr, Chrysostom, Ignatius of Antioch and others.)

The Christian Oath
All believers (the Nazarenes in particular) who continued to observe the “law of Moses” were branded heretics, accustomed to, “practice in the synagogues of Satan.” 
To be accepted as a Christian from that time forward, one was required to make a profession of faith renouncing: “all customs, rites, legalisms, unleavened breads, sacrifices of lambs of the Hebrews, and all the other feasts of the Hebrews, sacrifices, prayers, aspirations, purifications, sanctifications, and propitiations, and fasts, and new moons, and Sabbaths, and superstitions, and hymns and chants, observances and synagogues, and the food and drink of the Hebrews; in one word, I renounce absolutely everything Jewish, every Law, rite, and custom. ...shall I be found eating with the Jews, or feasting with them ... may the leprosy of Gehazi cleave to me ... and may I be anathema in the world to come, and may my soul be be set down with Satan and the devils.” Stefano Assemani, Acta Sanctorium Martyrum Orientalium at Occidentalium, Vol. 1, Rome 1748, page 105, also known as the The Constantine Creed, from the Church of Constantinople, 325 AD
Unfortunately, centuries of this left an indelible mark on Christianity, and an antipathy toward the Old Testament Scriptures as if they were written by another God. (Which by the way, was a heresy called Marcionism, that originated in the early church.)
Rejoice! Hidden riches remain undiscovered in these unique observances Adonai calls HIS appointed times—islands in the continuum of existence, to come into His Presence, for His Pleasure and His Glory—and be refreshed, renewed, and refilled! Leviticus 23 bids us, “rest ... rejoice ... celebrate!”

The Sabbath is a sanctuary which crowns each week. Time stops in a chaotic and demanding world. The family gathers around a table prepared to honor the invitation of their King. At the center, candles illuminate the evening. Yeshua said of Himself that He was the Light of the World and the Lord of the Sabbath. His presence is evident at the table of believers.

A day of rest and refreshing is a blessing, but the day is really about the LORD. As Christians, we too often look for own blessing, yet, our highest call is to bring glory to HIM. In Ezekiel 44:24, Adonai calls us to sanctify HIS Sabbaths. By meeting with Him, setting this day apart for Him, others see we exalt His Holiness.

The Passover glorifies Yeshua, our Passover Lamb, slain for the sins of the world. This ancient and joyous festival is richly imbued with prophetic symbolism, recounting the dramatic redemption of the sons of Israel from Egypt, beginning the great redemption story. Paul compares believers to the unleavened bread—the bread the Israelites ate when leaving Egypt, using the occasion of the church celebrating Passover for a profound exhortation in I Corinthians 5:6-8.

Shavuot or Pentecost became known as the Festival of Revelation. Following the Israelites’ redemption from bondage in Egypt, they went into the desert of Sinai to meet with their God. The Rabbis speak of this fifty day period, known as the Counting of the Omer, as a season of anticipation, “like one who expects his most intimate friend on a certain day, counts the days and even the hours. This is the reason we count the days that pass since the offering of the Omer, between the anniversary of our departure from Egypt and the anniversary of the Law-giving.” —Rabbi J.H. Hertz

The redemption from Egypt was not an end in itself, but a prelude to Sinai, as a betrothal is to marriage. The marriage took place at the foot of Sinai with the Nation of Israel receiving the marriage contract (Hebrew, ketubah) from her Heavenly Bridegroom in the form of the Torah. A People was formed through this union to bring redemption to the world.

In the fullness of time, following another prophetic Passover, another group of God’s people were gathered in expectation, following this fifty day season of anticipation. After Yeshua’s death and resurrection, He was with His apostles, and: “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” (Acts 1:4-5) And this expectation was fulfilled on Shavuot—called Pentecost in the New Covenant. 

Jeremiah 31:31 prophetically spoke that the New Covenant will be different from the Law of Moses, given that first Shavuot, which was on tablets of stone. Through the Holy Spirit, the LORD will put the Law within us, written on our hearts—accomplished through this miraculous event recorded in Acts 2 on another Shavuot that changed the world. 

After the richly prophetic Spring Festivals, there is a long summer lull. This can be compared to the long waiting period between Messiah’s first coming and His return.

The Fall Feasts resume in September or October, depending on the biblical calendar. We will look at those feasts of promise in greater detail in an upcoming study.
It is all about Him, but we cannot bless Him without recognizing the magnitude and divine might His Word carries in our lives. 
He is God. Praise Him for His Word and the enabling it gives to live as He would have us live.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.  
II Timothy2:15

In other words, live as any priest of the God Most High should!

Haftarah Ezekiel 44:15-44:31

Faithfulness Earns Honor for Generations

It is amazing to think of it, but in the Millennial period of time the Temple sacrificial system will be restored. A  fourth Temple will be in existence. And the Levitical priesthood then reestablished will once again be keeping charge of the sanctuary.

Ezekiel 44:15-31 speaks of all of this. At that time it will be the sons of Zadok or only those descended from the line of Zadok who will be allowed to make the most holy sacrifices. The family of Zadok will have this honor because according to Ezekiel at a time when the rest of Israel and the priesthood engaged in apostasy, the family of Zadok remained faithful to God.

What a testimony for a family name. Honor on into the Millennium for faithfulness to God in the past. Ever wonder how your family name will be carried on as a result of your life today?

B’rit Chadashah 1 Peter 2:4-10

Bearing the Presence of God

We have been speaking much here about priests. Our B'rit Chadashah passage of 1 Peter 2:4-10 carries on that theme by declaring that the priestly office is not for the Jewish nation and the tribe of Levi only. Peter says of us:
“But you are a chosen race, A royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light...”
This has reference to every believer in Yeshua. Wonderful, isn’t it? Whereas only an elite few of an entire nation were selected to offer sacrifices to God, not even one believer found in Yeshua is excluded from this royal priesthood and the sacrificial service that accompanies it.

Our priestly duty is found in v.5: “ also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 

This really is something. The Old Testament priest could only perform his priestly service in the Tabernacle or Temple. But, not so with believers in Yeshua.

We have no Temple in which to worship. Indeed we each are the temple of God and it is through our lives that spiritual sacrifices are offered. 

This ought to be very sobering for each of us. As priests we are actually engaged 24/7—no matter where we are, no matter what we are doing—in the business of offering spiritual sacrifices through the lives we live.
So how goes your service in proclaiming, “...the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light ?”

Shabbat Shalom!
In Messiah's Love,
His EVERY Word Ministries